Soapbox Speakers

What is Speakers’ Corner?

In Speakers and hecklers. on March 8, 2015 at 11:51 pm

“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” 
Gerry Spence.

Every Sunday, from 2pm until 5pm, people gather in Sydney’s beautiful Domain park to discuss matters. The ones standing on ladders are ‘the speakers’, and they believe it’s their job to educate  their ‘grasshoppers’ or ‘groundlings’.  The ones sitting in chairs believe it’s their job to point out why the speaker is wrong, and to heckle. Both parties are kept busy.

This sums up the relationship between the speakers and the hecklers.

This sums up the relationship between the speakers and the hecklers.

Click here to see their 2015 highlights.
Click here to see their 2014 highlights.
Click here to see their 2013 highlights.

Find past posts  on our Archives site.

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The Speakers and Hecklers.

Steve Maxwell, historian and political commentator.

Steve Maxwell

Steve Maxwell, legend.

In various personas, but always engaging, Steve talks about religion, Australian history and politics. Click here for highlights. To see more videos of Steve, go to the archives site. From his book, ‘Soapbox Oratory‘ Steve writes: ‘In a modern city, there must be a place where strangers can meet and discuss the issues of the day without fear of persecution; where the right to retain one’s individuality is allowed.

Helmut Cerncic, metaphysicist.

Helmut 4

Helmut used to be a professional wrestler going by the name of Helmut Rommel. He took on the likes of Killer Karl Kox, Mario Milano and Spiros Orion. And, he once beat Arnold Schwartzenegger in a body building contest.
More importantly, Helmut knows a lot about metaphysics (more than Arnold Schwartzenegger and Killer Karl Kox combined), and he is happy to explain why Isaac Newton was an ignoramus.
His battles with hecklers are fun. He calls his listeners his ‘groundlings’. Here are some highlights.
For more videos of Helmut, go to the archives site and to his own site, Is Science the New Religion?’.

Mirko Terzic, 21st Century inventor.

Mirko

Mirko has created a phonetic alphabet to be used world-wide, and it’s better than Esperento. He has solved the problem of perpetual motion and has diagrams explaining how to get free unlimited energy from hydropower. Mirko knows how to think outside the square. Here are a few highlights of Mirko. For more videos of Mirko go to the archives site.

Ray, Christian.

Ray is concerned about your soul.

 Ray is passionate about spreading the word of God. He takes the task seriously but isn’t confronting. He is a gentle man willing to answer your questions. Here are a few highlights. For more videos of Ray, go to the archives site.

Mark the Grinner.

As a heckler, Mark regularly gets a hearty laugh from the crowd with his meticulously crafted questions. As a speaker his humour is still there, but his talks have substance. He comments on human behaviour and attitudes, and he doesn’t hold back.

Click here to hear why Mark comes to Speakers’ Corner.

His companion, Sue, is less vocal, but she has no trouble speaking her mind when she has something to say.

Mr Bashful, epiphany specialist.

Epiphany specialist Mr Bashful tells us he is the spiritual advisor to the Dalai Lama, though that’s yet to be verified. He calls his listeners his ‘grasshoppers’ and his foes ‘garden gnomes’.
  Mr Bashful takes an evolutionary approach to happiness and resilience, but has many other topics.   He has presented an Ockham’s Razor talk on the ABC’s Radio National and believes we should burn the Mona Lisa. He also created the dogquiz.org site that helps people learn how to look after a dog.

One thing he isn’t, is bashful.

To learn more about him and see videos of him in action, click here.

He now has a Facebook page.

John August (Occasional speaker)

John speaks earnestly on a wide range of subjects, and if you’re in Sydney you can listen to his radio program on Radio Skid Row, 88.9 FM every Tuesday, from noon until 2pm.

John is an active member of the Pirate Party, which is a serious political party devoted to making Australia more democratic. He and other pirates speak at the Domain now and then about their policies and other topical matters. (That’s ‘topical’, not ‘tropical’.)

To see videos of John performing at Speakers’ Corner go to his Youtube channel.
John also has a website in which he comments upon current affairs, both here and abroad.
He is a busy lad.

THE HECKLERS

Uncle Pete (heckler and occasional speaker)

Peter - best

During the week Uncle Pete teaches students, and if he teaches them with the same verve he has for the Sunday passers-by, they are lucky students indeed. Click here for a few highlights. For more videos of Uncle Pete, go to the archives site.

Tony, atheist.

Tony
New-Zealand born Tony used to be a speaker but now he heckles the other speakers. He is a fervent atheist scathing of the Catholic Church, and when he is not berating Christianity he is either sinking the boot into other religions, or supporting Palestine. In this video  Tony expresses a few of his well considered opinions. For more videos of Tony click here.

Max (Quiet listener)
Max

Max is one of the gentler regular visitors. Says little, but when he does speak, it’s sensible. Click here to discover why he visits Speakers’ Corner.

Jack (Quiet observer)

Jack

“The old grey owl sat on an oak.
The more he heard, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
Now, wasn’t he a wise old bird?”

Click here to hear a few words from Jack.

Peter the Younger

Pete

The well-read Peter knows an awful lot about many subjects, and in particular: geo-politics and U.S. shenanigans.  Click here to hear why Pete comes to Speakers’ Corner.

Howard
howard

Howard is always polite and reasonable, yet despite that he fits in well at Speakers’ Corner. His contributions are appreciated by all. Click here to hear why he comes to Speakers’ Corner.

Ben the Whisperer

Although Ben is softly spoken, when he does speak, people listen. Click here to hear why he likes Speakers’ Corner.

Philip Feinstein

Philip occasionally speaks and is the founder of Music For Refugees. He also runs the Smokenders program, to help people give up smoking.

Kieron

Click here to hear why Kieron likes Speakers’ Corner.

Jean

Jean 2

Jean tries so hard to be feisty, but she’s just a big softie. Click here to hear why she comes to Speakers’ Corner.
Her husband Albert is below. Both of them are excellent value at Speakers’ Corner.

Albert

Albert 3

Albert may be 93, but he is as alert as anyone, and fit. When he helps Mr B unload the chairs he carries six at a time.
Albert wrote an absorbing book titled, ‘Civilisation Hijacked’. It explains how good men are persuaded to do bad things.

Book
If  you would like to buy a copy ($20) email Albert:  al.morris@optusnet.com.au
Albert is the husband of Jean.

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News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 13th January.

In News for Speakers' Corner on January 14, 2019 at 1:30 pm

“Gambling is a tax for the people who can’t do maths.”
Anon.

1. It was good to have Steve Maxwell back from his jaunt up North. Welcome, Steve!

Steve Maxwell stirring the pot.

2. Mr B opened his meeting by discussing his hypothetical penchant for large women. He was aiming to make a point about hypocrisy, but the crowd soon began baying for his blood while garden gnomes tried to voice their opinions out of turn. As a result, Mr B lost his voice. He sounded like a squeaky toy. Then the baying crowd, barely trying to hide their amusement, pretended to be kind and caring by offering all sorts of useless advice. Of course, it was a ruse to get him off the Ladder of Knowledge.

‘Two-Polarity-Mirko’ finally convinced Mr B to temporarily remove himself from the stand to recover, by kindly offering to take the stand himself. Mirko explained to us the importance of oxygen. “Without it you are dead!” declared the harbinger of doom. Someone suggested that other things might also be important for our survival but Mirko quickly put him in his place.

By the time Mirko had finished presenting his dire warning Mr B still hadn’t fully recovered, so Uncle Pete took the stand. He expressed his dismay with the politicians’ handling of HECS debts. Here is what he had to say:

3. Mr B finally managed to make his point about our hypocrisy, and then a passer-by asked for our views about communism. We heard a few views until the Commissariat arrived and marched us off to a nearby labour camp. Here is one view from Mark the Grinner:

4. Here is another view from someone raised in East Berlin before the wall fell. She also spent a few years in West Germany, and in the USA, and now lives here in Sydney.

5. “I met a woman in Houston while on tour as a musician. We went back to her place. Clothes were coming off. No words exchanged, no verbal confirmation that we both wanted to have sex. I simply made a move, and she didn’t say no. I leaned in for a kiss, she didn’t say no. I put my hands on her breasts, she didn’t say no. I reached down her pants, she didn’t say no. I went through the motions, all the way up to and through intercourse, and she didn’t say no, so I assumed she was enjoying herself and everything was good. Then after sex was over she turned to me and said : ‘You raped me.'”

Mr B read those words from an article, and so began a group discussion about consent that didn’t finish until nearly 6pm. It was interesting and enlightening.

Here is a postcard from the Postsecret site that might confuse the men who can’t understand women.

6. Our very best wishes to Jack, who has been AWOL. He has a fairly good excuse though: he has had double bypass surgery on his heart.

We hope your full recovery is imminent, Jack.

The legs of a large pigeon.

7. Other subjects discussed:
– John August had some interesting things to say about Russia’s socialism. But when he tried to redirect the course of the meeting Mr B took umbrage and told him to clear off.

– Ben the Whisperer stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and accused Mark the Grinner of confusing socialism with social security, adding that communism and socialism are destined to fail. Ben was particularly scathing of China.

– while Mr B went to get the car, Helmut took over. But by then it was nearly 6pm and Helmut was fuming. He spent the entire time lambasting Mr B!

– Last week and this week Mark the Grinner lamented the fact that Australians are losing their identity and becoming Americans. Mr B responded by saying, “No wonder! There is no Australian identity!” According to Mr B, Australia is just a collection of disparate communities. Multiculturalism has benefited the nation considerably, but it has obliterated any Australian identity we may have had. We can’t have our cake and eat it too.


8. In our Unusual Creature Series we present to you a sea slug. It has expressed no interest in our Facebook page.

 

 

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 6th January.

In News for Speakers' Corner on January 7, 2019 at 8:49 am

“A lot of our interest in fancy cars, jobs and houses has nothing to do with materialism. It has to do with a hunger for the respect and esteem that is only available in our societies through the acquisition of material goods. It isn’t the goods themselves we seek, it is the love we stand to gain through our possession of them.”
Alain de Botton

1. Your scribe has no idea what the five speakers spoke about because he wasn’t paying attention. Yes, I was there at Speakers’ Corner, but Mr B asked me to sort the logistics for another Carlos Castaneda’s Power of the Night!

If you remember (and you would remember if you were one of the lucky ones) in 2017 Mr B took us to a national park and at midnight blindfolded us. He then had us run full speed into the pitch-black forest. By harnessing the Power of the Night we would instinctively know where to place our feet and when to hurdle obstacles. Although that excursion was not 100% successful, it was character building. And Mr B says he has learnt from his mistake and this time he will bring with him a torch.

Click here to read a description of that exciting excursion in which we harnessed the Power of the Night.

To discover he is planning another excursion is exciting!

How was he prompted to plan another? Apparently there is new a horror film called ‘The Birdbox Challenge’. The characters have to go about their lives blindfolded to avoid vicious supernatural entities. It’s one scary film and it prompted Mr B to generously offer us his services again. He thinks we should all be skilled at harnessing the Power of the Night.

Sign up when you see him. A gold coin donation will be accepted.

2. One brief talk did catch your scribe’s ear. It was about the famous ‘ice man’, Wim Hof, and it was about the not-so famous (but just as impressive) Mighty Apollo. Wim Hoff’s breathing techniques allow him to withstand freezing cold. One of his many feats, for example, is to stay immersed in ice for nearly two hours. Also, he once ran 42kms in five hours, in just shoes and shorts, when the temperature was minus 20 degrees Celsius! It’s all about the breathing, he says.

The Mighty Apollo (Paul Anderson, but not the American weightlifter Paul Anderson) lived in Melbourne and was a man of strength. When he was fifteen he carried a horse up a 32 foot (6km) ladder. In 1950 he towed a semi-trailer carrying two elephants and fifty people (33.5 tons) up the Russell Street hill from Flinders Street to Collins Street, with his teeth. In 1955 he took the weight of an 8.5 ton elephant on a platform on his chest. In 1957 he defeated 60 men in a tug-of-war. Etc. It’s all about the breathing, he would say.

So, both men claimed that their breathing technique allowed them to achieve those extraordinary feats. The lesson is folks: keep breathing.

 

 

3. In our Unusual Critter Series we present to you the Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko from Madagascar. It could appear in our Facebook Page and you would never notice it.

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