Soapbox Speakers

The speakers and hecklers!

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.

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

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

Some people say the speakers at Speakers’ Corner are a little eccentric. There might be a skerrick of merit in that point of view. Whatever the case, they’re an entertaining bunch.
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.

Mr Bashful, epiphany specialist.

Mr B 2

Mr Bashful, the 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’. (He himself could be called ‘King of the Cheap Shots’.)
  Among other things, Mr Bashful talks about New Age scams,  happiness myths, and why we should burn the Mona Lisa. 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.

 

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 and is a fervent atheist scathing of the Catholic Church. 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.
He has retired as a speaker but keeps his eye in being a heckler to the other speakers.

Max (Quiet listener)

Max

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

Arthur (Heckler)

 Arthur 1

Arthur is not what you call the shy type, and is generous with his opinion. I caught him searching for disciples.

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.

Silvia

Sylvia

Silvia drops by and stays for some time. We hope one day she expresses an opinion.

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.

Mark the Grinner

mark-the-grinner

Mark regularly gets a hearty laugh from the crowd with is meticulously crafted questions, and his serious comments are  insightful. His companion, Sue, is less vocal, but she has no trouble speaking her mind when she has something to say. Click here to hear why Mark comes to 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 92, 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.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 13th August

In News for Speakers' Corner on August 14, 2017 at 12:41 pm

“The great majority never brood, never philosophise, never ask questions about the meaning or purpose of life. They take things for granted; they swallow the universe like a glass of beer.”
Walter Murdoch.

1. A challenge to any Christian!

Mr Bashful doesn’t talk about the existence or non-existence of God, and he normally doesn’t debate Christians about the Theory of Evolution. That’s because Mr B has found no Christian able to explain to him the process of natural selection. He figures that if Christians are willing to dismiss a theory they haven’t taken the time to understand, why waste time with them?

But after an experience today (albeit pleasant), Mr B wants this accommodating scribe to announce for him the following open challenge to each and every Christian:

“Christian: please describe to Mr B and his grasshoppers the process of natural selection in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Please indicate how a new species can come into being, according to the theory.”

Mr B isn’t expecting the Christian to believe the explanation they provide. He only wants the Christian to explain it. He figures that if atheists are cognisant of the Christian’s point of view (having had it thrust upon them throughout their life), then it’s only fair that Christians are cognisant of the atheists’ point of view, even if they (the Christians) don’t believe it.

Mr B suspects that in all the years to come, up there on the Ladder of Knowledge, he will find no Christian successfully meeting that challenge.

Of course, many Christians do believe in evolution. (And many are scientists.) They seem to be the ones who don’t feel the need to introduce the subject of God in the first place. But if one of them does successfully takes the challenge I will laud their effort on this site.

As it happens, Mr B will be answering that very question this coming Sunday. And, perhaps the humble Uncle Pete will find the courage to contribute as well.
If you want to understand the process of natural selection and how new species come into being, come along this Sunday.

2. Mr B also wants it known by Christians that: the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the Theory of Evolution are completely different issues. Put another way, evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life, and the origin of life has nothing to do with the origin of the universe.

Yes, dear Christians, discuss those topics with consenting speakers if you must, but please don’t confuse those topics with one another. They are different issues entirely!

3. Steve Maxwell made a sign that welcomed people in forty languages. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find a translation for the term ‘soapbox speaker’, so foreign speakers still didn’t know what the hell was going on at Speakers’ Corner. But that didn’t stop Steve: he had a steady crowd all day.

As did Tony. That may have had something to do with his sign, which read ‘No Same-Sex Marriage’. “It’s topical”, he explained afterwards. Yes, it is, Tony. But please would you join us in the 21st century!


4. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to hearten some and irritate others.

5. Mr B wasn’t popular today. That’s because he was telling people what to do, by criticising the social media zombies who look at Facebook five hours a day, and the couch potatoes who watch television five hours a day, and the brick breakers who train in martial arts five hours a day. It was that last suggestion which inspired the most insults. Apparently, the public respect people who spend a big chunk of their life learning how to harm folk.

Mr B doesn’t yet understand that as the martial artists perfect their ability to kill people, they’re developing self-discipline and growing spiritually.

And it seems he doesn’t understand that people on Facebook for five hours a day are developing inner core body strength, and wisdom.

And that people watching television for five hours a day are gaining compassion and resilience.

It’s time to wake up, Mr B.

6. Who won the fabulous prize for answering last week’s question posed by Uncle Pete (about the Earth circled by string)?  Answer: no one. Uncle Pete left before people put forth their responses. My advice? Be there this coming Sunday and we will definitely resolve the matter, early!

Uncle Pete

7. Towards the end of the day Helmut stood upon the Ladder of Knowledge and said a few harsh words about Sir Isaac Newton. We, his groundlings, suspect that Sir Isaac Newton might have once sleighted Helmut, and Helmut has never forgotten it. We can think of no other reasonable explanation to explain Helmut’s incessant vituperation of poor Isaac.

Following Helmut was the fervent Christian, Gary O’Shea. Gary answered questions about Christianity and appeared emminently sensible. Gary plans to come back next week to speak on a separate ladder. If he steals Mr B’s crowd, Speakers’ Corner will be the better for it!

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Mr B was about to explain abstract paintings when he was sidetracked into explaining why the NSW Art Gallery is not an art gallery, but a financial institution.

– We delved into a man’s subsconscious to discover his meaning of life. (It turned out to be straightforward. No mental gymnastics were necessary.)

– Why do we have religion? Mr B gave four (of seven) reasons.

– Should we change the curriculum in schools? If so, which subjects would we introduce, and which would we ditch?
As expected, Mr B wanted to ditch foreign languages and all forms of history. His criticism of history prompted a strong reaction, too!

9. If you would like to read all this in a different font go to our Facebook page. And try our Archives site if you haven’t already.

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 6th August

In News for Speakers' Corner on August 7, 2017 at 11:38 am

“He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”
John Stuart Mill.

1. Years ago your scribe held his dog’s tablets in his left hand and his own vitamin tablets in his right hand. Absent-mindely he swallowed the dog’s tablets. I rang the Poison Centre and was told I should be okay. I was. However, Steve Maxwell made a similar mistake with some tablets on Saturday night, and ended up in hospital. He wasn’t well enough to come today, but he’ll be back next week.

Imagine if Moses had absent-mindedly swallowed the tablets he had been given. How different would the world be?

2. We had a gamut of guest speakers today: Gary O’Shea spoke well about the pressure upon Catholicism; in a soft voice, Rochelle labeled the real culprits causing Global Warming and answered plenty of questions; Mirko gave a humorous speach about H2O and Mother Nature (it wasn’t meant to be humorous); and Uncle Pete gave us another entertaining adventure about his early chemisty exploits. This one featured bromine.

Each and every one of those speakers did an excellent job keeping the crowd interested. Hats off to them.

Meanwhile, 93 year-old Arthur was unstoppable with his quick-fire questions. He even got up to dance when some music was played.

Arthur’s daughter, Jacquie, accompanies Arther on their regular visits. Hats off to her, too!

3. Uncle Pete gave us a puzzle to work on: Imagine a string wrapped around the equator of a perfectly spherical Earth. Cut the string and add another metre to one end, then join the two remaining ends. Now, if the string could circle the Earth in a uniform way, how far from the ground would the string be?

Uncle Pete told us all to work it out and give him our answer this coming Sunday. (Of course we will.)

Uncle Pete will provide a fabulous prize to the person providing the first correct answer. You are not, of course, allowed to google the problem or cheat in any way. (That suggests to this scribe that the fabulous prize will not be claimed.)

Bonus question: how long is a piece of string?

4. Mr B asked: “Are we knowledge gluttons?” We humans crave sugar and fat because thousands of years ago those helpful foods were hard to come by. Today we still have those cravings, but fats and sugars are easy to come by. Result: we eat to much of them. Is it possible that we humans craved knowledge thousands of years ago, because knowledge was helpful, and we are still subject to that craving? And that because knowledge is so plentiful and accessible nowadays, we consume too much of it?

5. We had heard of Jean’s prowress as a palm reader, and Jean kindly agreed to participate in an experimental palm reading. A volunteer from the audience provided her palm for Jean to read. Mr B took notes on what was said.

Unfortunately, Jean’s accuracy was considerably off.

Jean was a good sport to allow herself to be tested in that way. Jean, and others like her, are what makes an afternoon at Speakcers’ Corner so much fun. Thank you, Jean!

Next Sunday we will ask Jean to read this palm. She couldn’t do any worse.

6. The Something Nice segment. To charm some and irritate others.

7. Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox. Let’s say I am to walk a kilometre. First, I to walk half a kilometre. But before I can walk that half a kilometre I have to walk a quarter of a kilometre. But before I can walk that quarter of a kilometre I have to walk half that distance again. And so on. That means there is an infinite regression, and I can never actually begin to walk at all.

Of course, that’s not true. Where is the fault in the logic?

Thanks to Uncle Pete, here is another way to think of the problem: I am to walk a kilometre. I walk the first half. Then I have to walk the first half of the remaining distance. Then I have to walk the first half of that remaining distance. And so on. There will always be a distance that I first have to walk half of. That means I can never walk the entire kilometre.

Again, where is the fault in that logic?8. Life coaches tell us that if we want to succeed we should surround ourselves with smart people. If that’s true, who will be giving their time to the not-so-bright? The not-so-bright need help from those who are smarter. Should the smart people abandon them in their pursuit to be with other smart people?

9. Other subjects discussed:
– You’re at a dinner party and someone says out of the blue, “28 of my daughter’s 30 classmates are Asian”. Is that a racist observation to make? Discuss.

– Only one joke in the JokeFest was told, but it got a laugh.

– Last week a Scottish woman discovered that there was no such thing as a Scot. Today another Scot discovered he wasn’t Scottish. If this keeps up, Scotland will soon be empty.

– Mr B said we need to reduce Australia’s population and the world’s population. He suggested various ways on how to achieve this. A few grasshoppers protested, giving their reasons.

– A three-and-a-half-day week for half the population, and a three-and-a-half day week for the other half. That would double employment and increase productivity, claimed Mr B. Should we include the Universal Basic Income, one grasshopper asked?

– We could ban cigarettes without inconveniencing anyone, while giving the cigarette manufacturers and the governments eighty incremental years to get used to the changes.

– No one over the age of 40 should be allowed to vote, explained Mr B. One grasshopper disagreed, suggesting that a 60 to 65 limit would be better.

– Is Australia’s native wildlife and vegetation worth saving? “Yes,” said Mr B. Can a human live in Australia without contributing to its environmental degradation? “No!” said Mr B. Some grasshoppers had the temerity to disagree with him.


10. Our
Facebook Page has won the inaugural Speakers’ Corner Award for the best Facebook page representing Sydney’s Speaker’s Corner.
Not only that, our Archive site won the biennial Speakers’ Corner award for having the most posts about Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner.

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