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 Terzič, 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. To contact Mirko: terzic33@optusnet.com.au

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’s favourite topic is his evolutionary approach to happiness and resilience, but he ends up talking about almost anything else.  He has presented an Ockham’s Razor talk on ABC Radio National and believes 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 but rarely contributes to it.

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 man.

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 Speakers’ Corner, 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.  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.

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 94, 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 October.

In News for Speakers' Corner on October 14, 2019 at 11:24 am

“Success is about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is about growing others.”
Jack Welch.

1.  When your scribe walked up alongside the Art Gallery on his way to Speakers’ Corner, a bit before 2pm, he heard yelling. ‘Uh oh,” I thought, ‘Someone’s angry and it sounds like it might lead to violence.’ But when I was closer I recognised the source of the voice: Peter the Younger. Steve Maxwell had with him a huge painting, and on it were remarks about climate change.

Enough said.

Simply, Speakers’ Corner had started a little early. However, without the ‘Speakers’ Corner’ signs about to warn passers-by, it just sounded like an argument getting out of control. But no, it was just Speakers’ Corner.

Which means, of course, that the only difference between grown men yelling at each other, and Speakers’ Corner, are the signs proclaiming that it’s Speakers’ Corner.

Oh dear.

Why can’t we all get along?

2. Today we had fresh, delicious home baked Anzac biscuits (thank you, Aunty), tasty gingerbread (thank you, Ray) and cheesecake (thanks, Mr B,  for not saving me a slice!). We were commemorating/celebrating two things: (1) the fact that Uncle Pete has not smoked for twenty years, and (2) the fact that from today, Mark the Grinner will not be smoking. We applaud them both.

Both men spoke about their choices, and answered questions.

The festivities were interrupted by a kookaburra making a statement about Steve Maxwell’s Eureka flag.

 

Uncle Pete – twenty years cigarette free.

 

Mark the Grinner – twenty minutes cigarette free.

3. Would I lie to you? We played the popular television game and the punters liked it. We’ll be doing it again in future. Bring along a truth about yourself (Mr B will provide the lie) and be part of the action.


4. Mr B presents another
chapter from his book for young people. In this excerpt he suggests we don’t talk like a zombie.

5. Other topics discussed:
– Steve spoke about climate change and how it’s human induced. Peter the Younger finally got fed up and moved elsewhere.

– Ray spent some one-to-one time with a member of God’s flock.

– Helmut spoke softly and patiently to his groundlings about science.

– Mirko proudly explained that if you do a google search for ‘Mirko Terzic inventor’ you will find he is on the first page of google’s rankings! This proves he is finally being taken seriously. Yes, Mirko, well deserved! He even presented us with a laminated print of what he had found on the site: a photo of himself and an impressive list of his achievements. They looked slightly familiar.

– Should we burn the churches? Matthew 6: 5-8 (NIV) from the Bible seems to suggest we should.

– Imagine you’re a tree . . .   Where would you be growing? Who or what waters the tree? Who or what looks after you? . . . .
Can you see why you chose that image?
One brave soul participated, and your scribe wishes Mr B had spent more time with her image because there was more to say. But he seemed distracted by serial pest Michael, and the job was only half done.

– Isaac Asimov wrote one of the most popular science fiction short stories of all time: ‘Nightfall’. Mr B told us the story and made a hash of it.

– Serial pest Michael “kindly” volunteered to speak. So we let him.  Five times he stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and gave us his views. (And five times we all moved rapidly away to somewhere else.) For some reason, we couldn’t persuade him to ascend the Ladder of Knowledge a sixth time.

– Why is Australia like Bus number 2, the Coolibah Queen?

– Mr B gave four tips on how to become a good listener, and seven tips on how to be interesting. Perhaps he should use those tips himself.
One of those tips was: be like Mr Ed, who never spoke unless he had something to say.

Mr Ed was smarter than most of today’s hecklers.

6. This week’s unusual critter from the Unusual Creature Series is the Arctic wolf. These two specimens would chew our Facebook page to pieces if they could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 6th October.

In News for Speakers' Corner on October 7, 2019 at 11:27 am

“Plagiarism: stealing from one person to feed another. Merely a conduit. Requiring no more talent, and being no more meaningful, than the cable delivering the talent to the TV set.”
Unknown

1. Every year, without fail, Tony Boyce has turned up an hour late the day when Daylight Saving begins. You can set your sundial by it. However, he didn’t turn up at all this time. He is not yet allowed to leave his maximum security aged care home. Your scribe visited him and he says hello to you all. He misses Speakers’ Corner and heckling Helmut.

Don’t count on Tony not coming back sometime, Helmut!

2. Passer-by Jenny Lowe got up to speak.  She spoke about DNA and explained how it was integral to life. She also said it is too complex to have arisen on Earth; it must have come from outer space. That prompted Peter the Younger to ask a question or two.

Jenny has written a book, “Are you ready . . .?” and she kindly sold a few of us copies. It might come in handy because in it she reveals the identity of the anti-Christ.

Your scribe was lucky enough to get a copy, but I won’t be revealing the identity of the anti-Christ any time in the near future. You can buy your own copy.

Hint: it’s not Bindi Irwin.

Jenny Lowe and her book, ‘Are you ready . . .?’

 

Bindi Irwin is not the anti-Christ.

3. Philip came again! He is becoming a regular heckler and speaker. He was again persuaded to say a few words on the Ladder of Knowledge, and he had three topics. One was about the brain. ‘Is it simply a communications system that connects each part of the body?’ he wanted to know, ‘like a telephone system?’ (Or something like that, anyway.)

And, Philip explained why autonomous vehicles will allow greater public nudity. And, he suggested that joining the 20 Centimetre Club might become commonplace.

Philip also wanted to know: “Why aren’t fire escapes slippery dips?”

???

??

One very good thing about Philip: he chooses unusual, original topics that attract our interest immediately.

Philip

4. Bertrand’s Box Paradox.
Three boxes, labeled A, B & C. In one box are two gold coins. In another, two silver coins. The third: one gold coin and one silver coin. Jenny is asked to guess which box has the gold and silver coins. Jenny points to box C. What is the chance she is correct? Answer: 1 in 3.

So far, so good.

One coin is taken from box C and it is seen to be a silver coin. It is then put back into the box. Again we ask: “What is the chance that the box contains a gold and silver coin?” (In other words, what is the chance that the other coin is gold?) Is the answer 1 in 3, or 1 in 2? (After all, we can eliminate the box with two gold coins.)

The answer, counter-intuitively, is still 1 in 3.

One way to look at the problem is: “What is the chance that Jenny chose the only box with coins of a different colour?” Obviously the answer would 1 in 3, and just because we happen to see one of the coins doesn’t change anything; it’s still 1 in 3.

But to please the doubters, let’s change the question to the more commonly asked question: “What is the chance the other coin is also silver?” (Again, we can eliminate the box with two gold coins.) Is the answer 1 in 2? 1 in 3? Or 2 in 3?

Again, counter-intuitively the answer is 2 in 3.

Consider: “What is the chance that two coins of the same colour were chosen?” The answer is obviously 2 in 3. And, just because we happen to see one of the coins doesn’t change anything; the answer will still be 2 in 3.

This scribe is obliged to suggest to Mr B that from now on he go easier on his poor befuddled grasshoppers. Again they were hopelessly out of their depth. Not so much for getting the answer wrong, but for having the temerity to suggest that Mr B himself was wrong.

5. Here is another enthralling chapter from Mr B’s book for young people. Is his book a self-help book? No, it’s a pre-self-help book. Its purpose is to help young people become adults who don’t need self-help books.   What presses your button?

6. Mark the Grinner reluctantly got up onto the Ladder of Knowledge and said that nothing had recently ‘pissed him off’, and he had little to talk about. From then on we couldn’t shut him up. He got stuck into university students for not being the activists school children manage to be. He got stuck into fish, for stealing the bait he puts on his hook. He found plenty of things to rant and rave about. From having nothing to complain about, he suddently seemed to have an endless supply. And it was so entertaining!
Throughout the rant, Mark kept imploring Mr B to die, simply because Mr B dared to raise his hand to ask a question. But that’s par for the course, for both of them. Mr B, as usual, refused to oblige.
In this photo Mark’s craziness is apparent.

Mark the Grinner.

7. Other topics discussed:
– Mr B spoke about the advantages and disadvantages of having a one world government. Peter the Younger was sceptical about the advantages, to say the least.
Later, Philip also spoke about the nature of what a one world government might be like.

– Joe asked a question about whether the mind is human, or what is the mind?, or something like that, but Mr B was flummoxed by the question (as is your scribe). It was Mr B’s turn to be out of his depth and he admitted it. He gave a lame answer and moved on.

– Is it a bad sign for someone when he rescues a fruit fly from a bathroom and puts it outside? And opens all his doors to let blowflies escape, instead of swatting them?

– What’s the secret about the almonds next to Tony’s bed?

– Recurring dreams.

– Swedish health care was compared with Chinese health care.

– How did General Custer really die?

8. This week’s unusual creature in our Unusual Critter Series is the Colugo, a close relative of the primates found in South East Asia. This particular one has given our Facebook page five stars.


9. This is getting ridiculous, Mr B. Face facts. She’s not coming back.

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