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.

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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, and he once beat Arnold Schwartzenegger in a body building contest. Helmut knows a lot about metaphysics, (more than Arnold Schwartzenegger), and is happy to explain why Isaac Newton was an ignoramus. But 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 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.

Andrew, the exhibitionist.

If you have any questions to ask of a flasher, Andrew is the guy to ask.

If you have any questions to ask of a flasher, Andrew is the guy to ask.

 Andrew is the only flasher in the world prepared to stand up and talk about flashing and support it. However, nowadays he only speaks from about 4.30pm, and he speaks on spiritualism as well.
There are four entertaining videos of Andrew speaking.  Here is just one. For more videos of Andrew, go to the archives site. His award winning book about exhibitionism (flashing) is available on Amazon.


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.

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 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)


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

Peter the Younger


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 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 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 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 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.

If  you would like to buy a copy ($20) email Albert:
Albert is the husband of Jean.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 25th June.

In News for Speakers' Corner on June 26, 2017 at 11:53 am

‘Be ashamed to die, until you have scored some victory for humanity.’
Horace Mann

1. A report on Mr B’s excursion.
This scribe apologises for his late scribble. I haven’t long been home.

Last night, after the meeting at Speakers’ Corner had concluded, Mr B took 14 lucky grasshoppers to the Royal National Park for an adventure. This scribe was one of them. Our purpose was to experience the ‘power of the night’.

We certainly experienced that.

Carlos Castaneda-style, we were to run full tilt into the midnight forest, blindfolded, and because we would be ‘at one with the night’ we would instinctively know where to run and which obstacles to hurdle. We would emerge from the forest an hour later, puffing and blowing, but unharmed.

At least, that was the plan.

At 6pm Mr B parked the hired minibus in front of the Art Gallery and 14 of us piled in. Then we began our drive to the Royal National Park. Unfortunately, the heater wasn’t working. And, an argument quickly broke out in the back of the bus. I was in the front passenger seat, so the only words I heard (over and over) were “Mother Nature” and “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Two hours later we entered the park and the night was pitch black. Heavy rain began to fall. That’s when the argument finally ended; it was too difficult to hear each other over the deafening noise of raindrops hitting the roof of the minibus. Someone asked when they would be eating the pizza, they were hungry. Mr Bashful confessed that with all the arguments going on in the back of the bus he had forgotten to buy the pizzas on the way. It was too late to go back now.

Someone then asked if they could at least have a cup of hot coffee. Mr Bashful confessed that four thermos flasks of hot Nescafe Blend were still sitting on his kitchen table. “But no matter,” he said cheerily, “we will soon be experiencing the power of the night. And I’ve remembered the blindfolds.”

We drove down the same stretch of road five times, back and forth, until we found the required turnoff. Five minutes later we came to a gate that barred our way. The sign on the gate explained that the National Park closes at 8.30pm. It was 8.40. That news didn’t please Mr Bashful but neither did it faze him. “Our site is only five kilometres down that track,” he said, pointing. “We can walk.”

Someone protested, saying that they didn’t want to walk five kilometres in heavy rain just so that they could run into a dark forest. They wanted to know why we couldn’t experience the power of the night by running from here, from the minibus. Mr B said there were wire fences about, which would curtail our experience. We needed to be in the park itself.

So, in the blackest of nights and in heavy rain we plodded five kilometres to the site, feeling our way along the track with our feet. This is probably when we lost one of our number. We heard someone calling for help but the rain got even heavier and we couldn’t hear them any more. We kept walking.

Someone asked Mr B why he didn’t bring a torch with him. Mr Bashful confessed that he didn’t think of it. “But it’s a good idea.”

We finally arrived at the site. The only reason we knew we were at the site was because someone walked into a sign post and broke their spectacles. The light from someone’s smartphone revealed that the sign prohibited fires. This seemed to dampen Mr B’s spirit. He had planned to have us sitting around a campfire while he taught us how to capture the power of the night. Someone pointed out that the prohibition on fires didn’t really affect us: there was more chance of being visited by a spaceship of aliens that there was of successfully lighting a fire in this heavy rain. Someone agreed, volunteering to keep a look out for them.

Then someone announced that “nature was calling”. We felt around for a while but found no evidence of a toilet. Or of any building, for that matter. We seemed to be just standing in a carpark. Three people said they desperately wanted to go to the toilet and would we wait a bit? We said we would. We assumed all three had wandered off to do their business, but pungent odours soon suggested otherwise. A little way off we heard two possums fighting. Well, we thought it was two possums fighting until a woman said, “That’s just my husband.”

The two that had remained close to us to do their business announced that they had finished, and the smell was too strong for us to hang around. We had only moved about a metre when the same woman said, ‘We can’t leave my husband behind.” So, we waited for her husband to return. Eventually we heard his distant cry for help. None of us thought to yell back. The cries seemed to get further away and eventually they faded into the noise of the pounding rain. It was about this time when Mr B said we should move to less odorous parts and discuss how we could all capture the power of the night. The woman again asked, “what about my husband?” and Mr B explained that as day follows night, day would follow night, and in the morning her husband would find himself in the dawn’s early light, refreshed.

“If he hasn’t died of exposure,” said some wit in the darkness.

“If we all haven’t died of exposure,” said another bleakly.

It was refreshing to find that in these blizzard-like conditions people were still able to crack jokes and keep our spirits up.

In the pouring rain we stood huddled together like emperor penguins, while Mr Bashful spent the next twenty minutes patiently explaining how we could all capture ‘the power of the night’.

This scribe has to admit that much of what he said didn’t seem to make sense. In fact, none of it made sense. But no one else said anything so I continued to place my trust in Mr Bashful.

Apart from the frequent complaints made about having had no dinner, and no coffee, and being deathly cold, and shivering uncontrollably while standing in driving rain, and having lost two of our number, we were ready. Mr B sang ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’ so that we could all find him again. He needed to give us our blindfolds. Someone asked why we needed a blindfold, given that we couldn’t even see our hand in front of our face. Mr B explained, “Just to be on the safe side”.

Then it was time. With blindfolds on we all formed a circle, facing outwards. And when Mr B yelled the words ‘collective consciousness’ we ran as hard and as fast as we could into the darkness.

This scribe can’t go into the details of what happened next, for legal reasons. Besides, I witnessed nothing. It was pitch black dark and I had a blindfold on. Suffice to say that four of our number, including me, didn’t even make it to the forest, having tripped over the low wooden railing surrounding the carpark. We were the lucky ones, sustaining only cuts and bruises. Those who had managed to reach the forest reported broken teeth, broken noses, one broken eye-socket and a bout of concussion. Thankfully, one person had their phone working, because someone had broken a leg and had to be airlifted out by helicopter.

Only Mr Bashful remained unscathed. He is, after all, a seasoned veteran when it comes to harnessing the power of the night.

The helicopter medics didn’t look pleased. They couldn’t understand why eleven people in heavy rain had run headlong into a midnight forest wearing blindfolds. Mr Bashful tried to explain to them the power of the night but they didn’t seem interested.

I quietly mentioned to Mr Bashful that there should be thirteen of us, not eleven, and that the thirteen didn’t include the two who had wandered off earlier. Mr B seemed unwilling to dwell on our reduced number. He doesn’t believe in focusing on the negatives.

We heard the helicopter pilot complaining of having stepped in a mound of human faeces. With the aid of a medic’s torch Mr Bashful generously took off his jacket and used it to wipe clean her shoes. Ever bold, he then asked for her phone number. For some reason he lucked out.

When the helicopter rose and flew away with its two passengers (‘broken leg’ and ‘broken eye-socket’) the rest of us slowly and carefully limped back to the minibus. It took some time because we still had to feel our way, and the one with concussion kept holding us up. When someone asked Mr Bashful why he hadn’t borrowed the medic’s torch he confessed that he didn’t think of it.

It was five o’clock in the morning when we made it back to the minibus. However, we discovered that Mr Bashful didn’t have the keys. They were in his poo-smeared jacket that he had abandoned back at the carpark.

He must have been as cold and as weary as the rest of us, yet gallantly he volunteered to walk back to the carpark to retrieve the keys. By this time, dawn’s early light was peeping through the trees, so it only took him two hours to make the return journey.

But when he turned the key in the ignition we discovered he had left the headlights on all night, and they had flattened the battery.

It took the roadside service man only an hour to come and fix the problem, but he couldn’t fix the heater. But at last we were on our way home! Nine of us were, anyway. The woman again asked, “What about my husband?” but Mr B thought there were more pressing matters to deal with. Three of his passengers were lethargic, slurring their speech, and falling in and out of consciousness: all signs of hypothermia.

We left the rain the minute we left the park. As we drove back to Sydney there were no arguments in the back of the bus, no mention of Mother Nature and the like. Just silence. And the occasional moan. It seemed to me that our experience together had drawn us closer. Having experienced the power of the night we had become brothers and sisters, and had outgrown our petty disagreements.

Back in Sydney, Mr B thoughtfully dropped our three unconscious passengers off at St Vincent’s hospital. Two others got out as well and limped inside. Mr B dropped the remaining three of us off at Speakers’ Corner. However, after letting us out of the minibus he seemed reluctant to leave. He seemed to be stalling. I thought it was because he didn’t want to break the strong bonds we had forged between us in our search for the power of the night, but I was wrong. He said to us, “You might remember a request for a gold coin donation . . .?”

I had forgotten about that! I felt bad. Mr Bashful had put a lot of effort into making our experience a powerful one, and yet, we had failed him. As I handed him a dollar coin I reflected: I was still the same self-absorbed man I was yesterday. The night’s experience has not changed me. Inside I felt hollow.

Curiously, my two companions responded differently. They looked incredulous. Their response was a colourful one and no money changed hands. They staggered away, grumbling.

But Mr B is a forgiving man. He simply smiled at me and said, “I’ll be organising a scuba dive/spear fishing expedition soon. I’ll let you all know about it.”

He’s a good man, that Mr B.

We were all so glad to get back to the minibus.


2. During the week Mr B made this video, and he begged me to include it in ‘The News’. I guess if I want to go spear fishing . . .

Now a report on yesterday’s meeting:

3. One grasshopper asked how will we gain satisfaction in years to come, when most jobs have been automated? What will we do with our free time?

The speaker boomed across the park, explaining in detail how our species evolved to be diverse, and that each and every one of us has an inclination. (Not ‘gift’, because some people suck at what they like doing, but ‘inclination’.) By doing what we feel we must do, we gain satisfaction.

4. We had our jokefest, and as usual the jokes were met with hearty laughs. Here’s another joke. It’s more cerebral than the chortlers we heard today.


5. The subjects of weight loss and exercise were also discussed, but they were given a different slant to the usual comments you’ll hear elsewhere.

But just in case you’re hoping to lose a few kilos, the information in this meme might help.

6. We discussed the imminent 2% increase in politicians’ pay. The speaker suggested, counter-intuitively, that the increase might be a good idea, and he gave his reasons why. However, reducing penalty rates? Uh uh. No way!

7. The ‘Something Nice’ segment. To charm some and irritate others. (It’s a postcard from the postsecret website).

8. Today’s regrets were about a primary school girl sweetheart, a foregone opportunity to be an actor, and a man oblivious to womens’ advances. All good stuff.

9. Other topics discussed:
– One speaker claimed that political opportunists are more interested in reviling Senator Pauline Hanson instead of calmly addressing her concerns. Has Pauline inadvertently brought to our attention a genuine problem with regards to the teaching of autistic children, or not? Either way, let’s focus on making sure that we’re doing the best we can for our kids, instead of focusing on gaining political points.

– Christian terrorists.

– The shenangans of Karl Marx.

– Is it a good idea to try to be in the ‘here and now’? Or is it better to be in the ‘before and after”?

– Is it worth trying to change the world?

10. Speakers’ Corner legend Steve Maxwell’s has written another article for his popular ‘Passing Parade‘ series. Enjoy!

Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade

The Speakers’ Corner in Brisbane.

Morton Bay (Brisbane) was a convict colony until convict transportation to the place stopped in 1840. After that, Kanakas (workers from the Pacific Islands) were lured to Queensland under the pretext of indentured labour, to replace the convicts.

Queensland was administered by New South Wales until 1859, and then Queensland became a self-governing sovereign British colony with its own army and navy and immigration policy. Its first parliament met in May, 1860. Morton Bay had a small white population of 25,000. A tiny elite of powerful graziers controlled parliament.

The graziers favoured coolie labour and wanted the land clear of Aborigines.

The Queensland army occupied Southern New Guinea to stop German expansions in the 1870’s, and in the 1890’s was preparing a war against striking shearers. The shearers objected to the coolie labour and were preparing for a rebellion. In 1893 Mother Nature intervened just in time. Three cyclones hit Queensland at once, causing one million pounds worth of damage. The revolution was cancelled.

Queensland’s boast is that it had the first Labor government in the world! It lasted one week in 1899.

Under federation in 1901, the colony ceded its power in foreign affairs and trade to Australia.

Free speech in Queensland was hard fought for, and not guaranteed until 2010 when the Queensland government dedicated a Speakers’ Corner to celebrate 150 years of parliament in Queensland. It is in the George Street forecourt, just outside of Parliament House.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 18th June

In News for Speakers' Corner on June 19, 2017 at 1:18 pm

“Weapons of mass distraction.”
Silicon Valley technology forecaster Paul Saffo, speaking about smartphones.

1. “He doesn’t know enough to get out of the rain” is an expression employed by some disparagers to cast doubt upon a person’s intelligence. Today, Mr B’s grasshoppers didn’t know enough to sit in the sun. On a bitterly cold day (for Sydney) they sat in the shade, and had no intention of moving to a sunny area only metres away. Mr B had to pick up his ladder and lead them. His actions reminded this scribe of Moses taking his followers to the promised land.

To be fair to the weather, it wasn’t cold enough to freeze a dog to a tree, but the strong wind coming off the harbour did make the afternoon uncomfortable. We left early, at 4pm.

2. Special announcement. Mr Bashful is organising something special.

When Mr B was a lad he heard about an incident described in a book written by Carlos Castaneda. The book’s protagonist, Don Juan, was so in tune with himself and with ‘the power of the night’ that he was able to run through a forest in complete darkness and remain unharmed. Although effectively blind, he ran with abandon, and when he came to a log he ‘knew’ it was there and jumped it; when he came to a tree he ‘knew’ it was there and ran around it. He would run in that forest for an hour at a time, in total darkness.

Mr B says he has figured out the secret. And, this coming Sunday, 24th June, on the darkest, moonless night of this month, he will be driving a hired minibus with 14 lucky grasshoppers to the Royal National Park. There they will sit around a camp fire for twenty minutes while Mr B explains to his grasshoppers how they too can capture the power of the night. Then it will be their turn to run full tilt into the midnight forest and remain unharmed. They too will experience the pleasure of being ‘at one’ with nature.

Just to be on the safe side, Mr B will blindfold them as well.

It will be an extraordinary experience and one which will be long remembered. This scribe is going, and if you want to be one of the lucky ones I suggest you reserve your spot now. The remaining 13 seats will go fast. We will be leaving from Speakers’ Corner after the meeting. 

Mr B will be supplying all the pizza you can eat and all the hot coffee you can drink, but bring with you warm clothes and comfortable footwear for running.

Mr B says a gold coin donation towards the cost of the petrol, pizza, coffee and minibus hire would be appreciated.

It will be even darker in the forest than this photograph suggests, because there will be no moonlight. That will be perfect for experiencing ‘the power of the night’, says Mr B.

3. The Something Nice Segment. To charm some and irritate others.

4. We have a winner! Today’s grasshoppers played bingo. (See last week’s post.) The first person to complete their card was a passer-by. Congratulations, Charles!

One of our regulars, Sue, came second and won nothing.

5. We had our JokeFest segment and all five contributing grasshoppers got a laugh.

6. We also introduced a new segment. The grasshoppers were invited to stand on the Ladder of Lament and express a regret they kept deep within them. Three people took the opportunity. It was an interesting segment and this scribe looks forward to discovering what will be said this coming Sunday.

Bring a regret with you when you come next Sunday, and share it. If you have no regrets, do something stupid during the week.

7. What is creating the Himalayas? Is it India, crashing into Eurasia? Or are India and Australia both crashing into it?

Let’s see. About 300 million years ago two whopping big continents, called Laurasia and Gondwana, got together to form a supercontinent called Pangaea. Pangaea was like a monopoly because it had most of the world’s land mass. But Laurasia and Gondwana never really got on, and about 200 million years ago they had a falling out and went their separate ways. That was the end of Pangaea.

Laurasia went off to do its thing up North and Gondwana went South.

But the break up was devastating for poor Gondwana, and about 100 million years it stopped coping and began to break apart. (So too did Laurasia up North, truth be told.) Gondwana broke up into chunks called tectonic plates, and those plates began bumping into each other like bumper cars. 43 million years ago two of those chunks got together to form the Indo-Australian Plate. That plate, and the African Arabian Plate, didn’t like the direction Gondwana had been taking, and headed back North. However, the Indo-Australian Plate was moving at about 8 or 9 cms per year, which was a reckless speed given its proximity to the Eurasia Plate. Inevitably, disaster happened: around 40 million years ago it crashed into the Eurasian Plate (which had only been minding its own business) and that created the crumple zone we now know as the Himalayas.

But did the Indo-Australian Plate stop and take a long hard look at itself? No. Like a psychopath, it continues to push into Eurasia at around 3.7 cms per year, causing the crumple zone to continue to grow at around 1cms to 6cms per year (depending on whose ruler you use).

This wanton violence stressed the Australian half of the Indo-Australian plate, causing it to reflect: did it really want to live this way? Did it want to spend the next 100 million years causing trouble? No, it didn’t. So, for the last 10 million years there has been a lot of friction between the two halves, causing lots of Earthquakes, and about 3 million years ago the two began breaking up. Two separate plates were created: the Indian Plate and the Australian Plate, and the Australian Plate is fleeing the scene. (But some say they’re still together!)

Trying to look innocent of the part it played in the collision, the Australian plate floats peaceably about, tentatively moving North at a sedate 5.6 centimetres per year.

By this time the African and Arabian Plates had also broken up, having had their own problems.

So, who caused the crash? Did India cause it, or did India and Australia combined? The fact is, there is no definitive proof that we Australians were ever involved. All you have is circumstantial evidence and the opinions of boffins who probably put their pants on backwards. In short, we Australians insist that we are separate from India and always have been. We have nothing to do with the collision up North; we are in the clear. Now leave us alone.

8. Other subjects discussed:
– The shonky practice of opportunistic tradies: of passing the cost of parts onto the customer and making a profit in the process. The speaker claimed that their job is to do the work, not act as retailers seeking margins.

– Do women really fear death when they go out on a blind date, as “studies” suggest? If so, what does that mean? If not, what does that mean?

– Steve Maxwell spoke for much of the day about ‘The College of the Complexes‘, which is “a playground for people who think”. A big part of Steve’s success and legendary status is his ability to consistently produce fresh, original material. Good going, Steve!

– Helmut spoke twice: the first time was to relieve Mr B, whose voice seems to be finally breaking. (About time!) Helmut spoke again while Mr B retrieved his car. Thank you, Helmut!

– Do we have a right to judge people’s attitudes “appalling”? Do we have a right to decide what other people think? Or can we judge only their actions?

– What is truth?

9. There is a Facebook page which has posts astonishingly similar to the ones in this blog. Either
a) it’s an extraordinary coincidence, or
b) it’s blatant plagiarism, or
c) the ‘cut & paste’ feature is applied.

Take it from this scribe that for our archives site, (c) applies.

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