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 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 once beat Arnold Schwartzenegger in a body building contest. He 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.

Tony, atheist. (Speaker and  heckler)

New-Zealand born Tony is a fervent atheist and 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.


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.

Jovo (occasional speaker)


 Jovo is a charismatic man, which may explain why he is also known as ‘Rasputin’ and ‘The Wild Man of Serbia’. Throughout the world he is envied by monks, yogis and gurus for his ability to tap into a stream of consciousness and verbalise it. 

Andrew, the exhibitionist. (Heckler.)

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 used to be a speaker – he used to be the only flasher in the world prepared to stand up and talk about flashing, and support it. 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.

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, while 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.



Click here to understand why Daniel visits.


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 19th February

In News for Speakers' Corner on February 20, 2017 at 12:09 pm

“You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.”

Sammy Davis Junior.

1. Mr B encountered a troublemaker even before the meeting had begun. Each week, when Mr B first arrives at Speakers’ Corner, he unloads from his car 30 chairs at the bus stop, and then drives off to find a parking spot. When he returns he carries the chairs from the bus stop to The Domain, and sets them up.

But today Albert appeared at the car and began to take the chairs as Mr B was unloading them. Mr B forbade him to take the chairs. Albert laughed in his face. Mr B then had to patiently explain to Albert that the chairs were private property, and for him (Albert) to take them it would be theft. Albert laughed again. Mr B remonstrated with him firmly and Albert finally agreed to not steal the chairs.

The trusting Mr B drove off.

When Mr B returned on foot  ten minutes later he found that Albert had flagrantly disregarded Mr B’s clear requirements. He had carried all 30 chairs across the road (six at a time!) and set them up for Mr B in the usual spot. And then he had gone to the kiosk to buy his wife Jean an ice cream.

Albert is 93.

2. Steve Maxwell is still malingering with his “eye trouble” but today we had four other speakers take the heat off Mr B.

Helmut was the first to replace him on the Ladder of Knowledge, purportedly to talk about the origin of the universe; and Gary the Christian followed him to present an alternate point of view.  Neither man got even close to talking about the universe’s origin, but nevertheless kept the crowd interested.

(Gary later took a platform across the way and continued speaking.)

Mr B took the Ladder again before Mirko got up. Mirko is a natural comic, and kept the crowd entertained for ten minutes.

Later, John August took the ladder to talk about the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership and its “merits”. John must know what he’s talking about because Mr B agreed with him. John displayed a thorough knowledge of the subject, and deftly answered questions from the audience.

There are other people there capable of being speakers, too: Uncle Pete, Mark the Grinner, and Peter The Younger, for example. But when you see only Ray and Mr B speaking at Speakers’ Corner, you might think Speakers’ Corner has a dearth, or paucity, of speakers.  Yet, if all the people who could speak became permanent speakers, we would have plethora of speakers. A surfeit, even. And Speakers’ Corner would be on its way to becoming a solid tourist attraction again.

This scribe will now put his thesaurus away and have a lie down.

3. Good luck Steve with your health issues. Get well soon.



4. The subject of Cold Reading came up. That’s the method frauds use to pretend they’re psychic. One grasshopper said she had visited a genuine clairvoyant who had told her things no one could have known. The staid Mr B patronisingly told her it was a trick, but what the hell would he know?

Here is a video of Derren Brown using cold reading.

5. A grasshopper actually asked to hear some poetry. Who would have thought? Obligingly, Uncle Pete, Peter the Younger, John August, Mr B and two anonymous grasshoppers contributed. The poems were appreciated by all.

One grasshopper requested the words to ‘Clancy of the Overflow’. This scribe figures she can google the title and find a million sites that have it, so here is one lesser known poem, by William Blake. Thank you to the man who recited it.

by William Blake.

I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse

6. A new segment: The Something Nice Segment, designed to charm some and irritate others. (Click to enlarge.)


7. John Edwards tours
 the world hosting events in which he “talks to the dead”. His methods were explained today, as was the method of a faith healer using an earpiece. See the video below.

8. Today’s assertiveness tip was as profound as the previous four. Mind you, when Mr B’s grasshoppers were asked to  name any of the previous four he received blank looks for his trouble. And a wisecrack. Poor Mr B. He should be awarded a sainthood for his patience and persistence.

This week’s assertiveness tip, he informs me, is: Be aware that you are not obliged to solve the other person’s problem. 

Now you, dear reader, can ignore that tip as well.

Here’s something else about being assertive.


9. We discussed the Monty Hall Problem, in which Uncle Pete was asked to guess which of the three face down Cards, A, B and C, was the Ace of Clubs.

He chose A.
Mr B, knowing where the Ace was, revealed one of the dud cards.
Mr B then asked Uncle Pete if he wanted to swap.
Uncle Pete wisely said ‘yes’. And that’s the weird bit, because although it seems as though swapping would make no difference to the odds – that Uncle Pete would still only have a 50% chance of choosing the Ace by swapping – he has in fact a 66.6% chance of choosing the Ace if he swaps, and only a 33.3% chance of choosing the Ace if he keeps the card he has.  For an explanation click here.


10. Other subjects talked about:
– The speaker spoke of his roommate of two years ago: a black spider that lived in the light mounting above his bed. Somehow, this story was meant to persuade us that we shouldn’t avoid challenges in life, and instead seek change instead of comfort.


– Mr B argued that the Church should not compensate victims of sexual abuse, unless it’s the Vatican itself doing the compensating (a suggestion from a bright grasshopper). He argues that the funds the Church would be giving away are those donated by the gentle, well-meaning parishioners, and why should they be punished? He also argues that we should double the Medicare levy to cover the cost of counselling for ALL those who need it.

– One reason for high house prices and the difficulty in finding rental accommodation is the Chinese buyers. According to an estate agent, many Chinese owners don’t let their newly built properties to tenants because they like to move into abodes which have not already been lived in. (It’s a cultural thing.) That exacerbates the rental problem. And, there are plenty of wealthy Chinese buyers who don’t mind paying inflated prices, which means they can outbid others.
According to Mr B’s grasshoppers, both the UK and Canada have created legislation to deal with that, but Australia hasn’t.

– What punishment should consumers of illegal drugs receive? Should narcotics be legalised? Here is a postcard from the PostSecret website:


11.  MySpace was once the big thing, and then along came Facebook. Well, soon Facebook will be shoved aside and made obsolete by Mr B’s BigChat. Until then, however, you’ll have to make do with reading these posts on Facebook.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 12th February

In News for Speakers' Corner on February 13, 2017 at 11:30 am

“When we are gone, they won’t remember what you said or what you did. They will remember how you made them feel”.
Maya Angelou

1. This scribe felt a little guilty visiting Speakers’ Corner today, knowing that while she would be enjoying a leisurely afternoon, elsewhere, a big chunk of South Eastern Australia was being ravaged by bushfires. This scribe feels for the firefighters, and the gentle country folk midst the fires.

2. We missed legend Steve Maxwell today, who is out of the team with a dodgy eye. He will be out next week, too. Let’s hope we soon see him doing cartwheels and backflips.

Here is something to lighten your spirits, Steve:


3. Mr B, too cheap to go to a doctor, began his meeting by asking his grasshoppers for medical advice. I would have thought that to ask his grasshoppers for medical advice would be like asking bedouin nomads for an ice-cream recipe. Nevertheless, he was given advice and if we see  him next week, we will know that he took it. Or didn’t.

4. Gary the Christian returned! Today he grabbed a platform and a few chairs, and across the way bellowed about God. He was slow to get going, but showed guts and persistence, and soon he drew a small crowd. He kept them from then on, and finished the day with a croaky voice. Good on him!

5. In what way are women different to men? And why? This topic kept the crowd contributing for some time. Mark the Grinner took the Ladder of Knowledge to explain why men keep women subjugated. His reasoning: men know that given half a chance, women would quickly outshine them.
Mark said that half his speech was a ramble and might be rubbish.  Be that as it may, he kept the crowd entertained.

6. A merry joke was told:
A man is in the court’s dock charged with murder. The prosecutor says him, ‘You were caught red handed killing your wife with a spanner.”

A man in the gallery stands up and yells at the man charged, ‘You bastard. You utter, utter bastard!’

The judge bangs her gavel and orders, “Quite, please! Quiet in the gallery!”
The prosecutor continues: “And only ten minutes before you murdered her, you murdered her lover with that same spanner.”
The man in the gallery flies to his feet again and cries, “You bastard! Rot in hell!’
The judge bangs her gavel again and barks, ‘Sir, what is the meaning of this? Do not keep interjecting! If you have something to say, say it now, and then be quiet.”

Seething, the guy says to the judge, “Your Honour, I’ve been that man’s neighbour for fifteen years, and every time I asked him if I could borrow a spanner, he said he didn’t have one.”

7. The poetry recitation went well.
Uncle Pete read a beautiful and sad poem, but you’ll just have to trust this scribe because he can’t remember the title.

Peter the Younger also read a beauty: The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe. He even introduced the poem with some eerie organ music. It’s a great poem, but was it too long for an outdoor recitation? This scribe doesn’t know.

Mr B read a poem so simple it completely discombobulated Mark the Grinner, and that was a treat to watch.

Another poetry reading next week!

8. This week’s assertiveness tip? When you’re having an argument with someone, don’t follow Hollywood’s example and hang up on them, or state your case and then slam the door behind you. That’s not winning the argument, it’s just childish.

Instead, talk it through, and if you still can’t come to a resolution, at least leave respectfully, with the other person’s grace.

Click here for a slightly longer explanation.

9. Mr B used a print-out of a smiley face and an imaginary teddy bear to explain why androids will never rise against the human race. He also used a thought experiment devised by John Searle:

Imagine yourself in a room with a pile of cards, and each card has printed on it a different Chinese character.
From outside the room, someone pushes a card through a slot in the door. On the card is a question, written in Chinese. Your job is to find from your pile of cards the card which will answer the question. Then you push that card through the slot to the person outside.

You can’t read Chinese, but fortunately you have a guidebook that indicates which card to respond with. But you don’t have a clue what’s going on.

An outside observer might mistakenly conclude that within the room is an intelligence. But they’d be wrong. It’s just you.

An advanced android would act in the same way: the processor in its room has no idea what’s going on, but it would give the impression it has intelligence and emotions. No matter how human-like it might appear to be, that android can only ever be a mindless processor with nothing inside.

At the rate we are going, one day we will have an android indistinguishable from a human being. It might cry, rage, sulk, laugh and show fear, like we do. It might even be programmed to convince us that it feels all those things. Yet inside it will be a room of processing chips and nothing more. It will have no more humanity than a fold-up chair.

For an android to become like us, or rise against us, it would have to develop consciousness and emotions, and we aren’t even close to beginning that side of it. We are not yet even at the starting line.


10. Other subjects talked about:
– Weasel expressions, like when the church claimed that it had “failed to protect the children in its care”.  They didn’t fail, because they didn’t even try to protect them. As one alert grasshopper pointed out, “They succeeded in protecting the priests.”

– What’s a good way to sell a vanilla slice? (Answer: display the price!) But it works for other cakes too, you dill!

– C.P. Snow’s observation that people who study the Arts often have little understanding of science, whereas people who study science also immerse themselves in the Arts.

– Tonight is a television program based on the life of entertainer, Paul Hogan. Yes, that’s the same guy who chose to use his persona to make money by advertising cigarettes, and the same guy who suggested to troubled youths that having a bigger knife will make you a bigger man.
Someone wondered if his bitter fight with the Taxation Office has been resolved.
A lovely chap, that Paul Hogan.
(When he painted the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I bet he missed bits.)

11. There has been concern lately about fake news on Facebook. This page goes to Facebook. Enough said.

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