Soapbox Speakers

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 24th July.

In News for Speakers' Corner on July 25, 2016 at 1:46 pm

1.It was as cold as the proverbial witch’s tit today, which is probably normal for England’s Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, London.

Speaking of that Speakers’ Corner, rumour has it that it has gone downhill in the last thirty years. Not literally. The earth there hasn’t sagged, and there have been no excavations. I simply mean that the place isn’t as interesting as it used to be. You should have known what I meant. Smarten up.

If you Youtube the place you will see what I mean. Don’t waste your time Youtubing it though. Instead, waste your time reading the rest of this post.

2. Poor Mr B. The gentle, unassuming soul had to put up with an extraordinary phenomenon today. A few garden gnomes insisted on speaking to Mr B while he was talking. Rather than put up a hand to gain his attention, they simply talked at him and expected him to listen while he spoke. Mr B is talented, agreed, but he is yet to master the art of talking and listening at the same time.

If you want to present a point of view, no matter how dopey, put up your hand.

We have mentioned it before but it’s worth saying again: the man has the patience of a saint.

3. Mystery is afoot. When it came for the helpers to pack the chairs into the waiting automobile, there came a quandary. The chairs were packed in their usual fashion, yet there seemed to be plenty left over. Had the number of chairs increased, or had the automobile shrunk? Hopefully next week we can provide an answer.

And why had some of the chairs turned blue? Why did others have dried mud on them? From whence did the mud come?

We hope and pray it’s mud.

4. Steve Maxwell talked about:

– Turkey’s history, and what was behind the attempted coup in Turkey. He examined Mustafa Akyoll’s article on the subject.

– Is it a phobia when the fear is a rational fear to have? What do we make of Islamophobia? Do we irrationally or rationally fear religious extremism?

– Steve again spoke about creating more states in Australia, because the current system (in which the Federal Government rewards the main capital cities disproportionately to the rest of the place) isn’t working.

Steve E

The photo was taken by Armita Abdollahian.

So was this one:

Steve C

Thank you, Armita.

5. John August spoke for 45 minutes about his experience contesting for a senate seat in the recent election. He runs the Pirate Party, which has something to say about current copyright laws.

John August

It’s hard to believe John received less than 1% of the vote. Is it possible that when voters saw the name ‘Pirate Party’ they had trouble taking it seriously? No, that’s unlikely.

6. Mr B, when not being almost heckled to death
, was asked about:

– Pauline Hanson. Is she serving the country well when stating her outspoken views?

– Do atheists choose to not believe in God for emotional reasons? Is their choice based on emotion, not logic? Mr B claims that’s the case.

– What is the nature of happiness, and how did it evolve? (Yes,that old chestnut.)

– Mr B was strongly in favour of the state governments keeping Stamp Duty payable on the purchase of a dwelling, rather than replacing it with a  Land Tax. He gave three good reasons which convinced every listener, even though they remained doubtful. It must be asked: how could they be convinced yet remain doubtful? It’s an indication of what the poor fellow had to work with today.

– Does 2 + 2 always = 4?  ‘No’, said Mr B patiently, ‘not always.’ He generously gave two convincing examples. Peter the Heckler was not persuaded, and threw every toy out of the cot saying so.

– Mr B argued that Chinese, Japanese, Australians, Aborigines and Jews don’t actually exist. He said no race existed. A Jew was in the audience (at least, a man who perceived himself to be Jewish, Mr B would say) and took umbrage, suggesting that Mr B was a racist. The demure Mr B pointed out that if a race does not exist, it is hard to be racist. That rejoinder didn’t assist his cause. The tenet of Mr B’s argument was that we are all social constructs and products of acculturation.

– Mr B was then asked to explain in a sentence what he would do to solve world conflict. The humble Mr B  accepted the challenge and replied: ‘Many of the world’s problems would vanish if each and everyone of us realised that races do not exist, that we are merely social constructs and products of acculturation.’ (You can see that the previous discussion came in handy.)
It’s not often that an infallible blueprint for solving a world-wide problem is presented in just one sentence. It should happen more often. Indeed, it’s a habit Mr B aims to foster.

Speaking of saving the world:

The world being loved

– He then complained about the self-serving councillors who tend to name parks after themselves, and put up plaques that tell everyone that they made (whatever it is) happen. Gross misuse of power, he claimed. Who else erects a plaque that declares they have done the job they have been paid to do? Those councillors erect those plaques because they have the power to do so. And then they wonder why we question their integrity.(You can tell that in this rare instance this scribe agrees with Mr B.)

– Mr B explained why religious organisations should not be taxed. David The Interested then inconveniently asked a question so insightful and so pointed that Mr B’s argument fell in a heap. Mr B immediately changed his mind. An employee of the United Church happened to be listening and was confused by the abrupt change of mind. In his discombobulation the poor man was asked to get the details of how the Uniting Church works its finances, and he is to present the information upon his next visit. He has not yet been asked to embezzle from the Church. That comes later.

– These are just some of the topics we discuss at Speakers’ Corner. The last topic we discussed before pulling up stumps was the concept of a global citizen. Are the people who are getting DNA tests to determine the race of their ancestors wasting their time? Can they rightly call themselves global citizens just because their ancestry includes people from a hundred regions? Or should a person be deemed a global citizen only when they take the people, the animals and the environments of other nations into account when making decisions about what they do and what they buy?

7. There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, yet only 25 people on our Facebook page. How exclusive is that!! Join now to be a member of such an exclusive band.
For previous posts go to our archive site.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 17th July.

In News for Speakers' Corner on July 18, 2016 at 11:14 am

1.As the evening concluded young  Orlando, who has haunted us before, contravened strict regulations by capturing two pokemons at the Speakers’ Corner site: Jigglypuff & Staryu. He refused to release them.

This is outrageous.

2. Just some of the subjects discussed:
– Should illegal drugs be legalised? Mr B argued strongly against the idea. Should alcohol be banned? Mr B was in favour. He is a right royal kill-joy, that Mr B.

– Should the legal age to drink alcohol be raised from 18 to 21?  Or 25 ? One well dressed man suggested maybe 35. To taunt him, a man pulled from his jacket a whisky flask and took a swig. The well dressed man then called the police, because the Domain is an alcohol-free park. Mr B called him a disgrace, and both men left in separate directions, grumpy.

– Two speakers discussed the possible origin of the universe. Both speakers differed markedly in their opinion, and both had no idea.

– How different would a person’s personality be after death, if there were an afterlife?

– Is Malcolm Turnbull happy?

– Steve Maxwell  was asked why Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles is a good painting. How do we know it is? What makes it a good painting?  Steve Maxwell explained why and in the process defended modern art.

– Steve Also asked us all to answer truthfully on Census Night. And, if we are not a member of any religion to tick the box, ‘No Religion’. People who believe in God, but who aren’t religious, can still tick that box, explained Steve.

– Peter the Heckler contributed too, as did Helmut, in all matters of science.

– It was claimed that no matter how hard we try to earn our self-worth by seeking the approval of others, we will fail. This meme seems to provide good advice.

self esteem

3. On the same subject of self-worth, the question of earning money arose.

Money 2.img

4. A poem was recited and a discussion about school and its effects ensued. Here is the poem:

About School, by R Kukerji.
He said things, but no one understood.
He explained things. But no one cared.
So he drew.
Sometimes he would draw and it wasn’t anything. He wanted to carve it in stone, or write it in the sky.
He would lie on the grass, and look up at the sky, and it would be only him and the sky, and the things inside that needed saying.
One day he drew a picture. It was a beautiful picture. When he closed his eyes he could still see it, and it was all of him, and he loved it.
When he started school he brought it with him. Not to show anyone, just to have with him, like a friend.
It was funny about school. He sat in a square, grey desk, like all of the other square grey desks. And he thought it should be red.
His room was a square, grey room, like all of the other rooms. And it was tight, and close, and stiff.
He hated to hold the pencil with his arm stiff, and his feet flat on the floor, stiff, with the teacher watching and watching.
Then he had to write numbers, and they weren’t anything. They were worse than the letters that could be something if you put them together.
The numbers were tight and square, and he hated the whole thing.
The teacher spoke to him. She told him to wear a tie like all of the other little boys.
He said he didn’t like them. 
She said it didn’t matter.
After that they drew.
He drew all yellow. It was the way he felt about morning, and it was beautiful.
The teacher came again and smiled down at him. “What’s this”, she asked? “Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?”
It was all questions.
After that his mother bought him a tie.
And he always drew aeroplanes and rocket ships, like everyone else.
The old picture . . . He threw it away.
And when he lay on the grass looking up at the sky, it was big, and blue, and all of everything.
But he wasn’t anymore.
He was square inside, and grey. 
His hands were stiff.
 And he was like everyone else.
And that thing inside that needed saying: it didn’t need saying anymore.
It had stopped pushing.
It was crushed.
Like everything else.

5. Each week Mr B discusses a modern day hero. Last week he spoke of seven heroes in Mexico. A nurse, two doctors, two anaesthetists, and two bomb disposal experts volunteered to operate on a woman with a live grenade lodged in her jaw. The operation took place in a paddock, and took four hours to perform. The grenade was successfully removed.

This week Mr B spoke about a brave man called Genert Quintero. A drug kingpin called Mauner Mahecha in Columbia had his men build three submarines to silently ferry tonnes of cocaine beneath the seas. Each cost millions of dollars. They were 22 metres long and could submerge to sixty feet, stay under water for eighteen hours at a time, and go for ten days without refuelling.

The submarines ran on hundreds of batteries, which made them so quiet they were undetectable, even by radar. 
They were made in the mangrove swamps of Columbia and Equador, without electricity.

To build them he had bribed officers from the Columbian navy and hired the workers.

One day they tried to recruit an engine mechanic who was working in the Columbian Navy. Genert had been earning a modest salary and was about to retire. He was promised $50,000 (a small fortune) to work on the submarines.
However, he knew it was a dodgy business and reported the offer to a trusted friend, and that was reported to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administraton, who linked with the Columbian naval intelligence unit and asked Genert to accept the job and go undercover. He did. He retired from the Navy and became a crew member on one of the submarines.

He knew that if he were discovered, he and his family would disappear.

During the next few months, Genert gave the authorities names and phone numbers and secret locations. Thousands of telephone calls were recorded. They secretly videotaped crew members at cafes, airports, and even amusement parks. They monitored suspects’ email accounts.
Just before the submarines maiden voyages the authorities raided the cocaine processing labs and discovered four tonnes of cocaine easily worth tens of millions of dollars. They seized the submarines and made lots of arrests. They caught the kingpin himself and he was extradited to the United States and sentenced in a Florida court to eighteen years jail. The crew and builders and accountants and security guards pleaded guilty and are all doing time in prison.

Genert was a brave and honest man, and to be commended. Next week, another hero.

6. Have we ever mentioned that we have a Facebook page? And that if you want to see past posts you can go to the archives site?

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.

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 us on Facebook.

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.
He now has a Facebook page which has a following slowly approaching double figures.

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.


Peter the Heckler (and occasional speaker)

Peter - best

During the week Peter 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 Peter, 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.



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



Click here to hear why Pete 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 is Albert, below. Both of them are very good 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.


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