1. Steve had a halloween theme to his talks today: he talked about death and all its connotations. He spoke of how Death has been regarded throughout history, and he talked about assisted dying. He held a healthy crowd enthralled all day.
Speaking of halloween, this pumpkin scares this scribe because it reminds him of someone.
2. We rarely talk about Mirko, and that’s because we have no idea what the hell he is talking about. On his lips is genius, no doubt, but we mere mortals are too impatient to hang around trying to decipher the message of that great oracle.
Mirko, for example, has created a phonetic language which allows every person on the planet to understand every other person on the planet. He magnanimously provides an example here. According to him, anyone on the planet should be able to read and understand the left-hand side card. (The sign on the right-hand side simply provides some helpful homespun advice.)
There is a prize for the first person to correctly decipher the sign on the left.
Given that all 7 billion people on the planet should be able to understand this innovative universal language, then in theory you have 7 billion competitors. In reality though, you’re competing against the people who read this post. That limits your competitors to zero, so you’re in with a chance.
3. Steve took a break and placed a mask on himself, and began remonstrating with Mirko about something. For us it was like a Punch and Judy show, though without the class.
4. Mr B valiantly tried to give a brief history of the planet Earth, but was sidetracked repeatedly. In the process he learned from his grasshoppers that marine dinosaurs did not exist (but marine reptiles did (and do)).
5. Gay marriage was a topic yet again, and we gained a Christian’s perspective. To be fair, the Christian was not critical of homosexuality; he simply believes that the word ‘marriage’ has a specific meaning. Hmmm.
6. How, precisely, does evolution work? An example was given, appreciated, and debated. Mr B also mentioned that 98% of a chimpanzee’s DNA is found in humans. The 2% difference affects, chiefly: the size of our brain, the larynx, and our hairlessness. (Instead of making hair, we use the protein for making brain matter.)
7. Other subjects discussed:
– Can we overcome indoctrination?
– Like in the Dreamworld accident media beat-up, do florists send their wilting flowers to places where there is an accident, to inspire gentle (and gullible) people to start buying flowers to place there as well?
– Souls. From whence did they come? If they’re not physical, how do they stay with the body? (Thanks to Plato for that question.)
8. A final halloween treat for you all: a ghost SUV, partly caught on film. The photograph is real. Extraordinary.
9. It seems the only way we can significantly increase our Facebook page numbers is to buy the company and manipulate the figures. Next week begins our crowd funding appeal to do just that.
And then we’ll buy WordPress to increase the visits to our Archives site.
10. Steve Maxwell has written another fascinating episode of his Passing Parade:
Speakers’ Corner Rome.
The eternal city of Rome is littered with the remains of Speakers’ Corners. Most famous was the Roman Forum, the administrative and political Centre of Rome’s Empire. In front of the Senate House, Caesar built a ‘rostra’ from which the Caesars could address the public. Any member of the public could address the people or petition the Senate. Once a year a Tribune, representing the citizens in the forum, would be elected to address the Senate. However, speech that met the Caesar’s disapproval could lead to punishment. Cicero’s tongue was cut out and nailed to the Rostra.
Next on the list is the talking statue. The first and most famous was named “Pasquino”, which is near Piazza Navona. Apparently, during the Renaissance in 1501, Cardinal Carafa installed a small statue of Parolclus (named “Pasquino”) in a small square near Piazza Navona. The Cardinal allowed his latin students to post written poems on the statue once a year on the 25th of April. A tradition to poke fun at the Pope and the Government in Latin verse began. Any dissenting verse could have you burnt at The Stake in nearby Campo die Fiari. That was the fate of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), a martyr of Science. Pasquinata (Pasquinade) is the word Italians used for a short satire exhibited in a public place.
Another famous talking statue is named “il Bambino”. The original statue depicted a reclining Silenus – half man, half goat. But most Romans believed the statue was ugly. They called it il Babuino (a deformed Baboon). Nowadays the spray-can has superseded the quill. Graffiti gangs spray protest messages and tags on il Babuino, and they reappear after every white wash.
During Benito Mussolini’s (1883-1945) regime, free speech was punishable by a torturing dose of caster oil, or by death. Anti-Fascists were indeed brave, and many lost their lives in Rome. With the defeat of the fascistic came a free press and a newfound – but sometimes not so free – speech. Italian governments came and went but the people continued to practice free speech. For centuries, the Piazza del Popolo was a place for public executions, the last of which took place in 1826.
Nowadays, Piazza de Popolo is a popular meeting place for demonstrations. For a while it was choked with traffic in a sea of cars. But today, the Piazza is a pleasant pedestrian zone. Having no traffic and in close proximity to the political heart of modern Italy, Piazza del Popolo has attracted radicals like the celebrated politician Mr. Marco Pinellas (1930-2016). Marco organised huge rallies in Piazza de Popolo. He was a radical to the end. He even smoked a joint of cannabis in Piazza and in St Peter’s Square during attempts to legalise cannabis.
On your travels to Rome take a look at il Babuino, “Pasquino” and Piazza de Popolo. No doubt you will see a protest rally here or there.