Soapbox Speakers

Archive for November, 2016|Monthly archive page

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 27th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 28, 2016 at 11:06 am

‘Fifty years from now it will not matter what kind of car you drove, what kind of house you lived in, how much you had in your bank account, or what your clothes looked like. But the world may be a little better because you were important in the life of a child.’

1.  Steve was feeling crook but still managed to come along today and do a serviceable job speaking. Good stuff, Steve!

Ray was his usual humble self, giving Speakers’ Corner a wide birth and spreading the word of God near the kiosk.

Mr lost his voice again. His dream to be an opera singer must now be in question.

Helmut warped the space-time continuum by being given five minutes to speak and staying up there for half an hour. Only a superb metaphysicist like Helmut could bend time so well.

2. A police matter! Towards the end of the day Andrew Toth got up to speak on his platform but was soon set upon by a heckler. At one point the heckler allegedly gave Andrew’s chest a stiff finger point, and Andrew felt it necessary to call the rangers and then the police. He wanted the man charged with assault.

Oh my. As if the police . . . as if the rangers . . . haven’t got better things to do. Oh dear.

3. Mr B was asked if the universe was limited to what we can see, and his answer caused consternation. But as usual, he was right.


4. Mr B was again asked the source of his information, and his answer was again ‘the internet‘. He argues that using multiple sources, from reliable sites, is sufficient for making a claim. This scribe disagrees, claiming that using old textbooks printed in the last century provide far more credibility. And even books printed in this century can’t be doubted, because they’re books.


5. Unemployment was again a popular topic, and to deal with it the speaker spoke of free trade, renewable sources, and sustainability.


6. The speaker tried to examine Newcomb’s Paradox, but the hecklers had trouble differentiating between thought and reality. That should come as no surprise.


7. The speaker also tried to examine Buridan’s ass, and that is not as bad as it sounds. Again, the hecklers made it tedious. Sigh.


8. Our Facebook page now has 40 friends, but that’s still fewer than the Facebook pages of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber put together.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 20th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 21, 2016 at 11:27 am

Intolerance is violence to the intellect; and hatred, violence to the heart.

Indian proverb.

1.The famous novel by Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust, could have been about Speakers’ Corner today. Mr B’s grasshoppers, normally a placid lot, had turned from grasshoppers into locusts and had become voracious pests. How he survived is a miracle. It was horrible to see, and this scribe gets the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.

Poor Mr B. No doubt that at this very moment he is at home by his fireside, lemonade in hand, shivering with the trauma. By his side would be the Speakers’ Corner dog, stuffed, consoling him with its presence.

That assumption was correct. These photos were just rushed in. Here is a selfie of Mr B with his stuffed Speakers’ Corner dog, Oi.


In the photo below, taken from another angle, the stuffed Speakers’ Corner dog eerily appears to be consoling the distraught Mr B.


It is a pleasing trick of the camera. Notice how lifelike the stuffed creature is.

When this photo below was taken, the Speakers’ Corner dog was alive. Notice how lifelike Mr B is.


This scribe wishes Mr B a speedy recovery.

2. Albert spoke today. Although Mr B might harshly call Albert a geriatric, this scribe has far more respect for the 93 year-old. The softly spoken Albert is still fit and nimble, and he insisted on helping Mr B carry his chairs (six at a time) across the road. Albert spoke of love and its importance to the connected consciousness of us all.


3. It’s not known if Steve Maxwell was also ravaged by the locusts today, (though Ray was), but we do know that Steve has written another episode for his excellent Passing Parade series. It’s about the Speakers’ Corners in Paris, France. Click here to be taken there.

4. A grasshopper tried to speak of their religious experience, but couldn’t get far. Yes, the locusts again. That particular bunch of locusts were atheists, and they showed no tolerance, no patience, and no class.


5. What’s the best way to punish a criminal? The discussion involved the mentally ill, rehabilitation, government funding, deterrence, private prisons and the needs of the victim.


6. David the Interested asked why parades no longer let kids sit on the edge of a slowly moving truck, or let them cycle behind. One view put forth was that it’s illegal to sit on the edge of a truck, and another answer was that the organisers aimed to avoid huge lawsuits for any accident that might occur. After all, we do seem to have become a litigious society, thanks to the greed of many lawyers and clients.

That’s why signs like this are erected.


7. As promised last week, Mr B introduced
the subject of refugees, Muslims and the Middle East. He managed to get through 4 of his promised 19 points, and will be pursuing the same topic next week.


8. Other subjects discussed:
– Our evolutionary need for boundaries, and its relevance to immigration and xenophobia.

– Should prisoners get access to the internet?

– Do the homeless require more funding?

– Should $700m be spent on assisting 12,000 Syrian refugees?

– Even Adolf got a mention, and we happen to have a photo of him with his stuffed cat.

Adolf and his cat.

Adolf and his stuffed cat.

9. Poem-fest! Next week, at about 3pm Mr B will be reciting poems. His choice of poems is questionable, so bring along two or three of your favourite poems to recite on The Ladder of Knowledge.

10. The Facebook company has been criticised for allowing false news to spread, and that false news may have influenced the U.S. election and changed the course of history. This scribe is now glad that our attempt to buy the company failed, even though it means our Facebook page will go unnoticed. We don’t wish to have our reputation tarnished.

For plenty of false news go to our Facebook page.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 13th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 14, 2016 at 11:38 am

There is only one question: ‘How to love this world?’
Mary Oliver, ‘The Bear’.

1.In the past few weeks
we have spoken about music wannabes like Prince, John Lennon and Bob Dylan, but today the speaker chose to speak of the death of a true singer and songwriter: Leonard Cohen.

‘Normally,’ the speaker explained, ‘I would ask for us all to have a minute’s silence in respect for the passing of this great man, but he deserves so much more. I ask you all to remain silent for twenty minutes.’ With that, he bent his head in a mark of respect.

The speaker had forgotten he was speaking to philistines. Only three seconds had passed when someone in the audience began speaking. The twenty minutes was ruined.

An hour later he tried again. Same result.

Honestly, this scribe is in awe of the speaker’s boundless optimism. The speaker manages to expect far more from his barbarian audience than it seems they’re capable of giving.

He tried two more times throughout the day, but the respectful restraint required from the audience was not forthcoming.

The speaker tells me that Mr Cohen finally got his deserved twenty minutes of silence. It was in the speaker’s car, on his way home. He added that the car’s radio doesn’t count as an interruption.

Leonard Cohen

2. Gary the Christian got up to speak again, about Truth, though his meaning of the word differed from the dictionary definition. Be that as it may, he again performed well. He kept the audience amused and bemused. Gary is considering becoming a permanent speaker, and we hope he does become one.


3. Steve Maxwell spoke about a fellow called Donald Trump, who happened to win the presidency of a banana republic in the Americas.


(Special thanks to Glenda Michelle Browne. I steal a lot of memes from her.)

4. Uncle Pete was asked if there can be any advantages to having Donald Trump as president.

5. The super moon is due tomorrow (Monday) at sunset, and the idea that the moon can influence us (even slightly) was discussed. Mr B said the moon can never have an effect on our personalities because:
– a full moon doesn’t mean it is closer to the Earth. It’s ‘full’ because of its position in relation to the Earth and the sun.
– a full moon can’t affect the water in our body (as it does when it creates the tides) because the water in the body is in a closed and very dynamic system that obliterates any possible effect. Even puddles are barely affected by the moon, and that’s stilled water.
– a full moon’s light is nothing special, it’s merely sunlight.
– a full moon might increase crime, but only because burglars, etc can see what they’re doing.
– the claim that people in mental hospitals are affected by the moon is explained either by the fact that residents might be woken by the streaming moonlight, and wake others, or it might be explained by confirmation bias. (Confirmation bias is when the observers notice and remember the times when the patients are rowdy on a full moon, and ignore the times when they’re not rowdy with a full moon, and ignore the times when they’re rowdy, but it isn’t a full moon.)


6. Mirko had a few things to say . . . 

7. Other subjects discussed:
– If the Sun were a basketball, how big would the Earth be, and how far from the basketball would it be? Answer: it would be a grain of rice 26 metres (yards) away. Pluto was a speck of talcum powder a little over a kilometre away (half a mile).

– The speaker recounted a story about a battalion of soldiers going up the Kokoda track in Papua New Guinea in World War Two. The point was that there is a difference between being an administrator and being a leader. If a CEO is only maintaining the status quo, or being dictatorial, they’re not leading.


8. What is success? Is it earning considerable money, or status, or power? Does it have something to do with developing qualities in ourselves that we respect? Is it about succeeding in raising a family? Or is it, as the speaker suggested, something to do with managing to make our father, or mother, proud of us?

The discussion that resulted was moving. Men in the audience took turns to describe the relationship (if any) between their thoughts about success and their feelings about their father. Each man gave interesting and insightful answers. Three men grew up without a father, and their answers differed to those with fathers. It was an absorbing exercise.

It was an exceptional reminder of how important the audience is to the success of the meetings at Speakers’ Corner.


9. Two villages. Village A has one hundred families and one hundred apple trees. Village B has 100 families and 90 apple trees. An economist would correctly point out that Village A, with its 100 apple trees, has the better economy. That economist would not take into account the fact that in Village A, one family owns the entire one hundred apple trees, and in Village B, 90 of the families each own an apple tree, and share the apples with the other ten families.

From there, a diatribe about the disadvantages of free trade began. (Though it didn’t last long, for reasons unclear.)

10. Next week: Mr B will be focusing on the subject of refugees. His 14 point lecture has 19 things to say. Don’t miss it.

He will also talk about women. This is concerning, because it seems to be a subject he knows little about.

He will also finish his diatribe against free trade.

11. The crowdfunding effort to buy the Facebook company is now closed. We failed to raise an amount sufficient for our purposes, so we are cancelling the project. All money donated will be refunded. Yes, that means our Facebook site will remain in the doldrums.

So will our Archives site.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 6th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 7, 2016 at 10:54 am

‘After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.’
Italian proverb.

1.We have begun this post with our inaugural quote of the week. This site needs a bit of class, and we’re not going to get it from the speakers.

2. Early in the proceedings Mr B inflated a white balloon that was to represent the sun. Uncle Pete assisted him by standing in front of the crowd and holding up the “sun”. Mr B orbited him holding a cricket ball, which was the planet Mercury, apparently.

Mr B made a few hotly disputed statements about Mercury and then pulled from his pocket Venus. (Which looked more like a massage ball.)

Throughout all this, Uncle Pete generously “assisted” Mr B further by contradicting him repeatedly, and by kindly offering him tips on how to teach. And, Helmut, (Uncle Pete’s tag team partner), threw facts and figures about like he was throwing confetti.

To top it off, the other Pete (you’d have thought Uncle Pete was already one Pete too many) pointed out facts that Mr B had, in his negligence, omitted.

Unfortunately, none of these interruptions deterred Mr B. He proceeded to produce an orange with a chopstick shoved through it – you guessed it: Earth and its axis. While continuing to orbit Uncle Pete, Mr B valiantly tried to explain how ice ages come into being. He eventually concluded, leaving an audience more confused than ever.


3. Helmut took the ladder and spoke about the remaining celestial bodies in our solar system. From there he jumped to the nearest sun, Alpha Centauri, and from there to Beta Centauri. And from there . . .

He had to be stopped. There are billions of stars in our galaxy and he would have said something about each and every one of them.

4. This photograph sums up well the relationship between speakers and hecklers:


5. Then it was time for poetry. Yes, at Speakers’ Corner anything is possible. A few people took turns to recite, and the quality was high. (Apparently, even Bob Dylan wrote some good material. Who would have thought?) Helmut gave us an excellent recitation of an excerpt from Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth.

Helmut displays an extensive knowledge of many things.

Here is one of the more moving poems recited:

A Prayer to the Wind.
Oh wind that bloweth,
do taketh care,
to not mess up
my coiffured hair.

It costeth plenty
to have it done.
Don’t blow my money;
forgive the pun.

So if this prayer
hath any clout,
then please dear wind,
please peter out.

It was when someone began reciting the words to the Gilligan’s Island theme, in Richard Burton style, that we knew the segment had ended.

The postcard below, from the postsecret website, says a lot more than just what’s in plain sight.


6. Someone accused Mr B of being a complete idiot. Mr B objected to this, explaining that when he was twelve his appendix was removed.

7. Mr B was asked about his thoughts on the proposed ABCC legislation. (ABCC stands for the Australian Building and Construction Commission, a body set up to deal with Trade Union corruption.) It was obvious that Mr B had no hope of intelligently answering the question, and he solved the problem by asking the questioner to get up and speak about it. She did. She got up and stood on Mr B’s ladder and spoke clearly and calmly, and answered questions from the audience.  She did a fantastic job and the audience grew in number. Thanks, Rochelle!

8. Then Gary the Christian got up onto the ladder. He’s the guy who has opposed the idea of gay marriage these past few weeks. Today he was passionate, humorous, and provocative. He did a fantastic job as well, and grew the audience even more!

Helmut demanded an opportunity to refute Gary’s assertions about God, and took the ladder for another fifteen minutes. Then Andrew Toth replaced him, and he kept the crowd amused until clearly it was time for everyone to go home.

It had been a good day.

9. The next few days are significant, though no one spoke about them.


10. As promised, this week we begin crowdfunding to raise money to buy the company Facebook. Once we have done that we can commandeer subscribers to our Facebook page. To do your bit, go to Kickstarter and begin donating.

If there is money left over we will buy WordPress as well, to give our ailing Archives site support too.

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