Soapbox Speakers

Archive for December, 2016|Monthly archive page

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 25th December

In News for Speakers' Corner on December 25, 2016 at 7:08 pm

“The best cure for sea sickness is to sit under a tree.”
Spike Milligan.

1. No doubt the hecklers came to Speakers’ Corner today, unaware that it’s Christmas Day. To give them credit, at some point they would have become dimly aware that the speakers weren’t there and that something was amiss.

An oil tanker takes more than 10 kilometres to make a turn. In the same way, the hecklers would have come to the slow realisation that there would be no Speakers’ Corner today. Glacier-like, they would have changed their plans.

How the hecklers manage to find their front door in the morning has always been a puzzle, but how they manage to find their front door from somewhere else is nothing short of a miracle. Today they have the added benefit of leaving early and having more sunlight to make the job easier.

2. Correction: in last week’s epistle this scribe said there would be no Speakers’ Corner next week (New Year’s Day). He was wrong. Steve Maxwell will be there. Steve isn’t concerned about the noise that will be made by the Field Day concert. He thinks Mr Bashful is a squib. So does this scribe.

3. Here are some messages to do with sexual respect:










4. This very same article is on our Facebook page so check it out now! And, if you want to know what happened at Speakers’ Corner in July 2014 (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) go to our archives site.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 18th December

In News for Speakers' Corner on December 19, 2016 at 10:50 am

“When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

1. The Domain was taken over by ‘Carols By Candlelight’, though we speakers were ‘granted’ a portion of where we usually speak, and it was enough.

However, although there were plenty of people about, virtually no one sat down to listen. There was too much going on. Mr B was the first to wander off into the festivities.

There were freebies galore. We were given delicious desserts from the ‘Connoisseur’ company, and nearby Captain McCleans, the Tooth Crusader, was on hand giving out tubes of toothpaste. (Handy, after the dessert!) There were carnival games for the kids, radio stations taking people’s photographs, and a real stick insect advertising the Botanic Garden’s educational platform.

Here is a large stick insect blending into its natural surroundings.


Giant Stick Insect (Giganticus Phasmatodea) near the trunk of a tree.

2. With all the rides and freebies and everything, it was like being in a circus. We, of course, had our own one-man circus to deal with. Mirko was in fine form. His endless interruptions and his ‘loose canon’ mind were as prominent as ever.

Today Mirko insisted that his revival of Mother Nature’s phonetic language is far superior to any immediate translation Google have come up with. We wonder if his efforts have taken the following into account:


3. A grasshopper observed that ‘Carols By Candlelight’ has changed in the last few years. It used to be that friends and family could sit on a blanket and listen to the carols. Now you have book ahead, and pay, to sit in ordered seats, as though you’re attending a concert.

Perhaps the speakers should also start charging their listeners? $220 per person for the three and a half hour show seems fair. Indeed, it would be cheap at twice the price. What do you think? Is $220 per person, or $800 per family, too reasonable? Should the fee be higher? Should seniors get a discount? Let us know your thoughts on the matter.

4. We had a pleasant encounter with the rangers today and they politely asked us to refrain from encroaching on the festivities. We were happy to comply.

This is another opportunity to thank the rangers for their support over the years. They are nearly always friendly, and their habit of turning a blind eye to our car as we unload and load the chairs is particularly appreciated. Thank you!

We hope the rangers enjoy any break they might get over Christmas, and are given triple-time when they do have to work!

5. The bad news and the good news:
The bad news: There will be no speakers this coming Sunday, Christmas Day.
The good news: There will be no hecklers this coming Sunday, Christmas Day.

The same applies for the following week. The speakers don’t wish to compete against the loud music on Field Day.

Posts in this blog will continue over the break. This scribe is not 100% sure why.

See you in the Domain on January 8th.

6. A man from the rationalist
society took the ladder and spoke in favour of eugenics. He spoke well and was happy to take questions. We hope he speaks again.


7. For those of you who have yet to purchase your loved one a Christmas gift, try this handy item. It’s available in our newly opened gift shop:


8. Some of you
will be going to a friend or relative’s house to have Christmas Dinner. Take one of these along with you.  It will make you the life of the party while you earn everyone’s respect. Go straight to our gift shop.


9. Or, try this novel idea for a gift:


10. Those of you going
on holidays might be concerned about your home’s security. Try this clever tip:


11. Why not visit the
Facebook Fairy? Or visit the wondrous and mystical land of the Archives?


News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 11th December

In News for Speakers' Corner on December 12, 2016 at 11:29 am

”Much of your life is determined by your courage to start awkward conversations.”

Frank Warren

1.Last week this scribe felt concern for Steve Maxwell, who had been feeling poorly. I suggested that Steve would fire again next year. Steve chose to make this scribe look silly by excelling today, and holding a big crowd the whole time.

Rather than feel concern for him, we now have to beat him back with a stick.

2. Mr B forgot to introduce his poetry segment. He assures me he won’t forget next week. (The poem will be ‘Child On Top of a Greenhouse’ by Theodore Roethke.)

He did, however, talk for a while about the religious tinge to his atheism. Can a person moved by stories of God still claim to be an atheist? Does a person moved by a story of leprechauns secretly believe in leprechauns? It all became complicated.

Helmut tried to turn the subject to whether or not there was a creator, but Mr B would have none of that. It’s a topic he avoids.


3. Mr B had an obsession with cows today and we don’t know why. Yes, he was critical of them, and three times he was asked what he had against cows. This stark warning below should make his questioners give pause:


4. Other subjects talked about:

– Should the taxpayer fund private schools?

– Should religious institutions pay tax?

– What can be done in areas with high rates of alcoholism and domestic violence?

– What precisely is an agnostic?


5. One of our grasshoppers (Rochelle) recommended a site to help us decide who to vote for: They Vote For You.

6. Philip Feinstein, from the Music For Refugees organisation, dropped by and answered a few tricky questions about refugees in Australia. When he didn’t know the answer he said, ‘I don’t know’. That’s a remarkable ploy and it worked effectively.

7. It’s about time we mentioned that we’re on Facebook, and that we have an archives site.


News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 4th December

In News for Speakers' Corner on December 5, 2016 at 11:07 am

‘We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’
Viktor Frankl

1.We had a speaker from the olden days speak today. Victor Zammit, credited with having the biggest crowd ever in the Domain, dropped by and wanted to speak. Age had not wearied him. He gave his reasons why Australia should become republic, and he spoke well.

Ray, our Christian speaker, was besieged by three ardent atheists and one agnostic. He eventually emerged tired and philosophical, but not beaten. He found the time to have a long conversation with non-militant grasshopper, Greg.

Steve Maxwell spoke on his own stand, and for a few minutes, on Mr B’s stand, before calling it quits earlier than usual. We expect Steve to be at his fiery best in the new year.

After suffering three tedious weeks of unnecessary interruptions, Mr B was grumpy. Today he went grasshopper hunting.

Grandpa Bashful, acclaimed grasshopper hunter of the early twentieth century.

(For any young folk who might be reading this: the grasshopper photo is a fake. Grasshoppers have never been that big. However, over 300 million years ago some insects were that big.)

2. Last week one of our speakers, Andrew Toth, claimed that a heckler had struck his chest vigorously with a finger. He had called the police as a result.  Today that same heckler arrived, and this time the police came. Long discussions with all parties ensued. We don’t know the result, but next week the speakers will be calling for capital punishment to be reintroduced.


3. The idea of controlling our thoughts was discussed. Mr B has been known to criticise the idea, saying that to ask people to control their thoughts is asking too much of them; they’re likely to fail, and feel like a failure as a result. However, David the Interested gave a wonderful example of how a man did manage to control his thoughts, and as a consequence, save himself.

From there the group spoke about attitude, that one true freedom described in the quote above.


4. The discussion then turned to our need to take full responsibility for how our life unfolds.

responsibility5. After recently watching a 4 Corners documentary on television, a grasshopper spoke of her dismay with the many tax havens around the globe that allow people to avoid and evade paying tax. (Tax evasion is illegal. Tax avoidance isn’t.)


6. Mr B described the difference between self-esteem and self-worth, and then gave a warning to those of us who try to earn their self-worth. (In short, we can’t.) For the chapter about that, click here.

7. The poem discussed this week was Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening‘. Next week the poem will be Theodore Roethke’s poem, ‘Child on top of a greenhouse‘.


8. Our
Facebook page has exactly the same information as this blog, so why not join up and have the pleasure of reading all this again on a different site?

For that matter, why not waste a few precious days of your life reading past posts in the Archives site?


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