Soapbox Speakers

Archive for September, 2017|Monthly archive page

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 24th September.

In News for Speakers' Corner on September 25, 2017 at 10:08 am

What matters more? What you have learned, or what you have taught?

1. From the opening bounce, today was a treat. A grasshopper named ‘Steph’ asked a question along the lines of, ‘Why don’t Australians have public discussions about our mortality?’

It turned out that Steph is a doctor who works in an Intensive Care Unit. Countless times she, and other doctors, have saved the lives of elderly people knowing that death may well have been a better option. She pointed out that had there been frank discussions in healthier times, better decisions could have been made for the patient.

Steph would like all of us to have regular talks with our loved ones about what we value in life. Do we value life at all costs? Or a healthy mind? Our mobility? We should know these things about ourselves and our loved ones.

And, instead of wasting time reporting on the Kardashians, Current Affairs programs could focus on these more important questions.

Steph was soon persuaded to come to the front of the group and give her thoughts on the matter, and answer questions. She spoke for more than an hour, and we learned a great deal.

It was an absorbing talk and we are grateful to Steph for giving us her time, her patience and her honesty.

Two of the twelve Kardashian sisters.

2. After Steph left, Mirko took the Ladder of Knowledge to share his ideas. He had a different speaking style to Steph. Steph had been clear, cogent and coherent.

3. When Mr B finally stood upon the Ladder of Knowledge he explained why it’s important for people like Mirko to tell their point-of-view. (He didn’t half labour the point.) Then, as a few more passers-by sat down, he handed the Ladder of Knowledge to Helmut!

Mr B was having a real bludge today.

Mr B sat in the audience and kept asking Helmut: “Helmut, why do you use the word ‘God’ to describe non-sentient, non-intelligent and non-conscious energy?” (See how he labours a point?)

Finally, after being a pest to poor Helmut, Mr B moved to another part of the park and spoke on the less impressive Ladder of Percipience.

4. The ‘something nice segment’, to charm some and irritate others.

5. Mr B wants to give the man who headbutted Tony Abbott a medal. But not because he thinks Tony deserved a headbutt.

The assailant is an anarchist. When asked why he headbutted Tony, the man replied, “I’m a lone anarchist that felt the need to headbutt Tony Abbott because I didn’t think it was an opportunity I’d get again.”

Get that? The man’s only reason for headbutting Tony was because he had the rare opportunity to do it. No other reason.

The words and actions of a true anarchist.

The man deserves a medal, explained Mr B, because he acted in accordance with his philosophy. How refreshing! The man is an inspiration to us all.

6. Mr B examined possible reasons why someone might become a foot fetishist, or a homosexual, or a heterosexual, or a paedophile. He then briefly discussed love and its causes. He spoke of all this in order to come to his main point: “Is it possible that our sexual attraction to a sex is not the precursor to us falling in love with a member of that sex? That instead, we are wired to fall in love with a member of a sex, and that determines our sexual attraction to that sex?’

You won’t get ideas like that expressed in ‘Mr Ed’ reruns!

7. Other subjects discussed.
– Mirko and an Aboriginal speaker had an intellectual sparring match that was frightening in its intensity and absurdity. We hope the Aboriginal speaker comes back so that we can hear more of what he said. (Though the words, ‘be careful what you wish for’ are ringing in my ears.)

– The fable in which Prisoner A has a window in his cell and prisoner B in the next cell doesn’t. During the day, Prisoner A peers out his window and patiently describes in detail to Prisoner B the park he sees. Each day there are different incidents to relate. This helps to keep Prisoner B sane. This goes on for years until one day Prisoner A dies. Prisoner B begs the warden to be given the now vacant cell, and receives it. He then peers out the window and sees . . . a brick wall.
(The effect was lost on one grasshopper who thought he had been listening to a joke. He couldn’t make sense of the punchline. Sigh.)

– In some places in the U.S. the only way a young man can survive in the streets is to join a gang. If he wants to stay alive that’s the only option he has. And, to stay in the gang he is required to commit a felony. If he wants to stay in the gang and stay alive, that’s the only option he has. When he gets caught he goes to jail and he may serve five years to life, depending on what he has been compelled to do. If he chooses to not suicide, that’s the only option he has.
Should we shake our heads sagely at such a prisoner and say, ‘It serves him right. He should not have broken the law.’?
Should we be outraged with that inevitability in the same way that we are outraged with murder and rape?

8. It has been three years since The Speakers’ Corner dog died. Mr B felt the need to recount three brief anecdotes about her.

9. Our Facebook page has been voted by humanity to be the best page on the internet.

Our Archives site won second place.

An outstanding achievement by this modest scribe.

News for Sunday 17th September

In News for Speakers' Corner on September 18, 2017 at 10:07 am

“A rich man is beset on every side by people demanding that he invest or give away part of his wealth. He becomes suspicious – honest friendship is rarely offered him; those who could have been friends are too fastidious to be jostled by beggars, too proud to risk being mistaken for one.”
Robert Heinlen.

1. Today we tried something different. Ray and Mirko remained on the fringes, but the other speakers banded together to create one meeting. The tireless Steve Maxwell served as a competent and worthy MC. (Normally, MC stands for Emcee or Master of Ceremonies, but in Steve’s case the letters stood for Megalomaniacal Cad, among other things.

The speakers took turns to speak, and Steve, our Mellifluous Crooner, ensured that each speaker kept to a specific time limit. That time limit varied throughout the day, depending on the direction of the breeze and the number of bees per square kilometre.

2. There seemed to be something missing during the day, and we were better off for it. But what was missing? I don’t know.

3. Steve, our Melodious Concupiscent, spoke about ‘the history wars’. (The ongoing public debate over how the British colonisation of Australia should be interpreted.)
He also spoke of the Aboriginal Tasmanians.

Scenes like the one below should never be forgotten.

4. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others.

5. With Steve being a Multiskilled Charismatic he hosted the following speakers:
– Mirko, who did his thing in his own inimitable style.

– Radio Shock Jock (2SER Radio Skid Row 88.9FM Noon til 2 Tuesday) John August spoke about Labour and Liberal statistics. (Or something like that. Listing his radio credentials has taken the wind out of me.)

– A Finnish guy and some other passers-by bravely stepped up onto the Ladder of Percipience. (Oh oh, where was the Ladder of Knowledge? Is that what was missing today? Yes, it was missing, but I have great respect for the Ladder of Knowledge, so it must have been something else that freshened the air by its absence. But what?)

– Backpack Peter even got up to speak. He says we shouldn’t make a fuss about global warming, and he called for Australia to adopt nuclear power.

– Helmut didn’t speak. (Was that the thing missing? . . .  Well yes, because it’s always a pleasure to hear Helmut speak, but no, the thing missing wasn’t actually being missed. Today, Speakers’ Corner felt alive and fresh. Reinverated. I just can’t think what it might have been.)

– Uncle Pete didn’t turn up today. But we noticed his absence, and we weren’t grateful he was missing. No, it was something else . . .  This scribe asked around, but no one could put a finger on it.

– Tony spoke against the introduction of gay marriage. (Who would have thought?)
He also praised Kim Jong Un, the North Korean despot. Tony seems to think that Kim is a nice guy getting bad press from the western propaganda machine. (From his photos, Kim does seem to be a cheery fellow, so who can really argue?)

6. Thanks to Steve, our Magnificent Compere, the day went well and a good time was had by all. Whatever it was that was missing, can stay missing.

An ibex, serving as a metaphor for Steve Maxwell.

7. If we had set up our Facebook page this morning then we could be pleased with having sixty subscribers.

If we had set up our Archives site this morning we could be slightly pleased with the total number of visitors this site has received in its history.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 10th September.

In News for Speakers' Corner on September 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm

“Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.”
Jerzy Gregorek

1. Abe from Melbourne popped in to say hello and climb onto The Ladder of Knowledge. He spoke about the Aboriginal activist William Cooper, who died in 1941.

This scribe thinks that Abe looks a lot like the actor Danny Glover.

2. “Um, er . . . you know.” ‘Fillers’ like these in day-to-day speech are abhorred by Mr B and he tries to avoid uttering them. He told one grasshopper off for preceding a question with an ‘um’ and that’s when Uncle Pete took umbrage and said Mr B was being unreasonable. “Every civilisation in the world uses phatics,” he explained. (He meant ‘fillers’, but we can pardon him for confusing the word ‘phatic’ with ‘filler”. He is, after all, only a science teacher.)

This scribe reckons Mr B would be a stickler when it comes to spelling, too.

3. Steve Maxwell had a busy day and talked a fair bit about global warming. He believes it’s happening and he’s not in favour of it. His criticism of government policy (or lack of) prompted a few beefy comments from a passer-by. And  then it was on! Some people might call it intellectual sparring; others might call it ‘boys shouting’. Whatever you call it, it was fun.

4. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others.

5. Mr B spoke about assisted dying and euthanasia in the Netherlands, and his talk was followed by comments from both Greg and Whispering Ben. They gave us their personal stories about losing (or nearly losing!) a loved one.

Greg’s story about his mother was so shocking some listeners found it hard to believe, and Whispering Ben’s account of his father’s death was absorbing. Thank you to both men!

6. Yes, Greg and Whispering Ben made a big contribution to the meeting, as did others who got up onto the Ladder of Knowledge throughout the day.

When grasshoppers get up, we are reminded that if they didn’t contribute, a meeting would quickly become dry and tedious. After all, the speaker’s job is not to be the centre of attention (even if they think otherwise); it’s to be a facilitator, a moderator, for the group’s discussion.

This scribe likens a speaker to a symphony conductor: they aren’t there to make the music; they’re there to allow it to happen.

7. Mr B talked about the choices we make in life. Do we aim for the success society respects? Or do we aim to take our own path?

8. “Can we become lonely as a result of taking our own path?” asked Mr B. “Perhaps,” he responded, answering his own question, and then he said he had been lucky in life. He explained how he only gets lonely one night a year: New Year’s Eve’. And he has even found a solution to that!

9. “No one is indispensible,”
goes the saying, and this coming Sunday Mr B will prove it. He will be elsewhere.

Relax! The chairs will still be there, which means it will be business as usual. It’s just that we won’t have someone in a hoarse voice telling us we’re blithering idiots. How refreshing!

This is where he’ll be.

10. Other subjects discussed:
– How to gain true financial security.

– Uncle Pete gave us a beautiful story about a very human-like Orangutan.

– What is love and from where does it come?

– Are contentment and core happiness the same thing?

– Mr B flogged the spider story again.

– The Jokefest segment has become the ‘Mr Smith Segment’, and thanks to Andrew, Mark the Grinner and Mr B, we learned a fair bit about Mr Smith today. Mr Smith has been in dire straits with the doctor, twice, and he’s having his leg cut off this Thursday. Poor Mr Smith.

11. Our Facebook page is the favourite Facebook page of Kim Jong Un. Who would have thought?

He likes our Archives page too.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 3rd September.

In News for Speakers' Corner on September 4, 2017 at 11:31 am

“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”
William O. Douglas, judge. (1898-1980)

1. It was Fathers’ Day today and to every speakers’ credit, it wasn’t mentioned.

But this scribe has other ideas, thanks to the Postsecret website.

2. Steve Maxwell met two men from the American Hillsong church, and spoke to them about African-Americans in Australia soon after World War II. He must have said something right because the two Americans blessed him.

Steve also spoke about global warming, and he explained why he was in favour of gay marraige. Naturally, dinosaurs Tony and Laurence objected and Steve had a battle on his hands.

3. Mr B also had similar questions asked of him, with the main question being: “Do transexuals actually change their gender?” Mr B said ‘yes’ but Peter the Younger disagreed. Everyone joined in the discussion!

Mr B said that all possibilities on the sexuality spectrum were natural anyway, and he took an evolutionary approach to support his cause. (Speaking of people on the broad spectrum, this postcard is also from the Postsecret website.)

4. The subject of happiness was also raised, and Mr B explained his evolutinary approach to that too. And, he linked happiness with a feeling of connectedness.

5. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others.

Greece, in winter.

6. A bewildered Mr B spoke about the ‘Homeless Socceroos’ who will be competing against 47 other teams in the World Cup homeless Soccer competition in Oslo. He was in favour of it, but bewildered just the same.

He was even more bewildered when he discovered that about 80% of Australia’s homeless have permanent accommodation in boarding houses and the like.

Going to Oslo! Photo from ABC News, Antoinette Collins

7. Mirko stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and generously gave us the latest update on his phonetic language. Here is a taste of some of Mirko’s brilliant work, to entice you to come along to Speakers’ Corner and find out more.

8. Philip Feinstein, the founder of the Music For Refugees website, popped by and spoke a few words about the recent Refugee Council’s report. Apparently, at each detention centre the rules change with the wind. There has been no consistency, and that has been causing stress on the detainees and their visitors.

9. Cheeky Philip seemed keen to discuss
the level of Mr B’s self esteem. Mr B complied.

10. 92 year-old Arthur was in fine form again today, asking lots of nonsensical questions that had nothing to do with the topic at hand. For example, when we were talking about Muslim women and Pauline Hanson wearing the burqa, Arthur felt the need to ask, “What would you do if Marilyn Monroe knocked on your door?” 

Mind you, Uncle Pete didn’t help any, asking how Arthur would feel if Mathius Cormann wore a bikini.


Federal Minister for Finance, Mathias Cormann

11. Other subjects discussed:
– This coming Sunday Mr B will vacate the Ladder of Knowledge during his meeting and be replaced by young up-and-comer Helmut Cerncic. Mr B will then immediately set up elsewhere. We hope this new development suits everyone.

– Thanks to filmmaker Bryan Cockerill, Mr B was able to enlighten his grasshoppers about the rights filmmakers and their subjects have in public spaces.

– Australia’s Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten refuses to present evidence that he is not a dual citizen. So, when Helmut Cerncic stood upon the Ladder of Knowledge, one of his groundlings insisted that he present evidence to prove that he is not a dual citizen. Helmut’s refusal to comply was blunter than Bill Shorten’s.

– Uncle Pete recounted the time when he helped his students discover the making of glass. Most entertaining!

– Mr B described his bizarre experience in a Chinese restaurant in Haymarket. It was so bizarre that some of his grasshoppers refused to believe him! Others thought it was a restaurant conspiracy to make sure he never came back.

– This scribe has the sad duty of informing you, dear reader, that the two jokes told today by Mr B and Uncle Pete were unseemly. But funny!

– “Why the hell should I be fined just because my brother was driving my car and I refuse to sign a statutary declaration to say it wasn’t me?” That was the question asked by outraged grasshopper Greg.

12. Our Facebook page garnered some testy disagreement this week.

However, our Archives site is as placid as ever. If you ever want to hide information so well that no one can ever find it, ask this scribe to place it on our Archives site.

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