Soapbox Speakers

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News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 27th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 27, 2017 at 10:57 am

“I heard that if you eat more than six bananas it will kill you. I saw a bowl with seven bananas and I thought, ‘that’s dangerous’.”
Karl Pilkington

1. It was another glorious day, and we were visited by Ross, a journalist preparing an article for the “Neighbourhood” newspaper. Heavens knows what he made of today’s antics. It’s anyone’s guess.

One of the first matters discussed was parenting. Should we smack our kids?

2. The film of ex-speaker John Webster is still coming, but to keep you at bay, here is a video of John courtesy of the ABC.

3. We discussed the gender pay gap again, and this time we focused on one significant factor that explains the discrepancy (thanks to two journalists working for the ABC). Click here for the article on which the discussion was based.

4. Someone suggested that Steve Maxwell looks like Keanu Reeves. Yes, there is a strong resemblance.

5. It is confirmed: Mr B has no credibility. Today he asked his grasshoppers, “How could it be that my two female dogs (now dead) were once joined at their anuses or vaginas for fifteen minutes, and could not separate themselves? The two dogs walked about like Dr Doolittle’s Push-Me-Pull-You, and the shorter dog had her back legs dangling off the ground. It was only when Dad put the hose on them that they managed to separate.” He also explained that he had owned the dogs for more than 14 years, and both dogs had given birth to two litters of puppies.

Despite this detailed explanation, his grasshoppers figured he had made a mistake, that one of the dogs had to be male. i.e. They believed that Mr B could own two dogs for more than fourteen years and not realise one was a male.

That’s how highly they think of him.

Mr B, they won’t be asking you to join Mensa.

Amazingly, Mr B has just provided this scribe with proof that both dogs were female. As you can see, one has a litter and the other is obviously pregnant.

6. Mr B’s reputation plummeted even further when he agreed with Mirko’s idea to change the English language to a fonetik one. With the advent of ebooks and kindles, people should be able to press a button and read a fonetik translation, he claimed. Over time, the new spelling would be adopted by everyone, making it easier for anyone to learn the language.

When Mr B casually referred to the four spellings of ‘yor’ (fonetik), the gentle Uncle Pete called him a smartarse.

Mirko’s phonetics are not quite what Mr B had in mind.

7. Other subjects discussed:
– Males have subjugated women for yonks, started nearly all the wars, created most of the crime, perpetrated most of the domestic violence, done most of the sexual harrassment, and are now famous for being sexual predators. As a consequence, Mr B feels guilty about being male. Then he was made to feel guilty about feeling guilty.

– Mirko stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and opened up about his family’s tragedies. He linked those tragedies with the humble tea-leaf, claiming that drinking tea is good for your health.

– The question was asked: “What caused The Beatles to break up?” (The Beatles are a defunct music band circa 1960.) The question was dismissed because the speaker, not having been a member of the band, didn’t know or care.

– Mr B told the story of how he inadvertently let a wombat squash his mother’s dog to death.

– The different ways people try to earn their self worth.

– Mr B is an atheist, and critical of the lame arguments smug atheists use to debate theists. So, today he claimed to be a theist and invited the atheists to debate with him. A vigorous discussion followed.
Mr B obviously thought he was an astounding success. Ho hum.

– Inspired by Mr B’s folly, Helmut spoke of the nature of God and energy.

– We didn’t evolve to use smartphones and social media, so why are they so attractive to us? And why does using them come so naturally to us? Even toddlers are adept.




8. Our Facebook page keeps getting comments from troublemakers.

Our Archives site, however, is as pristine as Antarctica.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 19th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

“No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true.”
Oscar Wilde

1. Christian a capella band Midnight Oil have finished their stint at the Domain, but the barriers are still up. So, again we made use of the big Morton Bay fig and it was another Goldilocks day.

2. Welcome back, Scott! Most of our speakers are grumpy old men, but two years ago young Scott had a crack at speaking for a few weeks. He was original and interesting. Then, unconscionably, he left for China for two years. He appeared again today, looking no more Chinese than when he left. Nor did he speak with a Cantonese accent. We have serious doubts about whether he actually went there.

Anyway, it’s good to see him back.

3. When Mr B felt obliged to briefly visit the Art Gallery opposite, Uncle Pete graciously replaced him. A passer-by saw Mr B’s sign and assumed Uncle Pete was Mr B, and began grilling him. Uncle Pete, immensely proud to have been mistaken for Mr B, duly answered her questions.

It is this scribe’s view that in those few minutes of wanton impersonation, Uncle Pete enhanced Mr B’s reputation.

Uncle Pete.

4. The Two Envelope Paradox.
We won’t explain it here, but consider: You have been given $200. You can either:
a) flip a coin. If it’s heads you will double your money. i.e. You gain $200. If it’s tails you halve your money. i.e. You lose $100.
b) don’t flip the coin and just keep the $200.

What’s your answer? (a) or (b)?

If you chose (b) then why not come along to Speakers’ Corner and sit with all the other pea-brains? You’ll have lots of company and make lots of friends. Apart from this scribe, only one person had the brains to choose option (a). Congratulations, Jay!

(Scribe shakes head and thinks: it’s no wonder poor Mr B often takes twenty minutes to give a three minute talk, and still fails to impart his message. It appears that teaching grasshoppers basic arithmetic can be like teaching rocks how to swim.)

I have been too hard on you recently, Mr B. I’m sorry. I didn’t understand what you have been up against.

5. The ‘Workplace Gender EqualityAgency’ has released its report. When you compare a female full-time employee with a male full-time employee, it’s found that on average, men earn $26,000 more. That figure seemed absurd, so we discussed how it may have come about.

Click here to read the agency’s summary.

6. In a passing comment about forgiveness, the speaker arrogantly declared that there was no god. A grasshopper took him to task. “What authority do you have to make such a claim?” she asked. A discussion ensued and before long, someone suggested that the passer-by get up onto the Ladder of Knowledge and speak.

Mr B refused, explaining that “we would only hear more crap”. That prompted the passer-by to instigate a coup d’état, and she took the Ladder anyway. She did an excellent job of stating her case and answering questions. She isn’t yet a Christian, but she did take umbrage with Mr B’s arrogance. (Then again, don’t we all. If you could sell arrogance, he would be a millionaire.)

In short, Georgia was a good speaker and adept at maintaining her cool, despite the torrent of questions she received. Well done, Georgia!



These are the barriers mentioned earlier. (Georgia is in the foreground obscurng the view.)

7. Other subjects discussed:
– The return of the bones of ‘Lake Mungo Man’.

– Why do so many people like the television programs ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Utopia’?

– The ‘me too’ movement is outing sexual predators Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and the like. Is it possible that a troll, who happened to be alone with a celebrity for ten minutes any time in the last forty years, might find it amusing to make a false accusation?

– Who is going to hell? Atheist Uncle Pete was smug, knowing he won’t be. He did the “nine-consecutive-day-catechism thing” when he was a lad. 

8. Having just read this week’s Speakers’ Corner news, how likely are you to recommend it to your friends and relatives?

0       1      2        3  . . .

Do you feel irritated when given that question?  Mr B does, and he had a good whinge about it until a grasshopper explained to him the hidden motive behind the question.

9. We are on Facebook but we don’t know why.

We keep old posts in our Archives site but we don’t know why.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 12th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 13, 2017 at 6:22 pm

“Failure is an event, not a person.”


1. What a day! Despite up-and-coming folk-music band Midnight Oil fencing off the Domain for 16 days (for just two concerts!) the speakers still found a Morton Bay Fig and spoke under that. Mr B, Steve Maxwell, and all their grasshoppers, were vocal all day. Across the way, Ray sought souls near the kiosk. It all added up to a fun day in the park.

2. Uncle Pete had just returned from his jaunt in England, and he spoke about his venture to the Mecca of all Speakers’ Corners.

3. A man wrote an article about how he met a woman, took her to dinner, and brought her home to his place. Soon they were kissing and cuddling. Clothes were taken off. They went to bed and had sex. At no time did the woman resist or say “no”. Afterwards, she turned to him and said, “You raped me.”

We took some time to discuss the matter.

4. If a young man loses his virginity to a prostitute, has he really lost his virginity? That was the question seedy Mr B felt compelled to address. In the process he talked about inflatable dolls, intimacy, viagra, promiscuity and masturbation. Having just endured a long talk about rape, this new discussion was the last thing poor grasshopper Jean needed. She finally stood up and told us all off. She said we should only have sex with the person we love. She has been married for 66 years and she figures that qualifies her to make judgments about the sex single people have. Sigh.

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

6. In the fenced off enclosure for the two open-air Midnight Oil concerts, there was a sign this scribe wanted to photograph. (It said umbrellas are prohibited.) I handed my camera to a security guard who was on the other side of the fence, and he was willing to take the photograph for me. But up stepped another security guard who outranked the helpful fellow, and he wanted to know what was to be photographed.

“That sign,”I  explained, pointing.

The guard looked troubled. This would clearly be a subversive act. He made sure the camera was handed back and explained that they were there to guard the place, not take photographs.

I shrugged, and said I would write about this incident in the blog instead. I began to walk away.

“Blog?!”  Suddenly the guard got uppity, and kept demanding that I come back to the fence. But I had an appointment with something better to do. He then called out he’d report me. (After that, I was too far away for his cries to be intelligible.)

This scribe is now fearful that he will be reported for a serious offence. i.e. For asking a security guard to take a photograph for him.

Where’s Wally?

7. Years ago, television presenter David Frost described a telephone call he had with media mogul Kerry Packer. David was trying to sell Kerry tapes for $175,000, and Kerry continued to reject the price. In exasperation David finally said, “Kerry, I really need the $175,000. I’m sure the tapes are worth it.”

After a long pause Kerry said: “I have an idea. I have a coin with me. Let’s flip for the difference. Call it.”
At the other end of the phone, a very nervous David had to make a decision. Finally he said, “All right. Heads.”
“You win,” said Kerry.

We discussed the dynamics of the call.

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Could refugees on Manus and Nauru islands be housed in nations with refugee camps, and in return, for each refugee, could Australia take five (or ten?) of those nations’ refugees from their refugee camps and settle them in Australia? That would still dissuade ‘the boat people’ to please the government, he argued, and it would compassionately settle 10,000 to 20,000 refugees. (Australia already takes 13,500 refugees a year, so the extras wouldn’t be a problem.)

– When a local, state or Federal government makes a decision, it should outline in detail how it made that decision. That way, when people in the future have to make a similar decision, they can draw upon the ‘wisdom’ of the past and find pros and cons they may not have thought of. And, that transparency would allow us to question the wisdom of current decisions.

– Although Mr B is a ‘yes’ vote for gay marriage, he chose to accuse the ‘yes’ voters of dishonesty. He claimed they weren’t acknowledging the ‘no’ voters’ fear of the ‘thin edge of the wedge’.

9. Last week’s discussion about dual citizenship continued. With more MPs going under, Mr B claimed that we now have a paralysed government because the sheep-like judges in the High Court thought it was more important to follow the letter of the law than use commonsense.

His grasshoppers objected again, and their focus was on the negligent politicians who should have known better. Uncle Pete had looked at Section 44 of the Constitution, and he explained that it makes very clear that dual citizenship is prohibited, and it often repeats the fact. He said the politicians had no excuse for not making sure they complied. He’s right: each person nominating to be a candidate in a Federal election is given a ‘Candidates’ Handbook’ to help them through the process, and it clearly says:

Step 1: Determine your eligibility to nominate for either the Senate or the House of Representatives, you must be:
– at least 18 years old;
– an Australian citizen; and
– either enrolled or eligible to be enrolled on the Commonwealth electoral roll.

You cannot nominate for the Senate or the House of Representatives if you are:
– currently a member of a state parliament or territory legislative assembly and have not resigned before the hour of nomination;
– disqualifed by section 44 of the Constitution.

It’s that last bit in red which is relevant. The person would then know to go to Section 44, which is on the website of the Australian Electoral Commission and check further.

Section 44 of the Constitution – disqualification

16. Any person who:

  1. is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or
  2. is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or
  3. is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or
  4. holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or
  5. has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth, otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

But subsection (iv) does not apply to the office of any of the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen’s Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen’s navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth.

Section 44(i) of the Constitution

17. Section 44(i) of the Constitution applies to three categories of persons:

  • a person who is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power;
  • a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; and
  • a person who is entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power.

18. The first category of disqualification under s. 44(i) appears to have a wide application, disqualifying persons who, although they may not have a formal nationality or citizenship link with another country, may have some other form of allegiance with that country. In the 1987 case of Nile v Wood [1987] HCA 62; (1987) 76 ALR 91; (1987) 62 ALJR 52 , Mrs Elaine Nile unsuccessfully sought the constitutional disqualification of Mr Robert Wood, recently elected to the Senate for the State of New South Wales on the grounds that Mr Wood’s previous protest activity in obstructing shipping, the vessels of a friendly nation, indicated allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power. In this case the High Court held:

…that s 44(i) relates only to a person who has formally or informally acknowledged allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power and who has not withdrawn or revoked that acknowledgment.

19. That is, it might be concluded that a “formally or informally” acknowledged allegiance to a particular foreign power, whatever this might constitute in particular circumstances, would disqualify a candidate if that candidate had not withdrawn or revoked that allegiance.

20. The second category of disqualification under s. 44(i) refers to a specific type of foreign allegiance, where a person is a “subject or citizen” of a foreign power. It applies to persons who have certain rights because of a formal citizenship link with a foreign power, and therefore to any person who holds dual or plural citizenship. In the 1992 case of Sykes v Cleary (1992) 176 CLR 77 the High Court found that candidates are disqualified from election to Parliament if they do not take “all reasonable steps” to renounce their other citizenship before nomination.

21. Taking all reasonable steps necessitates the use of renunciation procedures of the other country where such procedures are available. If the other country refuses renunciation then proof of requesting renunciation is sufficient. Because such procedures were available in relation to the two countries of which candidates Mr Kardamitsis and Mr Delacretaz were citizens (Greece and Switzerland respectively), it was concluded that they had not taken “all reasonable steps” to renounce their foreign citizenship, and were therefore disqualified by s. 44(i) of the Constitution.

22. In the 1999 case of Sue v Hill (1999) 199 CLR 462, the High Court found Ms Hill not duly elected because she held dual citizenship of Australia and the United Kingdom. The Court held that the United Kingdom is classified as a foreign power, within the meaning of s. 44(i) of the Constitution.

23. The third category of disqualification under s. 44(i) refers to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen. It is unclear whether this means entitlement to all the rights and privileges of such a citizen or merely one or some of such rights or privileges.

Information for dual or plural citizens

24. The procedures for renouncing citizenship vary from country to country. Accordingly, intending candidates should contact the relevant government, Embassy or High Commission to determine the current law.

Thank you, Uncle Pete!

One would think that with all those promptings, and their familiarity with bureaucracy, our politicians would have taken the trouble to check their citizenship status thoroughly.

Despite all this, this scribe bets that Mr B would still be critical of the High Court for not using their commonsense.

10. If you would like to read all the above in a different font, go to our Facebook page.

If you would like to read previous articles or more information about the speakers, try our Archives site.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 5th November.

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 6, 2017 at 10:49 am

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
T. S. Eliot

1. Despite rain looking imminent, our intrepid speakers turned up. The rain held off all afternoon, and the temperature would have suited Goldilocks.

Ray (our Christian evangelist speaker) unaccountably came to sit with Mr B’s grasshoppers. He brought with him a smirk. Apparently, Ray had prayed to God that there would be no rain and his prayer had been answered. The pesky Mr B asked him, “Why would God keep the rain away for you, Ray, yet ignore the prayers of equally devout Christian farmers suffering from the drought?” Ray’s answer was more mathematical than satisfying. Apparently, bad guys can cancel out the good guys’ prayers. Mr B questioned this and consequently received a warning drizzle for his temerity. He shut up and changed the subject, so the rain stayed away. Result: another smirk from Ray.

One grasshopper claimed that television evangelists are con artists, and Ray agreed with him.

2. Poet and cartoonist Michael Leunig turned up and Mr B had a crack at him. Mr B claimed that in at least one of Michael’s books there were cartoons found in previous books. “That isn’t fair”, said the petulant Mr B. He likened the practice to the habit of the Phantom comic publishers replicating stories in later issues, and not warning the buyer of the fact.

After Mr B threw his hissy fit, Michael said he knew nothing about any replication. Michael’s charm permeated the crowd and it was Mr B who ended up looking bad. It served him right.

Michael’s sister, Mary, is also an exciting, accomplished cartoonist and we would show you examples from both Leunigs if we didn’t fear million dollar lawsuits. You’ll just have to settle for this old fashioned curling iron which is, presumably, an indispensible item for Mr Curly. (Or is that the actual shape of his head??)

For examples of Michael’s work:
For examples of Mary’s work:

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

4. Other subjects discussed:
– Doctors are required to keep up to date with their knowledge of medicine. Should we also require teachers to keep up to date with new teaching methods? (Not the curriculum itself, but in ways of teaching it.)

– Who started World War II? One man said Russia, when it invaded Finland before the Germans invaded Poland. Helmut said the Allied Forces started the war because they felt threatened by Germany’s strong economy and skills. Mirko said something unintelligible. This misguided scribe had always thought it was Germany, so there you go. I sit corrected. (At least no one said “Samoa”.)

– Pete the Younger gave us a true story about being chased by shooters in a desert. Did he experience some psychic warning to get away in time? He wasn’t sure, but the close-minded Mr B (who wasn’t even there!) insisted it could only have been a coincidence. That said, it would have been a scary experience!

– With a scepticism similar to any religious fervour, Mr B explained how people can see ghosts that don’t exist.

– Steve Maxwell (ex-business owner and operator) patiently explained to Mr B (no financial acumen whatsoever) why tradies aren’t over-charging when they charge for their services.

– “Why do students have to pay to go to university?” asked two German tourists. (In Germany you only pay for your books.) “Because our politicians have failed us,” was the reply.
Later on, Mr B explained how Germany has remained immune from the competition generated by the cheaper Chinese manufacturing.

– A man asked: “I’m earning heaps but I’m stressed in my job. Would it be okay if I got a more enjoyable job that paid less?”
What would you have told him?

– Helmut spoke of the Higgs Boson particle and how the universe came into being by always being here.

One of Higg’s Bosons.

5. We have a Facebook page.   We have an archives site. We are thoroughly modern.


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