Soapbox Speakers

Archive for January, 2018|Monthly archive page

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 28th January.

In News for Speakers' Corner on January 29, 2018 at 11:30 am

“We wouldn’t have the problems that we have in this world if God had made Adam and Eve Aborigines.  Because they would not have touched the apple; they would have eaten the snake instead.”
Thanks for passing that on, Ray!

1. Phew! Today both the delicate Mr Bashful and the sanguine Steve Maxwell suffered a torrid time. Mr B’s grasshoppers had the temerity to disagree with him, and poor Steve was forced to ban Tony Boyce from all future meetings. (Let’s see how that goes!)

Despite Tony’s incessant heckling, Steve managed to talk much of the day about what it would mean for Australia to be a republic, and why we should become one. At one point, New Zealander Tony justifiably criticised Australia’s treatment of Aborigines, and then proudly claimed that the New Zealanders made no such mistakes. Steve quickly set him straight, citing such examples as the Māori wars of 1845 to 1872.

Speaking of Tony, a keen fan of his sent in this lookalike. Hmmmm.

2. Thanks to all the speakers today:
– Thanks to Young Tommy, who got a gig on Steve’s ladder.
– Thanks to Janet, the lass with the design for a new Australian flag. Janet turns out to be a bit of an entertainer. Good on her.
– Thanks to Mirko, who got a gig on Mr B’s ladder through sheer force of will.
– Thanks to Ray, who had a good listening audience today. He’s happy to spend individual time with sincere questioners.
– Thanks to the softly spoken Mr B.
– Thanks to Steve, the spiritual essence of Speakers’ Corner.
– And thanks to Helmut, who is in the habit of finishing off the day in a classy and professional manner.

Thanks, guys! Here is a group photo of you all:

3. Mr B confessed that he must be old. The top song on Triple J’s hottest 100 is Kendrick Lamar’s HUMBLE, which has umpteen trillion hits on Youtube. Mr B admitted that he could not discern the words, and when he read the lyrics he still couldn’t understand what the hell was going on. He sang the lyrics to his grasshoppers to see what they thought, though some cynics might say that Kendrick lamar would have done a better job of it. For those of you who were at Speakers’ Corner today, you decide whose version was the better: Kendrick’s, or Mr B’s cover.

4. Mr B has a habit of calling troublemakers “garden gnomes”. Today, Peter the Younger led a coup by handing out a handful of zombie gnomes. Yes, zombie gnomes. Garden gnomes in search of brains.

If it’s brains they’re after, you’d think Speakers’ Corner would be the last place they’d look.

 One of the zombie gnomes attacked Mr B. He informs me that it’s now  on his mantelpiece with the one he received for Christmas.

5.  We heard a Cuban fable called ‘The House that Anton built’. It ended with a homily suggesting that our only real purpose in life is to build ourselves a person, because who we are is all that we really have. That prompted a grasshopper to ask the existential question: should we try to improve ourselves?


6. Designer babies.
Is it okay to genetically manipulate the unborn to rid them of defects? Is it alright to ensure that your baby is good looking? (Would that even work, given how standards would change anyway?) Would it be okay if deaf parents ensured that their child was deaf? What if someone didn’t want their child to be gay? Or did want them to be gay? Would babies be subject to fashion? Are we encroaching upon the last century eugenic aims of the Nazi party? (And does Godwin’s Law suddenly apply?)

From the Postsecret website:

7. It’s hard for young men to find the courage to express their interest in young ladies and ask them out. Now, with the #metoo movement and the grey line between harrassment and seduction, has it become even harder for young men to approach women?
Thankfully, the answer seemed to be ‘no’. As one young grasshopper pointed out, provided you treat a woman with respect and humility, you don’t have to fear being accussed of harrassing her.

From there the question was asked: How many women falsely accuse men of harrassment, and cause those innocent men severe and unnecessary pain?

On a cheerier note:

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Mr and Mrs Potts buy a house with a gnarled lemon tree. It turns out the grass is greener where you water it.
(And “thanks” to the guy who turned that pleasant story into something bitter and twisted.)

– Why are some country-dwelling small groups of Aborigines living in squalor? Is it an economic thing about what the government is prepared to do for any small group of people living deep in the bush? Should it be an economic thing? What part do past injustices play? What part do the vastly different mindsets of the white fellas and Aborigines play? Are the Aborigines asked what they want, or does the white fella decide for them? Given their close connection to the land, do the Aborigines have any choice about living in squalor?
These, and other awkward questions, created a torrid discussion for the softly spoken, delicate Mr B.

– Should Australia Day be changed to January 29th? (For the reasons given in this scribe’s previous post.)

– Today we were visited by famed film producer, Harvey Wiggle-bottom. We discussed the ethics of trading jobs for sex.

– Can New Zealand’s pregnant Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, be an effective Prime Minister and an attentive mother?

– What’s it like walking 5okms a day along a country road reading 1950’s murder mystery novels? It’s emotional, that’s what.

 

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News for Speakers’ Corner, Australia Day, 26th January

In News for Speakers' Corner on January 27, 2018 at 12:51 pm

“A good accountant is absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of any company, but for God’s sake don’t give them the steering wheel or they’ll have you in a ditch in five minutes.”
Kerry Packer.

1. Today was Australia Day, and eerily, on the road near where we pack the chairs, someone had painted an image of Australia. Extraordinary!

You might ask, “Where is Tasmania?! Where is King Island?”

Look below! They’re there, where they should be. And, you’ll see Hawaii to the upper right, also where it should be.

Some artist has gone to a lot of trouble to celebrate Australia Day. But who? Who would go to all that trouble?

2. And what a day it was. Despite the warnings in last week’s post, three regulars turned up to hear Steve Maxwell and Mr B alternate on the Ladder of Knowledge. The fear was that the regulars would hear material they had heard before, but that didn’t happen. Well, not much, anyway. Instead, the meeting rattled along nicely and didn’t finish until 6.15pm! More than four hours of fun. (Or bullshit, depending on your perspective.)

It made a big difference that Mark The Grinner and Uncle Pete contributed as well. The Grinner got up four times! Here is an example:

3. And here is another:

4. Given that it was Australia Day, Steve Maxwell acknowledged the displeasure Aborigines feel with the date: 26th January. After all, that’s the day the first fleet arrived to invade the continent. Steve recommended that we change the date to the day Aborigines were recognised as citizens. That got plenty of support.

Mr B recommended 29th January instead. His reasoning:
From the 19th to 25th we would have Naidoc week (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee). Each of those seven days could represent ten thousand of the seventy thousand years Aborigines have been on the continent, before the white fella arrived on 26th. The 27th would represent all the migrants that came from around the world to create the non-indiginous nation before 1901, and the 28th would acknowledge all the migrants who have come since federation in 1901. Therefore, with every group acknowledged, we could celebrate every Australian on Australia Day, January 29th.
Most importantly, it would still be a summer’s day. It’s not much fun having a day off and a barby in the winter.

5. Here is this scribe’s solution to last week’s ‘Sleeping Beauty Paradox’:

Nuh. Who gives a stuff. Not one person attempted to solve the paradox on this site or on our Facebook site, so let’s not waste more time on it. Sorry Mr B, but you can sulk all you like.

Our dear readers might like to try answering the following question instead, asked today: “Mary’s father has five daughters: March, April, May, June . . .  What’s the name of his fifth daughter?”

Surprisingly, this stumped a few people.

6. This remarkable lookalike of Ray was sent in by a keen reader. Thank you!

7. Who says some of the hecklers can be a little weird?

No one. No one needs to. It’s pretty self-evident.

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Why didn’t the Aborignes develop technologically like other nations did? (Hint: they didn’t have the domesticatable animals that provided milk & cheese, transport and plowing, and they didn’t have the crops like wheat and barley. You can’t harness a wallaby to a buggy or plow with a wombat. You can’t milk a koala.
Other reasons were given, too. In short, it’s a matter of circumstance. Had circumstances been reversed, Aborigines would probably be the technological powerhouse of the globe.

– Mark the Grinner spoke about John Webster, and how most of his audience were twenty-year olds. He made a few comparisons between Australians of yesterday and Australians today.

– Mr B and Mark the Grinner spoke of the proposed sugar tax. Mark the Grinner was in favour of it, while Mr B recommended that every product with sugar should have on its label a clear visible indication of the number of teaspoons present.
Why not use both methods, fellas?

– Mr B explained why his home hasn’t had cockroaches for twenty years. (It’s not due to his cleanliness!)

– After John Webster died, the Domain Trust wanted to charge the Wayside Chapel (a charity that feeds the homeless) $10,000 to allow them to spread Webster’s ashes in the Domain. The Chapel didn’t pay up, but the ashes were sprinkled in the Domain anyway, under the cloak of night.
(I guess the Trust created that $10,000 charge to dissuade other people from doing the same. After all, they wouldn’t want ashes laying everywhere for picnickers to have to deal with. The chapel did know that the ashes were spread (there is film of them being spread!) and they didn’t try to charge the chapel afterwards, so that’s telling.)

– Two students admitted that if they were given a loaded gun, they would not point it at their foot and pull the trigger. Yet, Mr B wanted to know, why is that so many people choose to shoot themselves in the foot by taking narcotics, or by consuming excessive alcohol, or by driving too fast?

– What truly matters?

– Should Australia become a republic?

– Steve talked about the history of Hyde Park. Mr B criticised history and said it should be banned. That didn’t go down well with Steve.

–  Then Mr B explained why Aborigines don’t exist. (Nor do Danes, Scots, the Japanese, Englanders, Jews, Anglo Australians, etc.)  This was hotly disputed by Steve Maxwell.

– But when Mr B combined his two arguments, Steve exploded. Then it was on for young and old.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 21st January

In News for Speakers' Corner on January 22, 2018 at 10:22 am

“Faith is pretending to know what you don’t know.”
Peter Boghossian

1. Did you know that if you click on the title above, News For Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 21st January‘, the post becomes easier to read?

There is evidence to suggest that most of our readers aren’t aware of that.

The speakers today: Steve, Mirko (twice), John August, Janet (from last week), Helmut, Mr B, and Uncle Pete. Ray didn’t turn up. And, according to Mr B, grasshopper Peter the Younger was in fine form today. Here is a lookalike of him, thanks to the person who took the time and trouble to send it in.

2. Finally! Thanks to  film-maker Peter Marjason, who made a documentary called “Webster’s Domain” in 1972, we can see the famous soapbox speaker John Webster in full flight. Enjoy!

(And thank you to all the grasshoppers who contributed towards having the film digitised!)

3. Steve Maxwell and Mr B will be at the Domain on Friday, Australia Day. From 2pm until 5pm, as usual.  The two men will be taking turns to speak on the Ladder of Knowledge. Mr B warns his regulars that he will be focusing on his main subject, ‘resilience’. His regulars have heard it all before, so they are welcome to stay away.

4. Who has tattoos, and why? Mr B was forthright.

5. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others. From the Postsecret website.

6. Mr B demanded that all Australian employees be given the opportunity to take 4 months paid “Backpacker Leave”. Anyone should be able to take four months to travel and broaden their horizons, whilst receiving a wage, he argued. (Not including annual leave.) His grasshoppers disagreed with him.

He also said all employees should be given four months “Adventure Leave”, so that if they want to kayak an ocean, or climb Everest, or explore the Amazon jungle, they should be able to do so and still get paid. Again, his parsimonious grasshoppers disagreed with him.

Mr B then insisted that anyone who wants to write poetry should be given four months paid “Authorship Leave”. That’s because their work will enrich the soul of the author and it might enrich the souls of others. Again, he was met with disagreement. His grasshoppers kept arguing that it wasn’t fair that an employer should have to pay for such pursuits. The employer wasn’t going to benefit in any way, so why should they have pay? If the employee wants to write a book or climb Everest, they should fund it themselves.

Mr B then mentioned Maternity Leave . . .

His grasshoppers went silent.

Eventually, one grasshopper pointed out that Australia needs babies to maintain economic growth and to look after the elderly.

That’s when sparks began to fly! The group discussed over-population, immigration, the health of Australia’s environment, and the merit (or lack of) of economic growth. Some people argued that Australia can support a huge population, others didn’t.

Mr B is a pain when he’s testy.

Who knows what this is?

7. The Sleeping Beauty “Paradox”.
Beauty agrees to assist in an experiment. On Sunday night she is to be sent to sleep with a sleeping drug, then a fair coin is fairly tossed.
If the coin lands Heads she will be woken Monday morning and asked: “What is the probability that the coin landed Heads?” She will then be told the experiment is over.

If the coin lands Tails she will be woken Monday morning and asked the same question. Then she will again be given the drug, which sends her back to sleep and makes her forget she had been woken. She will awake Tuesday morning and be asked the same question again. She will then be told the experiment is over.

Beauty knows all this.

When Beauty is asked “What is the probability that the coin landed Heads?” what is the best answer she can give?

(She can’t tell if it’s Monday morning or Tuesday morning by any other way.)

Possible answer A: the chance the coin landed heads is 1 in 2. Beauty knows that the chance of any fair toss of a fair coin landing Heads is 1 in 2. Therefore, the answer must be 1 in 2. 
Put another way: if you were to ask Sleeping Beauty the odds of the coin landing Heads before the experiment began, she’d have to say 1 in 2. So why would she change her mind when she wakes up? She has no new information.

Possible answer B: the chance the coin landed heads is 1 in 3. That’s because there are three possibilities:
i) Heads, and it’s Monday morning, or
ii) Tails, and it’s Monday Morning, or
iii) Tails, and it’s Tuesday morning.
That’s two Tails to one Head.
 If the experiment were conducted twenty times, and Beauty were to bet a dollar on Tails each time she is woken, then assuming half the tosses are Tails she’ll be woken twenty times, and win twenty bets. With Heads, she’ll only be woken ten times, so will only lose ten bets. Twenty wins, ten losses. Wouldn’t that mean that upon waking, Beauty should assume that Tails is twice as likely? And that therefore, the probability that the coin landed heads is 1 in 3?

What do you think?

The creator of the problem, Adam Elga, argues that the correct answer is 1 in 3. Some philosophers agree with him; others differ. You can find their discussions in the magazine, ‘Analysis’. Or try Wikipedia.

Mr B believes he has figured out the “paradox” and will provide this scribe with the correct answer in time for next week’s news. Can you beat him to it? Can you leave an explanation in the comments section? Or leave your explanation as a Facebook comment?

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Uncle Pete gave us a great story of how he, as a boy, made chloroform. He nearly knocked himself out sniffing his results. The beaker fell, but it fortunately didn’t break.

– Helmut explained how matter came into being, and he questioned the idea that we are all made of star stuff.

– In the news today there was another example of a man being infested with tapeworms after eating raw fish. Mr B told his grasshoppers that the only way fishmongers and restauranteurs can ensure their sashimi  is parasite-free is to freeze the fish for seven days at below -21° celsius. (Figures vary.) Few restaurant chefs do that. Even the expensive ‘sushi grade’ the fishmongers sell is probably just a marketing exercise with ordinary salmon.
In Australia,  your sashimi is probably okay because farmed Australian fish is usually pretty clear of parasites. But if you’re planning on making your own sashimi, consider being on the safe side and freeze it for a week in your freezer first.

– We briefly discussed the legalisation of cannabis in California.

– The Australian government has allowed a South American fish, the Peacock Bass, to be sold in Australia as a pet. That fish is now ravaging rivers in Queensland. Did the government not learn anything when they stupidly allowed rabbits, cane toads, the prickly pear, foxes, camels, guppies, koi, deer and buffalo to enter Australia? Apparently not. What else are they not banning, but should be?

– Parents should be charged with child abuse if they produce fat kids by feeding them junk food.

– Related to the above, Mr B said that every student leaving school should know how to change a flat tyre, change a tap washer, change a light globe, and know how to cook a variety of healthy meals. As usual, this message didn’t go down well. Today it wasn’t just Uncle Pete who objected; a younger man explained that imminent technology will soon render those skills obsolete. Eg. 3D printers will soon be producing our meals, lights will last a million hours, and electric cars won’t have wheels you can change easily.

9. Our Facebook page awaits you, if that’s your thing.

It’s a numbat.

If you have lived in Australia for a while and didn’t know that, then you can’t argue that Australia’s human population isn’t having a significant impact upon the native wildlife.

If you live in Australia, when did you last see a numbat near your home? Or in the wild? Or a wallaroo? A quoll? A bandicoot? A ringtail possum? An antechinus? Compared to the concentration of native animals living in our bush two hundred years ago, Australia is bereft of wildlife. It’s a wildlife desert. Our native animals are being eaten by foxes, rats, dogs and cats. With an increasing population, it will only get worse.

But then, do you care?

Because many people don’t.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 14th January

In News for Speakers' Corner on January 15, 2018 at 10:32 am

“Every snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.”
Anon.

1. Talk about windy!  It blew the milk out of a picnicker’s tea. And, it was blowing away Mirko’s laminated signs. That prompted him to sit with one of the groups and “contribute” to the discussions.

It was good to see Steve Maxwell back. He quickly got stuck into stabbing a few sacred cows that moo in our society. Religion was one, and privatisation another.

Steve generously allowed Janet to speak on his platform. Janet is a designer who has entered the Ausflag competition to find a new flag for Australia.

In her flag a red earth circle represents our island continent; the white dots, our coast; and the blue, the ocean. The cluster of blue dots represents the states and territories (the centre dot represents the territories and the six blue dots surrounding it represent the states).

You can vote for Janet’s flag, or any other flag, on the Ausflag website: ausflag.com.au

2. Young Tommy also spoke on Steve’s platform, about kindness again. Did Tommy talk tommyrot? It’s unlikely. Tommy has a sharp mind, and he can be a fast-paced dynamic speaker. (Mr B would disagree with me, simply because he refuses to acknowledge talent. I guess when you have heaps of it yourself, it becomes hard to see it in others.)

Tim also spoke. Tim is a drop-in, and he came with his mate, Spencer. They brought with them recording equipment. The two are up to something, but it’s early stages yet.

When Tim stood upon the Ladder of Knowledge he immediately grabbed our attention by asking: “What is the most dangerous weapon ever?”

Well, dear reader, what do you think it would be?

Answers provided by the audience were: “Mass communications”, “good ideas”, “nuclear weapons”, “anti-matter” (thank you, Helmut), and “central banking”. (This scribe would have incorrectly said “infectious disease warfare” but I’m too unassuming to speak up.)

The answer: AK47s. They’ve killed more people than any other weapon, apparently. Tim explained why and he did a good job of it. Importantly, he seemed to know his stuff.

Tim.

3. People in the media are now asking if Oprah Winfrey would make a good president for the U.S.A.. What a good idea! Today other candidates were put forth: Jerry Springer (for his conflict management skills). Hulk Hogan. Paris Hilton. Kim Kardashian.

Donald Trump wants to appoint four Supreme Court Justices. One keen grasshopper suggested they be replaced by the four kids on ‘Southpark’. We suspect he was joking though. It’s irritating when a grasshopper doesn’t take the topic seriously.

4. Mr B agreed with Donald Trump. “Shithole” nations do exist. They have extreme poverty, corruption and crime. You would not want to emigrate to those nations, and the occupants of those nations seem keen to emigrate. Mr B said Trump’s statements were not racist, as the media have suggested. However, one grasshopper rightly suggested that the word “dysfunctional” would have been a far better option for Donald.

It was pointed out that Donald didn’t make the statement publicly, so he should be able to use the words of his choice. However, someone said that as president, Donald should be careful with everything he says. Someone else added that many people are trying to undermine Donald, to get him out of the Whitehouse.

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

6. We have another lookalike, this time of Steve. Keep sending them in, folks.

7. Mark the Grinner had something to say today. Atop the Ladder of Knowledge he spoke about slavery, past and present. He talked about the rise of greed and exploitation, and claimed that most of us are effectively slaves. He said that we can’t vote the bastards out because there are no viable alternatives.

It was a provocative but persuasive talk, and Mark received many questions and comments. Once he’s up on the Ladder of Knowledge, no one wants him to get off it.

At one point Mark said that apart from the wealthiest 2%, the people have no power. But is that really true?

8. Other matters discussed:
– When a female school teacher has sex with a male student, is it really child abuse? Surely it’s a young man’s dream to have sex with a teacher? Isn’t she doing him a favour? If he does get upset afterwards, is it because someone found out and a big fuss was created?

– We heard the story about Ulysses and the Sirens. The point, supposedly, was that we should ensure we do two things:
(1) Become aware of our false disabling beliefs, and
(2) make damned sure we don’t feed those disabling beliefs in any way, or ignore evidence to the contrary.

– Should we burn the Mona Lisa?
Here is a painting in the NSW Art Gallery. Do you think it’s in the gallery because:
a) it touches our hearts and souls, or because
b) it was painted by a famous artist and it’s worth a lot of money?

If you need further convincing, here is Mr B speaking at Ignite Sydney, run by Stephen Lead.

9. On our Facebook page you can see all of the above memes in imperceptibly different shades of colour.

 

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday, 7th January, 2018.

In News for Speakers' Corner on January 8, 2018 at 12:54 pm

‘Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.’ 

Carl Bard.

1. Today in The Domain it wasn’t as hot as it was supposed to be, and it helped that each of the three speakers held their meetings under the shade of their own Morton Bay Fig tree.

Technically, the speakers don’t actually own the trees. The trees are under the domain of the Domain Trust.

Note: the trees are under the Trust’s domain, not under the Trust’s Domain. To even be considered to be under The Domain, each tree’s roots would have to have a combined mass greater than the tree’s trunk and foliage above ground. At the very least. Then perhaps you could say that the trees would be under The Domain and the Trust. That’s what’s called a syzygy.

Another example of a syzygy is ‘He took his hat and his leave.‘ However, it was too hot for some of us to wear a hat, but we did all leave at about 5.30.

This scribe is confused. I’m going to have a lie down and then get back to you.

2. We had John August speaking, star of 2RSR, (2Rat Shit Radio)*. John spoke about advertising and the economy. And, he explained why the atom bomb was not necessarily evidence of the formula, E = mc2.

An observant reader sent us this lookalike of John.

*Technically it’s Radio Skid Row, 88.9FM.  John’s radio segment is growing in popularity because he has interesting guests and plays music that’s appealing. Discover it for yourself by listening each Tuesday, from Noon until 2pm. It’s certainly not Rat Shit Radio.

3. John kindly stepped down from his platform to allow two other people to speak. The first was Tommy, whose topic was “Kindness versus Selfishness”. This scribe still doesn’t know if Kindness won the bout, or if there were match fixing, or what. But thanks, Tommy!

Elliot spoke about ‘the exploration/exploitation problem’. (See! You should come to Speakers’ Corner to find out what the hell these topics mean!)

Another lookalike: we have a 2014 photo of a guy (see left) who is almost a dead-ringer for Eliot (right, obviously). They even have the same name! However, today’s Eliot does look a little older than his doppelgänger.
 4. Mr B discussed infinity again. Specifically, Adolf Grünbaum’s hypothetical Infinity Machine. With Adolf’s machine we can print all the numbers of Pi. Each digit is printed in half the time it takes to print the preceding one, and is half the width of the one before it.

That means that pretty soon, the machine would be printing infinitely long numbers in an infinitely small print, in an infinitely short period of time. Result: you could print every number of Pi on the first line of a page, in finite time.

Simple, really.

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

6. Our “aspiring novice” speaker, Helmut (who in fact has been speaking since 1972, and some of it intelligible) was in a particularly good mood when he stepped upon the Ladder of Knowledge. He quickly established his knowledge of Einsteinian physics, and graciously gave Isaac Newton the day off by talking of other things.

Unfortunately for Helmut, his nemesis, Tony, interfered yet again. What had been a highly intellectual meeting soon became a circus.

Tony Boyce, nemesis to Helmut, and to any other thinking individual.

7. Based on all the rubbish and the tents left behind at the Lost Paradise Festival (held near the Hawkesbury River), Mr B took a swipe at today’s youth. He bemoaned the fact that they were wasteful of resources and of their money. And, he complained about how environmentally irresponsible it was to leave behind those items, given that they would end up polluting the river and ocean. However, it quickly turned out that he was really having a swipe at us all. “Many people of every age are irresponsible”, he said.  “Why do so many people not care?” he wanted to know.

One insightful grasshopper added that the abandoned, used-only-once tents were probably made by over-worked, underpaid people in another country. And therefore, those tents highlighted even more starkly the obscene contrast between we, the privileged wasters, and the struggling underprivileged.

8. It seems that every week Mr B criticises the media. Today he criticised the seaplane media beat-up. A seaplane crashed and the media milked it furiously. Yet, it was just a crash. Had the family died in a car instead of a plane it wouldn’t be news. Oh, except for the fact that British CEO had died! This heartened the media considerably because it allowed them to milk the crash for a whole week! Apparently, the death of a CEO who we don’t know and don’t care about, is more important and more significant to us than the death of a janitor we don’t know or care about.

Holy moly.

Mr B volunteered the fact that ten years ago, for one entire year he avoided all forms of the news. His aim was to clear his mind of societal paradigms. He did manage to avoid all the news, but the only change he experienced was to become painfully ignorant.

The discussion prompted some grasshoppers to suggest the idea that a few bigwigs are at the top, pulling the strings. Thankfully, a grasshopper, who used to work for the media, set us straight. He said that in all his time working in the media, there were never directions from above.

But then, that’s what he would say, wouldn’t he???

 9. Scenario 1: Factory A is breaching the worksafe rules. An inspector discovers this and fines the company.

Scenario 2: Factory A is breaching the worksafe rules. Someone dies as a result. The factory is sued bigtime and the manager goes to jail for negligent manslaughter.

In both instances the factory’s crime was the same in each instance. Therefore, the punishments it received depended not on its crime, but on timing and on circumstances.

Of course, you wouldn’t want the punishments to be the same in each instance, but the question must be asked: isn’t there something wrong when the punishment depends more on luck and on circumstance than on the crime itself?

10. Other subjects discussed:
– Can a murdered person truly be considered a victim, Part 2, from last week’s unfinished discussion.

– Kudos and thanks were given to Laurence, one of our regular grasshoppers. A few weeks earlier he stood up for someone in a most convincing way. Well done, Laurence!

11. If you believe that (A) in the diagram below is a different shade to (B) then you had better subscribe to our Facebook page. Because it isn’t. They are the same shade.

This extraordinary illusion was created by Edward H Adelson.

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, New Year’s Eve

In News for Speakers' Corner on January 1, 2018 at 11:43 am

 “The elders hold the ground while the youth make their glorious mistakes.”
Michael Meade.

1. Never again! New Year’s Eve at the Domain brings with it barricades and a shemozzle of stressed-looking passers-by. Plus there was one long snake of people who were aiming to find themselves a good spot in the Botanical Gardens, to be ready for the evening’s fireworks.

Ray stood by that long queue and told his captors the benefits of giving their lives to Jesus. Across the road, a few regulars came to argue with each other and with Mr B.

Later on, Helmut took questions from the audience. He was asked about his family and his relationship with each of his three kids. It was good to hear Helmut’s view of how to raise children. His openess was appreciated and enjoyed.

Below is a photograph of one of last year’s Sydney Harbour Bridge firecrackers going off.

2. If there were an infinite number of stars in the universe, how many would have to be extinguished before we were left with a finite number? As Uncle Pete fatuously pointed out, it was a meaningless question. The idea of the question was to examine the nature of infinity (ies). We didn’t get far.

How many numbers have the digit 3 in them? Answer: Virtually all of them. Almost all numbers have a lot of digits, so very few would not have a 3 in them. Yet, even though nearly all numbers would have a 3 in them, there is still an infinity of numbers which don’t have a 3 in them. That point was made by Clifford A Pickover in his book, Keys to Infinity.

3. Mr B refuses to talk about the existence or non-existence of god/s, yet his meetings consistently flirt around the subject of religion itself. Today was no exception. A passer-by asked, “Who wrote the Bible?” Mr B’s grasshoppers provided many answers, all respectful. Was the Bible written to present literal truths, or is it book of metaphors? Was it written by people infused with the spirit of God, or by people aiming to express their own spirituality? Or by manipulators? Are the stories in the Bible true, or are they examples of common myths found throughout the world, Joseph Campbell-style?

At one point, John August, from ratio station 2RSR*, jumped up and explained the role the Sumerian king, Gilgamesh, played in the story of the Bible. He made his point at the end, and what he said was appreciated by most of the grasshoppers, but sadly, not by Mr B, who gave him a hard time.

*The RSR in 2RSR stands for ‘Radio Skid Row’, not ‘Rat Shit Radio’ as commonly supposed.

4. Then the question was asked, “Why do some people believe in the existence of God while others don’t?” The atheists quickly provided some glib answers, so Mr B had to point out that there are many highly intelligent theists, and many highly logical theists. And, an abundance of dumb atheists. So his grasshoppers took the question seriously and found more sensible reasons.

 5. Thank you to the person who sent in this lookalike of Mirko.

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

7. Other topics discussed:
Steve Maxwell wasn’t there, and we don’t know what Ray discussed specifically, but here are the topics discussed at Mr B’s meeting:
– Did the Australian and English cricket teams disiplay a high level of gutlessness by not trying to make the recent drawn Test match a winnable affair?

– What precisely is it that prompts wealthy people to become even wealthier? Mark the Grinner calls it ‘the money game’.

– Can a murdered person truly be considered a victim?

– How big is the observable universe? 13.8 billion light years in radius (with Earth at its centre)? Or 45 billion light years in radius, taking the expansion of the universe into account?

– The behavioural differences between men and women. (i.e. How each sex looks at their fingernails, or takes off their jumper, or drinks a glass of water.) There were six tests, and one grasshopper failed five of them. We won’t mention any names.

8. Your New Year’s resolution will be: check out Speakers’ Corner’s Facebook page.

How did someone write this without leaving footprints?

 

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