Soapbox Speakers

Archive for January, 2018|Monthly archive page

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.”

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:

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.


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, 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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