Soapbox Speakers

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News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 25th February

In News for Speakers' Corner on February 26, 2018 at 7:03 am

“Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.”
Scott D. Weitzenhoffer

1. Apologies to those of you who received this post, half-baked, a few days ago.

(I’m not suggesting you are half-baked; I’m saying the post was half-baked.)

(Though if the shoe fits . . . )

2. When the meeting began at 2pm, rain looked imminent and Steve Maxwell looked eminent, resplendant in his white jacket, flash shirt and silk tie. He, Ray and Mr B set up their ladders midst a light drizzle, and surprisingly their regulars appeared! There must be something appealing about Speakers’ Corner for people to turn up in such conditions. Or perhaps they’re just mad.

Yes, that’s it. They’re mad.

A passer-by opened Mr B’s meeting by announcing: “There is only one true question: What is Truth?” He waited for an answer.

Mr B cowardly passed the buck to his grasshoppers, who answered with testiness and frustration. (That’s a common Speakers’ Corner response.) We finally arrived at an answer. Sort of. Well, no, we didn’t.

But thankfully, the passerby had already solved that conundrum in previous contemplations, so we were let off the hook. When he was asked how his knowledge of Truth had improved his life, he replied that he is now more cognisant that a green car is green, than the rest of us. If that helps any.

So, what is Truth? What had the passer-by discovered with his contemplations? I don’t know. He told us but I have forgotten. Sorry.

It is a good idea to nut out such questions. By doing so we can gain a greater richness of life. It’s “the unexamined life is not worth living,” type of thinking.

3. From learning something confusing we moved on to learning something astonishing. Mr B had read the book, “Dark Emu” by Bruce Pascoe, and he excitedly told us about it. The author had read the journals of early explorers and discovered that Aboriginal life before England’s invasion was different to what most of us think it was like:
– For a big chunk of the year, most Aborigines lived in villages of 300 to 500 people, even in the harshest deserts. One town had 10,000 people living in it!

– They lived in weatherproof thatched huts, and some huts had a chimney, an oven, and food preparation facilities. Some huts had adjoining rooms, and some could hold up to 40 people. One explorer described a hut strong enough to have a horse stand on it!

– Aborigines had dams and irrigation. One dam was 100 metres long, 2 metres high and 6 metres thick.

– They sowed and harvested crops in paddocks as far as your eye could see, of nardoo, kangaroo grass, barley, Australian rice and yams. They ground the grain into flour, or stored the grain in clay vessels that could hold from 50kgs to 4 tons. (Without the cachés of grain the explorers found, many would not have survived.)

– They had huge fish traps that could feed a whole village, yet still allow breeding fish to breed upstream.

And much more. The information was so interesting that even when it began to rain, everyone just pulled out their umbrellas and stayed. But when the rain really set in we had to call it quits and pull up stumps. It was around 3pm. Mr B promised there will be more about Bruce Pascoe’s book next week.

The author lives in Sydney and has been invited to speak on the Ladder of Knowledge. We hope he accepts the invitation. Meanwhile, here is an article sent in by Whispering Ben that supports Bruce’s claims. Thanks, Ben!

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

5. Steve Maxwell also fared well with his meeting, despite the drizzle. And, that industrious man has provided us with another episode of his ‘Passing Parade’. This article adds to last week’s article about the Yarra Bank. Thank you, Steve!

Chummy Fleming on the Yarra Bank

Melbourne’s “Yarra Bank” Speakers’ Corner can be found at the South-Eastern corner of Birrarung Marr (marsh) near the Yarra River.                                         
 
 In the 1890’s, city authorities banished all outdoor free speech forums in Melbourne to the north side of the river. This followed the defeat of a bitterly fought free speech campaign organised by labour activist Tom Mann.

The location of the new Speakers’ Corner was unsuitable. It was away from the heart of the city, next to the old city morgue. It had little effect on the passers-by and all attempts to have the venue changed were rejected by the Melbourne City Council.    It seemed that the authorities had won the day.
 
Chummy Fleming, a union organiser for the boot-makers union, was not the first to speak at the Yarra Bank Speakers’ Corner, but he successfully promoted the location by convincing “The Nights of Labour” (the forerunner of today’s unions) to have May Day celebrations on the Yarra Bank.
 
Today, May Day (Labour Day) celebrates the day the 8-hour day was granted to Australian workers in1947. On May Day in1893 some 5,000 people marched to the Yarra Bank to support the introduction of shorter working hours and better working conditions.
 
Chummy Fleming was the first to give a May Day address on the Yarra Bank. He continued Sunday after Sunday to promote Speakers’ Corner. Other speakers
soon followed his example. It was not long before Speakers’ Corner became a success.
 
Chummy was an anarchist. It was said he had a reputation of being a violent speaker. He advocated the overthrow of the State and the dismantlement of the Church. He always drew the largest crowd and his words incited the wildest response. For example, in World War One, soldiers referred to as ‘Military larrikins’ attacked the Yarra Bank speakers. The soldiers had been fired up on beer, and on King & Country propaganda. But Chummy was not alone. Attacks made on him were fought off by his loyal supporters, and Chummy was capable of defending himself.  
 
Chummy’s anarchist ways also made him unpopular with the May Day organisers and the Labor Party. He would get even with his enemies on the May Day committee by always marching at the head of the march with a large anarchist flag. 

Chummy continued his Yarra Bank activities well into his old age. He was never wealthy, and he eked out a living in his humble cottage by mending boots. He died on the 25th January, 1950 aged 86. The police confiscated his personal papers and had them destroyed. His ashes are scattered on the Yarra Bank.

Steve Maxwell

References:
Chummy, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chummy_Fleming

Tom Mann, Wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Mann


6. If you are Donald Trump
or have been living on Jupiter, you may not be aware that we have a Facebook page and an Archives site. Well, we do!
We now have an ‘unusual animal’ series, just to provide a picture for our Facebook and Archives plug.

Babirusa, Indonesian islands

 

 

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News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 18th February

In News for Speakers' Corner on February 19, 2018 at 12:07 pm

“Catholicism is Judaism for the philistines.”
Helmut Cerncic

1. A helpful sign from Steve Maxwell:

Welcome to Speakers’ Corner!

Steve, we also need translations for the term, ‘blithering idiot’.

2. The recent shooting of school children in Florida prompted a discussion about gun control. (There have been 18 shootings in school in the U.S. so far this year!) Were the FBI inept? Uncle Pete mentioned Senator Jim Molan’s brilliant idea of locking people up before they do anything, and Ben the Whisperer wanted to give our police more powers. Mark the Grinner, a U.S. citizen, took the Ladder of Knowledge to say a few words about America’s gun laws. He then recounted an alarming experience he had with the U.S. police when he was an unarmed fourteen year-old boy walking in a car park with his girlfriend.

3. During his talk, Mark the Grinner hurled a question at a woman: “Are you still at breeding age?”
  Oh dear.
Thankfully the woman remained unfazed.

Only at Speakers’ Corner.

4. Thank you to the person who sent in this lookalike of Peter the Younger.

5. When Muslim women wear the hijab some people claim it’s a form of oppression, while the Muslim women themselves say they simply choose to wear it. Mr B suggested that Muslim women may not have a choice; not because they’re forced to wear it, but because they are influenced by an overiding paradigm in the same way many women in the 1950s adopted the paradigm that being a housewife was the right thing to do. Just as he spoke those words a Muslim woman wearing a hijab walked by! She and her companion stopped to listen and they helpfully answered questions. They pointed out that everyone in society is influenced by paradigms. Further, to pressure women to not wear the hijab is in itself a form of oppression. She and her companion made a few good points and we were lucky to have them there at just the right time.

6. Mr B enjoys examining the nature of infinity.

Supposedly, there are an infinite number of points on a line. A ‘point’ cannot have length. If a point had length then an infinite number of them would result in a line being infinitely long. But then again, if a point doesn’t have length, an infinite number of them would mean the line had zero length. Either way, it doesn’t make sense.

Mr B set out to prove that points cannot exist. He produced two “planks”, one twice the length of the other. He centred them and cut them in half with scizzors. He was left wtih two shorter planks, one still twice the length of the other. He did the same thing again. Thankfully he didn’t do it an infinite number of times. He pointed out that an infinite number of cuts would result in one plank always being twice the length of the other. That meant that you could never end up with a point, only a length.

Smug, and with his experiment completed, he concluded that the word ‘infinity’ does not mean the highest number or the smallest division – it’s the acknowledgement that there is no highest number or smallest division. So when we say a line can be divided into an infinite number of lengths, or points, we are mistaken. It can’t be. Not even theoretically.

After he had concluded, a grasshopper threw a spanner in the works by pointing out that the smallest length possible is the Planck length, which is roughly equal to 1.6 x 1035 m, or about 1020 times the size of a proton. But of course, there is something smaller: the size of a main course in a 5 star restaurant.

7. Mr B again plugged his weekly claim: “It’s nearly all make-believe, folks!” He provided another paradigm to support his claim. (A paradigm, in his eyes, is a belief held by a society to be true, whether or not it is actually true. Such beliefs are mostly just make-believe, and they can be disabling.) Today’s paradigm: it’s good to be given fee goods.

He claimed that advertisements have taught us to believe that it’s good to get something for less than it’s worth, that we should claw our way to a better future without giving away too much of ourselves in the process.

He pointed out that bargain hunters feel a sense of achievement when they get something for less than it’s worth, even if it’s something they don’t want. They’re enamoured with items because the items are cheap. Yet bargain hunters are never replete, for how can they be replete when they are always open to receiving more?

He added that it’s a Santa Claus mentality, that we haven’t yet grown up. We are still looking to the world to fulfil us, still looking for Santa.

He said that if we were to stop seeing bargains and freebies as a good thing, we would begin to seek only what we need, and we would be happy to pay for it. That’s what happens when you’re not attached to the idea of getting something for less than it’s worth: you don’t mind earning it.

8. Speaking of ‘free’ . . . To attend Speakers’ Corner has been free for over 140 years. “Times have changed,” said Mr B today. “From now on, regulars and passers-by will be charged $250 each time they attend. No exceptions.”

Well, if Mr B is right when he says we shouldn’t want free stuff, that new charge seems only fair.

Anticipated queue of people lining up to pay.

9. We examined the Q & A televsion discussion on the #Metoo movement. Questions were asked:
– Why would a manager sack a female worker for complaining about a customer’s unwanted sexual advances, given that the manager would then have to go through the process of advertising for a new employee, interviewing the applicants, training the chosen applicant, and going through the rigmarole of having to put the new employee on the payroll? And with the danger of it all happening again?

– Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to simply ask the offending customer to leave?

– Why wouldn’t that manager do what most managers would do: support the staff and tell the customer to clear off?

– Is there a deeper reason why the employee was sacked?

– Why wouldn’t each and every person on the planet take full 100% responsibility for their own behaviour, instead of lamely hoping and expecting the other person to be polite?

– When will women (and men) start to realise that no matter how much the other person is in the wrong, that possessing assertiveness skills is still an invaluable set of skills to have and apply?

10. Other subjects discussed:
– Steve Maxwell talked about the deconstruction of sport.

– Mr B discussed an effective sales technique called “the decoy effect”. A restaurant manager might have on their wine list a bottle of wine for $20 and a bottle for $45. Most people would buy the $20 bottle. When the manager adds to that wine list a $90 bottle, then most people buy the $45 bottle, figuring that they’re saving money. The decoy effect is used nearly everywhere, claimed Mr B.

– Mr B asked his grasshoppers about the National Broadband Network. He became more informed and even more pessimistic.

– An unexploded bomb from World War II was found in the Thames this week near the airport. Mr B railed against the bureacracy that went into panic mode, as though the damned thing was about to explode any minute. Rather than wait a week before trying to move the bomb, and give the airlines a week’s notice to make other arrangements for their passengers, the bureacracy insisted that the bomb be dealt with immediately, and disrupted 16,000 passengers as a result.
As you would expect, Mr B’s grasshoppers set him straight.

– Should Lake Mungo Man be returned to the sand in Lake Mungo, or reside in a shrine in the care of indigenous elders? The indigenous people have differing opinions, and so too did our grasshoppers.
And, where is Mungo Man’s missus, Lake Mungo Lady?

– If Japan had successfully invaded Australia in 1945 and killed off most of us, how would the remaining few survivors feel after a few decades? Resentful? Angry? Would they want to “move on” and adopt the Japanese way? Would they want their children to be educated by Japanese teachers? Questions like these were posed to give us into an idea of what many Aborigines might feel today.

– The amazing Matabele ant It is the first insect we know of that renders first aid to fellow injured ants.

– Even old Country & Western musician Chad Morgan got a mention.

11. Melbourne has its Speakers’ Corner, called ‘Speakers’ Forum’. It’s held on one Sunday of every month, opposite the State Library. In the latest of Steve Maxwell’s well researched articles for his “Passing Parade” series, Steve talks about its history. But first, here is a taste of what it was like on the Yarra’s bank in 1966:

Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade.

The Yarra Bank

Before 1889, public meetings in Melbourne were held in a number of unsuccessful locations. Then in that year, parliamentarian Dr William Maloney campaigned successfully to have a place set aside for the purpose of “holding public meetings and discussing questions – religious, educational and others.” The place set aside was in the South-Eastern corner of Birrarung Marr (marsh) between the Jolimont Rail Yards and the Yarra River. (A monument to Speaker’s Corner is now there.)

The gold rush made Melbourne the richest city in Australia. Yet, by the 1890’s, working conditions in the city had not improved. The Yarra’s bank became a hotbed of radical unionism and politics, from both communists and fascists.

By the late 1970’s, the “Yarra bankers”, as speakers in Melbourne were called, found dwindling audiences because of television, Sunday sports events and Sunday trading.

In November 1986, prominent Yarra bankers Geoff Forster and David Miller asked the Melbourne City Council for permission to begin a Speakers’ Corner in the City Square on Sunday afternoons. This was granted. Other speakers joined, but never more than four or five.  

In the 1990’s, the City of Melbourne planned a major renovation of City Square. Again, the Speakers’ Corner looked like it would have nowhere to go. The speakers asked if they could carry on the tradition on the State Library lawns. This idea was freely endorsed and the Speakers’ Corner moved to there, where it remains today.

The move has come at a cost, because few people since have taken up the tradition of outdoor speaking, even though they can use a megaphone. Both Geoff Forster and David Miller have retired. Only Gospel singer Rosalie Tremaine holds on, and only once a month. 

It looks like it will be the end of era, unless of course someone gets on a soapbox on the State Library lawns, and speaks.

Location: State Library Lawns of Victoria
Corner Swanston St and Latrobe Street,  Melbourne  3001

References:
Speakers Forum | Soapbox Oratory:   www.youtube.com/speakersforum

Yarra Bank (Speakers’ Forum)
http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/5231

Yarra Bank and Yarra Bankers:
http://www.emelbourne.net.au/biogs/EM01653b.htm

12. Check out our Facebook page.

 

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 11th February

In News for Speakers' Corner on February 12, 2018 at 11:27 am

It’s Darwin Day today, Steve informs me.

“Farewell Australia! You are a rising child. And doubtless some day will reign a great princess in the South; but you are too great and ambitious for affection, yet not old enough to respect. I leave your shores without sorrow or regret.”
Charles Darwin , 1836 .

1. Happy birthday Arthur!  You don’t turn 95 every day.

2. Good news! Steve Maxwell has written another article for his “Passing Parade” series. It is about the intellectual hobos who invaded Chicago every Spring by freight train. The hobos  would form a Speakers’ Corner called ‘The Bughouse Square’, and months later they would jump back onto the freight trains and leave. Steve draws upon a Saul Bellows article to give us an idea of what some of those speakers were like in the 1930’s. Steve’s article is at the end of this post.

Steve Maxwell’s thirty-six episodes of “Passing Parade“and his book “The History of Soapbox Oratory“, plus his umpteen years of being a learned speaker, mean that Steve is the world authority on soapbox speaking. Steve knows more about soapbox speaking and Speakers’ Corners throughout the world than any other person, alive or dead. (Especially dead. They don’t know much at all.) Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner, and Sydney itself, are lucky to have Steve.

The information Steve has painstakingly collected will be appreciated by historians long after we are all gone.Thank you, Steve!

Here is another lookalike someone has sent us.

 

3. Mr Bashful pointed out that within his cloud of grasshoppers sit quality speakers. We have:
– Mark the Grinner, who is articulate, entertaining and earnest.
– Peter the Younger, who would make an exceptional speaker because his esoteric views are wide-ranging, original and carefully considered. He might get a smaller audience, but that audience would be loyal, motivated and intellectual. You wouldn’t get banality from Peter the Younger.
– Uncle Pete is an excellent speaker. Peter calls it how he sees it, and does so with insight, a sharp tongue, and with wit.
– Helmut’s popularity is soaring now that he is diversifying his topics and taking questions from his groundlings. Helmut is still a first class speaker with a savant-like knowledge and with something to say.

Mr B says that if all four men were to join old farts Mirko, Steve, Ray and Mr B, we would then have eight old farts and an exceptional Speakers’ Corner. We would have a Speakers’ Corner fit for the twenty-first century: one that’s free of bigotry and pretence. The trouble is, getting all eight speakers to persist with speaking to only a handful of people each, long enough for crowds to finally come, is asking too much. It’s a Catch 22 situation.

And what if we had youth? Where is Scott? Will Tommy return?

And what if we had women speakers? Wouldn’t that be refreshing!! We might even learn something.

The Queen, speaking in the Domain in 2012. Unfortunately she only lasted three meetings. She said she had other commitments.

4. Mark the Grinner stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and was scathing of the Fair Work Commission that recently outlawed a train drivers’ strike. He said the Commission looks after employer interests more than it does the interests of the employees. He added that we need a Fair Wage Commission instead.

Interestingly, there was a train driver in the audience who quietly told this scribe that he believed they were overpaid! They received $110,000 per annum, which was more than the job was worth.

Mark the Grinner had a man at the back muttering, “The guy’s mad”.

5. Mirko gave photosynthesis a rest today and instead talked about smartphones. Peter the Younger suggested that Mirko’s “smartphone” might need its lithium level checked.

From the Postsecret website:

6. If a person witnesses an animal being slaughtered or the gore of someone crushed, they may be traumatised. Yet, if someone witnesses slaughter or gore regularly (for example, they work in an abattoir or an intensive care unit) they can become innured to such sights and won’t suffer trauma or PTSD. In the same way, is it possible that our youth are too protected, and lack the opportunity to become innured against hardships such as bullying? As a result, they are anxious?

There was agreement and disagreement. Someone pointed out that paramedics do suffer PTSD. And Jacquie intrigued us all by telling us that at the age of four she was allowed to climb a tall tree. How many four-year olds would be allowed to do that today?

4 year-old Jacquie is hard to see at the top of this baobab.

7. Mr B had no intention of speaking about Barnaby Joyce’s affair. He figured it was none of his business. But his grasshoppers took control, pointing out that we should be talking about Barnaby’s affair, because of his hypocrisy.
(1) Barnaby opposed the free provision of Gardasil, a vaccine that would prevent the spread of the human pappiloma virus. According to Jenna Price’s article in the SMH, Barnaby was concerned about the voters’ fear of potential promiscuity!
(2) In the recent by-election, Barnaby allowed the media to take photographs of him with his family. So, he is quite happy to have his private matters in the media when it suits him.
(3) Barnaby took a “moral stand” about people’s sexuality when he opposed gay marriage.

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Mr B has never voted; he just votes ‘informal’. He says voting only supports the status quo, and he doesn’t want that on his conscience. Is he right?

– We learned from Uncle Pete why faeces smell.

– Up until only a few years ago, why did intelligent people on battleships and cruise ships think nothing of throwing their rubbish into the sea? Peter the Younger had the answer.

– We discussed the quote: “Every snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.”

– Five months ago, Mr B wrote to the Customer Enquiries section of the NSW Police Force. He wanted to know how he could prepare to best help the police with their procedures if he were to die. He is still waiting for a reply.

– Do people like learning? Or do they like the consequent acquisition of knowledge, and that makes the unpleasant process of learning worthwhile?

– Helmut also talked about learning, and then spoke about the expanding universe and why it must be finite.

– Helmut talked about what will happen to the sun when it gets old. It will expand, he says.

9. Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade.

Saul Bellow (1915-2005) is described as the man who breathed life into the American novel. He was determined to write at an early age and went on to win the 1976 Nobel Prize for literature. In his youth he studied anthropology and sociology at the Northwest University of Chicago. In winter he would study in the Newberry library’s reading room.

As the cruel winter lifted, hoboes from all over the USA would arrive in Chicago by railway freight cars. They survived on casual work and charity. Among them were soapbox orators. They would set up a speakers’ corner in Washington Square, opposite Newberry Library. This area became known as Bughouse Square.

Saul Bellow described the visitors as a collection of self-made intellectual bums or literary hoboes, who seemed vaguely anarchistic.

Saul wrote a short article, “A Sermon By Doctor Pep” which was published only once by Partisan Review, in 1949. It was Saul’s description of Bughouse Square. The article was probably written before 1939, when Saul Bellow was in his early 20’s.

I have a copy of the article, and I wrote to Saul in 1999. He kindly replied, saying that he had indeed written the article. It was, as he said, “not a piece of fiction. I don’t know what the devil it is!” This was the reason he never republished the work.

The article is written in the first person, as an imaginary monologist soapbox speaker. Saul incorporated all the possible political and religious ideas discussed by the speakers in the Square – not an easy project if you are trying to re-create the atmosphere of Speaker’s Corner on paper.

The article is available on the net, but you have to get your head around the way  Saul Bellow wrote that piece. In the article, Dr Julius Widig is in fact Dr. Ben L. Reitman, an American anarchist and physician to the poor. Dr Reitman was a popular soapbox speaker who married fellow anarchist Emma Goldman.

The monologist often makes references to health, because there were many medical showmen at the time; some were genuine, but most were quacks.

There are also a lot of Biblical references. Both Saul Bellow and Dr.  Reitman were from Jewish backgrounds and Americans understood Bible references.

And, the monologist cited Single-Tax speakers, who were advocates of Henry George’s economic ideas.

Other speakers also spoke in Bughouse Square, with their own ideas on politics and current affairs.

As the hot summer abated and the first chills of Autumn blew across Chicago, the hoboes once again would ‘jump the rattler’ to head south for the winter.

Saul told me, “Bughouse square died when the hobo intellectuals disappeared from the scene just before the outbreak of the World War II.”

References:
https://www.raptisrarebooks.com/product/partisan-review-may-1949-bellow-story-a-sermon-by-doctor-pep-saul-bellow-signed-1949/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Bellow
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bughouse_Square_Debates
Christy, Marian. “Bellow’s Pleasure in Imaginary States.” Boston Globe 15 Nov. 1989: 81-82.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Reitman
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_George

Steve Maxwell

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 4th February

In News for Speakers' Corner on February 5, 2018 at 9:23 am

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Andre Gide

1. Although Speakers’ Corner
is a place for discussing controversial issues, some topics are simply out of bounds. Some things should never be said, by anyone. Today, Helmut crossed the line. He said things unspeakable. He said the game of soccer was a better game than Australian Rules football and Rugby League football. And he gave his reasons.

A Speakers’ Corner Committee will be formed to thrash out what needs to be done about this breach. This cannot happen again.

Meanwhile, here is a lookalike of the miscreant.

2. The fellow who erected this sign insists he is not mad, and claims he has a certificate to prove it.

Repent at Speakers’ Corner!

3. Mr B complained about how his grasshoppers “didn’t get it”, yet for half an hour he refused to explain what it was we weren’t getting. Talk about frustrating! Then, when he finally told us what we weren’t getting, he then accused us of still “not getting it”! Holy moly. Someone cruelly, but perceptively, suggested that perhaps Mr B wasn’t “getting it” at home.

So, what was it that we “didn’t get”, even though he has told us week after week? Answer: that nearly everything is make-believe, and we should be aware of that, and if our wacky make-beliefs disable us, we should drop them.

That’s what we had to put up with for one interminable hour.

Straight afterwards, Mark the grinner stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and in three brief minutes succinctly summarised Mr B’s point.

This meme says it in seconds.

4. Recently, Uncle Pete said our Speakers’ Corner is intellectual. Today, Steve Maxwell proved it:

5.  The Australian Muslim Times has an article, “At Speakers’ Corner We All have a Voice“, by Philip Feinstein. Thank you, Philip!

6. Up on the Ladder of Knowledge Mirko patiently explained to his enthralled listeners how photosynthesis creates water. Poor Uncle Pete, who has only 20th century science to draw upon, kept insisting Mirko was wrong. Yes, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

Trees making water with photosynthesis.

7. Governments and their departments should not simply issue requests, says Mr B, they should also give reasons. A simple example: instead of simply telling us to not feed the birds, the sign should also explain why we shouldn’t feed them.
The same goes for governmental decisions. Governments should explain in writing how they arrive at their decisions.

Another example: eight months ago Mr B wrote to both the Refugee Council and the Department of Immigration with six questions. He is still waiting for a reply. He says that if government departments took the time to answer questions from the public (form letters would suffice in most instances) then people might gain a greater understanding of a situation, and feel less frustrated and combatitive.

Cynics pooh-hooed the idea.

Which sign do you think is more likely to receive a compliant response?


8. Other subjects discussed:
– The two types of happiness, and how they evolved. For more about this see Mr B’s website.

– Many non-human primates have communicated well with researchers, but not one has asked a question! (Have the researches given them the opportunity?)

– We heard the ancient fable about an ageing Chinese emperor looking for a successor. Although the fable was well received by Mr B’s grasshoppers, Uncle Pete, still reeling from the intellectual drubbing he had received from Mirko, found a flaw in it.

– Mr B showed us how male human brains are different from female brains, and reminded us that the brain is our biggest sex organ. From there he tried to prove that we should judge a person’s sex not by their genitals, but by the structure of their brain. Peter the Younger explained why he was wrong.

– We looked at loneliness and compared the merit of nuclear families with close extended families. Which would enrich the soul more?

9. Sadly, our Facebook page is less popular than America’s Super Bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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