Soapbox Speakers

Archive for November, 2018|Monthly archive page

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 25th November.

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 26, 2018 at 12:52 pm

“When I was teaching suicide intervention skills for Lifeline counsellors, we would tell them to listen to enough reasons the caller had to want to die, and to listen for their reasons to live.”
  Gay McKinley

1. Was it godly intervention? Mr B was just about to talk about the merits or otherwise of Zen Buddhism when the SBS crew arrived with a bunch of Christians. Then all hell broke loose, so to speak.

Four Christian speakers stood on the Ladder of Knowledge (one after the other, thankfully) and spoke about their beliefs. They then answered questions from the audience and those questions came mainly from passionate atheists.

After the Christians spoke, fervent atheist Ian Bryce spoke briefly. And then Helmut followed, so it was back to normal. No, it wasn’t. You could never say that hearing Helmut speak is “back to normal”.

SBS had chosen their Christians well. They were all good speakers capable of expressing themselves in a clear, articulate manner. Good work, SBS.

There were lots of chats afterwards, so the day didn’t finish until 6.30pm. SBS got about two hours of filming. That two hours of footage will be reduced to 3 minutes, which we will see one day in a television program. Your scribe will let you know when it happens.

We won’t display the speakers, for SBS reasons.


2. I guess we should represent the atheists and Christians with a meme for each:


3. Steve was going gangbusters today (before the Christians arrived) and he was ready for them.

4. Mirko returned today and
made up for his three week abscence by being a pest supreme. He was indefatigable. Resistance was futile.

What do you do when you get a comfortable chair but want to move to another speaker? Answer: you become a hermit crab.

5. Other subjects discussed:
– Was it right the right decision to close places like Callan Park Mental Hospital and release the patients into society?

– Mr B spoke about leadership skills. With all the interruptions he received it was evident he hasn’t any.

– Greg’s great, great grandmother dreamt her son had died in the war. The next day she learned he had indeed died during the night. Spooky? It turns out that statistically, such incidents would have been common and inevitable.

– Was the fuss made of the recent death of Melbourne cafe owner, Sisto Pellegrini, warranted? Was the State funeral he received warranted?

– Mr B told us how one day he saw a man whose facial expression made him look like a priest. The man looked so much like a priest (he was wearing only casual clothing) that Mr B felt compelled to ask the man his profession. “Priest” was the answer. Mr B asked his grasshoppers for possible explanations, and received them.

– We heard Mr B’s weekly whinge about our justice system: a woman suffered a back injury. A Queensland ‘No win, no fee‘ law firm won for her $5,000 in compensation. They charged her the $5,000 plus another $7,000.

– We heard a parable about three saucepans of boiling water. In each was a carrot, an egg or ground coffee.

6. Subjects to be discussed this coming Sunday (hopefully):
– Steve will doing his bit: Australian history, politics or religion, or “anything else that gets in the way”.

– The merits, or otherwise, of Zen Buddhism. (How and why monasteries became insane asylums.)

– The current theories of the origin of the universe. (And hopefully by this coming Sunday Mr B will have figured out the real reason it came into existence.)

– The Rothchilds. Mr B has for some time been seriously investigating this topic and his results could be explosive.

– Another whinge about our justice system.


7. In our Unusual Creature Series, this Patagonian Mara posed for our Facebook page.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 18th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 19, 2018 at 10:38 am

Men (and women) occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”   
Sir Winston Churchill.

1. We had a gamut of speakers today in what was a beautiful, Goldilocks day. Indeed, it was so perfect we had trouble deciding on whether to put the chairs in the sun or the shade. So, I guess the day wasn’t so perfect after all.

We had Steve Maxwell, who explained the difference between Climate Change modelling and economic modelling.

Speaking of models: My mum used to tell everyone she had a model husband. One day, Dad looked up the word ‘model’ in the dictionary. It said: “model: small imitation of the real thing”.

We had John August from the Pirate Party speaking about gambling, and how the government should be regulating it, not facilitating it. He was referring to the recent abominable incident regarding an advertisement pasted on the sails of the Sydney Opera Billboard.

Second-time visitor Maggie spoke. But only just. For some reason, Mr B was in an ungenerous mood and not keen to relinquish the Ladder of Knowledge. But the fans demanded she speak, so she got the gig. Three people openly disagreed with what she had to say, but she handled them well and answered plenty of questions. Importantly, she spoke clearly and articulately. She avoided the ums & ers and ‘you knows’ that sometimes come with public speaking. So for the second time, she did a good job despite the flak she received.

Mark the Grinner gave us vegan recipes. Unfortunately, the recipies weren’t about how to cook vegetables, they were about how to cook vegans.

Tony spoke for a half an hour and held a good crowd. His main message was: “there are no gods”.

Ray was also about, and so was Mr B. Had Helmut and Uncle Pete spoken, and had Tommy and Mirko turned up, we would have had twelve speakers in total. Is Speakers’ Corner finally beginning to get some momentum?

Peter the Younger suprised us all by getting up. He explained that when the Americans (and others) took slaves from Africa, the Africans they took were already slaves! None of us were quite sure of the point Peter was making but what he said was interesting nevertheless.
Someone asked if Australian Aborigines were ever slaves. Apart from the fact that the Aborigines were grossly underpaid for the work they did for the white fella, on land the white fella took from them, (thanks Mark the Grinner) and apart from the Kanak slaves the Queenslanders stole from Melanesia, this photo suggests that all was not quite right.

2. This coming Sunday there will be an SBS documentary crew filming some Christians speaking. The Christians will want a crowd and questions from the audience.

Christians: come along and give them your support.
Atheists: come along and give them your “support”.

With the two Peters to be there, and Tony, and other hecklers . . . I’m reminded of something . . .

3. Mr B explained how we
could have solved the refugee “problem” long ago. In so doing, debate raged as to whether asylum seekers coming by boat are acting illegally.

Your dutiful scribe will clear the matter up: A govt website says:  “Although those who come to Australia by boat seeking Australia’s protection are classified by Australian law to be ‘unlawful non-citizens’, they have a right to seek asylum under international law and not be penalised for their mode of entry.”

Another page on the same site says: “It is not a crime to enter Australia without authorisation for the purpose of seeking asylum. Asylum seekers do not break any Australian laws simply by arriving on boats or without authorisation.”

As for the grasshopper claiming that the refugees are queue jumpers, this page explains why that isn’t true.

Rwandan refugee camp in Zaire

4. Other subjects discussed:
– critical thinking. Thanks to Mr B we were sent on a wild goose chase trying to solve the puzzle of the boy who predicted his own death by meteor.

– Differences between men and women were briefly discussed. Men take off jumpers, drink from a glass of water, look at their heels, and look at their fingernails in ways that women don’t. Yes, profound stuff.

– To make up a joke, most of us rely on inspiration. Mr B told us the steps the professionals use, and how much the top comedians, singers and magicians can earn.

– If you don’t like the American version of the television show, ‘The Office’ are you anti-American or do you simply have poor taste?

– It was explained how solicitors and barristers purposely waste time in court because they get paid more that way. Meanwhile, there is a severe backlog of cases waiting to be heard.

– There’s nothing wrong with having a new Prime Minister every five minutes despite what the media tell us, argued one speaker. After all, the Prime Minister is not our leader. The PM is the leader of their political party, and each party can have whoever they want as their leader. We, the public, don’t elect the Prime Minister, we elect a party, and we should focus on the policies each party puts forth.
Here is a photo of one party electing their leader.

5. In our Unusual Creature Series, the Cape Genet of South Africa has expressed no interest in our Facebook page.

Vale Donny Dodd

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 14, 2018 at 9:05 am

One of the Domain’s past best speakers has died.

Donny Dodd was born a Kaanju-Bire man to Katie and Reg Dodd on Palm Island. He moved to Sydney and in 1980 he began speaking in the Domain about Aboriginal affairs. Twenty years later, in 2000, he retired from speaking.

Your scribe met Donny a few times and on each occasion Donny was likeable and well mannered, and a pleasure to be with. When he spoke on his podium he was entertaining, informative, and exasperating.

Thank you, Donny, for your significant contribution to the health of Speakers’ Corner.

For more about Donny read Steve Maxwell’s article about him.

Donny Dodd was about 92 when this photo was taken.

Here are some photos of Donny over the years, courtesy of Steve Maxwell.

At 2pm Donny gets ready to speak at Speakers’ Corner



The people come to listen to Donny.

Here are six photos of the many platforms Donny spoke from:







Donny gets heckled.


Donny heckles too.


Donny gets advice.


Donny gets on the radio. Mirko stands in the background.


Donny lets a good speaker on his platform.


Donny addresses the people on National Soapbox Day.


Sunset on the Domain. Time to go home.

Goodbye, Donny!



























































News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 11th November.

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 12, 2018 at 11:24 am

“A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.” 
― Machiavelli Niccolo, The Prince

1. Today was Remembrance Day and Steve Maxwell understandably talked about World War I and how it began. His Great Uncle was in the 48th Battalion in Bullecourt, at the Western Front. That made it even more special for Steve and his listeners.

2. Uncle Pete had a serious question. He asked Mr B for his thoughts on having ‘Waltzing Matilda’ replace ‘Advance Australia Fair’ as Australia’s national anthem. Mr B was not in favour of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ but his preferred choice, “We are one; we are many . . .” prompted a few people to gag on pretend vomit. Then Helmut insisted Mr B’s real choice was ‘God Save The Queen‘ before Tony reminded us all, for no apparent reason, that the Spanish anthem has no words.

Mr B then remembered his favourite anthem, and promised to share it with this scribe. (Should we adopt it for our own?) Here it is:

3. Speaking of Mr B, he has asked me to pass on an apology to one poor woman. He called her a ‘blabbermouth’ because she packed a whole heap of information into a handful of long sentences. He wanted to examine each claim but there were too many of them, one after the other, he explained. He should have handled the situation better, he says.

“How?” I asked him.

“I could have focused on one claim and examined that,” he said.

I told him “it’s a bit late now” and asked him, “Why, after so many years speaking at the Domain, are you still making basic mistakes like that?”

That’s when he slunk off.

For the woman.

4. Relief at last!  Peter the Younger often prefaces his questions or comments with an unnecessary aside, and Mr B has tediously (and some would say unfairly) criticised him for it. Today, as though in commemoration of the conclusion of the Great War 100 years ago, the two men came to an agreement. After a generous concession by Peter the Younger, Mr B will never again ‘roar him up’ for unnecessarily prefacing a comment. Hallelujah.

A completely unrelated photograph.

5. There are righteous nations and wicked nations, explained Mr B (stealing from Walter Murdoch). The righteous nations never start wars; wars are forced upon them. The righteous nations want justice; the wicked nations want injustice. The righteous nations keep their promises; the wicked nations break agreements. Some nations are willing to fight on your side, and these also are righteous nations.

The trouble is, as Walter and Mr B pointed out: every nation believes it’s a righteous nation.

“If the world were really like a chessboard, if human beings could be as sharply divided into good and bad as chessmen are divided into black and white, history would be easily understood, and the international situation could at any given moment be explained to a kindergarten.”
Walter Murdoch.

6. There are countless examples of our ‘disposable’ mentality. We buy an item and discard the packaging, and then soon discard the item itself. Cars are owned for three years instead of thirty. And so on. We are now tending to think of the Earth in the same way, warns Mr B. Christians have said to Mr B that it doesn’t matter that we’re destroying the Earth because when God returns we will have a paradise again. Other people have said that one day we will terraform Mars and live there. Mr B railed against that foolish disposable mentality from Christians and wanna-be Martians, saying we desperately need to look after the Earth we have now.

7. Mr B made a momentous change to the Australian way of life. He banned history.

Yes, that’s right, folks, he didn’t just express his displeasure of history, he outright banned it. The possible ramifications for our society make this hardy scribe shudder. In a few months let’s examine the influence this ban will have had upon us.

A rare photo of the battle of Hastings. Who doesn’t know it was in 1066? Who needs to know that?

8. Mr B pretended to begin to give us a history of flight (even though he had banned history). The talk turned out to be a criticism of current day capitalism. (Alex Nobel calls it ‘Crony Capitalism’ and you can read Mr Noble’s brief but absorbing article here.

The Wright brothers, about to create history.

9.  When fighting in the Crusades, gallant knight Sir Thrust-a-lot used his sword to solve many of his problems. So, when he returned from the Crusades he kept using his sword to solve problems, even though using a sword wasn’t appropriate. In the same way, some people have become reliant on one particular emotion to solve all their problems.

To read the story of Sir Thrust-a-lot, click here.

10. Other subjects discussed:
– Does a woman have a right to NOT be traumatised?

– A Scottish woman took umbrage with Mr B’s claim that there is no such thing as a Scot. Well, to be more accurate: a woman who thought she was a Scot took umbrage with his claim.

Tartan is a delicacy in Scotland.

11. Mr B butchered this joke:

A little girl tells her father she’s marrying little Billy next door.  The father finds this amusing and asks her “What are you going to do for money?”  The little girl says:  “Well, Billy has saved up $4 and I’ve saved up $5.20.” 
   The father loves this answer and is prompted to ask her “Where are you going to live?” The little girl says “Billy can live here sometimes, and sometimes I’ll live at Billy’s place.”  The father thinks that’s a fine answer.  So he asks her “And what happens if little ones come along?”  She says, “Well, we’ve been lucky so far.”

12. In our Unusual Creature Series
we have a Durrell’s Vontsira, a Madagascan mammal. You will find the same photo on our Facebook page.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 4th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 5, 2018 at 11:25 am

“We are such poor judges of the worth of others that our ultimate duty remains to be kind, good, curious and imaginative about pretty much everyone who ever crosses our path – and that includes ourselves.”
Alain de Botton

1. It was another beautiful day and this time there was no sign of the Illuminati. However, they are only pausing to take a breath because next week they’ll be hindering us again. There will be no road access, which means we won’t have chairs.

Curse them.

And yes, Peter the Younger, let’s be wary of the Rothchilds as well.

But at least we know we have the Illuminati worried. We must not give up.

This is their symbol. Mirko has been warning us about them for some time. If only we had listened to you earlier, Mirko.

2. A few weeks ago there was an uproar in the media when a nine year-old schoolgirl refused to stand for the National Anthem in School Assembly. A few of Mr B’s grasshoppers had suggested that she should have stood for the anthem, and that her reasons for not doing so were poor. Yet, today when Mr B asked everyone to stand because he was about to sing the National Anthem, no one moved! It was as though their backsides had been glued to the chairs.

He began singing, and your discerning scribe was surprised to find that Mr B has a beautiful singing voice. Who would have thought? But despite that, and despite the fact that it was indeed our National Anthem he was singing, still no one stood!

The hypocrisy was almost palpable.


3. Speaking of hypocrisy, Mr B wondered if the people who are cheating the Opal Transport System are the same people who complain when their bank rips them off.

4. Should children leave school unable to understand percentages? Should they leave school without critical thinking skills? Without knowing how to change the washer on a tap? Without knowing how to cook? Is it really impossible to teach children what a mortgage is? Would a school really need thirty cars to teach children how to change a flat tyre? These and other questions were discussed in a most unpleasant, nasty half-hour. If you weren’t there, you were lucky.

Here is one advanced school teaching their students to lose their fear of heights.

5. Yet again the monkey on the typewriter was introduced and the question was asked: “Can any finite task be completed in infinite time?” However, to make it easier for his grasshoppers, this time Mr B replaced that maladroit monkey and the choking chimp (both had caused conjecture) with another primate: a human being who can’t speak or write English. Would that help Mr B’s befuddled grasshoppers solve the conundrum?

You guessed it: no. Not even close.

Mirko regularly says the best way to write infinity is to lay the number ‘eight’ on its side. That insight would make Mirko the person closest to correctly answering the question, which shows you just how far  the other grasshoppers were from even providing an answer.

Mirko wasn’t here today to claim victory. We hope you’re well, Mirko.

Mirko’s symbol for infinity.

6. Other subjects discussed:
– Organised crime. Who does it and what do they do? Are you supporting them by the things you do?

– Should the RSLs and sports clubs (making hundreds of millions of dollars profit with their poker machines)  become service hubs for government  bodies such as TAFE? Should they get into child care and aged care?

– Mr B explained why he thinks the actor Geoffrey Rush is hard done by.

– Given that most people born in the 18th century and beyond would not have experienced a tenth of what we have experienced, in comparison has each and every one of us achieved a great deal in life?

– Mr B explained why he is now in favour of the Invictus Games and fully supportive of them. And, the question was asked: “Should past enemy nations (ergo, the soldiers) be invited?” Opinion was divided.


7. In our Unusual Creature Series we have the world’s biggest rodent, the amiable capybara of South America. It has seen our Facebook page and is a big fan.




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