Soapbox Speakers

Archive for August, 2019|Monthly archive page

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 25th August

In News for Speakers' Corner on August 26, 2019 at 11:31 am

Indigenous journalist, Stan Grant, speaking in an interview:
“I know what resentment and grievance does to human beings because I see it. Too many people dead too young, too many lost and wasted lives, too many youth suicides. Scientists now talk about epigentic intergenerational inheretance. That trauma, and being born into trauma, actually distorts your DNA. It changes your genetic makeup and makes you more susceptible to anxiety and depression and heart disease and cancer. And it kills you.  And yet, identity is so easily aligned with that sense of grievance and vengence. These things are hard to talk against. There is a righteousness to it. It feels right to be angry about these things. And we should be angry. But there is a difference between peace and justice. There is a difference. You can prosecute the past to achieve some form of justice, some atonement, for a wrong, which can never really ever be atoned, ever. Or you can seek, I think, what Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu sought: the higher justice of peace. To hear the stories of the past, but to not endlessly prosecute the grievance of the past. It’s not letting people off the hook. Far, far from it. I think it asks a lot more of us.
     There is a famous thing George Santiano once said: “Those who do not remember the past are destined to repeat it.” I think sometimes those who remember the past too well are the ones who repeat it. That we are locked into that idea that we are prisoners of that past.
  Earnest Rinan, the French philosopher, said, “A nation is born as much out of what we forget, as what we remember.” It’s not amnesia and it’s not erasure, it is setting something aside for the peace, to live and build a future that is not tied to an endless historical grievance and resentment. You don’t get it if you ignore it; you don’t get it if you silence it; you don’t get it if you perpetuate injustice; you don’t get it if you don’t acknowledge the rights of people. But you must also actively seek to live a life free from the chains of that history.”
From the ABC’s Radio National program, ‘Big Ideas‘.

1. It would have been an excellent day had some grasshoppers not disgraced themselves by presenting to everyone “untoward” mental images. Mr B had been trying to take his grasshoppers on a thought-experiment journey, but troublemakers chose to bend his topic into matters which should never, ever be raised. Some of us will have trouble sleeping tonight. It was awful.

2. Today we learned
that one of Mr B’s grasshoppers has been watching so many SBS movies she had a dream with subtitles!

3. Here is another stirring chapter from Mr B’s book about resilience. It’s about the innate need to feel safe. We certainly need it, after today’s effort by a small few.

4. One good way to ease traffic congestion in Sydney is to get rid of all public transport, said Mr B. His view is unconventional but his reasons, sound. It was a wonderful example of the power of lateral thinking. However, one or two naysaying garden gnomes were a tad sceptical.

It’s no wonder your scribe is a big fan of Mr B and Speakers’ Corner.

Here is another good idea:

5. Other topics discussed:
– That grey area between liking something and actually becoming addicted to it: why don’t people see the approaching danger and avoid addiction? One strong answer came from Mark the Grinner: “Young, undeveloped brains can’t reason.” (And yet, we let those young brains vote, drive, drink and live.)

– Have you ever wondered why a person attracted to the opposite sex never falls in love with someone of the same sex? Or why someone attracted to the same sex invariably falls in love with a person of the same sex? It can’t be coincidence. Could it be that we fall in love with people of the sex we are sexually attracted to? No, said clear thinker Mr B. It’s the other way around: heterosexuals are born with genes that make them fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, and the attraction follows. In the same way, people born with genes prompting them to love people of the same sex will end up being sexually attracted to that sex.
In other words, we are not born heterosexual or homosexual, we are born heteroloving and homoloving, and the sexuality simply follows.
One garden gnome tried to suggest “that’s wrong, there’s a continuum in our sexuality”, but troublemakers like him don’t need to come to Speakers’ Corner.

– What if half the population fully absorbed the food they ate and never defecated? In fact, they weren’t even born with the defecating equipment?  What would be the ramifications?
It was a serious thought experiment with profound lessons to be learned, but Mr B’s grasshoppers instead chose to disgrace themselves. The standards found at Speakers’ Corner are already extremely low, so there was no reason to ensure they plummeted to depths unimaginable.

– bleaching.

– Mr B tried to present Newcomb’s Paradox, but mucked it up and lost his audience. Presumably, he was still getting over the shock of the previous discussion.
He promises to present Newcomb’s Paradox properly next week.

– We talked breifly about hypnogogia – the rare experience occurring between wakefulness and sleep, in which the lucky recipient is presented with an internal slide-show.

– We talked about abortion, and if and when it should happen. Mr B gave reasons why it should be allowed until the infant is about two years of age.

– Helmut, Ray and Steve also did their thing, but your scribe didn’t hear what they had to say. I was under a tree still trying to recover.

– Philip stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and spoke about aphantasia – a common condition that prevents a person from visualising in their mind an image. If you can’t picture in your mind’s eye an elephant, you have aphantasia.
Mind you, after today’s unsavoury effort from Mr B’s grasshoppers, your poor scribe desperately wishes he had aphantasia. He wants the images burned on his brain to go away.
Pray for me.


6. In our Unusual Critter Series we present to you the Binturong, native to parts of Asia. It has little to no comprehension of what Facebook is, so it is probably unaware of our Facebook page.




News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 18th August

In News for Speakers' Corner on August 19, 2019 at 12:27 pm

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”
Erma Bombeck

1. We had a new speaker for a while: Socrateaser. He implored us to ask him a challenging question, and each time we complied he simply asked a question of us in return. Brilliant thinking. But then he began talking about a 140 year old yogi’s tips to prevent ageing. One tip was: don’t live in square buildings. The two most important organs in the human body are the heart and the brain, and they are spherical. Therefore, we need to live in spherical surroundings.

You get the idea.

Only later did your scribe realise he was ‘having a lend’ of us. Surely! The trouble is, Speakers’ Corner has enough genuine “unorthodox” people spouting sincere nonsense that  it has become easy to assume anyone talking nonsense is “unorthodox”. But you’re not “unorthodox” are you, Socrateaser? (It’s in the name, isn’t it?) Yes, you fooled us. But you won’t do that again!


2 . After Socrateaser’s nonsense, it seemed only fair we get someone sensible to speak. But that didn’t happen. Mirko stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and told us about two polarity. He was heckled, but not outdone. Michael sat in the audience ranting about atheists and abortions, and he was not outdone. In short, the irresistable force had met the immovable object.

Oh dear.

The sensible ones in the audience left and found Helmut and Steve Maxwell. Steve ended up with a big crowd, and he held it for the rest of the day.

3. Other subjects discussed:
– What precisely is wrong with Alan Jones’ advice to our Prime Minister regarding the placement of a sock in the New Zealand Prime Minister’s gob? Mr B generously explained.

– Should there be a client/lawyer privilege? No, said Mr B. It has to go.

– The Tragedy of the Commons. ie. Should Australia reduce its carbon emissions given that even a huge reduction in our emissions would make no significant difference to Climate Change, and given that no other country would follow Australia’s example?

4. Our unusual critter this week in our Unusual Creature Series is the ball-bearing treehopper. It uses its antennae and wifi to read our Facebook page.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 11th August

In News for Speakers' Corner on August 12, 2019 at 9:42 am

“Speaking of statistics, did you know that one in seven dwarves is grumpy?”
Mark the Grinner.

1. Where was Mirko? How did we manage without him?

On the Ladder of Knowledge Mr B soon became passionate about his purpose in life, and he was pretty negative about his accomplishment. What fun!

2. It was good to see Albert and Jean back, though poor Albert received a vocal reception as a heckler and as a speaker. It seems, however, his patience is limitless. Albert spoke about the stupidity of the world’s arms race, and the importance of  collective conscousness. Good work, Albert!

Keep defending him, Jean!

3. When Mark the Grinner alighted the Ladder of Knowledge he referred to ‘Idiocracy’, a film about our future world populated and run by morons. Mark said the future is already here, and he gave us a few examples. He said being a moron is no longer an impediment.

Later, he engaged in a robust debate with Peter the Younger about humans’ role in climate change.

4. Here is another chapter of Mr B’s book. It’s about the different types of happiness researchers.

5. Other topics discussed:
– Is Mr B a narcissist?

– Mr B explained why James Hardie should not compensate do-it-yourselfers dying of asbestosis and mesothelioma. He said we all know that  some building products can be dangerous, so we should take personal responsibility for the risks we take. Mr B was not 100% popular with his grasshoppers.

– The misuse of statistics. For example: is it really true that you’re more likely to die from falling out of bed than from being killed by a shark? Yes, it’s true, but only because more people get out of bed every morning than swim in the ocean.

– We talked about suicide and its aftermath. This photo is from the Postsecret site.

6. This week’s creature in our Unusual Critter Series is the Cooloola Monster, found in parts of subterranian Queensland. It was discovered in the 1980s and is rarely seen. Today it is Guest Editor on our Facebook page.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 4th August

In News for Speakers' Corner on August 5, 2019 at 9:54 am

“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”
Brené Brown

1. Uncle Pete was the first to ascend the Ladder of Knowledge and for an hour answered questions such as, “Could the speed of light have changed over billions of years?” and “Would the Earth have a different gravity if the amount of time and space in the universe were different?” and “Should Fitzroy High School continue to teach all its boys and girls how to cook?” The answer to all three questions was, basically, ‘no’.

He also answered questions about the process of natural selection, biology, chemistry, and even the origin of life. (Though that last one hasn’t hasn’t yet been nutted out.)

Congratulations to Pete’s daughter, Sarah, for having her book, “Callan Park, hospital for the insane“, short-listed in the NSW Premier’s History Awards.

2. Does Mr B have an ego? If not, why is he up there on the Ladder of Knowledge? And what does that have to do with Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby?

3. Don’t get the NBN! advised Uncle Pete. When he visited his Optus store, Pete discovered that many people are avoiding the unnecessary hassle and cost of an NBN installation by adopting mobile broadband instead. Peter converted, and is very pleased with his 60 mps.

4. Have aliens visited Earth? A passer-by explained that twenty years ago, when he was 16 years old, he and his companion witnessed a fiery ball hover in the night sky, and then plummet. Up until then he hadn’t believed in aliens, but that object was weird.

It was suggested that the light may have been ball lightning, but he didn’t seem enamoured with that possibility.

True story: when I was a lad living in the country my mother came home late one night and excitedly explained how she had been driving in the valley when her car had suddenly been illuminated by a strong light. The light had followed her for a long stretch of the road, then blinked out. “I was being followed by a UFO” she gasped. I suggested to her that perhaps there had been hunters in the hills spotlighting, and they had turned their spotlight onto her car to see who it was. “Pooh!” she scoffed. “How likely is that?!”

5. People used to believe wacky things like ‘women shouldn’t vote’, and ‘it’s okay to smash a Chinese girl’s feet into little pieces and stuff them into shoes the size of tea cups’. What wacky beliefs do we have today that in 100 years will have people scratching their heads? Mr B explained three from his list of twenty.

6. Other topics discussed:
– In order to dampen Mirko’s “enthusiasm” we had to promise him a stint on the Ladder of Knowledge if he managed to shut up for five minutes. He sort of managed to shut up for those five minutes, and when he got up, he sort of managed to impart what he wanted to say.

– Steve Maxwell and Ray spoke too, of course, but your scribe fell asleep listening to Mr B and didn’t visit them.

– Helmut talked about quantum mechanics and the composition of an atom.

– Greg asked Uncle Pete if we should be teaching children life skills such as how to change a flat tyre. Uncle Pete was not 100% impressed with the question.

Uncle Pete changing a tyre.

7. Should we even seek happiness? Here is another chapter from Mr B’s book for young people:

8. In our Unusual Creature Series
we present to you the gharial. This one has objected to our Facebook page.





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