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Bring your money!

In News for Speakers' Corner on August 17, 2017 at 11:22 pm

Bring your wallets, your loose change, and that gold sovreign you’ve been keeping in the bottom drawer for that rainy day.

In 1972 a twenty minute film was made about Domain speaker, John Webster. It is called, ‘Webster’s Domain‘ and its producer is film maker Peter Marjason.

This scribe hoped to find a digital copy to put on this site and on Youtube so that those who fondly remember John can see him again. However, the film is no longer in the State Library, and it’s not in any other library in Australia. The only copy this diligent scribe could find is in the National Sound and Film Archive (NSFA) in Canberra.

They have quoted $405 to make and send me a digital copy of the film. (That’s without the timecode rudely intruding.)

This scribe is wondering if you regulars might be interested in contributing towards the cost?

Dear regulars, if you’d like to see a film of the famous John Webster, bring your rent money and your child’s moneybox with you on Sunday. And part with it.

And bring something to auction off. An auction might help too.

If you do choose to contribute, Mr B promises to refrain from calling you a blithering idiot for the first fifteen minutes of the meeting. (After that he can’t guarantee he’ll be able to hold back.)

With regards to all,

The Scribe.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 13th August

In News for Speakers' Corner on August 14, 2017 at 12:41 pm

“The great majority never brood, never philosophise, never ask questions about the meaning or purpose of life. They take things for granted; they swallow the universe like a glass of beer.”
Walter Murdoch.

1. A challenge to any Christian!

Mr Bashful doesn’t talk about the existence or non-existence of God, and he normally doesn’t debate Christians about the Theory of Evolution. That’s because Mr B has found no Christian able to explain to him the process of natural selection. He figures that if Christians are willing to dismiss a theory they haven’t taken the time to understand, why waste time with them?

But after an experience today (albeit pleasant), Mr B wants this accommodating scribe to announce for him the following open challenge to each and every Christian:

“Christian: please describe to Mr B and his grasshoppers the process of natural selection in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Please indicate how a new species can come into being, according to the theory.”

Mr B isn’t expecting the Christian to believe the explanation they provide. He only wants the Christian to explain it. He figures that if atheists are cognisant of the Christian’s point of view (having had it thrust upon them throughout their life), then it’s only fair that Christians are cognisant of the atheists’ point of view, even if they (the Christians) don’t believe it.

Mr B suspects that in all the years to come, up there on the Ladder of Knowledge, he will find no Christian successfully meeting that challenge.

Of course, many Christians do believe in evolution. (And many are scientists.) They seem to be the ones who don’t feel the need to introduce the subject of God in the first place. But if one of them does successfully takes the challenge I will laud their effort on this site.

As it happens, Mr B will be answering that very question this coming Sunday. And, perhaps the humble Uncle Pete will find the courage to contribute as well.
If you want to understand the process of natural selection and how new species come into being, come along this Sunday.

2. Mr B also wants it known by Christians that: the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the Theory of Evolution are completely different issues. Put another way, evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life, and the origin of life has nothing to do with the origin of the universe.

Yes, dear Christians, discuss those topics with consenting speakers if you must, but please don’t confuse those topics with one another. They are different issues entirely!

3. Steve Maxwell made a sign that welcomed people in forty languages. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find a translation for the term ‘soapbox speaker’, so foreign speakers still didn’t know what the hell was going on at Speakers’ Corner. But that didn’t stop Steve: he had a steady crowd all day.

As did Tony. That may have had something to do with his sign, which read ‘No Same-Sex Marriage’. “It’s topical”, he explained afterwards. Yes, it is, Tony. But please would you join us in the 21st century!


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

5. Mr B wasn’t popular today. That’s because he was telling people what to do, by criticising the social media zombies who look at Facebook five hours a day, and the couch potatoes who watch television five hours a day, and the brick breakers who train in martial arts five hours a day. It was that last suggestion which inspired the most insults. Apparently, the public respect people who spend a big chunk of their life learning how to harm folk.

Mr B doesn’t yet understand that as the martial artists perfect their ability to kill people, they’re developing self-discipline and growing spiritually.

And it seems he doesn’t understand that people on Facebook for five hours a day are developing inner core body strength, and wisdom.

And that people watching television for five hours a day are gaining compassion and resilience.

It’s time to wake up, Mr B.

6. Who won the fabulous prize for answering last week’s question posed by Uncle Pete (about the Earth circled by string)?  Answer: no one. Uncle Pete left before people put forth their responses. My advice? Be there this coming Sunday and we will definitely resolve the matter, early!

Uncle Pete

7. Towards the end of the day Helmut stood upon the Ladder of Knowledge and said a few harsh words about Sir Isaac Newton. We, his groundlings, suspect that Sir Isaac Newton might have once sleighted Helmut, and Helmut has never forgotten it. We can think of no other reasonable explanation to explain Helmut’s incessant vituperation of poor Isaac.

Following Helmut was the fervent Christian, Gary O’Shea. Gary answered questions about Christianity and appeared emminently sensible. Gary plans to come back next week to speak on a separate ladder. If he steals Mr B’s crowd, Speakers’ Corner will be the better for it!

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Mr B was about to explain abstract paintings when he was sidetracked into explaining why the NSW Art Gallery is not an art gallery, but a financial institution.

– We delved into a man’s subsconscious to discover his meaning of life. (It turned out to be straightforward. No mental gymnastics were necessary.)

– Why do we have religion? Mr B gave four (of seven) reasons.

– Should we change the curriculum in schools? If so, which subjects would we introduce, and which would we ditch?
As expected, Mr B wanted to ditch foreign languages and all forms of history. His criticism of history prompted a strong reaction, too!

9. If you would like to read all this in a different font go to our Facebook page. And try our Archives site if you haven’t already.

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 6th August

In News for Speakers' Corner on August 7, 2017 at 11:38 am

“He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”
John Stuart Mill.

1. Years ago your scribe held his dog’s tablets in his left hand and his own vitamin tablets in his right hand. Absent-mindely he swallowed the dog’s tablets. I rang the Poison Centre and was told I should be okay. I was. However, Steve Maxwell made a similar mistake with some tablets on Saturday night, and ended up in hospital. He wasn’t well enough to come today, but he’ll be back next week.

Imagine if Moses had absent-mindedly swallowed the tablets he had been given. How different would the world be?

2. We had a gamut of guest speakers today: Gary O’Shea spoke well about the pressure upon Catholicism; in a soft voice, Rochelle labeled the real culprits causing Global Warming and answered plenty of questions; Mirko gave a humorous speach about H2O and Mother Nature (it wasn’t meant to be humorous); and Uncle Pete gave us another entertaining adventure about his early chemisty exploits. This one featured bromine.

Each and every one of those speakers did an excellent job keeping the crowd interested. Hats off to them.

Meanwhile, 93 year-old Arthur was unstoppable with his quick-fire questions. He even got up to dance when some music was played.

Arthur’s daughter, Jacquie, accompanies Arther on their regular visits. Hats off to her, too!

3. Uncle Pete gave us a puzzle to work on: Imagine a string wrapped around the equator of a perfectly spherical Earth. Cut the string and add another metre to one end, then join the two remaining ends. Now, if the string could circle the Earth in a uniform way, how far from the ground would the string be?

Uncle Pete told us all to work it out and give him our answer this coming Sunday. (Of course we will.)

Uncle Pete will provide a fabulous prize to the person providing the first correct answer. You are not, of course, allowed to google the problem or cheat in any way. (That suggests to this scribe that the fabulous prize will not be claimed.)

Bonus question: how long is a piece of string?

4. Mr B asked: “Are we knowledge gluttons?” We humans crave sugar and fat because thousands of years ago those helpful foods were hard to come by. Today we still have those cravings, but fats and sugars are easy to come by. Result: we eat to much of them. Is it possible that we humans craved knowledge thousands of years ago, because knowledge was helpful, and we are still subject to that craving? And that because knowledge is so plentiful and accessible nowadays, we consume too much of it?

5. We had heard of Jean’s prowress as a palm reader, and Jean kindly agreed to participate in an experimental palm reading. A volunteer from the audience provided her palm for Jean to read. Mr B took notes on what was said.

Unfortunately, Jean’s accuracy was considerably off.

Jean was a good sport to allow herself to be tested in that way. Jean, and others like her, are what makes an afternoon at Speakcers’ Corner so much fun. Thank you, Jean!

Next Sunday we will ask Jean to read this palm. She couldn’t do any worse.

6. The Something Nice segment. To charm some and irritate others.

7. Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox. Let’s say I am to walk a kilometre. First, I to walk half a kilometre. But before I can walk that half a kilometre I have to walk a quarter of a kilometre. But before I can walk that quarter of a kilometre I have to walk half that distance again. And so on. That means there is an infinite regression, and I can never actually begin to walk at all.

Of course, that’s not true. Where is the fault in the logic?

Thanks to Uncle Pete, here is another way to think of the problem: I am to walk a kilometre. I walk the first half. Then I have to walk the first half of the remaining distance. Then I have to walk the first half of that remaining distance. And so on. There will always be a distance that I first have to walk half of. That means I can never walk the entire kilometre.

Again, where is the fault in that logic?8. Life coaches tell us that if we want to succeed we should surround ourselves with smart people. If that’s true, who will be giving their time to the not-so-bright? The not-so-bright need help from those who are smarter. Should the smart people abandon them in their pursuit to be with other smart people?

9. Other subjects discussed:
– You’re at a dinner party and someone says out of the blue, “28 of my daughter’s 30 classmates are Asian”. Is that a racist observation to make? Discuss.

– Only one joke in the JokeFest was told, but it got a laugh.

– Last week a Scottish woman discovered that there was no such thing as a Scot. Today another Scot discovered he wasn’t Scottish. If this keeps up, Scotland will soon be empty.

– Mr B said we need to reduce Australia’s population and the world’s population. He suggested various ways on how to achieve this. A few grasshoppers protested, giving their reasons.

– A three-and-a-half-day week for half the population, and a three-and-a-half day week for the other half. That would double employment and increase productivity, claimed Mr B. Should we include the Universal Basic Income, one grasshopper asked?

– We could ban cigarettes without inconveniencing anyone, while giving the cigarette manufacturers and the governments eighty incremental years to get used to the changes.

– No one over the age of 40 should be allowed to vote, explained Mr B. One grasshopper disagreed, suggesting that a 60 to 65 limit would be better.

– Is Australia’s native wildlife and vegetation worth saving? “Yes,” said Mr B. Can a human live in Australia without contributing to its environmental degradation? “No!” said Mr B. Some grasshoppers had the temerity to disagree with him.


10. Our
Facebook Page has won the inaugural Speakers’ Corner Award for the best Facebook page representing Sydney’s Speaker’s Corner.
Not only that, our Archive site won the biennial Speakers’ Corner award for having the most posts about Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 30th July

In News for Speakers' Corner on July 31, 2017 at 11:40 am

“I never understood how God could expect his creatures to pick the one true religion by faith – it strikes me as a sloppy way to run a universe.”
Robert Heinlen.

1. Even before we got underway we had a passer-by asking Steve for the opportunity to speak, and Steve generously made way for him. For fifteen minutes, Shimon spoke on the podium about homelessness and what it takes to make a community. He did a good job, holding everyone’s attention.

Shimon is welcome back any time.

Shimon

2. Steve replaced Shimon and then spent much of the day talking about the divide between science and religion, and about his theory that Australia should have more states.

Steve wasn’t suggesting that Australia should invade other nations to get more states; rather, he was suggesting that we divide the current states into smaller states.

This scribe thinks that’s a good idea. Indeed, Victoria could split itself into eleven states, each one hosting a team from the Australian Football League. State Essendon, anyone? Hawthorn, the Premier State?

 

3. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others. (If the sign above doesn’t already warm your heart.)

4. Ray, our evangelicial Christian speaker, informed this scribe that he had had a good day chatting to several people about God.

The other speakers turn up each week because it’s a fun afternoon, but Ray is selfless. He turns up solely to spread the word of God. He gives his time to save the souls of others. He doesn’t get the support of a big crowd, and he regularly gets atheist dipsticks pestering him, but he battles on. That’s because he wants people to one day receive what he expects to get: eternal life.

Ray might not have a high strike rate saving those souls, but as he explained to this scribe, he is at least planting the seed.

Good stuff, Ray!

Ray has not yet had a crowd this big.

5. Mr B caused consternation when he criticised the patronising view society takes of women’s efforts to exercise. He said that if women don’t exercise because they feel intimidated and embarrassed, then perhaps we should be focusing on helping them develop the confidence to move through those awkward feelings, rather than focusing on making them feel more comfortable.

That didn’t go down well.

He then remarked upon a woman’s need to be loved for who she is, rather than on being loved for what she looked like. He said that perhaps a woman should learn to live her life without relying on being loved at all. He said that if we are older than twenty we don’t need to be loved by someone to be happy, and if we believe otherwise we need to wake up.

That didn’t go down well either.

6. Other subjects discussed:
– Our JokeFest went well, with Uncle Pete getting away with a rude joke because it was funny. David got a good laugh from a joke four seconds long. If only the speakers could be so efficient.

– Melvin Lerner’s ‘Just World Hypothesis‘ was discussed. It is about our habit of blaming the victim when we don’t have the power to help them. Examples given: someone with an illness, poverty, obesity, rape victims, refugees, and the happiness gurus who insist that success is all about persistence.

– Mr B explained to a Scottish woman why there is no such thing as a Scotsman. To her credit, the woman took the bad news philosophically.

– To ask someone to believe in themselves is like asking an atheist to believe in God. It won’t happen. Beliefs don’t work that way. Even for a million dollars or with a threat of death, we can’t adopt or ditch a belief as though it’s a raincoat. So, when the happiness gurus tell us to believe in ourselves, they’re being naive. (And suffering from the Just World Hypothesis.)

– A bystander asked Mr B for the meaning of life. To spare his regulars who have heard it before, Mr B took a different tack. He tried desperately to remember the message he had given in his latest video. Manfully he persisted, despite his poor memory and a surfeit of interruptions, and eventually he got it out. He then asked the bystander if she were satisfied with his answer. She said ‘no’, and everyone laughed. Poor Mr B.

– Mirko was a right royal pain in the proverbial today, blathering nonsensical rubbish involving goodness-knows-what. In other words, business as usual.

– Mr B explained how he once hypnotised thirty people without actually hypnotising anyone. He’s pretty amazing, that Mr B.

– “How do you know if something has life?” asked 93 year-old Arthur. He then answered his own question. (It’s a generous grasshopper who supplies both question and answer.) Arthur explained that anything that moves must be alive. That’s as detailed as he got. When asked if a plastic bag blowing about in a breeze was alive he rightly ignored that silly question.

– Should television judges be cruel to talentless wannabes?

– Uncle Pete gave us two enjoyable anecotes of a time when he was 15 years of age. The first was a description of what happened to him when he made his first batch of chloroform, and the second was about the time he appeared to set the school on fire with his negligent use of phosphorous. Great stories!

Peter must have been a real handful when he was a kid. Then again, he’s a handful now.

7. Our Facebook page has 56 subscribers but 58 followers. What the hell does that mean?

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 23rd July

In News for Speakers' Corner on July 24, 2017 at 10:21 am

“The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof,
a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an
oracle, is inborn in us.”

Paul Valery, poet and philosopher (1871-1945)

1. “I know. It’s for ventilation.” 

Those were the words spoken by Mirko as he stood on the Ladder of Knowledge spruiking his new message. He had just been informed that his fly was undone.

Mirko was serious. He brushed off the interruption and continued spruiking, with fly agape.

Three weeks ago this scribe may have been guilty of a little fabrication. Pointless really, because what goes on at Speakers’ Corner really is stranger than fiction.

Mirko is hoping that scientific bodies take him seriously and adopt his 21st century principles. This scribe would have thought that purposely leaving your fly undone to give yourself ventilation would not significantly add to your credibility.

2. We had the ‘Something That Changed My Life/Anecdote’ segment and Uncle Pete again starred. Last week he told us how he gained an interest in chemistry, and today he gave us a warm story of how he so astonished a class with his knowledge, enthusiasm, and ability to inform that both the teacher and some students suggested he become a teacher. It was a light bulb moment for Peter who, up until then, had no idea of what career he would choose. He still teaches.

From Mr B we heard an anecdote about the ‘Wise Woman and the Stone’ story. According to an Optus guy in Mumbai, Australians tell that story to him about 60% of the time! It has to be a lie, but what a strange lie.

3. We had five good souls contributing to our Jokefest today.

4. A good murder mystery has a murder, suspects, alibis, a clever detective, and a solution which makes the reader want to kick themselves and exclaim, “Gosh, I should have picked it. The clues were there!” The murder mystery (by Jon Jermey) below has all those elements. Two weeks ago it was read aloud at Speakers’ Corner and today there was an enquiry about it. Ear tiz.

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

6. Other subjects discussed:
– The selfish way councils use their power to promote and applaud themselves, by placing plaques in our parks and on our buildings.

– Mr B put paid to the idea the a few NSW Blues sabotaged themselves by having a few drinks a few days before the State of Origin football match. He recounted how AFL player Robert Dipierdomenico got drunk the night before a Grand Final (he thought he wouldn’t be playing) and was still best on ground the next day.

–  ‘When someone votes for a candidate solely because the candidate shares their creed, is the voter being prejudiced, or are they simply hoping to be represented?’ Discuss.

– The hole that was created under Sydney University’s law building was huge, yet there are only a few car park levels going down. The question: is there a building under the car park we don’t know about?
One grasshopper said it wouldn’t be a spy centre, because spy buildings hide themselves in plain sight. He gave us an example of a telecommunications building that’s obviously a base for ASIO.

‘Are women in Australia paid less than men? If so, why?’ Mr B addressed that question in two ways: by comparing like with like with two neurosurgeons of different sex; and then by comparing the total amount of money women earn compared with the total amount of money men earn, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

7. Our Facebook page is ventilated, too.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 16th July

In News for Speakers' Corner on July 16, 2017 at 5:46 pm

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
Noam Chomsky

1. My apology to those of you who received half of this post earlier. You might think the wrong button was pressed, but no, it was the Russians trying to hack this site.

2. Why is it cold in winter and warm in Summer? Not just this year, but every year? It’s the same in the Northern hemisphere! It seems too extraordinary to be a  coincidence, so what’s going on?

Thankfully, it was warm in the sun today at Speakers’ Corner, but as soon as the sun was hidden behind the city’s buildings it got chilly. We finished early, at 4.20pm.

3. Normally, Mr B refrains from talking about God, but as soon as he stood on the Ladder of Knowledge the subject was broached and he got sucked in before he could swat the question away.  On one side of the audience was a believer (though of what we still don’t know), and on the other side was Helmut barking his version of God. That stereophonic nonsense kept Mr B busy for twenty minutes.

Even Jean, Albert’s wife, got up to speak about the non-existence of God. No one argues with Jean. Jean is formidable.

Only when the words ‘intelligent design’ were thrown at him did Mr B shrug of his stupor and change the subject.

4. At one point Helmut threw the First Law of Thermodynamics at Mr B. If you have forgotten what that first law is, it’s:

5. Sprightly Albert stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and spoke about Collective Consciousness. He managed to plug his book as well. Interestingly, the price of that book goes up and down like the proverbial bride’s nightie.

6. Albert also talked about how he turned from being a sceptic into a believer when he saw evidence of his wife’s psychic powers in palm reading. Jean had met a man, read his palm, and told him that thirty years ago his first wife had drowned in a bathtub while having an epileptic fit.  It turned out to be true! (Or the man let her think it was true.)

This scribe does wonder how the creases in the skin of one’s palm manage to convey such information. If Jean can translate those creases, can we get her to translate the Voynich Manuscript?


7. Our ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others.

8. Years ago Speakers’ Corner had an indigenous man, Donny Dodd, as a regular speaker: Donny turned up today and accepted an invitation to stand on the Ladder of Knowledge. After a slow and shaky start, Donny became his old wily and vibrant self. He asked for questions and made damned sure he didn’t answer them. He fired back questions of his own and made cryptic points to astound and befuddle us all. It was easy to see how entertaiing Donny would have been back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, because he was entertaining today.

9. In the Anecdote/Regret/Something that Changed Your Life segment Mr B recounted how he nearly accidentally shot himself dead with a bow and arrow 12 times. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

Why are we not surprised?

10. In the same segment, Uncle Pete gave us an absorbing story of the time when he was eleven and sent to sit in the chook pen for punishment. When Peter started throwing muck at the chooks, his exasperated father drove off to his brother’s place and retrieved some random books for Peter to read. The books were chemistry books, and Peter found them so interesting he couldn’t put them down. They changed his life.  He has had a rewarding life as a chemistry teacher.

Even though Uncle Pete knows a lot about chemistry,  his still finds it hard to keep up with Mirko’s advanced 21st century knowledge.
Mirko was quiet today.

11. We had our Jokefest, too.

12. The speaker complained of how mean it was of the media to give blanket coverage to an incident in which two male AFL executives were fired for having an affair with two female underlings. As if that were news! How much unnecessary pain and embarrassment did the media cause just to get a story, to fill the a dunce’s void?

And, he complained of how weasil-like it was of the AFL to give a press conference to announce their departure, in an ironic effort to prove that the AFL has integrity. Yes, the AFL publicly threw the men under the bus to prove to us they have integrity! Amazing.

And of course, the media swallowed it up because they knew the public (who has no right to know such gossip) would lap it up. The public are very good at accepting the dross they’re given as news.

13. Other subjects discussed:

The Sandcastle Story, though one grasshopper provided us with a different interpretation.

– The speaker explained why there is no such thing as an Aborigine (or Anglo Australian, or Japanese, or Jew, or etc.) Unfortunately, the indigenous Donny didn’t hang around to hear the explanation.

14. You will find all this on Facebook.

 

 

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 9th July

In News for Speakers' Corner on July 10, 2017 at 1:47 pm

“Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.”
Ray Cummings

1. Poor Mr B. He’s a delicate man, as most of you know, and today he had a savage battle of wits with two young women. It wasn’t a fair contest because Mr B lacked amunition. The two young women argued using facts and logic,  and all Mr B used was his obnoxiousness. The savaging he endured was brutal and the audience loved it. This scribe likens the audience to the rabble you’d find in the peanut gallery.

Poor Mr B, I suggest you lick your wounds and move on.

2. Our best wishes for Tony Boyce. He has had prostate cancer for seven years and he’s now on stronger medication. It has been knocking him around. He couldn’t come today. Good luck Tony!

When there is a discussion in full swing, Tony likes to contribute irrelevant points, to give the discussion depth.

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

4. Every Sunday a bicycle tour group (with music blaring) visits Speakers’ Corner. Mr B was about to give them his usual generous explanation of how Speakers’ Corner came into being when his regular grasshoppers revolted. They howled in protest, having heard the story so many times.

Uncle Pete came to the rescue. He took command of the Ladder of Knowledge, promising to give his version of the history of Speakers’ Corner. The audience settled down and listened attentively. Three minutes later the story had concluded and everyone was happy. Even Mr B, who is now thinking of delegating a few more tasks to his minions.

The tour group left happy, with music again blaring. That music reminded Uncle Pete of the inanity of many song lyrics. Mr B taunted him by declaring that Bob Dylan provides plenty of examples. (Uncle Pete is a big fan of Bob Dylan.) Uncle Pete was not to be outdone, and an anecdote followed.

Mr B eventually prised Uncle Pete off the ladder.

5. This joke was used to begin a talk about ‘time’.

Compare that snail’s perception of time with a pigeon’s, which when watching a movie would see 24 still frames, one after the other, every second. We humans are in the middle somewhere.
And, it’s feasible that an extra-terrestrial alien observer might perceive  our traffic in the same way we see it when it’s fast forwarded on television. Or, it might see our traffic in slow motion. Time seems subject to perception. Yet, it’s a real and measurable thing: think of two synchronised atomic clocks: one on Earth and one travelling fast on a space station: they are soon out of synch because time differs in different conditions. So, we discussed the nature of time.

6.  “Life is a play. We are given a character but no lines. We have to ad lib throughout life. We act in character, and at times, out of character. We are obliged to flesh out our character in the way we think fit. We are defined somewhat by other characters in the plot, and by how we react to our circumstances. There are many contiguous plays. Our character can slip into other scenes, particularly if the original scene is a lot of boring unmanageable shit.”
Helane Paizes, sister of Mr B.

Helane’s off-the-cuff words were quoted and a discussion soon ensued about the merit of John Donne’s famour words:

Are we islands, as Simon and Garfunkle suggested, or are we ‘one’? The views given were varied and interesting.

7. Do we have something we can be proud of? The following comment was found on our Youtube channel.

“That’s a nice speaker’s corner! The Hyde park speaker’s corner in London is messy, loads of noise and disrespect! The one in Sydney looks more intellectual and they don’t only talk about religion.”
Baptiste G.

8.  Today everyone agreed they had regrets, but only the speaker himself chose to volunteer one. It was about how he unnecessarily got his parents to walk further than necessary. That regret was deemed lame by one grasshopper. “Can’t you do better than that?” he asked.

Presumably the baying crowd want a regret involving blood and guts and a lost fortune, or something.

Due to grasshopper reluctance to express a regret we are changing the segment. This coming Sunday, bring along your tale of regret, OR life changing experience, OR an astonishing or entertaining anecdote.

9. The JokeFest fared better
, though one joke was more of a paradox about an unexpected exam. Uncle Pete pointed out that if a teacher tells her students that she will be giving them an unexpected exam in the following week, she won’t be able to give them that unexpected exam. Why? Because every day is predictable. If the students haven’t been given the test by Thursday they would know they would be getting it the following day, Friday. It would be expected. That means, an unexpected exam cannot be held on a Friday; it can only be held on a Monday to Thursday. However, that means that if the test hasn’t been held by Wednesday then the students would know they’d be getting it on the following day, Thursday. So again, it would be expected. Therefore, the exam cannot be on Thursday. And so on. Working back, using that logic, the test cannot be a surprise on any day of the week!

Yet, the teacher gives the test on Tuesday and it’s not expected, so where precisely is the logic wrong? Uncle Pete asked the audience for a response, and if you’d like to know the results of his enquiry:

10. Last year, Mr B proved conclusively to his grasshoppers that 1 + 1 does not always equal 2. Today he provided us with another mathematical proof, courtesy of the CSIRO. He proved to us that 2 + 11 = 12 + 1.

11. Other subjects discussed:
– Can an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile be intercepted? No, it was claimed, and the reasons why were given. To intercept one would be like trying to fire one bullet to hit another, this article from ABC news explains.

– The difference in pay between men and women. (That’s when the delicate Mr B was soundly beaten in the battle of wits. That’s enough on that subject.)

– Why do some some alcoholics attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings relapse? Mr B audaciously explained why.

– Toxic and acidic wastewater escaped a tailings dam in Israel, saturating twenty kilometres of desert and killing everything in its path. Jeepers. What’s worse is that few people know about it. How many other similar incidents are occurring througout the world, every week, and going unnoticed? It’s a bad sign when catastophes like that don’t make the headline news.

12. Check out our Facebook page if you are connected to the interweb thingy.

 

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 2nd July

In News for Speakers' Corner on July 3, 2017 at 12:11 pm

“We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the kerb and applaud when they go by.”

American humorist, Will Rogers

1. It was a cold day but it was hot in the sun. Figure that out.

As usual, the speakers were Ray, Mr Bashful, Steve Maxwell and Helmut. Plus, we had guest speaker and Radio sensation, John August get up to speak and answer questions.

Mirko was at his “effervescent” best.

Mirko was once probed by aliens and given advanced science tips. When the aliens chose Mirko to spread the word they chose wisely.

2. Some regulars claimed that last week’s post about Mr B’s excursion was a fabrication. I think we have a trust issue going on here.

3. Occasionally you will find advertisements on this blog. This scribe wants it noted that he makes no money from those advertisements and doesn’t get to choose them. The advertisements you find on this blog are put there by the company that created its infrastructure: WordPress.

Except this advertisement below. I put that there. I like the colours.

WordPress: I wish you didn’t place advertisements on this blog but I understand why you do. Thank you, WordPress, for providing this scribe with the free tools to create this blog. Much appreciated.

4. This blog received a visit from The European Union. It seems they have their own flag.

128 visits from Australia? A fluke. This blog only averages 20 visits a day.

5. Three people spoke on our Ladder of Lament and expressed regrets: an unbought mattress; being hit by a car while riding a motorcycle; and remarks left unsaid when getting the strap in school.

It’s an interesting segment. And, we were given a bonus: when the grasshopper spoke about his motorcycle incident, he also recounted his extraordinary experience while laying unconscious on the road.

Regrets, I’ve had a few.

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

7. We had our Jokefest segment too, which got laughs. The joke below was NOT told.

The wife of a businessman was told their housekeeper wanted a raise. This upset her, and she decided to talk to her housekeeper about it.
 She asked: “Maria, why do you want a pay increase?”
Maria: “Well, Señora, there are tree reasons why I wanna increase. The first is that I iron  better than you.”
Wife:  “Who said you iron better than  me?”
Maria: “Jor huzban he say so.”
Wife: “Oh yeah?”
Maria: “The second reason eez that I am a better cook than you.”
Wife:  “Nonsense, who said you were a better  cook than me?”
Maria: “Jor hozban did.”
Wife, increasingly  agitated: “Oh, he did, did he?”
Maria: “The third reason is that I am better at sex than you in the bed.”
Wife, furious, through gritted teeth:
 “And did my husband say that as well?”
Maria: “No Señora . . . the gardener did.”
Wife:  “So Maria, how much did you say you want?”

8. Other subjects discussed:
– In 1983 The San Diego Yacht Club purposely lost the American’s cup to Australia II, so that they could win it back the following year and display it in their own yacht club in San Diego.
With all the interruptions the speaker received this quick five minute point was stretched to twenty minutes.

– In 1987, New Zealanders lost the right to criticise Australia for Greg Chappell’s notorious under-arm bowling incident in 1981 when they tried to cheat the San Diego Yacht Club using an onerous technicality.

-The Federal government has announced that it will be creating a cyber-force for its Armed Services, beginning with 100 people. It aims to have 900. The speaker wondered why the hell we don’t have a cyber-force already! (One grasshopper suggested we probably do, and that the government is just making it official.)

– “Let’s treat terrorists well when we catch them,” suggested the speaker. He gave his reasons why.

– In a question-and-answer website called ‘Quora’ the question was asked, “My wife and I are atheists. Our child wants to go to church. What should we do?” The speaker proudly stated that every one of the fifty atheist answers he read suggested that the child be taken to church. “It’s a shame,” he added, “that most believers don’t give their unwilling children the same respect.”

– John August spoke about the need to reduce Australia’s population and gave recommendations on how it could be done. He punctured a few myths along the way. When someone claimed that we could divert rivers and create a gardens in our dry areas, debate raged amongst the grasshoppers. It was like having a sudden flush of locusts.

– “Should we seriously consider nuclear power?” asked one grasshopper. Arguments for and against were made about nuclear power stations, coal seam gas and other fossil fuels, batteries, and renewables (geothermal, windmills, solar). Even the old perennials, the “imminent” fusion power and thorium power stations, got a mention.

– Someone asked why nearly all the regular grasshoppers attending each week are men. Then it was asked, “why do men outnumber women in most areas of interest?” A few reasons were put forth, and the predictable claim of “Misogyny!” arose (from a man).

– Has Donald Trump permanently changed what it means to be presidential? Is he giving the role an overhaul? Could he end up doing a good job? In what way is Paul Keating’s 1992 touch-up of the Queen relevant?

9. Our Domain legend, Steve Maxwell, has written another article for his popular ‘Passing Parade’ series. You might be surprised at how troubled and violent our society used to be.

Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade.

The Red Flag Riots

After World War I, Military Intelligence organised loyalist groups from returned sailors, soldiers, and airmen.  Their aim was to stop Bolsheviks in Australia.

Trouble began on July 29, 1918 when George “gunner” Taylor, a returned soldier and radical, raised the first red flag in Australia while addressing a large crowd of 1,500 in the Brisbane Domain. The Domain is located directly under the Captain Cook Bridge at Garden Point, behind Queensland Parliament House.

Taylor was attacked and knocked from his platform by six returned soldiers. A riot ensued. Police restored order while Taylor’s supporters sang the radical song “The Red Flag” and the attackers sang ‘Rule Britannia” and “Australia Will be There”.

The riot escalated when 5,000 returned soldiers rallied and marched on to the North Quay (also a regular Speakers’ Corner) and attacked the Industrial Worker of the World (IWW) platform. More returned soldiers, some armed, then marched across the Brisbane bridge to the Russian Headquarters in South Brisbane. Some of the Russians in the Headquarters fired shots in defence. Next day, newspaper headlines made sensational reading: “Police and soldiers badly mauled”.

Loyalists rallied from far and wide 8,000 (many armed) marched on the Russian Headquarters again. This time, police cordoned off their approach. The police were armed with bayonet rifles. Mounted troopers then attacked the crowd without reading the riot act. The troopers whipped and charged through the mob. A two-hour battle ensued.

The police, though outnumbered, kept to their lines despite many being injured by hails of bricks and timber fencing. Returned soldiers fired shots, narrowing missing many troopers. Hand to hand fighting was so close that the Police Commissioner Urquhart was accidentally wounded with a bayonet. 14 police and 100 demonstrators were wounded. The riot subsided, but the anger of the returned soldiers manifested into a week long series of anti-Bolshevik rallies and parades.

One of  the main political outcomes of the riot was the rise in popularity of the RSSAL (Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen League) which later became the RSL.

Both Taylor and Urquhart survived.
 George Cuthbert “Gunner” Taylor (1886-1957) later became the Labor member of Enoggera in Brisbane between 1932 – 1944, and the State President of the RSL. Frederic Charles Urquhart (1858 – 1935) was appointed as Administrator of the Northern Territory in 1921.

References:
George Cuthbert Taylor (Wikipedia.)
Frederic Charles Urquhart (Australian Biography)
‘Long Blue line’, P190. 23 march 1919.
Daily Mail correspondent in September 1918.
The Red Flag Riots by Raymond Evans. University of Queensland Press.

Steve Maxwell.

 

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 25th June.

In News for Speakers' Corner on June 26, 2017 at 11:53 am

‘Be ashamed to die, until you have scored some victory for humanity.’
Horace Mann

1. A report on Mr B’s excursion.
This scribe apologises for his late scribble. I haven’t long been home.

Last night, after the meeting at Speakers’ Corner had concluded, Mr B took 14 lucky grasshoppers to the Royal National Park for an adventure. This scribe was one of them. Our purpose was to experience the ‘power of the night’.

We certainly experienced that.

Carlos Castaneda-style, we were to run full tilt into the midnight forest, blindfolded, and because we would be ‘at one with the night’ we would instinctively know where to run and which obstacles to hurdle. We would emerge from the forest an hour later, puffing and blowing, but unharmed.

At least, that was the plan.

At 6pm Mr B parked the hired minibus in front of the Art Gallery and 14 of us piled in. Then we began our drive to the Royal National Park. Unfortunately, the heater wasn’t working. And, an argument quickly broke out in the back of the bus. I was in the front passenger seat, so the only words I heard (over and over) were “Mother Nature” and “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Two hours later we entered the park and the night was pitch black. Heavy rain began to fall. That’s when the argument finally ended; it was too difficult to hear each other over the deafening noise of raindrops hitting the roof of the minibus. Someone asked when they would be eating the pizza, they were hungry. Mr Bashful confessed that with all the arguments going on in the back of the bus he had forgotten to buy the pizzas on the way. It was too late to go back now.

Someone then asked if they could at least have a cup of hot coffee. Mr Bashful confessed that four thermos flasks of hot Nescafe Blend were still sitting on his kitchen table. “But no matter,” he said cheerily, “we will soon be experiencing the power of the night. And I’ve remembered the blindfolds.”

We drove down the same stretch of road five times, back and forth, until we found the required turnoff. Five minutes later we came to a gate that barred our way. The sign on the gate explained that the National Park closes at 8.30pm. It was 8.40. That news didn’t please Mr Bashful but neither did it faze him. “Our site is only five kilometres down that track,” he said, pointing. “We can walk.”

Someone protested, saying that they didn’t want to walk five kilometres in heavy rain just so that they could run into a dark forest. They wanted to know why we couldn’t experience the power of the night by running from here, from the minibus. Mr B said there were wire fences about, which would curtail our experience. We needed to be in the park itself.

So, in the blackest of nights and in heavy rain we plodded five kilometres to the site, feeling our way along the track with our feet. This is probably when we lost one of our number. We heard someone calling for help but the rain got even heavier and we couldn’t hear them any more. We kept walking.

Someone asked Mr B why he didn’t bring a torch with him. Mr Bashful confessed that he didn’t think of it. “But it’s a good idea.”

We finally arrived at the site. The only reason we knew we were at the site was because someone walked into a sign post and broke their spectacles. The light from someone’s smartphone revealed that the sign prohibited fires. This seemed to dampen Mr B’s spirit. He had planned to have us sitting around a campfire while he taught us how to capture the power of the night. Someone pointed out that the prohibition on fires didn’t really affect us: there was more chance of being visited by a spaceship of aliens that there was of successfully lighting a fire in this heavy rain. Someone agreed, volunteering to keep a look out for them.

Then someone announced that “nature was calling”. We felt around for a while but found no evidence of a toilet. Or of any building, for that matter. We seemed to be just standing in a carpark. Three people said they desperately wanted to go to the toilet and would we wait a bit? We said we would. We assumed all three had wandered off to do their business, but pungent odours soon suggested otherwise. A little way off we heard two possums fighting. Well, we thought it was two possums fighting until a woman said, “That’s just my husband.”

The two that had remained close to us to do their business announced that they had finished, and the smell was too strong for us to hang around. We had only moved about a metre when the same woman said, ‘We can’t leave my husband behind.” So, we waited for her husband to return. Eventually we heard his distant cry for help. None of us thought to yell back. The cries seemed to get further away and eventually they faded into the noise of the pounding rain. It was about this time when Mr B said we should move to less odorous parts and discuss how we could all capture the power of the night. The woman again asked, “what about my husband?” and Mr B explained that as day follows night, day would follow night, and in the morning her husband would find himself in the dawn’s early light, refreshed.

“If he hasn’t died of exposure,” said some wit in the darkness.

“If we all haven’t died of exposure,” said another bleakly.

It was refreshing to find that in these blizzard-like conditions people were still able to crack jokes and keep our spirits up.

In the pouring rain we stood huddled together like emperor penguins, while Mr Bashful spent the next twenty minutes patiently explaining how we could all capture ‘the power of the night’.

This scribe has to admit that much of what he said didn’t seem to make sense. In fact, none of it made sense. But no one else said anything so I continued to place my trust in Mr Bashful.

Apart from the frequent complaints made about having had no dinner, and no coffee, and being deathly cold, and shivering uncontrollably while standing in driving rain, and having lost two of our number, we were ready. Mr B sang ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’ so that we could all find him again. He needed to give us our blindfolds. Someone asked why we needed a blindfold, given that we couldn’t even see our hand in front of our face. Mr B explained, “Just to be on the safe side”.

Then it was time. With blindfolds on we all formed a circle, facing outwards. And when Mr B yelled the words ‘collective consciousness’ we ran as hard and as fast as we could into the darkness.

This scribe can’t go into the details of what happened next, for legal reasons. Besides, I witnessed nothing. It was pitch black dark and I had a blindfold on. Suffice to say that four of our number, including me, didn’t even make it to the forest, having tripped over the low wooden railing surrounding the carpark. We were the lucky ones, sustaining only cuts and bruises. Those who had managed to reach the forest reported broken teeth, broken noses, one broken eye-socket and a bout of concussion. Thankfully, one person had their phone working, because someone had broken a leg and had to be airlifted out by helicopter.

Only Mr Bashful remained unscathed. He is, after all, a seasoned veteran when it comes to harnessing the power of the night.

The helicopter medics didn’t look pleased. They couldn’t understand why eleven people in heavy rain had run headlong into a midnight forest wearing blindfolds. Mr Bashful tried to explain to them the power of the night but they didn’t seem interested.

I quietly mentioned to Mr Bashful that there should be thirteen of us, not eleven, and that the thirteen didn’t include the two who had wandered off earlier. Mr B seemed unwilling to dwell on our reduced number. He doesn’t believe in focusing on the negatives.

We heard the helicopter pilot complaining of having stepped in a mound of human faeces. With the aid of a medic’s torch Mr Bashful generously took off his jacket and used it to wipe clean her shoes. Ever bold, he then asked for her phone number. For some reason he lucked out.

When the helicopter rose and flew away with its two passengers (‘broken leg’ and ‘broken eye-socket’) the rest of us slowly and carefully limped back to the minibus. It took some time because we still had to feel our way, and the one with concussion kept holding us up. When someone asked Mr Bashful why he hadn’t borrowed the medic’s torch he confessed that he didn’t think of it.

It was five o’clock in the morning when we made it back to the minibus. However, we discovered that Mr Bashful didn’t have the keys. They were in his poo-smeared jacket that he had abandoned back at the carpark.

He must have been as cold and as weary as the rest of us, yet gallantly he volunteered to walk back to the carpark to retrieve the keys. By this time, dawn’s early light was peeping through the trees, so it only took him two hours to make the return journey.

But when he turned the key in the ignition we discovered he had left the headlights on all night, and they had flattened the battery.

It took the roadside service man only an hour to come and fix the problem, but he couldn’t fix the heater. But at last we were on our way home! Nine of us were, anyway. The woman again asked, “What about my husband?” but Mr B thought there were more pressing matters to deal with. Three of his passengers were lethargic, slurring their speech, and falling in and out of consciousness: all signs of hypothermia.

We left the rain the minute we left the park. As we drove back to Sydney there were no arguments in the back of the bus, no mention of Mother Nature and the like. Just silence. And the occasional moan. It seemed to me that our experience together had drawn us closer. Having experienced the power of the night we had become brothers and sisters, and had outgrown our petty disagreements.

Back in Sydney, Mr B thoughtfully dropped our three unconscious passengers off at St Vincent’s hospital. Two others got out as well and limped inside. Mr B dropped the remaining three of us off at Speakers’ Corner. However, after letting us out of the minibus he seemed reluctant to leave. He seemed to be stalling. I thought it was because he didn’t want to break the strong bonds we had forged between us in our search for the power of the night, but I was wrong. He said to us, “You might remember a request for a gold coin donation . . .?”

I had forgotten about that! I felt bad. Mr Bashful had put a lot of effort into making our experience a powerful one, and yet, we had failed him. As I handed him a dollar coin I reflected: I was still the same self-absorbed man I was yesterday. The night’s experience has not changed me. Inside I felt hollow.

Curiously, my two companions responded differently. They looked incredulous. Their response was a colourful one and no money changed hands. They staggered away, grumbling.

But Mr B is a forgiving man. He simply smiled at me and said, “I’ll be organising a scuba dive/spear fishing expedition soon. I’ll let you all know about it.”

He’s a good man, that Mr B.

We were all so glad to get back to the minibus.

 

2. During the week Mr B made this video, and he begged me to include it in ‘The News’. I guess if I want to go spear fishing . . .

Now a report on yesterday’s meeting:

3. One grasshopper asked how will we gain satisfaction in years to come, when most jobs have been automated? What will we do with our free time?

The speaker boomed across the park, explaining in detail how our species evolved to be diverse, and that each and every one of us has an inclination. (Not ‘gift’, because some people suck at what they like doing, but ‘inclination’.) By doing what we feel we must do, we gain satisfaction.

4. We had our jokefest, and as usual the jokes were met with hearty laughs. Here’s another joke. It’s more cerebral than the chortlers we heard today.

 

5. The subjects of weight loss and exercise were also discussed, but they were given a different slant to the usual comments you’ll hear elsewhere.

But just in case you’re hoping to lose a few kilos, the information in this meme might help.

6. We discussed the imminent 2% increase in politicians’ pay. The speaker suggested, counter-intuitively, that the increase might be a good idea, and he gave his reasons why. However, reducing penalty rates? Uh uh. No way!

7. The ‘Something Nice’ segment. To charm some and irritate others. (It’s a postcard from the postsecret website).

8. Today’s regrets were about a primary school girl sweetheart, a foregone opportunity to be an actor, and a man oblivious to womens’ advances. All good stuff.

9. Other topics discussed:
– One speaker claimed that political opportunists are more interested in reviling Senator Pauline Hanson instead of calmly addressing her concerns. Has Pauline inadvertently brought to our attention a genuine problem with regards to the teaching of autistic children, or not? Either way, let’s focus on making sure that we’re doing the best we can for our kids, instead of focusing on gaining political points.

– Christian terrorists.

– The shenangans of Karl Marx.

– Is it a good idea to try to be in the ‘here and now’? Or is it better to be in the ‘before and after”?

– Is it worth trying to change the world?

10. Speakers’ Corner legend Steve Maxwell’s has written another article for his popular ‘Passing Parade‘ series. Enjoy!

Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade

The Speakers’ Corner in Brisbane.

Morton Bay (Brisbane) was a convict colony until convict transportation to the place stopped in 1840. After that, Kanakas (workers from the Pacific Islands) were lured to Queensland under the pretext of indentured labour, to replace the convicts.

Queensland was administered by New South Wales until 1859, and then Queensland became a self-governing sovereign British colony with its own army and navy and immigration policy. Its first parliament met in May, 1860. Morton Bay had a small white population of 25,000. A tiny elite of powerful graziers controlled parliament.

The graziers favoured coolie labour and wanted the land clear of Aborigines.

The Queensland army occupied Southern New Guinea to stop German expansions in the 1870’s, and in the 1890’s was preparing a war against striking shearers. The shearers objected to the coolie labour and were preparing for a rebellion. In 1893 Mother Nature intervened just in time. Three cyclones hit Queensland at once, causing one million pounds worth of damage. The revolution was cancelled.

Queensland’s boast is that it had the first Labor government in the world! It lasted one week in 1899.

Under federation in 1901, the colony ceded its power in foreign affairs and trade to Australia.

Free speech in Queensland was hard fought for, and not guaranteed until 2010 when the Queensland government dedicated a Speakers’ Corner to celebrate 150 years of parliament in Queensland. It is in the George Street forecourt, just outside of Parliament House.

Next week: THE RED FLAG RIOT

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 18th June

In News for Speakers' Corner on June 19, 2017 at 1:18 pm

“Weapons of mass distraction.”
Silicon Valley technology forecaster Paul Saffo, speaking about smartphones.

1. “He doesn’t know enough to get out of the rain” is an expression employed by some disparagers to cast doubt upon a person’s intelligence. Today, Mr B’s grasshoppers didn’t know enough to sit in the sun. On a bitterly cold day (for Sydney) they sat in the shade, and had no intention of moving to a sunny area only metres away. Mr B had to pick up his ladder and lead them. His actions reminded this scribe of Moses taking his followers to the promised land.

To be fair to the weather, it wasn’t cold enough to freeze a dog to a tree, but the strong wind coming off the harbour did make the afternoon uncomfortable. We left early, at 4pm.

2. Special announcement. Mr Bashful is organising something special.

When Mr B was a lad he heard about an incident described in a book written by Carlos Castaneda. The book’s protagonist, Don Juan, was so in tune with himself and with ‘the power of the night’ that he was able to run through a forest in complete darkness and remain unharmed. Although effectively blind, he ran with abandon, and when he came to a log he ‘knew’ it was there and jumped it; when he came to a tree he ‘knew’ it was there and ran around it. He would run in that forest for an hour at a time, in total darkness.

Mr B says he has figured out the secret. And, this coming Sunday, 24th June, on the darkest, moonless night of this month, he will be driving a hired minibus with 14 lucky grasshoppers to the Royal National Park. There they will sit around a camp fire for twenty minutes while Mr B explains to his grasshoppers how they too can capture the power of the night. Then it will be their turn to run full tilt into the midnight forest and remain unharmed. They too will experience the pleasure of being ‘at one’ with nature.

Just to be on the safe side, Mr B will blindfold them as well.

It will be an extraordinary experience and one which will be long remembered. This scribe is going, and if you want to be one of the lucky ones I suggest you reserve your spot now. The remaining 13 seats will go fast. We will be leaving from Speakers’ Corner after the meeting. 

Mr B will be supplying all the pizza you can eat and all the hot coffee you can drink, but bring with you warm clothes and comfortable footwear for running.

Mr B says a gold coin donation towards the cost of the petrol, pizza, coffee and minibus hire would be appreciated.

It will be even darker in the forest than this photograph suggests, because there will be no moonlight. That will be perfect for experiencing ‘the power of the night’, says Mr B.

3. The Something Nice Segment. To charm some and irritate others.

4. We have a winner! Today’s grasshoppers played bingo. (See last week’s post.) The first person to complete their card was a passer-by. Congratulations, Charles!

One of our regulars, Sue, came second and won nothing.

5. We had our JokeFest segment and all five contributing grasshoppers got a laugh.

6. We also introduced a new segment. The grasshoppers were invited to stand on the Ladder of Lament and express a regret they kept deep within them. Three people took the opportunity. It was an interesting segment and this scribe looks forward to discovering what will be said this coming Sunday.

Bring a regret with you when you come next Sunday, and share it. If you have no regrets, do something stupid during the week.

7. What is creating the Himalayas? Is it India, crashing into Eurasia? Or are India and Australia both crashing into it?

Let’s see. About 300 million years ago two whopping big continents, called Laurasia and Gondwana, got together to form a supercontinent called Pangaea. Pangaea was like a monopoly because it had most of the world’s land mass. But Laurasia and Gondwana never really got on, and about 200 million years ago they had a falling out and went their separate ways. That was the end of Pangaea.

Laurasia went off to do its thing up North and Gondwana went South.

But the break up was devastating for poor Gondwana, and about 100 million years it stopped coping and began to break apart. (So too did Laurasia up North, truth be told.) Gondwana broke up into chunks called tectonic plates, and those plates began bumping into each other like bumper cars. 43 million years ago two of those chunks got together to form the Indo-Australian Plate. That plate, and the African Arabian Plate, didn’t like the direction Gondwana had been taking, and headed back North. However, the Indo-Australian Plate was moving at about 8 or 9 cms per year, which was a reckless speed given its proximity to the Eurasia Plate. Inevitably, disaster happened: around 40 million years ago it crashed into the Eurasian Plate (which had only been minding its own business) and that created the crumple zone we now know as the Himalayas.

But did the Indo-Australian Plate stop and take a long hard look at itself? No. Like a psychopath, it continues to push into Eurasia at around 3.7 cms per year, causing the crumple zone to continue to grow at around 1cms to 6cms per year (depending on whose ruler you use).

This wanton violence stressed the Australian half of the Indo-Australian plate, causing it to reflect: did it really want to live this way? Did it want to spend the next 100 million years causing trouble? No, it didn’t. So, for the last 10 million years there has been a lot of friction between the two halves, causing lots of earthquakes, and about 3 million years ago the two began breaking up. Two separate plates were created: the Indian Plate and the Australian Plate, and the Australian Plate is fleeing the scene. (But some say they’re still together!)

Trying to look innocent of the part it played in the collision, the Australian plate floats peaceably about, tentatively moving North at a sedate 5.6 centimetres per year.

By this time the African and Arabian Plates had also broken up, having had their own problems.

So, who caused the crash? Did India cause it, or did India and Australia combined? The fact is, there is no definitive proof that we Australians were ever involved. All you have is circumstantial evidence and the opinions of boffins who probably put their pants on backwards. In short, we Australians insist that we are separate from India and always have been. We have nothing to do with the collision up North; we are in the clear. Now leave us alone.

8. Other subjects discussed:
– The shonky practice of opportunistic tradies: of passing the cost of parts onto the customer and making a profit in the process. The speaker claimed that their job is to do the work, not act as retailers seeking margins.

– Do women really fear death when they go out on a blind date, as “studies” suggest? If so, what does that mean? If not, what does that mean?

– Steve Maxwell spoke for much of the day about ‘The College of the Complexes‘, which is “a playground for people who think”. A big part of Steve’s success and legendary status is his ability to consistently produce fresh, original material. Good going, Steve!

– Helmut spoke twice: the first time was to relieve Mr B, whose voice seems to be finally breaking. (About time!) Helmut spoke again while Mr B retrieved his car. Thank you, Helmut!

– Do we have a right to judge people’s attitudes “appalling”? Do we have a right to decide what other people think? Or can we judge only their actions?

– What is truth?

9. There is a Facebook page which has posts astonishingly similar to the ones in this blog. Either
a) it’s an extraordinary coincidence, or
b) it’s blatant plagiarism, or
c) the ‘cut & paste’ feature is applied.

Take it from this scribe that for our archives site, (c) applies.

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