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News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 10th December.

In News for Speakers' Corner on December 11, 2017 at 12:37 pm

‘Who are you?’ I asked the watcher in my dreams.
‘Who wants to know?’ was the reply.
Paul Broks

1.  Even before the chairs were out, Donny Dodd was keen to get cracking. For many years, Donny was a fiery speaker at Speakers’ Corner, speaking about Aboriginal affairs. He was entertaining, informative, and hard to tie down. Today, under a Morton Bay Fig tree not much older than he, he resurrected the Donny of old and spoke abut Australia’s Constitution of 2003, and the 1986 Australian Act regarding borders. Welcome back, Donny!

Donny Dodd, indigenous speaker.

2. As usual, the tireless Ray was near the kiosk out to save souls. Few evangelists are as committed. Whether or not you like Ray’s evangelistic message, you have to acknowledge his resolve.

Steve Maxwell, on the other hand, spoke about more Earthly matters: Australian politics and China. Here he is taking an undeserved break.

Cool Daddy, AKA Steve Maxwell

3. Should a synagogue be required to hire out its premises to the Nazi party for its anti-semitism rally? Should an African-American T-shirt maker be required to print one with the words, “Join the KKK“?  Should a gay baker be required to bake a cake with the words, “Gays are X%#@*”?

“No”, rightly say some fundamentalist Christians, “and therefore, no church official should be required to marry homosexual people.”

The difference is: Jews, African-Americans and gays suffered persecution from their tormentors, whereas homosexual people have not historically or collectively persecuted Christians. Further, nowhere in the Christian Bible does it say that Christians are required to help God enforce His precepts. Indeed, it indicates the contrary: that we have free will. God will do the judging, and He doesn’t need fawning ‘policemen’ to assist Him.

This week the Australian parliament passed laws to give homosexual people the same right to marry as straight people. The ‘no’ voters are concerned about religious people having to act ‘against their good conscience’. Mr B explained why ‘acts of good conscience’ are not acts of good conscience at all, but acts of sycophancy and discrimination. His grasshoppers took the subject seriously and contributed significantly to the discussion.

4. A young man by the name of Tommy has become a regular, and today his mother accompanied him to see what the hell it was all about. Tommy takes insults well, is happy to interrupt, has a lot to say, and what he does say is tripe. He fits in perfectly. Today he asked about the subject of forgiveness, and of course Mr B had something to say about that. Then Tommy himself chose to get up and speak. He spoke well, and we hope he speaks again.

We don’t have a photograph of Tommy yet, so this will have to do until we do.

5. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others. (From the Postsecret site.)

6. Good old Arthur is anti-fluoride. Fluoride is the substance put into our drinking water to help prevent tooth decay. Uncle Pete offered to explain how it protects our teeth, and the crowd almost threw him onto The Ladder of Knowledge. Pete explained in a clear manner the chemical processes involved, and then answered twenty questions. When he finished he received hearty applause for his effort. Thank you, Peter!

As it happens, we have a lookalike of Peter that someone sent in. The resemblance is eerie.

7. Grasshoppers, please note!  If a speaker is talking about a subject (eg. over population) and happens to use a metaphor, simile or analogy to make a point (eg. he might make a passing reference to caterpillars), the topic does not become ‘caterpillars’! We don’t need someone interrupting the discussion to add to our knowledge of caterpillars. For goodness sake.

8. This week, ex-journalist Ben McCormack was fined $1,000 and given a three-year good behaviour bond for the “crime” of telling another pederast online what he’d like to do with boys. Ben had not bought or sold child pornography and had none on his computer. He had not contacted children on his computer and there was no evidence to suggest he had tried to groom any child in any way, anywhere. The only “crime” he had committed was to express his inclinations to another person who wouldn’t judge him on his sexuality and call him a deviate or pervert. In other words, the poor man had to undergo extreme humiliation, lose his reputation, and lose a thousand dollars simply because he told someone what he would like to do.

Mr B was scathing of our society’s self-righteousness, lack of compassion and intolerance, and of the judicial system.

Mr B believes that any pederast or paedophile that goes through life not acting upon their inclinations doesn’t deserve condemnation and punishment; they deserve a medal. And they deserve our compassion and our thanks.

9. It is commonly claimed that each of us possesses a subconscious. Mr B proposed an alternative: that within each of us reside multiple selves. In this rare instance, this scribe will take it upon himself to explain Mr B’s extraordinary claim.

According to Mr B, we might have a dominant self that we identify as ‘me’, and possess less developed selves that stay ‘in the background’. “After all,” he explained, “if the brain can produce one self, why couldn’t it produce more than one? Of course, one of those selves would have to become dominant for the organism to function properly.”

His grasshoppers didn’t take well to that idea!

Mr B listed five ways we might become aware of those other selves. ‘Dreaming’ was one way. Here is an example of a dream from Mr B. See if you can see why this dream might indicate the presence of multiple selves:

Female teacher to schoolboy Mark: “Mark, what sound does a parrot make?”
Schoolboy Mark: “It squawks.”
Teacher: “No. Try again.”
Schoolboy Mark: “It imitates sounds?”
Teacher: “No. Forget it.”
Schoolboy Mark to another schoolboy: “What was she on about?”
Other schoolboy: “She wanted you to make the sound of a parrot squawking.”

Notice how the teacher’s question could be answered in two ways: the way she intended and the way Mark understood it? In the dream, schoolboy Mark did not understand what the teacher wanted. But the teacher knew what she wanted, and so did the other boy. How can that be? Presumably, Mark (the man dreaming the dream) had written the script, so surely all the participants in it would know what the teacher required. But no, schoolboy Mark didn’t. So, how could the man dreaming the dream create that ambiguous question and fool himself?

Answer: he couldn’t. Another self within Mark’s skull wrote the script with the intention of fooling the dreamer!

Can it be that the Frederick Kekulé, the man who suddenly understood the benzene molecule after waking from a doze, was given the answer not by his subconscious, but by another self within him who saw the problem in a different way?

When some people suffer extreme stress and feel they are separating from their body, is their dominant self leaving ‘the cockpit’ while they’re still awake? (They’re still within the body of course. The ‘rising’ above the body is part of the disassociation.) Could it be that in that extreme situation, there are now two conscious selves: one experiencing the stress and the other observing them experience it? But only one memory is incorporated?

Ernest Hilgard asked hypnotized people to immerse their arms in iced water for long periods and feel no pain. The subjects did so, and displayed and reported no pain. However, when Hilgard asked them if ‘at some level’ they knew that they were experiencing pain, they responded affirmatively. Could it be that one of their selves felt no pain, while another did?

Does Mr B’s idea have merit? Or is he as mad as a hose let go?

Is Mr Bashful as mad as a hose let go?  (Photo courtesy of Ross Duncan. Thanks, Ross.)

10. How did you feel when a parent died? Grief? Relief? Nothing? Joy? Next week we will definitely explore that subject. Join us.

11. Mr B claims that
The Australian Cricket Board has, over the last few years, “suggested” to its test captains that they should never enforce the ‘follow-on’. Why? Because when the follow-on is not enforced the game is likely to go on for a longer period of time. That means more advertising dollars for the commercial television broadcasters.

Uncle Pete disagreed. He says attitudes have changed over time, and that no weak team wants to bat last on a dodgy wicket. Uncle Pete is a silly mid on.

12. Mr B examined the gender pay gap yet again, with a fresh eye. He presented a study that found that tall men are paid, on average, 9% to 15% more than men of average and below average height. It seems we respect tall men. The speaker then pointed out that men are, on average, taller than women. He concluded by saying that perhaps the pay gap between men and women has nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with height!

Initially, his tongue seemed to be in his cheek, but a few perceptive comments from his grasshoppers added an extra dimension to the argument.

13. The speaker explained how he tricked himself into completing an almost interminable poll for the Roy Morgan company. One of the poll’s questions asked, “Of the thirty government policies below, which three matter to you most?” The speaker was dismayed to find that none of the following were options:
– ‘the pollution of our air, fresh water and sea’
– ‘land degradation’,
– ‘habitat loss’,
– ‘over population’ and
– ‘the environment and its ecology’.

14. Our Facebook page is an enigma, though our Archives site is as important as the world’s biggest seed bank in Norway, and equally relevant to our day-to-day life.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday, 3rd December

In News for Speakers' Corner on December 4, 2017 at 9:40 am

“Don’t argue with idiots. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with their experience.”

1. We can’t say we weren’t warned.

Last week, Mr B warned his regulars that this week he would be talking about one subject only, for as long as it took. And true to his word, he did.

The subject was, “Is the human species inherently good or inherently bad?” From the outset he admitted that nothing can be inherently good or bad. Something is what it is. If we determine something is good or bad we are using value judgments, and they are arbitrary and changeable. They’re make-believe. “And yet,” he promised, “I aim to find out anyway. I need to know. Join me if you will.”

Three hours later . . . !

It was 5.20pm when he kindly woke his grasshoppers to let them know Helmut was about to speak.

2. Mr B said his talk should only have taken half an hour, but with all the interruptions . . .

He said he expected that.

However, Mr B’s mentors (Rolf Harris and Don Bourke) would have been displeased with him for becoming so grumpy. He was at his grumpiest today.

He said he expected that too.

Although it was a fraught day, it would have been even more fraught for this scribe had I not nodded off early in the peace. That was a blessing for me, I learned later. However, before I had the good fortune to nod off, I witnessed a grasshopper offer Mr B $50 to change the subject. Yes, it was a genuine offer, and Mr B took it.

Unfortunately, Mr B broke his promise by refusing to change the subject anyway. It was pointed out that Mr B’s non-compliance with the deal provided a timely example of how one human being can act badly. Which in turn proved humanity was inherently bad.

As if willing to prove the opposite, grasshopper Laurence took objection to Mr B’s dishonesty, and stood by the Ladder of Knowledge for the next twenty minutes talking over him. He would not desist, he explained, until Mr B handed back the ill-gotten moola. Mr B continued to refuse, point blank.

It was riveting viewing, folks.

Finally, order was restored. Mr B still had the $50 note and continued to speak about the same topic. That was when I nodded off. I can’t report anything more.

3. Last week, someone said Englishman Karl Pilkington looked a lot like Mr B, and someone else compared Steve Maxwell with Keanu Reeves. That prompted someone called Tony to send in another lookalike.

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

5. If you check your calender you’ll find that it will soon be the holiday season. Try this friendly tip.

6. This scribe has no idea what Ray, Mirko, Helmut or Steve Maxwell spoke about. That is Mr Soporofic’s . . . Mr Bashful’s fault for sending me to sleep. However, three subjects were discussed briefly at the beginning of the meeting:
– If a man treats his wife badly at a function, should we say something?  (Opinions were divided on whether something should be said, and to whom.)

– With regards to last week’s Push-me-Pull-You dog story and the photographic evidence provided, Mr B stood high on the Ladder of Knowledge and asked for an apology from those who had insisted one of the dogs was male.
He did not receive the apology, but he did receive more abuse.

– The speaker asked: “Who recorded Sam Dastyari telling a Chinese firm that Labor believed Australia shouldn’t interfere in the South China Sea? Peter the Younger answered ‘ASIO’ and it seemed to be the right answer.

ASIO operative

7. How did you feel when a parent died? Grief? Relief? Nothing? Joy? Next week or the week after, at least two people will be standing on the Ladder of Knowledge to answer that question. If you’re there, you will be invited to do so too.

8. The grasshopper did eventually get his $50 back. Everyone was pleased about that except Mr B.

Speaking of money, we are on Facebook but haven’t yet figured out how to make money from it.

The Archives site is not yet a moneyspinner either.





News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 27th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 27, 2017 at 10:57 am

“I heard that if you eat more than six bananas it will kill you. I saw a bowl with seven bananas and I thought, ‘that’s dangerous’.”
Karl Pilkington

1. It was another glorious day, and we were visited by Ross, a journalist preparing an article for the “Neighbourhood” newspaper. Heavens knows what he made of today’s antics. It’s anyone’s guess.

One of the first matters discussed was parenting. Should we smack our kids?

2. The film of ex-speaker John Webster is still coming, but to keep you at bay, here is a video of John courtesy of the ABC.

3. We discussed the gender pay gap again, and this time we focused on one significant factor that explains the discrepancy (thanks to two journalists working for the ABC). Click here for the article on which the discussion was based.

4. Someone suggested that Steve Maxwell looks like Keanu Reeves. Yes, there is a strong resemblance.

5. It is confirmed: Mr B has no credibility. Today he asked his grasshoppers, “How could it be that my two female dogs (now dead) were once joined at their anuses or vaginas for fifteen minutes, and could not separate themselves? The two dogs walked about like Dr Doolittle’s Push-Me-Pull-You, and the shorter dog had her back legs dangling off the ground. It was only when Dad put the hose on them that they managed to separate.” He also explained that he had owned the dogs for more than 14 years, and both dogs had given birth to two litters of puppies.

Despite this detailed explanation, his grasshoppers figured he had made a mistake, that one of the dogs had to be male. i.e. They believed that Mr B could own two dogs for more than fourteen years and not realise one was a male.

That’s how highly they think of him.

Mr B, they won’t be asking you to join Mensa.

Amazingly, Mr B has just provided this scribe with proof that both dogs were female. As you can see, one has a litter and the other is obviously pregnant.

6. Mr B’s reputation plummeted even further when he agreed with Mirko’s idea to change the English language to a fonetik one. With the advent of ebooks and kindles, people should be able to press a button and read a fonetik translation, he claimed. Over time, the new spelling would be adopted by everyone, making it easier for anyone to learn the language.

When Mr B casually referred to the four spellings of ‘yor’ (fonetik), the gentle Uncle Pete called him a smartarse.

Mirko’s phonetics are not quite what Mr B had in mind.

7. Other subjects discussed:
– Males have subjugated women for yonks, started nearly all the wars, created most of the crime, perpetrated most of the domestic violence, done most of the sexual harrassment, and are now famous for being sexual predators. As a consequence, Mr B feels guilty about being male. Then he was made to feel guilty about feeling guilty.

– Mirko stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and opened up about his family’s tragedies. He linked those tragedies with the humble tea-leaf, claiming that drinking tea is good for your health.

– The question was asked: “What caused The Beatles to break up?” (The Beatles are a defunct music band circa 1960.) The question was dismissed because the speaker, not having been a member of the band, didn’t know or care.

– Mr B told the story of how he inadvertently let a wombat squash his mother’s dog to death.

– The different ways people try to earn their self worth.

– Mr B is an atheist, and critical of the lame arguments smug atheists use to debate theists. So, today he claimed to be a theist and invited the atheists to debate with him. A vigorous discussion followed.
Mr B obviously thought he was an astounding success. Ho hum.

– Inspired by Mr B’s folly, Helmut spoke of the nature of God and energy.

– We didn’t evolve to use smartphones and social media, so why are they so attractive to us? And why does using them come so naturally to us? Even toddlers are adept.




8. Our Facebook page keeps getting comments from troublemakers.

Our Archives site, however, is as pristine as Antarctica.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 19th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

“No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true.”
Oscar Wilde

1. Christian a capella band Midnight Oil have finished their stint at the Domain, but the barriers are still up. So, again we made use of the big Morton Bay fig and it was another Goldilocks day.

2. Welcome back, Scott! Most of our speakers are grumpy old men, but two years ago young Scott had a crack at speaking for a few weeks. He was original and interesting. Then, unconscionably, he left for China for two years. He appeared again today, looking no more Chinese than when he left. Nor did he speak with a Cantonese accent. We have serious doubts about whether he actually went there.

Anyway, it’s good to see him back.

3. When Mr B felt obliged to briefly visit the Art Gallery opposite, Uncle Pete graciously replaced him. A passer-by saw Mr B’s sign and assumed Uncle Pete was Mr B, and began grilling him. Uncle Pete, immensely proud to have been mistaken for Mr B, duly answered her questions.

It is this scribe’s view that in those few minutes of wanton impersonation, Uncle Pete enhanced Mr B’s reputation.

Uncle Pete.

4. The Two Envelope Paradox.
We won’t explain it here, but consider: You have been given $200. You can either:
a) flip a coin. If it’s heads you will double your money. i.e. You gain $200. If it’s tails you halve your money. i.e. You lose $100.
b) don’t flip the coin and just keep the $200.

What’s your answer? (a) or (b)?

If you chose (b) then why not come along to Speakers’ Corner and sit with all the other pea-brains? You’ll have lots of company and make lots of friends. Apart from this scribe, only one person had the brains to choose option (a). Congratulations, Jay!

(Scribe shakes head and thinks: it’s no wonder poor Mr B often takes twenty minutes to give a three minute talk, and still fails to impart his message. It appears that teaching grasshoppers basic arithmetic can be like teaching rocks how to swim.)

I have been too hard on you recently, Mr B. I’m sorry. I didn’t understand what you have been up against.

5. The ‘Workplace Gender EqualityAgency’ has released its report. When you compare a female full-time employee with a male full-time employee, it’s found that on average, men earn $26,000 more. That figure seemed absurd, so we discussed how it may have come about.

Click here to read the agency’s summary.

6. In a passing comment about forgiveness, the speaker arrogantly declared that there was no god. A grasshopper took him to task. “What authority do you have to make such a claim?” she asked. A discussion ensued and before long, someone suggested that the passer-by get up onto the Ladder of Knowledge and speak.

Mr B refused, explaining that “we would only hear more crap”. That prompted the passer-by to instigate a coup d’état, and she took the Ladder anyway. She did an excellent job of stating her case and answering questions. She isn’t yet a Christian, but she did take umbrage with Mr B’s arrogance. (Then again, don’t we all. If you could sell arrogance, he would be a millionaire.)

In short, Georgia was a good speaker and adept at maintaining her cool, despite the torrent of questions she received. Well done, Georgia!



These are the barriers mentioned earlier. (Georgia is in the foreground obscurng the view.)

7. Other subjects discussed:
– The return of the bones of ‘Lake Mungo Man’.

– Why do so many people like the television programs ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Utopia’?

– The ‘me too’ movement is outing sexual predators Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and the like. Is it possible that a troll, who happened to be alone with a celebrity for ten minutes any time in the last forty years, might find it amusing to make a false accusation?

– Who is going to hell? Atheist Uncle Pete was smug, knowing he won’t be. He did the “nine-consecutive-day-catechism thing” when he was a lad. 

8. Having just read this week’s Speakers’ Corner news, how likely are you to recommend it to your friends and relatives?

0       1      2        3  . . .

Do you feel irritated when given that question?  Mr B does, and he had a good whinge about it until a grasshopper explained to him the hidden motive behind the question.

9. We are on Facebook but we don’t know why.

We keep old posts in our Archives site but we don’t know why.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 12th November

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 13, 2017 at 6:22 pm

“Failure is an event, not a person.”


1. What a day! Despite up-and-coming folk-music band Midnight Oil fencing off the Domain for 16 days (for just two concerts!) the speakers still found a Morton Bay Fig and spoke under that. Mr B, Steve Maxwell, and all their grasshoppers, were vocal all day. Across the way, Ray sought souls near the kiosk. It all added up to a fun day in the park.

2. Uncle Pete had just returned from his jaunt in England, and he spoke about his venture to the Mecca of all Speakers’ Corners.

3. A man wrote an article about how he met a woman, took her to dinner, and brought her home to his place. Soon they were kissing and cuddling. Clothes were taken off. They went to bed and had sex. At no time did the woman resist or say “no”. Afterwards, she turned to him and said, “You raped me.”

We took some time to discuss the matter.

4. If a young man loses his virginity to a prostitute, has he really lost his virginity? That was the question seedy Mr B felt compelled to address. In the process he talked about inflatable dolls, intimacy, viagra, promiscuity and masturbation. Having just endured a long talk about rape, this new discussion was the last thing poor grasshopper Jean needed. She finally stood up and told us all off. She said we should only have sex with the person we love. She has been married for 66 years and she figures that qualifies her to make judgments about the sex single people have. Sigh.

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

6. In the fenced off enclosure for the two open-air Midnight Oil concerts, there was a sign this scribe wanted to photograph. (It said umbrellas are prohibited.) I handed my camera to a security guard who was on the other side of the fence, and he was willing to take the photograph for me. But up stepped another security guard who outranked the helpful fellow, and he wanted to know what was to be photographed.

“That sign,”I  explained, pointing.

The guard looked troubled. This would clearly be a subversive act. He made sure the camera was handed back and explained that they were there to guard the place, not take photographs.

I shrugged, and said I would write about this incident in the blog instead. I began to walk away.

“Blog?!”  Suddenly the guard got uppity, and kept demanding that I come back to the fence. But I had an appointment with something better to do. He then called out he’d report me. (After that, I was too far away for his cries to be intelligible.)

This scribe is now fearful that he will be reported for a serious offence. i.e. For asking a security guard to take a photograph for him.

Where’s Wally?

7. Years ago, television presenter David Frost described a telephone call he had with media mogul Kerry Packer. David was trying to sell Kerry tapes for $175,000, and Kerry continued to reject the price. In exasperation David finally said, “Kerry, I really need the $175,000. I’m sure the tapes are worth it.”

After a long pause Kerry said: “I have an idea. I have a coin with me. Let’s flip for the difference. Call it.”
At the other end of the phone, a very nervous David had to make a decision. Finally he said, “All right. Heads.”
“You win,” said Kerry.

We discussed the dynamics of the call.

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Could refugees on Manus and Nauru islands be housed in nations with refugee camps, and in return, for each refugee, could Australia take five (or ten?) of those nations’ refugees from their refugee camps and settle them in Australia? That would still dissuade ‘the boat people’ to please the government, he argued, and it would compassionately settle 10,000 to 20,000 refugees. (Australia already takes 13,500 refugees a year, so the extras wouldn’t be a problem.)

– When a local, state or Federal government makes a decision, it should outline in detail how it made that decision. That way, when people in the future have to make a similar decision, they can draw upon the ‘wisdom’ of the past and find pros and cons they may not have thought of. And, that transparency would allow us to question the wisdom of current decisions.

– Although Mr B is a ‘yes’ vote for gay marriage, he chose to accuse the ‘yes’ voters of dishonesty. He claimed they weren’t acknowledging the ‘no’ voters’ fear of the ‘thin edge of the wedge’.

9. Last week’s discussion about dual citizenship continued. With more MPs going under, Mr B claimed that we now have a paralysed government because the sheep-like judges in the High Court thought it was more important to follow the letter of the law than use commonsense.

His grasshoppers objected again, and their focus was on the negligent politicians who should have known better. Uncle Pete had looked at Section 44 of the Constitution, and he explained that it makes very clear that dual citizenship is prohibited, and it often repeats the fact. He said the politicians had no excuse for not making sure they complied. He’s right: each person nominating to be a candidate in a Federal election is given a ‘Candidates’ Handbook’ to help them through the process, and it clearly says:

Step 1: Determine your eligibility to nominate for either the Senate or the House of Representatives, you must be:
– at least 18 years old;
– an Australian citizen; and
– either enrolled or eligible to be enrolled on the Commonwealth electoral roll.

You cannot nominate for the Senate or the House of Representatives if you are:
– currently a member of a state parliament or territory legislative assembly and have not resigned before the hour of nomination;
– disqualifed by section 44 of the Constitution.

It’s that last bit in red which is relevant. The person would then know to go to Section 44, which is on the website of the Australian Electoral Commission and check further.

Section 44 of the Constitution – disqualification

16. Any person who:

  1. is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or
  2. is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or
  3. is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or
  4. holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or
  5. has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth, otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

But subsection (iv) does not apply to the office of any of the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen’s Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen’s navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth.

Section 44(i) of the Constitution

17. Section 44(i) of the Constitution applies to three categories of persons:

  • a person who is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power;
  • a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; and
  • a person who is entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power.

18. The first category of disqualification under s. 44(i) appears to have a wide application, disqualifying persons who, although they may not have a formal nationality or citizenship link with another country, may have some other form of allegiance with that country. In the 1987 case of Nile v Wood [1987] HCA 62; (1987) 76 ALR 91; (1987) 62 ALJR 52 , Mrs Elaine Nile unsuccessfully sought the constitutional disqualification of Mr Robert Wood, recently elected to the Senate for the State of New South Wales on the grounds that Mr Wood’s previous protest activity in obstructing shipping, the vessels of a friendly nation, indicated allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power. In this case the High Court held:

…that s 44(i) relates only to a person who has formally or informally acknowledged allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power and who has not withdrawn or revoked that acknowledgment.

19. That is, it might be concluded that a “formally or informally” acknowledged allegiance to a particular foreign power, whatever this might constitute in particular circumstances, would disqualify a candidate if that candidate had not withdrawn or revoked that allegiance.

20. The second category of disqualification under s. 44(i) refers to a specific type of foreign allegiance, where a person is a “subject or citizen” of a foreign power. It applies to persons who have certain rights because of a formal citizenship link with a foreign power, and therefore to any person who holds dual or plural citizenship. In the 1992 case of Sykes v Cleary (1992) 176 CLR 77 the High Court found that candidates are disqualified from election to Parliament if they do not take “all reasonable steps” to renounce their other citizenship before nomination.

21. Taking all reasonable steps necessitates the use of renunciation procedures of the other country where such procedures are available. If the other country refuses renunciation then proof of requesting renunciation is sufficient. Because such procedures were available in relation to the two countries of which candidates Mr Kardamitsis and Mr Delacretaz were citizens (Greece and Switzerland respectively), it was concluded that they had not taken “all reasonable steps” to renounce their foreign citizenship, and were therefore disqualified by s. 44(i) of the Constitution.

22. In the 1999 case of Sue v Hill (1999) 199 CLR 462, the High Court found Ms Hill not duly elected because she held dual citizenship of Australia and the United Kingdom. The Court held that the United Kingdom is classified as a foreign power, within the meaning of s. 44(i) of the Constitution.

23. The third category of disqualification under s. 44(i) refers to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen. It is unclear whether this means entitlement to all the rights and privileges of such a citizen or merely one or some of such rights or privileges.

Information for dual or plural citizens

24. The procedures for renouncing citizenship vary from country to country. Accordingly, intending candidates should contact the relevant government, Embassy or High Commission to determine the current law.

Thank you, Uncle Pete!

One would think that with all those promptings, and their familiarity with bureaucracy, our politicians would have taken the trouble to check their citizenship status thoroughly.

Despite all this, this scribe bets that Mr B would still be critical of the High Court for not using their commonsense.

10. If you would like to read all the above in a different font, go to our Facebook page.

If you would like to read previous articles or more information about the speakers, try our Archives site.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 5th November.

In News for Speakers' Corner on November 6, 2017 at 10:49 am

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
T. S. Eliot

1. Despite rain looking imminent, our intrepid speakers turned up. The rain held off all afternoon, and the temperature would have suited Goldilocks.

Ray (our Christian evangelist speaker) unaccountably came to sit with Mr B’s grasshoppers. He brought with him a smirk. Apparently, Ray had prayed to God that there would be no rain and his prayer had been answered. The pesky Mr B asked him, “Why would God keep the rain away for you, Ray, yet ignore the prayers of equally devout Christian farmers suffering from the drought?” Ray’s answer was more mathematical than satisfying. Apparently, bad guys can cancel out the good guys’ prayers. Mr B questioned this and consequently received a warning drizzle for his temerity. He shut up and changed the subject, so the rain stayed away. Result: another smirk from Ray.

One grasshopper claimed that television evangelists are con artists, and Ray agreed with him.

2. Poet and cartoonist Michael Leunig turned up and Mr B had a crack at him. Mr B claimed that in at least one of Michael’s books there were cartoons found in previous books. “That isn’t fair”, said the petulant Mr B. He likened the practice to the habit of the Phantom comic publishers replicating stories in later issues, and not warning the buyer of the fact.

After Mr B threw his hissy fit, Michael said he knew nothing about any replication. Michael’s charm permeated the crowd and it was Mr B who ended up looking bad. It served him right.

Michael’s sister, Mary, is also an exciting, accomplished cartoonist and we would show you examples from both Leunigs if we didn’t fear million dollar lawsuits. You’ll just have to settle for this old fashioned curling iron which is, presumably, an indispensible item for Mr Curly. (Or is that the actual shape of his head??)

For examples of Michael’s work:
For examples of Mary’s work:

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

4. Other subjects discussed:
– Doctors are required to keep up to date with their knowledge of medicine. Should we also require teachers to keep up to date with new teaching methods? (Not the curriculum itself, but in ways of teaching it.)

– Who started World War II? One man said Russia, when it invaded Finland before the Germans invaded Poland. Helmut said the Allied Forces started the war because they felt threatened by Germany’s strong economy and skills. Mirko said something unintelligible. This misguided scribe had always thought it was Germany, so there you go. I sit corrected. (At least no one said “Samoa”.)

– Pete the Younger gave us a true story about being chased by shooters in a desert. Did he experience some psychic warning to get away in time? He wasn’t sure, but the close-minded Mr B (who wasn’t even there!) insisted it could only have been a coincidence. That said, it would have been a scary experience!

– With a scepticism similar to any religious fervour, Mr B explained how people can see ghosts that don’t exist.

– Steve Maxwell (ex-business owner and operator) patiently explained to Mr B (no financial acumen whatsoever) why tradies aren’t over-charging when they charge for their services.

– “Why do students have to pay to go to university?” asked two German tourists. (In Germany you only pay for your books.) “Because our politicians have failed us,” was the reply.
Later on, Mr B explained how Germany has remained immune from the competition generated by the cheaper Chinese manufacturing.

– A man asked: “I’m earning heaps but I’m stressed in my job. Would it be okay if I got a more enjoyable job that paid less?”
What would you have told him?

– Helmut spoke of the Higgs Boson particle and how the universe came into being by always being here.

One of Higg’s Bosons.

5. We have a Facebook page.   We have an archives site. We are thoroughly modern.


News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 29th October

In News for Speakers' Corner on October 30, 2017 at 12:24 pm

“To a worm in a horseradish the world is horseradish.”

1. Most of the Domain was fenced off for Sydney’s beer festival, though no customers were there at the time. That meant the passers-by had to get drunk on knowledge instead of on beer. (That doesn’t always end well either.)

The white-haired, sharp-brained Steve Maxwell talked about (and I quote) “politics and cattle-ticks.” His precise points are not known to this scribe, but his battle with Mirko sure drew our attention. Today Mirko was a bigger pest than usual, and grumpy. (An unpleasant combination.) Was there a lunar eclipse affecting him? (That’s when the sun passes between the Earth and the moon.) Whatever it was, we’re all hoping that Mirko is tolerable next week.

2. It is nearly Halloween and in superlative fashion none of the speakers talked about it. However, three spooky Halloween jokes were told, one coming from a grasshopper, thank you.

Too quickly for this scribe’s liking the conversation degenerated into stories about beastiality. Mr B was asked if he would have sex with a donkey and with dignity he said it would have to buy him dinner first.

Here’s a Halloween monster we weren’t expecting:

3. Mr B felt the need to question the supposed gender pay gap between television personality Lisa Wilkinson and her male offsider, Stan. In the process we learned that the AFL Footy Show would fold without the well paid Sam Newman. And, we learned that of the Abbott and Costello U.S. comedy team, the straight man was paid more than the funny guy. Why? Because “comics are a dime a dozen, but a good straight man is hard to find.”

The discussion moved to the U.S. Lingerie Gridiron League. Holy Moly. The participants are skilled athletes, but to get financial support and media coverage the women have to dress to show off their bodies! When told about the league, Mr B said he was embarrassed to be male.

We then discussed gender pay disparity in other careers, and the possible reasons why women are not yet well represented in male dominated professions or tiers.

Madame Curie, one of only four people to win two Nobel Prizes: one for physics and one for chemistry. A role model for women.

4. Two weeks ago a mysterious woman politely asked if she could step onto the Ladder of Knowledge. She spoke about technology and artificial intelligence.

Like a cool breeze on a warm day she appeared again. This time, Kate spoke about the direct impact of technology upon our brains. She used poker machine technology as an example of what video games and social media technology could be doing to our brain. She didn’t bat questions away; instead, she answered them.

Thank you, Kate!

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

6. This week the High Court ruled ineligible five members of parliament who had entered politics with dual citizenship. Mr B said the High Court should have applied commonsense instead of the letter of the law, but rather than criticise the High Court, he criticised all of us for letting the Court get away with it! He said we should be up in arms protesting, and added that when we let our judicial institutions settle matters by the letter of the law, we let our own moral compass atrophy, and we infantilise ourselves. And, as a result, we continue our slow march towards self-destruction.

A few grasshoppers rightly disagreed.

6. Last week Mark the Grinner discussed how Aborigines are faring in the Northern Territory. During the week Mr B watched the video of his talk, and today questioned Mark about his claims. Mark willingly answered all questions.  Yes, Mr B got testy and became defensive on behalf of whiteys, but Mark held his ground and kept his poise, and the resultant group discussion had to be one of the highlights of the year.

Well done, Mark!

At one point, Mr B said there might be evidence to suggest that before whites colonised the continent, some Aboriginal cultures included regular domestic violence against women. A grasshopper asked for a reference, and Mr B has supplied it:

Mark would make a good full time speaker. He has the knowledge, he has the ideas, he has the temperament, he has the gab.

Mark the Grinner at Speakers’ Corner.

7. Yes, Mark would make a good speaker. But here is a tip for anyone wanting to speak at Speakers’ Corner: first, fill your mouth with marbles for an entire day. That way, every time you speak you will be forced to use all the muscles in your jaw and lips, and you will learn to articulate well. Each day, remove a marble. When you have lost all your marbles you are ready to be a soapbox speaker.

8. We also discussed the likelhood of human beings surviving the next few thousand years. And there was talk of an “imminent” magnetic pole reversal and the possible consequences. Would we modern, technologically canny people survive? Or would the survivors be the resilient, adaptable hunter-gatherers? Opinion was divided.

9. Please note: our Facebook page is for sale. All genuine offers considered.

Our Archives site is not yet ready for sale. We will keep you “posted”.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 22nd October

In News for Speakers' Corner on October 23, 2017 at 10:34 am

“Every calling is great when greatly pursued.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

1. The words in the blue quotation above can be applied to Steve Maxwell, who turns up each week resplendant, and with a fresh topic to deliver in an entertaining fashion. Steve makes being a speaker a great calling, because he puts everything into it.

Steve had only delivered a small part of his material before he became engaged in a discussion with new speaker, Christian and healer, Danny. The subject was ‘God’, and Steve is an atheist! Uh oh!

Beforehand, this scribe asked Danny: “Out of ten people, how many would God heal through you?” Danny thought for a moment and replied, “About six.” He suspected that God didn’t heal all ten because his (Danny’s) faith wasn’t yet complete. After all, he is only human, Danny explained, and humans are unable to have 100% faith. This scribe thought that answer was a good one. And six out of ten healed is pretty good!

We hope Danny turns up again next week. He has the potential to be an entertaining and exasperating speaker.

2. Mr Bashful is still in disgrace from last week’s shemozzle, though he didn’t act like it. He was his old arrogant self today as he stood on the Ladder of Knowledge spouting his opinions. He began by taking a question from Albert: “Why are the kids of today so narcissistic? They’re always taking selfies.”

Mr B hotly defended today’s young people. He said that if Albert had possessed the same modern social media technology in his horse & buggy days, he too would have been taking selfies. And anyway, even if were true that the kids of today are self-absorbed, shouldn’t we focus on how they became that way? Did we, the older generation, set them a poor example with our focus on money, status and self interest? Wouldn’t the faults that a younger generation may possess be a result of the way we raised them? Instead of self-righteously criticising them, shouldn’t we be looking at ourselves?

3. Thoughout the latter part of the 20th century, Mirko gave us 21st century science, and now his predictions are coming true. Google is developing Mirko’s universal translator, and soon we will be able to speak into a phone and have our words translated into almost any language. No more shall the barrier of language foment discord between the nations.

Thanks to Mirko’s brilliant mind and Google’s money, humankind will draw closer to peace and harmony. We may even live to see the dawn of a new humankind.

Thank you Mirko, and well done!

It is heartening to know that Mirko has been right all along. And, like many other geniuses ahead of their time and not taken seriously by light-headed mortals, Mirko has remained humble. We at Speakers’ Corner are privelged to have him.

Mind you, his dissertation today on his brand of 21st century feminism was a touch confronting. And puzzling. We mere mortals may have to hear his wisdom a few more times before his 21st century logic sinks in.

4. Mark the Grinner had a few things to say about Aborigines, and he spoke well. He is an interesting speaker. However, rain stopped play, so he’ll be answering questions next week! Meanwhile, have a look at his video:

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

6. Ray spoke where he normally speaks (near the kiosk, so that his lucky listeners get to hear about God as they eat their salad rolls). Helmut didn’t get a chance to speak, because at 3pm rain fell and we all left.

Mr B has just informed me that he can’t move in his house, because all 32 wet chairs are open and drying out before they rust. It serves him right.

Mr B’s modest abode in inner Sydney.

7. Here are some of the topics to be discussed this coming Sunday:
(More will pop up on the day.)
– Helmut will be talking about science, physics and metaphysics. Bring along your questions!

– Steve will be talking about Australian politics and history.

– Ray (and Danny?) will be speaking of more godly matters.

– We will hear more from Mark the Grinner about the Aborigines in the Northern Territory, and explore the claims he has made.

– Why does someone become an atheist or a Christian? Is one smarter than the other? More knowledgeable? More rational? More spiritual? ‘None of the above’ says Mr B. He says he will explain the real reasons.

– Halloween jokes will be provided. Bring one along. And bring a regret or anecdote to tell.

– From an article written in the U.S.:
“I leaned in for a kiss;, she didn’t say no. 
I put my hands on her breasts, she didn’t say no.
I reached down her pants, she didn’t say no.
I went through the motions, all the way up to and through intercourse, and she didn’t say no, so I assumed she was enjoyhing herself and everything was good. Then after sex was over she turned to me and said the three words no decent man ever wants to hear: ‘You raped me.'”
We will examine the article in an attempt to understand what the hell happened. And just how often do such misunderstandings occur?

– Yes, we evolved to be social creatures and enjoy the company of human beings. But did we also evolve a need for solitude?

– What is the importance of Speakers’ Corner? Does it have any?

– When someone asks us to ‘like’ their Facebook page or post, should we do so even if we don’t actually like that page or post, or don’t give a stuff about it?
If we do, aren’t we lying and destroying our integrity in the process? Aren’t we eroding our connection with humanity? In our efforts to help the person advertise their page, aren’t we no better than the celebrity who advertises breakfast cereal without actually eating the damned stuff? (With the only difference being that we aren’t paid for our lies?)
That’s what Mr B will be arguing, anyway. This scribe thinks he’s crackers, and will argue the opposite if he gets the chance. It’s about time this poor scribe spoke up.

‘When we lie we apprehend the ghostly, the void . . . we sense the abyss.’ 
Philopher Robert Tilley.

– Television journalist Lisa Wilkinson’s recent departure from Channel Nine has been said to be an example of gender pay disparity. A contrary view will be put forth.

– Doctors are obliged to keep up-to-date with advances in medicine. How about teachers? Are they obliged to keep up-to-date by learning new teaching methods?

8. We have had our Facebook page for nearly two years, and it’s encouraging to discover that legendary soapbox speaker, Steve Maxwell, has just now decided to become a subscriber. Welcome, Steve!
He even occasionally browses this website!
What about the other speakers? Helmut? Ray? Mirko?
What about the hecklers?
Mr B?
Who cares? He’s in disgrace.




In News for Speakers' Corner on October 17, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Mr Bashful has disgraced himself.

Worse, he has disgraced Speakers’ Corner, and Sydney itself, and all of Australia and its territories. He has disgraced humanity past, present and future.

I do not exaggerate.

Each Monday, on this site, this trusting scribe recounts what happened at Speakers’ Corner on Sunday. He tries diligently to get his facts right to give you, dear reader, an honest account of the day’s events.

However, when the speakers themselves don’t get their facts right, this scribe can be misled. And, in turn, you are misled.

Thanks to an alert reader, Bill Browne (AKA William George), it has come to this embarrassed scribe’s attention that Greens Senator Scott Ludlum did not speak the heinous words, “I’ve always said that my job as a father is more important than my job as a senator.” No, it was Liberal National Senator Matt Canavan.

Holy Moly. Mr B, would it be too much trouble to get your facts right? Would there be any danger in being accurate? Would your arms fall off if you got through an entire session without making a goose of yourself?

Jeepers creepers.

Anyway, thanks to William George, this site is now again 100% accurate.

In future, this scribe will fact-check every syllable Mr B utters.

Thanks again, William George! And no thanks to you, Mr Bashful. it’s time you took a long hard look at yourself.


News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 15th October.

In News for Speakers' Corner on October 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm

“Intuition: an uncanny second sense that tells people they are right whether they are nor not.”

1. What a day! Helmut, Ray, Mr B and Mirko were at their vigorous best but the bad bit was: Steve Maxwell wasn’t there. He had other plans.

The best bit: we had three new speakers!

One was John August, Radio Skid Row star Tues noon til 2pm, and Pirate Party representative. This scribe was busy listening to the other speakers, so I can’t tell you what what John talked about. But it would have been topical and in no way eldritch.

John August taking a break.

2. Andrew was also from the Pirate Party and he spoke about intellectual property rights, colour blindness and its treatments, power generation for Australian cities, and same-sex marriage. There was nothing eldritch about Andrew, either.

Andrew, from The Pirate Party.

3. Danny is a Christian healer. Or, more accurately, The Lord uses Danny to heal people. Danny bravely came to help The Lord heal passers-by. This scribe does not know how industrious or successful the pair turned out to be, but both are welcome back again.
Danny is as far from eldritch that you can get.

If Danny does come again we’ll have someone check on The Lord’s efficacy. If people are healed we want to know about it. If The Lord can heal a few people at Speakers’ Corner it will give the place a big boost.

4. Kate spoke about the dangers of artificial intelligence with regards to the stock market. The crowd quickly grew! Kate then explained why she is reluctant to have her photograph displayed on social media sites. But instead of sounding like a paranoid fuddy-duddy, she sounded sensible. One grasshopper called her ‘brilliant’.

This is the closest we could get to taking a photo of Kate. It is, nevertheless, an uncanny likeness.

Kate did an excellent job and answered many questions. The word ‘eldritch’ does not apply to her, and she is welcome back any time.

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

6. “I’ve always said that my job as a father is more important than my job as a senator.”

They were the brazen, selfish words of Greens Senator Scott Ludlum this week. Said Mr B.

CORRECTION: Thanks to alert reader, Mr Bill Browne (AKA William George), we now know that the words were spoken by Liberal National Senator Matt Canavan. Mr B got it wrong!

The vexed Mr B criticised the senator, and criticised the reporter for not reprimanding him when she had the chance.

Yes, but it would have been nice if he had criticised the right senator!

7. Christians say that Jesus will soon return to Earth. The eldritch Mr B examined what would happen if Jesus did return. Would Jesus be obliged to use the current media platforms like CNN to spread his message? Would there be queues of people miles and kilometres long waiting to be healed, and if so, how would Jeus deal with them all? With all of his press commitments, would Jesus have to ignore the suffering of many? Would he be resented for it? Could he heal en-masse? And, people would still have to get up each morning and go to work, so would Jesus soon become yesterday’s news?

Or what?

  (Albert claimed that the media moguls would villify Jesus. Does Albert have a point?)

Mr B also gave his reasons why God and Jesus, if they did exist, would be no better than we humans or a blind mole.

8. The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?
Seven politicians with dubious dual citizenships will soon have their dubious political careers determined by the High Court. Mr B is curious to discover if the High Court will make its decisions based on commonsense, or based on the letter of the law.

He claims that it’s obvious that the seven politicians are not foreign spies infiltrating Australian politics, and commonsense should prevail.

And, will Mathias Cormann, who is obviously a Belgian spy, get away with it just because he relinquished his Belgian citizenship?

9. The word ‘reform’ has become a weasil word. The ABC news claimed that with the Sydney City Council’s approval, retailers might soon be allowed to introduce reforms allowing them to open from 7am to 10pm every night.

Get that? REFORMS’!

Mr B was furious. He wasn’t foaming at the mouth, but he was close. He said that a ‘reform’ is supposed to be an improvement, not a backward step towards Third World practices. In Second and Third world countries shops are open day and night, seven days a week. Should we be eager to join them?

A robust discussion ensued, with Mr B battling supporters of the plan.

Apparently, the Sydney City Council wants to bring “life back to Sydney”. Mr B  reckons that life isn’t and shouldn’t be about drinking and shopping. He listed a string of things that life IS about. For once, this scribe agreed with him.

10. What is 1% of infinity? And, if Bluey slept in a blue room for an infinite period of time, and violet slept in a violet room for an infinite period of time, but every Christmas Day they swapped rooms for the day, who would spend more time in the blue room?

(Answer: they’d spend the same amount of time in the blue room. The scenario was posed by A.W. Moore.)

11. Other subjects discussed:
– Albert explained how banks create money, and then explained why they are evil. He says banks have ‘enslaved us all’.
Mind you, Albert didn’t look enslaved. He looked quite comfortable.

– Mr B was criticised for calling one or two of his grasshoppers ‘imbeciles’. “You don’t need to insult people,” he was told.
Mr B deftly defended himself, explaining that it’s not his fault they’re imbeciles.

– An Australian couple were forced to fly their child to the U.S. to have a heart operation. It cost $150,000. The speaker discussed why an operation would cost that much. He then explored the awful dilemma some specialist doctors are in. (No, there was no sarcasm.)

– One of the JokeFest jokes:
Bill and Ben are walking along a footpath. Bill finds a pay-packet with $400 in it.
His mate Ben says, “You’re lucky!”
Bill says, “Waddaya mean lucky? Look at the tax I’m paying!”

– We discussed Edward De Bono’s ‘Intelligence Trap’. That’s the idea that many intelligent people aren’t good thinkers. They might be adept at articulating their thoughts, but that doesn’t mean their thoughts are well conceived. They have set a trap for themselves: they are so good at stating their case and cherrypicking examples to support their case, and are so concerned about their status as an intelligent person, that they can miss the opportunity to see the times when they are wrong. They’d rather dig a deeper hole than go elsewhere.
(It was pointed out that Mr B is safe from the intelligence trap. He has nothing to fear.)

– A fortnight ago Mr B was asked why so many refugees destroy their documents before they come by boat to Australia. “They’re just economic refugees,” the grasshopper claimed, “trying to fool the authorities.”
Today Mr B gave six reasons why many refugees arrive without documents, and why we also might arrive in a foreign land without documents if we were refugees.

– We heard an anecdote about a woman who jumped into a river to save her struggling child. After dragging her son to the river bank, and then sitting back in her deck-chair, it was pointed out to her that she still had her cigarette in her mouth!

– Mr B wanted to know why texting, emailing and tweeting are so popular. One grasshopper (Andrew from the Pirate Party) gave him a satisfactory answer abut the addictive hits of dopamine.

12. If you haven’t already examined our Facebook page you probably have a good reason for not doing so. If that’s the case, keep avoiding it.













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