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News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 19th May

In News for Speakers' Corner on May 20, 2019 at 11:53 am

“The best cure for sea sickness is to sit on the lee side of a church.”

1. It was the morning after the Federal Election but the election wasn’t mentioned at Speakers’ Corner. Why? Because Speakers’ Corner is the place for discussions you don’t get elsewhere, and discussions about the election were everywhere else.

That is why Speakers’ Corner is head and shoulders above every other media outlet on the planet.

. . .

Your poor scribe just had a coughing fit. I’m alright now, thank you.

2. It was perfect weather and all four speakers: Steve, Helmut, Mr B, and even Ray, had steady crowds all day.

And, all day, ultra-pest Mirko earnestly tried to inform everyone about the importance of the past, present and future. Mr B was patient with him but this scribe chooses to be less diplomatic. Mirko: Your past must have been a nightmare, you haven’t been in the present for twenty years, and you have no future except for Friday night’s banana custard. Let it rest, for goodness sake.

3. Uncle Pete was keen to learn more about the process of natural selection, and Helmut was keen to learn the Ist Law of Thermodynamics. It’s heartening to know that men that old still have enquiring minds. They are an inspiration to the rest of us.

4. Mr B has changed his mind. For years he has been saying schools should teach their students life skills, and he has received plenty of opposition. “Where would we find the time to teach these skills?!” cried the outraged teachers in the audience. Unlike Mr B, your thoughtful scribe thinks they make a good point. After all, how could they teach a student how to change a flat tyre AND the year in which the Battle of Hastings was fought?

Yes, Mr B points out that he also wants history banned from the curriculum. He argues it would not only enrich each student’s life, it would also free up time so that life skills could be taught. But that change won’t happen any time soon, we both suspect.

Anyway, today he recanted a little, saying that kids can learn some life skills from Youtube. The Battle of Hastings is safe.

The Battle of Hastings. A copy of this print is just $10.66, plus postage.

5. Other subjects discussed:
Alice and the Dark Forest

– What were the unfortunate circumstances of Mr B’s loss of virginity? (Yes, folks, he has lost it. Though not recently.)

– Who leads you? It’s certainly not Scott Morrison.

– Which school subjects are the most important? Is maths one of them?

6. This week’s Unusual Critter is the amblypygi, found worldwide in tropical areas. Although it’s harmless, you probably wouldn’t want to sleep with hundreds of them. The one pictured is a regular contributor to our Facebook page.





Ready to vote?

In News for Speakers' Corner on May 17, 2019 at 10:39 am

“If voting could change the system it would be illegal.”

When you vote tomorrow keep in mind these 16 parties:





















Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 12th March

In News for Speakers' Corner on May 13, 2019 at 3:10 pm

“You can have the other words – chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it.” 
Mary Oliver.

1. Tim Brunero’s sixteen politicians were interesting and spoke well.  Your diligent scribe filmed them all. However, when editing the videos I aimed to get rid of the rhetoric and the anecdotes, and focus on the policies. But the video still ended up being more than 35 minutes long. That’s 33 minutes too long for this day and age. So, then I figured I’d include just the fun bits. But that would have been doing the politicians a disservice – they had put a lot of work into their presentations and it would not be fair of me to trivialise their efforts for your amusement.

Result: No video. And I have wasted far too much time on the thing to now write a review of what happend on the day.

I learned a few things though. Here are three tips for any politician giving a speech:
1. Don’t waste your time (or our time) complaining about the situation. We already know there is a problem.

2.  Instead, spend the time telling us:
a) your policies. What will you specifically recommend once you’re in parliament? (Giving us platitudes like “We will protect the environment” doesn’t cut the proverbial mustard.)
b) how will you fund your policies?

3. Have a website with your policies on each issue clearly outlined. Anticipate at least twenty possible objections or questions about each policy, and address them.

P.S. Extra tip: in future, when you “go out and talk to the people”, talk to the smart ones. Pooled ignorance creates neither knowledge nor wisdom.

Who dropped a name tag?

2. There has been disatisfaction with Tim’s Speakers’ Corner 2.0.

The complaints:
1. The amplification means that the power now rests too much with the speaker. In the old days the hecklers had a chance to speak. For the speaker to be able to drown out hecklers and ignore awkward questions is a big step backwards.

2. The publicity has assisted Tim but not the rest of us mainstayers. On Phillip Adams’ Late Night Live program Tim gave the impression to some listeners that since the 1970’s Speakers’ Corner’s has been defunct, and that he was bringing it back.

3. Members of the audience felt uncomfortable knowing that their comments would be recorded and live streamed. They were concerned that what they said might adversely affect their reputation, so they were forced to remain silent.

4. The amplification would drown out other speakers wanting to speak across the way.

5. This new method overwhelms a tradition going back more than 140 years. Some things should never change.

The praise.
1. The amplification means that the power now rests with the speaker. In the old days the hecklers had a chance to respond. For a speaker to be able to drown out hecklers and ignore awkward questions is a big step forward.

2. We have been getting publicity. On Phillip Adams’ Late Night Live program Tim reminded people of Speakers’ Corner and this website suddenly got fifty new visitors and 150 views.

3. Members of the audience were grateful for the opportunity to express their comments, knowing that their livestreamed comments would reach a wider audience.

4. The amplification would draw crowds and make it easier for the audience to hear the speaker.

5. This new method brings a crusty, 140 year old tradition into the 21st century. The world is changing and we need to adapt.

Tick which is applicable:
If you like Tim’s innovation, be pleased, because there are two more to come.
If you like Tim’s innvation, be disappointed, because there are only two more to come.

If you don’t like Tim’s innovation, be pleased, because there are only two more to come.
If you don’t like Tim’s innovation, be disappointed, because there are two more to come.

Thanks to Victor Zammit for this photo of John Webster and his throng.


Phillip Adams on Late Night Live

In News for Speakers' Corner on May 9, 2019 at 11:54 pm

The ABC’s Phillip Adams has interviewed Tim Brunero, who has organised this coming Sunday’s event in which politicians from the minor parties will be presenting their policies. Tim spoke well and his knowledge of Speakers’ Corner is extensive. It’s an interesting interview and if you’d like to hear it click right here.

And remember, Steve Maxwell and Mr B will be appearing from 12.30pm to 2pm to present their own policies. That’s to make sure you will hear something sensible.

Some of the parties that will be represented from 2pm will be ‘The Shooters and Fishers Party’, ‘The Science Party’, ‘The Pirate Party’, ‘The Flux Party’, ‘The Hemp Party’, Clive Palmer’s ‘United Australia Party’ with sitting senator Brian Burston, and other parties you haven’t heard of.

Some of their policies are as eccentric as Mr B’s. Yes, hard to believe! But here is a sample:
– build a new city called ‘Turing’ with a minimum height restriction for residential buildings
– beef up renewable power by 800% and have everything in Australia run on renewable power
– invest in all science that will get rid of aging
– smart phone app that allows the people to vote for policies in parliament
– bring back national service
– eradicate foreign aid
– new expressway through the Blue Mountains
– support for nuclear power
– support for euthanasia
– tax-free threshold raised to $70,000
– religions should pay tax

Listen to it live streamed on Facebook or see you Sunday!

Here are some of the speakers:








News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 5th May

In News for Speakers' Corner on May 6, 2019 at 10:46 am

“True friends stab you in the front.”
Oscar Wilde.

1. The rain tricked your scribe. It was raining when I was about to leave and the ABC’s rain map suggested it would keep raining, so plans to attend Speakers’ Corner were abandoned. But the rain map was wrong and the day unaccountably brightened. (Another good reason to halve the ABC’s funding.) Presumably, the regulars were smarter about picking the weather and turned up to enjoy the day without your scribe.

Steve, Helmut, Ray, Mirko and Mr B may well have been at their dazzling best, and I missed it.

2. A challenge is issued!  This coming Sunday, organiser Tim Brunero will have politicians from the minor parties giving us their policies. They will have access to a microphone and the event will be live streamed on Facebook from 2pm until 5pm. Come along to listen, and ask a question!

However, the regular grasshoppers will still need their weekly dose of wisdom, so Steve and Mr B will be speaking from 12.30pm until 2pm.

Mr B will be presenting the policies he believes Australia needs, and he challenges Tim’s politicians to point out the flaws in his policies. (Of course, it’s a trick. There are no flaws in his policies.)

Steve Maxwell has issued a similar challenge. By 2pm the politicians will be in disarray, but wiser.

Steve is a member of the Greens, and Mr B has provided me with a small sample of his policies:
– A super upgrade of animal welfare.
– No free trade. No Trans Pacific Partnership.
– Repeal all Unfair Dismissal laws.
– No assisted killing.
– No pill testing, no decriminalisation of drugs.
– Reinstate penalty rates.
– The Keiser Sose principle for Defence.
– No religion to be taught in schools.
– Restore our environment & increase habitats.
– Double the Medicare levy.
– Royal Commision into the justice system & significant law reform.
– Prison reform
– Innovations in science
– 12 special projects that no politician seems courageous enough to implement, including the development of an infallible lie detector & a Journal for Negative Results.
– And learn how he is going to fund those projects!


3. In our Unusual Critter Series we present to you the alien-like, almost indestructible, tardigrade. It likes our Facebook page but refuses to leave a comment.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 28th April

In News for Speakers' Corner on April 29, 2019 at 11:30 am

”While there is a lower class I am in it.  While there is a criminal class I am of it.  While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”          
Eugene Debs.

1. Last week on this blog the question was asked, “Will Helmut get off his Austrian derrière and speak across the way?” Today the answer was ‘yes’, and he had a crowd for most of the day.

2. Mr B says he will be fighting for a senate seat in this upcoming Federal election, but he doesn’t yet have an electorate. He hopes he isn’t leaving it too late to get one. Today he told us his policies.

He also (partly) explained why intelligent life will never visit Earth. (He didn’t explain why it would want to.)

3. Peter the Younger wants to know: “If the oceans are warming, and thus absorbing less CO2, why are the oceans becoming more acidic instead of alkaline?

Does anyone know?

4. Today’s critter in our Unusual Critter Series is this giant African Daddy-long-legs spider. It tried to eat our Facebook page.





News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 21st April

In News for Speakers' Corner on April 22, 2019 at 10:31 am

“I like to imagine the older children on the Easter Egg hunt, without their parents’ guidance turning to the younger children and cheerily sharing their eggs with them, knowing with surety that its not their eggs which make them rich, but having the ability to find those eggs, and the capacity to give them away.”

1. Mr B listed all the reezons wy we need to change the spelling of words and get rid of apostrofes, and we kan begin by teeching primary skool children, he sez. Yor skribe thinks he has a point.

However, because your scribe is not a primary school child I will continue to spell poorly.

I have no idea what Ray or Steve talked about today, because I didn’t hear what they had to say. I also have no idea what Mirko talked about, even though I did hear what he had to say.

Today was Easter Sunday so Mr B thoughtfully explained what would happen if the Messiah returned to Earth, as promised. In short, it would be a disaster for the Messiah. So, don’t expect a visit any time soon, says Mr B.

But at least the Easter Bunny keeps appearing, year after year.

2. Other subjects discussed.
– Should we be acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora nation each week? Mr B explained why it is important that we do, and why it is important that we don’t.

– Will Helmut get off his Austrian derriére and become a speaker again across the way from Mr B, or won’t he?

“Australia is a warm, open and generous nation and it will not discriminate in any way.” So said Malcolm Turnbull. Mr B told us that when it comes to potential immigrants, it is important that we DO discriminate. However, not by ethnicity, nationality, skin colour or creed, but by . . .

– Mr B wanted to know, “Why do refugees have children in refugee camps, knowing that their child might be locked up for their entire life?” The answers put forth by his grasshoppers were unsatisfying.

– “Have I saved lives?” asked Mr B. On one hand, we are told blood donors save lives; on the other hand, had Mr B not given blood for thirty years, the hospital would simply have given patients someone else’s blood. The patients would have lived. So, has he saved lives or hasn’t he? No one in Speakers’ Corner knew. Or cared.

– One passer-by said we shouldn’t be teaching primary school children about inter-sexuals and transgender people. “It’s not appropriate,” she said. She was met with agreement and disagreement. It’s fair to say that Uncle Pete was ‘forward’ in expressing his opinion to the woman.

– “Did we evolve from monkeys?” asked one sceptical passer-by. Translated, that means, “God created us all.” Mr B nevertheless told him no, we didn’t evolve from monkeys, and why.

(Why don’t memes like the one above use a picture of a monkey, not an ape?)

3. In our Unusual Creature Series we present to you the honey badger of Africa, South-west Asia and the Indian subcontinent. This individual tried to eat our Facebook page.



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 14th April.

In News for Speakers' Corner on April 15, 2019 at 11:46 am

“I am not young enough to know everything.”
Oscar Wilde.

1. Mr B had a chest infection that would have killed most men, but he turned up anyway. His grasshoppers were pleased he did because it meant they each had a chair to sit in.

Steve Maxwell talked about “politics and other tics”, while across the way, Ray sat down and had a leisurely talk with one of his grasshoppers about God.

Mr B did his thing and then late in the day, Helmut threw out all of the toys in his cot, complaining of how we should have the best orators speaking during the middle of the meeting, not at the end of the day when there is no crowd. (And yet, there usually is a crowd.)

But Helmut, I thought we DID have our best orators speaking in the middle of the day. Mark the Grinner did a fantastic job when he took over from the croaky Mr B, whose throat was sore. Peter the Younger also did a wonderful job keeping us informed and interested. Mirko took the ladder and made us all laugh with his repeated bellow of  “Shuddup you! I’m talking!” It was particularly funny because of the sheer hypocrisy involved.

Passer-by Marshall also did a great job when he stood on the Ladder of Knowledge. Here is a snippet, so you can see for yourself:

2. Early in the meeting Mr B explained why no one should vote in state and federal elections, and that if no one did, we could replace the current system with one that actually works. Mr B then tentatively put forth alternative systems, but failed to elicit inspiring feedback.

Mr B seems to think we grasshoppers have given up on the idea of doing things properly, and instead choose to pretend to ourselves that by voting, we can achieve something.

He tells me he should be calling us ostriches, not grasshoppers.

One of Mr B’s reluctant compromises is the following: when we collect our ballot paper to vote we should also be given a True/False “intelligence” test to complete. For example:
– Ten percent of $200 is $20. True or False?
– Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Halal are all terrorist organisations. True or False?
– Ayer’s Rock had its name changed to Hanging Rock. True or False?
– Old photographs reveal the world used to be in black and white. True or False?
– Polar bears eat penguins and seals. True or False?
Not difficult questions, are they? So, get one wrong and your vote won’t count. Mind you, Mr B thinks birds aren’t really dinosaurs, so what would he know? His vote shouldn’t count either.


3. Some questions about George Pell’s sentence were raised:
– Why will George Pell be eligible for parole after serving less than four years of his six year sentence, given that the purpose of parole will not apply to him?

– Why did the Chief Judge allow for George Pell’s “good character and otherwise blameless life” given that for decades Pell refused to do anything about the abusing clergy when complaints were made?

– Why did the Chief Judge give George Pell a short sentence because of his age, telling George, “so as to increase the prospect of you living out the last part of your life in the community”? Why is it important that George spends the last part of his life in the community?

“In my view it does not even approach low-end offending.” said the Chief Judge. So, Chief Judge, why did you give him a light sentence and unnecessary parole?

– Pell will be registered for life as a sexual offender. Given Pell’s familiar face and notoriety, why is that important? That’s like writing the word ‘hippo’ on a hippo.

4. Other matters discussed:
– Mr B brought the meeting to a close by thanking the early forefathers who had the presence of mind to create a park and plant Morton Bay fig trees, so that people in the far future would enjoy the park, and have shade from the sun and shelter from the rain. A passer-by told Mr B to also acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. He refused, saying that the indigenous people would, quite rightly, have opposed the ravaging of their stolen land to make a park, and for us to thank them for the park would be inappropriate and disrespectful. Mr B has told your scribe that if he survives his current malady, this coming Sunday he will discuss the matter of acknowledging the Gadigal people. Come along and express your view on the matter.

– Earlier, Mr B explained why the indigenous people didn’t build ships.

– We discussed Tim’s special meeting last week (about drug decriminalisation and pill testing) and a few grasshoppers were critical of the electronic amplification (normally outlawed at Speakers’ Corner), and of the selective mircophone use. More on that to come, this scribe suspects, because on May 12th Tim will be holding another meeting, this time with politicians.

– Mr B wants the government to create a ‘Listeners’ Bureau’. Would the man who killed 50 people (and injured many others) in Christchurch have done so if he had had his concerns respectfully and comprehensively addressed much earlier, by knowledgeable people willing to answer his questions and listen to his complaints without judgement? Did the man’s pain fester into violence because no one would listen to his fears except his like-minded and equally bitter cyber-associates? Could tragedies be prevented if there were a place to go to for a person wanting to freely discuss and express their concerns?

This is the virus currently ravaging poor Mr Bashful

5. In our Unusual Creature Series we feature the thorn bug, native to Florida, U.S.A. It has generously given our Facebook page five stars. (But we don’t know what to do with them. They’re not redeemable for cash.)






News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 31st March + Christians Like Us plug.

In Christians Like Us, News for Speakers' Corner on April 1, 2019 at 11:01 am

“Take the case of a blind person who recovers sight in his teens.  Several cases of this have been documented.  We might think that such a person would experience a wondrous awakening from a world of darkness into a world of light – the world we sighted people take for granted . . . In fact, what he experiences is chaos, a jumbled confusion of shapes and impressions which make no sense.  His brain has no preformed pictures of anything (a car, a beach, even his mother’s face) and thus cannot relate the images falling on the retina of his newly functional eye with any prior models drawn from experience.  Moreover, his brain cannot integrate the images into patterns…  Slowly, and painfully, he has to learn to construct a model of the world inside his head. It is our brains that create the reality we see.”
Darryl Reanney. Death of Forever.

1. Last year, SBS Television came to Speakers’ Corner and filmed eight Christians speak. It was for their television program, ‘Christians Like Us’. The first episode will be broadcast this coming Wednesday, April 3rd, 8.35pm. The second episode, a week later.

Most of you have been feverishly anticipating seeing your heroes Steve, Ray, Helmut, Mirko, Mr B and Mark the Grinner perform live on pre-recorded television. But be warned: your scribe suspects that the Speakers’ Corner segment is only a few minutes long, and will feature mainly the Christian participants.

If you really want to see Mr B on television you will have to find an episode of ‘The Magic Circle Club’ aired in June, 1966, in which he was brought onto the set by Funny Face Gordon to press the ‘play’ button on a machine. This was to bring to the viewer a brief documentary into the life of chimpanzees. Unfortunately, the young Mr B pressed the wrong button (probably ‘rewind’ or ‘fast forward’) and forced the presenter, Happy Hammond’, to quickly introduce an unexpected commercial break. While the advertisements aired, Funny Face Gordon was not so funny as he sent the young Mr B back to his seat in disgrace.

If you really want to see Mirko on television you will have to find a 1972 episode of the science program, ‘Why is it so?’. In it he assists Julius Sumner Miller dissect a frog. Mirko plays the part of the frog.

If you really want to see Uncle Pete on television, you can’t. But we have some home-movie footage of the young man crouched in a grassy knoll in Dallas, Texas, late November, 1963. He is clutching something in the grass, and arguing with his mother who is holding the camera.

Helmut was also in Dallas a few years later, with Debbie. You won’t find the footage on television but you might find it in an Adult Bookshop.

If you want to see Steve, Ray and Mark the Grinner on television you will have to wait. They have all applied to be on the next series of Big Brother. You will be able to see them shower together, laugh together, and participate in mindless games together. Witness  the alliances they form, and their prompt ejections from the show.

All that said, Mark the Grinner is his charming self in this trailer for the program.

2. Years ago, most people in society believed that women shouldn’t vote or work. That was a paradigm. A paradigm is a collective belief held by most members of a society, and it feels right and true, even if it’s absurd. If, over time, clear thinkers make an impact, then we can look back and see the absurdity of those beliefs.

Today we have beliefs equally absurd, but because those beliefs are paradigms, we can’t see their absurdity. Perhaps in years to come, people will look back at us and ask, “What were they thinking?!”

So says Mr B, who sometimes reveals the paradigms we hold dear and true. Today he revealed another. He criticised people who pay other people to clean their house for them. (To pay someone to vacuum, wipe bench tops, change bed sheets . . . . everything within the fences that isn’t done by a tradie.) “It does not mean we have to treat our own turds in the sewerage farms, and it doesn’t mean we have to take our own garbage to the landfill quarries!” he barked in response to some idiots. He said that to have someone clean what we can clean ourselves is an outrageous practice, and that people in the future might one day look back at us and wonder, “How could they have allowed that??! How could they have been such barbarians?!”

To add to his argument he reminded us of ‘The Groom of the Stool’ and how that practice was once acceptable, whereas today it wouldn’t be.

3. The subjects discussed today:
– Is it true that Australia’s Coat of Arms features the kangaroo and emu because neither can go backwards?

– Mr B explained why Eddie McQuire should not have been pilloried for mocking the disabled woman tossing the coin.

– When a man loses his virginity to a sex-worker he hasn’t really lost his virginity. So said Mr B, and he gave his reasons. The discussion was a touch controversial!

– When Christians try to raise money to create an orphanage, Mr B suggested that they could go on Eddie McQuire’s ‘Hot Seat’ program. “If God wants the orphanage then He can help them win the million dollars,” Mr B explained, “and if He doesn’t want the orphanage built, then He doesn’t have to assist, and the Christians won’t need to waste their time trying to set up the orphanage with their own fundraising efforts.”
“Why is this not a common Christian strategy?” Mr B wanted to know. He received plenty of answers.
Was Mr B being naive? Or trying to make a point?

– When asked to describe ‘nothing’ Helmut told us nothing has never existed. Or, more accurately, “nothing” has never existed. You figure it out.

– Steve Maxwell spoke about the upcoming Federal election. His sign pointed out that although he is a member of the Greens party, the views he presents are his own.

– Today’s Life Hack (Handy Hint in the old days) was: “Guys, shave!” We get our best ideas when we shower, explained Mr B, and if we shave in the shower we end up having longer showers. That means, more ideas!
Typically, he had that brilliant idea in the shower. While he was shaving! That means, the idea proved itself. How clever is that?!

– Why was George Pell given 16 months parole when the very reason for giving someone parole cannot apply to him? Did the judge give any thought to the matter? Did he act in habit? Was the judge day-dreaming?

– Mr B gave eight possible reasons why so many people today suffer from depression.

4. Instead of our Unusual Critter Series, in which we unashamedly plug our Facebook page, we present to you a new article for Steve Maxwell’s popular Passing Parade series.

Thank you, Steve!


Donald Grant was born in 1888 at Inverness, Scotland. He migrated to Australia in 1910, where he found work in a paper mill. Grant became worried by the fear of impending war and joined the Australian Freedom League in 1912. By the outbreak of war he found himself increasingly attracted to the IWW (Industrial Worker of the World), which was also a militant labor organisation.

Donald Grant emerged as an important anti-war speaker in the Sydney Domain. During the first World War he attracted large crowds with his personal magnetism. His activities lost him his job in the paper mill, and he was blacklisted in every state in Australia. Grant survived unemployment as best he could by helping the IWW.

In 1915, Tom Barker, editor of  “Direct Action”, an IWW newspaper, was jailed for producing a poster  which read, “To arms!  capitalists parsons, politicians, landlords, newspaper editors, and other stay at home patriots. Your country needs you in the trenches! workers follow your masters!”.

The following Sunday on the Domain, Donald Grant was recorded in short hand by police spies as saying:

“For every day Barker is in jail it will cost the capitalists ten thousand pound”.

These are fifteen of the most famous words spoken on the Domain. Donald grant received a sentence of one year in jail for each word uttered. He was arrested in October 1916 while visiting Broken Hill, along with eleven other members of the IWW. All were charged with treason.

The charges were later altered to “arson and sedition”. Grant was convicted on all counts and given his sentence of fifteen years. Other members of the IWW received sentences ranging from eleven to twenty years. The IWW was accused of burning down a wool storage building.

New South Wales trade unions engaged E.E.Judd to investigate the police case. His investigation proved a conspiracy between the government and the police.

The IWW, the Labor Party and the Australian Freedom League launched a widespread campaign to free the men. In 1920 a Royal Commission found that IWW and Grant had been wrongly convicted.

In later years, Grant joined the Labor Party. He was elected to the Sydney Municipal Council and later was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council. He was an adviser to External Affairs Minister H.V. Evatt in 1943, and was elected a federal senator for 16 years.

Steve Maxwell, 2019

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 24th March.

In News for Speakers' Corner on March 25, 2019 at 10:52 am

“It is because Nature is ruthless, hideous and cruel beyond belief that it was necessary to invent civilisation.”  John Wyndham.

1. Mirko was up and about, and fiery. Angrily he insisted we “speak logic”, and he jumped on anyone who did not comply with that demand, which was nearly everyone. Mirko does indeed run a tight ship. It’s just a shame that ship is lost at sea.

Rob Gonsalves

2. A woman called Jo helps runs storytellers NSW and this morning their group had a special session  in the Botanic Gardens to celebrate World Storytelling Day. Your inquisitive scribe  was there to listen and he enjoyed the event, even though the stories were for kiddies. The tellers have an appealing way of telling stories.

Jo accepted an invitation from Mr B to join us at Speakers’ Corner afterwards, and she kindly agreed to stand on the Ladder of Knowledge and tell us a story for adults. (No, not that type of adult story. Get your mind out of the gutter.) The story was about a man seeking good luck. Jo’s gestures, facial expressions and vocal variety made this scribe realise just how much a story can be enhanced with a little effort.

Thank you, Jo!

Unfortunately, Mr B learnt nothing from Jo. Straight after witnessing the good example Jo set, Mr B was bellowing at his grasshoppers in a less than savoury manner. Pretty soon it was a free-for-all. The talented, colourfully dressed, pleasant-natured Jo, who only an hour earlier had been entertaining young kiddies with delightful stories, now sat surrounded by insults and buffoonery. It was like having Bambi sit midst a pack of rabid hyenas.

In other words, we disgraced ourselves.

Jo, from Storytellers NSW.

3. “When the stone-age people were hunting dinosaurs . . .” So said Mr B before he was promptly interrupted by Uncle Pete, and others, telling him that humans never co-existed with the dinosaurs.

The thing is, a year ago Mr B stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and said birds had evolved from dinosaurs but were not actually dinosaurs. “After all,” he explained, “the word ‘dinosaur’ means ‘terrible lizard’, and the superb blue wren is neither terrible, nor is it a lizard. To call a blue wren a dinosaur is absurd.

That sound reasoning didn’t wash with his grasshoppers, who said he had no idea what he was talking about and that birds are indeed dinosaurs. During that week he checked, and found that the “experts” do say birds are dinosaurs. So, when Sunday came around the honorable Mr B did the right and noble thing and humbly admitted he was wrong. He couldn’t argue with the experts, he said.

Privately he thought, “Piffle. Birds are not dinosaurs.”

That was a year ago. Since then Mr B has “gone along” with that “revelation” and occasionally thrown in statements like, “When the stone-age people were hunting dinosaurs . . .” just so that he can be “corrected”. Today when his grasshoppers jumped in to tell him humans and dinosaurs did not coexist he pointed out that on the contrary, we have hunted dinosaurs. That’s why the dodo and the Moa became extinct. We eat millions of dinosaurs every day. They’re called ‘chickens’.

His grasshoppers get sucked in every time.

Today his grasshoppers again took umbrage and said it was a poor use of the word ‘dinosaur’. But given that ‘birds are dinosaurs’ they don’t have a hollow leg to stand on.

He will suck them in again.

A superb blue wren, with some kale in the background.

4. Does Mr B understand the process of natural selection? Or is the problem his propensity to apply it to behaviours? Should he apply the process to behaviours when there is no evidence (and can’t be any) to prove that is justified? Uncle Pete says ‘no’ and Mr B says ‘I do, I can and I will’.

5. What was life really like in ‘the good old days’? Mr B based his observations on the many examples given in Richard Glover’s book, ‘The Land of the Avocado’.

After a while the question became, “Are young people more resilient than the kids of yesteryear?’ Mr B said ‘yes’ while others said ‘no’. Mr B felt the need to distinguish between ‘stoicism’ and ‘resilience’ and he pointed out how many old people are walking around ‘wounded’. But was he right?


6. When people say they want to limit immigration are they unfairly being called racist? The Australian Bureau of Statistics found from the 2016 census that Australia has a higher proportion of overseas-born people (26%) than the United States (14%), Canada (22%), New Zealand (23%) and the UK (13%). In the major cities it’s nearly 50%. Further, 49% of our entire population has been born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas.
So, if someone asks for a limit on immigration, are they really being racist? Especially if their objection applies to all human beings equally? Should we be asking that? Should we be aiming to reduce our population for environmental reasons?
But then, Mr B’s figure of 26% is compared with only four of 200+ nations. Is he cherry-picking?
And, perhaps a better way to determine whether a person is racist is to ask them if they want to limit immigration from particular regions.
But then, Peter the Younger pointed out that it’s not race many people object to, it’s cultural practices and cultural values.
It’s a discussion that will receive more exploration in the coming weeks.

7. Other subjects discussed:
– Mr B’s life hack (helpful tip) for this week: don’t pee in the shower. The explanation as to why was unpleasant enough, but Mirko took that unpleasantness to a whole new level. We had to change the subject, pronto.

– Mr B read a poem he thought was funny, but at its conclusion all we heard were the crickets. Not one person even smiled. (The poem was about a ne’er-do-well going to heaven and stealing St Peter’s pearly gates.)

– Why didn’t the Aborigines domesticate pigs in the 60,000 years of their occupation, like the Papuans did? Possible reasons were given.

– Helmut gave his thoughts on private schools and public schools. At first he seemed scathing of the public school system but by the end of his entertaining talk he was saying we should abolish the private school system. Go figure.

– Mr B and his grasshoppers attempted to answer a passer-by’s question, “Do deaf people talk to themselves?”

8. In our Unusual Creature Series we present to you the maned wolf of South America. It sniffed our Facebook Page.





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