10. An auction to raise funds.

‘No plough stops for the dying man.’
Proverb.

1. While Mr B was setting up chairs around the place and chatting to your scribe, Uncle Pete took the initiative and the Ladder of Knoweldge, and started speaking.

(Did you notice the zeugma? Here’s another: ‘The man took his hat and his leave.’)

Uncle Pete quickly drew a crowd, but I don’t know what he was talking about because I was chatting with Mr B. It must have been good though, because when he finished he received a round of applause. Good work, Uncle Pete!

2. Some time ago Mr B asked his grasshoppers for some moola. He wants a custom-made stepladder that’s three to four metres wide. He wants to strut back and forth like Benito Mussolini. However, he received nothing from his grasshoppers. Not one cent. They are indeed right royal tightwads.

Well, today he came with a fund-raising item for auction. Unfortunately, the winning bid, $1,000, was not honoured. The buyer backed out. Poor Mr B.

2. We heard the third part of Mr B’s trilogy about how the mind affects the body. (The first parts in previous weeks were ‘Placebos’ and ‘Nocebos’. This part was ‘Dissociative Identity Disorders’, otherwise known as ‘Multiple Personalities’.
Apparently, a person’s alters can differ in:
– age
– gender
– their handwriting
– artistic talent
– height (no, that’s a fib)

‘What has this to do with the mind affecting the body?’ No one bothered to ask Mr B that question, but he told them anyway. Apparently, some personalities:
– can be allergic to things, but other personalities aren’t allergic to those things!
– they can have different food tastes. Some might like coffee, for example, and others, not.
– different responses to drugs. For example, tranquilizers would affect one personality, but have no effect on another.
– One personality could be colour blind, another, not.
– One personality can have good eyesight, while another can have poor eyesight. (And, one ‘young’ personality had a ‘lazy eye’ but the older personality didn’t.)
– One patient had a blood pressure of 150/110 when one personality was in control, and a pressure of only 90/60 when another personality was in control.
– Some can run faster than other personalities, and open jars when other personalities can’t. It’s not that their muscles grow larger, like they do with the Incredible Hulk; they have better control over the muscles they do have.

It’s fair to say that Mr B was not believed. That’s putting it mildly. Midst the mocking he asked, “What’s the point of me giving you material you would believe? That material would be boring.”

Here is a famous case of multiple personalities having different physical characteristics.

3. For reasons unimportant, Mark the Grinner spent more time on the Ladder of Knowledge than did Mr B. Laden with irony, Mark wore a genuine American T-shirt that said, “Make America Great Again”, and he told us how Australians should start thinking for themselves, instead of blindly  following the Americans.

Throughout the discussion comaprisons were made between the U.S.A., China, Russia, the Scandinavian countries, Australia and New Zealand.

Mark didn’t care much for labels. He said it’s not the system that’s important (democracy, socialism, communism, dictatorships and monarchies), it’s how the system is implemented. If those in power are bad people, then the country is stuffed; if they’re good people the country will do well, regardless of the system or the politics.

This stirred up a hornet’s nest, and at one point Mark accused the delicate Mr B of being a boring old woman. Mr B took the insult like the trooper he is, but a woman at the back was angry with Mark the Grinner for suggesting that being a woman is a bad thing. Mark the Grinner pointed out that he insults everyone, and had he not insulted women he would have been discriminatory.

Oh dear.

The hornets got even angrier, and from then on, no holds were barred.

Speakers’ Corner: it’s martial arts for minds.

4. Other topics discussed:
– Next week: The Ides of March. Look out! Mr B expects bad things to happen next Sunday, but he hasn’t planned anything, he tells me. He’s just hoping.

– The distribution of bushfire-relief money in East Gippsland is disappointing, said Mr B. There are rorts, he explained, and gave examples. Sigh.

– Mark the Grinner explained Thomas Malthus’s ideas about the relationship between population and food production. Your dear scribe doesn’t know why, because in the 200+ years since Malthus wrote his ideas, he hasn’t been right on that part.

– Mark the Grinner claimed that the U.S.A. thrives on war to booster its economy. More on that next week, folks, because Mr B doesn’t agree!
(An American soldier’s uniform costs $30,000, we learned.)

– According to an article in the ‘Australian Skeptic Magazine’, someone under hypnosis for a past-life session had spoken Russian. They had not learned Russian and had never been to Russia. The person, and the hypnotist, had then concluded that in a past life, the person had been Russian.
The American Skeptics examined the case and discovered that when the person was an infant growing into a child, they had lived in a block of public housing flats. The walls were paper-thin. Next door lived . . . you guessed it . . . a Russian family.

5. This week’s unusual creature in our Unusual Creature Series is the Camel Spider. Camel spiders are not reallly spiders, and they’re not really camels. They are an arachnid though. This one thinks our Facebook page is the best thing since the invention of the wheel, though why camel spiders are impressed with wheels is unclear.

6. Steve Maxwell is the world authority in soapbox speaking and we are lucky to have him here in Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner. He has written another article for his Passing Parade.

The Faire Tree

Perhaps the most famous tree in Australia is the “Faire tree” in the Fitzroy Gardens, East-Melbourne. It is a favourite attraction for children and the young at heart. The tree has a series of carvings of fairies, dwarfs, gnomes, koalas, flying foxes and a host of typical Australian animals and birds. The tree was once a mighty Red Gum, well over 300 years old, and one of the original trees in the Fitzroy Gardens. Now it’s a stump.

Author and sculptor Ola Cohn (MBE) (1892-1964) worked in bronze, stone and wood. Between 1931- (Victoria’s Centenary Year) and 1934, Ola carried out work on the tree stump. The work was donated to the children of Melbourne. In the centre of the work is a blue butterfly. It is a talisman of wishes. Make a wish on the blue butterfly with secret hope. Tell your wish and it does not come true.

Cohn had a serious intention: a message of conservation saying, “I have carved in a tree in the Fitzroy Gardens for you and for the fairies, but mostly for the fairies and those who believe in them, for they will understand how necessary it is to have a fairy sanctuary – a place that is sacred and safe as a home should be to all living creatures.”
In 1977 the trunk was extracted from the ground for chemical treatment and the removal of rotted wood. During the process a mummified brush-tail possum over 40 years old was found perfectly preserved within the trunk. The tree was remounted on a concrete base to prolong the life of its remnants.

Ola Cohn was inspired by Ivor Innes’ fairy tree, the Elfin Oak, in Kensington Gardens, London. The Elfin Oak stump was in a poor state. The late comedian, Spike Milligan. is largely responsible for preserving it.

A good summery of “Faire lore” can be found on https://rbkclocalstudies.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/the-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ola_Cohn    elfin-oak-of-Kensington-gardens/

https://www.annenewman.com.au/beyond-elves-and-fairies/

DID YOU KNOW?

Bendigonians associate the Cohn Family with cordial and preserves as a family business that was established in Bendigo during the Goldrush by the three Danish Cohn brothers. And those of us who like a beer will know that it was the Cohns who introduced lager (served very cold) to the Australian public in 1882. (vic.gov.au) That’s another good reason to pay homage to the “Faire tree”!

Steve Maxwell.

 

9. Mayhem as usual.

“Intuition: an uncanny second sense that tells people they are right whether they are or not.”
Unknown.

1. Steve Maxwell began his meeting by not turning up. The poor fellow has had an eye operation. Get well soon, Steve.

This guy has eye problems too.

2. Well! Mr B’s meeting began quietly enough, and then it was mayhem! He talked about domestic violence and went around the world to do it. End result: he wants each Education Department to incorporate into the curriculum classes designed to build a child’s emotional intelligence, so that little boys and girls don’t grow up to be violent, and little boys and girls grow up to recognise the red flags of a controlling would-be partner, before they get too involved.

Naturally, he was accused of blaming the victim.

3. On previous occasions it was claimed by teachers in the audience that history is taught differently to how Mr B experienced it when he was at school. So, today Mr B brought along four HSC history books, and demanded to be shown where an author explains how we as individuals benefit from knowing the material. What are the lessons learned?

Despite there being two teachers in the audience, no one took up the challenge. But young Tommy insisted vehemently that his history teacher related history to everyday life, and used his English classes as proof! When asked for just one valuable life lesson he had learned after studying history, he said he couldn’t remember one. He had stopped studying history in Year 10. He had found history so beneficial he had stopped studying it.

It’s time for a curriculum change, said Mr B. After all, education departments have changed curricula in the past when it was necessary, so why not do it again? Or are the daily thousands of incidents of sexual assault and domestic violence not worth the trouble? Should we be content to simply express our outrage, and ‘witch-hunt’ police spokespersons who don’t express themselves perfectly?


4. Tony dropped by
 from his Aged Care Centre and made a pest of himself again. He showed your scribe a copy of a letter he found. It’s worth reading, so click on it to make it larger.

5. Other topics discussed:
– The Kung Flu, also known as Corvid 19, or the Coronavirus. Mr B explained why he thinks its long incubation is a problem, while Uncle Pete says the virus will only kill off the elderly, the immune-suppressed, and the very young, so it’s not really a problem.
(The young are safe, apparently.)
Another new speaker across the way, Peter, explained why he thinks it’s going to be a huge problem. Stock up now.

– Why do we need so little sunlight on our skin to remain healthy, given that we need large quantities of the other ubiquitous elements, air and water? Mr B finally had an answer.

– Do elephants have fur? No, said Mr B. Yes, said Uncle Pete.

– Law reform.

– We evolved to have a low self-worth.

– Just how connected are we?

6. This week’s unusual creature in the Unusual Creature Series is the frilled shark. This one says our Facebook page is the best she has seen in days.

8. Nocebos.

“A mind once cultivated will not lie fallow for half an hour.”
Baron Lytton

Can you see the difference between a cultivated mind and a heckler’s mind?

1. Steve Maxwell turned up late. If there was a penalty for such crimes at Speakers’ Corner it would have been applied. But when he did arrive he spoke about the Meaning of Life. Or, the lack of it. Maybe the lack of it was the reason he turned up late.


2. Mr B began his meeting with a personal anecdote about how he was accidentally one of two ‘heavies’ in a Japanese nightclub, and only realised it three years later. There is something wrong with that Mr B. Your scribe still can’t figure him out.

Then, with the help of a brave passer-by acting a scene from the movie, ‘Flying High’ or ‘Airplane’ (thank you, passer-by), Mr B gave us Part Two of his three-part talk on how the mind can influence affect the body: nocebos. A nocebo is when you expect something bad to happen to your body, and it does, simply because you expected it. It’s the opposite of a placebo. He gave four examples. One was about an Aborigine who ‘pointed the bone’ at the Collingwood Football Club. He didn’t get his facts right though, which is a first!  This is closer to the truth.

3. Seven billion people; seven billion worlds. Mr B explained why each one of us is unique, and the centre of our world, which we create. We are only the bit players in other people’s worlds, and our big mistake is to assume we play a big part in other people’s worlds. Therefore, he said, we have to ditch the mask and stop trying to please and impress others, and instead, live our life on our terms. We are the boss of our world, and we should act like it.

This postcard is from the postsecret website.


4. Other topics discussed:
– We evolved to have a fragile self-worth, explained Mr B. It took him ages to explain why because of the countless interruptions. Tommy, Tony and Helmut were carrying on like excited monkeys.

– John August spoke about economics, privatisations and corporations.

– Andrew, from the Pirate Party, spoke about carbohydrates and Metabolic Syndrome, plus Type 2 diabetes.

– What views do the young have about casual sex? No one answered. For the second week in a row his audience sat there like mullets hit with a stun-gun.

– What do young people think of Valentine’s Day? (Hint: they don’t seem to like it.)

– At 5.15pm Helmut finally took the reigns and the first thing he did was to complain about Mr B repeating himself (despite Mr B having presented heaps of new material). Helmut then went on to criticise Isaac Newton, calling him a charlatan.

– Mr B informed us that Helmut, for all his good work in the field of science, has had an ulcer named after him.

– Tony was an utter pest today, like a radio left on. But Mr B tells me that as he drove Tony back to his home, Tony explained to him how he had made Mr B’s day by being such a good heckler. “It was a good day because I was there,” Tony said modestly. “I gave the meeting zip.” Mr B tells me he smiled thinly and mumbled, ‘Thank you, Tony.’

– Tommy talked about poker machine addiction and about the evil ones: the makers of the machines, the pubs who incentivise their staff to keep the customers on the machines, and Woolworths, for owning so many.
His audience, to Tommy’s frustration, made comparisons with the video game, ‘Fortnite’.

5. This week’s unusual beast from the Unusual Beast Series is the Malabar Giant Squirrel, from India. These two individulas below reported our Facebook Page because they’re vindictive.

 

7. The indigenous discussed.

“It was once held that music soothed the savage beast; today they’re the ones making it.”
Comment made in the 1970s. How things have changed.

1. Mr B began the meeting by criticising those who laughed when Jim Molan (on the Q&A program) said he was not relying on evidence when trying to decide on whether or not climate change is anthropogenic. Mr B called the laughers smug hypocrites, because had they been asked to provide evidence for their point of view they would have fallen short as well. It’s the scientists who rely on evidence to support their claims, said Mr B, not us, because we wouldn’t know how to interpret that evidence. It’s our job to listen to the experts. The smug audience didn’t see their hypocrisy, so they laughed.

Your scribe agrees with Mr B. We all knew what Jim meant, and to ignore his intentions is mean-spirited and counter-productive. Mocking someone will only further cement their point of view, especially when the mockery isn’t deserved.

A better question would have been, ‘Which scientists have you been listening to and what are their qualifications?’ To ask Jim for the evidence is ‘gotcha’ journalism, and for the smug, self-righteous crowd to laugh is complacent naivety at best.

I am not on Jim’s side, but I don’t like bullying in any form, towards any person.

Uncle Pete objected to Mr B’s claim, saying that Jim Molan is not open-minded, and believes there is no problem. He added that JIm was being careful that night to not reveal his true point-of-view. Uncle Pete may well be right, but Mr B based his remarks on what was seen on the program.

 

2. A comment prompted a discussion about the indigenous people of Australia. Discussed:
– why many indigenous people don’t want jobs. (And, is it true that they don’t?)
– How would we anglo-Australians feel had the Japanese successfully invaded Australia? What if they had they committed atrocities and been racist ever since? Would we be keen to ‘move on’ and integrate into Japanese society?
– Do some indigenous people still live off the land? To what extent?
– What contact, if any, do they have with non-indigenous people?
– Do those living in Aboriginal-only settlements have the opportunity to enter non-indigenous society?
– If not, what is holding them back? If so, how easy is it for them?
– Why didn’t they develop technology like the Europeans did? (Mr B gave three of his seven reasons.)
– Would they have wanted European technology? Or was the technology they had enough for them?
– What technology did the indigenous people have? At this point Mr B began to flounder.
– Were the indigenous people eco-managers of the land? (Big disagreement on that one.)
– Were they mainly responsible for killing of the mega-fauna thousands of years ago? (Big disagreement on that one, too.)

We were going to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of indigenous culture and of non-indigenous culture, but we didn’t. Next week, perhaps? What do you say, Mr B?

 

 

3. Helmut spoke about how U.S.A. boffins looked into developing a bomb that makes use of matter and anti-matter. Most interesting, Helmut! He explained how one anti-matter bomb could blow up an area 180kms (or 112 miles) in diameter. But to make such a bomb was too difficult, too time consuming, and too expensive. Thank goodness.

4. Valentine’s Day had recently passed and that ‘special day’ prompted Mr B to deliver to the young ones in the audience sage dating advice.

Was it a case of ‘an old geezer giving lame advice‘, or ‘an elder sharing his wisdom and experience’? The objections he received from both old and young suggested the former.

 

5. Mr B also said that if you are going to marry someone, make sure the person is your best friend. That is simple, basic advice, but as you’d expect, his grasshoppers had to take issue with that. They are an ornery lot, his grasshoppers.

 

6. Steve Maxwell spoke about the book, ‘Fire Power’. It’s about a pill that supposedly cut fuel consumption and reduced emissions. The fraud fooled everyone apparently, including government agencies that should have known better.

 

7. Two questions.
You’re a guy about to fly in a plane and you sit next to a married woman you don’t know. She looks about 35 years of age. You get talking and you have a long conversation, about your jobs, your spouses, your plans. You’re getting on well.
Q. 1. At a point in the conversation, is it okay to ask her, “Do you have children?”
Disappointingly, each person in Mr B’s audience acted like a mullet hit with a stun-gun. Were they afraid it was a trick question? Finally, two brave souls answered. Then general consensus seemed to suggest that it was probably a harmless question to ask.

So far, so good.

Q2. Is it okay to ask her, “Are you pregnant?”
Well, didn’t that get a different reaction! A definite ‘no!’ Yet, it’s virtually the same question! Mr B pointed out that both questions are benign, but because one question might result in a ‘no’ and prod a woman’s body image, it’s a question that should never be asked. Apparently, the problem rests with the asker, not with the woman’s self-acceptance!

Mr B said he knows better to not ask the question of any woman. He wants to live.


8. Other topics discussed:

– John August spoke about the relationship between population growth and economic growth.

– Ray continued to offer salvation to the poor souls trying to eat in the kiosk.

– Mr B explained why a man losing his virginity to a sex-worker hasn’t really lost his virginity.

– Mr B finally explained why we SHOULD teach history in schools. But the ban at Speakers’ Corner remains. (Not that anyone heeds the ban.)

– Mr B tried a new approach to his ‘two societies’ idea, and wanted feedback, but the reception was cold. So, he ditched the topic.

 

9.  This week’s critter in our Unusual Critter Series is Wallace’s bee, the largest bee in the world. One stung our Facebook page.

5. It was a gas day, man!

“What we share may be a lot like a traffic accident, but we do one another.  We are survivors of each other.  We have been shark to one another, but also lifeboat.  That counts for something.”
(A divorced woman explaining why she sneaked off to have lunch with her ex, in 
Margaret Atwood’s book, ‘Cat’s eye’)

1. In a bid to be hip, the speakers today chose to speak at the edges of today’s Laneway Festival in the Domain. However, rather than gather around the old geezers, the young people preferred to stand away from them and listen to the hip-hop and rap (see, your scribe is hip, man! Plenty of street cred.). Anyway, it was awkward for the speakers because the wicked big-daddy beat-box used by the organisers to spread their ear-juice made it difficult for the speakers to spread their lolly. (It was difficult to hear, square!)

Unfortunately, there had been a double booking for the Domain. It seems the Man had also booked the Domain for their annual picnic. There were hundreds of them and many had brought their dogs along. It’s pleasing for me to say the two groups were mature about the double-booking and managed to share the park together amicably.

The day ended up a real gas, man!


2. One of Steve Maxwell’s topics was the ‘Day of Mourning’ (aka Australia Day).  It included a tribute to the Australian Aboriginal speakers who have spoken on the domain.

For example, we had William Cooper (1861-1941) who was the first Aborigine to lead a national movement recognised by the Australian Government. Pearl Gibbs (1901-1983) was a prominent Aboriginal activist from La Perouse Sydney. William Ferguson (1882-1950) and John Thomas “Jack” Patten (1905 – 1957) were civil rights activists. They all spoke from the Aborigines Progressive Association platform at Speaker’s Corner. Their platform went from the 1930’s until the mid-1970’s.

The late Donny Dodd was an Aborigine born on Palm Island, Queensland. He was a regular soapbox speaker on the Domain from 1980 to 2000. Donny would talk about ‘aboriginality’.

3. Mr B lipped at length about why we SHOULD teach school students history, which is an about-face from three weeks ago. However, his diatribe seemed to suggest otherwise. He was scathing about history, and kept calling history ‘mental sugar. He claimed we consume far too much of it. This coming Sunday he promises to finish his talk and give us genuine reasons as to why we should teach our kids history. Most confusing.

4. Tony again managed to leave his maximum security abode. When Mr B said fundamentalist religious ‘characters’ preach the gospel earnestly because they are trying to establish status (“I’m holier and more pious  than thou; you’re just a vile wretch”), Tony put up his hand to ask a question. Naturally, true to form, his question was not about the topic. It was about genocides. Mr B tried to fob him off but Tony was undaunted. He held onto his question like a crocodile holds on to its dinner. Tony finally got his way.

Later, when Mr B was about to give dating advice to the smooth operators in his audience, Tony interjected fiercely. “Anyone who wants to date must be psychotic!” he cried, not realising that if he was correct, his parents must have been pyschotic. Which explains a lot, I guess. Perhaps there is some merit in his words.

Anyway, when he was asked, “Tony, what about our need for friendship, companionship, intimacy and sex, Tony?” he responded firmly and with an evil smile, “There’s nothing better than Do-it-Yourself!”

Mr B has chosen to deliver his dating advice this coming Sunday instead. Hopefully, Tony will catch the wrong bus and find himself in Wollongong.

The good thing is, Tony has managed to resume his life despite being incarcerated. He is using the remainder of his time wisely. He is not going gently into the night. He is raging against the dying of the light. (Hip-hop poet Bob Dylan-Thomas)

5. At around 4.30pm, cool dude Mark the Grinner took the Ladder of Knowledge. He lipped about our carbon footprint. He said people who complain about the drivers of SUVs should look in their own backyard to find their their own carbon footprint. And, vegans claiming the high-ground should do the same. Dog lovers, too! His evidence? An article in ‘Scientific American’ and some other article your scribe has forgotten.

The articles made comparisons.  For example: the carbon footprint of a blue SUV Land Cruiser is equal to that of owning twenty pet hamsters for a year. (That’s helpful.) And, it’s equal to owning two dogs for a year! In the two photos below there is a bar graph that he compiled.

What’s the biggest carbon footprint we can make? To have a child. By far! Dig this jumping bar graph!


6. A passer-by insisted
that our education system is outdated. “If businesses flourish by using the internet,” he said, “why don’t we let the students stay home and learn with the internet?”

He received many answers, but he remained unconvinced.

“What do you learn at school, Hans Thomas?” Dad asked.
“To sit still,” I replied.  “It’s so difficult that we spend years learning to do it.”
Jostein Gaarder, from ‘The Solitaire Mystery’.


7. Arsonists like to derail
humanity by lighting fires in bushland. Do SOME climate deniers have the same mentality? Do they try to derail humanity by spreading doubt about the causes of climate change? What if it were the other way around? What if humanity believed there was NO anthropogenic climate change problem? Would the same deniers of today be jumping up and down insisting there IS a problem?
There was plenty of dissent.

Stolen from the ABC website. Facts not verified.


8. Other topics discussed:
– Ray lipped about the big, big daddy.

– Steve Maxwell lipped about the Coronavirus that’s laying out people big time.

– The cool slapper of paint, Steve Maxwell, lipped about another paint slapper, Vincent Van Gogh. Steve is all ears when it comes to art history.

 

9. This week’s unusual creature from the Unusual Creature Series is three creatures. They are the three panda bears, all native to China. We have here the Giant Panda, the Red Panda and the Grey Panda. All are endangered and all have subscribed to our Facebook page.

Keep it real, cool cats. Check you later.

Giant panda

 

Red panda

 

Grey panda

 

 

4. A short post.

When Andrew Denton asked author Lee Stringer Are you comfortable with success?  With what appears to be success?” Lee replied:  I’m comfortable with the real part of success, which is gaining by inches an inner serenity.  That’s success.  All the human soul really wants to do is gain a bit each day – it doesn’t want to lose a bit each day.  We want to grow.  We want Tuesday to be a little better than Monday, as it should be.  …. So that’s the success I enjoy.  The rest is just noise.”

1. It’s a short post this week, folks, for reasons undeclared.

Mark the Grinner brought his own ladder and spoke. It’s about time. Ray, Steve Maxwell, Andrew Toth and Mr B were the other speakers.

There was some argy-bargy between Mr B, who advocated law reform, and a lawyer, who didn’t. And there was some other stuff.

Topics to be discussed next week!
– The changes in the periodic table.
– Nocebos
– One city, two societies
– Why history SHOULD be taught in schools (but for reasons not what you think).
– Dating advice from Speakers’ Corner’s Casanova, Mr B.

2. This week’s unusual creature from the Unusual Creature Series is the lamprey. It’s an ancient, jawless fish that attaches itself to a host and sucks its blood.
In a lamprey’s past life it was a heckler.

These two lampreys like to attach themselves to the computer’s monitor when our Facebook page is up.

 

3. Ray drops by.

“Be generous. We tolerate toddlers screaming at us and we forgive them. We realise they’re over tired or something. But we don’t give our partners the same forgiveness. If they forget to buy the bread we take it as a sleight.
How about we give our partners the same generosity we give children and the feable-minded?
  It’s normal for our partners to retain childish immaturities. Adulthood isn’t a complete state. Of course, it’s much much harder to remain grown-up around another adult whose inner child is on display than it is being with an actual child. That’s because we can see that a child is a child. We adults have a far harder time than necessary because we are in the unfortunate position of looking like adults and therefore are always forgetting that we are not, despite the visual evidence, entirely grown-up within.”
Alain de Botton

1. We had not long begun when Speaker Ray dropped by. He asked us what he considers to be “the most important question”. i.e. ‘Is there a god?’ Of course, Ray was referring to the Christian god. No other god was mentionable, despite Mr B’s attempts to bring Zeus into the picture. Ray said there had to be a god because something had to create the universe.

 

2. From there we talked about myths common to different cultures. Do those myths arise from insecurities and desires universal to us all? (Uncle Pete’s near and dear neighbour, Joseph Campbell, got a mention with his book, ‘The Power of Myth’.) Or, do those common myths arise because they’re based on real events?

Noah’s Ark was mentioned as well. To where did all that water drain?

3. From there we discussed why religions exist. This postcard is from the Postsecret website.


4. In the interest of fairness, here is a believer’s rejoinder.


5. Other topics discussed:

– Steve Maxwell spoke about bushfires, and about REAL forests, the ones that have never been logged, the ones with ancient trees that can die of natural causes and rot. There aren’t many such forests about nowadays, he explained.

– We heard yet again the story of Charlotte and the Creatures of the Dark Forest.

– Andrew Toth explained why the world is doomed. He said even reducing the population by half won’t make a difference. It’s too late, he insisted. What a cheery soul is Andrew. Later, Uncle Pete got stuck into Andrew and it wasn’t pretty.

– Tommy spoke, again by public demand. He said that everything we do we do because it benefits us, even if what we are doing is a charitable act. We are getting something from it, he explained. Peter the Younger objected, giving us all an example to the contrary.

– Mirko held in his right hand two magnetic haematite balls and informed us of their infallible healing properties.

– Mirko also presented to us his Slavic phonetic alphabet. He doesn’t seem to realise that software companies have already taken his idea and ran with it. There are apps allowing people to communicate in foreign languages. Relax, Mirko, your work is done. Good job!

– What goes to heaven? A person’s personality or their soul? They’re not the same thing, because one can be destroyed and the other can’t, apparently. Are Christians merely an incubator for a soul, and destined to suffer the same fate as we atheists: oblivion?

– Mr B went into deeper detail as to why he speaks at Speakers’ Corner. A bit maudlin, really.

– We heard again the story of Ulysses and the Sirens, and the homily at the end that says we should feed our soul the good stuff and avoid the bad.

– Helmut criticised the 18th century scientists for getting so much wrong. He’s a harsh man, that Helmut.

– We again heard the story of the dandelions, and why Helmut is a dandelion.

– Will we ever have Bladerunner-type androids that can feel emotions? “No”, insisted Mr B. “Yes,” said Ben and Uncle Pete, pointing out that in future, computer “chips” will be made of DNA, proteins and other biological matter.

– Are our emotions learned? Yes, said one audience member. That prompted some discussion!

– Are young people more enlightened and aware than young people were fifty years ago? “Yes”, suggested Mr B. “No”, said Peter the Younger.

– Helmut and Mr B bickered repeatedly throughout the day because Mr B would not relinquish the Ladder of Knowledge to Helmut. It got tedious, folks.

– What is Truth? Does each of us have our own Truth? Or is there just one Truth? Or no Truth at all? Can we be certain of anything? At this point Rene Descartes got a mention.

6. This week our unusual beast in the Unusual Beast Series is the Lancet fish. It wants to be a co-editor of our Facebook page. It won’t happen.

2. Our ABC is a bully!

“If the mind was simple enough that we could understand it, we’d be too simple to understand the mind.”
Unknown.

1. Speakers’ Corner is more popular than this scribe suspected, because nearly all the regulars turned up today depite the heavy drizzle threatening to wash out the meeting.

But the rain kept pests away!

Uncle Pete was the first to ascend the Ladder of Knowledge and we were treated to anecdotes of his school teaching days. Most entertaining. He had us wanting to know what became of the students.


2. When Mr B took the Ladder of Knowledge he began with a criticism of the ABC. He said the ABC often has segments criticising bullying, but is quite happy to bully journalist Eddie McGuire for weeks on end, in a promo that has someone calling him a ‘snake’, ‘boring’ and ‘greedy’. Mr B concluded that with that hypocrasy, the ABC’s funding should be cut in half from 1.4 billion dollars a year to a mere 700 million dollars a year.

Isn’t that a touch drastic, Mr B?

A young ABC bullying a young Eddie McQuire.

3. Mr B spent twenty minutes explaining why for sixty thousand years, the Australian Aborigines would have experienced far more severe bushfires than the ones we are experiencing today. He said that for millions of years much larger conflagrations would have been common, and the country’s flora and fauna evolved in response.

Further, Greg (a regular) pointed out that there have been 18 major governmental enquiries into bushfires since 1939, with most of the recommendations being ignored. We were all appalled to hear that Prime Minister ‘Slo-Mo’ (Scott Morrison) this morning announced yet another major enquiry. Is he aiming to resurrect his flagging reputation?

Birds start fires to flush out insects.

4. We had Andrew Toth speaking about the electromagnetic field around each of us, and how those fields interact with the fields of other people. There were plenty of cries of “bullshit” from the audience.

Could this have been Andrew’s way to make up for Mirko’s absence?

5. Mark the Grinner began his talk on the Ladder of Knowledge by responding to Mr B’s criticism of history last week. (Mr B calls history ‘mental sugar’.) Then Mark criticised Australia by criticising America. Why insult one country when you can insult two?

 


6. Other topics discussed:
– the effectiveness of hazard reduction.

– Are either the greenies, or the Greens policitical party, partly responsible for the bushfires? Do they hinder hazard reduction burnoffs? Mr B said no; nor do they try to in nearly all applications. As you would expect, there was disagreement.
(On the Green Party’s website: “The Australian Greens support hazard reduction burns and backburning to reduce the impact of bushfires when guided by the best scientific, ecological and emergency service expertise.”)

– Aboriginal fire management. How did they do it, and for what reasons?

– Helmut spoke about the corruption and match fixing in large tennis tournaments.

– What Ray and Steve Maxwell spoke about, your scribe doesn’t know. How about you turning up one day and listening to them, and letting me know? I only have two ears.

– Scott Morrison has not been the most popular politician at Speakers’ Corner lately.


7. This week’s unusual critter in our Unusual Critter Series is the flightless and nocturnal Kakapo parrot, endemic to New Zealand. It has been confused by our change of website address and now prefers our Facebook page.

 

 

1. Leila speaks!

“Poetry makes you remember what you didn’t know you knew.”
Robert Frost, poet.

1. It was a tough day, but an enjoyable one. The “dandelions” were out in force and the wind was gusting at times. All of that made it hard for the speakers. But they managed.

Passer-by Leila took the opportunity to speak on the Ladder of Knowledge. She had to put up with beligerant, overbearing hecklers, and with Mr B, who after half an hour had the temerity to ask for his Ladder back. (It was an affront to democracy to ask for it back.)

Leila explained why Scott Morrison is responsible for the current bushfires, and she said we all need to work together to save the planet from climate change.

Here is a smidgeon of what Leila had to put up with:

2. Under trying conditions (and with a poor use of notes) Mr B told the story of the blue rose.

From there he discussed the nature of romantic love, claiming we don’t become infatuated with someone of the opposite sex because we’re attracted to them; rather, our sexuality is determined by who we become infatuated with. He said we are programmed to become infatuated, and although we mostly become infatuated with someone of the opposite sex, it’s not always the case. He said that explains homosexuality, why some people fall in love with buildings, and why nuns can genuinely fall in love with Jesus Christ.

For example, this woman married the Eiffel Tower.

3. Philip also spoke on the Ladder of Knowledge. Although he had nothing prepared, and little to say, he still managed to be interesting. He explained why we can benefit by becoming nose breathers. For the past two months, Phillip has been taping over his mouth while he sleeps, to force himself to breathe through his nose.

If only we could convince the hecklers to adopt that habit at Speakers’ Corner!


4. Mr B read the poem, ‘To My Husband On His Retirement’, by Cheryl Caesar. It was about a woman’s concern for her husband’s fear of retirement. For copyright reasons we can’t include the poem, but here is a photo of a couple who may have left their retirement just a little late.


5. Other topics discussed:
– John August from the Pirate Party (and Radio Skid Row) talked about how 30 years ago people could buy a house and raise a family on one income, and now we can’t. He explained the reasons why.

– Andrew, also from the Pirate Party, spoke about nutrition, and the relationship between carbohydrates and polyunsaturates, and how our diet is leading to an epidemic of diabetes.

– It was claimed that the Australian cricket team purposely do not ask the opposing team to follow-on because the higher-ups have “suggested” to the captain to not to impose it. Why? The television broadcasters have paid for the broadcasting rights and want to sell the advertising dollar. Result: the viewer watches needless cricket. (Mind you, it could be argued that all cricket is needless.)
Is not this corruption of the game far worse than ball tampering? Is it not worthy of a journalist’s inspection?

– We heard Part One of Mr B’s three part ‘Mind-Body Relationship Series’. This week it was about placebos. Next week it’s about nocebos.

– Ray, our fundamentalist Christian speaker, suggested that our current bushfires are God’s punishment for allowing abortion and gay marriage. Oh dear.

 

 

6. In our Unusual Beast Series, this week’s unusual beast is the Armadillo. This one appears to be as shy as Mr Bashful, and it refuses to look at our Facebook page.