The Archives for Speakers’ Corner, Sydney.

This site is the archive for the videos and posts created for the Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner website: speakerscorner.org.au

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36. An invitation to Prince Harry and Duchess Markle.

“A drunken man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts.”
Unknown.

1. It’s that time of the year when the sun is warm enough for us to be wearing a T-shirt, but the breeze is cold enough for us to be wearing a jumper.

For the first ten minutes, Helmut and Mr B argued about the workings of Speakers’ Corner. Then, once all speakers were in place, the day unofficially began. Mr B prattled on about how his life was changed by a nine-year old girl, who at school chose to remain seated for the singing of Australia’s National Anthem.

He said that whether or not the schoolgirl’s reasons for abstaining were justified, each and every one of us should be able to remain seated for the National Anthem without having to give a reason why. After all, it’s a “victimless crime” hurting no one, and our democratic values should allow it. He added that standing for the anthem is institutionalised peer pressure, and that every one of us has the moral obligation to resist that peer pressure. “If we ask our young people to resist peer pressure to take drugs”, he said, “then we should encourage them to resist peer pressure in other aspects of their life, to get practise. Remaining seated for the anthem is a good opportunity not to be wasted.”

“Why do people create such a big fuss about not standing for the National Anthem?” he asked, before answering his own question. “It’s because there is no such thing as ‘we’Australians. Australians are a cluster of separate, disparate groups, and the anthem is about the only thing that gives us the comforting illusion that we are united. To remain seated is to suggest the scary notion that we are not united after all. For the rest of us standing, we are suddenly presented with a yawning abyss. And who wants that? It’s no wonder people have been making a big fuss about the schoolgirl’s refusal to stand.

Uncle Pete pointed out that the girl’s public school handled the matter with intelligence and sensitivity. They offered her alternatives. “But”, said Mr B, “the school should not have questioned the girl for staying seated, or offered her alternatives. Instead, the principal should have asked the other students, ‘Why are you succumbing to peer pressure and standing up?'”.

From now on, Mr B will remain seated for the National Anthem, he promises. Mind you, he tells me he hasn’t set foot in a cinema for years, and has no plans to do so in the near future, so it may be some time before he has the opportunity to remain seated for the anthem.

2. Speaking of democracy, John August and some of his colleagues from the Pirate Party turned up to speak across the way. The Pirate Party is not as absurd as it sounds. It has serious policies you may wish to consider.

3. Mr B relinquished the Ladder of Knowledgeto Mark the Grinner, who admitted he didn’t have much to say, but in his entertaining fashion he said it anyway. The other speakers throughout the day were Mirko, Steve, John August (and co.), and Helmut. But where was Maria? (Just in: she had a cold.) Where was Ray? Where was our new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison? Prime Ministers have spoken at Speakers’ Corner before, so it’s about time we had another speak here. But Scott: no longer than four minutes please. We don’t want to lose the crowd.

Speaking of guest speakers: Prince Harry and Duchess Markle will be visiting Australia soon. They come from a country that created the original Speakers’ Corner, so they will be keen to visit our Speakers’ Corner to see how we are faring. Further, they may have heard that our Speakers’ Corner is more intellectual than the one in their Hyde Park, London, and they will be interested to see what we are doing right. When they arrive at Speakers’ Corner they will be asked whose side they’re on: the Republicans’ or the Monarchists’? They will be given four minutes each to rebut any arguments put forth by our speakers and hecklers.

4. Under severe duress from Mr B, this scribe reluctantly gives Mr B’s new website a plug: dogquiz.org Your scribe agreed to comply with this request only because the site features a photograph of our dear departed Speakers’ Corner dog, taken at Speakers’ Corner.

She was smarter than Mr B and more likeable.

Here is another photo of her at Speakers’ Corner “borrowing” a sandwich from Mr B’s bag.

5. We discussed the poem,“Spring” by Mary Oliver. 1990.

6. Six months ago Mr Bwas given a small book: a pocket guide to The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, and he was asked to read it. Today the man returned to hear Mr B’s verdict.

Mr B had read it and he had it with him. (Presumably he has been bringing it for six months!) What followed was a long and passionate “discussion” between the two men as Mr B expressed his thoughts on the ideas presented in the book.

Your unbiased, dispassionate scribe doesn’t like to take sides, so here are two memes representing each point of view.

Other subjects discussed:
– A young lass asked Mr B what he thought of teenagers. He seemed pleased to be given the opportunity to express his high regard for them.

– Unfortunately, your scribe doesn’t know what Steve Maxwell, Helmut Cerncic, John August (and co.) or Mark the Grinner spoke about. How about coming to Speakers’ Corner and finding out for yourself?

– The question was asked, “What’s the meaning of life?”

7. In our Unusual Creatures Series, this Gerenuk from Africa wanted to appear on our Facebook page. We are happy to oblige.

 

 

 

35. Are the speakers extroverts?

“You are a rock most of the time. Sometimes it’s okay to be the river.”
Unknown.

1. What a beautiful Goldilocks day! Even better, Speakers’ Corner flourished, even without the services of Maria and Ray. We hope they’re back next week.

What was good about Speakers’ Corner today? We had four speakers going, each with a crowd. Steve, Helmut, Mark the Grinner and Mr B all had crowds of varying sizes and if you squinted your eyes it almost appeared to be a carnival atmosphere.

Mirko contributed too, in his patented way.

Not only that, at one point Mark the Grinner graciously allowed young fellow Tommy to take the stand, and Tommy created a crowd of his own. He expressed his views on the ethics of adults having sexual relations with 13-year-olds. He received plenty of disagreement.

Of course, the topics among the speakers differed considerably. Passers-by were spoiled for choice.

It was a fabulous day and we didn’t finish until after five.

 

 

2. One topic discussed was the difference between introverts and extroverts. It was asked: can introverts be speakers?

Does this help?

 

3. Another topic Tommy was forced to discuss was abortion. This postcard was on the postsecret site.

4. Mr B had a brief disagreement with a grasshopper about infinity, yet again. It seems the subject itself has no ending. He claims he has a firm understanding of the subject, while two grasshoppers claim he has no i-bloody-dea.

 

34. The ABC, criticised again!

“When the white missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land.
They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”
Desmond Tutu.

1. The trouble is, this poor scribe can no longer report what was said at Speakers’ Corner because things have changed, for the better. There are more speakers but your scribe doesn’t get to hear much of them.

Who are the speakers? Ray, Maria, Steve, Helmut, Mark the Grinner, Mirko and Mr Bashful, who has chosen to speak separately from the main bunch. He’s focusing on his pet subject, resilience, and I think we have all heard enough about that.

Maria, Steve and Ray weren’t here today. That was lucky for them because it was bitterly cold (for Sydney, that is).

It was Fathers’ Day today. This postcard first appeared on the postsecret website.

2. This scribe didhappen to hear Mark the Grinner criticise the ABC for advertising itself on the ABC, for goodness sake. “They’re preaching to the converted,” he lamented. This scribe wonders why the taxpayer-funded ABC doesn’t advertise the taxpayer-funded SBS programs, and vice-versa. Perhaps next week Mark the Grinner can explain why.

3. Mark the Grinner also spoke about tattoosand how they once meant something. He said young men getting tattoos nowadays must be living at home with their parents, because if they had to support themselves they couldn’t afford to get a tattoo. That’s the kind of clear thinking you get at Speakers’ Corner.

 

4. Mark the Grinneralso mentioned ‘The Trickle Down’ effect. Nuff said.

5. In our Unusual Creature Seriesthis Lowland Streaked Tenrec has never been seen at Speakers’ Corner. Not this particular one, anyway. But this Madagascan native has been to our Facebook page and thinks it’s tops.

 

 

33. Giant grasshopper.

“I’ve been married to a communist and a fascist, and neither would take out the garbage.”
Zsa Zsa Gabor.

1. The dynamics at Speakers’ Cornerhave changed in the past few weeks and we now have more orators speaking at once, in different areas. It’s a distinct improvement. Maria and Mark the Grinner are settling in, but today’s bleak weather was a dampener. The crowds were small for most of the day.

Plus, Steve Maxwell was away with a cold and Ray was absent.

Nuff said.

Grasshoppers can be a force to be reckoned with if they try hard enough. Here is one rampaging through a suburb on its way to cause havoc at Speakers’ Corner.

2. Here’s your chanceto guess today’s topics.

 

 

3. How about this one:

 

4. And this one?

 

5. What about this one?

 

6. Here is anothercreature from our Unusual Creature Series. It’s a wingless wasp called the Panda Ant and it’s found in Chile. You will find the same photo on our Facebook page.

 

 

 

32. A short report.

“To protect Fairfax Media and media diversity, we need to increase newspaper sales. To do that, the government needs to legislate that everyone has a hamster and a budgie.”
Mark the Grinner.

1. For reasons unstated this will be a short report. Today the speakers were Steve Maxwell, Maria, Mark the Grinner, Ray, Mr Bashful, Guy (from the Fishers and Shooters Party) and some bloke who only spoke for a minute before doing his lolly and kicking over Steve’s milk crate.

This is not that bloke. This is Guy from the Shooters and Fishers Party.


2. Do you recognise these two?

Helmut and Uncle Pete in Sydney’s State theatre.

3. Here is another photofrom our Unusual Creature Series. This strange animal wouldn’t want to been seen on our Facebook page.

Steve Maxwell

 

 

31. Big changes for Speakers’ Corner.

“America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked.”
David Letterman

1. Big changes. Mr B talked for a few minutes (about trees again!) and was interrupted twenty-seven times. Then, as planned, he stepped off the Ladder of Knowledge and was replaced by Mark the Grinner. Mr Grinner immediately began entertaining the crowd with his humour. He spoke easily and fluently on a wide range of unorthodox topics. He kept the crowd interested. Then he gave Mirko a go.

It’s a mistake he won’t be making again.

Yes, Mark the Grinner will be speaking again in the near future! That’s a good thing, because Mr Grinner is a very good speaker indeed.

Next week Maria will be up on the Ladder of Knowledge, and she will be just as good. Things are looking up for Speakers’ Corner.

2. Mr Grinner gave us a long listof topics to choose from. All of them sounded interesting. Someone wanted to know why he believed that people who want children should never be allowed to have them. He answered by pointing out that many people want children because:
a) they have been taught by society they want them.
b) they want their children to fulfil their own unfulfilled dreams.
c) it’s a way to gain status.
Mr Grinner said that when he becomes Emperor, no parent will be allowed to raise their biological child. Parents will only be allowed to raise children that aren’t theirs. If someone doesn’t agree to that, they will not be permitted to have a child. If someone doesn’t agree to have a baby of another colour, they will not be permitted to have a child. Emperor Grinner says people can have children for the right reasons only.

He was just getting started!

Mark the Grinner

3. Mark the Grinner’s other topics(before he lost the ladder to Mirko and Helmut) were:
– You are probably an asshole.Mark drew upon studies which discovered that when someone is given a significant advantage when competing with others, they don’t acknowledge that advantage when they win. Instead, they look down on their competitors and treat them badly.

– Be prepared to be offended.If you are offended by what someone says, use the incident to explore why. Engage with the other person instead of simply shutting them out. When you take offence it’s a flag to say there could be an interesting discussion that requires tolerance and sensitivity. If you allow yourself to be offended, you’re being juvenile, said Mr Grinner.

Young people are clueless.(You had to be there.)

You do not suffer from anxiety.(Why weren’t you there?!)

– The Messiah is not recognised.
This was this topic that had your scribe doubting the wisdom of Mr Grinner. Mr Grinner said that just over 2,000 years ago, baby Jesus was visited by three wise men bearing gifts. They had come to declare that the little fellow was the messiah. Mark the Grinner said he believed the messiah had returned to Earth sixty years ago, as promised, and had been born in Australia. However, because of Australia’s strict immigration laws, the three wise men couldn’t get in to visit the baby and declare he was the messiah. As a result, the messiah grew up unrecognised.

That’s when things got shaky. Mark the Grinner produced a photograph that does, admittedly, seem to suggest that the messiah is among us.

Still, this scribe has doubts. But just in case Mark the Grinner is on the money, this scribe will be treating Mr B with more respect from now on.

4. Speaking of Mr B: he, Mirko, Helmut, Ray and Steve Maxwell did their thing too. This scribe has no idea what they talked about. That’s not because they were unintelligible, though they may well have been; it was because your not-so-diligent scribe didn’t get around to listening to them.

Except for one instance: Mr B “moderated” a vigorous discussion on women’s rights and sexuality. Strong views were expressed, yet there was no animosity and no nastiness. Speakers’ Corner really is the place to discuss issues openly, and get things off your chest.

Oh, and Steve Maxwell is not just a speaker, he is an artist. Lately he has been bringing along his art, and discussing art in general.

5. This week our Unusual AnimalSeries presents to you the Chinese Water Deer, which has chosen to unsubscribe from our Facebook Pagebecause it was offended by something Mark the Grinner said.

 

 

 

30. A change in procedure.

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

1. We had a weclome change in procedure today which worked for nearly everyone. Mr B left the main clutch of chairs and went to speak by the pathway, with no chairs. He soon found a handful of passers-by choosing to stand and listen. He tells me it was a wonderful afternoon, finishing at 5pm. His listeners contributed well to the discussions. Meanwhile, the circus of cockatoos he left behind managed well without him. Helmut chaired the meeting and they all appeared to be enjoying themselves. It was a win-win situation that bodes well for the future.

2. Steve Maxwell had three main topics today:
(1) The Black Wars in Tasmania. (The violent conflict between Aborigines and the British colonists.)
(2) He gave us tips on how we can argue against a Climate Change denier.
(3) He spoke about the Bughouse Debates in the U.S. which are still going strong.

3. A conundrum:Imagine there is a fatal disease that, if you have it, manifests when you turn 60 and kills you. One person in a million gets the disease randomly. There is no cure, but there is a blood test that will tell you if you have the disease. The accuracy of the blood test is 95%. You’re not yet 60 and you accidentally get tested for the disease. The blood test says you have the disease. The question is:should you be worried?

Ben the Whisperer got the answer right. Well done, Ben!

4. If there were a buttonthat made humans the same colour, would you press it? The grasshoppers provided a variety of answers.

5. “Never read to the mob!”is a golden rule for speakers at Speakers’ Corner. Yet that is precisely what Mr B did today, for the first time. He read a short story written by Henry Lawson: ‘That There Dog of Mine’.

6. Mr B gave some unusual adviceabout how to make friends. This was in response to a question regarding the loneliness epidemic. The following photo was taken from the Postsecret website.


7. Other subjects discussed.
– After the ABC Television’s Media Watchprogram exposed how women’s magazines manufacture one photograph by combining two different photographs, and then writing lies based on that photograph, why do women continue to purchase womens’ magazines? Didn’t word spread like wildfire that the magazines are manufacturing outright lies? Why is womanhood continuing to support those magazines?

– Someone suggested that animals treated cruelly in factory farms don’t mind the awful conditions because they know nothing else. They don’t feel lousy because they are used to their life and don’t know any better. Mr B took umbrage with that point-of-view and provided an “evolutionary argument” to claim the contrary.

– How can we interpret a dream? It’s easier and more accurate than you think.

– What if we viewed people in the same way we view trees?

– Mr B gave two youngsters some tips on how to gain real financial security.

– There were reasons given as to why there should be no private schools allowed, except selective schools for the intellectually gifted.

– Mr B went on a diabtribe about the following sentence: “The pain was quite horrible.”

– Leadership. Who leads you?

– The little kiddies passing by were told “Eat your veggies!”

– From Mr B’s Law Reform series: A court makes a decision and the decision is invariably appealed. If the decision is reversed it means the first court got it wrong. Why isn’t that first court held accountable for getting it wrong? If the judge in the court wasn’t smart enough to come to the right decision, why were they given the case in the first place? In the U.S.A, four orphans (all under the age of 21) successfully sued a tobacco company and won US$700,000. The company appealed and the court reversed the decision. The kids had to give all the US700,000 back, plus interest, plus pay all the legal fees. To pay the $1m+ bill they had to sell the family home. Why can’t the law get it right the first time and prevent such pain?

8. The answer to the fataldisease question above: you wouldn’t need to be worried. Remember, only one person in a million gets the disease and the blood test is 95% accurate. That means if you were to test one million people, 5% of them would be given an incorrect test result. i.e. 50,000 people would be given the wrong answer. Virtually all of them would be told they have the disease when they don’t have it. So, if your blood test says you have the disease, there is approximately one chance in 50,000 that you actually have the disease. With such low odds, you wouldn’t need to worry.

9. In our Unusual Creatures Seriesthis Fennec Fox from the Sahara might be the new logo for our Facebook page if something extraordinary and unforeseen happens.

 

 

 

 

29. A poem discussed.

“Sport is the dessert trolley of life.”
Gerard Healy.

1. Wish granted! Last week Maria spoke for a few minutes on the Ladder of Knowledge and did such a good job this scribe hoped she would come back to become a permanent speaker. Well, she turned up today with a box and found a place to speak! She soon had passers-by stopping to listen. For a speaker to achieve that on their first day at Speakers’ Corner is extraordinary.

When she had had enough, Maria joined Mr B’s audience and he invited her to speak on his ladder briefly. She spoke about the finance industry and the dishonesty of the banks. People began asking questions. She again did a good job. Maria is a commercial lawyer and has a lot to say.

Maria will be back in two weeks, she promises. Your scribe hopes to persuade Mr B to give her longer on his ladder next time. (Mr B, just remember that I have considerable power when I write these weely posts.)

2. Mr B read the first stanza of a Keats poem that didn’t sound like Keats at all:

Ode to Spring.
“Thank thou Spring, that thou do be.
For without thou there’d be seasons three.
We would surely be in strife;
especially the wildlife.”
It got worse from there. But he read another poem and we discussed it.

3. Mr B expressed his amazement of Coyote Pederson, whom he found on Youtube. Coyote tests Schmidt’s Pain index by allowing insects to sting him.
If you don’t want to watch the whole video begin at 13 minutes.

4. Other subjects discussed:
– If there were a button that could kill all humanity, would you press it? Mr B pointed out that by not pressing it we would be condoning the suffering of trillions of animals in cruel farming practises. The discussion was “energetic”.

– Mr B was scathing of the Thais who recently thrust the poor cave kids into a monastery. For 9 days the kids will be head-shaven monks to “express their gratitude” for being saved. Mr B said that we shouldn’t force people to feel grateful, and if their cave experience doesn’t give them PTSD, this will.

– The Gympie Gympie stinging tree in Qld, which produces so much pain it has killed horses and sent men mad.

– Helmut explained why Sir Isaac Newton was an ignoramus.

– There is an idea going around that despite all our electronic forms of communication, we feel less connected than we have ever been. Mr B argued the contrary. He said that people in the last three centuries felt less connected than we do, because they didn’t have the technology to overcome the tyranny of distance. Uncle Pete was ardent in his rebuttal.

– Steve Maxwell had a sign which indicated his topic of the day: “Make Australia Grate Again”.

– Debate raged about the importance of breast feeding.

5. This scribe has sunkover twelve million dollars into promoting our Facebook page and it has not yet produced a dollar of income or increased the size of a crowd at Speakers’ Corner. Its value must be questioned. This lyre sponge, from our Unusual Creatures Series, has little comprehension of what a Facebook page is, and even less comprehension of what twelve million dollars could buy.

 

 

28. 2/10 for Vincent Van Gogh

“Intolerance is violence to the intellect and hatred, violence to the heart.”
Indian proverb.

1. Mr B ruined his voice box again and it served him right. He shouldn’t bark at his grasshoppers like he does, no matter how wrong they are.

He began his meeting talking about functional insanity, and was at pains to point out that he wasn’t talking about anyone at Speakers’ Corner. Like hell he wasn’t. He explained how functional insanity differs from your everyday, run-of-the-mill insanity.

He treated the topic respectfully and his grasshoppers disgracefully.

Here he is in full flight today at Speakers’ Corner:

2. When Mirko got up to speakon the Ladder of Knowledge he had refreshingly new material to present to us which, unfortunately, was as incomprehensible as his regular material. From what this humble scribe gathered, the tenet of his speech seemed to be that every time you take three steps forward you complete a  walking ‘cycle’. Brains-trust Laurence figured out that by taking three steps forward your feet are in the position they were when you started, and that’s a cycle. Fair enough, except that you are back in the same position after two steps, but who’s counting? The point is, Mirko must have been making sense after all, because Uncle Pete understood him well enough. At one point, when your humble scribe was completely bamboozled, Uncle Pete asked Mirko, “Is it two polarity?”

“Yes!” confirmed Mirko, validated and vindicated.

You could have pushed this scribe over with a feather. Mirko had been making sense after all! Peter had understood him!

I’m sorry Mirko, that I wasn’t bright enough to understand you. With your new topic I was thinking you had lost yet another marble, but it turns out that you were making sense all the time. The expression, “Pearls before swine” comes to mind.

Mirko, you remind me of another genius:

“They did not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they’ll listen now.”


3. Speaking of Vincent Van Gogh, that’s who Steve Maxwell talked about today. In the mid 1800s a bloke founded Mort Docks, the first dry dock in Australia. (That’s when no alcohol is allowed on the premises.) Funnily enough, the gimmick worked and it made that bloke a multi-millionaire. That allowed his son, John Peter Russell, to go to France to study Impressionism. Impressionism is a type of art. But it is not, as you might think, a type of art for people who can’t paint properly, it’s a type of art all on its own. Who would have thought? In France this fellow, John Peter Russell, met Vincent Van Gogh who was a Dutchman also studying Impressionism, but missing an ear. They became friends. It turns out that the fellow with the three names is the only artist to have painted a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh, (other than Vincent himself, who made a habit of it).

Compare the two artists’ portrait of Vincent. I have given each of them a mark out of ten, and you can see that John’s painting is far better than Vincent’s. And bigger, too. Vincent could have learned a lot from his friend, had he tried. But as often the case with people who lack talent, it seems Vincent was better than John at promoting himself. We have all heard of Vincent Van Gogh (thanks to Don McLean) but we have never heard of John Peter Russell.

John Peter Russell’s portrait of Vincent Van Gogh.    9/10.

 

Vincent Van Gogh’s portrait of Vincent Van Gogh.    2/10.

A reader just informed this scribe that Vincent was not a good promoter of his work. Vincent only sold one painting in his life. Presumably, that was to his mother.
It’s hardly a surprise, is it? If he were alive today he wouldn’t make the Archibald finalists, would he? So, why is he famous? It can’t solely be due to Don McLean. Singers can only do so much. Ask Steve Maxwell when you see him next. He’ll know.

4. Steve also spoke about Australian history and politics, and about Rimbaud the Poet. The poet’s name was Rimbaud and he was a poet. This scribe googled his poems to find a good one to present here.

 5. A passer-by asked if shecould step up onto the Ladder of Knowledge. Maria spoke for five minutes about free speech, and did a damned good job of it. She was fluent and had something to say. She railed against our apathy. We hope she becomes a permanent speaker at Speakers’ Corner.

6. We were reminded of The Groom of the Stool who was a fellow in bygone times who would wipe the king’s bottom after the king defecated. Mr B said that no human being should ever wipe another healthy adult human’s bottom, because to do so demeans humanity. We have a human responsibility to wipe our own arses, he said plainly.

He added that there are other tasks we should do for ourselves, rather than let another human being do them for us. We should clean our own houses, for example. He also applauded the Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovi, and the French President, Emmanuel Macron. She, Vladamir Putin and President Macron were on the dias and about to greet the players after an important soccer game. It was pouring with rain. Putin had a minder who held an umbrella over him. But not Kolinda or Macron. They knew better. They know that it is every person’s duty to hold their own umbrella. But, because they wanted to greet every player from France and Croati warmly, they chose to forgo an umbrella and stand in the rain.

Mr B applauded you both. So does this scribe.

Mr Putin: do you also have a Groom of the Stool?

7. Did humans evolve from monkeys? No, we didn’t. An ancestor common to apes, great apes, monkeys and hominims (and lemurs, lorisoids and tarsiers) was a small rodent-like animal called the plesiadapis, that lived 55 to 58 million years ago. It was about the size of a 2kg possum.
(an artist’s impression)

 

 

And there was the propliopithecus. It lived about 25 to 30 million years ago. Larger, and weighed about 4.5kgs:

It’s doubtful these pictures are photographs; more likely, they are artists’ impressions and they may not be accurate. As we have already discovered above, impressionist artists don’t aim for accuracy. Impressionists Vincent and John both painted Vincent, and their portraits differ considerably.

8. Other subjects discussed:

– Mr B said that Politician Craig Kelly was right when he said we can’t keep complaining to the Russians about their destruction of Flight MH17; we need to focus on the future. But was it a political mistake to say the truth?

– Is property make-believe? A social construct? Or is it real? Who owns my apricot tree? Me? The possums who take the fruit? Or the aphids who live there 24/7?

– Are we being hypocrites when we criticise Trump for being too friendly with Russia? Would we call him stupid and reckless if he was antagonistic towards Russia? Do we want good relations with Russia, or bad ones? Is diplomacy relevant anyway? Is money, trade and the sale of armaments the real glue for lasting peace?

– For the third week in a row we heard about that monkey and its typewriter in infinite time. At this rate, the monkey will have typed the play before we have finished the topic.

– Why do Christians and atheists so often confuse the origin of lifewith evolution, when the two are completely different? Mr B gave a rational (but unappreciated) reason. He says we often use the word ‘life’ when we mean ‘living things’. The two terms have different meanings. “You can find life a half mile deep under the ice in Antartica.” See the problem with that sentence? Few people do.

– Do we determine a person’s nationality by their genes? By their acculturation? By their birth certificate? Or by their citizenship? Or by . . .what?

– The Child Sexual Abuse Redress Scheme. The idea is to give people who suffered sexual abuse in the “care” of a religious institution $150,000, counselling, and a letter of apology from the institution (if wanted). Should sexual abuse victims in jail for being paedophiles be excluded from the scheme?  Mr B said no, and put forth an idea for a scheme he thought was even better. (Hint: it wasn’t THAT good.)

– A sunken Russian warship was recently found. Supposedly it has in it $176 billion worth of gold bullion.
$176 BILLION?  Really??
$176b just to pay the salary and crew?  Really??
$176b on a ship that is in a war, and could be sunk?  Really??
The Korean salvage company that found the ship has only been listed on the Korean Stock Exchange a month, and has only $100,000 in its kitty. It’s funny how they found the vessel so quickly. Really??
In short, Mr B was suspicious.

9. If the creatures aboveare not unusual enough, here is a photograph of an extant creature in our Unusual Creature Series. It’s a golden-mantled tree kangaroo, and it has its own Facebook page.