The Archives for Speakers’ Corner, Sydney.

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

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.


51. Two societies in the one city?!

“Detachment is not that you should own nothing; but that nothing should own you.”
Ali ibn Abi Talib

1. Mr B’s sewerage pipes were the first item on Mr B’s agenda and why wouldn’t they be? What else could be as important?

Well, he had to make an admission. It was meant to be a one minute grovelling admission, but Tommy (welcome back, Tommy!) kept asking what the problem with the pipes had been, and so we had to hear about Mr B’s blessed sewerage pipes for fifteen minutes. Sigh.

It got frank, folks.

To fix Mr B’s sewerage problem, Uncle Pete suggested that Mr B should stop shitting in his wash basin. Thanks for that, Uncle Pete. Let’s hope Mr B begins to follow that sage advice.

For those of you wondering, Mr B has kindly sent your scribe a photo of the pipe in question. (Notice the wonky direction the s-bend takes.)

Mr B tells me that next week he will ask his grasshoppers for help in solving another sewerage related matter: why do his turds smell like lavender?

2. Passer-by Basma spoke for half an hour on the imminent dangers of climate change, and on her disappointment with our Prime Minister. She said hang the expense, we need to make drastic changes or we won’t even have an economy. We won’t have a place to live in!

You won’t be surprised to know that Peter the Younger had a few words to say about that.

Basma also suggested that Australia invest in nuclear power, like France. A few people agreed and a few disagreed. Lots of knowledge on the subject was displayed.

Basma did a good job on the podium, and managed to keep order. She received two rounds of applause for her efforts. Well done, Basma!



Basma going nuclear on Peter the Younger.

3. By public demand
 Tommy also got up to speak. He told us how he had recently walked the long way to Newcastle (200kms) and discovered that the further he was from Sydney, the friendlier people were. He established this by doing a ‘good morning’ test with the locals: he would wish passers-by ‘good morning’ and see if they responded in kind.

Tommy finished by saying we should wish people a ‘good morning’ more often. He “guarantees” we will become happier.

That guarantee is worth its weight in gold.

Like Basma, Tommy spoke well. It’s a shame they’re both not permanent speakers. We could do with a change from the old geezers.

Thanks, Tommy.

4. Mr B suggested
that a ‘Volunteer Department’ should be created. It would link want-to-be volunteers with organisations that need them. However, two of his grasshoppers informed us that it has already been done. There are apps doing just that.

Mr B was rightly chuffed. Yet another one of his ideas has been adopted. His legacy grows.

Mr Bashful. Growing his legacy.

5.  Let’s create a city with two separate societies, said the oracle Mr B. Society (A) works 3.5 (nine hour) days a week and so does Society (B).

Businesses will be more productive, operating seven days a week instead of five, he says, and they won’t have to pay overtime. Meanwhile, the workers get more leisure time and a healtheir life balance. Employment almost doubles and the economy grows.  We’d have two of everything, including sports leagues.

There would be shorter commuting times and less traffic congestion. And less strain on public transport.

With the fewer hours worked (31.5 instead of 35 or 40) there would be fewer dollars earned, but within that different, more productive economy those effects would soon level. A dollar would go further.

It’s not job share, it’s ‘desk’ share. One company operates as two companies, using the same infrastructure but different personnel. It’s not shift work, it’s separate everything. Human resources, accounts . . .

Society A would compete with Society B and everyone would benefit from the competition.

One problem: how do we teach our children?  (If you can solve this problem let Mr B, or this scribe, know.)

One society, split into two.

6. Other topics discussed:
– The Skipper of the yacht Scallywag complained bitterly about the shark he ran into (breaking its back). He probably lost the race because of it, he complained. He didn’t mention the needless suffering of the poor shark that had been in its ocean minding its own business, ran into by a bunch of clots playing with an expensive toy.

– Politician Barnaby Joyce was said to be an example of a Christian  not too worried about Climate Change, because a god will save us.

– Mr B reiterated his claim made five years ago that the end of the world (as we know it) will noticeably begin in 2021. (But to those of you suffering eco-anxiety, don’t worry. Mr B has been wrong before. Eg. sewerage pipes.)

– Although Mark the Grinner knows what he is talking about, having worked and studied in the environmental sector, Mr B still has trouble accepting that native animal sanctuaries, like this one, are not a good idea. He figures that if just one of those sanctuaries protects 80% of mainland Australia’s eastern barred bandicoots, they can’t be a bad thing, can they?

– Mr B suggests that to get child support, parents (or soon-to-be parents) would have to attend parent classes. If we have to learn how to drive a car to be let loose on the road . . .

– Should businesses be required to pay suppliers and tradies immediately or within a week? And be penalised if they don’t? (Currently, some companies don’t pay for 120 days, and offer loans to their creditors!)

– Should we create a government department that provides unlimited free advice for small business owners in their first two years of operation? (Currently, a department gives only the first two hours free.)

– We heard a poem about retirement, which we might hear again next week.

– China’s pollution problem was mentioned briefly. They’re creating not just CO2, but smog.

6. This week’s unusual beast from our Unusual Beast Series is the black footed ferret from North America. This one below is surprised to learn that our Facebook page has nearly 200 subscribers. Not that that means anything, because . . .

only about thirty people receive the posts.

Even fewer look at them.

Even fewer ‘like’ them.

So . . . what’s the point? Why does your scribe persist?

Good question!


50. Should both sexes take 100% responsibility?

‘Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.’
Kahil Gibran

1. Mr B began his meeting by asking the first of four questions. For example:

Q2. You’re an army general commanding 600 troops. You have two options:

Strategy A: You can save precisely 200 of your troops, or
Strategy B: You can risk a one-third chance all of your troops will be saved and a two-thirds chance all will die.

Which strategy do you choose?

We examined the results of studies posing the same four questions.

Exactly 400 troops are obliged to die.

2. Hypocrite Mr B spoke about the importance of being in touch with one’s emotions, because when we are in touch with them we learn how to deal with them. For example, when we know what is going in inside us we become more empathetic and less judgmental others. And, when we become less judgmental of others we become less judgmental of ourselves. Passer-by Amy pointed out that Mr B had been judging people all afternoon!

He replied it wasn’t his fault they’re imbeciles.

Mr B, you’re a hypocrite!

This card was found on the Postsecret website.

3. Should men and women
each take 100% responsibility for their own behaviour? Or is that suggestion just another way to tell a woman it’s her fault if she’s raped? The debate was long and earnest.

Here is one of the articles referred to: ‘I promise it’s not lame to ask a woman for consent

This postcard was also found on the Postsecret site.

4. Other topics discussed:

– Christian speaker Ray dropped by to remind us to think about the true meaning of Christmas.

– The pusillanimous Mr B reminded everyone to sign the petition, if you haven’t already. (That’s the petition to burn the Mona Lisa.) When the pages are full, a Speakers’ Corner convoy will make the trip to Canberra to present the petition to the French ambassador. We still have a few pages to fill, folks.

– Michael, bless him, had a few words to say about commo atheists.

– Why don’t university lecturers respond to enquiries from the public about plumbing problems? You’d think they’d jump at the chance, said Mr B.

– Mirko had a revelation on the train. His co-passengers must feel so fortunate.

– Should we separate our emotions from our analytical thinking? Can we?

– Passer-by Amy bravely stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and also talked about emotions.

– Andrew Toth said human beings are machines, and that there is no such thing as morals. He seemed to contradict himself when he said morals change over time. Someone likened that change to ‘shifting sands’.


5. Your scribe hopes you have a good Christmas Day, free of domestic violence. This card is also from the Postsecret website.

6. This week our unusual creature from our Unusual Critter Series is the bongo. The bongo is native to Tasmania or Africa. This one recently unsubscribed from our Facebook page.

7. Happy Christmas!



49. A challenge met!

“The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.”
Friedrich Nietzsche.

1. Your scribe doesn’t know what Steve Maxwell and Ray were talking about across the way, but here are some of the topics discussed today on the Ladder of Knowledge:
– Uncle Pete explained how an electron was discovered. (No, it was not found hiding under the bed.)

– We heard about Tony in his Aged Care Centre. He has been having fun letting an inmate think they’ll all soon be rescued by helicopter. If you would like to give Tony a ring he would be pleased to hear from you: 0480 16 33 58   or 93554670

– Mirko generously told us about the importance of diesel.

– Uncle Pete explained the mistake climate change sceptics make when they talk about water vapour and global warming.

– Mr B made a passing remark suggesting that the last thing we should be putting on our bushfires is water. After all,  he explained, water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, and both are flammable. Uncle Pete believed he was serious and ridiculed him. That says a lot about Uncle Pete and a lot about what he thinks of Mr B.
(Oh, and oxygen isn’t flammable, but it will feed a fire.)

– Recently, in a prestigious Miami art gallery, an artist taped a banana to a wall and called it art. (Title: ‘Comedian’) Another artist chose to steal the banana and eat it, and he called that act ‘performance art’. (Title: ‘The Hungry Artist’) That artist was escorted away by Security but no charges were laid. The banana was replaced and the work sold for US$120,000. Is it any wonder why Mr B went on to explain why we should burn the Mona Lisa?

2. Finally! A challenge met!

Today Mr B explained again why history should not be taught in schools, and he reiterated his challenge: “Give me just one example of how we have learned from history.” Since the challenge was issued four months ago no one has been able to give him an example. Until today!

Thank you, Daniel!

By the way, Mr B is talking about banning history, not knowledge or ideas.

Daniel pointed out that Stanley Milgram devised his famous experiment because of what happened in Nazi Germany. “How could people follow such awful orders?” Milgram wanted to know. Daniel suggested that therefore, Milgram “learned from history”. Mr B accepted that point, even though Stanley Milgram gained knowledge from the experiment, not from that Nazi history. Mr B conceded that without that dark history Milgram would probably not have thought to do the experiment. So, although history didn’t actually teach us anything, it inspired us to acquire knowledge. That was enough to satisfy Mr B.

Well done, Daniel!

Daniel used his brain.

3. You can bypass this item unless you are one of the garden gnomes who insists that history is “the past”, and includes what you had for breakfast.

Your scribe’s ‘New Collins Concise English Dictionary’ (in book form!) defines the word ‘history’ as (1) a record or account of past events, developments etc. (2) all that is preserved of the past, esp. in written form. (3) the discipline of recording and interpreting past events.

In other words, dear garden gnomes, the term does NOT include events not recorded, such as the car that just passed you, or what you had for breakfast. Nor does it include the dinosaurs’ demise – that’s pre-history. (Yes, Peter, birds are dinosaurs. Sigh.)

Of course, the term is used loosely in colloquial fashion, in expressions such as, “The two men had a history between them”.

Would there be any danger in those garden gnomes not making their mistake yet again? Your scribe is weary of their inane, misinformed objections and I bet Mr B is too.

Besides, this scribe thinks Mr B has a point: do we really need to teach students about The Battle of Hastings? Or teach them any current version of any history? Don’t we have a moral and practical obligation to make use of our students’ time better than we do?

The Battle of Hastings. 1066

4. Speaking of garden gnomes, this one is getting into the Christmas spirit. The gift Mr B once received continues to sit proudly on his office mantelpiece. He tells me it is a constant reminder of the garden gnome foolishness he lovingly puts up with.

5. Santa Clause.  Andrew the ex-flasher explained why we shouldn’t trust solicitors. At 9am one morning eight police turned up at his door with a warrant, and did a ‘search and seize’ before arresting him. Andrew was facing 23 charges of ‘breaching a person’s privacy with a surveillance device’ and if found guilty, each charge could have given him a jail sentence of up to five years. If he were given consecutive sentences he wouldn’t leave jail alive.

Out on bail he sought a solicitor, but every solicitor he saw recommended a plea bargain. And, they would charge him $10,000 for their representation. Andrew was unimpressed with their slackness so he decided to defend himself. He read the entire Surveillance Act and found a little clause that said police can only ‘search and seize’ with the permission of an Attorney General. It was something the solicitors would have discovered had they bothered to do their job instead of lazily recommending a plea bargain. In court, Andrew pointed to the clause and the furious police had to discharge their witnesses. Andrew saved himself jail time and at least $10,000.

His final message? “Don’t trust solicitors.”

6. This week Mr B again suggested we install feral proof fences around the burned areas, and then reintroduce native wildlife when the trees regrow. He said the CSIRO claims there are at least 2.1 million feral cats in Australia. Those cats eat hundreds of millions of native animals every year, and kill even more without eating them. Plus, they eat the food native animals would eat. So, why not at least consider creating a few sanctuaries while we have the opportunity? No, said one grasshopper, because habitat loss is a far bigger problem.

He may be right, but jeepers, can’t we have a two-pronged approach?

7. This week’s unusual creature in the Unusual Animal Series is the Chinese Mountain Cat. There are no feral Chinese mountain cats in Australia, to my knowledge. This one is trying to break into an internet cafe and visit our Facebook site.

48. If voting could change the system . . .

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”
Japanese proverb.

1. Ever heard of Joseph McCabe? We haven’t either, but every year the Rationalist Association of NSW has a lecture in his honour, and today Steve Maxwell began the meeting by informing us that this year’s lecturer will be Adam Reakes, president of the Atheist Foundation of Australia.

“Upselling to Reality” or “How well do you know your washing machine?” Adam’s lecture will be a humorous, sceptical discussion about the things we purchase and the beliefs we adopt. What is the intersection between belief and material things?

Relax! Don’t have an envy attack! You’re invited too! It’s this Saturday, 14th December, at 5.30pm. 10 Shepherd St. Chippendale. The cost? As you know, the best things in life are free.

And there’s finger food!

Max: 0418 939 539
Steve: 0404 009 294

Steve Maxwell entertaining the passers-by.


Drawing by Steve Maxwell

2. On the Ladder of Knowledge 
Mr B lambasted our current politicians and his grasshoppers for voting for them. He then proposed an alternative form of government in which people vote for policies, not politicians.

3. You have heard of rational beliefs and irrational beliefs, but have you heard of emotional beliefs? Here is another chapter from Mr B’s book for young people.

4. Mr B took me aside today and objected to the comments I made last week on this blog, about his flabby chest. Today, as if he had to prove something, he revealed his chest again. (Admittedly, the crowd were baying for it.) However, nothing had changed; his chest was still flabby. But as I write these words, Mr B has emailed me a photograph of his chest. So, dear reader, you decide for yourself.

Mr B.

5. Other topics discussed:
– “The expense of going to court derails justice”, said Mr B, citing the example of Rugby Union Australia’s cave-in to Israel Folau.

– Across the way, John August spoke for an hour about climate change, atheism and economics.

– Mr B provided other examples of why ‘the law is a donkey’. He says he will provide more examples this coming Sunday

– Mirko spent ten minutes on the Ladder of Knowledge explaining the relationship between his phonetic language and a man’s Adam’s apple. Bizarre stuff.

– Ray yet again had to deal with Atheist Eddie. Will either man come to the lecture on Saturday?

– What will be the best day of Mr B’s life?

– Helmut spoke about tennis and why the top tennis players purposely lose matches.

– Two people, on different occasions, said it would be a shame if Mr B died. Who would bring the chairs?

– Why didn’t the jury find Elon Musk guilty of defamation after he named the Englishman ‘Pedo-guy’?

– Should we try to save our native wildlife by putting feral-proof fences around the areas burned by bushfires? Can we let the forests regenerate without feral cats, foxes, dogs and pandas?


6. This week’s unusual animal from our Unusual Critter Series is the Tasmanian Black Eastern quoll. This one sponsors our Facebook page.

47. We talked about breasts.

“The things that make me different are the things that make me.”
‘Winnie the Pooh’.
A. A. Milne.

1. seoga0fjtyi rivn dlg;hpdk hsAfter hearing Mr B’s talk about the typewriting monkey two weeks ago, your scribe figured I’d try it for myself. If I took the place of a monkey and randomly typed letters, could I, with a touch of good luck, type this week’s post? I have been typing randomly and it seems to be workz

Bother. Let’s start agaix

After hearing Mr B’s talb

After hr

Forget it. I’ll do it the proper way.

2. Mr B began the meeting by giving an update on Tony, who likes to give a running commentary on the people he’s observing, whether it be the geriatrics in the old folks in the home he lives in, or on the beleaguered souls attending a hospital’s Emergency Department. In a loud voice he holds nothing back.

Then Mr B asked the question, “Are men attracted to women’s breasts for cultural or biological reasons?” Unfortunately, Mr B felt the need to take off his shirt and ask the audience to pretend his pectoral muscles were a woman’s breasts. The trouble was, they weren’t pectoral muscles, they were breasts. Hairy ones. Five people groaned and turned their heads away, two people at the back nearly chundered, and the rest shut their eyes and implored him to put his shirt back on. But Mr B was undaunted. “It’s for science,” he explained. From then on, every time he made a point he squeezed a breast for emphasis. It was awful. But when he caressed his left nipple, to prove breasts are an erogenous zone, it was too much for one audience member and she did her block. Jean was livid. Her long harangue brought Mr B’s talk to a standstill, and when she paused to take a breath he felt the need to squeeze his breasts together, wantonly. It was so uncalled for.

Your scribe thinks the main problem is Mr B’s self-perception. Mr B seems to think he has the body of the Greek youth, Adonis. You don’t, Mr B. You have the body of the middle-aged Adonis, ran to fat long ago. Just saying.

As for the topic itself, Mr B concluded that men are attracted to women’s breasts for biological reasons. Of course, he was met with disagreement.

3. We have another lookalike. Here are photos of Mr B and Karl Pilkington when they were younger. You have to admit, there is a striking resemblance.

Mr Bashful, aged 32.


Karl Pilkington, aged 32

4. Steve Maxwell was away today but we had Ray near the Kiosk, and two other speakers who weren’t Mr B. 94 year-old Albert was one of them. Although Albert was invited to talk about his pet subject, collective consciousness, he instead chose to talk about humanity’s stupidity. Humanity should not be wasting trillions of dollars buying armaments, he said. When asked if Australia should have an army, navy and airforce he replied, “No.”

Thanks, Albert. We’ll call you.

5. At 4.30 Mr B handed the Ladder of Knowledge to Mark the Grinner, who responded to Mr B’s talk with a criticism of current day capitalism, neo capitalism and meaningless labels. He entertained the crowd for an hour!

Mark the Grinner shocks and entertains. Often at the same time.

6. Other topics discussed:
– How is money made? (Mary and Jim are the only people living in Australia. Mary has $100 and Jim has no money. Mary puts the money in a bank (run by a robot, Philip) and Jim borrows $50 from that bank. With the fifty dollars he buys something from Mary. Mary now has $150. Yet, they only started with $100. $50 has been created. How? Jim’s labour (or time?) will in time repay the bank.
Albert pointed out that the bank would happily lend Jim ten times Mary’s $100.

– Mr B explained the merits of capitalism, and why he thinks all three systems, communism, socialism and capitalism would work well if they were applied correctly. That’s a big ‘if’, Mr B! Mark the Grinner disagreed with him, saying capitalism would have to include socialism if it were to have any chance of working.

7. This week’s unusual creature in the Unusual Critter Series is the ghost pipefish. Note that it’s not a pipefish ghost, it’s a ghost pipefish. Two very different things. This one can’t look at our Facebook page because it has no internet access.


46. It was raining fools.

“A mystic is a person who is puzzled before the obvious, but understands the non-existent.        
Elbert Hubbard.

1. It was raining fools and madmen today! Heaven help us!


2. Not all the visitors to Speakers’ Corner were fools and madmen. We had a flash of colour today from a group of women fed up with governments letting us down. They did a damned good job of protesting and quickly drew a crowd. Libby in the first photo did most of the talking and gave as good as she got.

They’re all welcome at Speakers’ Corner any time.




3. As you know, Mirko has for some time been giving us 21st century science, and today he presented more invaluable information. Apparently our immune system works through the night while we sleep and dream, and “gets rid of all the bullshit” so that we can awaken refreshed and sane.

If your computer won’t allow you to enlarge the photograph of Mirko’s ingenius phonetic language below, here is the gist of what he has written, loosely translated:

Title:  “How your body’s immune system protects your mental health.” He then writes about CO2, the Adam’s apple, spelling that can thwart dementia, and he rightly encourages us to talk phonetically. Mirko packed a lot into his five minutes of brilliance.

4. Did you know that in the United States an elderly man was sentenced to fifteen months jail and fined $150,000 for digging ponds on his farm for wildlife? He died in jail. Yes,  Agenda 21 strikes again! Peter the Younger spoke of Agenda 21’s evils.

5. Apart from regular speakers Ray, Steve and Mr B, we had other speakers wading their way through the madness. Andrew Toth returned from a long absence and tried to talk about his new project of teaching martial arts. However, he didn’t get a chance to speak about that because the poor fellow was beseiged with questions about his brushes with the law. He generously answered them. We wish him well in his new venture teaching martial arts.

6. John August spoke about the efficiency of our sewerage system, so naturally, one heckler accused him of talking shit. Apart from that, your scribe has no idea what John spoke about, but I do know he drew a good crowd and kept it for some time. He also kept his cool.

7. Other topics discussed:
There was bugger all spoken about sensibly, that this scribe can remember. The unceasing madness of the day seemed to take over and no firm issues were discussed. (Apart from the odd happiness topic from Mr B. Ho hum.)

Oh, one topic did get a mention: upskirting and the law. (Even the topics were mad.) Next week Mr B will be discussing the rising popularity of upskirting. Why, when porn is so freely available, has upskirting increased in popularity? What do men get out of it? What should girls do about it? Is the niqab somehow related?

8. There will be no unusual critter this week. No critter wants to be associated with today’s madness. But you can still check out our Facebook page.



45. The monkey on the typewriter.

“I must study politics and war so that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”
US President John Adams.

1. Speakers’ Corner really is a fast, free-flowing circus. If you haven’t been to Speakers’ Corner in Sydney before and you think it’s just a bunch of old men ‘chewing the fat’ with one another, you’re so wrong. It’s instead a lot like professional wrestling, but without the physicality and commonsense.

2. Across the way we had Steve Maxwell and Ray speaking. Mirko “kindly” took the Ladder of Knowledge from Mr B and spoke incomprehensibly about ‘demensia’. It was a clever application of the old writer’s adage, “show, don’t tell’.

3. We played two games of ‘Would I lie to You?’ Peter the Younger LIED outright when he claimed to have a pet rock as a child, and cried when his parents threw it away. You bloody liar, Peter! (Good job.)

And, passer-by Kai told the TRUTH about the time he became so drunk when he took his dog for a walk that he lost his dog and never saw it again. Kai fooled most of us into thinking he was lying. Again, good job!

Kai at Speakers’ Corner

4. Mr B begged your scribe to include yet another chapter from his book for young people. I have hidden concerns about doing so.

5. For more than a year Mr B has tried to explain the problem behind the monkey and the typewriter thought experiment. He has failed, until today. With sheer persistence he finally got to the end.

Let’s say a monkey is to randomly type Shakespeare’s play, ‘Richard the Third’, and it hits one of 40 keys every second. How long will it take for the monkey to type the first word in the title, ‘Richard’? Answer: over 7,000 years. To type ‘Richard’ and press the space bar will take over 300,000 years, and to type ‘Richard T’ will take 3 million years. And if the next letter isn’t an ‘h’ we are back to square one.

If we’re lucky, the monkey might type the entire title in a few trillion years. But then we hope the monkey types ‘A’ in the hope of typing ‘Act 1’. If it fails to type an ‘A’ it’s back to the drawing board. Sorry, the typewriter.

To type the first entire paragraph might take until the heat death of the universe. But luckily we have infinite time so that doesn’t matter. But we then have to begin the next paragraph, and if the first letter isn’t the right one, we again have to start again. (Or the monkey does.) An entire lifetime of the universe, wasted.

And that’s just the first paragraph.

The entire first act? Perhaps a trillion to the power of a zillion years? What if, after that period of time elapsed, we are almost there? Let’s say the monkey has to press the key once more and get a full stop, in order to finish the first act. It has a one in forty chance of doing so.  It fails. You guessed it: we start again.

To get the entire play typed? It types for another a zillion to the power of a quillion years, always starting again when there is a mistake. The universe has long, long been dead. Countless heat deaths of the universe have elapsed.  No matter. Hey, we have all the time we want. We have infinite time.

What about two plays in a row?

What about every Shakespeare play?

What about every play?

What about every book in the world?  Let’s say that in an unimaginable amount of time the monkey has typed half the books in the world. It’s still incredibly unlikely it will type even the next word of the next book correctly. So, we start again.

Mr B finally asked the question: ‘Will ANY finite task like that be completed in infinite time?’

He said yes. He said that a finite task must be completed with infinite time.

What about every book in the world, a trillion times over? Remembering that if there is one mistake, we have to start again?

Yep, because it’s a finite task. And there’s infinite time.

There was disagreement. Some said it’s possible that a finite task would not be completed if given infinite time in which to attempt it. Then it must be asked: “Why not?” Doesn’t that tell us that we can’t comprehend infinity?

This is not a monkey, it’s a chimpanzee. If the task is eventually completed, will the achievement count? Or will the chimp be disqualified for not being a monkey?

6. Mr B has begun a new series: paradigms. Each week he will present an absurd idea that most of us think is a good idea because most people hold it. Today it was: ‘We are all entitled to a reasonable standard of living.’

As predicted, people took umbrage. They raised all sorts of concerns about inequality and wealth distribution. But that’s what happens when you adopt the collective beliefs of a society – you get fooled. (According to Mr B, that is.)

7. It was 5.15pm when Mr B decided he had had enough, and he shanghaied Mark the Grinner onto the Ladder of Knowledge. Mark the Grinner was all over the place, as usual, and as usual he kept his listeners transfixed, or laughing.

Mark had trouble identifying the sex of one poor kid, who as a result will no doubt be in therapy for his entire adult life. (Though the kid did seem to take it well. Besides, he/she is a good looking kid so that’s a good upside.)

Mark also railed against a bunch of university students. He claimed they didn’t have the mettle children in school seem to have, because school children are better protestors. The university students took it well and gave it back to him. They accused everyone older than they of being to blame for the world’s trouble.

Mark must have said other things too but your gentle scribe was too busy reeling from the insults he was receiving from Mark, to notice.

8. Other topics discussed.
– With regards to jobs and automation, what will the future bring for young people?

– Will the Earth be habitable in fifty years? (The young ones didn’t seem to think so. But then again, they didn’t seem to mind either. They were laughing away.)

– What are the four ways to die? (There are only four, it appears.)

– You’re a tree. Where are you and who’s looking after you? What do your answers say about the way you look at life?

– If someone tries to shoot someone and misses, should they receive the sentence they would have received had they succeeded? Or, should they receive a lesser sentence (as is the case) simply because their aim was poor?

– Should we allow advertisers to use any image they like of anyone they like, to advertise their product, without having the person’s permission and without having to pay them? Mr B thought it might be a good idea. Your scribe figures it won’t be happening soon.

– If women and their babies are being saved when they would both normally die in childbirth without medical intervention, does that mean they may be giving birth to children who have the same ‘dangerous childbirth’ genes (if indeed the cause was faulty genes and not just bad luck)? If so, in the far future will natural childbirth be possible for western women?

From the Postsecret site:

9. Speaking of childbirth, this week’s unusual creature in our Unusual Creature Series is the Marabau stork of Africa. It was recently offended by our Facebook page.

Marabau stork. Photograph by Jon Jermey

44. Peter doesn’t talk about feminism.

“We have to look after humans. Animals had their chance to evolve into humans, but they didn’t, so fuck ’em.”
Mark the Grinner.

1. Mr B began the day with a whinge about Journalist Fran Kelly and other journalists like her. When journalists ask a politician, “Would you like to be leader some day?” that ‘gotcha’ question means however the journalist answers, they’re damned. And, if they criticise the question and refuse to answer it, they’re accused of prevaricating.

Then Uncle Pete took the ladder. Last week he said he would talk this week for fifteen minutes about feminism. However, during the week he made the ‘mistake’ of presenting his views to his wife and two adult daughters. He was quickly and thoroughly set straight. So, his talk on feminism today was a fizzer, but in his usual entertaining fashion he talked about other things.

2. Other topics discussed:
– When someone tends to study a topic and talk about it at length with anyone who will listen (or pretend to listen), what’s going on? Is there a deeper concern not being addressed? Can we discover it?

– If for our entire lives we Australians will be governed by one only Labor or the coalition, do we really live in a democracy?

– Do the people wanting a one world government have our best interests in mind?

3. Mr B wants to know: Are you like Sir Thrustalot?

4. At 3.30pm the rain fell, and we all went home.

With thanks to Peter the Younger, today’s unusual critter for our Unusual Creature Series is a freshwater crab found in Northern Australia. When the river is dry it lives in burrow in the side of the river bank, and estivates. That means it spends the dry period in a dormant state. (No, not Tasmania. In a torpor.) Neither of the specimens below has subscribed to our Facebook page.

43. Mr B defends the boys of St Kevins.

“Science is the real news. The rest is the same old stuff coming around and around, yet again.”
Paul Davies.

1. It was a beautiful Goldilocks day in which half the people wanted to be in the shade, and half in the sun. We made it happen.

The bad news: Steve Maxwell and Ray didn’t turn up.

The good news: Steve has written an article about Adelaide’s Speakers’ Corner. You’ll find it below.

Ex-teacher Uncle Pete began the afternoon with a series of anecdotes. One was about the day he gave a student an unacceptable, over-the-top roasting, and he later apologised to the boy and to the entire class, and ended up being liked and respected. How does he get away with his behaviour? We don’t know, but he gets away with bad behaviour every week at Speakers’ Corner.

Next week he will be stepping onto the Ladder of Knowledge and talking about feminism.

2. Mr B had some strong words to say to the people who criticised the boys at St Kevin’s College in Melbourne for singing lewd songs in a bus. He said that to shove a strapping youth into a school desk for hours every day is like forcing a Ferrari to drive at no more than 30kms an hour. Plus, those boys are in a boys’ school, so they’re not getting the opportunity to mix with girls and learn to relate with them. And, at their sexual prime they’re not getting their needs addressed. Is it any wonder they become a little ‘twisted’, and sing lewd songs on buses?

“What did 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.”
From ‘The Solitaire Mystery’ by Jostein Gaarder.

If we are to criticise those boys for their poor behaviour, we should also thank them for the sacrifices they make in order to please society.

Please note that Mr B’s views are not necessarily the views of this scribe.

Well, maybe they are. Mr B does seem to know what he’s talking about.

3. At one point passer-by Daniel got up to speak about Liberal policies. He fielded lots of questions, which is the sign of a good speaker.

Daniel left his jacket behind. If he wants it back he can email this scribe at

4. We played another three rounds of ‘Would I lie to You?’  We had one unashamed liar: Carol did NOT in her earlier years pretend to be a guru and accidentally get a follower.

However, Peter the Younger told the truth, while trying to lie! He coincidentally DID happen to live in a house for four weeks and not know a cat was also living there. And, Uncle Pete DOES always eat toast in the morning (at 3am).

The truth is out there!

5. Mr B has thrown at us another chapter of his book on resilience and happiness. He wants us to ignore the dills in the peanut gallery.

The dills in the peanut gallery.

6. Other topics discussed:
-Some people have a penchant to learn about events in history as though they’re collecting stamps, yet seem to have no insight into the ‘other side’s’ point of view.

– We learned about Pat, a 95 year old woman with advanced macular degeneration, who still mows her lawn (and changes its spark plugs). She lives near a small country town in East Gippsland, and when she rings a tradie to have something fixed, the tradie arrives the next day and does it for free. She can’t get anyone to accept her money. Even the bus driver, who takes her to Bairnsdale once a fortnight, makes sure he goes off his route to pick her up and drop her off at her front gate.
I guess that can happen in a small community when you do good things for people while you’re young and healthy.

– We heard about the woman who dived into a river to save her son from drowning. After she had saved him and returned to her seat, it was pointed out that she still had a (now soggy) cigarette between her lips.

– We heard from Mirko in the audience. He insisted on being informed as to what we should do with mentally ill people with ten fingers, in a bus. If you understand what he is getting at, you’re a genius.

– Mr B told us he had heard countless stories of women being pestered by men to go out with them,  and who had finally said ‘yes’ to the man, and then ended up marrying him. Mr B wanted to know why such stories are appreciated, given how many times we hear of men being shamed for asking a woman out more than once. (“What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” and “That’s sexual harrassment.”) Mr B’s grasshoppers attempted to set him straight. But by the end of the topic he still looked bewildered.

– Just to clear things up: your scribe informs you that the capitalised letter ‘N’ represents the chemical Nitrogen, as well as the 14th letter in our alphabet, whereas the lowercase ‘o’ has the sole function of being the fifteenth letter of the alphabet.
In other words, your scribe understands both parts of the word ‘No’. Not that it’s helped any.

– What does it mean to objectify women? (Or men?) For that matter, what does it mean to objectify an object? What does it mean to subjectify an object? What’s the objective in asking these questions?

– Helmut discussed free will. He said it exists!

7. In our Unusual Critter Series we proudly present to you a crayfish that doesn’t inhabit creeks, rivers or lakes. Or oceans, for that matter. It lives in the ground. There are 17 species and nearly all of them live in Victoria, Australia. They would all jump at the chance to subscribe to our Facebook page. You do have that opportunity, so don’t waste it.

8. Stalwart Steve Maxwell has, in his lighthearted style, written more articles for his Passing Parade. Here is the first:


In 1836, the South Australian colony was established through free migration directly from Great Britain. No convict transportation was assigned to South Australia.

British politician Edward Wakefield (1796-1862) campaigned for colonization and self-government in the empire. His system of settlement took no account of aboriginal rights and took tight control of land and labour. Adelaide soon became a centre of trade and commerce. Rich mineral deposits and agricultural land ensured the success of the colony. It was not long before trade unions organized, among the miners from South Australia and Broken Hill, (N.S.W.). Once the population reached 50,000, self-government was granted in 1851. The first parliament under responsible government was elected in 1857.

The Botanic Park’s Speakers’ Corner began as a religious forum. Open-air religious meetings were common in the streets of Adelaide during the 1840’s and 50’s. And the first report of a Speakers’ Corner was found in the Botanic Garden’s Annual Report from 1887 where there appeared this significant announcement:

“On Sunday afternoon some religious sects, the Salvation Army, and the Crusaders, assembled in “THE CIRCLES” for worship and as long as no damage is done to the location, I do not see any reason for preventing such assemblages.” 

For the next seventy years, Botanic Park Speakers’ Corner was the beating heart of Adelaide’s public politics. Non-conformist protestants began to flourish in the colony – some with the motto “WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS LIBERTY”. But the spirit of The Lord works in mysterious ways. The Methodist Weekly of 1912 complained about their losing their grip on the working class. “Men who formerly were in our churches are now at the Botanic Park on sabbath afternoons or at some other political gathering. The leader of the Labor and socialistic movement is largely outside our churches”.

As the 19th century closed, the rise of the working-class platforms began to grow and outnumber the religious platforms. The 20th century saw the rise and fall of Speakers’ Corner.

Steve Maxwell, Oct 2019

– The Botanic Garden’s Annual Reports.
– The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide and State Herbarium.
– The Mortlock Library South Australia
– ‘Free Speech in Botanic Park’ by L.P. Jervis.
– Sound of Trumpets History of the Labour Movement in South Australia   P59. by Jim Moss

Botanic Park, Adelaide