The Archives for Speakers’ Corner, Sydney.

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


38. Lots of yelling!

“A truly liberated woman is not reciting mantras about how much she loves her body.”

1. Phew! To those of you who live in inner Sydney we apologise for all the yelling today. Mr B versus Peter the Younger. Mr B versus Mirko. Mr B versus Helmut. Mr B versus Michael. Can you see a pattern emerging? Yes, the delicate, humble Mr B was besieged by grasshoppers barking at him, and in a bid for self-preservation he may have raised his voice a little. This time he didn’t lose his voice!

What must the passers-by have thought?

Two intrigued passers-by.

2. Don’t forget: this coming Sunday Tim Brunero is hosting a debate at twelve noon, between the Monarchists and the Republicans. Journalist Peter Fitzsimmons will be there, as will 2GB radio host Chris Smith. Plus, experienced debators will add a little gloss and humour to the topic.

It won’t be streamed on Facebook. So, if you have been thinking about visiting Speakers’ Corner, why not come this Sunday?

Before Tim’s meeting starts at 12 (not 2pm), Mr B will take a fresh approach to the topic. That alone will be worth the price of admission.

Price of admission: free.

3. How do you feel about circus lions being kept in cages?

Did you get the right answer?

Click here to go to Mr B’s blog and find out.


4. Other topics discussed:
– Sashin turned up and spoke about epistemology. It was his first experience with Michael in the audience but he managed well enough. Sashin has patience.

– Sashin also asked, “What can be done to improve Speakers’ Corner?”. One of the suggestions made was about Michael.

– Were the people who booed the footballer Adam Goodes racist?

– Dr Harris and his ‘Intelligence Trap’. Is it true that intelligent people often tend to be poor thinkers? Are they trapped by their own intelligence? One thing is for sure: the hecklers have nothing to worry about in that regard.

– Women: don’t feel obliged to love your body.

– We learned about McArthur Wheeler who, once he learned lemon juice can make invisible ink, painted his face with lemon juice and robbed a bank, thinking he was invisible.

– Yap money. There are coins on the micronesian island nearly four metres in diameter and they have been used as currency by the locals for up to 2,000 years. One sank in the ocean, but it’s still being used.

Yap money

5. This week’s unusual creature in the Unusual Creature Series is the cuttlefish. Every one of the critters in these cuttlefish eggs has its own Facebook account.

Cuttlefish eggs

6. Poor Mr B.

A reminder

Groundlings, seekers, history buffs and grasshoppers! Remember: today’s meeting at Speakers’ Corner begins at 11.45am, not 2pm.

At 12 noon Tim Brunero will be hosting the debate between the monarchists and the republicans. Journalist Peter Fitzsimons, radio host Chris Smith and some entertaining debators will be doing their bit to convince us. There will be plenty of chairs for everyone.

At 2pm the “normal” Speakers’ Corner begins.

So, why come at 11.45? Because the generous Mr Bashful will be explaining why we should not become a republic, then he’ll explain why we should, then he’ll present the third option, which no one talks about. And that third option will satisfy most of us.

So, if you’re thinking of coming to day, cut some sandwiches (banana and date, apple and raisin, vegemite and crushed walnut) and bring a Sunny Boy orange juice, and be there early!

39. Tim’s debate.

How dare you!
Greta Thunberg.

1. At twelve noon, Tim Brunero hosted a debate between those in favour of Australia becoming a republic, and those who aren’t. Unfortunately, there was a disagreement in how the meeting should be conducted. The debaters were not interested in taking comments or questions from the audience, as is tradition at Speakers’ Corner, and some members of the audience were not interested in letting them get away with it. In short, the two oratory styles didn’t mix, and as a result there was resentment and irritation on both sides.

One of the skills a good speaker should have is to ‘know your audience, and speak to them accordingly’. However, your scribe got the impression that the speakers had given no thought to their the audience beforehand, and that they would have delivered the same speeches regardless of who they were talking to. Had the audience been all nuns, or all police, or all Nepalese goat herders, the speakers would have delivered the same speeches in the same way. (Though a couple of the speakers did begin to adapt.)

Perhaps your scribe should clear something up: the hecklers who visit Speakers’ Corner each week are not the irrational rabble that the regular speakers paint them to be. Yes, there are one or two hecklers who are as mad as a hose let go, but the majority are intelligent, well educated and well read. They have something to say and their contribution to a topic is invaluable. I’m not suggesting that today the debaters should have given the hecklers free rein, but I am suggesting that their insular debating style does not suit Speakers’ Corner. At Speakers’ Corner, the hecklers do not come in order to be passively fed other people’s ideas, like sheep coming to the farmer’s trough; instead, they come to contribute and to keep the speaker honest. Today was a clash of expectations.

I should add that the debating speakers should be grateful that most of the regular hecklers mercifully let them be.

However, apart from that difference in expectations, the meeting went well and ran at a brisk pace. There was a healthy attendance, some good points made, free sausages in bread rolls, and no apparent logistical hiccups. Tim Brunero does know how to organise a good meeting.

2. Here are some of the topics discussed after 2pm:
– Does pornography do harm to the people who watch it?

– What can people do to avoid being lonely?

– I am better than no one, and no one is better than me. Is that true?

– Why do we need to burn the Mona Lisa?

– Why is the green plastic “grass” you find is sushi trays proof that humankind has no hope in the future?

3. Today’s unusual critter in our Unusual Creature Series is the Island Fox, native to islands off California. This one has expressed only disdain for our Facebook page.

4. This is getting pathetic, Mr B.




37. The passers-by speak!

“Data is not information. Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom.”

1. A beautiful day! All went well and we had three passers-by who bravely got up onto the Ladder of Knowledge to speak. Each one of them spoke well and kept the audience interested and asking questions.

We heard from mathematician Dave, who pointed out that we Australians, unlike the Americans, tend to not write poems about our rivers. And, if we want to our rivers looked after in future, we need to start writing poems about them. Uncle Pete helped out immediately with two lines, having ‘water’ rhyming with ‘oughta’. It had a lot of potential.

We have no photo or drawing of Dave. To imagine what Dave looks like, imagine a tall, strikingly handsome man with style and charisma, with Dave standing next to him.

We also heard Sashin speak, about the nature of knowledge, epistemology. A thoughtful man if ever there was one.


And, Chris spoke about consciousness. He fielded all the questions thrown at him, and dealt with them well.


2. Artist and legend Steve Maxwell took a break from speaking, and drew pictures of Sashin and Chris.

Good work, Steve!

Sashin, drawn by Steve Maxwell


Chris, drawn by Steve Maxwell

3. Mr B was wrong. DO NOT come early this coming Sunday, 22nd. It’s the following Sunday, though that is yet to be confirmed.

4. Mr B said we enjoy eating sugar and fat because thousands of years ago those foods were beneficial. Today, however, it’s easy to find those foods and we tend to eat too much of them. He said it’s the same with knowledge. Thousands of years ago knowledge was invaluable, but today there is a glut of it, and like sugar and fat, we gain too much of it. We need to be watchful. Many of us need to acquire less knowledge.

It’s safe to say not everyone agreed with Mr B.

5. Mr B presents another chapter of his book for young people. He reckons it’s important to label our emotions, and be specific. Right now, your scribe is labelling both reluctance and scepticism about Mr B’s ideas.

What emotion is to be labelled here?

6. Other topics discussed:
– Helmut gave his thoughts on consciousness, and how Isaac Newton’s consciousness was seriously deficient.

– The Meaning of Life – versions 3 & 5. The grasshoppers who made the enquiry had heads on their shoulders, and made the topic interesting.

– If a criminal is given 15 years jail, for example, then let’s knock five of those years off the sentence in exchange for having his cell time streamed online 20 hours a day. Why? Mr B argued that any appeal jail has for some would-be offenders would be considerably diminished if they were to see friends and family bored witless. Predictably, Mr B’s grasshoppers were not impressed with this idea either. That’s why they’re grasshoppers. They’re there to learn.

– When Mr B was asked what he thought about Donald Trump he chose to avoid the question. Though he wasn’t good at it.

– Mirko explained how our planet’s two hemispheres represent two polarity, and how a computer’s binary system, one and zero, represents positive and negative, respectively. That should clear things up.

– Mr B also called for complete transparency with regards to a politician’s health. If they are unhealthy in some way we should know about it, he said, giving examples. He also cited Joe Biden’s attempt at gaining the Democratic nomination for next year’s upcoming US election. Joe will be 77 in the election year, and 77 to 83 is far too old for a presidency, said Mr B.
It was the old guys who objected.

– Political donations are spent on . . . what?

– In his talk on epistemology, Sashin mentioned how people used to believe the Earth was flat. If it were flat, here is how the moon might look in a lunar eclipse:

7. In our Unusual Creature Series we present to you the Arabian Oryx. It uses ‘Google Translate’ to read our Facebook page.

8. Poor Mr B is still choosing to remain in the park late into the night, to wait for his admirer.

36. What would change your mind?

Just in case you find an eccentric person at Speakers’ Corner, remember this:

‘Eccentrics seem out of step with conventional standards. Maybe they dress differently, have an unusual habit, or are hyperfocused on a specific topic. Others may think they are mentally deficient, but they are not. In ‘Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness,’ American-born and British-educated pyschiatrist David Weeks writes how eccentrics are often physically healthier and significantly happier than “normal” people. He says they typically exhibit five similar characteristics: they are nonconformist, creative, intensely curious, idealistic and unconcerned with how they contrast with conventional culture. Yet, their presence can be unsettling to some.’
Maureen Zappala, author, and president of the National Speakers Association, Ohio.

1. Mr B turned up with a chest cold that would have killed a thousand elephants. Gamely, heroically, inspirationally, he began his meeting. The subject of climate change quickly came up and Mr B converted it to a talk about emotional beliefs. Do you have an emotional belief, dear reader? An emotional belief is a belief that has become so ingrained in you, and so important to you, that nothing will change your mind.

The danger, of course, is that if your belief isn’t true, you will have no way of knowing that.

Think of a strong belief you have, that you know to be right. For example, do you believe in something that uninformed people mistakenly think is silly?  Do you have a belief that some people are inferior? Do you believe that you’re not worthy? Or loveable? Or that you’re ugly? Or stupid? Or wonderful?

Then with that belief in mind, ask yourself these seven questions:

Q1. What would change your mind? Precisely what evidence would you need to have your mind changed?
Q2. When someone challenges your belief do you immediately try to prove the person wrong?
Q3. Do you easily become irritated when your belief is challenged?
Q4. Do you avoid a person’s awkward question and answer a different one?
Q5. Do you  tend to embrace evidence that supports your point of view, and reject evidence that contradicts it?
Q6. Do you ‘just know’ that it’s true?

If nothing would change your mind, it’s an emotional belief.
If you are intent on proving the other person wrong, that’s an emotional belief.
If you quickly become irritated with a conflicting point of view, it’s an emotional belief.
If you tend to evade properly answering questions about your belief, it’s an emotional belief.
If you succumb to confirmation bias, it’s an emotional belief.
If you know ‘just know’ that it’s true, it’s an emotional belief.

So, do you have an emotional belief? If so, is it making you look silly? Is it disabling you?

Will you let it continue to disable you?

In what way do you benefit from holding that belief?

What other disabling emotional beliefs do you have?

Star signs are true. Your scribe is a Copularian. (Sign of the Fornicator)

2. Giving that lecture was all the ill Mr B could manage, and he and the trillion little virus critters within him sat down. A series of speakers followed. First was Uncle Pete, who began talking about climate change. From his chair, Peter the Younger had a lot to say in response.

The really interesting bit was about one of the mysteries of quantum mechanics. Radium has a half-life of about 1,600 years. That means in 1,600 years half the atoms in a ‘block’ of radium will have decayed. In another 1,600 years another half will have decayed. And so on. The interesting thing is: even though all the atoms are the same, and all are unstable, we cannot predict which ones will decay and which ones won’t. Why would one atom decay almost immediately and another take thousands of years to decay, while both are (seemingly) exactly the same?

No one knows. How interesting!

What is the half-life of radium?

3. Elsewhere, Helmut kept his audience informed and entertained about matters of science, while across the way Steve Maxwell did the same with his expansive knowledge of history.

On the Ladder of Knowledge, still vacated by the sickly Mr B, Mirko kindly explained how gravity creates hydrogen gas (even though it doesn’t). Then Mark the Grinner spoke about the disadvantages of black and white thinking and the Dunning-Kruger effect. Then we heard from Peter the Younger, who passionately defended his point of view on climate change. Lastly, we heard from someone from the audience, Ahren. Ahren kept the crowd until it was long after 5pm and time to pack up. Ahren explained what it means to be a perrenial. (It has something to do with our search for the Universal Truth.)

Each and every one of the speakers did an excellent job.

If all the current regular speakers were to retire tomorrow (or fall off the perch), Speakers’ Corner would continue without missing a beat. We have a plethora of entertaining speakers ready to fill the gaps.


4. Other topics discussed:
– Native Title compensation. Are there inconsistencies we need to sort out?

– Tim Brunero’s special meeting has been postponed to September 29.

– Uncle Pete explained why he became an atheist. Going to a Catholic school is a good place in which to become an atheist, apparently.

5. Here is another chapter from Mr B’s blog about resilience. He wants to know what you are thinking, and feeling. Intrusive bugger.

6. A few weeks ago, one of Mr B’s anonymous grasshoppers left a note on his car, expressing interest in him and promising to come back the following week. It is this scribe’s unpleasant duty to inform you that his adoring fan has not yet been back to see him, and poor Mr B has been pining. At the end of every meeting he has waited, and waited, until long after night has fallen and the bats are weeing on him.

Poor Mr B, a lone figure in the stillness of the night. Waiting. And waiting.

7. In this week’s Unusual Critter Series we present to you one member of the virus attacking poor Mr B. The photo was taking with an electron microscope. This individual also tried to hack our Facebook site.



35. Fathers’ Day ignored yet again.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum  up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

1. It was the first day of Spring and Mr B began with his poem, ‘Ode to Spring’ . It finished abruptly with a rhyme unfinished because he had heard of that old showbiz trick: ‘leave them wanting more’. Oh dear.

The only trouble was, his listeners didn’t want more. But he gave it to them anyway, with his equally awkward, ‘Ode to Kitchen Utensils’.

2. It was Father’s Day today as Steve, Ray, Helmut, John August, Mark the Grinner, Helmut, Mirko and Mr B did their thing on their stepladders. Here are two Father’s Day postcards  from the Postsecret site.

3. The two mad villians were at it again. Having now called them mad, for legal reasons I can’t name them. Suffice to say, their behaviour was “unsettling”. Mirko . . . oh, damn, his name slipped out . . . He was rude, arrogant, invasive, loud and incomprehensible. His normal self, basically. Strangely, he remains likeable. The other unnamed miscreant has the same faults, and persistently interrupted us with his remarks about commo atheists. So very tiresome, Michael.  . . . Oh, damn.

4. A proton was driving along when a policeman pulled him over. “Do you realise you were going 121 kilometres per hour in a 60 zone?” asked the policeman. ‘Gosh,” said the proton, “I must be lost.”

That charming little joke began a discussion about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Mr B wanted some clarification about its role in the movement of a particle at (or very close to) Absolute Zero. That’s -273.15 degrees Celsius. Does quantum mechanics come to play?

In our laboratories we cannot reach Absolute Zero (we’re a few billionths of a degree off). Uncle Pete explained why. He also explained what electrons do and don’t do around the nucleus of an atom. Naturally, Helmut also had something to say.

5. Standing on the Ladder of Knowledge, Mirko told us how he was abducted by aliens and given subliminal knowledge about 21st century science. We tried to find out if he was also anally probed by the aliens, but the truth never came out. Which is probably just as well.

We also heard what the letters on his cap stand for: U Fuck Off!

6. Here is another chapter 
of Mr B’s book for young people. It explains the difference between stoicism and resilience.

7. Uncle Pete challenged Mr B’s view of infanticide. It must be said, Mr B has not yet convinced us all of its merits.

Here is a confronting image of a (supposedly) abandoned baby.

8. Other topics discussed:

– The importance of soup in our path to civilisation. Unfortunately, that talk included Mr B’s poem, ‘Ode to Soup’.

– This week we heard the proper version of Newcomb’s Paradox, which uncle Pete rightly claimed was not a true paradox.
Mr B had his work cut out for him. One gentle soul chose to forgo the million dollars simply because she didn’t want to be greedy. And, her husband chose to forgo the million dollar cheque and instead took the ten thousand dollar cheque, simply because he figured it was less likely to bounce. Sigh. Mr B received idiot answers when he presented the “paradox” three years ago. Will he not learn?

– And, we heard from Uncle Pete an accurate version of ‘The Surprise Test’ paradox. ‘Language’ has a lot to answer for, apparently. Michael and Mirko blathered on like excited howler monkeys, and how Uncle Pete succeeded in giving his talk is a wonder in itself.

– Leadership. “You’re not on this planet to justify your existence to anyone. Be the leader of your universe, and lead well.” So said Mr B to a grasshopper who was looking for someone to follow and for a moral code to adopt. Yes, come to Speakers’ Corner with questions like that.

– Another grasshopper, in all seriousness, put forth the idea that we here in Australia should make artificial mountains and artificial rivers, to attract rain. Yes, that’s right, folks. Terraforming Australia.

– We heard a hammed recital of ‘Clancy of the Overflow’.

– If a group pumps out deceitful propaganda and outright lies to support their claim, does that necessarily mean their claim is false?

– We heard why Sydney should get rid of all its public transport, but over a seventy year period to prevent problems.

See what public transport can do:

9. This week’s Unusual Critter in our Unusual Creature Series is the Goblin Shark. This handsome and discerning individual thinks our Facebook siteis tops.

34. A distasteful topic.

Indigenous journalist, Stan Grant, speaking in an interview:
“I know what resentment and grievance does to human beings because I see it. Too many people dead too young, too many lost and wasted lives, too many youth suicides. Scientists now talk about epigentic intergenerational inheretance. That trauma, and being born into trauma, actually distorts your DNA. It changes your genetic makeup and makes you more susceptible to anxiety and depression and heart disease and cancer. And it kills you.  And yet, identity is so easily aligned with that sense of grievance and vengence. These things are hard to talk against. There is a righteousness to it. It feels right to be angry about these things. And we should be angry. But there is a difference between peace and justice. There is a difference. You can prosecute the past to achieve some form of justice, some atonement, for a wrong, which can never really ever be atoned, ever. Or you can seek, I think, what Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu sought: the higher justice of peace. To hear the stories of the past, but to not endlessly prosecute the grievance of the past. It’s not letting people off the hook. Far, far from it. I think it asks a lot more of us.
     There is a famous thing George Santiano once said: “Those who do not remember the past are destined to repeat it.” I think sometimes those who remember the past too well are the ones who repeat it. That we are locked into that idea that we are prisoners of that past.
  Earnest Rinan, the French philosopher, said, “A nation is born as much out of what we forget, as what we remember.” It’s not amnesia and it’s not erasure, it is setting something aside for the peace, to live and build a future that is not tied to an endless historical grievance and resentment. You don’t get it if you ignore it; you don’t get it if you silence it; you don’t get it if you perpetuate injustice; you don’t get it if you don’t acknowledge the rights of people. But you must also actively seek to live a life free from the chains of that history.”
From the ABC’s Radio National program, ‘Big Ideas‘.

1. It would have been an excellent day had some grasshoppers not disgraced themselves by presenting to everyone “untoward” mental images. Mr B had been trying to take his grasshoppers on a thought-experiment journey, but troublemakers chose to bend his topic into matters which should never, ever be raised. Some of us will have trouble sleeping tonight. It was awful.

2. Today we learned 
that one of Mr B’s grasshoppers has been watching so many SBS movies she had a dream with subtitles!

3. Here is another stirring chapter from Mr B’s book about resilience. It’s about the innate need to feel safe. We certainly need it, after today’s effort by a small few.


4. One good way to ease traffic congestion in Sydney is to get rid of all public transport, said Mr B. His view is unconventional but his reasons, sound. It was a wonderful example of the power of lateral thinking. However, one or two naysaying garden gnomes were a tad sceptical.

It’s no wonder your scribe is a big fan of Mr B and Speakers’ Corner.

Here is another good idea:

5. Other topics discussed:
– That grey area between liking something and actually becoming addicted to it: why don’t people see the approaching danger and avoid addiction? One strong answer came from Mark the Grinner: “Young, undeveloped brains can’t reason.” (And yet, we let those young brains vote, drive, drink and live.)

– Have you ever wondered why a person attracted to the opposite sex never falls in love with someone of the same sex? Or why someone attracted to the same sex invariably falls in love with a person of the same sex? It can’t be coincidence. Could it be that we fall in love with people of the sex we are sexually attracted to? No, said clear thinker Mr B. It’s the other way around: heterosexuals are born with genes that make them fall in lovewith someone of the opposite sex, and the attraction follows. In the same way, people born with genes prompting them to love people of the same sex will end up being sexually attracted to that sex.
In other words, we are not born heterosexual or homosexual, we are born heteroloving and homoloving, and the sexuality simply follows.
One garden gnome tried to suggest “that’s wrong, there’s a continuum in our sexuality”, but troublemakers like him don’t need to come to Speakers’ Corner.

– What if half the population fully absorbed the food they ate and never defecated? In fact, they weren’t even born with the defecating equipment?  What would be the ramifications?
It was a serious thought experiment with profound lessons to be learned, but Mr B’s grasshoppers instead chose to disgrace themselves. The standards found at Speakers’ Corner are already extremely low, so there was no reason to ensure they plummeted to depths unimaginable.

– bleaching.

– Mr B tried to present Newcomb’s Paradox, but mucked it up and lost his audience. Presumably, he was still getting over the shock of the previous discussion.
He promises to present Newcomb’s Paradox properly next week.

– We talked breifly about hypnogogia – the rare experience occurring between wakefulness and sleep, in which the lucky recipient is presented with an internal slide-show.

– We talked about abortion, and if and when it should happen. Mr B gave reasons why it should be allowed until the infant is about two years of age.

– Helmut, Ray and Steve also did their thing, but your scribe didn’t hear what they had to say. I was under a tree still trying to recover.

– Philip stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and spoke about aphantasia – a common condition that prevents a person from visualising in their mind an image. If you can’t picture in your mind’s eye an elephant, you have aphantasia.
Mind you, after today’s unsavoury effort from Mr B’s grasshoppers, your poor scribe desperately wishes he had aphantasia. He wants the images burned on his brain to go away.
Pray for me.


6. In our Unusual Critter Series we present to you the Binturong, native to parts of Asia. It has little to no comprehension of what Facebook is, so it is probably unaware of our Facebook page.




33. Teased by Socrateaser.

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”
Erma Bombeck

1. We had a new speaker for a while: Socrateaser. He implored us to ask him a challenging question, and each time we complied he simply asked a question of us in return. Brilliant thinking. But then he began talking about a 140 year old yogi’s tips to prevent ageing. One tip was: don’t live in square buildings. The two most important organs in the human body are the heart and the brain, and they are spherical. Therefore, we need to live in spherical surroundings.

You get the idea.

Only later did your scribe realise he was ‘having a lend’ of us. Surely! The trouble is, Speakers’ Corner has enough genuine “unorthodox” people spouting sincere nonsense that  it has become easy to assume anyone talking nonsense is “unorthodox”. But you’re not “unorthodox” are you, Socrateaser? (It’s in the name, isn’t it?) Yes, you fooled us. But you won’t do that again!


2 . After Socrateaser’s nonsense, it seemed only fair we get someone sensible to speak. But that didn’t happen. Mirko stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and told us about two polarity. He was heckled, but not outdone. Michael sat in the audience ranting about atheists and abortions, and he was not outdone. In short, the irresistable force had met the immovable object.

Oh dear.

The sensible ones in the audience left and found Helmut and Steve Maxwell. Steve ended up with a big crowd, and he held it for the rest of the day.

3. Other subjects discussed:
– What precisely is wrong with Alan Jones’ advice to our Prime Minister regarding the placement of a sock in the New Zealand Prime Minister’s gob? Mr B generously explained.

– Should there be a client/lawyer privilege? No, said Mr B. It has to go.

– The Tragedy of the Commons. ie. Should Australia reduce its carbon emissions given that even a huge reduction in our emissions would make no significant difference to Climate Change, and given that no other country would follow Australia’s example?


4. Our unusual critter this week in our Unusual Creature Series is the ball-bearing treehopper. It uses its antennae and wifi to read our Facebook page.



32. Idiocracy

“Speaking of statistics, did you know that one in seven dwarves is grumpy?”
Mark the Grinner.

1. Where was Mirko? How did we manage without him?

On the Ladder of Knowledge Mr B soon became passionate about his purpose in life, and he was pretty negative about his accomplishment. What fun!


2. It was good to see Albert and Jean back, though poor Albert received a vocal reception as a heckler and as a speaker. It seems, however, his patience is limitless. Albert spoke about the stupidity of the world’s arms race, and the importance of  collective conscousness. Good work, Albert!

Keep defending him, Jean!

3. When Mark the Grinner alighted the Ladder of Knowledge he referred to ‘Idiocracy’, a film about our future world populated and run by morons. Mark said the future is already here, and he gave us a few examples. He said being a moron is no longer an impediment.

Later, he engaged in a robust debate with Peter the Younger about humans’ role in climate change.

4. Here is another chapterof Mr B’s book. It’s about the different types of happiness researchers.

5. Other topics discussed:
– Is Mr B a narcissist?

– Mr B explained why James Hardie should not compensate do-it-yourselfers dying of asbestosis and mesothelioma. He said we all know that  some building products can be dangerous, so we should take personal responsibility for the risks we take. Mr B was not 100% popular with his grasshoppers.

– The misuse of statistics. For example: is it really true that you’re more likely to die from falling out of bed than from being killed by a shark? Yes, it’s true, but only because more people get out of bed every morning than swim in the ocean.

– We talked about suicide and its aftermath. This photo is from the Postsecret site.

6. This week’s creature in our Unusual Critter Series is the Cooloola Monster, found in parts of subterranian Queensland. It was discovered in the 1980s and is rarely seen. Today it is Guest Editor on our Facebook page.



31. Don’t get the NBN.

“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”
Brené Brown

1. Uncle Pete was the first to ascend the Ladder of Knowledge and for an hour answered questions such as, “Could the speed of light have changed over billions of years?” and “Would the Earth have a different gravity if the amount of time and space in the universe were different?” and “Should Fitzroy High School continue to teach all its boys and girls how to cook?” The answer to all three questions was, basically, ‘no’.

He also answered questions about the process of natural selection, biology, chemistry, and even the origin of life. (Though that last one hasn’t hasn’t yet been nutted out.)

Congratulations to Pete’s daughter, Sarah, for having her book, “Callan Park, hospital for the insane“, short-listed in the NSW Premier’s History Awards.

2. Does Mr B have an ego? If not, why is he up there on the Ladder of Knowledge? And what does that have to do with Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby?

3. Don’t get the NBN! advised Uncle Pete. When he visited his Optus store, Pete discovered that many people are avoiding the unnecessary hassle and cost of an NBN installation by adopting mobile broadband instead. Peter converted, and is very pleased with his 60 mps.

4. Have aliens visited Earth?A passer-by explained that twenty years ago, when he was 16 years old, he and his companion witnessed a fiery ball hover in the night sky, and then plummet. Up until then he hadn’t believed in aliens, but that object was weird.

It was suggested that the light may have been ball lightning,but he didn’t seem enamoured with that possibility.

True story: when I was a lad living in the country my mother came home late one night and excitedly explained how she had been driving in the valley when her car had suddenly been illuminated by a strong light. The light had followed her for a long stretch of the road, then blinked out. “I was being followed by a UFO” she gasped. I suggested to her that perhaps there had been hunters in the hills spotlighting, and they had turned their spotlight onto her car to see who it was. “Pooh!” she scoffed. “How likely is that?!”

5. People used to believe wacky things like ‘women shouldn’t vote’, and ‘it’s okay to smash a Chinese girl’s feet into little pieces and stuff them into shoes the size of tea cups’. What wacky beliefs do we have today that in 100 years will have people scratching their heads? Mr B explained three from his list of twenty.

6. Other topics discussed:
– In order to dampen Mirko’s “enthusiasm” we had to promise him a stint on the Ladder of Knowledge if he managed to shut up for five minutes. He sort of managed to shut up for those five minutes, and when he got up, he sort of managed to impart what he wanted to say.

– Steve Maxwell and Ray spoke too, of course, but your scribe fell asleep listening to Mr B and didn’t visit them.

– Helmut talked about quantum mechanics and the composition of an atom.

– Greg asked Uncle Pete if we should be teaching children life skills such as how to change a flat tyre. Uncle Pete was not 100% impressed with the question.

Uncle Pete changing a tyre.

7. Should we even seek happiness? Here is another chapter from Mr B’s book for young people:

8. In our Unusual Creature Series 
we present to you the gharial. This one has objected to our Facebook page.