This site is the archive for the videos and posts created for the Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner website: speakerscorner.org.au
“A mystic is a person who is puzzled before the obvious, but understands the non-existent.
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.
“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!
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?
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.
“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.
“Science is the real news. The rest is the same old stuff coming around and around, yet again.”
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 email@example.com.
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.
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. https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/visit/botanic-park/salvation-army-botanic-park https://www.weekendnotes.com/speakers-corner-botanic-park-adelaide/
– Sound of Trumpets History of the Labour Movement in South Australia P59. by Jim Moss
“And how shall you punish those whose remorse is already greater than their misdeeds?”
1. The thing about Steve Maxwell is that he is versatile. Not only does he have an extensive grasp of Australian history and Australian politics, and not only does he explore countless contemporary topics such as climate change and U.S. politics . . . he is also an artist. And his art varies considerably in style as well. Today he used six of his paintings to help him examine climate change and make a protest. They were on display to inspire questions and discussions.
2. Mirko was yet again an annoying garden gnome. Each week he displays incredible rudeness by thrusting his material in front of people and talking about it, while they’re trying to listen to the speaker. We all still love him, but why?
On the other hand, Michael behaved impeccably. By not turning turn up.
3. We enjoyed another session of playing ‘Would I lie to you?’ All four participants turned out to be liars. What a disgrace. Philip did NOT walk around with a stone in his shoe for a week. Jackie did NOT find a body in a national park. Uncle Pete does NOT have a PhD. Peter the Younger did NOT go to the wrong funeral and only realise it the next day.
What’s the world coming to?!
4. Sashin got up to read us an excerpt of a poem, and some quotes. From a chair in the audience, Mr B politely interrogated Sashin about the gist of what he was saying, which was about the role of meditation in dealing with suffering. It was an eye opener to see Mr B polite.
5. Mr B regained the Ladder of Knowledge and responded with some rhetoric about the merits of anger, though at one point a young woman called Jackie proved him wrong. Mr B doesn’t appreciate troublemakers proving him wrong and if we had had some security at Speakers’ Corner, Jackie would have been ejected from the park.
But we don’t, so she stayed.
Then Philip took the Ladder of Knowledge to speak about the body’s relationship with the mind, and whether or not trees and other plants can in some way know what the hell is going on around them. (If they do, they are are faring better than some of the hecklers.)
We learned that a slime mould learned to find its way around a maze. But did it cheat?
6. Mr B has submitted yet another chapter of his interminable book about resilience. This chapter sounds like it would suit upcoming Halloween. It’s about Charlotte and the Creatures of the Dark Forest.
7. Other topics discussed:
– What makes you angry?
– From where to emotions come? What part does the gut and its microbes play?
– One fellow turned up to talk about the existence or non-existence of God. That’s about the only topic Mr B refuses to talk about. So, the fellow moved to another vacant ladder nearby and raised the topic. We hope he persists, because once he gets the hang of it he’ll attract a big audience.
– Meanwhile, across the way, Ray continued to patiently try to save a few passers’-by souls. (Did you like that plural and the apostrophe? Perhaps Mr B is right: we should simplify spelling and get rid of apostrophes.)
– Helmut spoke about how and why tennis players purposely lose tennis matches, and end up richer because of it.
– Six questions from Mr B helped us explore ethics.
– The slaughter of unwanted racehorses. What Pollyanna world are people living in if they didn’t realise that was happening? Mr B put forth a plan.
– We did “You’re a tree” again. This time the tree had no idea where it was, or what water was, or anything, because it was a tree and, as we have established, trees don’t tend to know what the hell is going on. Nevertheless, the experiment was enlightening.
8. This week’s unusual animal from the Unusual Critter Series is the Muskox of the arctic. It can’t click on our Facebook page because its hooves aren’t dexterous enough. But this forlorn threesome wish they could.
9. Mr B has finally given up waiting for his damsel to reappear. He tells your scribe he is taking a new approach: he will be playing hard to get.
Good on him, but this is all getting a bit silly, and your scribe will no longer report on Mr B’s efforts to find his one true love. (Or her sister if she’s better looking.)
“Success is about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is about growing others.”
1. When your scribe walked up alongside the Art Gallery on his way to Speakers’ Corner, a bit before 2pm, he heard yelling. ‘Uh oh,” I thought, ‘Someone’s angry and it sounds like it might lead to violence.’ But when I was closer I recognised the source of the voice: Peter the Younger. Steve Maxwell had with him a huge painting, and on it were remarks about climate change.
Simply, Speakers’ Corner had started a little early. However, without the ‘Speakers’ Corner’ signs about to warn passers-by, it just sounded like an argument getting out of control. But no, it was just Speakers’ Corner.
Which means, of course, that the only difference between grown men yelling at each other, and Speakers’ Corner, are the signs proclaiming that it’s Speakers’ Corner.
Why can’t we all get along?
2. Today we had fresh, delicious home baked Anzac biscuits (thank you, Aunty), tasty gingerbread (thank you, Ray) and cheesecake (thanks, Mr B, for not saving me a slice!). We were commemorating/celebrating two things: (1) the fact that Uncle Pete has not smoked for twenty years, and (2) the fact that from today, Mark the Grinner will not be smoking. We applaud them both.
Both men spoke about their choices, and answered questions.
The festivities were interrupted by a kookaburra making a statement about Steve Maxwell’s Eureka flag.
3. Would I lie to you? We played the popular television game and the punters liked it. We’ll be doing it again in future. Bring along a truth about yourself (Mr B will provide the lie) and be part of the action.
4. Mr B presents another chapter from his book for young people. In this excerpt he suggests we don’t talk like a zombie.
5. Other topics discussed:
– Steve spoke about climate change and how it’s human induced. Peter the Younger finally got fed up and moved elsewhere.
– Ray spent some one-to-one time with a member of God’s flock.
– Helmut spoke softly and patiently to his groundlings about science.
– Mirko proudly explained that if you do a google search for ‘Mirko Terzic inventor’ you will find he is on the first page of google’s rankings! This proves he is finally being taken seriously. Yes, Mirko, well deserved! He even presented us with a laminated print of what he had found on the site: a photo of himself and an impressive list of his achievements. They looked slightly familiar.
– Should we burn the churches? Matthew 6: 5-8 (NIV) from the Bible seems to suggest we should.
– Imagine you’re a tree . . . Where would you be growing? Who or what waters the tree? Who or what looks after you? . . . .
Can you see why you chose that image?
One brave soul participated, and your scribe wishes Mr B had spent more time with her image because there was more to say. But he seemed distracted by serial pest Michael, and the job was only half done.
– Isaac Asimov wrote one of the most popular science fiction short stories of all time: ‘Nightfall’. Mr B told us the story and made a hash of it.
– Serial pest Michael “kindly” volunteered to speak. So we let him. Five times he stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and gave us his views. (And five times we all moved rapidly away to somewhere else.) For some reason, we couldn’t persuade him to ascend the Ladder of Knowledge a sixth time.
– Why is Australia like Bus number 2, the Coolibah Queen?
– Mr B gave four tips on how to become a good listener, and seven tips on how to be interesting. Perhaps he should use those tips himself.
One of those tips was: be like Mr Ed, who never spoke unless he had something to say.
6. This week’s unusual critter from the Unusual Creature Series is the Arctic wolf. These two specimens would chew our Facebook page to pieces if they could.
“Plagiarism: stealing from one person to feed another. Merely a conduit. Requiring no more talent, and being no more meaningful, than the cable delivering the talent to the TV set.”
1. Every year, without fail, Tony Boyce has turned up an hour late the day when Daylight Saving begins. You can set your sundial by it. However, he didn’t turn up at all this time. He is not yet allowed to leave his maximum security aged care home. Your scribe visited him and he says hello to you all. He misses Speakers’ Corner and heckling Helmut.
Don’t count on Tony not coming back sometime, Helmut!
2. Passer-by Jenny Lowe got up to speak. She spoke about DNA and explained how it was integral to life. She also said it is too complex to have arisen on Earth; it must have come from outer space. That prompted Peter the Younger to ask a question or two.
Jenny has written a book, “Are you ready . . .?” and she kindly sold a few of us copies. It might come in handy because in it she reveals the identity of the anti-Christ.
Your scribe was lucky enough to get a copy, but I won’t be revealing the identity of the anti-Christ any time in the near future. You can buy your own copy.
Hint: it’s not Bindi Irwin.
3. Philip came again! He is becoming a regular heckler and speaker. He was again persuaded to say a few words on the Ladder of Knowledge, and he had three topics. One was about the brain. ‘Is it simply a communications system that connects each part of the body?’ he wanted to know, ‘like a telephone system?’ (Or something like that, anyway.)
And, Philip explained why autonomous vehicles will allow greater public nudity. And, he suggested that joining the 20 Centimetre Club might become commonplace.
Philip also wanted to know: “Why aren’t fire escapes slippery dips?”
One very good thing about Philip: he chooses unusual, original topics that attract our interest immediately.
4. Bertrand’s Box Paradox.
Three boxes, labeled A, B & C. In one box are two gold coins. In another, two silver coins. The third: one gold coin and one silver coin. Jenny is asked to guess which box has the gold and silver coins. Jenny points to box C. What is the chance she is correct? Answer: 1 in 3.
So far, so good.
One coin is taken from box C and it is seen to be a silver coin. It is then put back into the box. Again we ask: “What is the chance that the box contains a gold and silver coin?” (In other words, what is the chance that the other coin is gold?) Is the answer 1 in 3, or 1 in 2? (After all, we can eliminate the box with two gold coins.)
The answer, counter-intuitively, is still 1 in 3.
One way to look at the problem is: “What is the chance that Jenny chose the only box with coins of a different colour?” Obviously the answer would 1 in 3, and just because we happen to see one of the coins doesn’t change anything; it’s still 1 in 3.
But to please the doubters, let’s change the question to the more commonly asked question: “What is the chance the other coin is also silver?” (Again, we can eliminate the box with two gold coins.) Is the answer 1 in 2? 1 in 3? Or 2 in 3?
Again, counter-intuitively the answer is 2 in 3.
Consider: “What is the chance that two coins of the same colour were chosen?” The answer is obviously 2 in 3. And, just because we happen to see one of the coins doesn’t change anything; the answer will still be 2 in 3.
This scribe is obliged to suggest to Mr B that from now on he go easier on his poor befuddled grasshoppers. Again they were hopelessly out of their depth. Not so much for getting the answer wrong, but for having the temerity to suggest that Mr B himself was wrong.
5. Here is another enthralling chapter from Mr B’s book for young people. Is his book a self-help book? No, it’s a pre-self-help book. Its purpose is to help young people become adults who don’t need self-help books. What presses your button?
7. Other topics discussed:
– Mr B spoke about the advantages and disadvantages of having a one world government. Peter the Younger was sceptical about the advantages, to say the least.
Later, Philip also spoke about the nature of what a one world government might be like.
– Joe asked a question about whether the mind is human, or what is the mind?, or something like that, but Mr B was flummoxed by the question (as is your scribe). It was Mr B’s turn to be out of his depth and he admitted it. He gave a lame answer and moved on.
– Is it a bad sign for someone when he rescues a fruit fly from a bathroom and puts it outside? And opens all his doors to let blowflies escape, instead of swatting them?
– What’s the secret about the almonds next to Tony’s bed?
– Recurring dreams.
– Swedish health care was compared with Chinese health care.
8. This week’s unusual creature in our Unusual Critter Series is the Colugo, a close relative of the primates found in South East Asia. This particular one has given our Facebook page five stars.
“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?
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.
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.
6. Poor Mr B.
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!
How dare you!
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.