This site is the archive for the videos and posts created for the Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner website: speakerscorner.org.au
“We are such poor judges of the worth of others that our ultimate duty remains to be kind, good, curious and imaginative about pretty much everyone who ever crosses our path – and that includes ourselves.”
Alain de Botton
1. It was another beautiful day and this time there was no sign of the Illuminati. However, they are only pausing to take a breath because next week they’ll be hindering us again. There will be no road access, which means we won’t have chairs.
And yes, Peter the Younger, let’s be wary of the Rothchilds as well.
But at least we know we have the Illuminati worried. We must not give up.
This is their symbol. Mirko has been warning us about them for some time. If only we had listened to you earlier, Mirko.
2. A few weeks agothere was an uproar in the media when a nine year-old schoolgirl refused to stand for the National Anthem in School Assembly. A few of Mr B’s grasshoppers had suggested that she should have stood for the anthem, and that her reasons for not doing so were poor. Yet, today when Mr B asked everyone to stand because he was about to sing the National Anthem, no one moved! It was as though their backsides had been glued to the chairs.
He began singing, and your discerning scribe was surprised to find that Mr B has a beautiful singing voice. Who would have thought? But despite that, and despite the fact that it was indeed our National Anthem he was singing, still no one stood!
The hypocrisy was almost palpable.
3. Speaking of hypocrisy,Mr B wondered if the people who are cheating the Opal Transport System are the same people who complain when their bank rips them off.
4. Should children leave schoolunable to understand percentages? Should they leave school without critical thinking skills? Without knowing how to change the washer on a tap? Without knowing how to cook? Is it really impossible to teach children what a mortgage is? Would a school really need thirty cars to teach children how to change a flat tyre? These and other questions were discussed in a most unpleasant, nasty half-hour. If you weren’t there, you were lucky.
Here is one advanced school teaching their students to lose their fear of heights.
5. Yet again the monkeyon the typewriter was introduced and the question was asked: “Can any finite task be completed in infinite time?” However, to make it easier for his grasshoppers, this time Mr B replaced that maladroit monkey and the choking chimp (both had caused conjecture) with another primate: a human being who can’t speak or write English. Would that help Mr B’s befuddled grasshoppers solve the conundrum?
You guessed it: no. Not even close.
Mirko regularly says the best way to write infinity is to lay the number ‘eight’ on its side. That insight would make Mirko the person closest to correctly answering the question, which shows you just how far the other grasshoppers were from even providing an answer.
Mirko wasn’t here today to claim victory. We hope you’re well, Mirko.
6. Other subjects discussed:
– Organised crime. Who does it and what do they do? Are you supporting them by the things you do?
– Should the RSLs and sports clubs (making hundreds of millions of dollars profit with their poker machines) become service hubs for government bodies such as TAFE? Should they get into child care and aged care?
– Mr B explained why he thinks the actor Geoffrey Rush is hard done by.
– Given that most people born in the 18th century and beyond would not have experienced a tenth of what we have experienced, in comparison has each and every one of us achieved a great deal in life?
– Mr B explained why he is now in favour of the Invictus Games and fully supportive of them. And, the question was asked: “Should past enemy nations (ergo, the soldiers) be invited?” Opinion was divided.
7. In our Unusual Creature Serieswe have the world’s biggest rodent, the amiable capybara of South America. It has seen our Facebook pageand is a big fan.
“The mind starts working the moment you are born, and doesn’t stop until you stand up to make a speech.”
1.Two meetings ago we had to suffera party with amplified music; last week it was the Invictus Games; and today our speaking area was fenced off by the Oktoberfest mob. Could there be a conspiracy to edge us out? After all, if the CIA created the Twin Tower incident on September 11, and if NASA went to the trouble of faking a moon landing in 1969, and if O.J. Simpson was framed by the FBI, then should we be surprised when the Illuminati attempts to quash our influence in world current affairs?
If things are not back to normal next week we can safely assume that the Illuminti are indeed out to get us. However, if we can get the spirited Mirko to be on OUR side for a change, they will have a fight on their hands!
Today he was a pest formidable. His disruption, inexorable.
Uh oh. It occurs to me: Mirko might be an agent working for the Illuminati! Being unintelligible might be his brilliant cover.
And then there are the three amigos – Uncle Pete, Helmut and Peter the Younger – constantly disrupting the meetings. Can they be agents too???
OMG we’re surrounded.
One thing is for sure: at Speakers’ Corner you need patience.
2. Mr B criticised sections of the mediayet again, this time for their insensitive reporting of an incident in which a man on an aeroplane abusively told a woman to sit elsewhere. Instead of acting responsibly, the media provoked our indignation to sell advertising space. The incident was seen by millions, and indignant readers wanted to know why the airline hadn’t thrown the man off the plane.
The media should have kindly and responsibly ignored the ‘news’ item altogether. After all, it was easy to see that the man was slightly mentally impaired. In such instances you would show patience and compassion, and do what the airline did: they simply looked after the woman and left the man to himself. To throw a mentally impaired man off a plane would have been irresponsible and cruel to him, and to his loved ones.
But the media would have none of that. They wanted blood, because blood sells.
The sooner viewers figure these things out for themselves and ignore such items, instead of being maipulated and forwarding them, the better.
That was Mr B’s view, anyway.
3. Steve Maxwell was criticalof the government’s cruel treatment of the children of Nauru.
Across the way, Mr B also discussed the plight of the refugees on Nauru and elsewhere. He was forced to argue with a man who kept insisting that their plight was their own fault: they had the option of staying locked up safe in the harsh labour camps of Indonesia for the rest of their lives. Sigh.
One visiting Brit pointed out that if our government was truly racist, it would let the refugees come by boat and drown. He was critical of how Europe is letting their incoming refugees drown. To have bodies wash ashore is still a regular occurrence, apparently.
4. Other subjects discussed:
– With his ‘balloon factory’ example, Mr B explained the difference between employment and productive employment. As a result, the topic of ‘which nation should make our submarines?’took off. A few grasshoppers contributed and made some good points.
– ‘Utitiltarianism’ was also discussed. Mr B was not in favour of the philosophy for two reasons, though Uncle Pete was sure Mr B didn’t understand what it was. Helmut, meanwhile, thought it necessary to talk about the history of utilitarianism. As he would.
– Later, Helmut was on a ladder booming the word ‘ignoramus’ across the park. This scribe assumes he was again trying to ruin the reputation of the beleageured Sir Isaac Newton.
5. I will ignoreour Unusual Animal Series for just this week to provide a warning: be careful how you treat yourself on Halloween.
“When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.”
1. It was a pretty ordinary daytoday because the passers-by weren’t passing by. They were applauding the cyclists participating in the Invictus Games.
Ray, Steve, Helmut and Mr B tried to attract listeners, but failed dismally. At one point Mr B relinquished the Ladder of Knowledge to pester Steve Maxwell, with the hope of getting Steve a crowd. Mr B loudly criticised Australia’s politicians and Steve loudly defended them. The loudness of it all prompted someone to get the police.
The two policemen were professional and courteous. They made sure the two miscreants weren’t aiming to thump each other, and then left. With the wind taken out of them, Steve and Mr B separated to take their own ladders, but again failed to draw crowds.
It was Prince Harry’s idea to create the Invictus Games. Does he have any idea what he has done to Speakers’ Corner?
2. Speaking of Prince Harry and Meghan, where were they? They had been invited to Speakers’ Corner and granted five minutes on the Ladder of Knowledge to explain why the Monarchy should continue. But where were they?
3. In our Unusual Creature Series, this is either a chameleon or two painted naked women. You decide. If it’s a chameleon it should have a look at our Facebook page.
Stephen Fry, when criticising political correctness: “One of the greatest human failings is to prefer to be right than to be effective.”
1. Despite the softly falling rain, speakers Ray, Helmut, Mirko and Mr B turned up to Speakers’ Corner and held their meetings. The grasshoppers who turned up were Peter the Younger, Ben the Whisperer, Greg the Indignant, Tony the Persistent, Tommy the Insistent, and Uncle Pete.
After an hour, the rain became so heavy we had to take refuge in the Art Gallery. There we discovered it was Helmut’s 78th birthday. To his credit he seems to be the fittest and healthiest geriatric this scribe has ever seen. Happy birthday, Helmut!
2. A magnificent horse-racing company has generously sponsored the NSW government. All the company gets in return is permission to advertise on the sails of the Corporate Billboard (formerly known as the Sydney Opera House).
It’s a shame cigarette advertising is no longer permitted. This scribe would be proud to take visitors from out-of-town to see the Benson & Hedges Sydney Opera House and to the Rothman’s Sydney Harbour Bridge.
We at Speakers’ Corner invite this wonderful horse-racing company to sponsor us as well. Everist: your company would significantly add to the integrity and credibility of Speakers’ Corner and to the speakers themselves. We keenly await your guidance and moola.
3. Today Daylight Saving came into effect.Was that why Mirko and Tony turned up late?
4. Uncle Pete introduced the subject of infinity yet again.I guess he knows it’s one of Mr B’s specialities.
Remember the question about the monkey tapping Hamleton a typewriter? Well, the conversation soon degenerated into whether it was a monkey or a chimpanzee.
Perhaps it was neither monkey nor ape? Perhaps it was one of the other primates: a lemur, a loris or a tarsier? Who really cares? They can all type.
5. A question arose about who writes this blog.Your open-book scribe would have thought all was explained in the ‘About this scribe‘ page. Apparently not. It seems that some people are under the impression that your diligent scribe and Mr B are one and the same person. And that both are Mark Avery.
For a start, this scribe would never let Mr B write this blog. Mr B is far too opinionated. On the Ladder of Knowledge he belligerently rails against politicians and corporations, he cruelly pulls apart people’s belief systems, and he fervently takes sides in all matters of importance. If anyone dares to question him he calls them blithering idiots. He is, in short, a blustering, offensive know-it-all. To have him at the helm of this blog would be a disaster.
And, as you would know, dear reader, your gentle scribe is nothing like that. I don’t take sides; I merely report in a pleasant manner what was said on the day. ‘Scribe the Impartial’, I guess you could call me. If I were to stand on the Ladder of Knowledge I would freeze up and die.
As for Mr Avery, I hope I don’t sound patronising when I say that he is invaluable to Speakers’ Corner because he provides the chairs. It’s an important job and he does it well.
6. In our Unusual Creature Seriesthis Creatonotos gangis moth (South East Asia and Australia) reads our Facebook Page late at night as it circles my bedside lamp.
“For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution.
1. Gosh, we are luckyto have our Speakers’ Corner in Sydney, Australia. We have free speech, a beautiful park, friendly rangers, and good weather most of the time. Today it was beautiful.
If we could add forty points to the IQ of each heckler it would be perfect.
We have no current photos of Ray, Mark the Grinner or Mr B. You’ll have to make do with this:
2. The speakers are finally being seen as the celebrities they are. These photos (about six years old) were found on the internet, and if you wish to purchase them from Getty’s you’ll have to shell out a lazy $650 each. Hint: if you require multiple copies they might do you a deal.
3. Amazingly, religion was discussed yet again, this time by a believer in a female God and an atheist. Your honest scribe again wants to avoid taking sides, so here are memes representing both sides of the argument.
4. Just a few of the many subjects discussed today:
– economics (John August)
– Science and tennis (Helmut)
– ‘The Arsehole Effect‘ (Mark the Grinner)
– God (Ray)
– Paedophelia (Tommy)
– ???? (Steve Maxwell)
– The positive thinking myth(Mr B)
– Uncle Pete wanted to know how the eye evolved and so he naturally sought Mr B, who was happy to help out. Mr B provided a clear and thorough explanation. To reward Uncle Pete’s keen interest in the topic of natural selection, and to encourage him, Mr B has gone above and beyond the call of duty to helpfully pass on this meme for Uncle Pete’s perusal. We hope it helps, Uncle Pete.
5. Today’s critter in our Unusual Critter Series is the Four-toed jerboa, found in Egypt and Libya. It does not look happy to be on this site.
Dear Arthur Knight has died peacefully at the age of 95.
We can divide people into two groups: there are the extroverts and the introverts, there are the cruel and the kind, there are those who barrack for Collingwood and those who don’t, . . . and there are those who care, and those who don’t care.
Arthur Knight cared. He had strong views and at Speakers’ Corner he fervently expressed them. That made him interesting and his visits to Speakers’ Corner, colourful. He will be missed.
Thank you, Arthur, for keeping us “informed” and entertained. You did well.
And thank you, Jacquie, for regularly bringing your father along to Speakers’ Corner. Much appreciated.
“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
Mary Oliver, poet.
1. Lovely in the sun; a refrigerator in the shade. A good day overall with a steady crowd and numerous speakers.
It was nice to see Angela arrive late in the day. Angela is a past speaker, and today she brought her wheelchair with her. (Presumably her broom is out of order.)
Today’s speakers were Helmut, Tommy, Steve, Ray, Mirko, Mark the Grinner and Mr B. We hope Maria joins us soon. The last time this scribe spoke to Maria she had bronchitis and sounded like Death itself.
Mr B began with two stories about a king and his subjects. Then he changed the topic, showing us a drawing he figured was scary. What do you think? Do you think it’s scary?
Each rectangle represents a week of your life, assuming you live to the age of ninety.
2. Ray sent this to your young and spritely scribe. It made me smile.
3. Mr B gave us a new fourth answerto the question ‘What is the Meaning of Life’ and it turned out to be a metaphor using the cheesecake he brought with him and shared.
Regarding the cheesecake, Mr B, next time make it firmer and less crummy.
Later on he gave versions Number 1 and Number 2 for the Meaning of Life, but this time he and his grasshopper worked it out together.
Version Number 3 had the day off.
Here’s yet another version:
4. The cheesecake was handybecause coincidentally, it was also Mark the Grinner’s birthday. For some reason Mr B kept calling him Mr Heinz. Why? We don’t know.
Mr Heinz’s first topic was about how unimpressed he is with the warnings television stations give viewers before the program begins. He had a few tart things to say about that, and about the people who require them.
P.S. This scribe requires them.
5. While trying to make a point,Tommy on the Ladder of Knowledge mentioned that 2 + 2 will always equal 4. Naturally, Mr B put up his hand to kindly explain why Tommy was wrong. This scribe would like to say that Tommy was suitably impressed with Mr B’s explanation, but that would be an outright lie.
6. Last week Mr B and a deeply religious mantalked about Islam. This week the man turned up again and somehow the discussion resumed, with the origin of the universe being the focal point. They got nowhere, of course. But here again are two memes representiing both sides of the divide.
7. Someone called Mr B a guru. Mind you, it was Tommy. Tommy is not always as reverential as he bloody-well should be. The fact is, Mr B is indeed a guru. He completed this course late last year.
8. A man in the audience informed Mr Bthat there is no such thing as a stupid question. Mr B said the man should come to Speakers’ Corner more often; he’ll hear hundreds of them. Besides, if there were no such thing as a stupid question, what sort of questions would stupid people ask?
9. Tommy asked Mr B, “Why shouldn’t we try to succeed?” Mr B promptly told him. Mr B also explained why we shouldn’t try to reach our full potential.
10. Tommy excelled as a speakeragain today because he said provocative things and said them well. One complaint he made was about the people who claim they can’t shape their future because of what happened to them in the past. He received plenty of flak for that. But does he have a point?
11. In our Unusual Creature Series, our Facebook pagehas never before featured the Central and South American Purple harlequin toad, and it never will again.
“A drunken man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts.”
1. It’s that time of the year when the sun is warm enough for us to be wearing a T-shirt, but the breeze is cold enough for us to be wearing a jumper.
For the first ten minutes, Helmut and Mr B argued about the workings of Speakers’ Corner. Then, once all speakers were in place, the day unofficially began. Mr B prattled on about how his life was changed by a nine-year old girl, who at school chose to remain seated for the singing of Australia’s National Anthem.
He said that whether or not the schoolgirl’s reasons for abstaining were justified, each and every one of us should be able to remain seated for the National Anthem without having to give a reason why. After all, it’s a “victimless crime” hurting no one, and our democratic values should allow it. He added that standing for the anthem is institutionalised peer pressure, and that every one of us has the moral obligation to resist that peer pressure. “If we ask our young people to resist peer pressure to take drugs”, he said, “then we should encourage them to resist peer pressure in other aspects of their life, to get practise. Remaining seated for the anthem is a good opportunity not to be wasted.”
“Why do people create such a big fuss about not standing for the National Anthem?” he asked, before answering his own question. “It’s because there is no such thing as ‘we’Australians. Australians are a cluster of separate, disparate groups, and the anthem is about the only thing that gives us the comforting illusion that we are united. To remain seated is to suggest the scary notion that we are not united after all. For the rest of us standing, we are suddenly presented with a yawning abyss. And who wants that? It’s no wonder people have been making a big fuss about the schoolgirl’s refusal to stand.
Uncle Pete pointed out that the girl’s public school handled the matter with intelligence and sensitivity. They offered her alternatives. “But”, said Mr B, “the school should not have questioned the girl for staying seated, or offered her alternatives. Instead, the principal should have asked the other students, ‘Why are you succumbing to peer pressure and standing up?'”.
From now on, Mr B will remain seated for the National Anthem, he promises. Mind you, he tells me he hasn’t set foot in a cinema for years, and has no plans to do so in the near future, so it may be some time before he has the opportunity to remain seated for the anthem.
2. Speaking of democracy, John August and some of his colleagues from the Pirate Party turned up to speak across the way. The Pirate Party is not as absurd as it sounds. It has serious policies you may wish to consider.
3. Mr B relinquished the Ladder of Knowledgeto Mark the Grinner, who admitted he didn’t have much to say, but in his entertaining fashion he said it anyway. The other speakers throughout the day were Mirko, Steve, John August (and co.), and Helmut. But where was Maria? (Just in: she had a cold.) Where was Ray? Where was our new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison? Prime Ministers have spoken at Speakers’ Corner before, so it’s about time we had another speak here. But Scott: no longer than four minutes please. We don’t want to lose the crowd.
Speaking of guest speakers: Prince Harry and Duchess Markle will be visiting Australia soon. They come from a country that created the original Speakers’ Corner, so they will be keen to visit our Speakers’ Corner to see how we are faring. Further, they may have heard that our Speakers’ Corner is more intellectual than the one in their Hyde Park, London, and they will be interested to see what we are doing right. When they arrive at Speakers’ Corner they will be asked whose side they’re on: the Republicans’ or the Monarchists’? They will be given four minutes each to rebut any arguments put forth by our speakers and hecklers.
4. Under severe duress from Mr B, this scribe reluctantly gives Mr B’s new website a plug: dogquiz.org Your scribe agreed to comply with this request only because the site features a photograph of our dear departed Speakers’ Corner dog, taken at Speakers’ Corner.
She was smarter than Mr B and more likeable.
Here is another photo of her at Speakers’ Corner “borrowing” a sandwich from Mr B’s bag.
5. We discussed the poem,“Spring” by Mary Oliver. 1990.
6. Six months ago Mr Bwas given a small book: a pocket guide to The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, and he was asked to read it. Today the man returned to hear Mr B’s verdict.
Mr B had read it and he had it with him. (Presumably he has been bringing it for six months!) What followed was a long and passionate “discussion” between the two men as Mr B expressed his thoughts on the ideas presented in the book.
Your unbiased, dispassionate scribe doesn’t like to take sides, so here are two memes representing each point of view.
Other subjects discussed:
– A young lass asked Mr B what he thought of teenagers. He seemed pleased to be given the opportunity to express his high regard for them.
– Unfortunately, your scribe doesn’t know what Steve Maxwell, Helmut Cerncic, John August (and co.) or Mark the Grinner spoke about. How about coming to Speakers’ Corner and finding out for yourself?
– The question was asked, “What’s the meaning of life?”
7. In our Unusual Creatures Series, this Gerenuk from Africa wanted to appear on our Facebook page. We are happy to oblige.
“You are a rock most of the time. Sometimes it’s okay to be the river.”
1. What a beautiful Goldilocks day! Even better, Speakers’ Corner flourished, even without the services of Maria and Ray. We hope they’re back next week.
What was good about Speakers’ Corner today? We had four speakers going, each with a crowd. Steve, Helmut, Mark the Grinner and Mr B all had crowds of varying sizes and if you squinted your eyes it almost appeared to be a carnival atmosphere.
Mirko contributed too, in his patented way.
Not only that, at one point Mark the Grinner graciously allowed young fellow Tommy to take the stand, and Tommy created a crowd of his own. He expressed his views on the ethics of adults having sexual relations with 13-year-olds. He received plenty of disagreement.
Of course, the topics among the speakers differed considerably. Passers-by were spoiled for choice.
It was a fabulous day and we didn’t finish until after five.
2. One topic discussed was the difference between introverts and extroverts. It was asked: can introverts be speakers?
Does this help?
3. Another topic Tommy was forced to discuss was abortion. This postcard was on the postsecret site.
4. Mr B had a brief disagreement with a grasshopper about infinity, yet again. It seems the subject itself has no ending. He claims he has a firm understanding of the subject, while two grasshoppers claim he has no i-bloody-dea.