The Archives for Speakers’ Corner, Sydney.

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


10. The whinge again about Syney Uni

“The music is not in the notes but in the silence in between.”

We discussed what might Mozart might have meant. The hapless Mr B read too much into it.

1. Today we had a plethora of speakers up on the Ladder of Knowledge: Mirko, Mark the Grinner, Philip Feinstein, Mr B, Helmut and Guy. Across the way was Steve maxwell, and by the kiosk, Ray.

Speakers all over the place.

But the crowds today were the smallest we have seen for some time. It was still an interesting day.


2. Steve Maxwell held a thought experiment, and it was so successful he held it all day with his passers-by. (A thought experiment is an imaginary scenario created in order to test a hypothesis through to its possible conclusions.) His experiment: what characteristics would the perfect politician have? His passers-by came up with a wide variety of answers, and each point-of-view had merit. And, points-of-view came from the far right to the centre, to the far left.

Steve was very satisfied about how his meeting went, and he will be doing more thought experiments in the future.

3. Mr B was asked about the state of free speech in universities. That pressed a button! He reminded us all of his “generous” offer to speak at Sydney University nearly three years ago and the reply he received: ‘Our stakeholders have advised that allowing you to conduct your event on University grounds is considered not in the best interests of staff and students.’

Presumably, the “stakeholders” were concerned that Mr B might incite violence and leave the university in rubble, or defame a litigious bounder and diminish the university’s coffers.

With his fury reignited, Mr B bellowed that a university’s job, and privilege, is to create a fertile environment for the students, because those students  need to think thoughts not yet thought if they are to be the doers of the future and create a world we don’t yet have. Students are humanity’s lifeline for a better world, he said, and administrators should expose their students to new ideas, not protect them from ideas. And from a soapbox speaker, for goodness sake?! Since when did a soapbox speaker become a dangerous subversive capable of corrupting minds? Since when was a student’s mind so fragile?

The “stakeholders” obviously don’t know Mr B very well. The man couldn’t corrupt a loaf of bread.

Perhaps the officials were concerned the students might be offended? But a university is the place to be offended. That’s where students need to learn to cope with offence, and harden up and deal with it, and decide for themselves what is offensive and what has merit.

And, it’s the university’s role to help each student develop a bullshit detector, to prepare them for a world seething with bullshit. Students need all the practise they can get sorting bullshit from the truth. However, if they are shielded from views perceived to be ‘not in the best interests of the staff and students’, how will they develop the confidence and grit to develop their bullshit detectors or their own fresh thinking? And then, from where will new and exciting ideas spring?

Shielding its students from ideas, wacky or otherwise, is not the way to go. 

To protect the students (and staff) from any speaker is to treat them like children. It demeans the students, it demeans the staff, it demeans the university.

It occurs to this scribe that if the administrators choose to protect the students from a simple soapbox speaker, in what other ways might they be hobbling their students’ development?

Mr B finally concluded his hissy fit and changed the subject.

4. One of the many good things about Speakers’ Corner is that people don’t hold grudges. Week to week passions are ignited and comments can be “blunt”. Ray, for example, is our fundamentalist Christian speaker, and instead of frothing at the mouth when his beliefs are challenged or insulted, he maintains his calm demeanour and remains approachable. Mr B can be insulting in his pathetic attempts to be witty, but his grasshoppers forgive him. Mirko berates his audience constantly (“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” and “Shut up!“) but we love him all the same. Some people get under Steve Maxwell’s skin all day long, but when those same pests visit the following week he welcomes them.

It’s a pleasure to be in an environment in which you can frankly state your opinion, create a tizz, and then everyone is happy again.

This video of Ray and Uncle Pete has had over 138,000 views. People have commented upon their earnest conversation, and one or two have correctly suggested that the two men would harbour no animosity after such an encounter. They might even have a beer together!

5. Thank you to the person who sent in this look-a-like of Tony. Much appreciated.

6. Philip Feinstein provided us with some good news: the Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, was very prompt in allowing Philip to send music instruments to the detainees on Nauru and Manus islands. (Philip is the founder of Music For Refugees.) The instruments have arrived in Nauru, and they’re on their way to Manus Island.

Philip also talked about the 501 visa. He thought it outrageous that a non-citizen, who has committed a crime and been given a 12 month jail sentence, can be deported after serving their time in jail.

7. We learned about the Syrrian fellow who was born blind. At 17 he obtained a student visa to the U.S.A. and arrived in Los Angeles with little money, no contacts, no sight, and unable to speak English. He found a park to sleep in for two months (not years, Mr B!), a gym to shower in, and a library in which he could learn English. In 2 months he could communicate! He found housing, and now, four years later, he speaks fluently and is flourishing. Extraordinary!

Have you ever wondered how blind people use a computer?

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Guy spoke in favour of Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs.

– We examined the other Ten Commandments, 11 to 20.

– We discussed a little more about Bruce Pascoe’s book, “Dark Emu”. What was Aboriginal life like?

– Mirko talked about “No brain pollution” and “no talk, no sense”. I think that’s what he talked about, anyway.

– Uncle Pete is wondering when someone will steal a hair from Barnaby Joyce and his son, and compare the DNA.

– Both Helmut and Mark the Grinner (separately) spoke on religion. Mark the Grinner asked if perhaps being religious is a form of mental illness. He quoted Robert Persig: “When one person suffers from a delusion it’s called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it’s called a religion.”

“Gran calavera eléctrica” by José Guadalupe Posada, Mexico

9. We are on Facebook for reasons unclear. We have an Archives site for no reason at all.

Indian Bull Frog


9. Dark Emu: a revelation about Aborigines!

“Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.”
Scott D. Weitzenhoffer

1. Apologies to those of you who received this post, half-baked, a few days ago.

(I’m not suggesting you are half-baked; I’m saying the post was half-baked.)

(Though if the shoe fits . . . )

2. When the meeting began at 2pm, rain looked imminent and Steve Maxwell looked eminent, resplendant in his white jacket, flash shirt and silk tie. He, Ray and Mr B set up their ladders midst a light drizzle, and surprisingly their regulars appeared! There must be something appealing about Speakers’ Corner for people to turn up in such conditions. Or perhaps they’re just mad.

Yes, that’s it. They’re mad.

A passer-by opened Mr B’s meeting by announcing: “There is only one true question: What is Truth?” He waited for an answer.

Mr B cowardly passed the buck to his grasshoppers, who answered with testiness and frustration. (That’s a common Speakers’ Corner response.) We finally arrived at an answer. Sort of. Well, no, we didn’t.

But thankfully, the passerby had already solved that conundrum in previous contemplations, so we were let off the hook. When he was asked how his knowledge of Truth had improved his life, he replied that he is now more cognisant that a green car is green, than the rest of us. If that helps any.

So, what is Truth? What had the passer-by discovered with his contemplations? I don’t know. He told us but I have forgotten. Sorry.

It is a good idea to nut out such questions. By doing so we can gain a greater richness of life. It’s “the unexamined life is not worth living,” type of thinking.

3. From learning something confusing we moved on to learning something astonishing. Mr B had read the book, “Dark Emu” by Bruce Pascoe, and he excitedly told us about it. The author had read the journals of early explorers and discovered that Aboriginal life before England’s invasion was different to what most of us think it was like:
– For a big chunk of the year, most Aborigines lived in villages of 300 to 500 people, even in the harshest deserts. One town had 10,000 people living in it!

– They lived in weatherproof thatched huts, and some huts had a chimney, an oven, and food preparation facilities. Some huts had adjoining rooms, and some could hold up to 40 people. One explorer described a hut strong enough to have a horse stand on it!

– Aborigines had dams and irrigation. One dam was 100 metres long, 2 metres high and 6 metres thick.

– They sowed and harvested crops in paddocks as far as your eye could see, of nardoo, kangaroo grass, barley, Australian rice and yams. They ground the grain into flour, or stored the grain in clay vessels that could hold from 50kgs to 4 tons. (Without the cachés of grain the explorers found, many would not have survived.)

– They had huge fish traps that could feed a whole village, yet still allow breeding fish to breed upstream.

And much more. The information was so interesting that even when it began to rain, everyone just pulled out their umbrellas and stayed. But when the rain really set in we had to call it quits and pull up stumps. It was around 3pm. Mr B promised there will be more about Bruce Pascoe’s book next week.

The author lives in Sydney and has been invited to speak on the Ladder of Knowledge. We hope he accepts the invitation. Meanwhile, here is an article sent in by Whispering Ben that supports Bruce’s claims. Thanks, Ben!

4. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others.

5. Steve Maxwell also fared well with his meeting, despite the drizzle. And, that industrious man has provided us with another episode of his ‘Passing Parade’. This article adds to last week’s article about the Yarra Bank. Thank you, Steve!

Chummy Fleming on the Yarra Bank

Melbourne’s “Yarra Bank” Speakers’ Corner can be found at the South-Eastern corner of Birrarung Marr (marsh) near the Yarra River.                                         
 In the 1890’s, city authorities banished all outdoor free speech forums in Melbourne to the north side of the river. This followed the defeat of a bitterly fought free speech campaign organised by labour activist Tom Mann.

The location of the new Speakers’ Corner was unsuitable. It was away from the heart of the city, next to the old city morgue. It had little effect on the passers-by and all attempts to have the venue changed were rejected by the Melbourne City Council.    It seemed that the authorities had won the day.
Chummy Fleming, a union organiser for the boot-makers union, was not the first to speak at the Yarra Bank Speakers’ Corner, but he successfully promoted the location by convincing “The Nights of Labour” (the forerunner of today’s unions) to have May Day celebrations on the Yarra Bank.
Today, May Day (Labour Day) celebrates the day the 8-hour day was granted to Australian workers in1947. On May Day in1893 some 5,000 people marched to the Yarra Bank to support the introduction of shorter working hours and better working conditions.
Chummy Fleming was the first to give a May Day address on the Yarra Bank. He continued Sunday after Sunday to promote Speakers’ Corner. Other speakers
soon followed his example. It was not long before Speakers’ Corner became a success.
Chummy was an anarchist. It was said he had a reputation of being a violent speaker. He advocated the overthrow of the State and the dismantlement of the Church. He always drew the largest crowd and his words incited the wildest response. For example, in World War One, soldiers referred to as ‘Military larrikins’ attacked the Yarra Bank speakers. The soldiers had been fired up on beer, and on King & Country propaganda. But Chummy was not alone. Attacks made on him were fought off by his loyal supporters, and Chummy was capable of defending himself.  
Chummy’s anarchist ways also made him unpopular with the May Day organisers and the Labor Party. He would get even with his enemies on the May Day committee by always marching at the head of the march with a large anarchist flag. 

Chummy continued his Yarra Bank activities well into his old age. He was never wealthy, and he eked out a living in his humble cottage by mending boots. He died on the 25th January, 1950 aged 86. The police confiscated his personal papers and had them destroyed. His ashes are scattered on the Yarra Bank.

Steve Maxwell

Chummy, Wikipedia:

Tom Mann, Wikipedia:

6. If you are Donald Trump
or have been living on Jupiter, you may not be aware that we have a Facebook page and an Archives site. Well, we do!
We now have an ‘unusual animal’ series, just to provide a picture for our Facebook and Archives plug.

Babirusa, Indonesian islands



8. Infinity again?!

“Catholicism is Judaism for the philistines.”
Helmut Cerncic

1. A helpful sign from Steve Maxwell:

Welcome to Speakers’ Corner!

Steve, we also need translations for the term, ‘blithering idiot’.

2. The recent shooting of school children in Florida prompted a discussion about gun control. (There have been 18 shootings in school in the U.S. so far this year!) Were the FBI inept? Uncle Pete mentioned Senator Jim Molan’s brilliant idea of locking people up before they do anything, and Ben the Whisperer wanted to give our police more powers. Mark the Grinner, a U.S. citizen, took the Ladder of Knowledge to say a few words about America’s gun laws. He then recounted an alarming experience he had with the U.S. police when he was an unarmed fourteen year-old boy walking in a car park with his girlfriend.

3. During his talk, Mark the Grinner hurled a question at a woman: “Are you still at breeding age?”
  Oh dear.
Thankfully the woman remained unfazed.

Only at Speakers’ Corner.

4. Thank you to the person who sent in this lookalike of Peter the Younger.

5. When Muslim women wear the hijab some people claim it’s a form of oppression, while the Muslim women themselves say they simply choose to wear it. Mr B suggested that Muslim women may not have a choice; not because they’re forced to wear it, but because they are influenced by an overiding paradigm in the same way many women in the 1950s adopted the paradigm that being a housewife was the right thing to do. Just as he spoke those words a Muslim woman wearing a hijab walked by! She and her companion stopped to listen and they helpfully answered questions. They pointed out that everyone in society is influenced by paradigms. Further, to pressure women to not wear the hijab is in itself a form of oppression. She and her companion made a few good points and we were lucky to have them there at just the right time.

6. Mr B enjoys examining the nature of infinity.

Supposedly, there are an infinite number of points on a line. A ‘point’ cannot have length. If a point had length then an infinite number of them would result in a line being infinitely long. But then again, if a point doesn’t have length, an infinite number of them would mean the line had zero length. Either way, it doesn’t make sense.

Mr B set out to prove that points cannot exist. He produced two “planks”, one twice the length of the other. He centred them and cut them in half with scizzors. He was left wtih two shorter planks, one still twice the length of the other. He did the same thing again. Thankfully he didn’t do it an infinite number of times. He pointed out that an infinite number of cuts would result in one plank always being twice the length of the other. That meant that you could never end up with a point, only a length.

Smug, and with his experiment completed, he concluded that the word ‘infinity’ does not mean the highest number or the smallest division – it’s the acknowledgement that there is no highest number or smallest division. So when we say a line can be divided into an infinite number of lengths, or points, we are mistaken. It can’t be. Not even theoretically.

After he had concluded, a grasshopper threw a spanner in the works by pointing out that the smallest length possible is the Planck length, which is roughly equal to 1.6 x 1035 m, or about 1020 times the size of a proton. But of course, there is something smaller: the size of a main course in a 5 star restaurant.

7. Mr B again plugged his weekly claim: “It’s nearly all make-believe, folks!” He provided another paradigm to support his claim. (A paradigm, in his eyes, is a belief held by a society to be true, whether or not it is actually true. Such beliefs are mostly just make-believe, and they can be disabling.) Today’s paradigm: it’s good to be given fee goods.

He claimed that advertisements have taught us to believe that it’s good to get something for less than it’s worth, that we should claw our way to a better future without giving away too much of ourselves in the process.

He pointed out that bargain hunters feel a sense of achievement when they get something for less than it’s worth, even if it’s something they don’t want. They’re enamoured with items because the items are cheap. Yet bargain hunters are never replete, for how can they be replete when they are always open to receiving more?

He added that it’s a Santa Claus mentality, that we haven’t yet grown up. We are still looking to the world to fulfil us, still looking for Santa.

He said that if we were to stop seeing bargains and freebies as a good thing, we would begin to seek only what we need, and we would be happy to pay for it. That’s what happens when you’re not attached to the idea of getting something for less than it’s worth: you don’t mind earning it.

8. Speaking of ‘free’ . . . To attend Speakers’ Corner has been free for over 140 years. “Times have changed,” said Mr B today. “From now on, regulars and passers-by will be charged $250 each time they attend. No exceptions.”

Well, if Mr B is right when he says we shouldn’t want free stuff, that new charge seems only fair.

Anticipated queue of people lining up to pay.

9. We examined the Q & A televsion discussion on the #Metoo movement. Questions were asked:
– Why would a manager sack a female worker for complaining about a customer’s unwanted sexual advances, given that the manager would then have to go through the process of advertising for a new employee, interviewing the applicants, training the chosen applicant, and going through the rigmarole of having to put the new employee on the payroll? And with the danger of it all happening again?

– Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to simply ask the offending customer to leave?

– Why wouldn’t that manager do what most managers would do: support the staff and tell the customer to clear off?

– Is there a deeper reason why the employee was sacked?

– Why wouldn’t each and every person on the planet take full 100% responsibility for their own behaviour, instead of lamely hoping and expecting the other person to be polite?

– When will women (and men) start to realise that no matter how much the other person is in the wrong, that possessing assertiveness skills is still an invaluable set of skills to have and apply?

10. Other subjects discussed:
– Steve Maxwell talked about the deconstruction of sport.

– Mr B discussed an effective sales technique called “the decoy effect”. A restaurant manager might have on their wine list a bottle of wine for $20 and a bottle for $45. Most people would buy the $20 bottle. When the manager adds to that wine list a $90 bottle, then most people buy the $45 bottle, figuring that they’re saving money. The decoy effect is used nearly everywhere, claimed Mr B.

– Mr B asked his grasshoppers about the National Broadband Network. He became more informed and even more pessimistic.

– An unexploded bomb from World War II was found in the Thames this week near the airport. Mr B railed against the bureacracy that went into panic mode, as though the damned thing was about to explode any minute. Rather than wait a week before trying to move the bomb, and give the airlines a week’s notice to make other arrangements for their passengers, the bureacracy insisted that the bomb be dealt with immediately, and disrupted 16,000 passengers as a result.
As you would expect, Mr B’s grasshoppers set him straight.

– Should Lake Mungo Man be returned to the sand in Lake Mungo, or reside in a shrine in the care of indigenous elders? The indigenous people have differing opinions, and so too did our grasshoppers.
And, where is Mungo Man’s missus, Lake Mungo Lady?

– If Japan had successfully invaded Australia in 1945 and killed off most of us, how would the remaining few survivors feel after a few decades? Resentful? Angry? Would they want to “move on” and adopt the Japanese way? Would they want their children to be educated by Japanese teachers? Questions like these were posed to give us into an idea of what many Aborigines might feel today.

– The amazing Matabele ant It is the first insect we know of that renders first aid to fellow injured ants.

– Even old Country & Western musician Chad Morgan got a mention.

11. Melbourne has its Speakers’ Corner, called ‘Speakers’ Forum’. It’s held on one Sunday of every month, opposite the State Library. In the latest of Steve Maxwell’s well researched articles for his “Passing Parade” series, Steve talks about its history. But first, here is a taste of what it was like on the Yarra’s bank in 1966:

Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade.

The Yarra Bank

Before 1889, public meetings in Melbourne were held in a number of unsuccessful locations. Then in that year, parliamentarian Dr William Maloney campaigned successfully to have a place set aside for the purpose of “holding public meetings and discussing questions – religious, educational and others.” The place set aside was in the South-Eastern corner of Birrarung Marr (marsh) between the Jolimont Rail Yards and the Yarra River. (A monument to Speaker’s Corner is now there.)

The gold rush made Melbourne the richest city in Australia. Yet, by the 1890’s, working conditions in the city had not improved. The Yarra’s bank became a hotbed of radical unionism and politics, from both communists and fascists.

By the late 1970’s, the “Yarra bankers”, as speakers in Melbourne were called, found dwindling audiences because of television, Sunday sports events and Sunday trading.

In November 1986, prominent Yarra bankers Geoff Forster and David Miller asked the Melbourne City Council for permission to begin a Speakers’ Corner in the City Square on Sunday afternoons. This was granted. Other speakers joined, but never more than four or five.  

In the 1990’s, the City of Melbourne planned a major renovation of City Square. Again, the Speakers’ Corner looked like it would have nowhere to go. The speakers asked if they could carry on the tradition on the State Library lawns. This idea was freely endorsed and the Speakers’ Corner moved to there, where it remains today.

The move has come at a cost, because few people since have taken up the tradition of outdoor speaking, even though they can use a megaphone. Both Geoff Forster and David Miller have retired. Only Gospel singer Rosalie Tremaine holds on, and only once a month. 

It looks like it will be the end of era, unless of course someone gets on a soapbox on the State Library lawns, and speaks.

Location: State Library Lawns of Victoria
Corner Swanston St and Latrobe Street,  Melbourne  3001

Speakers Forum | Soapbox Oratory:

Yarra Bank (Speakers’ Forum)

Yarra Bank and Yarra Bankers:

12. Check out our Facebook page.



7. Fair Work Commission? No! A Fair Wage Commission!

It’s Darwin Day today, Steve informs me.

“Farewell Australia! You are a rising child. And doubtless some day will reign a great princess in the South; but you are too great and ambitious for affection, yet not old enough to respect. I leave your shores without sorrow or regret.”
Charles Darwin , 1836 .

1. Happy birthday Arthur!  You don’t turn 95 every day.

2. Good news! Steve Maxwell has written another article for his “Passing Parade” series. It is about the intellectual hobos who invaded Chicago every Spring by freight train. The hobos  would form a Speakers’ Corner called ‘The Bughouse Square’, and months later they would jump back onto the freight trains and leave. Steve draws upon a Saul Bellows article to give us an idea of what some of those speakers were like in the 1930’s. Steve’s article is at the end of this post.

Steve Maxwell’s thirty-six episodes of “Passing Parade“and his book “The History of Soapbox Oratory“, plus his umpteen years of being a learned speaker, mean that Steve is the world authority on soapbox speaking. Steve knows more about soapbox speaking and Speakers’ Corners throughout the world than any other person, alive or dead. (Especially dead. They don’t know much at all.) Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner, and Sydney itself, are lucky to have Steve.

The information Steve has painstakingly collected will be appreciated by historians long after we are all gone.Thank you, Steve!

Here is another lookalike someone has sent us.


3. Mr Bashful pointed out that within his cloud of grasshoppers sit quality speakers. We have:
– Mark the Grinner, who is articulate, entertaining and earnest.
– Peter the Younger, who would make an exceptional speaker because his esoteric views are wide-ranging, original and carefully considered. He might get a smaller audience, but that audience would be loyal, motivated and intellectual. You wouldn’t get banality from Peter the Younger.
– Uncle Pete is an excellent speaker. Peter calls it how he sees it, and does so with insight, a sharp tongue, and with wit.
– Helmut’s popularity is soaring now that he is diversifying his topics and taking questions from his groundlings. Helmut is still a first class speaker with a savant-like knowledge and with something to say.

Mr B says that if all four men were to join old farts Mirko, Steve, Ray and Mr B, we would then have eight old farts and an exceptional Speakers’ Corner. We would have a Speakers’ Corner fit for the twenty-first century: one that’s free of bigotry and pretence. The trouble is, getting all eight speakers to persist with speaking to only a handful of people each, long enough for crowds to finally come, is asking too much. It’s a Catch 22 situation.

And what if we had youth? Where is Scott? Will Tommy return?

And what if we had women speakers? Wouldn’t that be refreshing!! We might even learn something.

The Queen, speaking in the Domain in 2012. Unfortunately she only lasted three meetings. She said she had other commitments.

4. Mark the Grinner stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and was scathing of the Fair Work Commission that recently outlawed a train drivers’ strike. He said the Commission looks after employer interests more than it does the interests of the employees. He added that we need a Fair Wage Commission instead.

Interestingly, there was a train driver in the audience who quietly told this scribe that he believed they were overpaid! They received $110,000 per annum, which was more than the job was worth.

Mark the Grinner had a man at the back muttering, “The guy’s mad”.

5. Mirko gave photosynthesis a rest today and instead talked about smartphones. Peter the Younger suggested that Mirko’s “smartphone” might need its lithium level checked.

From the Postsecret website:

6. If a person witnesses an animal being slaughtered or the gore of someone crushed, they may be traumatised. Yet, if someone witnesses slaughter or gore regularly (for example, they work in an abattoir or an intensive care unit) they can become innured to such sights and won’t suffer trauma or PTSD. In the same way, is it possible that our youth are too protected, and lack the opportunity to become innured against hardships such as bullying? As a result, they are anxious?

There was agreement and disagreement. Someone pointed out that paramedics do suffer PTSD. And Jacquie intrigued us all by telling us that at the age of four she was allowed to climb a tall tree. How many four-year olds would be allowed to do that today?

4 year-old Jacquie is hard to see at the top of this baobab.

7. Mr B had no intention of speaking about Barnaby Joyce’s affair. He figured it was none of his business. But his grasshoppers took control, pointing out that we should be talking about Barnaby’s affair, because of his hypocrisy.
(1) Barnaby opposed the free provision of Gardasil, a vaccine that would prevent the spread of the human pappiloma virus. According to Jenna Price’s article in the SMH, Barnaby was concerned about the voters’ fear of potential promiscuity!
(2) In the recent by-election, Barnaby allowed the media to take photographs of him with his family. So, he is quite happy to have his private matters in the media when it suits him.
(3) Barnaby took a “moral stand” about people’s sexuality when he opposed gay marriage.

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Mr B has never voted; he just votes ‘informal’. He says voting only supports the status quo, and he doesn’t want that on his conscience. Is he right?

– We learned from Uncle Pete why faeces smell.

– Up until only a few years ago, why did intelligent people on battleships and cruise ships think nothing of throwing their rubbish into the sea? Peter the Younger had the answer.

– We discussed the quote: “Every snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.”

– Five months ago, Mr B wrote to the Customer Enquiries section of the NSW Police Force. He wanted to know how he could prepare to best help the police with their procedures if he were to die. He is still waiting for a reply.

– Do people like learning? Or do they like the consequent acquisition of knowledge, and that makes the unpleasant process of learning worthwhile?

– Helmut also talked about learning, and then spoke about the expanding universe and why it must be finite.

– Helmut talked about what will happen to the sun when it gets old. It will expand, he says.

9. Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade.

Saul Bellow (1915-2005) is described as the man who breathed life into the American novel. He was determined to write at an early age and went on to win the 1976 Nobel Prize for literature. In his youth he studied anthropology and sociology at the Northwest University of Chicago. In winter he would study in the Newberry library’s reading room.

As the cruel winter lifted, hoboes from all over the USA would arrive in Chicago by railway freight cars. They survived on casual work and charity. Among them were soapbox orators. They would set up a speakers’ corner in Washington Square, opposite Newberry Library. This area became known as Bughouse Square.

Saul Bellow described the visitors as a collection of self-made intellectual bums or literary hoboes, who seemed vaguely anarchistic.

Saul wrote a short article, “A Sermon By Doctor Pep” which was published only once by Partisan Review, in 1949. It was Saul’s description of Bughouse Square. The article was probably written before 1939, when Saul Bellow was in his early 20’s.

I have a copy of the article, and I wrote to Saul in 1999. He kindly replied, saying that he had indeed written the article. It was, as he said, “not a piece of fiction. I don’t know what the devil it is!” This was the reason he never republished the work.

The article is written in the first person, as an imaginary monologist soapbox speaker. Saul incorporated all the possible political and religious ideas discussed by the speakers in the Square – not an easy project if you are trying to re-create the atmosphere of Speaker’s Corner on paper.

The article is available on the net, but you have to get your head around the way  Saul Bellow wrote that piece. In the article, Dr Julius Widig is in fact Dr. Ben L. Reitman, an American anarchist and physician to the poor. Dr Reitman was a popular soapbox speaker who married fellow anarchist Emma Goldman.

The monologist often makes references to health, because there were many medical showmen at the time; some were genuine, but most were quacks.

There are also a lot of Biblical references. Both Saul Bellow and Dr.  Reitman were from Jewish backgrounds and Americans understood Bible references.

And, the monologist cited Single-Tax speakers, who were advocates of Henry George’s economic ideas.

Other speakers also spoke in Bughouse Square, with their own ideas on politics and current affairs.

As the hot summer abated and the first chills of Autumn blew across Chicago, the hoboes once again would ‘jump the rattler’ to head south for the winter.

Saul told me, “Bughouse square died when the hobo intellectuals disappeared from the scene just before the outbreak of the World War II.”

Christy, Marian. “Bellow’s Pleasure in Imaginary States.” Boston Globe 15 Nov. 1989: 81-82.

Steve Maxwell

6. They just don’t get it!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Andre Gide

1. Although Speakers’ Corner
is a place for discussing controversial issues, some topics are simply out of bounds. Some things should never be said, by anyone. Today, Helmut crossed the line. He said things unspeakable. He said the game of soccer was a better game than Australian Rules football and Rugby League football. And he gave his reasons.

A Speakers’ Corner Committee will be formed to thrash out what needs to be done about this breach. This cannot happen again.

Meanwhile, here is a lookalike of the miscreant.

2. The fellow who erected this sign insists he is not mad, and claims he has a certificate to prove it.

Repent at Speakers’ Corner!

3. Mr B complained about how his grasshoppers “didn’t get it”, yet for half an hour he refused to explain what it was we weren’t getting. Talk about frustrating! Then, when he finally told us what we weren’t getting, he then accused us of still “not getting it”! Holy moly. Someone cruelly, but perceptively, suggested that perhaps Mr B wasn’t “getting it” at home.

So, what was it that we “didn’t get”, even though he has told us week after week? Answer: that nearly everything is make-believe, and we should be aware of that, and if our wacky make-beliefs disable us, we should drop them.

That’s what we had to put up with for one interminable hour.

Straight afterwards, Mark the grinner stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and in three brief minutes succinctly summarised Mr B’s point.

This meme says it in seconds.

4. Recently, Uncle Pete said our Speakers’ Corner is intellectual. Today, Steve Maxwell proved it:

5.  The Australian Muslim Times has an article, “At Speakers’ Corner We All have a Voice“, by Philip Feinstein. Thank you, Philip!

6. Up on the Ladder of Knowledge Mirko patiently explained to his enthralled listeners how photosynthesis creates water. Poor Uncle Pete, who has only 20th century science to draw upon, kept insisting Mirko was wrong. Yes, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

Trees making water with photosynthesis.

7. Governments and their departments should not simply issue requests, says Mr B, they should also give reasons. A simple example: instead of simply telling us to not feed the birds, the sign should also explain why we shouldn’t feed them.
The same goes for governmental decisions. Governments should explain in writing how they arrive at their decisions.

Another example: eight months ago Mr B wrote to both the Refugee Council and the Department of Immigration with six questions. He is still waiting for a reply. He says that if government departments took the time to answer questions from the public (form letters would suffice in most instances) then people might gain a greater understanding of a situation, and feel less frustrated and combatitive.

Cynics pooh-hooed the idea.

Which sign do you think is more likely to receive a compliant response?

8. Other subjects discussed:
– The two types of happiness, and how they evolved. For more about this see Mr B’s website.

– Many non-human primates have communicated well with researchers, but not one has asked a question! (Have the researches given them the opportunity?)

– We heard the ancient fable about an ageing Chinese emperor looking for a successor. Although the fable was well received by Mr B’s grasshoppers, Uncle Pete, still reeling from the intellectual drubbing he had received from Mirko, found a flaw in it.

– Mr B showed us how male human brains are different from female brains, and reminded us that the brain is our biggest sex organ. From there he tried to prove that we should judge a person’s sex not by their genitals, but by the structure of their brain. Peter the Younger explained why he was wrong.

– We looked at loneliness and compared the merit of nuclear families with close extended families. Which would enrich the soul more?

9. Sadly, our Facebook page is less popular than America’s Super Bowl.



5. The Zombie Gnomes!

“We wouldn’t have the problems that we have in this world if God had made Adam and Eve Aborigines.  Because they would not have touched the apple; they would have eaten the snake instead.”
Thanks for passing that on, Ray!

1. Phew! Today both the delicate Mr Bashful and the sanguine Steve Maxwell suffered a torrid time. Mr B’s grasshoppers had the temerity to disagree with him, and poor Steve was forced to ban Tony Boyce from all future meetings. (Let’s see how that goes!)

Despite Tony’s incessant heckling, Steve managed to talk much of the day about what it would mean for Australia to be a republic, and why we should become one. At one point, New Zealander Tony justifiably criticised Australia’s treatment of Aborigines, and then proudly claimed that the New Zealanders made no such mistakes. Steve quickly set him straight, citing such examples as the Māori wars of 1845 to 1872.

Speaking of Tony, a keen fan of his sent in this lookalike. Hmmmm.

2. Thanks to all the speakers today:
– Thanks to Young Tommy, who got a gig on Steve’s ladder.
– Thanks to Janet, the lass with the design for a new Australian flag. Janet turns out to be a bit of an entertainer. Good on her.
– Thanks to Mirko, who got a gig on Mr B’s ladder through sheer force of will.
– Thanks to Ray, who had a good listening audience today. He’s happy to spend individual time with sincere questioners.
– Thanks to the softly spoken Mr B.
– Thanks to Steve, the spiritual essence of Speakers’ Corner.
– And thanks to Helmut, who is in the habit of finishing off the day in a classy and professional manner.

Thanks, guys! Here is a group photo of you all:

3. Mr B confessed that he must be old. The top song on Triple J’s hottest 100 is Kendrick Lamar’s HUMBLE, which has umpteen trillion hits on Youtube. Mr B admitted that he could not discern the words, and when he read the lyrics he still couldn’t understand what the hell was going on. He sang the lyrics to his grasshoppers to see what they thought, though some cynics might say that Kendrick lamar would have done a better job of it. For those of you who were at Speakers’ Corner today, you decide whose version was the better: Kendrick’s, or Mr B’s cover.

4. Mr B has a habit of calling troublemakers “garden gnomes”. Today, Peter the Younger led a coup by handing out a handful of zombie gnomes. Yes, zombie gnomes. Garden gnomes in search of brains.

If it’s brains they’re after, you’d think Speakers’ Corner would be the last place they’d look.

 One of the zombie gnomes attacked Mr B. He informs me that it’s now  on his mantelpiece with the one he received for Christmas.

5.  We heard a Cuban fable called ‘The House that Anton built’. It ended with a homily suggesting that our only real purpose in life is to build ourselves a person, because who we are is all that we really have. That prompted a grasshopper to ask the existential question: should we try to improve ourselves?

6. Designer babies.
Is it okay to genetically manipulate the unborn to rid them of defects? Is it alright to ensure that your baby is good looking? (Would that even work, given how standards would change anyway?) Would it be okay if deaf parents ensured that their child was deaf? What if someone didn’t want their child to be gay? Or did want them to be gay? Would babies be subject to fashion? Are we encroaching upon the last century eugenic aims of the Nazi party? (And does Godwin’s Law suddenly apply?)

From the Postsecret website:

7. It’s hard for young men to find the courage to express their interest in young ladies and ask them out. Now, with the #metoo movement and the grey line between harrassment and seduction, has it become even harder for young men to approach women?
Thankfully, the answer seemed to be ‘no’. As one young grasshopper pointed out, provided you treat a woman with respect and humility, you don’t have to fear being accussed of harrassing her.

From there the question was asked: How many women falsely accuse men of harrassment, and cause those innocent men severe and unnecessary pain?

On a cheerier note:

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Mr and Mrs Potts buy a house with a gnarled lemon tree. It turns out the grass is greener where you water it.
(And “thanks” to the guy who turned that pleasant story into something bitter and twisted.)

– Why are some country-dwelling small groups of Aborigines living in squalor? Is it an economic thing about what the government is prepared to do for any small group of people living deep in the bush? Should it be an economic thing? What part do past injustices play? What part do the vastly different mindsets of the white fellas and Aborigines play? Are the Aborigines asked what they want, or does the white fella decide for them? Given their close connection to the land, do the Aborigines have any choice about living in squalor?
These, and other awkward questions, created a torrid discussion for the softly spoken, delicate Mr B.

– Should Australia Day be changed to January 29th? (For the reasons given in this scribe’s previous post.)

– Today we were visited by famed film producer, Harvey Wiggle-bottom. We discussed the ethics of trading jobs for sex.

– Can New Zealand’s pregnant Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, be an effective Prime Minister and an attentive mother?

– What’s it like walking 5okms a day along a country road reading 1950’s murder mystery novels? It’s emotional, that’s what.


4. Australia Day!

“A good accountant is absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of any company, but for God’s sake don’t give them the steering wheel or they’ll have you in a ditch in five minutes.”
Kerry Packer.

1. Today was Australia Day, and eerily, on the road near where we pack the chairs, someone had painted an image of Australia. Extraordinary!

You might ask, “Where is Tasmania?! Where is King Island?”

Look below! They’re there, where they should be. And, you’ll see Hawaii to the upper right, also where it should be.

Some artist has gone to a lot of trouble to celebrate Australia Day. But who? Who would go to all that trouble?

2. And what a day it was. Despite the warnings in last week’s post, three regulars turned up to hear Steve Maxwell and Mr B alternate on the Ladder of Knowledge. The fear was that the regulars would hear material they had heard before, but that didn’t happen. Well, not much, anyway. Instead, the meeting rattled along nicely and didn’t finish until 6.15pm! More than four hours of fun. (Or bullshit, depending on your perspective.)

It made a big difference that Mark The Grinner and Uncle Pete contributed as well. The Grinner got up four times! Here is an example:

3. And here is another:

4. Given that it was Australia Day, Steve Maxwell acknowledged the displeasure Aborigines feel with the date: 26th January. After all, that’s the day the first fleet arrived to invade the continent. Steve recommended that we change the date to the day Aborigines were recognised as citizens. That got plenty of support.

Mr B recommended 29th January instead. His reasoning:
From the 19th to 25th we would have Naidoc week (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee). Each of those seven days could represent ten thousand of the seventy thousand years Aborigines have been on the continent, before the white fella arrived on 26th. The 27th would represent all the migrants that came from around the world to create the non-indiginous nation before 1901, and the 28th would acknowledge all the migrants who have come since federation in 1901. Therefore, with every group acknowledged, we could celebrate every Australian on Australia Day, January 29th.
Most importantly, it would still be a summer’s day. It’s not much fun having a day off and a barby in the winter.

5. Here is this scribe’s solution to last week’s ‘Sleeping Beauty Paradox’:

Nuh. Who gives a stuff. Not one person attempted to solve the paradox on this site or on our Facebook site, so let’s not waste more time on it. Sorry Mr B, but you can sulk all you like.

Our dear readers might like to try answering the following question instead, asked today: “Mary’s father has five daughters: March, April, May, June . . .  What’s the name of his fifth daughter?”

Surprisingly, this stumped a few people.

6. This remarkable lookalike of Ray was sent in by a keen reader. Thank you!

7. Who says some of the hecklers can be a little weird?

No one. No one needs to. It’s pretty self-evident.

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Why didn’t the Aborignes develop technologically like other nations did? (Hint: they didn’t have the domesticatable animals that provided milk & cheese, transport and plowing, and they didn’t have the crops like wheat and barley. You can’t harness a wallaby to a buggy or plow with a wombat. You can’t milk a koala.
Other reasons were given, too. In short, it’s a matter of circumstance. Had circumstances been reversed, Aborigines would probably be the technological powerhouse of the globe.

– Mark the Grinner spoke about John Webster, and how most of his audience were twenty-year olds. He made a few comparisons between Australians of yesterday and Australians today.

– Mr B and Mark the Grinner spoke of the proposed sugar tax. Mark the Grinner was in favour of it, while Mr B recommended that every product with sugar should have on its label a clear visible indication of the number of teaspoons present.
Why not use both methods, fellas?

– Mr B explained why his home hasn’t had cockroaches for twenty years. (It’s not due to his cleanliness!)

– After John Webster died, the Domain Trust wanted to charge the Wayside Chapel (a charity that feeds the homeless) $10,000 to allow them to spread Webster’s ashes in the Domain. The Chapel didn’t pay up, but the ashes were sprinkled in the Domain anyway, under the cloak of night.
(I guess the Trust created that $10,000 charge to dissuade other people from doing the same. After all, they wouldn’t want ashes laying everywhere for picnickers to have to deal with. The chapel did know that the ashes were spread (there is film of them being spread!) and they didn’t try to charge the chapel afterwards, so that’s telling.)

– Two students admitted that if they were given a loaded gun, they would not point it at their foot and pull the trigger. Yet, Mr B wanted to know, why is that so many people choose to shoot themselves in the foot by taking narcotics, or by consuming excessive alcohol, or by driving too fast?

– What truly matters?

– Should Australia become a republic?

– Steve talked about the history of Hyde Park. Mr B criticised history and said it should be banned. That didn’t go down well with Steve.

–  Then Mr B explained why Aborigines don’t exist. (Nor do Danes, Scots, the Japanese, Englanders, Jews, Anglo Australians, etc.)  This was hotly disputed by Steve Maxwell.

– But when Mr B combined his two arguments, Steve exploded. Then it was on for young and old.

3. Webster’s video!

“Faith is pretending to know what you don’t know.”
Peter Boghossian

1. Did you know that if you click on the title above, News For Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 21st January‘, the post becomes easier to read?

There is evidence to suggest that most of our readers aren’t aware of that.

The speakers today: Steve, Mirko (twice), John August, Janet (from last week), Helmut, Mr B, and Uncle Pete. Ray didn’t turn up. And, according to Mr B, grasshopper Peter the Younger was in fine form today. Here is a lookalike of him, thanks to the person who took the time and trouble to send it in.

2. Finally! Thanks to  film-maker Peter Marjason, who made a documentary called “Webster’s Domain” in 1972, we can see the famous soapbox speaker John Webster in full flight. Enjoy!

(And thank you to all the grasshoppers who contributed towards having the film digitised!)

3. Steve Maxwell and Mr B will be at the Domain on Friday, Australia Day. From 2pm until 5pm, as usual.  The two men will be taking turns to speak on the Ladder of Knowledge. Mr B warns his regulars that he will be focusing on his main subject, ‘resilience’. His regulars have heard it all before, so they are welcome to stay away.

4. Who has tattoos, and why? Mr B was forthright.

5. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others. From the Postsecret website.

6. Mr B demanded that all Australian employees be given the opportunity to take 4 months paid “Backpacker Leave”. Anyone should be able to take four months to travel and broaden their horizons, whilst receiving a wage, he argued. (Not including annual leave.) His grasshoppers disagreed with him.

He also said all employees should be given four months “Adventure Leave”, so that if they want to kayak an ocean, or climb Everest, or explore the Amazon jungle, they should be able to do so and still get paid. Again, his parsimonious grasshoppers disagreed with him.

Mr B then insisted that anyone who wants to write poetry should be given four months paid “Authorship Leave”. That’s because their work will enrich the soul of the author and it might enrich the souls of others. Again, he was met with disagreement. His grasshoppers kept arguing that it wasn’t fair that an employer should have to pay for such pursuits. The employer wasn’t going to benefit in any way, so why should they have pay? If the employee wants to write a book or climb Everest, they should fund it themselves.

Mr B then mentioned Maternity Leave . . .

His grasshoppers went silent.

Eventually, one grasshopper pointed out that Australia needs babies to maintain economic growth and to look after the elderly.

That’s when sparks began to fly! The group discussed over-population, immigration, the health of Australia’s environment, and the merit (or lack of) of economic growth. Some people argued that Australia can support a huge population, others didn’t.

Mr B is a pain when he’s testy.

Who knows what this is?

7. The Sleeping Beauty “Paradox”.
Beauty agrees to assist in an experiment. On Sunday night she is to be sent to sleep with a sleeping drug, then a fair coin is fairly tossed.
If the coin lands Heads she will be woken Monday morning and asked: “What is the probability that the coin landed Heads?” She will then be told the experiment is over.

If the coin lands Tails she will be woken Monday morning and asked the same question. Then she will again be given the drug, which sends her back to sleep and makes her forget she had been woken. She will awake Tuesday morning and be asked the same question again. She will then be told the experiment is over.

Beauty knows all this.

When Beauty is asked “What is the probability that the coin landed Heads?” what is the best answer she can give?

(She can’t tell if it’s Monday morning or Tuesday morning by any other way.)

Possible answer A: the chance the coin landed heads is 1 in 2. Beauty knows that the chance of any fair toss of a fair coin landing Heads is 1 in 2. Therefore, the answer must be 1 in 2. 
Put another way: if you were to ask Sleeping Beauty the odds of the coin landing Heads before the experiment began, she’d have to say 1 in 2. So why would she change her mind when she wakes up? She has no new information.

Possible answer B: the chance the coin landed heads is 1 in 3. That’s because there are three possibilities:
i) Heads, and it’s Monday morning, or
ii) Tails, and it’s Monday Morning, or
iii) Tails, and it’s Tuesday morning.
That’s two Tails to one Head.
 If the experiment were conducted twenty times, and Beauty were to bet a dollar on Tails each time she is woken, then assuming half the tosses are Tails she’ll be woken twenty times, and win twenty bets. With Heads, she’ll only be woken ten times, so will only lose ten bets. Twenty wins, ten losses. Wouldn’t that mean that upon waking, Beauty should assume that Tails is twice as likely? And that therefore, the probability that the coin landed heads is 1 in 3?

What do you think?

The creator of the problem, Adam Elga, argues that the correct answer is 1 in 3. Some philosophers agree with him; others differ. You can find their discussions in the magazine, ‘Analysis’. Or try Wikipedia.

Mr B believes he has figured out the “paradox” and will provide this scribe with the correct answer in time for next week’s news. Can you beat him to it? Can you leave an explanation in the comments section? Or leave your explanation as a Facebook comment?

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Uncle Pete gave us a great story of how he, as a boy, made chloroform. He nearly knocked himself out sniffing his results. The beaker fell, but it fortunately didn’t break.

– Helmut explained how matter came into being, and he questioned the idea that we are all made of star stuff.

– In the news today there was another example of a man being infested with tapeworms after eating raw fish. Mr B told his grasshoppers that the only way fishmongers and restauranteurs can ensure their sashimi  is parasite-free is to freeze the fish for seven days at below -21° celsius. (Figures vary.) Few restaurant chefs do that. Even the expensive ‘sushi grade’ the fishmongers sell is probably just a marketing exercise with ordinary salmon.
In Australia,  your sashimi is probably okay because farmed Australian fish is usually pretty clear of parasites. But if you’re planning on making your own sashimi, consider being on the safe side and freeze it for a week in your freezer first.

– We briefly discussed the legalisation of cannabis in California.

– The Australian government has allowed a South American fish, the Peacock Bass, to be sold in Australia as a pet. That fish is now ravaging rivers in Queensland. Did the government not learn anything when they stupidly allowed rabbits, cane toads, the prickly pear, foxes, camels, guppies, koi, deer and buffalo to enter Australia? Apparently not. What else are they not banning, but should be?

– Parents should be charged with child abuse if they produce fat kids by feeding them junk food.

– Related to the above, Mr B said that every student leaving school should know how to change a flat tyre, change a tap washer, change a light globe, and know how to cook a variety of healthy meals. As usual, this message didn’t go down well. Today it wasn’t just Uncle Pete who objected; a younger man explained that imminent technology will soon render those skills obsolete. Eg. 3D printers will soon be producing our meals, lights will last a million hours, and electric cars won’t have wheels you can change easily.

9. Our Facebook page awaits you, if that’s your thing.

It’s a numbat.

If you have lived in Australia for a while and didn’t know that, then you can’t argue that Australia’s human population isn’t having a significant impact upon the native wildlife.

If you live in Australia, when did you last see a numbat near your home? Or in the wild? Or a wallaroo? A quoll? A bandicoot? A ringtail possum? An antechinus? Compared to the concentration of native animals living in our bush two hundred years ago, Australia is bereft of wildlife. It’s a wildlife desert. Our native animals are being eaten by foxes, rats, dogs and cats. With an increasing population, it will only get worse.

But then, do you care?

Because many people don’t.

2. It was windy!

“Every snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.”

1. Talk about windy!  It blew the milk out of a picnicker’s tea. And, it was blowing away Mirko’s laminated signs. That prompted him to sit with one of the groups and “contribute” to the discussions.

It was good to see Steve Maxwell back. He quickly got stuck into stabbing a few sacred cows that moo in our society. Religion was one, and privatisation another.

Steve generously allowed Janet to speak on his platform. Janet is a designer who has entered the Ausflag competition to find a new flag for Australia.

In her flag a red earth circle represents our island continent; the white dots, our coast; and the blue, the ocean. The cluster of blue dots represents the states and territories (the centre dot represents the territories and the six blue dots surrounding it represent the states).

You can vote for Janet’s flag, or any other flag, on the Ausflag website:

2. Young Tommy also spoke on Steve’s platform, about kindness again. Did Tommy talk tommyrot? It’s unlikely. Tommy has a sharp mind, and he can be a fast-paced dynamic speaker. (Mr B would disagree with me, simply because he refuses to acknowledge talent. I guess when you have heaps of it yourself, it becomes hard to see it in others.)

Tim also spoke. Tim is a drop-in, and he came with his mate, Spencer. They brought with them recording equipment. The two are up to something, but it’s early stages yet.

When Tim stood upon the Ladder of Knowledge he immediately grabbed our attention by asking: “What is the most dangerous weapon ever?”

Well, dear reader, what do you think it would be?

Answers provided by the audience were: “Mass communications”, “good ideas”, “nuclear weapons”, “anti-matter” (thank you, Helmut), and “central banking”. (This scribe would have incorrectly said “infectious disease warfare” but I’m too unassuming to speak up.)

The answer: AK47s. They’ve killed more people than any other weapon, apparently. Tim explained why and he did a good job of it. Importantly, he seemed to know his stuff.


3. People in the media are now asking if Oprah Winfrey would make a good president for the U.S.A.. What a good idea! Today other candidates were put forth: Jerry Springer (for his conflict management skills). Hulk Hogan. Paris Hilton. Kim Kardashian.

Donald Trump wants to appoint four Supreme Court Justices. One keen grasshopper suggested they be replaced by the four kids on ‘Southpark’. We suspect he was joking though. It’s irritating when a grasshopper doesn’t take the topic seriously.

4. Mr B agreed with Donald Trump. “Shithole” nations do exist. They have extreme poverty, corruption and crime. You would not want to emigrate to those nations, and the occupants of those nations seem keen to emigrate. Mr B said Trump’s statements were not racist, as the media have suggested. However, one grasshopper rightly suggested that the word “dysfunctional” would have been a far better option for Donald.

It was pointed out that Donald didn’t make the statement publicly, so he should be able to use the words of his choice. However, someone said that as president, Donald should be careful with everything he says. Someone else added that many people are trying to undermine Donald, to get him out of the Whitehouse.

5. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others.

6. We have another lookalike, this time of Steve. Keep sending them in, folks.

7. Mark the Grinner had something to say today. Atop the Ladder of Knowledge he spoke about slavery, past and present. He talked about the rise of greed and exploitation, and claimed that most of us are effectively slaves. He said that we can’t vote the bastards out because there are no viable alternatives.

It was a provocative but persuasive talk, and Mark received many questions and comments. Once he’s up on the Ladder of Knowledge, no one wants him to get off it.

At one point Mark said that apart from the wealthiest 2%, the people have no power. But is that really true?

8. Other matters discussed:
– When a female school teacher has sex with a male student, is it really child abuse? Surely it’s a young man’s dream to have sex with a teacher? Isn’t she doing him a favour? If he does get upset afterwards, is it because someone found out and a big fuss was created?

– We heard the story about Ulysses and the Sirens. The point, supposedly, was that we should ensure we do two things:
(1) Become aware of our false disabling beliefs, and
(2) make damned sure we don’t feed those disabling beliefs in any way, or ignore evidence to the contrary.

– Should we burn the Mona Lisa?
Here is a painting in the NSW Art Gallery. Do you think it’s in the gallery because:
a) it touches our hearts and souls, or because
b) it was painted by a famous artist and it’s worth a lot of money?

If you need further convincing, here is Mr B speaking at Ignite Sydney, run by Stephen Lead.

9. On our Facebook page you can see all of the above memes in imperceptibly different shades of colour.