This site is the archive for the videos and posts created for the Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner website: speakerscorner.org.au
“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”
1. Uncle Pete was the first to ascend the Ladder of Knowledge and for an hour answered questions such as, “Could the speed of light have changed over billions of years?” and “Would the Earth have a different gravity if the amount of time and space in the universe were different?” and “Should Fitzroy High School continue to teach all its boys and girls how to cook?” The answer to all three questions was, basically, ‘no’.
He also answered questions about the process of natural selection, biology, chemistry, and even the origin of life. (Though that last one hasn’t hasn’t yet been nutted out.)
Congratulations to Pete’s daughter, Sarah, for having her book, “Callan Park, hospital for the insane“, short-listed in the NSW Premier’s History Awards.
2. Does Mr B have an ego? If not, why is he up there on the Ladder of Knowledge? And what does that have to do with Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby?
3. Don’t get the NBN! advised Uncle Pete. When he visited his Optus store, Pete discovered that many people are avoiding the unnecessary hassle and cost of an NBN installation by adopting mobile broadband instead. Peter converted, and is very pleased with his 60 mps.
4. Have aliens visited Earth?A passer-by explained that twenty years ago, when he was 16 years old, he and his companion witnessed a fiery ball hover in the night sky, and then plummet. Up until then he hadn’t believed in aliens, but that object was weird.
It was suggested that the light may have been ball lightning,but he didn’t seem enamoured with that possibility.
True story: when I was a lad living in the country my mother came home late one night and excitedly explained how she had been driving in the valley when her car had suddenly been illuminated by a strong light. The light had followed her for a long stretch of the road, then blinked out. “I was being followed by a UFO” she gasped. I suggested to her that perhaps there had been hunters in the hills spotlighting, and they had turned their spotlight onto her car to see who it was. “Pooh!” she scoffed. “How likely is that?!”
5. People used to believe wacky things like ‘women shouldn’t vote’, and ‘it’s okay to smash a Chinese girl’s feet into little pieces and stuff them into shoes the size of tea cups’. What wacky beliefs do we have today that in 100 years will have people scratching their heads? Mr B explained three from his list of twenty.
6. Other topics discussed:
– In order to dampen Mirko’s “enthusiasm” we had to promise him a stint on the Ladder of Knowledge if he managed to shut up for five minutes. He sort of managed to shut up for those five minutes, and when he got up, he sort of managed to impart what he wanted to say.
– Steve Maxwell and Ray spoke too, of course, but your scribe fell asleep listening to Mr B and didn’t visit them.
– Helmut talked about quantum mechanics and the composition of an atom.
– Greg asked Uncle Pete if we should be teaching children life skills such as how to change a flat tyre. Uncle Pete was not 100% impressed with the question.
7. Should we even seek happiness? Here is another chapter from Mr B’s book for young people:
8. In our Unusual Creature Series we present to you the gharial. This one has objected to our Facebook page.
“Fail, and feel regret. Don’t try, and feel even more regret.”
1. A cold day unless you were lucky to be in the miserly sun. Steve Maxwell, Ray and Mr B were not that lucky. Helmut was.
Autumn, a Chinese woman working in Australia, asked numerous questions of Mr B and his grasshoppers about Australians’ attitudes towards China. We answered her many questions, first pointing out that ours views of the Chinese leadership are different to our views of the Chinese people.
2. Uncle Pete corrected Mr B on something he wrote in last week’s chapter on natural selection. Mr B assures me he’ll make the necessary changes. Meanwhile, here is another chapterfor his grasshoppers to treasure.
3. Mr B has discovered he was wrong. It’s extremely difficult for a single person over 22 to live on the Newstart allowance. You can find the revised article here.
As for his Walkley Award, this scribe doubts he’ll be getting it now.
4. Other topics discussed:
– Mirko told us about the importance of diesel. We are grateful to him for that.
– Steve, Ray and Helmut? Dunno.
– We heard a Somerset Maugham short story, though in Mr B’s own words, unfortunately. Two of Mr B’s grasshoppers didn’t understand it. His other grasshoppers probably didn’t get it either, but were too polite to say so. However, your worldly scribe thought it was beaut!
– No woman turned up to claim Mr B. He looked so dejected.
– Someone asked Mr B a question about Donald Trump. Mr B floundered and his grasshoppers weren’t that helpful either.
5. In our Unusual Critter Series we feature the peacock spider. They’re called peacock spiders because they hunt, kill and eat peacocks, presumably.
This one likes our Facebook page.
‘Tolerance is the only real test of civilizations.’
1. Steve Maxwell was fortunate to get two sensible speakers, one after the other, onto his platform: Grace and Neil. In an entertaining and theatrical way Neil spoke about Ecclesiastes, though apparently it wasn’t a religious talk, and I don’t know what Grace spoke about. Sorry, Grace!
We don’t have a photograph of Grace or Neil, so this photo will have to do in stead.
2. Investigative journalist Mr Bashful deserves a Walkley Award for his investigation into the Newstart Allowance. Interestingly, the people who vociferously argued against his article were the ones who hadn’t read it. Why are we not surprised?
When Mr B said the taxpayer should not be expected to pay for alcohol, cigarettes, take-away food, recreational drugs and gambling, one grasshopper asked, “Why shouldn’t someone on Newstart be able to go out drinking and have a good time?”
3. Other subjects discussed.
– Mr B related the science fiction story, ‘The Look’, in honour of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
– He also recounted three stories that included kings and monks and hermits and scorpions None of the stories seemed to make any real sense.
– Can true ‘nothing’ be comprehended by the human mind? Does the universe exist because ‘nothing’ cannot be?
– At 4.40pm Helmut took the ladder of knowledge and told us God is energy, but that god should on no account be confused with any sentient god people worship. However, we should still call energy ‘God’ to avoid confusion. Thanks, Helmut.
– Helmut continued: Our universe was created 13.8 billion years ago in the Big Bang. The mega-verse, in which our universe sits, has always existed, forever and ever. That mega-verse has always existed because energy cannot be created or destroyed, (the law of conservation of mass), even though that law was only created 13.8 billion years ago in the Big Bang. Go figure.
– When Mr B was twenty he was not attracted to 60 year old women. When he was forty he was not attracted to 60 year old women. Now that he is 63 he is attracted to 60 year old women. ‘What has changed?’ he wanted to know.
Two grasshoppers put forth explanations. Another didn’t.
4. Here is chapter 2 of Mr Bashful’s book: ‘A brief explanation of the process of natural selection.’
5. In our Unusual Creature Series we present to you the star nosed mole. It surfaces only to look at our Facebook page.
“Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face.”
Oscar Wilde, before social media and trolling came along.
1. It was bitterly cold for much of the day and it was a marvel that Mr B turned up with his bronchitis, now downgraded more realistically to a chest cold. Mind you, Mr B says his cold would have killed most men, so thanks for coming today, Mr B. Or, more accurately, thanks for bringing the chairs.
There had been a rumour that part-time actor Steve Maxwell had been overseas auditioning to be the next James Bond, but it turns out he really was having an eye operation. He was back today wearing protective shades. Welcome back, Steve!
“The man who wants big family tree needs many roots,” said Helmut, quoting Confucious and ignoring Mr B’s ban on wordplay. Helmut took enquiries about the origin of the universe, and somehow or other Sir Isaac Newton became involved in the discussion. What a poor specimen of a man Sir Isaac Newton was! Thanks, Helmut, for smashing our preconceptions and bringing us back to reality.
2. Peter the Younger read to us the following figures:
The European Union has 468 coal-fired power plants and they intend to build 27 more.
Turkey has 56 plants and they’re planning to build 93 more.
South Africa: 79, & plan to build 24 more.
India has 589 and plan 446 more.
The Philippines has 19 and plan 60 more.
South Korea has 58 and plan 26 more
Japan has 90 and plan 45 more.
China has 2,363, and plan 1171 more.
Peter’s point? Australia is planning to shut their remaining 6 plants and save the planet!!
Peter says we in Australia have made some foolish decisions.
Peter also claimed that Adolf Hitler was a socialist, and gave his reasons why.
His stint was entertaining!
3. Mr B is rewriting his bookon resilience in a different format, and has asked (begged) your scribe to include a chapter in the weekly post. He’d like feedback from his grasshoppers about the new format.
Given that his “book” is Speakers’ Corner related (resilience is his main subject, after all) your scribe reluctantly accedes to his request.
It’s a book intended for young people. If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.
4. Can an unemployed personsurvive on the Newstart Allowance (unemployment benefits)? Your scribe decided to find out. Click here.
5. This week’s unusual critterin the Unusual Critter Series is the praying mantis, but IT IS NOT a close relation to the mantis shrimp, which is also an unusual critter. Here is a bunch of reasonswhy the mantis shrimp is one weird critter. Both critters should check out our Facebook page.
This article was revised on 26th July 2019 because there was an error. Mr B had asked a Centrelink person if there was a Travel Allowance for someone on Newstart (unemployment benefits). He was told that there was a Mobility Allowance of $97.90 per fortnight. As it happens, he was misinformed. That Mobility Allowance only applies to a disabled person.
Therefore, the total income is only $701.70 per fortnight. Total expenses are seen to be (on the high end): $764. Therefore, a person on the Newstart Allowance would be short $63 per fortnight, or $31.50 per week.
Therefore, Mr B recommends that the NewStart Allowance be raised by at least $63 per fortnight.
The revised article:
There are different situations in which a person may become elligible for unemployment benefits. For example:
(A) those who have saved their money and have a financial buffer, and have become unemployed.
(B) those who have not saved their money and have no financial buffer, and have became unemployed.
(C) single parents with children.
(d) parents with children
This article looks at the position of someone in category (B): “Can a single unemployed person over the age of 22 – without having saved a financial buffer – live a good life and seek work on unemployment benefits?”
The current Newstart Allowance benefits are:
(source: Aust govt)
A single person receives $555.70 per fortnight.
A room in Sydney will always be at least $305.33 a fortnight, so the fortnightly payment from the government will be $137.20.
Plus Energy allowance
Total income for a single person, per fortnight:
$555.70 Newstart allowance
$137.20 Rental assistance
$8.80 energy allowance.
Therefore, $701.70 is the total income received per fortnight by our single person.
The Newstart allowance is to provide a person with a decent standard of living and the support they need in their endeavours to find a job. The taxpayer should not be obliged to fund a Newstart recipient’s:
– take-away food
– restaurant meals
– recreational drugs
– bottled water & soft drinks
– tea & coffee
That’s not the view of some people, though. One grasshopper asked, “Why shouldn’t someone on the Newstart payments be able to go out drinking and have a good time?”
Another grasshopper, when asked why the taxpayer should pay for cigarettes and alcohol, blurted, “Why should people be forced to live in horrendous conditions?”
A person could find on flatmates.com.au a room in a shared house in Sydney for $200 per week. However, Kim has poor social skills and no one will live with her. Kim needs to have her own room, so she rents a room in a boarding house and pays $225 per week. Kim is paying $450 rent per fortnight.
Let’s assume Kim lives in an outer suburb and has one job interview a week in Sydney’s CBD. That’s $14.80 a fortnight. Let’s say Kim can’t buy her groceries on the same trip, and she lives a long bus or train trip to the nearest shopping centre. Therefore she has to spend another $20 per fortnight in public transport fares. Total: $34.80
Tax: $0. The Newstart allowance is $555.70 per fortnight, or $14,448.20 per year. The tax free threshold is $18,200 a year. Therefore this is no tax to pay. (The rental assistance and energy assistance allowances are tax exempt.)
Gas and electricity.
The socialite Mr B lives alone in a big house. He tells me that using arithmetic and his last four electricity and gas bills, he has determined that per fortnight, his cost of electricity is $28.08 and gas is $19.48.
Total energy costs: $47.56 per fortnight.
(Water? In most instances when someone is paying rent, the water bill is paid by the landlord.)
Telephone and internet:
Internet: all libraries in the Sydney greater area provide free internet access. There an unemployed person can send and receive emails from prospective employers, as well as hunt for jobs. Cost: $0.
Telephone (to speak with prospective employers): $10 per month for a cheap phone plan. That’s $5 per fortnight.
Clothes: An unemployed person will need smart clothes for job interviews, and quality goods can be found in op shops. (Mr B found a quality suit on his first attempt for $20.) However, if a person presents proof they are on unemployment benefits, they can receive clothes & shoes for free (and presumably, blankets.)
Socks, underpants and singlets need to be bought, let’s say at a generous average cost of $8 per fortnight.
Haircuts: For job interviews the applicant needs a presentable haircut. A woman told Mr B that generally a friend can cut a basic hair cut. And, there are Youtube videos showing how it can be done. However, this claim will be rubbished, so let’s include the cost of a professional haircut: Men’s haircuts: 8 a year at $12 each. That’s $4 a fortnight. Women’s haircuts:
a) Some hairdressing schools will have their apprentices cut a woman’s hair for $25. However, results aren’t guaranteed.
b) The firm, ‘Just Cuts’ will cut a woman’s hair for $32. At six times per year that’s roughly $240 per year. That’s less than $8 per fortnight. Hair dye, six times per year will cost $10 each time. That’s $60 a year or just over $2 per fortnight.
$8 + $2 = $10 is the average cost per fortnight Kim will pay. (Men: about $4.)
Most shared houses have washing machines, and most apartment blocks have communal washing machines and driers, that cost $2 per wash and $2 for the dryer. But let’s assume Kim has to use a laundromat to wash and dry her clothes. Twice a fortnightwill cost her $18 per fortnight.
– toothpaste (the brushing cleans your teeth, not the lather). Besides, toothpicks and floss are even more important.
– laundry detergent. It’s the washing machine’s surging water that rids your clothes of sweat, etc., not the detergent. If you have an item with grime on it, hand wash the affected areas first with a bar of soap. Mr B hasn’t used laundry detergent for eight years.
– lipstick, perfume and eye liner.
Cost: $0 per week.
– The chemist informed Mr B that an unemployed person will pay a maximum of $390 per year for prescribed medicines. Let’s say Kim has medical issues and will spend the entire $390 each year. She will be paying on average $15 per fortnight.
– bars of soap:
– toilet paper (a handy hint to save money: use both sides)*
– toothpicks or dental floss:
– washing-up liquid:
– Tampons and pads
– other stuff I’ve forgotten.
Total fortnightly cost: Generous estimate:$18
It’s commonly said that people on the Newstart allowance cannot afford fresh food, and are forced to buy take-away food. Here are some examples of the prices of take-away food:
So, a cheap meal can be bought for $5 or $6.
Mr B said anyone suggesting that bought meals are cheaper than fresh food is, at best, mistaken. I asked Mr B to put his money where his mouth is. (He agreed to do so, but first had to remove his foot.) For a week he meticulously recorded the cost of the food he ate, and took photographs for proof. Here we go:
Note: Instead of expensive wine, Mr B uses a cheap wine substitute for most of his meals. Although it’s often included in the photographs, the cost is not included because it’s negligible, and because an unemployed person does not need to purchase alcoholic beverages in order to survive.
Breakfast: Two bowls of cereal, (Freedom’s ‘Buckwheat & Quinoa Active Balance) with oat milk.
Cost: $2.40 for both bowls.
Morning snack: banana.
Cost: 36 cents.
Dinner: 1/3 rump steak fried with mushrooms & onions, plus three other vegetables.
Breakfast: Free range eggs, tomatoes, chilli, on grain & seed bread.
Total cost for Tuesday: $12.07
Breakfast: Two bowls of cereal, (Freedom’s ‘Buckwheat & Quinoa Active Balance) with oat milk. Plus apple.
Cost: $2.40 plus:
Lunch: two bananas on grain & seed bread.
Dinner: 1/3 rump steak with eight vegetables.
Total cost for Wednesday: $10.82
Breakfast: Two free-range eggs, two tomatoes, chilli, on grain & seed bread.
Lunch: Avocado on grain & seed bread. Plus one banana.
Dinner: Stir-fry on rice: 1/2 salmon, beans, broccolli, carrot, beetroot, capsicum, mushroom.
Total cost for Thursday: $9.93
Dinner: Stir-fry on rice: 1/2 salmon, beans, broccolli, carrot, beetroot, capsicum, mushroom.
Total cost for Friday: $14.52
Breakfast: Apple, plus Two bowls of cereal, (Freedom’s ‘Buckwheat & Quinoa Active Balance) with oat milk.
Cost: $2.80 for both bowls.
Lunch: Toasted turkish bread sandwich with margarine, tomato, onion, Jarlsburg cheese, an egg, chilli, avocado & lettuce.
Dinner: Borscht. (gravybeef, beetroot, celery,
Total cost for Saturday: $10.20
Breakfast: Toasted turkish bread sandwich with margarine, tomato, onion, Jarlsburg cheese, an egg, chilli, avocado & lettuce.
Dinner: Canned pilchards with tomatoes, onion & garlic on rice.
Total cost for Sunday: $9.84
Total food expenses for one week: $78.83 Therefore: per fortnight: $157.66
TOTAL EXPENSES PER FORTNIGHT
47.56 gas & electricity
Total expenses: $764.02
Given that the total income is $701.70,and that total expenses are $764.02 that means the unemployed Kim is short $62.32 per fortnight, or $31.16 per week. Of course, in most cases those expenses assumed the highest costs possible. For example, if Kim didn’t have poor social skills and her many health problems she would be paying $400 per fortnight instead of $450, and $5 per fortnight for medicines instead of $15. However, the Newstart Allowance should cater for people like Kim, which means the current Newstart Allowance for a single person 22 years or over is not adequate and should be raised by at least $63.
How about for a single parent? For a couple? I don’t know.
1. Poor Steve Maxwell is still crook after his eye operation and he didn’t appear today. Heal soon, Steve!
The nurses in St Vincent Public Hospital say Tony is a lovely and co-operative patient. “He’s a real sweetie,” a nurse told me. Heal soon, Tony.
Mr B’s voice went at Speakers’ Corner and he has just informed me he now has bronchitis. Heal soon, Mr B.
Today Uncle Pete called Mr B a simpleton. You’re a heel, Uncle Pete.
2. In his croaky voice Mr B talked about how happiness evolved, and why people in poor countries are often happier than the occupants of wealthier countries, like Australia.
4. It was a hard act to follow. Mr B tried with grace and flair to answer the question, ‘What is Art’, but as soon as Mikayla indicated that she wanted to speak, Mr B’s minutes were numbered. His short-attention-spanned grasshoppers just wanted him to get to the point so they could then get Mikayla up onto the Ladder of Knowledge.
Mr B persisted, and the calls for Mikayla became thick and fast. Finally, Mr B succumbed. Your concerned scribe thought that if he had kept the Ladder of Knowledge for another minute the audience would have begun to light torches.
Mikayla was soon fielding awkward questions like, “How and when will contemporary art end?” and “Will Post-Modernism be followed by Post-Post Modernism?”. She handled the questions deftly and included references to Dada and Dali.
It seems Mikayla’s popularity is growing and she is gaining a following.
It must be said that Mr B already has a big following. He’s being stalked by a sumo wrestler.
5. When Mikayla relinquished the Ladder of Knowledge did she hand it back to the rightful occupant, poor Mr B? No, of course she didn’t. She handed it over to a guy called Philip who is researching aspects of artificial intelligence. But it’s just as well she did, because Philip was interesting and informative. He grew the crowd and, like Mikayla, deftly answered questions.
Will androids ever have emotions? Will attractive androids, programmed to make their owner fall in love with them, be so effective as partners that the human civilisation will collapse?
6. Mr B finally took back the Ladder of Knowledge but his voice soon gave out, so Helmut took his place, and then Mark the Grinner took Helmut’s place. By the finish it was after 5pm.
People said it was a good day. And it was.
Most days at Speakers’ Corner are enjoyable. Come along and see for yourself. If you lose interest you can visit the two art galleries opposite.
7. Steve Maxwell has written another article for his popular Passing Parade page.
Bughouse Square Debates (part 3)
The Bughouse Square debates were revived in July 1986.
This year, 2019, the main event may be live streamed. The subject is “The Legacies of 1919”, referring to the Chicago race riots. See more on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_race_riot_of_1919
The debate is between Natalie Moore (South Side Reporter from, WBEZ 91 Chicago radio ). https://www.wbez.org/staff/Natalie+Mooreand Charles Whitaker the interim dean/professor from Medill School, North-western University. https://www.medill.northwestern.edu/directory/faculty/charles-whitaker.html
Two awards are sponsored by Newberry Library: the John Peter Altgeld Freedom of Speech Award and the Dill Pickle award for the best soap-boxer of the day.
The John Peter Altgeld Freedom of Speech award is named for former Governor of Illinois Altgeld,(1847-1902), who granted clemency to anarchists rounded up after the Haymarket Labour Day bombing of 1886. Altgeld saw their trial as a travesty of justice. Though there are many posted videos of the debates online, live streaming is something new.
The oldest video was posted on July 31ST2010. That year, the Altgeld Award for Freedom of Speech was awarded to Kartemquin Films. This Chicago-based documentary film company holds a mirror up to American society and disseminates reports of difficult, ignored and unpopular issues. https://kartemquin.com/news/1875/kartemquin-to-receive-free-speech-award-from-newberry-library
The Dill Pickle award is named after the bohemian Dill Pickle Club. It is indeed a large plastic green dill-pickle. http://www.newberry.org/past-bughouse-square-debates (The 2013 Bughouse Sq. debate) Runners up awards for soapbox speaking are wooden plug nickels about the size of a penny. All this is done in the name of free speech and good humour.
I visited Newberry Library in 1997 and received my research readers ticket. On Saturday July 26, 1997, I helped judge the speakers on the soapbox in Bughouse square! The organizers divided the square into four sections. I was given a questionnaire in which I had to mark from 1 to 10 my opinions of the speaker’s ability; subject, delivery and audience reaction. It was fun to do.
I met a lot of interesting people in Chicago. Sadly many have died over the years. I was lucky to hear Studs Terkel writer (radio broadcaster 1912-2008) open the debate that year. The Main Debate: “Multiculturalism: Ebonics or Moronics?” being between Michael Silverstein, University of Chicago professor of anthropology, and Leon Todd, Director of the Milwaukee School Board.
Studs Terkel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studs_Terkel had lived close by the Bughouse Sq. and the Dill Pickle Club in Tooker Alley. Studs never forgot the characters he had met. The Dill Pickle club was a bohemian speakeasy frequented by literary figures and radicals of all kinds. Both the square and the club played a vital roll in life of Chicago. See more: ttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dil_Pickle_Club
Newspaper writer Wallace Willits, who gives us a sample of soapboxers of those times in his article http://www.newberry.org/life-and-theft-bughouse-square, had this description of the speakers: ‘the “ardent vegetarian,” “the psychopathic expert,” “atheists and left-wing socialists,” “Freudian psychologists,” and a drunk hoping to “promote” 50 cents from some distracted passer-by so he can purchase another pint. “Free speech never was freer than in this unique spot on the near north side,”. Willits continued to write. “This freedom, he seems to imply, is also the freedom to speak without making any sense. It occurs in a space outside state surveillance and iconography, which the shedding of “Washington” in popular reference to the park reflects”.
World War II and a post-war crackdown against socialists and communists led to Bughouse Square’s decline and, by the mid-1960s, it had all but ceased to exist. The area also went through an upgraded development period. In 1986, the Newberry and community activists officially revived the spirit of the park in the form of a yearly event, The Bughouse Square Debates.
I interviewed Hank Oettinger, (1924-2014 ) https://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/obit-hank-oettinger-92 who was always on hand at Bughouse debates. He is best known for his letters- to- editors. Hank Oettinger worked in the Chicago newspapers as a printer. He knew most of city’s best journalists and where they liked to drink and they knew he was worth publishing. Collections of his letters to the editor are held on; https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/ArticleArchives?author=864070
Hank gave me great insight into the Chicago Democratic Convention protest of 1968, which ended in a police riot. The Convention was split between anti-war and pro-war campaigners. The brutal assassinations of civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy ensured that there would also be a large protest from those movements.
In Hank’s opinion, during the eight days of protest there was a great effort to unite the anti-war campaigners and the civil rights movement, but also great efforts by others to divide the two. If the left could have united them, Mayor Daily’s hold on the city would have crumbled.
I also met with people who were in the Chicago police department at the time. Their job was to go out into the streets and convince protesters not to trust the others. For example, anti-war campaigners were said to be young white draft dodgers, while civil right campaigners were ‘dangerous radicals’. That was before the police got into the action and all hell let loose. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Democratic_National_Convention#Richard_J._Daley_and_the_convention
Just as the Bughouse speakers corner has been revived with an annual debate, so too has the tradition of the Dill Pickle Club;–with a weekly meeting called “The College of Complexes”. In fact, it was founded in 1953 with the counterculture motto “The Playground for People who Think” and with its promise of “No Homework – No Credits / No Sleeping in Class” http://www.collegeofcomplexes.org/ I was again lucky in Chicago to meet Charles Paidock who invited me to the College. Now he is program co-ordinator of the College of Complexes. From time to time, I drop in and view their program. It’s always interesting for me. As I said, I met a lot of interesting people in Chicago – too many to list and thank.
This ends my story of Chicago’s free speech venues. That said, anyone at any time can visit the web and view the BUGHOUSE DEBATES.
“Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.”
Norman Vincent Peale
1. First, an advertisement, compliments of Steve Maxwell. The 2019 Bughouse Square Debates.
Saturday, July 27, 2019 Noon to 4 pm
Washington Square Park (aka Bughouse Square), 901 North Clark Street, across Walton from the Newberry
Free and open to the public; no registration or tickets required
This is really the last of the open forum left in the USA
For more information, click here.
2. Except for every conspiracyyou can think of, your percipient scribe doesn’t believe in conspiracy theories, but when the Domain Trust “just happens” to block off an area for grass regeneration, and the restaurant “just happens” to take up more space in our area, you have to think that perhaps the Illuminati really are planning a New World Order, and they’re making a concerted effort to banish Speakers’ Corner and its erudite speakers.
If so, they failed dismally. Today the speakers made do with the limited space they found.
Mind you, Mr B was on the embankment, and your nervous scribe was worried he would fall backwards and plummet to his death to the road below. But thankfully that didn’t happen.
Tony Boyce, ex-speaker and regular visitor, has not been so fortunate with regards to his health. While walking about ten days ago, his legs went to jelly and he fell. Low blood pressure, apparently. He has been in St Vincents public hospital since then, getting treatment. Today he had three visitors: your sympathetic scribe, Jack, and Mr B.
Tony assured us he has been well fed. Mr B is not so sure. When Tony’s back was turned Mr B grabbed Tony’s plastic bottle of apple juice and took a swig. Mr B says it’s the worst apple juice he has ever tasted.
Good luck, Tony! We hope you’re soon well and back at Speakers’ Corner!
3. Mikayla appeared again and explained why a urinal is a piece of art. (See the Duchamp exhibitionin the gallery, which appears to be more like a recycling centre.) She also sank the boot into Israel Folau.
Again, Mikayla did a good job. She spoke fluently, kept the meeting light-hearted, and answered people’s questions.
One of her female friends in the audience was a troublemaker, for asking awkward questions of the other speakers.
Both are welcome back any time.
4. Mark the Grinnerhad a long stint on the ladder of knowledge and prefaced his talk by saying, “Do not believe what I am about to say.” He added, “Your job is to think about what I say and evaluate the merit of my claims.”
“Thank goodness for that advice,” said Mr B, relieved, “I would have believed everything you said without questioning it.”
Mark the Grinner spoke about:
– Israel Folau’s shenanigans.
– The failure of the Labour Party to oppose the coaition’s legislation that increased the powers of our national security organisations.
– Victoria’s ban of mobile phones in schools. Mark said that ban might have the unintended consequence of informing the students that they can indeed survive without their phone for six hours.
– Teleological thinking: beleiving that a phenomenon occurs because it has a purpose. (Eg. A giraffe grew its neck to reach the leaves in high trees, not as a result of natural selection.)
– The difference between evolution and intelligent design.
– Today a big proportion of our young population seem to be suffering from anxiety or depression. Has there been a strong commercialisation of our emotional states?
This idea offended everyone in his audience and they all burst into tears.
– Mark the Grinner then spent ten minutes arguing with a group of twenty-year olds about how all people less than thirty-five years of age should be made into dog food.
At some point in his talk a dear little silver-haired old lady trundled up to him. Mark reached down to hear her whisper to him, “Please don’t use the f word so freely.” Mark the Grinner grinned and made a polite comment to suggest that nowadays it’s an acceptable word to say. However, he managed to talk for another half hour without using the word once. Tamed, by a little old lady.
5. Across the way,Steve Maxwell spoke about our Prime Minister’s contradictions in his stint at the G20, the contradiction being his stances on free trade and national security.
In the brief seconds your peripatetic scribe visited Helmut, Helmut criticised Isaac Newton in three different ways – none of them savoury. It’s a shame Isaac Newton isn’t alive today, because it would be interesting (and fun) to see the two head-to-head, in a battle of the minds.
John August also spoke, but there is no record of what he spoke about. But he has a nice smile, which is the important thing.
6. Peter the Younger also got up onto the Ladder of Knowledge and with the passion of an evangelist preacher spoke to us about climate change. He said that recently the definition of ‘climate change’ has changed, and it’s now a very shonky definition indeed.
With his passion and antics Peter grew the crowd and inspired plenty of debate. He would make an excellent speaker if he spoke permanently.
7. You have four playing cards, two red and two black, shuffled and face down. If you pick two cards at random, are they more likely to be the same colour or different colours?
Further, is there a difference between:
a) choosing one card, looking at it, and then choosing another card, and
b) choosing the two cards at the same time?
– the real reason why there is so much anxiety and depression, and the possible benefits of counselling.
– why the NSW Art Gallery is more of an investment house than an art gallery.
– Michael T Osterholmis a public health scientist and a biosecurity and infectious disease expert in the United States. Mr B remarked that on the ABC’s Drum television program Michael casually made a claim that we won’t mention here, because your diligent scribe has discovered it to be probably false. Mr B, impressed by Michael’s credentials, should have done more research into Michael’s claim before he mentioned it. Shame, Mr B!
8. This week’s Unusual Critteris the Asian bear. Completely and utterly harmless to our Facebook page.
Shame drives two big tapes. “Never good enough”, and if you can talk it out of that one: “Who do you think you are?”
1. It was as cold as the proverbial witch’s tit.
It was so cold a dog got stuck to a lamp post.
If this post is late it’s because I first had to thaw.
It was even colder than an Antarctic blizzard. The only thing colder than today is the look Helmut gives you when you insult him.
Steve, Mr B, Helmut and Ray nevertheless seemed to enjoy their stints, but passers-by were understandably low in number. (That low number may have been a cardinal number but I would call it an undetermined number, and quite possibly, indeterminable. Of that number, one person was irrational.)
Yes, we talked about numbers.
Towards the end of the day Steve Maxwell came over to listen to Mr B, in the hope of thawing. Mr B, tired of feeling like a garfish hanging in cold storage, invited Steve to stand on the Ladder of Knowledge and speak. Steve took the opportunity, and that’s when the trouble began.
Long-term readers of this blog know that Mr Bashful has banned from Speakers’ Corner:
– the three amigos,
– jokes relying on word-play, and
Well, reckless Steve immediately broke the ban on history. Then it was on for young and old, and the crowd grew. Helmut came up to add to the raucousness. It all got better/worse from then on, depending on your perspective.
Finally it was time to pack up, and thank goodness for that.
Despite the bitter cold, it was a good day.
2. Last week this blog proved 1 = 0.999 . . . However, Uncle Pete wasn’t satisfied with the explanation provided. It wasn’t comprehensive enough, he said. So here is another proof:
x = 0.999 . . .
10x = 9.999 . . .
10x = 9 + 0.999 . . .
10x = 9 + x
9x = 9
x = 1
0.999 . . . = 1
You’re welcome, Uncle Pete.
So, with that knowledge, it must mean that 1 – 0.999 . . . = zero. But is that true?
1 – 0.9 = 0.1
1 – 0.99 = .01
1 – 0.999 = .001
1 – 0.999 . . . = .000 . . .1 ???
3. Other topics discussed.
– Who cares what other topics were discussed? It was too bloody cold to take notes.
4. Our Unusual Critter series. You have heard of the Adelie penguin, the Chinstrap penguin, the Emperor penguin and the king penguin. Have you heard of the Gentoo penguin? No? It hasn’t heard of you either.
But it has subscribed to our Facebook page.
“Stories are data with a soul.”
1. Although it rained heavily for most of the morning, not one drop of water fell in the afternoon. That allowed the three speakers who turned up: the forthright Mr B, the earnest Ray, and the indignant Helmut , to hold just one meeting together for the first hour or so. It was a vibrant meeting and many people contributed, including regulars Ben the Whisperer and Uncle Pete.
Then Mr B and Helmut held their own successful meetings. At 5.20pm they packed up and went home.
It was a good day.
The speakers talked about many things, but because Ray was present, the topic of religion received a fair going over. Your fairminded scribe presents two memes representing both sides of the discussion.
The top one is from the postsecret website.
2. One topic was a fun one involving tricks of infinity.
– Thomson’s Lamp: A one-minute experiment. Switch it on. After 30 seconds switch it off. After 15 seconds switch it on. After 7.5 seconds switch it off. And so on. When the minute has elapsed, will the lamp be on or off?
– A building has an infinite number of storeys above it. If each storey is half the height of the one directly below it, the structure can only be two storeys high. But how can it have a roof?
– Adolf Grunbaum’s Pi machine will print the entire number Pi on one line of a page. How? Each integer is printed in half the time it takes to print the preceding one, and is half the width of the one before it.
Mr Bashful intends to commission Mirko into making a working model.
– For eternity, Bill is in a red room and Ann is in a blue room. Once a year, just for a day, they swap rooms before returning to their own room. Question: who spends more time in the red room?
(Answer: they both spend the same amount of time in the red room.)
– Why is 0.999 . . . the same as 1?
Answer: 1/3 = 0.333 . . . 3 X 0.333 . . . = 0.999 . . . 3 X 1/3 = one. Therefore, 0.999 . . . = 1.
Uncle Pete generously offered to tutor Mr B on the nature of infinity. What next?! Will Mirko be offering to teach basic arithmetic to Warren Buffett? Will Mr B be schooling Gene Simmons on how to meet women?
3. This week’s creature in our Unusual Creature Series is the Sarcastic fringehead, a fish found in the Pacific Ocean but not on dinner plates. This particular specimen has made sarcastic comments about our Facebook page.
‘Just like a bear is helpless but to behave like a bear, a murderer is helpless but to behave like a murderer. I have no doubt that if we changed variables in these people’s past (their childhood, their influences, their parents, the media the were exposed to, or even their DNA) they would be radically different people, perhaps even the best among us. Conversely, if you were to alter variables in your own past, you could be become indistinguishable from those you deplore the most. In some sense, everyone else is an alternate version of you. If you had the experiences and the biology of another, you would literally be them.’
Sashin, in his blog, Sashinexists
1. For a few weeks we have the restaurant with us while renovations are being made. That, and big crowds, gave the place an almost carnival atmosphere today.
2. Mr B was critical of the ABC’s response to the raid on them by the Australian Federal Police. He pointed out that their current affairs programs (The Drum and Insiders, so far) had not one person on their panels taking a contrary view. And anyway, if the ABC wants to disagree with the AFP’s actions they can issue a press statement like everyone else. To use their flagship programs to unabashedly spruik their case is a strong conflict of interest.
Mr B said that media organisations do what they can to get the viewer’s eyeballs. Weasil-like, they hide their nefarious practices under the banner of Freedom of Speech. Under that banner they get away with photoshopping lies, cruel hounding and breaches of privacy from the paparazzi, unnecessary snapshots not in the public interest (remember Kevin Rudd eating his earwax?), publishing leaked private correspondence that is no one’s business but the sender’s and the recipient’s (eg. Israel Folau), and their never-ending search for the ‘gotcha’ moment that has eradicated any chance of getting straight talk from our politicians.
The media are a disgrace. For a long time they have repeatedly violated the trust we give them and the ethics expected of them, and now they stand like innocent souls, indignant that they could be questioned.
That’s Mr B’s take on the matter, anyway. Your dear scribe thinks Mr B is wrong, because what the ABC tells me indicates he’s wrong.
3. Question: do you win your point when you purposly yell so loudly the other person can’t speak?
Uncle Pete . . . Belligerent Pete was up to his old tricks again.
4. Passer-by Mikayla got up onto the Ladder of Knowledge and spoke about Art and its expression. She held the crowd until it was dusk and time to pack up. Even then she kept gabbing with a couple of listeners. Good work, Mikayla!
5. Other topics discussed:
– Steve Maxwell explored the claim that the Angus Taylor (now Energy Minister) set up an account in the tax haven Caymans for an $80m water buyback.
– Ray spoke directly acrosss from the new restaurant’s seated patrons. Therefore, not only did those lucky souls get to consume their food and drink, they also had the opportunity to learn about God’s boundless and merciful love, and the hell awaiting them if they don’t accept it.
– We lose our appetite when we are sick. Why can’t the science boffins understand what’s going on in that instance, and replicate that effect with a pill, to help people lose weight?
– One passer-by had a lot to say, but her laryngitis had other plans. It was very funny. Her sk8ter boi companion answered Mr B’s question when no one else could. For that he deserves a medal. Unfortunately, Sk8ter boi will have to forge that medal himself, but he can rest assured that it is well deserved.
What was the question only Sk8ter boi could answer to Mr B’s satisfaction? “Why does no drug addicted thief return the money they stole after they are free of their addiction?” (Sk8ter boi answered the question by supplying one (close enough) example in which it did happen.)
– The mindfulness gurus suggest we live in the present. “But should we?”, asked Mr B. “Why is it wrong to lose ourselves reminiscing about the past and pondering the future, and thinking about ideas, instead of being in the present and focusing on what’s around us?”, Mr B wanted to know. “If we’re surrounded by boring old grass and trees, we’re stuffed. There is only so much ‘That is a leaf; gosh, look at its structure‘ we can take.”
Mr B said he’d much rather listen to the radio while he’s washing the dishes than waste his time observing the soapy water sloshing about his hands.
Sometimes he is not quite with it, that Mr B.
6. In our Unusual Critter Series we feature the East Asian raccoon dog, which is not a raccoon. This particular specimen says our Facebook pageis subversive. It’s about time someone noticed.