36. A film crew visits.

1.We had a film crew here today purportedly making a film about cyber bullying. But the producer gave his real intent away when he chose to film certain people. This scribe thinks it’s a documentary about garden gnomes.

Mind you, the presenter was an exception: author Tara Moss exhibited grace and charm under fire.

We expect the film, ‘Attack of the Garden Gnomes’ to be released in May next year.

Here is one of the stars (right):

Mirko educates some grasshoppers.

2. The crew were a delight to work with, though it took some time for Uncle Pete to warm to the director, Bryan Cockerill.

Speaking of Uncle Pete, he seems to have a philosophy:

sorry-for-not-offending

3. After filming, Tara sat in the audience and engaged in a spirited conversation with a heckler who spoke of flirtatious women in the workplace. They also discussed the reasons why more women aren’t in positions of power. Having written a book on the subject of how women are treated in society, Tara cheerily kept her civility and refrained from pulling her hair out.

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One of the important things about Speakers’ Corner is that topics, no matter how controversial, wacky or unusual they might be, are discussed with civility and calm. Of course, at Speakers’ Corner that only occasionally happens, thank goodness.

be-brave
As Charles Caleb Colton said, “We owe almost all our knowledge not to those who have agreed, but to those who have differed.”

4. Steve.

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The three photographs featured in this post were taken by Michael Bianchini. Thank you, Michael, for your permission to use them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5. Could aliens ever visit our planet? That was a hot topic, and it was claimed that Earth already has a heap of creatures as interesting as any alien we could imagine. We have mentioned octopi before: creatures with a brain that extends into all eight tentacles, and having the ability to change colour in a second, squeeze through a hole the size of a match-box, allow themselves to starve to death in order to guard and feed their young, and unfailingly predict the winner of World Cup soccer matches (thanks, Paul the Octopus). What alien could do all that? But another creature was mentioned: the tardigrade.

Tardigrades are a tiny water-dwelling creatures that inhabit mountaintops, jungles, the deep sea, the arctic poles, and the vacuum of outer space. They can withstand temperature ranges from nearly absolute zero to 150 °C (300 °F). They can survive pressures six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, and radiation hundreds of times what we humans can stand. 
They can go without food or water for more than 30 years.

They make Bear Grylls look like a teddy-bear.

tardigrade

How many aliens could do all that? Yeah, okay, aliens on other planets might thrive in pools of sulphuric acid and in methane atmospheres, but tardigrades can live in Mirko’s jockstrap.

tardigrade-2

6. It was claimed that the laws of physics are the same throughout the known universe. That means, the periodic table for every place in the universe would be the same. This prompted an earnest objection from a passer-by.

What do you think? Do you think a bathroom 100 light-years away would have the same configuration as the one below?

periodic-table-2

7. Peter spoke about politicians’ pensions.

8. We have given up trying to solve the Miracle of the Chairs. No doubt, in one hundred years time, some Catholic will have that miracle attributed to them and get a sainthood out of it. The archives site of this blog will be considered the definitive, authoritative document that supports the advocate’s case. That’s understandable, I guess.

9. Naturally, none of the speakers talked about the significance of today’s date, September 11. One thing they like to be is original and unpredictable. And, with Mirko and Tony ever-present, that’s our speciality.

10. It was reported last week that foreign investors own 13.6% of Australia’s agricultural land. (The UK owns 7% and China less than 1%.) We were supposed to feel heartened by the figures! Mr B did his lolly pointing out that that 13.6% of our agricultural land equates to roughly 6.5% of Australia’s entire land mass: the size of two Victorias or seven Tasmanias! Seven Tasmanias! And that doesn’t include all the houses, apartments, shops, factories and mines that foreign investors own in Australia.

Holy moly! We are adept at selling the place, aren’t we! This scribe feels the same dismay as Mr B.

It is troubling that no one else seems concerned about this. No one in the media is up in arms about it.

11. Other subjects discussed were:

– The Catholic Church’s enormous influence upon the Australian Labor Party.

– Fred Hoyle’s Steady State Theory about the origin of the universe, and its similarity to Helmut’s theory on the subject. From there it advanced (degenerated) into a discussion about a ‘mega-verse’ (the mother of all universes encompassing our universe).

– The curved universe.

– The chance that artificial intelligence will one day unravel all the mysteries of the universe.

– What would happen if there were no jobs for 90% of the people?

– Helmut quoted Heisenberg: “All predictability is uncertain. Especially about the future.”

– Epigenetics, including the story of the Dutch famine.

– Do most religions share a common morality?

– Does water divining have any substance to it? (Hint: none whatsoever).

– Does laying crystals on a windowsill help in any way? (Hint: they can make the windowsill look pretty.)

– The positive thinking myth.

– Mr B said that Australia should no longer have a team representing it. Though he did say that we should continue to support the paralympics, and gave his reasons why.

– Mr B also wanted to ask a Christian a question, though no Christian came forth. The question was about the nature of prayer and its purpose. For example, what do we make of the prayer, ‘Please Lord, let my football team kick a goal.’
The topic was discussed anyway.

12. Mr B spoke at length about the ancient Greek story about Ulysses and the Sirens. He insisted this scribe provide a link to his written chapter about the subject, and I guess I’m here to serve. Here is the link.

13. There has been much talk about whether or not Australia should hold a plebiscite on gay marriage. (A referendum is a general vote by the people on a single political question, and the government must abide by the decision; a plebiscite is also a general vote by the people on a single political question, but the decision is not binding – the government can ignore the wish of the people. The purpose of a plebiscite is to gauge the public feeling about a matter.)

Peter had a few words to say about the proposed plebiscite:

We have a Facebook page soaring in popularity, because it now averages one new subscription a month. Phenomenal. We also have an archive site equally popular.

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