13. The grumpy Mr B.

“A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport.”

1. Mr B was grumpy todayfor a number of reasons.

That’s not unusual.

He was most cross when someone tried to take over his meeting.

2. When Mr B left the Ladder of Knowledgein the capable hands of Helmut, he wandered over to Steve Maxell’s meeting. Then he and Steve were at logger-heads again. Steve Maxwell thinks highly of history and believes it should be taught in schools; Mr B thinks history is the second-greatest blight humanity has to suffer, and if he could successfully ban history world-wide, he would.

To prove his point, Mr B asked a random passer-by, “When was the Battle of Hastings?”

Of course, the passer-by rattled the correct answer off with ease.

You, dear reader, probably know the answer too. Yes, it was in 1066.

“Why the hell would schools continue to teach that crap?” Mr B wanted to know. “How can they possibly justify their decision to do so? In what way would we be worse off if we didn’t know that in 1066 there was a battle in Hastings?”

Steve Maxwell put his case forth and it was on for young and old.

The day before the Battle of Hastings.

3. The Sentinelese are a group of people living on a tiny island in the Bay of Bengal. They have been left alone by nearly all outsiders for tens of thousands of years. Mr B had prepared a talk for his grasshoppers, to impart the little we know about them gleaned from the few brief encounters people have had with them. However, his grasshoppers were so interested that they felt it necessary to interject with a heap of assumptions, and to google the topic. Mr B had no interest in competing with stupid assumptions or smart phones, so he got the sulks and abandoned the talk.

As far as we know, the Sentinelese did not participate in the Battle of Hastings.

4. Mr B spoke about the Australian cricketers who tried to cheat by tampering with a cricket ball. But instead of focusing on the incident itself, like the media have done, he explored the pressure the cricketers might be under to make such a stupid and ugly mistake. Had their self-worth become dependent on them winning? And, why didn’t the bowler have the assertiveness skills to simply say no?

I think I can help you out here, Mr B. Schools don’t teach their students assertiveness skills because it’s more important that they learn English history. For example, it’s imperative that they know when the Battle of Hastings occurred.

The Battle of Hastings began when a cricketer was caught tampering with the ball.

5. We discussed ‘The Twins Paradox’. Or at least, we tried to.

A brief summary of The Twins Paradox: an astronaut travelling at half the speed of light will age at a much slower rate than someone on Earth. (The film, Interstellar, relies on this.) This paradox prompted ten-year old twins, Jill and Bill, to experiment. Bill remained on Earth for another sixty years while his sister Jill, in her IKEA spacecraft  that she assembled herself, shot around the solar system very fast indeed. When Jill landed back on Earth she (and her spacecraft) had aged thirty years since her departure, while her brother Bill had aged sixty years.

What has this got to do with anything?

The reiteration of the paradox was to prepare us for a question from Mr B. However, we didn’t get to hear his question because there were just two many interruptions, clarifications and meanderings.

Are you beginning to see why he was grumpy today?

Twins Jill and Bill

Here is a question: on the day Jill landed, the craft became faulty. IKEA had given it a 35 year warranty. Would the craft still be under warranty?

6. Someone kindly sent in this look-a-like of Helmut. Thank you!

7. Other subjects discussed:
–  Mr B said that the word ‘per’ in the expression ‘10 metres per second‘ indicates a rate, or a ratio. ‘10 metres for each second.’  Two grasshoppers “set him straight”. They informed him that the word ‘per’ doesn’t mean that at all; it means ‘divided by’.

– Mirko stood upon the Ladder of Knowledge and patiently explained to us his innovative modification to the humble pushbike. His extra crank saves the rider considerable energy, he explained. Unfortunately, the cranks in the audience would have none of it.

– Do many Australians vandalise ebikes, or complain about them, because they are spoiled rotten and like to whinge, and don’t really give a damn about traffic congestion, air pollution, another person’s convenience, respecting other people’s property, and our need for exercise? Or are the complainers, as one grasshopper suggested, protesting about the data ebike companies steal from us?

– Low Document Loans. Are banks doing the right thing when they encourage loan applicants to lie about their earnings?

– Mr B argued that the Church(es) should not compensate victims of sexual abuse. He wants allvictims of sexual abuse, from inside the Church and out, to have free access to the counselling they need, and that we should double the Medicare Levy to make that happen.
You can’t imagine the flak he received!

– Mr B explained the basics of how companies and shareholdings work, and then explained how Divident Imputation works. Members of the audience tried to assist him by using jargon. Oh dear.

– Did the Russians poison their treasonous spy with a nerve agent because they wanted to send a message to other agents thinking about swapping alliances? Or were the Russians framed?

– Should retirees be taxed more and be refused the imputation rebate? Mr B said ‘yes’ and some grasshoppers said ‘no’.

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Elephant shrew