33. A palm reading and a paradox

“He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”
John Stuart Mill.

1. Years ago your scribe held his dog’s tablets in his left hand and his own vitamin tablets in his right hand. Absent-mindely he swallowed the dog’s tablets. I rang the Poison Centre and was told I should be okay. I was. However, Steve Maxwell made a similar mistake with some tablets on Saturday night, and ended up in hospital. He wasn’t well enough to come today, but he’ll be back next week.

Imagine if Moses had absent-mindedly swallowed the tablets he had been given. How different would the world be?

2. We had a gamut of guest speakers today: Gary O’Shea spoke well about the pressure upon Catholicism; in a soft voice, Rochelle labeled the real culprits causing Global Warming and answered plenty of questions; Mirko gave a humorous speach about H2O and Mother Nature (it wasn’t meant to be humorous); and Uncle Pete gave us another entertaining adventure about his early chemisty exploits. This one featured bromine.

Each and every one of those speakers did an excellent job keeping the crowd interested. Hats off to them.

Meanwhile, 93 year-old Arthur was unstoppable with his quick-fire questions. He even got up to dance when some music was played.

Arthur’s daughter, Jacquie, accompanies Arther on their regular visits. Hats off to her, too!

3. Uncle Pete gave us a puzzle to work on: Imagine a string wrapped around the equator of a perfectly spherical Earth. Cut the string and add another metre to one end, then join the two remaining ends. Now, if the string could circle the Earth in a uniform way, how far from the ground would the string be?

Uncle Pete told us all to work it out and give him our answer this coming Sunday. (Of course we will.)

Uncle Pete will provide a fabulous prize to the person providing the first correct answer. You are not, of course, allowed to google the problem or cheat in any way. (That suggests to this scribe that the fabulous prize will not be claimed.)

Bonus question: how long is a piece of string?

4. Mr B asked: “Are we knowledge gluttons?” We humans crave sugar and fat because thousands of years ago those helpful foods were hard to come by. Today we still have those cravings, but fats and sugars are easy to come by. Result: we eat to much of them. Is it possible that we humans craved knowledge thousands of years ago, because knowledge was helpful, and we are still subject to that craving? And that because knowledge is so plentiful and accessible nowadays, we consume too much of it?

5. We had heard of Jean’s prowress as a palm reader, and Jean kindly agreed to participate in an experimental palm reading. A volunteer from the audience provided her palm for Jean to read. Mr B took notes on what was said.

Unfortunately, Jean’s accuracy was considerably off.

Jean was a good sport to allow herself to be tested in that way. Jean, and others like her, are what makes an afternoon at Speakcers’ Corner so much fun. Thank you, Jean!

Next Sunday we will ask Jean to read this palm. She couldn’t do any worse.

6. The Something Nice segment. To charm some and irritate others.

7. Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox. Let’s say I am to walk a kilometre. First, I to walk half a kilometre. But before I can walk that half a kilometre I have to walk a quarter of a kilometre. But before I can walk that quarter of a kilometre I have to walk half that distance again. And so on. That means there is an infinite regression, and I can never actually begin to walk at all.

Of course, that’s not true. Where is the fault in the logic?

Thanks to Uncle Pete, here is another way to think of the problem: I am to walk a kilometre. I walk the first half. Then I have to walk the first half of the remaining distance. Then I have to walk the first half of that remaining distance. And so on. There will always be a distance that I first have to walk half of. That means I can never walk the entire kilometre.

Again, where is the fault in that logic?8. Life coaches tell us that if we want to succeed we should surround ourselves with smart people. If that’s true, who will be giving their time to the not-so-bright? The not-so-bright need help from those who are smarter. Should the smart people abandon them in their pursuit to be with other smart people?

9. Other subjects discussed:
– You’re at a dinner party and someone says out of the blue, “28 of my daughter’s 30 classmates are Asian”. Is that a racist observation to make? Discuss.

– Only one joke in the JokeFest was told, but it got a laugh.

– Last week a Scottish woman discovered that there was no such thing as a Scot. Today another Scot discovered he wasn’t Scottish. If this keeps up, Scotland will soon be empty.

– Mr B said we need to reduce Australia’s population and the world’s population. He suggested various ways on how to achieve this. A few grasshoppers protested, giving their reasons.

– A three-and-a-half-day week for half the population, and a three-and-a-half day week for the other half. That would double employment and increase productivity, claimed Mr B. Should we include the Universal Basic Income, one grasshopper asked?

– We could ban cigarettes without inconveniencing anyone, while giving the cigarette manufacturers and the governments eighty incremental years to get used to the changes.

– No one over the age of 40 should be allowed to vote, explained Mr B. One grasshopper disagreed, suggesting that a 60 to 65 limit would be better.

– Is Australia’s native wildlife and vegetation worth saving? “Yes,” said Mr B. Can a human live in Australia without contributing to its environmental degradation? “No!” said Mr B. Some grasshoppers had the temerity to disagree with him.

10. Our
Facebook Page has won the inaugural Speakers’ Corner Award for the best Facebook page representing Sydney’s Speaker’s Corner.
Not only that, our Archive site won the biennial Speakers’ Corner award for having the most posts about Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner.