Watch your thoughts;
they become your words.

Your words become your actions.
Your actions become your habits.
Your habits become your character.

Your character becomes your destiny.
Bishop Beckwaith

NOTE: MR B will be there this Sunday. And far more importantly, the chairs will be there on Sunday.

1. Speakers’ Corner legend Steve Maxwell was vigorous today and at one point he answered the question: ‘Why are the American Republicans so strongly opposed to Obamacare?’ In the midst of his discussion he pointed out that its real name is ‘Affordable Care’. When people were polled, 80% said the government should get rid of ObamaCare, but when asked about Affordable Care, 80% said keep it! Yet, it’s the same thing! That indicates how much confusion there is, Steve explained.

For your interest, Affordable Care is a 2.9% levy on income + an extra .9% on any investment income above $250,000 per year. (Imagine how big your capital would have to be to earn in interest $250,000 per year!)

2. A few facts about this blog:
– In its four years it has had over 14,000 visitors and over 34,000 views.
– Aust: 26,000 views, UK 2,101, U.S. 1,294, Brazil 668, Germany 636, France 504, Canada 376, Italy 233, Netherlands 222. 133 countries have visited, including Reunion, St Vincents + The Grenadines, and Guadeloupe. (We’re still waiting for a visit from North Korea.)
– It’s growing in popularity each year.
– It now averages 12 visitors a day and 25 views per day. (Admittedly, that’s not many when you compare it with Donald Trump’s site.)
– Its most popular page, by far, is Steve Maxwell’s History of Speakers’ Corner.
– Of the 14,000 visitors, six have left comments, including one troll (who inadvertently unmasked himself at Speakers’ Corner!).
– No one has bought from the gift shop.

3. There is a 62.4% chance that Mr B will be at Speakers’ Corner this coming Sunday, a 34.5% chance he won’t be, and a 3.1% chance he might be.

4. We read poems today. Mr B read, ‘For As Long as Your Eyes are Blue’ and ‘The Man in the Glass’. Helmut read a witty one from a science book, based loosely on The Lord’s Prayer; and Uncle Pete read a harrowing poem from war poet Wilfred Owen, who died just one week before WWI ended. Here is the first stanza of Wilfred’s poem, ‘Dulce et decorum est’:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

The segment seemed popular and Mr B will host it again this coming Sunday if he is present. Already, two people have volunteered to bring a poem. How about you bringing one, too? If you’re not game to read it, someone can read it on your behalf.

5. Today we examined the poem, ‘Spring and Fall’, and next week’s poem seems straightforward:
‘No Man is an Island’ by John Donne
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

We might spend more time discussing whether or not the sentiments expressed are valid.

6. Mr B was heard giving Assertiveness Tip Number Two, and at the conclusion of the lecture only one solitary grasshopper was able to say what it was. That reminds this scribe of a book titled: “I taught them, but they didn’t learn.”

The tip is as follows: ‘When complaining to someone about their behaviour, don’t focus on what they have done; instead, state how you feel about their behaviour, and state what needs to happen from now on.”

Let’s hope the chapter in his online book explains it better, so that every grasshopper can understand. Click here to be taken there.

7. With humility and honesty, Helmut spoke about the day he beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in a body-building contest. His memory of those times was extraordinary.

The Hansard is the report of the proceedings of the Australian parliament and its committees. Helmut explained that The Hansard reveals the names of a number of Australian sport identities caught using performance enhancing drugs, although those names were not revealed by the media. This scribe isn’t game to give those names here, but he will say that the names Helmut provided were interesting, to say the least!

8. We talked about friendship, and someone suggested that we be careful about the friends we choose.


9. Someone asked if young people are narcissistic, because they’re always taking selfies. It was pointed out that young people in the past would have taken selfies too if the technology had been available, and just as instantaneous and cheap. Artists have been giving themselves selfies (self-portraits) for centuries.

Unfortunately, Mirko interrupted to give us a long lecture about Adolf Hitler and his antics. It took us a while to realise he was confusing narcissism with nazism.


10. Other matters discussed:
– the merits of photographing a dog’s bum. The less said about that, the better.

– Mr B explained how the Australian government could close down the detention centres on Christmas Island, Nauru, and Manus Island, without encouraging the so-called people “smugglers” in Indonesia to recommence transporting refugees to Australia.

– Do we mellow as we grow older? Here’s that graph again:


11. It was such a beautiful and enjoyable day we all finished at 6pm, not 5pm, with Helmut again booming across the park.

12. This scribe remembers when there used to be 43 beans in every cup of Nescafe coffee. Now that very same number applies to the number of Facebook subscribers we have. That’s too spooky to be a coincidence.