5. Steve Maxwell’s project

“Capitalism and Communism don’t work because they’re based on economics, and we aren’t economic creatures.”
Mark the Grinner

1. Steve Maxwell’s ankles are in good order and he joined us this week. He had a fair bit to say about the mismanagement of the Darling River, in which more than a million fish have died.

One of Steve’s big pluses is that he presents new material each week, wears a different costume each week, and he goes out of his way to do something special. Today was a good example. He provided a canvas and some art supplies to give everyone an opportunity to draw a fish while he informed them of the facts. The best way to teach is to make it fun. Well done, Steve.

Steve Maxwell discusses the Darling River and describes the big one that got away.


A message for our politicians.


A school of fish, species unidentified.

2. Mr B tried to get his grasshoppers to distinguish between reality and a parable. He failed miserably.

i.e. If the parable was about the bard William Shakespeare having a conversation with Tony Abbott, some idiot would feel the need to point out that’s impossible.


No wonder the speakers get exasperated.

William Shakespeare is listening attentively to Tony Abbott.

3. If you were at Mr B’s meetinglast week you would have heard him explain how pigeons process information at a different rate to us. When we look at a movie running at 24 frames per second, it appears to us as a movie. But pigeons, Mr B explained, see one frame after another.

The inquisitive Uncle Pete asked Mr B how this was discovered. Mr B didn’t know but promised he’d find out.

He writes: “The abstract in the link below explains how it was discovered. The mating rituals of pigeons rely heavily on visual cues, but for those cues to be effective the pigeons must be moving. Researchers showed male pigeons movies of female pigeons. The slower the movie, the less interested the male pigeons were. However, when the movies were shown at 60 frames per second they became significantly interested. That meant, to the male pigeons, the female pigeon finally looked like an actual moving female pigeon at 60 frames per second. And damned sexy she was, too.”

The pigeons cheered when this film was shown, but only when it was shown at 60 frames per second.

4. Five performances from the Serbian performance artist, Marina Abramović, were described. One of those was called ‘Rhythm 0‘. In an art gallery in 1974, when she was 29 years of age, she placed on a table 72 objects (such as: a rose, a feather, honey, a whip, olive oil, scissors, a scalpel, a gun and a single bullet). A sign informed the visitors that they could use the items in any way they wished. She then stood still for six hours.

Initially, people were kind. But over time, they changed. She was stripped naked and she endured indignities, cuts, pain, threats and fear. When the performance was over the people ran away from her.

Interestingly, she had to be home by 10pm because her mother said so.

5. Two Canadians in the audiencewanted a little humour, so Mirko took the Ladder of Knowledge and provided it. Then Mark the Grinner spoke for a while about all sorts of things, and it’s safe to say that the U.S.A. did not emerge unscathed.

Mark said 15% of a cross-section of the American population believed that we humans came about through evolution. 32% believe that we came about through evolutionafter God created evolution. 46% believe that God created the planet some time in the last 10,000 years. He suggested that the reason for these scary figures is that Americans are believers: in God, in their flag, in their Pledge of Allegiance, and in themselves.

Mark also took a swipe at economists (our contemporary soothsayers). He said our economic system is working perfectly. After all, it was not designed for the benefit of the masses, it is designed for the small minority on the top of the heap.

He also had a few unkind things to say about ‘trickle-down economics’.

He’s a cynic, that Mark.

6. Here’s proof that you cannever be too young to take an interest in Speakers’ Corner.

7. “What is Art?”, asked one punter.

“It’s one of our inner subconscious selves having the opportunity to express itself”, said Mr B.


8. Other subjects discussed:

– Schizophrenia might be caused by the sufferer having a faulty internal clock. Not only do schizophrenics tend to have faulty internal clocks, the symptom of having one creates the disturbing illusion that your thoughts are being monitored – a common symptom in Schizophrenia.

– Mr B tried to discuss Martin Gardner’s version of the Surprise Test Paradoxbut struggled to explain the set-up (ten numbered egg cartons and one egg) to his grasshoppers. But then, what would you expect from grasshoppers who feel the need to point out the impossibilities in a parable?
After ten minutes the poor, exasperated man gave up trying to explain the set-up and the paradox itself didn’t get mentioned.

– Mr B explained why there is no such thing as a Canadian. Last week it was a Scotsman. The week before it was a Chinaman. One day he will complete the set and sit back satisfied.

– When Helmut took the Ladder of Knowledge he had a few fresh things to say about Mr Bashful.

– Mr B gave ten reasons why we should not have pill testing stations at festivals, and then he gave ten reasons why we should. A passer-by had plenty to say, and a general discussion began.
This postcard is from the Postsecret website.

9. In our Unusual Creature Series this Shoebill stork from East Africa has been enjoying the articles in Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade.