16. Easter Sunday

“I like to imagine the older children on the Easter Egg hunt, without their parents’ guidance turning to the younger children and cheerily sharing their eggs with them, knowing with surety that its not their eggs which make them rich, but having the ability to find those eggs, and the capacity to give them away.”

1. Mr B listed all the reezons wy we need to change the spelling of words and get rid of apostrofes, and we kan begin by teeching primary skool children, he sez. Yor skribe thinks he has a point.

However, because your scribe is not a primary school child I will continue to spell poorly.

I have no idea what Ray or Steve talked about today, because I didn’t hear what they had to say. I also have no idea what Mirko talked about, even though I did hear what he had to say.

Today was Easter Sunday so Mr B thoughtfully explained what would happen if the Messiah returned to Earth, as promised. In short, it would be a disaster for the Messiah. So, don’t expect a visit any time soon, says Mr B.

But at least the Easter Bunny keeps appearing, year after year.

2. Other subjects discussed.
– Should we be acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora nation each week? Mr B explained why it is important that we do, and why it is important that we don’t.

– Will Helmut get off his Austrian derriére and become a speaker again across the way from Mr B, or won’t he?

-“Australia is a warm, open and generous nation and it will not discriminate in any way.”So said Malcolm Turnbull. Mr B told us that when it comes to potential immigrants, it is important that we DO discriminate. However, not by ethnicity, nationality, skin colour or creed, but by . . .

– Mr B wanted to know, “Why do refugees have children in refugee camps, knowing that their child might be locked up for their entire life?” The answers put forth by his grasshoppers were unsatisfying.

– “Have I saved lives?” asked Mr B. On one hand, we are told blood donors save lives; on the other hand, had Mr B not given blood for thirty years, the hospital would simply have given patients someone else’s blood. The patients would have lived. So, has he saved lives or hasn’t he? No one in Speakers’ Corner knew. Or cared.

– One passer-by said we shouldn’t be teaching primary school children about inter-sexuals and transgender people. “It’s not appropriate,” she said. She was met with agreement and disagreement. It’s fair to say that Uncle Pete was ‘forward’ in expressing his opinion to the woman.

– “Did we evolve from monkeys?” asked one sceptical passer-by. Translated, that means, “God created us all.” Mr B nevertheless told him no, we didn’t evolve from monkeys, and why.

(Why don’t memes like the one above use a picture of a monkey, not an ape?)

3. In our Unusual Creature Series we present to you the honey badger of Africa, South-west Asia and the Indian subcontinent. This individual tried to eat our Facebook page.

 

 

 

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15. Marshall gets up!

I am not young enough to know everything.”
Oscar Wilde.

1. Mr B had a chest infection that would have killed most men, but he turned up anyway. His grasshoppers were pleased he did because it meant they each had a chair to sit in.

Steve Maxwell talked about “politics and other tics”, while across the way, Ray sat down and had a leisurely talk with one of his grasshoppers about God.

Mr B did his thing and then late in the day, Helmut threw out all of the toys in his cot, complaining of how we should have the best orators speaking during the middle of the meeting, not at the end of the day when there is no crowd. (And yet, there usually is a crowd.)

But Helmut, I thought we DID have our best orators speaking in the middle of the day. Mark the Grinner did a fantastic job when he took over from the croaky Mr B, whose throat was sore. Peter the Younger also did a wonderful job keeping us informed and interested. Mirko took the ladder and made us all laugh with his repeated bellow of  “Shuddup you! I’m talking!” It was particularly funny because of the sheer hypocrisy involved.

Passer-by Marshall also did a great job when he stood on the Ladder of Knowledge. Here is a snippet, so you can see for yourself:

2. Early in the meeting Mr B explained why no one should vote in state and federal elections, and that if no one did, we could replace the current system with one that actually works. Mr B then tentatively put forth alternative systems, but failed to elicit inspiring feedback.

Mr B seems to think we grasshoppers have given up on the idea of doing things properly, and instead choose to pretend to ourselves that by voting, we can achieve something.

He tells me he should be calling us ostriches, not grasshoppers.

One of Mr B’s reluctant compromises is the following: when we collect our ballot paper to vote we should also be given a True/False “intelligence” test to complete. For example:
– Ten percent of $200 is $20. True or False?
– Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Halal are all terrorist organisations. True or False?
– Ayer’s Rock had its name changed to Hanging Rock. True or False?
– Old photographs reveal the world used to be in black and white. True or False?
– Polar bears eat penguins and seals. True or False?
Not difficult questions, are they? So, get one wrong and your vote won’t count. Mind you, Mr B thinks birds aren’t really dinosaurs, so what would he know? His vote shouldn’t count either.

 

 

3. Some questions about George Pell’s sentence were raised:
– Why will George Pell be eligible for parole after serving less than four years of his six year sentence, given that the purpose of parole will not apply to him?

– Why did the Chief Judge allow for George Pell’s “good character and otherwise blameless life” given that for decades Pell refused to do anything about the abusing clergy when complaints were made?

– Why did the Chief Judge give George Pell a short sentence because of his age, telling George, “so as to increase the prospect of you living out the last part of your life in the community”? Why is it important that George spends the last part of his life in the community?

“In my view it does not even approach low-end offending.” said the Chief Judge. So, Chief Judge, why did you give him a light sentence and unnecessary parole?

– Pell will be registered for life as a sexual offender. Given Pell’s familiar face and notoriety, why is that important? That’s like writing the word ‘hippo’ on a hippo.

4. Other matters discussed:
– Mr B brought the meeting to a close by thanking the early forefathers who had the presence of mind to create a park and plant Morton Bay fig trees, so that people in the far future would enjoy the park, and have shade from the sun and shelter from the rain. A passer-by told Mr B to also acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. He refused, saying that the indigenous people would, quite rightly, have opposed the ravaging of their stolen land to make a park, and for us to thank them for the park would be inappropriate and disrespectful. Mr B has told your scribe that if he survives his current malady, this coming Sunday he will discuss the matter of acknowledging the Gadigal people. Come along and express your view on the matter.

– Earlier, Mr B explained why the indigenous people didn’t build ships.

– We discussed Tim’s special meeting last week (about drug decriminalisation and pill testing) and a few grasshoppers were critical of the electronic amplification (normally outlawed at Speakers’ Corner), and of the selective mircophone use. More on that to come, this scribe suspects, because on May 12th Tim will be holding another meeting, this time with politicians.

– Mr B wants the government to create a ‘Listeners’ Bureau’. Would the man who killed 50 people (and injured many others) in Christchurch have done so if he had had his concerns respectfully and comprehensively addressed much earlier, by knowledgeable people willing to answer his questions and listen to his complaints without judgement? Did the man’s pain fester into violence because no one would listen to his fears except his like-minded and equally bitter cyber-associates? Could tragedies be prevented if there were a place to go to for a person wanting to freely discuss and express their concerns?

This is the virus currently ravaging poor Mr Bashful

5. In our Unusual Creature Series we feature the thorn bug, native to Florida, U.S.A. It has generously given our Facebook page five stars. (But we don’t know what to do with them. They’re not redeemable for cash.)

 

 

14. Tim Brunero’s special event.

“If you wish to worship at the temple of statistics, you must go in with a pure heart and good intentions.”
John August

1. An unusual day! Steve and Mr B didn’t hold their meetings because they chose to support a fellow called Tim. Tim had organised a special live-streamed function in which ten speakers would present varying views about pill testing and the decriminalisation of drugs.

The ten speakers did their thing and it was all well organised.

The ten speakers were adept at irritating the hecklers, and at times things got “tight” between the two parties. By the end, insults were flying about like an endless stream of startled sparrows.

Early in the event, on the sidelines, a didactic Uncle Pete got the grumps with Mr B. (Who would have thought that would happen?) One softly spoken man stood up for the delicate Mr B, so the “erudite” Uncle Pete abused that man as well, with language Shakespeare would have described as most foul. It later turned out the man was a Christian Minister from the Wayside Chapel, and one of the speakers. The reverend did a good job of presenting his case.

2. You have heard of speed dating? Well, when the special event concluded we had speed debating. John August and Peter the Younger were to each speak for just 2 minutes, three times in turn, to discuss the topic, “Is there climate change and is it human induced?” Then they’d answer questions.

It all went to plan. Both men were fiery and the crowd were transfixed. It was an entertaining half hour. Your scribe’s biggest concern was for the irate Ben the Whisperer, who went purple.

For Question Time, John and Peter stood together on the podium. Steve Maxwell crept up behind them to make it look like a reunion of the three stooges. It was a spooky impression. Thanks, guys.

After the debate, Steve Maxwell took over and the day finished at about 5.15pm.

Curly, Larry and Moe.

3. Don’t forget to watch SBS from 8.35pm this Wednesday if you want to see a few minutes of Speakers’ Corner, even though you can see the place in 3D for three hours if you come on Sunday. In the program, a few Christians speak on the Ladder of Knowledge, and from the trailer we know that Mark the Grinner disgraces himself with unbridled arrogance.

4. In a few weeks, on the Sunday before the federal election, Tim will hold another meeting, similar to that of today’s. He will again get our speakers’ cooperation.

Tim’s speakers will be representing some of the minor political parties, and if you’re interested in what they might have to say, turn up.

 

5. Somehow, Tony Boyce turned up on time today. Usually, the change in Daylight Saving Time stuffs him up.

6. In our Unusual Critter Series we present to you the aye-aye lemur, from Madagascar. This individual is a big fan of our Facebook pagewhen its internet connection is working.

 

 

Christians Like Us

Hand up if you watched the SBS program last Wednesday hoping to see a glimpse of your Speakers’ Corner heroes?

You can put your hand down now.

Yes, you will be suffering sustained disappointment, but hark, in just a few days you can see the second, final episode in which your heroes will indeed appear. Mind you, you might only see them for a few seconds, but hey, those few seconds will be great television.

This coming Wednesday, April 10, at 8.35pm, on SBS.

The other stuff on the program will probably hold your interest too, so there’s a bonus!

Christians Like Us

Let me guess! You were watching ‘Christians Like Us’ on television and were surprised to find Speakers’ Corner is still going. You have come here because you want to know what’s happening there nowadays.

Short answer: it’s all happening.

Come along and find out for yourself. Turn up any Sunday, from 2pm until 5pm, and grab a coffee from the nearby cafe.  Then come over to the University for the People, choose a speaker, and then sit in one of the chairs provided.

It’s better than virtual reality, becauseit is reality. We are there in 3D and you can engage with us. Be prepared to be “engaged with” back.

We have a Facebook page too, for reasons unclear.

Steve Maxwell is a member of The Greens with a broad knowledge of Australian history and politics. He will give you a point of view that might just change your mind!

Steve Maxwell

At around 4.30pm, Helmut Cerncic explains why Newtonian physics should no longer be taught in schools. He also provides a scientific description of God.

Helmut

Or, near the kiosk, listen to Ray, a gentle but fundamentalist Christian intent on saving your soul.

Ray

Mr Bashful answers questions about all matters. If he doesn’t know the answer to your question, one of his grasshoppers will.

Mr Bashful

Mirko Terzic wears a UFO cap. He has a comprehensive “understanding” of 21st century science, and that makes him an expert in . . . . well, we’re still not sure.

Mirko

Mark the Grinner is an ascerbic and insightful wit. He is also the troublemaker you saw on the program saying things like, “You’re not letting facts get in the way, are you, Sunshine?” How rude!

Mark the Grinner

Other ratbags contribute too. And, if a passer-by has something to say, they might well be given five minutes to say it, up on The Ladder of Knowledge.

And of course, there are the troublesome hecklers.

It’s all part of the fun. Come along and argue with the ratbags. Or be one!

If you decide you have had enough, we generously provide a large art gallery across the road.

13. SBS

“Take the case of a blind person who recovers sight in his teens.  Several cases of this have been documented.  We might think that such a person would experience a wondrous awakening from a world of darkness into a world of light – the world we sighted people take for granted . . . In fact, what he experiences is chaos, a jumbled confusion of shapes and impressions which make no sense.  His brain has no preformed pictures of anything (a car, a beach, even his mother’s face) and thus cannot relate the images falling on the retina of his newly functional eye with any prior models drawn from experience.  Moreover, his brain cannot integrate the images into patterns…  Slowly, and painfully, he has to learn to construct a model of the world inside his head. It is our brains that create the reality we see.”
Darryl Reanney. Death of Forever.

1. Last year, SBS Television came to Speakers’ Corner and filmed eight Christians speak. It was for their television program, ‘Christians Like Us’. The first episode will be broadcast this coming Wednesday, April 3rd, 8.35pm. The second episode, a week later.

Most of you have been feverishly anticipating seeing your heroes Steve, Ray, Helmut, Mirko, Mr B and Mark the Grinner perform live on pre-recorded television. But be warned: your scribe suspects that the Speakers’ Corner segment is only a few minutes long, and will feature mainly the Christian participants.

If you really want to see Mr B on television you will have to find an episode of ‘The Magic Circle Club’ aired in June, 1966, in which he was brought onto the set by Funny Face Gordon to press the ‘play’ button on a machine. This was to bring to the viewer a brief documentary into the life of chimpanzees. Unfortunately, the young Mr B pressed the wrong button (probably ‘rewind’ or ‘fast forward’) and forced the presenter, Happy Hammond’, to quickly introduce an unexpected commercial break. While the advertisements aired, Funny Face Gordon was not so funny as he sent the young Mr B back to his seat in disgrace.

If you really want to see Mirko on television you will have to find a 1972 episode of the science program, ‘Why is it so?’. In it he assists Julius Sumner Miller dissect a frog. Mirko plays the part of the frog.

If you really want to see Uncle Pete on television, you can’t. But we have some home-movie footage of the young man crouched in a grassy knoll in Dallas, Texas, late November, 1963. He is clutching something in the grass, and arguing with his mother who is holding the camera.

Helmut was also in Dallas a few years later, with Debbie. You won’t find the footage on television but you might find it in an Adult Bookshop.

If you want to see Steve, Ray and Mark the Grinner on television you will have to wait. They have all applied to be on the next series of Big Brother. You will be able to see them shower together, laugh together, and participate in mindless games together. Witness  the alliances they form, and their prompt ejections from the show.

All that said, Mark the Grinner is his charming self in this trailer for the program.

2. Years ago, most people in society believed that women shouldn’t vote or work. That was a paradigm. A paradigm is a collective belief held by most members of a society, and it feels right and true, even if it’s absurd. If, over time, clear thinkers make an impact, then we can look back and see the absurdity of those beliefs.

Today we have beliefs equally absurd, but because those beliefs are paradigms, we can’t see their absurdity. Perhaps in years to come, people will look back at us and ask, “What were they thinking?!”

So says Mr B, who sometimes reveals the paradigms we hold dear and true. Today he revealed another. He criticised people who pay other people to clean their house for them. (To pay someone to vacuum, wipe bench tops, change bed sheets . . . . everything within the fences that isn’t done by a tradie.) “It does not mean we have to treat our own turds in the sewerage farms, and it doesn’t mean we have to take our own garbage to the landfill quarries!” he barked in response to some idiots. He said that to have someone clean what we can clean ourselves is an outrageous practice, and that people in the future might one day look back at us and wonder, “How could they have allowed that??! How could they have been such barbarians?!”

To add to his argument he reminded us of ‘The Groom of the Stool’ and how that practice was once acceptable, whereas today it wouldn’t be.

3. The subjects discussed today:
– Is it true that Australia’s Coat of Arms features the kangaroo and emu because neither can go backwards?

– Mr B explained why Eddie McQuire should not have been pilloried for mocking the disabled woman tossing the coin.

– When a man loses his virginity to a sex-worker he hasn’t really lost his virginity. So said Mr B, and he gave his reasons. The discussion was a touch controversial!

– When Christians try to raise money to create an orphanage, Mr B suggested that they could go on Eddie McQuire’s ‘Hot Seat’ program. “If God wants the orphanage then He can help them win the million dollars,” Mr B explained, “and if He doesn’t want the orphanage built, then He doesn’t have to assist, and the Christians won’t need to waste their time trying to set up the orphanage with their own fundraising efforts.”
“Why is this not a common Christian strategy?” Mr B wanted to know. He received plenty of answers.
Was Mr B being naive? Or trying to make a point?

– When asked to describe ‘nothing’ Helmut told us nothing has never existed. Or, more accurately, “nothing” has never existed. You figure it out.

– Steve Maxwell spoke about the upcoming Federal election. His sign pointed out that although he is a member of the Greens party, the views he presents are his own.

– Today’s Life Hack (Handy Hintin the old days) was: “Guys, shave!” We get our best ideas when we shower, explained Mr B, and if we shave in the shower we end up having longer showers. That means, more ideas!
Typically, he had that brilliant idea in the shower. While he was shaving! That means, the idea proved itself. How clever is that?!

– Why was George Pell given 16 months parole when the very reason for giving someone parole cannot apply to him? Did the judge give any thought to the matter? Did he act in habit? Was the judge day-dreaming?

– Mr B gave eight possible reasons why so many people today suffer from depression.

4. Instead of our Unusual Critter Series, in which we unashamedly plug our Facebook page, we present to you a new article for Steve Maxwell’s popular Passing Parade series.

Thank you, Steve!

SENATOR DONALD GRANT. 1888-1970.

Donald Grant was born in 1888 at Inverness, Scotland. He migrated to Australia in 1910, where he found work in a paper mill. Grant became worried by the fear of impending war and joined the Australian Freedom League in 1912. By the outbreak of war he found himself increasingly attracted to the IWW (Industrial Worker of the World), which was also a militant labor organisation.

Donald Grant emerged as an important anti-war speaker in the Sydney Domain. During the first World War he attracted large crowds with his personal magnetism. His activities lost him his job in the paper mill. and he was blacklisted in every state in Australia. Grant survived unemployment as best he could by helping the IWW.

In 1915, Tom Barker, editor of  “Direct Action”,an IWW newspaper, was jailed for producing a poster  which read, “To arms!  capitalists parsons, politicians, landlords, newspaper editors, and other stay at home patriots. Your country needs you in the trenches! workers follow your masters!”.

The following Sunday on the Domain, Donald Grant was recorded in short hand by police spies as saying:

“For every day Barker is in jail it will cost the capitalists ten thousand pound”.

These are fifteen of the most famous words spoken on the Domain. Donald grant received a sentence of one year in jail for each word uttered. He was arrested in October 1916 while visiting Broken Hill, along with eleven other members of the IWW. All were charged with treason.

The charges were later altered to “arson and sedition”. Grant was convicted on all counts and given his sentence of fifteen years. Other members of the IWW received sentences ranging from eleven to twenty years. The IWW was accused of burning down a wool storage building.

New South Wales trade unions engaged E.E.Judd to investigate the police case. His investigation proved a conspiracy between the government and the police.

The IWW, the Labor Party and the Australian Freedom League launched a widespread campaign to free the men. In 1920 a Royal Commission found that IWW and Grant had been wrongly convicted.

In later years, Grant joined the Labor Party. He was elected to the Sydney Municipal Council and later was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council. He was an adviser to External Affairs Minister H.V. Evatt in 1943, and was elected a federal senator for 16 years.

Steve Maxwell, 2019

12. Are birds dinosaurs?

“It is because Nature is ruthless, hideous and cruel beyond belief that it was necessary to invent civilisation.”  John Wyndham.

1. Mirko was up and about,and fiery. Angrily he insisted we “speak logic”, and he jumped on anyone who did not comply with that demand, which was nearly everyone. Mirko does indeed run a tight ship. It’s just a shame that ship is lost at sea.

2. A woman called Johelps runs storytellers NSWand this morning their group had a special session  in the Botanic Gardens to celebrate World Storytelling Day. Your inquisitive scribe  was there to listen and he enjoyed the event, even though the stories were for kiddies. The tellers have an appealing way of telling stories.

Jo accepted an invitation from Mr B to join us at Speakers’ Corner afterwards, and she kindly agreed to stand on the Ladder of Knowledge and tell us a story for adults. (No, not that type of adult story. Get your mind out of the gutter.) The story was about a man seeking good luck. Jo’s gestures, facial expressions and vocal variety made this scribe realise just how much a story can be enhanced with a little effort.

Thank you, Jo!

Unfortunately, Mr B learnt nothing from Jo. Straight after witnessing the good example Jo set, Mr B was bellowing at his grasshoppers in a less than savoury manner. Pretty soon it was a free-for-all. The talented, colourfully dressed, pleasant-natured Jo, who only an hour earlier had been entertaining young kiddies with delightful stories, now sat surrounded by insults and buffoonery. It was like having Bambi sit midst a pack of rabid hyenas.

In other words, we disgraced ourselves.

Jo, from Storytellers NSW.

3. “When the stone-age people were hunting dinosaurs . . .”So said Mr B before he was promptly interrupted by Uncle Pete, and others, telling him that humans never co-existed with the dinosaurs.

The thing is, a year ago Mr B stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and said birds had evolved from dinosaurs but were not actually dinosaurs. “After all,” he explained, “the word ‘dinosaur’ means ‘terrible lizard’, and the superb blue wren is neither terrible, nor is it a lizard. To call a blue wren a dinosaur is absurd.

That sound reasoning didn’t wash with his grasshoppers, who said he had no idea what he was talking about and that birds are indeed dinosaurs. During that week he checked, and found that the “experts” do say birds are dinosaurs. So, when Sunday came around the honorable Mr B did the right and noble thing and humbly admitted he was wrong. He couldn’t argue with the experts, he said.

Privately he thought, “Piffle. Birds are not dinosaurs.”

That was a year ago. Since then Mr B has “gone along” with that “revelation” and occasionally thrown in statements like, “When the stone-age people were hunting dinosaurs . . .” just so that he can be “corrected”. Today when his grasshoppers jumped in to tell him humans and dinosaurs did not coexist he pointed out that on the contrary, we have hunted dinosaurs. That’s why the dodo and the Moa became extinct. We eat millions of dinosaurs every day. They’re called ‘chickens’.

His grasshoppers get sucked in every time.

Today his grasshoppers again took umbrage and said it was a poor use of the word ‘dinosaur’. But given that ‘birds are dinosaurs’ they don’t have a hollow leg to stand on.

He will suck them in again.

A superb blue wren, with some kale in the background.

4. Does Mr B understand the process of natural selection?Or is the problem his propensity to apply it to behaviours? Should he apply the process to behaviours when there is no evidence (and can’t be any) to prove that is justified? Uncle Pete says ‘no’ and Mr B says ‘I do, I can and I will’.

 

5. What was life really likein ‘the good old days’? Mr B based his observations on the many examples given in Richard Glover’s book, ‘The Land of the Avocado’.

After a while the question became, “Are young people more resilient than the kids of yesteryear?’ Mr B said ‘yes’ while others said ‘no’. Mr B felt the need to distinguish between ‘stoicism’ and ‘resilience’ and he pointed out how many old people are walking around ‘wounded’. But was he right?

Resilience

6. When people say they want to limit immigration are they unfairly being called racist? The Australian Bureau of Statistics found from the 2016 census that Australia has a higher proportion of overseas-born people (26%) than the United States (14%), Canada (22%), New Zealand (23%) and the UK (13%). In the major cities it’s nearly 50%. Further, 49% of our entire population has been born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas.
So, if someone asks for a limit on immigration, are they really being racist? Especially if their objection applies to all human beings equally? Should we be asking that? Should we be aiming to reduce our population for environmental reasons?
But then, Mr B’s figure of 26% is compared with only four of 200+ nations. Is he cherry-picking?
And, perhaps a better way to determine whether a person is racist is to ask them if they want to limit immigration from particular regions.
But then, Peter the Younger pointed out that it’s not race many people object to, it’s cultural practices and cultural values.
It’s a discussion that will receive more exploration in the coming weeks.

7. Other subjects discussed:
– Mr B’s life hack (helpful tip) for this week: don’t pee in the shower. The explanation as to why was unpleasant enough, but Mirko took that unpleasantness to a whole new level. We had to change the subject, pronto.

– Mr B read a poem he thought was funny, but at its conclusion all we heard were the crickets. Not one person even smiled. (The poem was about a ne’er-do-well going to heaven and stealing St Peter’s pearly gates.)

– Why didn’t the Aborigines domesticate pigs in the 60,000 years of their occupation, like the Papuans did? Possible reasons were given.

– Helmut gave his thoughts on private schools and public schools. At first he seemed scathing of the public school system but by the end of his entertaining talk he was saying we should abolish the private school system. Go figure.

– Mr B and his grasshoppers attempted to answer a passer-by’s question, “Do deaf people talk to themselves?”

8. In our Unusual Creature Serieswe present to you the maned wolf of South America. It sniffed our Facebook Page.

 

 

11. Event cancelled!

“Age does not give wisdom, it gives perspective.”
Robert Heinlen.

1. The special event was cancelled,not because Mirko’s aliens interfered, but because of the heavy rain that fell for much of the day.

Poor Tim, the organiser, put a lot of work into organising the twelve speakers, the film and sound crew, and the publicity. He deserved better. We at Speakers’ Corner send our condolences and hope he attempts many more ventures, and that all of them meet with astonishing success.

2. Have you ever wonderedhow Melbourne’s version of Speakers’ Corner is going? Steve Maxwell received a communication from someone called Rob Parker who lives in the southern hamlet. Rob has taken an interest in their Speakers’ Corner’ since 1960. (Your mathematical scribe suspects he is on the wrong side of 40.) Rob writes (slightly edited):

“It used to be on the Yarra River Bank. The mounds are still there, and it’s historically classified. In the early 1960s, 3,000 people would turn up, including Arthur Caldwell , MP.

However , for the past 20 years it has been in front of the library steps on Swanston Street. Over the past 12 months it has dwindled to non-existence. There has been a huge change in Melbourne because of crime and students here on study visas (100,000 a year). Maybe their past oppression makes them not want to accept freedom of speech, because they abuse the speakers with bad language.

Today, even the police struggle to accept the speaking. I had to intervene to tell them that this is history.

Probably the greatest public speaker I’ve seen is Rhonda. In 1963 Rhonda (then Ron) spoke with fire and brimstone. So much so he was carted to the Yarra River and thrown in by hecklers. Ron had blonde hair then, and would speak at night on the corner of Bourke And Russell Street. On a soap box.

Rhonda hadn’t been speaking for a year, but now she’s back. I believe that a couple of speakers are heading up to your way , next month.

Best regards.
Rob Parker.

There you have it!

And who will be visiting us next month? Rosalie and Rhonda, perhaps? Head for the hills!

Rhonda

 

Rosalie

3. In this week’s Unusual Critter Serieswe present to you one of the most unusual critters of all: Steve Maxwell. Here is the first of three articles Steve is writing for his absorbing Passing Parade series. The theme of all three articles is: THREE MEN WHO TYPIFY A GENERATION ON THE DOMAIN.

JACK BRADSHAW. (1840-1930)

Jack Bradshaw, self-styled “last of the bushrangers”, pamphleteer and regular speaker on Sundays in the Domain, was born in Dublin on May 9, 1840. He emigrated alone to Australia at the age of 14. Landing in Melbourne, Jack found jobs scarce. In desperation he left for the bush. By the time he reached the age of 20 he had travelled over most of Victoria, NSW and Queensland – working at odd jobs as best he could. During his wandering the young Bradshaw became fascinated by stories told over the campfire: stories of easy money and adventures of a life of crime. Romantic images inspired him to seek the company of bushrangers and petty criminals.

His romantic view of bushranging got the better of him. He believed that he and his new partner in crime, “Beautiful Davies”, a Sydney larrikin, could plan and carry out a bank hold up. Their first hold-up was a debacle. It turned out that the Bank manager’s wife was in labour. The irate midwife gave them such a tongue lashing that they left in a hurry! Next time, they successfully held up the bank at Quirindi in NSW on May 1880. Both men made a clean getaway, and divided the loot of  2,000 pounds. ( $100,000 ) Their plan was to split up for good and lie low. Bradshaw settled down as a respectable citizen and even married a squatter’s daughter in Armidale. However, Beautiful Davies rushed off to Sydney on a spending spree. It was not long before police arrested Davies and Bradshaw. They both received 12 years gaol sentences. Bradshaw was released in 1892. However, he was arrested for stealing registered mail and gaoled for a further 8 years.

Released in 1900, he found himself, age 50, unable to work because of his criminal past and too well known by police to lead a life of crime. He began to write down his misadventures, in a series of cheap editions. He then lectured and sold his books all over Sydney. Naturally he loved the Domain, where he would mount his ladder and lecture to the crowd. The people loved to hear his imaginative stories of bushrangers and reminiscences of a romantic past.

Bradshaw reminded the people that they had a past worth remembering. He always depicted himself as a bungler, which he wasn’t, to make his stories more acceptable to the public. The people wanted to hear and read about their past. At the time, hardly any Australian History was taught in school, and few books dealing with Australians were published. Jack Bradshaw was a reformed man and never committed another crime again.

He had found a way to make an honest living. He died, age 90, in St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, just across the road from the gaol where he had served his twenty years’ sentence.

Steve Maxwell. 2019.

 

10. Mr B asks the questions.

“. . . Coca-Cola, Amazon, Baidu and the government are all racing to hack you. Not your smartphone, not your computer, and not your bank account – they are in a race to hack you and your organic operating system. You might have heard that we are living in the era of hacking computers, but that’s hardly half the truth. In fact, we are living in the era of hacking humans.
  The algorithms are watching you right now. They are watching where you go, what you buy, who you meet. Soon they will monitor all your steps, all your breaths, all your heartbeats. They are relying on Big Data and machine learning to get to know you better and better. And once these algorithms know you better than you know yourself, they could control and manipulate you, and you won’t be able to do much about it. You will live in the matrix.  . . if the algorithms indeed understand what’s happening within you better than you understand it, authority will shift to them.
  When Coca-Cola, Baidu, Amazon and the government knows how to pull the strings of your heart and press the buttons of your brain, could you still tell the difference between your self and their marketing experts?”
Yuval Noah Harari in his book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

1. Next Sunday (March 17th) will be special. Yes, it’s normally special because Mr Bashful speaks, but on Sunday, in preparation for the upcoming NSW State election, twelve representatives from twelve minor parties will be speaking, one after the other. Two of the parties represented will be The Shooters and Fishers Partyand theAnimal Justice Party.

Both Left and Right will be represented. And hopefully, the Middle.

Come along and enjoy the fun. Bring a question with you.

2. Someone playing the bagpipes approached Steve Maxwell (who was talking about the upcoming election) and kindly gave him a musical accompaniment. Steve appreciated it, but the fellow didn’t stay long.

This scribe will spare you the bagpipe jokes. Call that ‘State of the Art blogging’, folks. Any other writer would jump at the chance to use a bagpipe joke.

Besides, Bon Scott made this scribe appreciate the bagpipes.

3. Another fundraiser was kicked off today. Mr B wants a tailor-made stepladder. It needs to be at least six metres wide and he estimates that to have it made will cost nearly $2,000. He explained that he feels too constricted on the current Ladder of Knowledge. He needs to be able to strut back and forth like Benito Mussolini.

Your thoughtful scribe agrees. It’s a good idea. Please give generously.

Meanwhile, Mr B will use a bigger ladder, like this fellow below.

A Ukranian soapbox orator dealing with troublesome hecklers.

4. Why didn’t the Australian Aborigines use bows and arrows? Mr B gave seven possible reasons, despite earnest assistance from Peter the Younger.

5. Mr B has been changing the lives of his grasshoppers in a robust and meaningful way for six years, and figures it’s time they began to return the favour and help him out a little. He hoped they would answer a few questions he has been pondering. (Yes, high expectations, but to his credit the benevolent Mr B can see possibilities in his grasshoppers where few others can.)

He asked three questions today and will be asking more over the coming weeks. His thirst for knowledge is unquenchable.

Unfortunately, but as you would expect, his poor benighted grasshoppers had trouble even understanding some of his questions.

Here they are:

1. Mr B wanted to know, “If confident people find it easier to attract partners (and thus find it easier to pass on their genes) why haven’t we evolved to be more confident when meeting a potential partner? Why do so many of us become shy when we meet someone we are attracted to, when a confident approach would more likely be successful?”
His grasshoppers helped him out to a tiny degree.

2. “Air and water are ubiquitous and we need them daily, in large quantities. Sunlight is also ubiquitous for at least 12 hours. Why didn’t we evolve to need it in larger quantities? Why do we need only 10 minutes of sunlight a day? (We need 10 minutes to help our body produce Vitamin D if it’s not in our food.)
This is the question his poor grasshoppers had trouble understanding, so you can imagine just how bizarre their pitiful attempts to answer his question were. I guess it’s questions like this one that win great minds the Nobel Prize.

3. The humble Mr B also wanted to know, “What’s the thing about Julie Bishop and her red shoes?” One grasshopper said it was the outrageous price Julie had paid for them; another suggested Julie wore them to acknowledge that she had been in a fantasy land, like Dorothy.
Mr B told me privately he is not convinced of either explanation, but if the second explanation is correct, that would explain why so many politicians wear brown shoes.

6. Other topics discussed:
– Mark the Grinner explained why it was foolish of the Australian governments to sacrifice some of our manufacturers in favour of weapons manufacture.

–  Mark the Grinner also had a few words to say about the upcoming elections. He begged us to believe everything the politicians tell us. He gave that advice a few times, just in case we missed it. Had sarcasm been a liquid we would have drowned.

– A passer-by asked Mr B’s thoughts on the modernisation of Sydney, and Mr B had a few choice words to say about that.

– Ray looked dashing today as he attempted to save a few souls.

– Mirko said something today that one grasshopper thought was insightful and accurate. Your scribe hadn’t been listening, and nearly fell over when he heard that. It was like I had had a nap and woken up to find I had missed seeing Halley’s Comet.

– The topic of epigenetics came up. Mr B put forth the Dutch Famineexample.

If you smoke and lose your feet, your daughter will be born without feet, and her daughter will also be born without feet. That’s epigenetics.

7. This week we present to you the Takin, or Gnu Goat, found in the Eastern Himalayas. It wants to be on our Facebook page. Its wish is granted.

9. Apologies to those offended.

“Necessity is the mother of invention. Boredom is the father.”
Henry Persig.

1. We had a new speakerturn up today, but your scribe didn’t hear him or see him. Steve Maxwell saw him and says his name was Ron, or Ray, or Robert, which means we don’t even know his name. What an inauspicous beginning!

We hope Rod turns up again and gives it another crack. If he lets this scribe know of his presence we will introduce him and film him. And hopefully get his name right.

Steve Maxwell had a dig at the Australian government and the Australian Federal Police, saying that the only reason an Australian ex-refugee in Thailand was not deported to Bahrain is because the man plays soccer well. It was his soccer team who made the effort to save him.

Again, Mr B came under-prepared. Mirko, Mark the Grinner, Peter the Younger and Helmut kindly assisted.

2. If you want toknow if a media outlet is Left-wing, Right-wing or In the Middle, try this site. Thanks to Mark the Grinner for bringing it to our attention.

3. Mr B was told the origins of ‘Doh, Ray, Me. etc. Apparently, the words came from a 12th century rhyme sung by monks. The words represent the notes we know today and are arbitrary. Julie Andrews could have sung something like:

Bah, a grunt, a whinging grunt
Cad, a bounder through and through
Tip, a coin, I never leave
Fly, a thing that sits on poo
Phlegm, a sticky yellow gunk,
etc.

 

4. We heard a short poem.

5. We heard an interesting and unusual football fact: In 1922, while Bill Walton was playing for Port Melbourne, he was hired to coach Hawthorn in the following year. However, Port Melbourne refused to release him as a player. So, the next year, he played for Port Melbourne while coaching Hawthorn during the week. Twice he had to play for Port Melbourne against Hawthorn, and in one of those matches he supported a Hawthorn player. His teammates were so annoyed they tried to hit him.

Who would have thought that nearly one hundred years later, Mr Bashful would be holding two of Hawthorn’s premiership cups?

6. “Who is responsible for the Menindee Lakes disaster?”a passer-by wanted to know. (For overseas readers: due to mismanagement of the waterways, a million fish died because there was too little water for them.) Instead of blaming government departments for allowing other industries (like cotton) to use the water, Mr B blamed the voters. “After all,” he said, “we give the politicians the power to make those awful decisions.”

Mr B has such a low opinion of politicians he blames us for the standard of politician we get. “Keep the bastards honest” was one politician’s slogan. “The thing is,” said Mr B, “it’s we, the voters, who are the bastards.” He gave his reasons why.

7. Why didn’t the Australian indigenous people become technologically advanced during their 60,000 year occupation of the continent? A grasshopper said it was because they didn’t have one pervasive, uniting religion to unite them in a common cause.

Mark the Grinner said they didn’t need to develop technologically because they had what they wanted. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

Mr B said it was because their relationhsip to the land didn’t allow an ‘invasion mentality’, which meant technological pollination would have been inhibited. Plus they didn’t have access to the animals Europeans had, so there was no incentive to build roads and other infrastructure. (You can’t harness a kangaroo to plough a field or transport goods.)

The revelations in Bruce Pascoe’s book, Dark Emu, were also mentioned.

8. Other topics discussed:
– Mr B mentioned the government’s “inability” to ensure a food’s trans fats – the most dangerous of fats – are revealed in its nutrition label. Peter the Younger said there would have been a few  trans fats in last night’s Mardi Gras.

– Mark the Grinner spoke about politicians’ self-interest and reluctantly answered questions from anyone impertinent enough to ask them.

– Do religions help guide people into living a good life? One Hindu man thought so, and Mark the Grinner tried valiantly to trash that idea.

– If parents regularly feed their children unhealthy food, should they be be prosecuted for child abuse? Ben the Whisperer informed us that is already the case.

 

9. In our Unusual Critter Serieswe feature the Armadillo Girdled Lizard. It’s a big fan of our Facebook page, but won’t admit it.