Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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28

Feb

2016

Banning books, good or bad

Author: Jim Taylor
These days, anyone can publish anything. Before e-publishing, books had to pass through the filter of a publishing house. It wasn’t a perfect system. A lot of good books didn’t get published, but at least a lot of bad ones didn’t get published either. Not so today. Anyone can put anything out on the Internet. And if you want something a little more prestigious than a passing blog, hundreds of outfits will help you produce something that has a cover, an ISBN, and a price tag. Every copy shop can be a publisher And Amazon will probably sell the book they produce, whether it deserves exposure or not. That’s roughly what happened with Robert Picton’s book.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: banning books

24

Feb

2016

Talking to a toad about talking

Author: Jim Taylor
I talk to the dog. I talk to the cat. Sometimes, when I’m out for a walk, I talk to a crow or a magpie. 
I’ve never talked to a toad. But apparently Mary Oliver does. She wrote a short reflection, a kind of prose poem, about her conversation with a toad: “He was just sitting there. It was full morning, so the heat was heavy on is sand-coloured head and his webbed feet. I squatted beside him… He didn’t move. I began to talk…”
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: toad, talking

21

Feb

2016

Zika virus, contraception, and mortal sin

Author: Jim Taylor
A new word has entered our vocabularies – “Zika” -- the mosquito-borne virus first identified in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947, that has since spread across southern Asia to the Pacific islands, and now to the Americas. What do we actually know about this virus? First, it is carried by the same tropical mosquitoes that carry dengue fever, yellow fever, and the West Nile virus. Second, it is a virus, a primitive form of RNA that can only replicate inside living cells. It is not a germ or a parasite, therefore it is not susceptible to antibiotics. When the virus gets inside living cells, it alters their function. Although there’s no conclusive proof yet, the World Health Organization accepts a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly.
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17

Feb

2016

Either/or thinking, or both/and thinking

Author: Jim Taylor
You’ve heard the old question: “If a tree falls in a forest, and there’s no one there to hear it fall, does it make a sound?”
It’s a kind of koan -- a question designed to make the hearer think.
Yet most of us persist in offering our own versions of an answer.
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14

Feb

2016

Random chance matters in real life

Author: Jim Taylor
In the closing days of January, five snowmobilers died when an avalanche roared down the slopes of Mt. Renshaw, east of Prince George. Ordinarily, when I hear of these accidents, I tend to rant about human stupidity. About overgrown boys with too much horsepower and too little common sense, testing the limits of their machines’ performance on unstable slopes, failing to take reasonable precautions… Not in this case, apparently. Although some early reports called the avalanche “human caused,” later reports didn’t repeat that allegation. Later reports also described the snowmobilers – 17 people, in four separate groups – as well prepared and experienced back country sledders. Indeed, their safety equipment saved most of them. Two GPS tracking devices indicated their location instantly when the slide hit. Search and Rescue teams already in the area were able to reach the disaster site in minutes. A helicopter was on its way soon after. The survivors were already digging out their buried friends. Even so, they were too late for five people.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: chance, real life

10

Feb

2016

Breathe in, breathe out

Author: Jim Taylor
My telephone was the victim of a hit-and-run accident about a week ago. A pair of moving trucks came down the lane that runs beside our house. I happened to be looking out the window, just in time to see an upper corner of the leading truck hook the electrical lines that run between a pole and our house.
The lines snapped.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: breathe

7

Feb

2016

Confessions of a CBC addict

Author: Jim Taylor
My name is Jim, and I listen to the CBC. It didn’t start that way. When I was young, my parents listened to the CBC, so of course I didn’t. Because I grew up in Vancouver, I listened to Red Robinson. I coveted Jack Cullen’s enormous personal library of 78-rpm records. My first full-time job was in private radio. The CBC was our publicly-funded enemy. That all changed when I got a job as program producer for a tiny CBC station in Prince Rupert, on B.C.’s north coast. With only 250 watts of power, its signal barely reached beyond the city limits. But it was the only radio station for 100 miles. There was nothing else to listen to. And I began to discover two things – the wealth of thought that went into CBC programs, and the motivation that drove them.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: CBC

3

Feb

2016

Reclaiming the goodness of darkness

Author: Jim Taylor
A while ago, my wife Joan had to get up early for a hospital appointment. Very early -- her alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., when the world outside was still as dark as, well, my thoughts about getting up that early.
Joan tried to make as little noise as possible, which of course made every noise more intrusive – the click of a light switch, the rush of the shower, the buzz of the electric toothbrush….
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: goodness, darkness

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