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

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca

 

29

Apr

2018

Let’s hear it for unsung heroes!

Author: Jim Taylor

This has been a good week for heroes. We even know the names of some of them.

            For example, the cop who arrested the driver of the rented van , the man who drove down Yonge Street in the north end of Toronto, knocking over people like bowling pins. The officer was alone. He faced a man who made threatening gestures, as if he were drawing a handgun and pointing it at the officer. He yelled, “Shoot me! Kill me!”

            But the police officer, Constable Ken Lam, didn’t.

            I’ll repeat that, in case you missed it -- he didn’t shoot!

            Const. Lam said afterwards that he was just doing his job, the way he had been taught.

            I suppose something similar may happen in the Excited States, sometimes. But I’ve never seen it on TV. Have you?

            But there was another hero, in the mass shooting at the Waffle House restaurant in Nashville. James Shaw Jr. wrestled the shooter’s rapid-fire assault weapon away from its owner. (I’m deliberately not naming the perpetrators in these two incidents -- they get too much publicity already.)

            Shaw said, “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”


Comments (0) Number of views (278)

25

Apr

2018

Start small to make a difference

Author: Jim Taylor

My father was a pretty good painter. While at university in Toronto, he took lessons from A.Y. Jackson and others of the famed Group of Seven. But as the years passed and his life got taken over, more and more, by academic studies in psychology and religion, he grew more and more cautious in his use of paint. 

            One day, a friend who was also a painter dropped in. She watched him working with fine brushstrokes and tiny dabs of paint. She squeezed flaming magenta onto his palette. She took his brush. She slapped a blob of magenta onto his canvas. 

            It stood out like an erupting volcano. 

            “There!” she commanded. “Paint to that!”

            To his credit, my father did. A single blob of vivid colour changed that painting. And all the paintings\ he did thereafter. 

 


Comments (0) Number of views (122)

22

Apr

2018

One Earth Day a year is not enough

Author: Jim Taylor

My office window looks out onto an orchard. On this particular morning, my neighbour the farmer is spraying his trees with something toxic. He’s garbed from head to toe in impervious yellow plastic, and wearing a gas mask over his face, as he drives his tractor up one row, down the other.

            I keep my window closed. I don’t want any of it on me.

            I know the spray kills certain pests. I wonder what else it kills. How does it affect the bacteria in the soil, the worms, the fungi that serve as nerve endings for tree roots?

            Not all farmers use these sprays. I know other farmers who don’t spray their trees. They encourage worms. They compost their wastes. They thin blossoms by hand. But they pay a price for their commitment -- more hand labour, uncertain sales, lower profits.

            I can’t blame my neighbour for trying to grow perfect fruit. He knows how fussy consumers can be. I wonder why we consumers think that only unblemished fruit is worth buying. We pick through the bins in our supermarkets, rejecting apples that have a tiny scab, peaches with a small bruise, grapes with even a trace of shrivelling.

            Does it ever occur to us that a chain of consequences leads directly from our shopping preferences to a farmer swathed in a hazmat suit to protect himself from his own toxic sprays?

            Probably not. Yet that’s the whole point of Earth Day, marked around the world today.


Comments (0) Number of views (196)

18

Apr

2018

Earth Day and goddess worship

Author: Jim Taylor

This coming Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day. Not to be confused with Earth Hour, back in March, which promoted turning off surplus electric lights for one hour, causing a wave of darkness to sweep all around the earth. Earth Day has a larger focus this year, to “End Plastic Pollution.”

            “Plastics,” says a promotion piece, “poison and injure marine life, disrupt human hormones, litter beaches and landscapes, [and] clog our waste streams and landfills. The exponential growth of plastics now threatens the survival of our planet.”

            I don’t disagree. But I see plastics as a symptom of a deeper malaise. We didn’t have plastics until we made them out of fossil fuels. And our use and abuse of fossil fuels reflects the belief that this planet is a lifeless landfill site where we humans can dump our waste products forever.

            Basically, we don’t care much about the earth that gives us life.


Comments (0) Number of views (176)

15

Apr

2018

The people who work at making bad things worse

Author: Jim Taylor

There hasn’t been this much news about chemical weapons since Saddam Hussein didn’t have them after all.

            First it was the Skripals, father and daughter, apparently poisoned by some kind of nerve agent in Britain. More recently, it has been Syrian civilians, hundreds of them, including children and elderly.

            In both cases, the perpetrator hasn’t been conclusively proven. The U.K. holds Russia responsible for the attack on the Skripals, possibly as revenge for his having betrayed his own government by providing secret information to British Intelligence.

            Similarly, the western nations blame Syria’s ruler, Bashar Al Assad, for the poison gas attacks on civilians in a suburb of Damascus, one of the last stands of Syrian rebels.

            In all this finger-pointing, I see very few media commentators examining the nature of the weapons themselves.

            So here’s a brief history -- Chemical Weapons 101, perhaps.


Comments (0) Number of views (144)

11

Apr

2018

The ‘Word of the Lord’ often isn’t

Author: Jim Taylor

Remember the Ebola virus? The first cases were reported in West Africa in 2013; it became an epidemic in 2014; it faded from prominence by 2016. In between those years, it killed about 11,300 people. 

            Although it had a 70 per cent mortality rate, Ebola was actually less lethal than the Spanish ‘flu in 1918, which took over 50 million lives – more than all the deaths caused by World War I. The Black Death of the 1300s killed even more, wiping out half of Europe’s population. 

            Ebola didn’t even exceed the deaths from car accidents and gun violence in the U.S. – each taking around 33,000 lives that year alone. 

            Nevertheless, Ebola evoked terror.

            And a few people capitalized on it.


Comments (0) Number of views (358)

8

Apr

2018

Not what was done, but why

Author: Jim Taylor

Facebook has taken a lot of criticism recently in the media -- enough that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg bought some very expensive full-page ads in newspapers across America to defend his company. He’s expected to testify before several U.S. Congressional committees; he has refused to testify to a British parliamentary investigation.

            Perhaps Facebook deserves its criticism; perhaps it doesn’t. But I think the critics have missed the point. They’ve concentrated on what’s called “data mining,” as if it were intrinsically wrong. They’ve focussed on what was done, not why it was done.

            I contend that there is nothing wrong with data mining itself.

            The difference is the purpose for which the data is used.


Comments (0) Number of views (127)

4

Apr

2018

The bubbles of our own realities

Author: Jim Taylor

I’m sitting in a chair. No, that’s not quite right. I think I’m sitting in a chair, but quantum physics tells me there’s really no chair there at all, just infinitesimal packets of energy whizzing around that can only be described as probabilities… And of course, I’m also just a collection of probabilities. So there’s no me sitting in something that isn’t a chair.

            It makes me wonder who or what is the “I” that’s wondering all these things. 

            At the other end of reality, I learn about a universe that’s some 14 billion years old, and more than 28 billion light-years across. Like an ancient psalm writer, I wonder, “Who am I, that anyone should think I matter?”

            I can’t comprehend a billion of anything, whether time or distance.


Comments (0) Number of views (119)
RSS

Tags

#MeToo 150th birthday 1954 1972 3G abduction abortion Abrams abuse addiction Addis Ababa adoption Adrian Dix aging Ahriman Ahura Mazda airport killings albinism albinos Alexa algorithms Allegations Almighty Almighty God ALS alt-right altruism Amherst Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anniversaries antidote Ants aphrodisiac App Store Archives armistice artifacts astronomy atropine Attawapiscat attraction audits authorities autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry baby Bach baggage Bahai Banda banning books Barabbas barbers Bashar al Assad BC BC Conference Beans bears Beethoven beginnings behaviour belief systems beliefs benefits Bernardo Bible biblical sex birth birthday birthdays Blackmore blood blood donors body Bohr bolide Bolivia Bolivian women bombings books border patrol both/and bottom up Bountiful Brahms brains Brazil breath breathe broken bubbles Buddha Buddhism Bulkley bullets bullying butterflies butterfly Calendar Cambridge Analytica. Facebook cameras Canada Canada Day Canadian Blood services Canal Flats Canute caregivers caring Carnaval. Mardi Gras carousel cars Carter Commission cats cave CBC Cecil the lion. Zanda CF chance change Charlie Gard Charlottesville Charter of Compassion Checklists checkups chemical weapons Child Advocacy Centre child trafficking chivalry chocolates choice choices Christian Christianity Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas gathering church churches circle of life Clarissa Pinkola Estés cliffhanger climate change clocks close votes coastal tribes coffee collaboration colonial mindset colonies Colten Boushie Columbia River Columbia River Treaty communication Communion community complexity composers conclusions Confederacy Confederate statues confusion Congo Conrad Black consciousness consensual consent Conservative Party contraception Conversations coral Cornwallis Cosby Cougars courtesy courts CPP CRA creation Creston crime criminal crucifixion Cultural appropriation cuneiform Curie curling cyberbullying Cystic Fibrosis Dalai Lama Dan Rather Danforth dark matter darkness Darren Osburne Darwin data mining daughter David David Suzuki dead zone deaf death decision Delhi Dementia democracy denial Denny's Descartes determinism Devin Kelley dinosaurs dissent diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Donald Trump Donna Sinclair Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs dying Dylan Thomas Earth Day Easter Ebola eclipse economics editing Edwards-Sawatzky Egypt eight-track tapes Einstein either/or email embassy emergent emotions English epiphany epitaph Esteban Santiago eternal life eternity ethics Ethiopia Eucharist eulogy evacuation evacuation orders Evelyn Glennie Every Note Played evil Evolution expectations experiment extinctions extremes extremism eye for an eye Eyes faith False Creek fascist fear Fedex feel Fentanyl figure skating Fire fireball fires First Nations flirting flooding floods floppy disks flow charts flowers fluency flying Folk sayings forensic Forest fires forests forgiving Four Pests campaign franchises free free speech free will freedom friend friendships fruit fundamentalism future Gaia games Garrison Keillor Geese Gerald Stanley Gerard Manley Hopkins Ghomeshi girls global economy global warming go north God gods Golden Rule good good intentions goodness Google Play government Governor General grammar gravity Great Barrier Reef greatest story green Green Eggs Green Party Gretta Vosper Grinch Group of seven growth guilt guns Habits haircuts Haiti Hal Niedzviecki harassment harmony Hawaii health health plans hearing hearts heat heaven Hell helping heroes heroin Higher Porpoise highway Hillary Clinton Hinduism history Homulka Honduras honesty hope Horgan Horton hospitality houseflies houses human rights hurricane ICBMs ice dance identity IMF imitation immigrants immortality immuno-globulin inclusive language income taxes independence India individualism inertia Infinity injustice intelligence intervention irreverence Isaac Watts ISIS Islam Jack McCarthy Jagmeet Singh James Shaw Jr. Jean Piaget Jebusites Jeff Sessions Jerusalem Jessica Farrar Jessie Oliver Jesus John A MacDonald Johnny Mercer Jonathan Kay Joni Mitchell Jordan Peterson Joseph judgement judges Julie Payette jury justice Justin Trudeau Kaepernick Karen Armstrong Kaunda Kavanaugh Keaton Jones Kelly Pocha Kelowna Ken Lam Kick the can Kilauea killing Kim Jong Un Kim Jong-Un Kimberley Jones Kinder-Morgan Kinsbury mosque Kiribati Kissinger Kitimat kneel knitting knowing God knowledge Kootenay Kootenay Lake Kootenays Korean War kryptonite Kurt Weill Lake Country lakes Language Las Vegas law laws leadership learning Lent Leonard Cohen Leroy Anderson Lethbridge letter letters to the editor leukemia Liberal lies life light lightning Linda Newkirk Lionel Shriver Lions Gate Bridge Lisa Genova listening little hens livestreamed video Lizard Brain LNG lobotomy logic lone wolf looking ahead looking back Lorax Lord Cornwallis Lord's Prayer Losses Lovelock Lying lynch lynching Lynn Beyek Macdonald macho Malawi Maldives Manchester Mandela Mao Tze Tung maple syrup Margulis Martensville Mary Mary Oliver Mass
Copyright 2018 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada