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

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29

May

2016

The jerks deserve contempt

Author: Jim Taylor
Okay, I admit it -- I’m a sentimental softie. I get upset when I hear about instances of injustice; I’m skeptical about widely promoted solutions; but I’m reduced to blubbering by unexpected acts of kindness and compassion. Maclean’s magazine devoted its entire May 30 issue to “The Great Fort McMurray Wildfire.” I turned the pages with something like shock and horror. Devastated homes. Exploding trees. Walls of fire beside the highway. Glowing embers falling like hail. Evacuees huddled in fetal positions on cots in emergency shelters. It’s not as if it’s the first time I’ve seen the results of a wildfire. I lived through the 2003 Great Fire of Kelowna. I watched as towering flames crested the ridge south of the city, roaring northward. I was out on the lake when one of the famous Myra Canyon trestles blew up -- a black mushroom cloud erupted into the sky.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: injustice

25

May

2016

Top down or bottom up?

Author: Jim Taylor
Why don’t CEOs have offices on the ground floor?
In my experience, the senior officers of any large corporation have their offices on the top floor of the building.
Boardrooms are on the top floor.
Penthouse suites are the most expensive.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: top down, bottom up

22

May

2016

Beware of leaping to conclusions

Author: Jim Taylor
The incidence of autism has risen spectacularly in recent years. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that 1 in 68 children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Twenty years ago, it was about 1 in 10,000. California’s autism rate increased by five times over a single decade. I recognize that the ASD umbrella covers a huge range of capabilities and disabilities. For simplicity, I’ll use “autism” as a general term. But this column is not really about autism. Because autism is not the only affliction whose incidence has soared. So have allergies. Asthma. Diabetes. Obesity. High blood pressure. Dementia. The list goes on and on. And so we look for causes. And when we find one, we sink our teeth into it and refuse to let it go.
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18

May

2016

Ten commandments for today

Author: Jim Taylor
A month ago, I wrote a column about how we -- that is, our civilization as a whole -- tends to ignore the Ten Commandments.
I did not intend to disparage the original Ten Commandments. They were an amazing summation of principles needed for a small, close-knit tribe of desert wanderers to survive without fracturing over internal tensions.
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15

May

2016

Failing to rein in our reptile brain

Author: Jim Taylor
The video camera caught him at it, shortly before Remembrance Day last November. A youngish white male in a black hoodie swiped a charity donation box off a counter. He lifted the whole box of poppies and the donation canister, glanced up at the camera, and calmly walked out the door. It wasn’t hard to catch him. The police recognized him immediately. He had several previous convictions, and at the time of the crime was out on probation. Kelowna RCMP have said that a mere five per cent of Kelowna’s population commit almost all the city’s crimes. Which makes me wonder, why can’t people learn from their mistakes? Why do people convicted of possessing child pornography go back to it on the internet? Why do drivers get behind the wheel again, even after losing their licence? Why do stalkers defy court orders and keep harassing their chosen victim?
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: reptile brain

11

May

2016

Anyone can be broken

Author: Jim Taylor
I’ve spent most of my life with the delusion that I could cope with whatever life might throw at me. I might not like it. It might, in fact, be agonizing. But it would not break me. I would still be me, no matter what happened.
Then I listened to Amanda Lindhout being interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonte on CBC’s The Current. Amanda, you may recall, was the freelance journalist captured by rebels in Somalia and held for 460 days. Fifteen months. Solitary. In chains. Locked in a windowless room.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: broken

8

May

2016

Consent is a complicated matter

Author: Jim Taylor
The telephone shocked us out of sleep at 5:00 a.m. “This is the Criminal Investigations Branch of the Canada Revenue Agency,” a grim male voice threatened. “This is to advise you that the CRA has decided to institute legal proceedings against you for non-payment of back taxes.” We hung up. Canada Revenue Agency doesn’t use recorded messages, and doesn’t threaten. (Although Ottawa bureaucrats do sometimes forget that Canada covers five time zones.) But as income tax deadline drew closer, the threatening calls continued: “We will be placing a lien on your assets and accounts. If you have any questions, you may phone our customer service line at 613-434-1554. I repeat, 613-434-1554.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: consent, CRA, taxes

4

May

2016

The most successful subversion

Author: Jim Taylor
With spring, came weeds. A particularly nasty variety of grass infiltrates my flower beds. I don’t know its name; I don’t want to get to know it by name. I think of it terrorist grass.
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1

May

2016

Cooperative effort benefits three continents

Author: Jim Taylor
Compassion can bring continents closer together. I’ve written before about Bev Edwards-Sawatzky, the Oyama woman who took 45 poverty-stricken Bolivian women under her wing. Fifteen years ago, when Edwards-Sawatzky saw a display of sweaters knitted by the Minkha Co-operative in Bolivia, she knew she had to get involved. The next year, she flew to Bolivia, the poorest nation in South America, to get to know the knitters and their story personally. Until the late 1980s, the women had lived in Oruro; their men worked in the world’s richest tin mines. Then world tin markets crashed. The mines closed. In that machismo culture, the men abandoned their wives and children and left in search of new jobs. Relocated to Cochabamba, lacking education, employable skills, and incomes, the women eked out an existence on the streets. The only skill they had was knitting.
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