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

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

 

24

Oct

2021

Autism study shakes preconceptions

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday October 24, 2021

 

Jill Sanghvi wrote her thesis in India, for Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, Belgium.

            Sanghvi recognized that most studies treated autism as a “deficit.” That is, it rendered the person less than normal. Handicapped. Victim of a disability. 

            The words themselves have negative connotations. 

            So if that’s what you’re looking for, that’s what you will find. 

            These studies were all by non-autistic adults. Writing ABOUT, or FOR, people with autism. 

            Sanghvi resolved to do something different. Young people themselves would tell their stories. And she would not ask them about the “deficits” they experienced as objects of ridicule, bullying, or pity. She would ask about their “wonderfulness.”


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: autism, India, Sanghvi

23

Oct

2021

When brain synapses fire

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday October 21, 2021

 

I can tell how old you are, without asking. I merely have to cite three words: “Fibber McGee’s closet.”

            Did you smile? Even laugh out loud?

            Then you’re probably over 80. 

            Fibber McGee, for those of you with blank looks on your faces, was a radio program of the 1940s and parts of the 1950s. It featured the improbably named Fibber McGee. Who put everything he didn’t know what to do with into his closet. So, naturally, every time he opened his closet door, several hundred pots and pans and other clanging things came crashing out.


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16

Oct

2021

Isolating those who are different

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday October 17, 2021

 

We who live in the enlightened western nations tend to heap scorn on the Hindu caste system. We don’t recognize that we have our own caste systems. 

            Indigenous communities scattered across the boreal north are our Dalits, the outcastes, the untouchables. “At any given time,” writes the Council of Canadians, “there are drinking water advisories in dozens of First Nations communities across Canada.”

           Most recently, Iqaluit residents were assured their water was safe, even though it smelled of diesel. Then this week that assurance was reversed – it was now unsafe even when boiled. 

            Can you imagine an entire city, like, say, Regina, being told its tap water was unsafe for drinking, for cooking, for washing, even for washing your hands in? There’d be hell to pay.

            But this is Iqaluit, not Regina.


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15

Oct

2021

Seeking God on a glacier

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday October 14, 2021

 

On Friday the 13th of October, 49 years ago yesterday, a plane crashed in the highest peaks of the Andes. 

            Thirteen people died instantly; five more died soon after of injuries and cold. Another eleven died when an avalanche buried the remains of the fuselage.

            In the black and freezing night, Mando Parrado sometimes talked with his friend Arturo, slung in a makeshift hammock to ease the agony of two broken legs. 

            “What good is God to us?” Parrado said. “If he loves us so much, why would have leave us here to suffer?


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10

Oct

2021

Facebook exploits angry protesters

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday October 10, 2021

 

A rising tide of people in this country apparently believe – body, mind, and spirit – that they are called overthrow the established powers-that-be. By any means. Including physical insurrection. 

             They seem to buy into some kind of conspiracy which they – and they alone – know about.

            I have a deep suspicion of all conspiracy theories. I find it far simpler to blame basic human emotions –greed, anger, ignorance, even stupidity – than to imagine vast numbers of people somehow collaborating in a mass movement to take over the world.

            But that works the other way, too.  I do not believe that the mainstream media – television, radio, newspapers, and magazines – conspire to censor negative information about masks and vaccines.


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10

Oct

2021

The fine arts of persuasion

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday October 7, 2021

 

I grew up in the United Church of Canada. It’s a rational church.

            So it was a new experience for me to attend an all-black evangelical congregation in Barbados, back in my working journalist days.

            My host, the Rev. Kortright Davis, a senior staffer at the Caribbean Conference of Churches, was sent to encourage The United Holiness Church to support the CCC’s social justice program – which was, I would guess, anathema to a denomination deep into personal-salvation theology. 

            As we drove up, I could hear what sounded like a riot down the street. 

            As we got closer, I could see that the riot was at the church. 


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10

Oct

2021

A childhood hard to imagine today

Author: Jim Taylor

Saturday October 2, 2021

 

Today happens to be my old schoolmate David Bryson’s birthday. It prompts me to venture deep into nostalgia.

            Our childhoods were so different from anything anyone might experience today, that occasionally I have to write my memories down. Otherwise, I fear, the day may come when I won’t believe them myself.

            For one thing, we went to school in India. In one of the hill stations where the British Civil Service and other expatriates fled to escape the heat and humidity of an Indian summer.

            The school was – and still is – Woodstock, 7,000 feet up in the foothills of the Himalayas.  It was also a boarding school. In Canada, think of the infamous residential schools for indigenous children. Unless our parents came up to the hills for a holiday, we children lived the entire school year in dormitories.


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10

Oct

2021

Things that used to be

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 30, 2021

 

On the last day of this summer’s hiking camp, we hiked out to where Ripple Rock used to be, in the channel between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland.

           At one time, Ripple Rock was a major maritime hazard. Two great spikes of rock jutted up from the sea floor, right in the middle of Seymour Narrows, barely three metres below the surface at low tide. 

            So in the 1950s, the federal government resolved to remove Ripple Rock forever. They drilled tunnels under the sea, then up into the rock’s twin peaks. They packed the tunnels with 1,400 tons of high explosive. 

            On April 5, 1958, they blew up Ripple Rock in the world’s largest non-nuclear peacetime explosion. . 

            So we hiked to a viewpoint, to see a rock that used to be there, but wasn’t there anymore, and hadn’t been there for 63 years, and that we couldn’t have seen even if it had been there, because it was all under the surface anyway. 

 

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26

Sep

2021

What makes a religion legitimate?

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday September 26, 2021

 

A small news item, tucked in the back pages of my newspaper, said that across the U.S. more and more people were citing “religious exemptions” to avoid -- well, to avoid almost anything they don’t like.

            The current issue is COVID-19 vaccinations. In the past, the “religious exemption” has been used by employers to exclude abortion and family planning from health plans. To refuse to hire gays and lesbians. To reject same-sex marriages.

            And so on.

            According to Associated Press, “Religious objections, once used sparingly around the country… are becoming a much more widely used loophole…”


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25

Sep

2021

Letting our senses interact

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 23, 2021

 

A while ago, I was driving along between appointments, listening to classical music on CBC  -- not long enough, unfortunately, to hear the source of a symphonic piece. The sounds of the orchestra filled the car, filled my head, filled my mind. 

            For a few glorious moments, I heard music a different way. 

            I didn’t hear it so much as see it. I saw the sounds as colours, swirling and dancing. The brasses were, of course, brassy. Woodwinds were shades of green; drums, deep brown. The strings ranged from deep purple cellos to sapphire-blue violins. A solo violin soared into a laser beam of pure white. 

            Granted, that’s not how I normally hear music. But why not? 

            Why do we limit music to the single sense of hearing? 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Senses, music, Art

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