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

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What if we never return to normal?

Author: Jim Taylor

Let’s imagine the unthinkable. Suppose life never goes back to “normal.”

            Increasingly, I hear people expressing frustration about pandemic restrictions. They want to visit their grandchildren; travel to exotic places; hug their friends. 

            I share those desires.

          I long for a time when I can associate with my friends directly – not virtually.

            But maybe things won’t go back to what they used to be. 


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The trauma of living in bubbles

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday April 11, 2021


Many years ago, when our son was still alive but not yet a teenager, our family watched a made-for-TV movie called “The Boy in a Plastic Bubble.” 

            It had little to commend it. Even the story line was a bit hokey – a boy born with no immunity to anything. To have any kind of normal life, he lived inside a large plastic bubble that isolated him from everyone.

            It seemed to me, at the time, that it also reflected the life that our son had to lead. Because he had CF, cystic fibrosis, he had to be protected from anything that might lead to a potentially fatal lung infection.

            When the movie ended, our son yawned, stretched, and said, “Okay. I’m going to bed.”

            On a sudden impulse, I asked, “Do you ever feel like that boy in the bubble?”

            He was frozen for an instant. Then he burst into tears. 


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To those who live in fear

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday April 4, 2021


What does it feel like, to live in fear? Not the short-term fear, that an oncoming car won’t stop in time. The long-term, constant fear that you, through no fault of your own, are a target for violence. Just because of who you are.

            It happened to a 65-year-old woman in New York last week. An unknown man knocked her down, kicked her in the stomach, stomped on her face, then casually strolled away.

            The woman was Asian.

            Most of us who are white males, like me, have no idea what it is like to spend your life knowing that you’re at risk. To feel unsafe walking to the bus at night, after work. To feel people staring at you on the street or in the classroom. To hear jokes that imply you’re genetically stupid (or, conversely, genetically smarter), or a sexual object, or inherently untrustworthy. 

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Conspiracies rely on self-delusion

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 28, 2021

 Widespread belief in conspiracies is self-contradictory. A conspiracy requires vast numbers of people. Whose activities must be closely coordinated. Without anyone knowing about it.

            Although conspiracy theories have been around forever, QAnon is relatively recent. It started with a single post, in October 2017, by someone anonymously claiming “Q-level” security clearance to top secret data. 

            Disclosure: I have not personally received QAnon mailings. Not yet, anyway. 

            But Robert Guffey has. An author who spent 24 years writing about conspiracy theories in the U.S., Guffey followed up sources that a correspondent assured him would provide unchallengeable truths about – well, let’s see:

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Power and sex make uneasy bedfellows

Author: Jim Taylor

Saturday March 21, 2021

Canada’s two top military officers, General Jonathan Vance and Admiral Art McDonald, are under investigation for charges of sexual misconduct. 

            One of the highest-ranking female officers in the Canadian Armed Forces, Lt.-Col. Eleanor Taylor (no relation) sent a scathing letter of resignation, saying she was “sickened” but “not surprised” by the culture of sexual harassment in the military.

            “Harassment” and “misconduct” are marshmallow words. Squishy. Distortable. They could cover everything from light flirtation – is there anybody who never flirted with a colleague or co-worker? – to groping, intimidation, assault, and rape. 

           I hasten to add that none of those named above have been proven guilty. The charges are, as yet, only allegations. 

            Even unproven, though, they form a depressing pattern. 

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Everyone is living history

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 14, 2021


My newspaper runs a daily feature, Today in History. It lists significant events that have happened on this particular day, long ago. 

            It makes me feel very old. Because I was there for at least half of every day’s listings. No, I wasn’t there when Charlemagne declared himself Holy Roman Emperor. Or when Nero fiddled while Rome went up in flames. 

            But you’d be surprised how much has happened since 1936. 

            I had just had my third birthday when Hitler invaded Poland, in September 1939, starting World War II 

            I was in London when Chamberlain returned from his visit to Hitler, declaring “Peace in our time.”

            On our way back to India, in 1940, the rear deck of our ship was piled high with depth charges, in preparation for the Japanese attack that everyone knew was coming. Even if it didn’t happen until December 7, 1941. 

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Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, & Dr. Seuss

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 7, 2021


In June this year, Aunt Jemima will die. So will Uncle Ben. 

            The companies that own those trademarks – Pepsi Cola and Quaker Oats for Aunt Jemima, Mars for Uncle Ben – have decided those brand images “do not fit our core values.”

            They reek of southern slavery. 

            So they have to come down. Like those statues of Robert E. Lee and Lord Cornwallis. And renaming of sports teams, schools, and streets to banish references to an unsavory past. 

            Who’s next for the chopping block? Dr. Seuss?

            Actually, yes. Six of his books will stop being published, AP reported this week, “because of racist and insensitive imagery, said the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy.”

            The name given to this practice is “revisionism.” 

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When life becomes intolerable

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday February 28, 2021

The federal government in Ottawa has proposed a new bill that would allow Canadians suffering from “grievous and irremediable mental illnesses” – the wording comes from a Canadian Press report – to opt for a medically assisted death.

            If they choose to do so. 

            The revised legislation will permit them that choice. The previous legislation didn’t.

            The original Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) law, which came into effect in June 2016, required the person seeking assistance in dying to be capable of consenting. 

           Which excluded persons suffering from various forms of cognitive impairment –those in a coma, or unconscious from pain medication, or who had Alzheimer’s Disease, or who had suffered brain damage… 

            In other words. a lot of people. 

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The urban/rural split on gun control

Author: Jim Taylor

            I have hesitated for some time to write about gun control. In my experience, it’s the most explosive topic I ever tackle – even more so than abortion, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and federal deficits. 

            Gun owners believe in their right to own guns. They tend to react strongly against anything they perceive as a threat. Perhaps that explains why they own guns at all. 

            The legislation introduced in Ottawa last week recognizes that Canada is not a uniform nation.  According to the 2011 census, more than 80% of Canadians live in urban areas; slightly under 20% in rural areas. 

            In rural areas, people want keep their guns to protect themselves against wild animals; in urban areas, people want to get rid of guns to protect themselves from other people. 

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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: guns, gun control




Partnership, yes; possession, no

Author: Jim Taylor

            Once upon a time, we all made little valentines. Our school teachers provided coloured paper and lace doilies that we could cut up and stick together.

            I distantly remember having crushes on various girls. I always hoped they’d feel the love oozing out of the card I made for them. And vice versa, I suppose. But it’s hard to sense true love when everyone gets a card.

           Valentine’s Day seems somewhat fruitless for one who now lives alone. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not whining. I’m much more comfortable with being on my own these days. When I think about it, I live a privileged life. I have a warm house. I have adequate income. I enjoy an active life. I have friends.

            But it does give me an outsider’s perspective on the urge to couple up.

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