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

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

 

24

Jan

2022

The CBC should be non-commercial

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday January 22, 2022

 

There was a time in this fair land when commercials did not run (with apologies to Gordon Lightfoot) on the vast majestic airwaves of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 

            Back in those days, in my first full-time job, I wrote commercials for a private radio station in Vancouver. I saw how advertisers knowingly distorted the truth to make a sale; they cared little about the well-being of their customers.

            I submitted an article to Maclean’s Magazine for their now-defunct “For the Sake of Argument” section, contending that advertising needed a rigidly enforced code of ethics. 

            Maclean’s – which of course relied on advertisers for its revenue -- didn’t print it. 

           These musings were prompted by a recent email from the David Suzuki Foundation, and by a research report on the carcinogenic qualities of alcohol. 


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16

Jan

2022

You can’t argue with a computer

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday January 16, 2022

 

I got a phone message the other night. A very nice voice reminded me that I had not paid my last electricity bill. So, of course, I called the company the next morning. And  I got, of course, a voice menu. 

             “To confirm that you are the authorized representative for this account, enter your birthdate…”

            I did.

            “That information does not correspond with our data,” the robot voice informed me. 

            I got through, eventually, to a helpful woman who explained that the computer couldn’t recognize my birthdate, because it had never been entered. Now, wouldn’t you think that a computer smart enough to handle millions of accounts could have told me that?


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8

Jan

2022

The people we rendered invisible

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday January 9, 2002

 

Canada finally seems to have recognized that the original inhabitants of this continent have had a raw deal.

            On Tuesday, the federal government announced a “historic agreement-in-principle” worth $40 billion to “compensate young people harmed by Canada's discriminatory child welfare system while reforming the system that tore First Nations children from their communities for decades.”

            The discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School, plus another 1,000 or so at other sites, shocked Canadians out of centuries of complacency. 

            It shouldn’t have come as a jolt.

            For seven years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission exposed story after story of persecution and discrimination. 

            The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls provided further evidence.

            Did we listen?


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1

Jan

2022

If I only did one good thing this year…

Author: Jim Taylor

Saturday January 1, 2022

 

Long ago, I read an article about doing a year-end review. It said that if you could look back over the last year and find three good things to celebrate, you’ve had a good year. 

            As I recall, that had not been a particularly good year. I felt more inclined to focus on all the things that had gone badly. No need to go into details. 

            Every year since then, I have deliberately and consciously made the effort to list the good things that made the year memorable. 

            This year, one good thing particularly stands out for me. I became a plasma donor. 


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: blood, plasma, donor

22

Dec

2021

When Christmas is a difficult time

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday December 19, 2021

 

I had trouble doing my Christmas decorating this year. 

            Last year, I found the bins of Christmas decorations Joan had put away in our basement the Christmas before.  I set them up as I remembered what she had done.

           This year, though, I couldn’t remember all the details anymore.

            This Christmas, I realize, I’m not decorating for her. I can now only decorate for me.


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22

Dec

2021

This IS the new normal

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday December 12, 2021

 

Things were just starting to get back to normal. Restaurants and drive-ins were open again. Sports events could have fans in the stands. People trapped in Canada for the last 18 months were booking flights to exotic locations. 

            And then the Omigod variant appeared. (Sorry, the OmiCRON variant). Some old rules were re-instated. Some new rules were imposed. 

            Suddenly, a return to  “normal” -- whatever that is – looked a lot farther away. 

            I suggest that we’re kidding ourselves if we expect that the world is ever going to go back to whatever we once considered normal.

            On a personal note, I know that, since my wife’s death last year, going back to any former “normal” is impossible. 


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22

Dec

2021

Never take water for granted

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday December 5, 2021

 

After two weeks of reporting on B.C.’s floods, evacuations, washouts, and landslides, the CBC’s David Common was asked for his personal reaction to what he had seen.

            He paused to think. I could see him collecting his thoughts, to avoid rambling or repeating what he had already said. 

            Water, he said. The sheer power of something that most of us take for granted. 

            Indeed, most of us do take water for granted. We think of water as benign. Friendly. Necessary.

             This last few weeks, water has gone out of control. 


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: water, BC, McLuhan, floods

12

Dec

2021

This IS the new normal

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday December 12, 2021

 

Things were just starting to get back to normal. Restaurants and drive-ins were open again. Sports events could have fans in the stands. People trapped in Canada for the last 18 months were booking flights to exotic locations. 

            And then the Omigod variant appeared. (Sorry, the OmiCRON variant). Some old rules were re-instated. Some new rules were imposed. 

            Suddenly, a return to  “normal” -- whatever that is – looked a lot farther away. 

            I suggest that we’re kidding ourselves if we expect that the world is ever going to go back to whatever we once considered normal.


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14

Nov

2021

Violence sells, sex abuse doesn’t

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday November 14, 2021

 

I don’t get it. How, and why, in the world of professional sports, is a ten-year-old sexual encounter considered a more serious offence than constant physical violence? 

            My ruminations are, of course, founded on the lawsuit launched by former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach that former video-coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted him and another player during the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup.

            As a result, at least three executives have lost or quit their jobs.

            But no executive has ever lost his job because his players gave superstar Sidney Crosby a concussion – four concussions, officially, probably more never diagnosed. 


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: sex, NHL, violence

8

Nov

2021

COP26 evades the real crisis

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday November 7, 2021

 

One week into COP26 – the UN’s annual Conference of the Parties on climate change – the event makes me think of a hairdresser’s appointment: lots of fuss at the top, and nothing happening farther down. 

            This year’s Conference, in Glasgow, Scotland, loudly proclaims a couple of significant agreements. 

            First, 165 countries signed an agreement to phase out coal as an energy source. But the world’s three biggest coal burners – China, the U.S., and India -- did not sign.

           The 39,000 national representatives thronging into Glasgow arecarefully avoiding the one crucial issue that underlies all other crises – population growth. 

            It’s no accident, I suggest, that the three biggest coal-burning nations, who refused to commit to eliminating coal fuels, are also the three most populous nations in the world. 


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