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

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Allegations topple big names

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday morning, Patrick Brown resigned as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario over allegations of sexual misconduct.

            Wednesday night, Brown called a hasty news conference to deny the allegations. “These allegations are false,” Brown fumed. “Every one of them. I will defend myself as hard as I can, with all the means at my disposal.”

            If he wasn’t being honest, he was a damned good actor.

            Don’t misunderstand me -- I am not defending whatever Patrick Brown did or didn’t do. Or, for that matter, what any of the other host of men brought down by the #MeToo revelations may or may not have done.

            The parade of big names knocked off their pedestals grows daily.  But by my reading of news reports, Larry Nassar, former medical doctor for USA Gymnastics, is the only one who has actually been tried and convicted.

            All the rest have been toppled – whether fired, demoted, resigned -- by unproven allegations.

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Humans, the theory makers

Author: Jim Taylor

I was born without a theory. About anything. I didn’t know up from down – literally, since I had just emerged from a watery and weightless womb.

            But from that instant on, I started creating theories to help me make sense of the world I found myself in. Everyone does. We figure out that moms are warm, soft, and soothing. Floors are hard. Smiles make big people smile back.

            As time passes, we develop theories about everything. As we amass more experience, those theories get more sophisticated, better at predicting outcomes. We figure out that compliments generate more support than criticism, for example. That men and women are different. That blue-chip stocks are a safer investment than snake oil or swampland.

            And, for the most part, we modify our theories to take account of new facts as they emerge.

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Minimum wage is not a living wage

Author: Jim Taylor

Tim Hortons is in hot water – and I don’t mean coffee.

            When the Ontario government bumped the minimum wage up from $11.60 an hour to $14.00 an hour, some Tim Hortons outlets slashed hours and benefits for their staff, who ended up getting a pay cut instead of an increase.

            A deluge of criticism followed, in newspapers, and in online petitions.

            Disclosure: I do not own shares in Tim Hortons or its parent companies, Restaurant Brands International and 3G Capital, a Brazilian investment giant. But I am a Tim Hortons customer. And my daughter worked for Tim’s for a few years. 

            The policies that earned scathing editorial comments happened at a minority of Tim’s franchises – perhaps a couple of dozen, all in Ontario.

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Struggling with stereotypes

Author: Jim Taylor

 don’t expect much more snow. Not around here, anyway. Because I just bought a snowblower.

            In a sense, my snowblower symbolizes our social obsession with independence. 

            It starts young. We encourage our children to do things for themselves, instead of depending on their parents. We expect young adults to earn their own way, to plot their own course. We expect older adults to keep on looking after themselves, despite disabilities.

            A group of us guys get together, occasionally, to talk about growing older. We don’t have any choice about growing older, short of expiring. But we agree that we don’t want to grow “old.”

            “Old” implies weak. Helpless. Unable to cope with credit cards or iPhones. Forgetful. Needing someone to supply the word we knew perfectly well when we started that sentence. Needing help to carry bags of groceries out to the car. If we have a car at all. Tripping. Falling. 

            “Old” means losing our precious independence.

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Not everything old is worth preserving

Author: Jim Taylor

Here’s a challenge. What do these five objects have in common -- kryptonite; Sauron’s ring; canned spinach; Thor’s hammer; the sword Excalibur?

            Answer: they were all once associated with super-powers. Sauron’s ring made Bilbo and Frodo Baggins invisible, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series of novels. Thor’s hammer and the sword Excalibur made their owners invincible in battle. And spinach gave the cartoon character Popeye super-strength. 

            Kryptonite also deals with super-powers, but negatively. It robbed power from Superman. It rendered him helpless.

            Those five things also have one other common characteristic. Only an older generation finds them familiar. 

            In a word, they’re outdated.

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«January 2018»



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