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

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Finding the right ending

Author: Jim Taylor

No, I am NOT going to write about the recent U.S. election. Everyone else has done that already.

            Instead, I’m going back some 80 years, to a collection of academic papers I inherited, written by my father while doing his studies for a PhD in psychology. 

            He was, at the time, acting principal of an undergraduate arts college in India. His students belonged to four different religions and at least six language groups. And he was using those students to test psychological theories developed for western nations -- Europe and North America.

            The only thing he proved, he admitted later, was that western categories simply didn’t fit the eastern mind. 

            But some of his exercises have interesting implications.

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Seven by seven

Author: Jim Taylor

This poem started with an unusually early snowfall. I’ll tell you the rest of the story after you read the poem. 


Snow falls softly on cedars; 

fat white flakes sift down, pile up; 

branches bend, protest in pain; 

white cones burden bunched berries; 

autumn grass falls flat below 

an ermine cloak;  drifting specks 

draw a veil across distance.  

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Categories: Poetry

Tags: darkness, Snow, campfire




Decline of the American empire

Author: Jim Taylor

           Jeffery Sachs has access to far more facts and figures than I do. He is an economist, professor of Political Economics and International Development at Columbia University, and has been a special advisor to the last two UN Secretary-Generals. So I’ll let him make the case for America’s decline.

            Sachs told a conference on multilateralism held at the Vatican, “The U.S. was a dominant economic and technological power in the world for decades. This is no longer the case. It is still a powerful country economically and technologically, but it is no longer a dominant power. The European Union is a larger market, China is a comparable market, and the spread of technology is worldwide.

            “I’m sorry to say it -- it’s my country -- but this is an imperial power in decline.

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Underlying structures

Author: Jim Taylor

All the leaves fell off my catalpa tree in a single day. In full foliage, it’s a dense mass of huge flat leaves. 

            Something about an unexpectedly early snowfall, coupled with an overnight cold snap, triggered a reflex in every leaf, leading them to separate from their parent tree.

            The tree looks quite different now. Bare branches stand gaunt against a grey sky. I can see right through it. 

            Some years ago, I was given a book called Trees in a Winter Landscape, by Alice Upham Smith. 

            Most of the year, she suggested, we know trees by their leaves. The underlying structure doesn’t become visible until the leaves fall.  I think that might be true for more than just trees.

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“A beacon to the world”

Author: Jim Taylor

The day after the election in BC, the same day as the election in Saskatchewan, another vote took place at the other end of the Americas.

            The people of Chile voted overwhelmingly to abolish the constitution imposed by dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1973, after his military coup deposed elected president Salvador Allende.

            The two Canadian elections didn’t change even the flavour of government in the two provinces, let alone their ideologies. The Chilean vote changed the direction of a whole country.

            Chile’s current president called it “the beginning of a path that we must all walk together.”

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