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

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29

Mar

2017

Look into my eyes…

Author: Jim Taylor

In our social culture, we tend to use our eyes differently, depending on whether we’re speaking or listening. (Other cultures have different, and therefore often disquieting, customs.)

            I tend to watch someone else most closely while they’re speaking. That’s how I show I’m paying attention. I watch your eyes, your mouth, the crinkles on your forehead, to confirm visually what I think my ears are hearing. If I start looking somewhere else – at the TV set, for instance, at the dog, or, umm, at your cleavage – you can reasonably assume that I’m no longer paying as much attention as I should.

            But when I’m speaking, I’m more likely to glance away occasionally. 


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26

Mar

2017

Don’t tar everyone with the same brush

Author: Jim Taylor

As far as I know, no one ever accused Jessie Oliver of racism. Of beating helpless children. Of screaming abuse at them. Or of sexually abusing any of the children under her care. To the end of her life, her former students visited her. They were her family; she was their friend.

            But Jessie Oliver worked in Indian Residential Schools along the B.C. coast. Did that make her a bad woman?

            She felt as if Canada were attacking her personally.

           Whenever one group of people are given absolute power over helpless victims, a few will take advantage of their power. But not everyone will. There were Arthur Plints. And there were Jessie Olivers who did their best within an unjust and iniquitous system.


      


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22

Mar

2017

Building on what came before

Author: Jim Taylor

Composer Johannes Brahms had an inferiority complex, Tom Allan explained on CBC Radio one afternoon. Apparently Brahms idolized Beethoven. Beethoven set music on a new course; Brahms felt that his best efforts could never measure up to Beethoven’s standard. 

            Of course, Beethoven may have felt the same about Mozart, the genius who preceded him. And perhaps Mozart drew inspiration from Bach. And Bach -- who knows? Perhaps Vivaldi or Telemann. And they in turn looked back to Corelli or Buxtehude…

            But none of them gave up composing music because they feared they couldn’t compare with their predecessors. 

            The same holds true in every human endeavour I can think of -- with one exception: religion.


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19

Mar

2017

Texas could restrict male sexual activity

Author: Jim Taylor

Well, it’s about time – Texas legislator Jessica Farrar has finally introduced a bill supporting gender equality.

            If the bill passes – remember of the legendary snowball in hell? – the new law would require any man seeking a vasectomy to have a rectal examination, attend an anti-vasectomy course, and submit to a 24-hour cooling-off period. 

            In other words, men wishing to affect their reproductive capabilities would have to undergo the same kinds of restrictions as women do in Texas. And in another 42 states.

            It seems only fair, doesn’t it?

            The bill was introduced to the Texas House of Representatives by a woman. No doubt a few men will protest that a woman has no right to dictate male sexuality. But gee whiz, wasn’t it males who legislated female sexuality?


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15

Mar

2017

If it can die, it lives

Author: Jim Taylor

Towards the end of the cross-country ski season, a friend mused, “Does snow feel pain when I jab it with my ski pole?”

            We all laughed.

            “Why not?” she persisted. “Aren’t we all made of the same stardust? Everything in the universe came from the Big Bang. Whether it’s snow or trees or me, we all consist of the matter that was created 14 billion years ago. So why should I assume that I’m the only one who feels pain when I get jabbed with something sharp?”

            A physicist will tell you that all matter is made up of particles. For convenience, we call them electrons and protons. But there are no exclusively human electrons and protons; no uniquely human quarks or gluons. At the sub-atomic level, water is made of exactly the same stuff as humans.

            So why can’t water feel pain?


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: life, Snow, water, pain

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