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

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

 

29

Mar

2022

Birdbrains can teach humans about cooperation

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 27, 2022

 

Some magpies in Australia proved themselves smarter than a group of scientists. Magpies are known for their intelligence; they belong the corvid family which also includes crows and ravens. 

            A month ago, Australian ornithologists hoped to learn more about how wild magpies socialize. So they devised miniature backpack transmitters, weighing less than a gram, that they could strap onto individual magpies. 

            They designed the backpack so that the magpie carrying it couldn’t possibly remove it. 

            They reckoned without the intervention of other magpies. 


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29

Mar

2022

When it feels good to yell at God

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday February 24, 2022

 

I took my bicycle for a ride along the Mission Creek Greenway in Kelowna, not long ago. I didn’t bother checking a map –why bother? The creek runs down to the lake; the Greenway follows the creek; what could go wrong?

            Except that the trail I was riding along abruptly ended at a wire fence.

            Clearly, the main trail had diverged somewhere, but I was so preoccupied with my own  ride that I didn’t  notice. It must be somewhere to my left. And fortunately, there was a trail of sorts leading that direction. 

            The trail was rough, but passable. Until I got to a little stream, seeping down through millennia of rotting vegetation, just too wide to leap across. 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: God, Job, bicycle, Satan

29

Mar

2022

Canada's lousy record with 'enemy aliens'

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 20, 2022

 

For St. Patrick’s Day earlier this week, I wore a green T-shirt and an Aran Islands sweater. And orange underwear. Covering all my bases, so to speak.

            Ireland, as I’m sure you’re aware, has been troubled  by conflict between the orange and the green. The Protestant and the Catholics. The north and the south. Monarchy and republic.

            Today, Ireland is relatively peaceful. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 largely eliminated the violence of “The Troubles” – 30 years of bombings and shootings.

            Unfortunately, bombings and shootings continue in other places. Most notably these days in Ukraine. 

            And the suspicion, the ill-feeling, that plagued Northern Ireland for generations now shifts to other groups. 

            The CBC’s National newscast reported a few nights ago that over 600,000 people who have Russian connections, or Russian names,  or who sell Russian products, are finding themselves treated with same suspicion 


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29

Mar

2022

Getting a grasp of my own ego

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday February 17, 2022

 

From my office chair, I can look up and see a an eight-foot shelf filled with books I helped to publish. I recognize every title. I know every author. I remember delving into every subject. 

            I had a hand – or at least a pencil – in every one of those books. 

            And then, abruptly, the authors, the subjects, the textual content, are all strangers. They’re still good books. Still worth reading. But they’re not mine anymore. 

            In serious discussions of faith and doctrine, a friend frequently ventures something like: “I’m not sure that I know what I’m talking about, but isn’t this all about ego somehow?”

            Yes it is. It’s almost always about ego.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: God, books, ego

29

Mar

2022

Two men, two statues, a taste of history

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 13, 2022

 

I love coincidences. Today’s coincidence is the name Volodymyr. Or Vladimir, if you prefer the anglicized Russian spelling. As a person who intuitively roots for underdogs, I’ll use the Ukrainian spelling. But it’s the same thing, either way. 

            There are four Volodymyrs involved in this coincidence. 

            There’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the comedian with no political experience who came out of nowhere to become Ukraine’s president, and has since shown himself to have leadership qualities many other nations might envy.

            There’s Volodymyr Putin – yes, same name, but usually with a  different spelling – who sees the burgeoning democracy led by Zelenskyy as a threat and wants to take Ukraine back into Mother Russia.

 

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29

Mar

2022

Giving God a name

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday March 10, 2022

 

The “Golden Guys” meet on Mondays. Mostly, we talk about what it feels like to grow older. 

            On a recent Zoom call, we talked about how our lives have changed. 

            There were six of us:

·      One university professor, no longer teaching any students.

·      One high-school principal, no longer administering anything.

·      One orchardist, no longer tending trees.

·      One business executive, no longer running any business.

·      One minister, no longer offering leadership in any kind of pastorate.

·      And me, the only one of us still doing what I had done most of my life – writing – although at a significantly reduced level.

            We all wondered who we were, now that age and circumstance decreed that we could no longer be what we used to be. 


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12

Mar

2022

Two men, two statues, a taste of history

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 6, 2022

 

I love coincidences. Coincidences are like bits of information floating on an ocean of meaninglessness until they drift up onto a beach and a passer-by – me – fits them into some kind of pattern. 

            Today’s coincidence is the name Volodymyr. Or Vladimir, if you prefer the anglicized Russian spelling. As a person who intuitively roots for underdogs, I’ll use the Ukrainian spelling. But it’s the same thing, either way. 

            There are four Volodymyrs involved in this coincidence. 

            There’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the comedian with no political experience who came out of nowhere to become Ukraine’s president, and has since shown himself to have leadership qualities many other nations might envy.

            There’s Volodymyr Putin....


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12

Mar

2022

Giving God a name

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday February 17, 2022

 

The “Golden Guys” meet on Mondays. Mostly, we talk about what it feels like to grow older. On a recent Zoom call, we talked about how our lives have changed. There were six of us:

·      One university professor, no longer teaching any students.

·      One high-school principal, no longer administering anything.

·      One orchardist, no longer tending trees.

·      One business executive, no longer running any business.

·      One minister, no longer offering leadership in any kind of pastorate.

·      And me, the only one of us still doing what I had done most of my life – writing – although at a significantly reduced level.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: God, Moses, Exodus, YHWH, Yahweh, names

6

Mar

2022

If shunning doesn’t work, why do we keep doing it?

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 6, 2022

 

The last two weeks, I’ve tried to keep up with the changing scene in Ukraine, and our reactions to it. First, Russian forces were merely threatening to invade Ukraine. Then they invaded, but ostensibly to enable two eastern regions to breakaway from the rest of Ukraine. Then they clearly invaded all of Ukraine, from the north, east and south. 

            I’m shocked. Appalled. Disgusted with Vladimir Putin. 

            Let me be clear -- I am 100% opposed to the Russian invasion. 

            I’m less confident about the effectiveness of the western deterrents. 


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6

Mar

2022

Dear Mr. Prime: about those robocalls

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday March 3, 2022

 

Dear Mr. Amazon Prime,

            Thank you so much for looking after the best interests of your customers. The other morning, before I was even out of bed, one of your Customer Service Representatives called to inform me that they had detected suspicious activity on one of my credit cards. 

            Someone in Dayton Ohio had used my credit card to make a purchase of $197.33.

            I asked her to wait a minute, while I checked my wallet. Both of my credit cards were safely there. But when I got back to the phone, she had hung up on me.

            That wasn’t very courteous of her. 

 

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