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

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How to get men talking

Author: Jim Taylor

Men don’t like talking about emotions. They have a hang-up about discussing their hang-ups. If you want to get men talking, ask about their first car.

            This tactic doesn’t work as well in mixed groups. Some women don’t care about cars. A few have never actually owned a car. They’ve left car ownership to their boyfriends or husbands.

            Cars seem to matter more to men. It’s a macho thing, I guess.

            That first car was a rite of passage. An entry to the adult world. A portal to an alternate universe.

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Who’s repaying what, to whom?

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday April 25, 2021


The federal budget is in. As presented by Finance Minister Christia Freeland last week, the budget expects to run a $354 billion -- yes, that’s billion -- deficit for the current fiscal year.

            Plus $152 billion next year.

            And $59 billion the year after.

            On top of somewhere over $400 billion thrown at the economy during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the carnage caused by closures, shutdowns, lockdowns, and travel restrictions.

            The federal government itself has no money. It operates on money it collects from us, in taxes. If it doesn’t have enough money on hand, it has to borrow from us, so that it can feed that money back to us, to get us through an economic crisis, and then we have to re-pay ourselves the money that was borrowed on our behalf from ourselves.

            Does that strike anyone else as somewhat circular?

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Mixed thoughts on Earth Day

Author: Jim Taylor

If this column seems a little lighter than usual, it’s because I completely forgot about writing it for the local weekly paper. Until today. Which happens to be Earth Day, 2021.

            A few years ago, a visiting friend asked me what I thought of the state of the world. 

            At the personal level, I said, I’m an incurable optimist. I don’t know any individual who would refuse to help out another individual in need. 

            I know, I know, there are occasional stories of someone being murdered while 27 eyewitnesses did nothing. But those stories make the news because they’re the exceptions. 

            Most individuals can be, and are, compassionate to other individuals. 

            At the collective level, though, I am equally pessimistic. As a human species, we seem incapable of thinking beyond the present. We are terminally short-sighted. 

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What if we never return to normal?

Author: Jim Taylor

Let’s imagine the unthinkable. Suppose life never goes back to “normal.”

            Increasingly, I hear people expressing frustration about pandemic restrictions. They want to visit their grandchildren; travel to exotic places; hug their friends. 

            I share those desires.

          I long for a time when I can associate with my friends directly – not virtually.

            But maybe things won’t go back to what they used to be. 


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Volcanoes and other coincidences

Author: Jim Taylor

Thurs. Spr. 15, 2021

In January 1993, Joan and I took our winter holiday in Montserrat, one of the less-visited islands of the Caribbean. It was so less-visited, it only had three hotels.

            Four years later, the island’s volcano blew up. It buried the capital city in ash. To the rooftops.

            Then in January 2008, we went to St. Vincent, at the other end of the Caribbean chain of islands. Five of us hiked up to the rim of St. Vincent’s volcano, past ferns growing 30-feet tall. 

            We peered down into swirling mists in the crater. I’d love to have gone down, but the rock walls were too sheer for anything but trained climbers with ropes and pitons. 

            Last week, the volcano on St. Vincent blew up. 


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The trauma of living in bubbles

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday April 11, 2021


Many years ago, when our son was still alive but not yet a teenager, our family watched a made-for-TV movie called “The Boy in a Plastic Bubble.” 

            It had little to commend it. Even the story line was a bit hokey – a boy born with no immunity to anything. To have any kind of normal life, he lived inside a large plastic bubble that isolated him from everyone.

            It seemed to me, at the time, that it also reflected the life that our son had to lead. Because he had CF, cystic fibrosis, he had to be protected from anything that might lead to a potentially fatal lung infection.

            When the movie ended, our son yawned, stretched, and said, “Okay. I’m going to bed.”

            On a sudden impulse, I asked, “Do you ever feel like that boy in the bubble?”

            He was frozen for an instant. Then he burst into tears. 


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Singing to the Easter sunrise

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday April 8, 2021


The church congregation I belong to has held an Easter Sunrise service for at least 40 years. The last two years, however, Covid-19 has thrown a virus into the works. Health restrictions prohibit any gathering of people. And any singing. 

            This year, for some reason that I cannot fully define, I felt that I needed a sunrise service. 

            If we couldn’t have one collectively, I decided, I would have one individually. 

            Which is why I found myself, half an hour before dawn on Easter Sunday, climbing a steep trail up Spion Kop, a local peak. 

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Easter, sunrise




Who gets protection last?

Author: Jim Taylor

I got my Covid-19 vaccination a couple of weeks ago. I’m glad that my age puts me near the head of the line. 

            But then Jack Knox, a Victoria columnist, asked who should be at the end of the line?

            Because somebody has to be last. Don’t they? 

            Most of us would agree about those who should get preference. 

  • The residents of long-term care facilities, whose health is fragile already.
  • The front-line medical workers, who spend all day, every day, in close contact with the infected people the rest of us want to avoid. 
  • The essential workers, the ones who keep supplying groceries, hardware, and emergency services. Even if only one in every hundred people they encounter is a Covid carrier, that’s still way more than the rest of us.
  • Teachers and child-care workers, who deal daily with little germ factories. 

           But who’s not on the list?

            The question implies a deserving factor. Which is rooted, I would argue, in a belief that the universe is supposed to be fair. Those who are good get rewarded; those who aren’t, get punished. 

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To those who live in fear

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday April 4, 2021


What does it feel like, to live in fear? Not the short-term fear, that an oncoming car won’t stop in time. The long-term, constant fear that you, through no fault of your own, are a target for violence. Just because of who you are.

            It happened to a 65-year-old woman in New York last week. An unknown man knocked her down, kicked her in the stomach, stomped on her face, then casually strolled away.

            The woman was Asian.

            Most of us who are white males, like me, have no idea what it is like to spend your life knowing that you’re at risk. To feel unsafe walking to the bus at night, after work. To feel people staring at you on the street or in the classroom. To hear jokes that imply you’re genetically stupid (or, conversely, genetically smarter), or a sexual object, or inherently untrustworthy. 

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