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

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1

Aug

2021

The constant of accelerating change

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday August 1, 2021

 

Along with a majority of Canadians, I’ve had my second COVID-19 vaccination. I’d like to go back to hugging my friends and shaking hands with those who might become close friends. 

            It ain’t gonna happen. Evolution – which is just another word for “change” – doesn’t work that way. 

            The dinosaurs probably thought evolution had gone into reverse when the asteroid hit the Yucatan peninsula and they all died of hypothermia. They had, after all, been the dominant product of evolution for 170 million years. 

            But in fact, evolution speeded up. The great annihilation was the great acceleration. It opened up new frontiers for mammals (which includes us) and birds. 

            How long have we humans dominated life on this planet? I’d guess that until about 10,000 years ago we had no discernable effect at all. Only since we enslaved technology have we turned into the most invasive species this planet has ever known, surpassing even insects.


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1

Nov

2020

“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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5

Sep

2018

Change is the only constant

Author: Jim Taylor

I had my 82ndbirthday last weekend. I’m headed for 100! Wooo-hooo!

            Anticipation makes me think back to how things have changed over the last century, or two. My wife Joan’s grandfather arrived from Sweden a century ago with an axe-head, a plane blade, and a handsaw. With those, he made all the rest of his carpenter’s tools.

            I wonder what he would think of modern chainsaws. 

            A century before that, my ancestors arrived from Scotland, to farm 40 acres in southern Ontario. I wonder what they would think of tractors with air-conditioned cabs. Of hay-balers and combines and automatic milking machines.

            Nothing stands still. Ever. And it shouldn’t.

            Not even religion.


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5

Nov

2017

Institutional inertia changes slowly

Author: Jim Taylor

A throwaway line in a newscast caught my ear. Guy Ouellette, a member of Quebec’s National Assembly, had been briefly arrested by the province’s anti-corruption unit. Apparently they suspected him of leaking information on the unit’s investigations.

            Of course, Ouellette, for about 30 years a member of the provincial police force, defended himself. He accused the anti-corruption unit of being corrupted by its own policies and powers.

            He said, if I heard him correctly, “The culture itself needs to be changed.”

            Ouellette’s charge about the culture itself needing to change sounded remarkably like what I’ve heard recently from other sources.

            Former RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, for example, apologizing for ongoing bullying, intimidation, and sexual harassment in his forces.

            Or a series of high-ranking officers in the Canadian Armed Forces, talking about entrenched sexual harassment of its female members, and humiliation of new recruits.

            Or David Vigneault, Director of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service responding to a $35 million lawsuit by former CSIS members, alleging endemic racism, sexism, and homophobia.


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