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

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2

Aug

2020

Making statistics more real

Author: Jim Taylor

Dying is never fun. I think I can safely say that, although I suppose there may be people who gather together for some kind of final bacchanalia as they expire. 

            As Peggy Lee sang, long ago, “If that’s all there is, my friend, then let’s keep dancing. Let’s break out the booze, and have a ball…”

            But such a party would, I imagine, be only a way of suppressing their fear of dying.

            Those who have been close to a dying person know what it’s like. Pain, even with constant medication. Helplessness. Loss of independence. Loss of control. Loss of memory. Bewilderment. Confusion. Sometimes calm resignation, sometimes anger and bitterness. 


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27

Jul

2020

Party-goers yield to ancient impulses

Author: Jim Taylor

           Until early July, B.C. had been a model for North America. This province was the first to be hit by the pandemic; it was the first to “flatten the curve” and bring infections under control. B.C.’s interior had no new cases in weeks.

            And then around Canada Day, a bunch of younger people gathered at private parties in two Kelowna resort hotels. Some of those people later visited two other sites where infected individuals were present. 

            As a result, around 300 new cases have been identified. And around 1000 people are now in  self-isolation because of the possibility of having been infected. 

            And those figures, admits Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, are “absolutely going to go higher.”


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12

Jul

2020

Be careful not to burst bubbles

Author: Jim Taylor

Children love blowing bubbles. They blow bubbles in the bath. They run around the yard leaving trails of bubbles behind them. They try to catch those shimmering, shining bubbles without bursting them.

            Bubbles are fascinating. Real, but not real. Some bubbles pop when they touch other bubbles; some merge into bigger bubbles.

            I remember community picnics where some bubbles looked like oversized bologna, bigger than the kids who blew them. They drifted overhead. Until they popped and showered droplets of glycerine and detergent on the adults below. 

            In today’s COVID-19 world, though, “bubble” takes on new meaning. We’re not thinking of bubbles from the outside anymore; we’re thinking of the bubbles we’re inside. 

 

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18

Jun

2020

Relationships make us human

Author: Jim Taylor

As a song says, what a difference a day makes!

            On the last Sunday in May, my daughter called after church, to say that she might have found me a dog. She worries about me living alone since my wife died. Especially when Covid-19 isolation restricts me from visiting others, or having them visit me.

            By 3:00 that afternoon, I had a dog named Pippin.

            After three months of isolation, I feel like a February groundhog emerging into the brightness of a new day.

            I am no longer alone.

            I have someone who needs me.

            What a difference a dog makes.


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31

May

2020

COVID-19 is forcing our hands

Author: Jim Taylor

It’s hard to keep up with the rate of change. The other day, a news report announced that Army and Navy stores were closing. 

            I remember Army and Navy as the place to go to get stuff cheap. The late Sam Cohen founded Army and Navy in Vancouver 101 years ago, as a war surplus outlet. The Great War was over. He could get goods at going-out-of-business prices; hence the Army and Navy title. 

             The same week, news stories said the Reitman’s clothing chain was filing for bankruptcy. Even the survival of the venerable Hudson’s Bay Company was in doubt. 

            HBC is almost synonymous with Canada itself. The first Canadian limited-liability corporation, maybe the world’s first. Founded in 1670, before Canada was even a country. Opened the west to English trade. Made the world’s warmest blankets.

            I can no more imagine Canada happening without the HBC than without the CPR.


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18

May

2020

A “get out of hospital free” card

Author: Jim Taylor

A battered yellow booklet called “International Certificates of Vaccinations” tells me that I have been vaccinated against smallpox, cholera, yellow fever, typhoid, paratyphoid (A and B), polio, typhoid, pneumonia, hepatitis A, tetanus, typhus, mumps, and both kinds of measles.

            Every one of those used to cause epidemics.

            The only difference between an epidemic and what’s now called a pandemic is that a pandemic also affects people you don’t know on the other side of the world. Locally, the effects of epidemic and pandemic are identical. People get sick. Some die.

            Because of my vaccinations, I needn’t fear any of those diseases. But an 80-year-old woman wrote to Dr. Keith Roach, author of a syndicated newspaper column, “I will never willingly get a vaccination for anything." 


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3

May

2020

Living through liminal times

Author: Jim Taylor

A new word crept into the language while I wasn’t watching – “liminal”. None of my dictionaries include it. And they were only published 20 years ago. 

            Not “limn,” which means to paint or portray. 

            “Liminal” derives from Latin “limen” meaning the threshold of a doorway. It marks the division between inside and outside, between warm and cold, between calm and stormy. 

            It is the moment of transition, when one state of being transforms into another. 

            A liminal moment is easy to identify if it’s a doorway. It’s more difficult with geography, for example. Exactly where would you say the mountains end and the prairie begins? Which do the foothills belong to?

            Or with light. At what point, as light fades, does day become night?


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Rohr, COVID-19, Liminal

24

Apr

2020

Entering a strange new land

Author: Jim Taylor

I would not want to be a refugee. Pictures of them suggest they’re in shock, traumatized by the life they have chosen to leave behind. Civil wars. Poverty. Famine. Religious repression. Militias with licence to kill. 

            Refugees have hope, of course – they hope for freedom from poverty, from oppression, from persecution. 

            But they have left so much behind. So much that was dear to them. Businesses that they sank their heart and soul into, with a clientele built over years, maybe even generations. Extended families -- aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents, nieces and nephews, sometimes their own children. Languages and customs familiar since infancy. 

            All given up for a new life they don’t know yet, they can’t know yet. 


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19

Apr

2020

Three myths Covid-19 has killed

Author: Jim Taylor

I am soooooooo sick of Covid-19. Let me correct any misimpression – I am not sick WITH Covid-19. I don’t have chills, fever, or cough. I don’t have difficulty breathing. And I’m not in intensive care.

            I am sick OF Covid-19 the same way I’m sick of Donald Trump. And Brexit. And the way I used to be sick of the Democratic primaries in the U.S. Now, Bernie Sanders can throw in the towel and earn only a two-inch space on an inside page. 

            Surely something else is going on in the world other than Covid-19?

            Has Norway slid into the North Sea? Has Luxembourg declared war on Botswana? Has the Taliban professed Franklin Graham as their Lord and Saviour?  

            In the current pandemic of pandemic news coverage, how would anyone know? 

            The media’s obsession with Covid-19 makes me wonder what we might be overlooking. I suggest that three pervasive myths have had a stake driven through their hearts, 

 

           


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12

Apr

2020

Don’t expect to go back to normal

Author: Jim Taylor

People say to me, “When all this is over,” as if everything will return to normal -- whatever they think normal is -- as soon as the Covid-19 furore ends. 

            I doubt if things will ever go back to normal. At least, not to what we used to consider normal. 

            This may seem like a bleak subject for an Easter weekend, but it’s relevant – please read on. 

            A disease does not go away simply by restricting its transmission. 

            Suppose that Dr. Bonnie Henry’s isolation measures eliminate the Covid-19 virus within B.C. No new cases show up for, say, a whole month. All current cases recover. Our province becomes Covid-free.

            The only way to stay Covid-free would be to deny entry to anyone who comes from anywhere that is not equally Covid-free. Other provinces, and neighbouring U.S. states, to say nothing of the rest of the world. Otherwise the transmission ripples start all over again. 


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