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

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28

Sep

2022

The ethics of reporting untruths

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday September 18, 2022

 

Professionalism, generally, means that you do your job without letting your personal preferences interfere.

            So a lawyer sets aside her personal loathing of a long-term criminal to defend him, to the best of her ability.

            An NHL hockey player plays his best, regardless of what city he’s traded to. 

            And a doctor treats a gang member or a sex worker without letting her own distaste for their lifestyles affect her diagnosis and treatment.

            In the same way, I have always assumed, professional journalists should deliver the facts impartially, without letting their own political biases colour their reporting.


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28

Sep

2022

A teapot with a tale

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 15, 2022

 

I’m looking at a relic. No, not the bones of some ancient saint. Or a corpse, mummified in a peat bog or frozen in a glacier. 

            This relic is a blue-and-white porcelain teapot. 

            We gave it to my father’s second wife, Christina Fraser, for Christmas one year. Blue and white were Chris’s favourite colours. We found this teapot in Eaton’s, when Eaton’s still existed. She loved it. 

            Then she wanted to ship it home safely from Toronto to Vancouver. She didn’t trust her suitcase to protect it from Air Canada’s baggage handlers. So she took it back to Eaton’s, figuring they had the expertise.

            “Sorry, we can’t do that,” she was told. 


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28

Sep

2022

Too many griefs in a one week

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday September 4, 2022

 

Grief. I thought I knew all about it. I even wrote a book about it., many years ago. A professional family counsellor praised it as, “the only book on grief written from a father’s point of view. All the rest have been written by mothers.”

            But the events of the last week in Saskatchewan and in Balmoral have made me realize I was writing about MY private grief. Not about the kind of collective grief that people around the world, and in James Smith Cree Nation and the village of Weldon particularly, are currently living through. 

            I made the mistake of treating grief as an individual experience. Indeed, in many ways, it is. You feel alone. Indeed, it seems to force you in on yourself. 


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4

Sep

2022

My bias against redneck reactionaries

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday September 4, 2022

 

By now, everyone must have seen the video of Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland being accosted in the lobby of a hotel in Grand Prairie, Alberta, on a visit to her home province; she was born in Peace River, north of Grand Prairie.

            Freeland is quite short, even in high heels. One of her own Tweets gives her height as “5 feet 2 inches, on a good day.”

            The man – identified by his own Internet postings as Elliott McDavid – towers over her. He’s almost a stereotype of an Alberta redneck -- burly, heavily bearded, dressed in a tattered undershirt.

             Media coverage described him as a "right-wing extremist" and an "active organizer of convoy protests.”


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4

Sep

2022

The innocence of nonsense songs

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday August 25, 2022

 Something got me thinking about the pop songs I listened to in my youth. Here’s one of them: “Sh-boom sh-boom… yallalala lallalalala, Hey nonny ding dong, a-lang a--lang a-lang, Boom ba-doh, ba-doo ba-doodle-ay…”

            The quartet went on to include some real words, but they’ve faded from memory. Only the nonsense syllables remain. 

            Or Sammy Kaye and his orchestra, otherwise a fairly conservative group: “Chickery chick, cha-la, cha-la, Check-a-la romey in a bananika, Bollika, wollika, can't you see, Chickery chick is me?”

 

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4

Sep

2022

he Bible is not a citizenship test

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday August 21, 2022

 

Colorado Republican Representative Lauren Boebert wants the U.S. to have a “biblical citizenship” test. Was she serious? On video clips, she sounds as if it was just a casual aside.

            Serious or not, it may be the stupidest idea that the U.S.’s Christian Right has come up with yet.

            The first casualty would be Donald Trump. The 9th Commandment forbids lying; Trump broke it 30,573 times during his presidency!

            Beyond that, though, what constitutes biblical literacy? Is it enough to know the Ten Commandments, a few choice quotations from Jesus, and the 23rd Psalm?

            Or should biblical literacy mean that you can open the Bible to any page, any verse, and know how it relates to the book’s larger themes?


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4

Sep

2022

An eight-week-old kitten

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday August 18, 2022

 

I got a cat last week. Correction – last week a cat got me. Because no human owns a cat. Cats may have been the first wild creatures to co-habit with humans, but unlike dogs, they have never let humans dominate them. 

            My cat is only eight weeks old, but he already runs my household. Wrong again – HIS household! He determines when I shall wake up. By licking the end of my nose.. 

            He has found his own private cave between my pillows, where he spends the night. Unless he decides to wake up long enough to walk across my head.

            I expected him to play with my computer mouse – cat and mouse, you know. I didn’t expect him to take naps on my keyboard. Now I know how those computer nerds come up with weird passwords like 8[UEVrn#ds-ibJEtb&iSio&hf. They invite a kitten to pounce on their keyboards.

 

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Dickie, kitten

4

Sep

2022

The day that ended empires

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday August 7, 2022

 

You probably don’t have Monday August 15 circled on your calendar. Perhaps you should.  It’s the 75th anniversary of the collapse of colonialism. 

            On August 15, 1947, India declared Independence. 

            I spent my first ten years in India. I remember standing on our hillside the summer before Independence, listening to waves of sound drifting across the forested slopes from the nearest town, as thousands chanted “Jai Hind! Jai Hind! Jai Hind!”

            Loosely translated, “Victory to India!”

            “What are they shouting for?” I asked my father. At ten, I was politically clueless.

            “They want independence from Britain,” `he explained.

            “Why?” I wondered. “Don’t they realize how good they’ve got it now?”

            My father, wisely, said nothing. 


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12

Aug

2022

It’s time to quit pretending

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday August 11, 2022

 

I made a momentous decision a few months ago. I decided to quit playing minister.

            A few people may be surprised that I’m NOT a minister. Because I often write about religious topics. I also write about evolution, life, economics, politics, and occasionally even mathematics. Somehow, no one suggests that makes me an economist, biologist, or mathematician.

            Perhaps they assume that no one could possibly be interested in theology unless they were being paid to do so.


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12

Aug

2022

Specifics trump generalities

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday August 7, 2022

 

Is it just my imagination, or is there a predictable pattern to news coverage these days?

            The pattern starts with someone accusing, say, Hockey Canada for covering up charges of rape. Or attacking the Canadian Armed Forces for sex discrimination. Or a charity comes under fire for misusing donated dollars. Or a TV program unearths evidence that a renovation firm’s labyrinth of corporate connections defrauds both its customers and Canada Revenue. 

            The accusers are willing to go public with their names and faces. 

            The accused are not. They decline personal interviews. Instead, they issue carefully-worded statements which assert, essentially, that the conduct in question contravenes their code of ethics, didn’t happen, and if it did, won’t happen again.

            The language used is numbingly bureaucratic.


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