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

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A eulogy for wild yellow flowers

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday May 16, 2021

            The problem, it seems to me, is that we humans don’t know how to value anything unless it can be taxed.

            Undeveloped lands have no intrinsic value.

           Old growth forests, magnificent as they are, have no value in themselves.

            Just as unpolluted streams have no value in themselves.

            Yellow flowers growing wild on hillsides have no value.

            Parks and wild lands are not treated as assets in municipal accounting, because they don’t produce tax revenue. Even though they certainly add value to other real estate. Imagine Vancouver without Stanley Park. Or New York without Central Park.



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Exploring evolutionary advantages

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday May 13, 2021


The hummingbirds are back. Probably two pair of them, although I’m not quick enough to identify individual features.

            They seem to play, like otters, for the sheer joy of living. They perform aerobatics overhead that would make a stunt pilot green with envy. They soar vertically, flip over, dive at dizzying speeds, zoom past at low altitude, do barrel rolls, meet in mid-air, come to an instant stop…

            I also notice they have different feeding habits. One visitor perches on the feeder while sipping nectar. Another hovers constantly while dipping his (or her) beak into the plastic blossom. For each bird, always the same blossom, always the same perch.

            And I wonder which bird is headed down an evolutionary dead end.

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Because that’s what mothers do

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday May 9, 2021


Today is Mother’s Day.

            I had a mother. That’s possibly the only statement that every human on the planet can affirm without qualification. Also any mammal.

`            I’m tempted to say that every living thing had a mother, but I’m not convinced that laying eggs in a riverbed or casting spores to the wind qualifies as mothering. The new life may require female DNA, but in my mental dictionary, mothering Involves more than abandoning one’s offspring to chance. 

            When we scattered our son’s ashes in the ocean off Vancouver Island, his mother began, “From the moment I first felt you moving in my womb…”

            With almost a sense of shock, I realized that being a mother starts nine months earlier than being a father. 

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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Mothers, ego




Visualizing invisible dangers

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday May 6, 2021


The Kelowna Art Gallery is hosting a show about nuclear exposure, until July 18. 

            The gallery’s promotional leaflet says, “BOMBHEAD is a thematic exhibition organized by guest curator John O’Brian that explores the emergence and impact of the nuclear age… encompassing the pre- and post-war period from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daachi in 2011.”

            It’s not just about nuclear war, although the visual images do include mushroom clouds and flattened cities.

            It’s also about the invisible threat of nuclear radiation.

            I felt that the exhibit failed. 

            BOMBHEAD is a visual arts display. But how does an artist portray something invisible?

            What you can’t see CAN hurt you. 

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The rest of us have rights too

Author: Jim Taylor


Sunday May 2, 2021


          If you oppose vaccinations in principle, you are simply wrong.

As a child, I had a smallpox vaccination every year. As an adult, I travelled with a yellow vaccination booklet that documented my vaccinations against smallpox. Also against diphtheria, tetanus, cholera, Yellow Fever, typhoid, typhus, measles, and mumps.

            No immigration officer has asked for that booklet in more than 20 years.

            Because vaccinations work. They prevent me from catching a disease, and from passing it on.

           I don’t care what scruples you have about the ethics of Big Pharma. I don’t care what rumours you have absorbed about Bill Gates or the Illuminati plotting to take over the world. I don’t care if you found an obscure Bible verse that specifically prohibits vaccinations.

            Although I can’t help wondering how a writer 2,000 years ago would know about vaccinations, to condemn them.

            But I doubt if you have anything that rational against vaccinations.


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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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