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

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16

Mar

2016

Epitaph for a song writer

Author: Jim Taylor
The world’s Joy Quotient declined a little on Sunday March 6, when Ian Macdonald died. 
        Ian was one of those rare people who never let his inner child get buried under the overburden of grown-up concerns. He took an almost wicked delight in wit. The prospect of trying something new and different -- whether a children’s tale for adults, or Bible study through improv drama --brought out a crooked grin, a glint in his eye. 
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13

Mar

2016

No column today

Author: Jim Taylor
Sorry, no column today Joan has not been well this week. After eight years of chronic leukemia, and about the same number of chemo treatments (I lose track) her immune levels are almost non-existent. There’s a bronchitis bug of some kind going around; she caught it. Accompanying her through three medical appointments, plus at least as many prescriptions, left my mind rather like melting jelly. I had some ideas for a column, but they simply would not gel. So all I can do is send along some of the mail received about last week’s column, on the relationship between suffering and sin.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: no column

9

Mar

2016

Three little hens go north

Author: Jim Taylor
Every now and then a good news story comes along that I have to share.
This one starts at a resort community somewhere in the Okanagan Valley. Like all resort communities, people come and go; some stay longer than others.
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6

Mar

2016

The punishment rarely fits the crime

Author: Jim Taylor
Justice William Horkins has set March 24 to announce his verdict in the Jian Ghomeshi trial. Ghomeshi, in case you’ve been emulating a groundhog all winter, pled not guilty to five charges of sexual assault and choking. A friend of a friend asked a judge, off the record, if he thought Ghomeshi would get off. The judge gave a four-word reply: "It's a slam dunk." Acquittal seems like denial of justice. The allegations by Ghomeshi’s victims, plus his own video of “rough sex,” portray him as a creep. Or, in psychological lingo, as a sadist, narcissist, or psychopath. There is, of course, a rational logic for acquittal.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: punishment, crime

2

Mar

2016

Whole body listening

Author: Jim Taylor
He was talking, but I couldn’t hear him for the light. 
That’s right -- for the light. A big window behind him turned him into a silhouette, a black cardboard cut-out. I could hear his voice, but I couldn’t see his mouth, his eyes, his face. And so I missed a lot of what he was saying.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: body, listening

28

Feb

2016

Banning books, good or bad

Author: Jim Taylor
These days, anyone can publish anything. Before e-publishing, books had to pass through the filter of a publishing house. It wasn’t a perfect system. A lot of good books didn’t get published, but at least a lot of bad ones didn’t get published either. Not so today. Anyone can put anything out on the Internet. And if you want something a little more prestigious than a passing blog, hundreds of outfits will help you produce something that has a cover, an ISBN, and a price tag. Every copy shop can be a publisher And Amazon will probably sell the book they produce, whether it deserves exposure or not. That’s roughly what happened with Robert Picton’s book.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: banning books

24

Feb

2016

Talking to a toad about talking

Author: Jim Taylor
I talk to the dog. I talk to the cat. Sometimes, when I’m out for a walk, I talk to a crow or a magpie. 
I’ve never talked to a toad. But apparently Mary Oliver does. She wrote a short reflection, a kind of prose poem, about her conversation with a toad: “He was just sitting there. It was full morning, so the heat was heavy on is sand-coloured head and his webbed feet. I squatted beside him… He didn’t move. I began to talk…”
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: toad, talking

21

Feb

2016

Zika virus, contraception, and mortal sin

Author: Jim Taylor
A new word has entered our vocabularies – “Zika” -- the mosquito-borne virus first identified in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947, that has since spread across southern Asia to the Pacific islands, and now to the Americas. What do we actually know about this virus? First, it is carried by the same tropical mosquitoes that carry dengue fever, yellow fever, and the West Nile virus. Second, it is a virus, a primitive form of RNA that can only replicate inside living cells. It is not a germ or a parasite, therefore it is not susceptible to antibiotics. When the virus gets inside living cells, it alters their function. Although there’s no conclusive proof yet, the World Health Organization accepts a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly.
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17

Feb

2016

Either/or thinking, or both/and thinking

Author: Jim Taylor
You’ve heard the old question: “If a tree falls in a forest, and there’s no one there to hear it fall, does it make a sound?”
It’s a kind of koan -- a question designed to make the hearer think.
Yet most of us persist in offering our own versions of an answer.
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14

Feb

2016

Random chance matters in real life

Author: Jim Taylor
In the closing days of January, five snowmobilers died when an avalanche roared down the slopes of Mt. Renshaw, east of Prince George. Ordinarily, when I hear of these accidents, I tend to rant about human stupidity. About overgrown boys with too much horsepower and too little common sense, testing the limits of their machines’ performance on unstable slopes, failing to take reasonable precautions… Not in this case, apparently. Although some early reports called the avalanche “human caused,” later reports didn’t repeat that allegation. Later reports also described the snowmobilers – 17 people, in four separate groups – as well prepared and experienced back country sledders. Indeed, their safety equipment saved most of them. Two GPS tracking devices indicated their location instantly when the slide hit. Search and Rescue teams already in the area were able to reach the disaster site in minutes. A helicopter was on its way soon after. The survivors were already digging out their buried friends. Even so, they were too late for five people.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: chance, real life

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