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

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca

 

21

Aug

2016

The age of lone wolf terrorism

Author: Jim Taylor
Donald Trump says he will make America safe again. I don’t think there is such a place anymore. Certainly not in America. In the last few weeks, we’ve had police shooting black men in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Miami. We’ve had black men killing cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge. America now averages a gun for every citizen. Forty states allow open carry. No major U.S. city can guarantee you won’t get shot by some guntotin’ goon. The cycle of violence seems to be escalating. It’s no safer internationally.
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17

Aug

2016

Thunder and lightning and ruthless gods

Author: Jim Taylor
This has been a summer of thunderstorms. Out of a clear sky, a few fluffy clouds form. Some of them grow taller, heavier, darker. An anvil top mushrooms ominously. Thunder rolls; lightning flashes; rain falls in torrents.
For a period, the meteorologist’s weather maps showed recurring bands of thunderstorms hanging over the higher mountain ranges east of us.
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14

Aug

2016

Annual checkups we could benefit from

Author: Jim Taylor
I had my annual physical checkup this last week. The doctor did all the usual things. He checked my vital signs -- I still have them, thank you -- and poked and prodded various parts of my body to make sure nothing was going wrong under cover, so to speak. He ordered a series of tests, to ensure he hadn’t overlooked anything. He asked questions. And he took time to listen to me. To hear what I might have observed about the way my own body functions. After all, I live with it every day. But I don’t always know whether that mole is significant, or how to reduce the pain in my big toe. Basically, I learned that I am still in good shape. For my age, at least.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: health, checkups

10

Aug

2016

The benefits of diversity

Author: Jim Taylor
It was an enchanted moment, a fairy-tale moment. A small group of hikers -- seven, itself a special number -- climbing slowly up a dewy trail along the ridge of a mountain. As the trees thinned into mountain meadows, wild flowers spread themselves across the shallow soil.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: benefits, diversity

7

Aug

2016

A humble insect overshadows the Olympics

Author: Jim Taylor
The 2016 Olympic circus has opened. Fittingly, the Olympic logo has five rings -- two more than the famous threering circuses pioneered by Barnum and Bailey. For the next two weeks, until the closing ceremonies at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time Sunday August 21, the media will swamp us with hype about individual athletes, medal counts, doping scandals, and self-congratulatory speeches by officials. Don’t get me wrong. I’m in awe of those athletes. I hold my breath as they push their lithe bodies towards impossible goals. But the medal counts leave me cold.
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31

Jul

2016

Letters about plagiarism

Author: Jim Taylor
I’ve been away for my week in the woods -- a campsite in remote pass where a patch of crown land separates Banff and Kootenay National Parks. I had a wonderful time. But I was completely isolated from modern technology. No Internet. No cell phones. No hourly newscasts. Not so much as one word about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Glorious! So I couldn’t write, let alone post, a Sharp Edges column for today. But I did get quite a lot of mail about last week’s column, accusing Melania Trump of plagiarizing some sentences in her speech to the Republican National Convention. Here are a few of those letters.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: plagiarism

27

Jul

2016

The freeze-frame entry to eternity

Author: Jim Taylor
Do you remember Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid charging out into a hail of bullets? It was, I’m told, the most memorable use of a “freeze frame” to end a movie. The camera caught the two outlaws, racing forward into certain death -- vibrantly alive, but already gone.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: eternity

24

Jul

2016

Plagiarism is theft, no matter who does it

Author: Jim Taylor
Ah, yes, I remember writing university essays. The process assumed that a mere student could never have an original thought. Anything that deserved thinking had been thought before. Therefore every assertion had to be referenced. I spent hours in the library, frantically thumbing through texts that I was sure I had read but now seemed utterly unfamiliar, looking for a page on which I was sure I had seen a particular sentence that I didn’t realize would be important at the time I read it, so that I could properly footnote it. Of course, in those days we assembled our data on 3x5 file cards. We didn’t have Google. Or Wikipedia. Or TurnItIn.
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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: plagiarism

20

Jul

2016

A handful of theologies

Author: Jim Taylor
In another column, I challenged academic theologians to explain the differences between theism, pantheism, and panentheism in terms that a teenager could understand.
No one took the challenge. But a reader asked, “Why don’t you do it?”
Okay, I’ll try.
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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: theologies

17

Jul

2016

Livestreamed video vs viral venom: pros and cons

Author: Jim Taylor
The Internet is a blessing. The Internet is a curse. When Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed black driver Philando Castile during a routine traffic stop, Diamond Reynolds was sitting in the passenger’s seat. She had her smart phone out. She livestreamed the incident to the Internet. Unlike conventional broadcasting, which includes a short delay so that unacceptable words or images can be bleeped out, livestreaming goes to the world instantly. Even if the Minnesota police seized Reynolds’ camera, her livestreamed video can’t be censored or recalled. I see that as a blessing. Cops may see it as a curse.
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