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

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3

May

2022

Invisible bath of radiation

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday May 1, 2022

 

Sweden is building a road that recharges batteries on an electric bus, as the bus passes over it. 

            The project is an experiment. 

            I gather that transmitter will be buried in the asphalt. When the designated bus passes over a transmitter, it will emit a blast -- sorry, I can’t think of a better word -- of wireless radiation that will boost the bus’s battery storage, much like the wireless charging devices for your cell phone. Or your hearing aids. Only much stronger.

            Promotional blurbs released about the Swedish experiments gloat that this process -- if successful -- will eventually eliminate the need for charging stations. The highway will recharge your Tesla or Ioniq as you drive. 

            Wait a minute… What about the humans in those vehicles?

 

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3

May

2022

The night Huey, Dewey, and Louie died

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday April 21, 2022

 

I remember the night like yesterday. Our daughter Sharon called from Edmonton. “It’s over,” she said, and started sobbing.

            Sharon was in her mid-thirties at the time.  “Finally, one of the in-vitro fertilizations worked in a petri dish. Three cell blobs were implanted and my body registered the appropriate hormonal response. I was pregnant after almost a year of trying.”

            She named the three “blobs” – properly, blastocysts – Huey, Dewey, and Louis. Because A, B, and C, or 1, 2, 3 sounded too generic.

            Because of her age, hers was considered a “high-risk” pregnancy. She had ultrasound tests almost weekly. 

            And then one week, there were only two blobs left. 

            And about a week later, the ultrasound showed no blobs at all. 

            That’s when Sharon called to say, “It’s over.”


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3

May

2022

Random thoughts on an Easter morning

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday April 21, 2022

 

My alarm went off at 5:30 Easter morning. Through my window, on the far side of the lake, a full moon was slipping behind the mountains. 

            I heard a thump. A bird had flown into my window. Quail aren’t noted for intelligence – but even they know it’s easier to find sunflower seeds at my feeder than to scrabble around in the undergrowth looking for leftovers from last fall. 

            A quail, a nerf-ball of feathers, lay motionless on my deck. Broken its neck when it hit the glass, I assumed. 

            But I had an Easter sunrise service to attend. So I left it for later. 


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3

May

2022

Easter isn’t about eggs and bunnies

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday April 17, 2022

 

The sun has not yet risen.  It’s Sunday morning. A small group of Jewish women straggle along a path towards a cliffside cemetery outside the city walls. Gravel crunches under their sandals. Their breath makes little clouds in the chilly morning air. 


 ***************

The sun has not yet risen.  It’s Sunday morning. A small group of Ukrainian women creep from the underground bunker where they have been imprisoned for the last few days. Even underground, they could feel the earth tremble aa bombs showered on the city above them. 

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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Easter, Ukraine, women

3

May

2022

Warning: may contain disturbing images

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday April 14, 2022

 

These days, every newscast about the war in Ukraine includes a warning about “disturbing images.”

            Victims lying in the streets, hands tied behind their backs, a bullet hole in their heads. Bodies, wrapped in plastic, laid out like speed bumps. Trenches with the dead stacked like sardines. 

            Tomorrow’s “Good Friday” church services should carry a similar warning: “This service may contain disturbing images.”


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14

Apr

2022

How does a 'sinless' church admit doing wrong?

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday April 10, 2022

 

The world changed last Friday. Pope Francis asked Canada’s indigenous peoples to forgive his church. 

            Indigenous leaders have kept the residential school issue before the public. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Justice Murray Sinclair heard more than 6,500 testimonies from survivors. Ground-seeking radar identified close to a thousand bodies buried in unmarked graves on lands around those schools. Court cases documented physical and sexual abuse.

            So we were kept well informed about the need for an apology.

            But we have not heard how – or if – theological understandings have been changing in the Vatican.

            And that, to my mind, is the overlooked news from the papal apology.


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14

Apr

2022

Facing up to life’s losses

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday March 31, 2022

 

A summer evening, in beautiful Butchart’s Gardens, near  Victoria. B.C. On a grassy meadow, people -- young, old, and in-between -- sprawled on blankets, listening to entertainment from the Gardens’ open-air stage. 

            The singer was belting out a Barry Manilow piece. 

I write the songs that make the whole world sing.

I write the songs, I write the songs.

            Several people got up and left. I felt sorry for the performer.

            It must be discouraging for any performer to watch people leaving. It would have been discouraging for Barry Manilow himself, if he’d been there. No matter how many million songs you’ve sold worldwide, it hurts when people don’t want to hear your song. 

            Who are you, when what you’re good at doesn’t appeal anymore? 


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3

Apr

2022

Top-down rules don’t even change the top

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday April 3, 2022

 

I won’t offer excuses for General Jonathan Vance, Canada’s former chief of defence staff.  Earlier this week, Vance pled guilty to a single charge of obstruction of justice. He was under investigation for sexual misconduct with a subordinate officer. 

            There’s no question about the sexual liaison with Major Kellie Brennan. 

            After their affair became public, Vance tried to get Brennan to deny their relationship. 

            There’s no question about that, either. Because Brennan recorded his phone calls. 

            Vance’s attempts to protect his reputation indicate that he knew he had done wrong. So why did he do it?


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: sex, macho, Gen. Vance, army

1

Apr

2022

Resonating with the right energies

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday March 31, 2022

 

In her semi-memoir Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert describes being taught Balinese meditation. She had just spent four months in India learning -- sometimes painfully -- Yoga meditation. It involved physical postures that had to be practiced. And memorized texts that must be repeated precisely. Over and over.

            But her guru in Bali simply said, “Smile.”

            It was the Balinese attitude -- Smile. Always smile. Always face the world cheerfully. 

            It seems to me there’s an underlying truth there. We receive what we’re tuned to. 


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29

Mar

2022

Birdbrains can teach humans about cooperation

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday March 27, 2022

 

Some magpies in Australia proved themselves smarter than a group of scientists. Magpies are known for their intelligence; they belong the corvid family which also includes crows and ravens. 

            A month ago, Australian ornithologists hoped to learn more about how wild magpies socialize. So they devised miniature backpack transmitters, weighing less than a gram, that they could strap onto individual magpies. 

            They designed the backpack so that the magpie carrying it couldn’t possibly remove it. 

            They reckoned without the intervention of other magpies. 


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