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

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Poster child for emergency ward closures

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 17, 2022


I have a soft spot in my heart for the community of Clearwater, about 125 km north of Kamloops on the North Thompson River. The Clearwater River runs deep and clear (of course) out of Wells Gray Provincial Park – one of the best fly-fishing rivers in British Columbia. 

            The town of Clearwater is postcard pretty.

            Sadly, though, Clearwater has become a poster child for emergency ward closures. 

            The hospital is supposed to have eight full-time nurses on staff. It currently has four. 

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Pronouns display our language proficiency

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday July 14, 2022


The other day, I heard a CBC announcer intone, “between you and me.”

            I was shocked. He got it right!

            Pronouns, it seems, have become the litmus test of language competency.

            Back when Joan I and I were buying our first house, the real estate representative told me, oozing sincerity, “I would like for you and I to be friends.”

            I considered any such friendship unlikely. Him and I were not grammatically compatible.

            Back in high school, English teacher Jean Skelton made our entire class chant, over and over, “between you and me… between you and me… between you and me…”

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Language, pronouns




Peering over the edge of Seneca’s cliff

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 10, 2022


Do you ever get the feeling that the world is heading for hell on a handcart? And that the handcart is rolling down a steeper and steeper hill?

            The U.S. has already had more than 300 mass shootings in 2022, barely past its halfway point. One recent figure states that 22,618 Americans have died by gun violence this year. 

            Climate change keeps accelerating, even as governments sign pacts to stop it without actually doing anything about it.

            Instead of reducing violence, black movements seem to exacerbate it. Retaliation for rattling the presumptions of white supremacy, perhaps.

            That sense of things going wrong, faster and faster, has been around for a long time. A reader introduced me to the Seneca Effect, also known as Seneca’s cliff. 

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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Seneca, Baldi, collapse




Making sense of meaningless words

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday July 7, 2022


        Every storyteller runs into difficulties. A retired Ontario minister told me his favourite children’s story disaster. He started, like me, with a question: “What is furry and runs up and down trees?”

            No answer.

            He tried again: “What hides nuts for winter?”

            Still no answer.

            Somewhat desperately: “What has a big bushy tail and beady eyes?”

            Finally one girl held up her hand. “I know the answer is always supposed to be Jesus,” she said. “But it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”

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’Originalism’ gives too much credit to ancients

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 3, 2022


One of my former computers had an operating system that allowed me to recover my settings and data if I made a catastrophic mistake. I could “restore” the system to a date before the mistake.

            Recent news suggests that Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and the U.S. Supreme Court run on a similar system. They want to restore America to a previous time.

            Donald Trump’s preferred “restore” date is fairly evident. His “Make America Great Again” campaign wanted to go back to the 1950s, when America was the world’s uncontested and most prosperous superpower.

            He hasn’t rebooted his mind since.

            The Republican Party, equally clearly, wants to reset America to before the Civil War. When white men still exercised authority over women and other lesser beings.

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On having power, or not

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday June 30, 2022


Two scenes. Or maybe two sides of the same scene.

            My street has been torn up for several weeks. The municipality is installing a new water main. I don’t know why -- the water pressure coming into my house already exceeds municipal standards.

            Installing the new pipes involves ripping up several blocks worth of paving. Digging a ditch. And filling the ditch in again. All of which involves a lot of heavy equipment. And because it affects traffic, the construction company requires flaggers.

            Flaggers do not have an enviable job. Aside from low pay, they either stand around feeling useless most of the day. Or they get abuse from impatient drivers, angry at being delayed for no apparent reason.

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Guilty of trespassing

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday June 26, 2022


“Forgive us our trespasses,” says the most familiar prayer in Christianity, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

            If those words are so important, why, in 80-odd years of attending worship services all over the world, have I never once heard a sermon connecting them with colonial peoples’ treatment of Indigenous inhabitants?

            Indeed, I doubt if any preachers focussed on those words from the Lord’s Prayer even this week, which marked National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada.

            Because there can be no doubt that we are trespassing on lands that did not originally belong to us. 

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Who I am, and how I got there

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday, June 23, 2022


I started writing a journal in December 1964. Ironically, I didn’t set out to chronicle my life. I intended to write a magazine article. For fame, or glory, or something.  

            That autumn, I had taken a night-school course taught by author and ghost-writer Raymond Hull, co-author with Lawrence J. Peter of the best-selling book, The Peter Principle. I never completed that course, because I got a new job in Prince Rupert, far up the northern B.C. coast. 

            During my first weeks in that rain-soaked, rock-hewn, isolated city on an island in the Pacific, I compiled my impressions into a magazine article, following the conventions Hull had taught me. I sent it to his class. 

            I never heard anything more about it. But that article established a habit of writing down my impressions. And so I continued. 

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Paying back 12 years of transfusions

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday June 19, 2022


“The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men,” wrote poet Robbie Burns long ago, “gang aft agley.”

            Canadian Blood Services and I laid plans for celebrating the one-year anniversary of opening the new Kelowma plasma clinic, this coming Wednesday, June 22. Alas, life had other plans. Things went agley.

            I wanted to be the first plasma donor, when the clinic opened in 2021. My wife had been receiving plasma transfusions for 12 years, while she had chronic lymphatic leukemia (CLL). The plasma contained immune-globulin, antibodies distilled from about 1000 donors per transfusion, to supplement her weakened immune system.

            I wanted to repay some of that debt, if I could.

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A difference that makes a difference

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday June 16, 2022


It was not a typical breakfast conversation: But then, we weren’t a typical breakfast group. 

            For around 25 years, a group of guys -- who all worked for, with, or in Canadian churches -- have met at least once a year to talk. About almost anything. 

            We haven’t solved any of the world’s problems. But we’ve had a good time not solving them.

            And so, on this particular morning, we found ourselves wondering about the difference between guilt and shame.

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