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The current pandemic may have provided you with some newfound free time. If you’re one of the lucky ones who can work from home, you may even have some extra dollars in the bank account from cancelled vacations, work lunches and nights out for sports and entertainment. With more ‘evenings in’ than ever before, it is only natural to pick up a hobby — and what better than learning to play the guitar.

Now, I am biased because I do enjoy playing the guitar. While I have been playing a Classical Guitar for fifteen’ish years, I am certainly no expert…


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Commenting online can be a nerve-wracking process. Sometimes decisions by public leaders infuriate us and cause great anxiety. Other times, we may have insightful opinions to share either because we have researched the topic before, work in the space or have been directly impacted. Attaching our full name to something does bring forward much hesitation after all. As you begin thinking about whether or not you should comment online, here are some pointers to keep in mind to help you make the decision to post your thoughts and ideas. Spoiler — I do think you should comment!

#1 Does your comment add value to a conversation?

The term ‘value’…


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Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in many countries. I’m sure you have heard this before and, if you went to high school in the late 90s and early 2000s, you must have seen the countless ads urging young people not to smoke. But not everyone had the same reaction to smoking. Despite these ads, approximately 15–20 percent of the population smokes and the chemicals contained are highly addictive.

There are more than enough reasons as to why people smoke. While I am no psychologist, I understand the ups and downs of life can cause people to seek…


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Climate change is really complex and the most astute struggle with understanding what governments should do. At the core of the climate change conversation (to me), is energy production to sustain our existence. And, as the standard of living globally increases, this means a gargantuan demand on energy will continue well into the future. Vaclav Smil is perhaps one of only a few authors who seem to truly grasp in detail, the tradeoffs of energy production on a mass scale and human habitation on earth. Smil’s Energy and Civilization paints a vivid account of humanity’s quest to secure reliable, robust…


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Reading has always been a challenge for me. It is difficult to control the myriad of impulses that can take up my day, which include (but are not limited to): Amazon purchases, responding to notifications on my phone and wondering if my latest post received any likes(!). As well, I’m not the fastest reader and my mind tends to wander during reading sessions.

But like a good workout, the first few minutes are always the toughest. Once you get going, the value of reading presents itself. I become immersed in the author’s story. I am transported out of my own…


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Life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel.

Horace Walpole

September 2019 seems like a lifetime ago. Large crowds gathering at the steps of governments around the world demanded action on climate change. Thousands marched, from toddlers to the elderly to demonstrate the need for governments to act now on the imminent threat of our warming atmosphere. There was no time to waste. The lexicon was no longer ‘climate change action’. It was now a climate emergency.

As I cycled past the crowds on my way to work, I could hear banter about…


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One of the most controversial topics globally is abortion. The issue is intensely personal and the conversations usually descend into morality, human rights and determining the beginning of life. In many developed nations including Canada, public opinion is largely favourable to abortion.

Canada is indeed an interesting case study. Despite the country having no laws on the topic, over 70 percent of Canadians believe abortion should be permitted. However, only 53 percent believe abortion should be whenever the woman decides. This is fascinating. …


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The farmers market is one neat square block filled with bustling activity. Families, mothers, grandparents, uncles and screams of young children fill the musky city air on a typical Saturday morning. Mongers border the sides of the market place, occupying their sections with the fresh scents of herbs and vegetables and canteens showcasing spices. Cuts of meat are displayed and the sounds of tearing butcher paper pierce the air enough for few to inquisitively glance.

The sights of any typical market place are checkered with the expressions of the people. Glances at the faces of the patrons convey vivid emotion…


Oh, and for those that love reading too.

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I detest clutter. My bookshelf is a hodgepodge of university textbooks, Toastmaster manuals and voluminous works on random topics. After I finish each, I ask myself:

Now, what?

Are these to collect dust? Will I haul the hardcover 700-page work on the Aztec Empire while travelling? Or, will it sit there? On my shelf. As a testament to my reading?

Don’t get me wrong: many of us revisit books. Perhaps it was a passage that conveyed strong emotion. …


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In these uncertain times, governments face paying millions of its citizens Employment Insurance. Billions will be spent on emergency measures. Canada, for example, has instituted many benefit programs for its citizens. These initiatives include wage subsidies, emergency funds for students and funds to help those caring for others. At both the federal and provincial levels, new initiatives intend to help those most affected by COVID-19.

In normal times, any one of these initiatives would have taken weeks and months to concoct and debate. But these are not normal times. Yet the question still remains:

Are these the most effective responses…

Christopher Balkaran

Christopher is a firm believer in balanced political discourse, which can lead to a better world. Creator of the Strong and Free Podcast.

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