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Spectres of Shortwave Sneak Preview · 7.11.16 by colin newell

This is a very short interview with a gal from Eastern Canada who is producing a film about the Radio Canada International transmitter site in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Spectres of Shortwave – An experimental documentary film about the RCI shortwave radio towers. Images captured on 35mm film accompanied by personal stories told by people who lived near the towers.

Listen to the Podcast |



Click here to play the audio in your browser -or click the link below to download this short interview…

Amanda-Christie-Sneak-Preview.mp3

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Social media 101 mad as hell and what are you going to do about it · 21.08.16 by colin newell

Prisoner of Social Media

I heard a TED Talk not too long ago on CBC radio and I would like to track it down and listen again.

It was all about how social media (as good as it appears to be on a surface examination) has robbed us of creativity and productivity.

How our addiction or dependance on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like has separated us of from our true potential selves.

But how is that even possible? I think of myself as a smart person, an engaged person and a person who is making a contribution to society. But am I, as an avid user of social media, really making a difference or the best possible contribution that I possibly can?

Let’s talk about one contribution that I make to the World around me that I am kind of proud of.

It is the website that I have been writing content for, for over 20 years.
A site that has been suffering from a degree of neglect over the last few years. But can we say definitively that this is the actual issue? Perhaps I have said everything I need to say about coffee culture or that it is time for younger voices to be heard. Fact is, when I started writing about the culture of caffeine consumption 20 years ago, I was relatively alone in a very finite field of coffee writers. That has changed. But could I be doing more?

Well, here is my truthful observation. In an average day, I may dedicate 45 minutes to “social media” or the “internet”. You know, checking e-mail, posting a couple of tweets or photos and updating my “Facebook” status. In that 45 minutes I may flip over to one of my web projects, like this one, and have a quick look see to make sure everything is ship shape… a couple of seconds of my time.

The reality of social media is that we are now all working for “free” for giant media mining companies like Facebook and Twitter. Many of my friends post on twitter like it is their own personal blog, not realizing that every word they are writing is being “exploited” in some fashion or another. They share their lives, their birthdays, the very minutiae of their earthly existence. I am often astounded by the sheer richness, the overwhelming quantity of words and thoughts that people post to their Facebook space is if it was a private personal journal. They update their profile photo’s with every change of hairstyle or mood. Outwardly this would appear to be pretty darn harmless. But is it?

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist. Most global conspiracies are merely that: the product of someones overly fertilized imagination. If there was a conspiracy of global domination driven by a handful of evil doers, I think word would get out. And yet, here we are, sharing our whereabouts, our birthdays, our holidays and our most intimate feelings to an online behemoth. Relationships germinate, develop and coalesce and often die miserable deaths on social media. We use social media, like Facebook, as if it was some tangential communications form as reliable and without strings attached as a casual conversation or a binding agreement between strangers.

We often worry about an overly nosy government or police forces that want more power to surveil, ostensibly to save us from ourselves or terror threats, also imagined and otherwise. And on one hand we fight excessive police powers while revealing our destination, location and desires every hour and minute of each and every day. What happened to the essence of our private selves?

I have had this conversation with many, many people about this phenomenon of “social networking” and how much we all “need” social media. Parents and grand parents insist that they would not be able to connect with their children and grand children if it was not for social media APPS like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Seriously? What did we go before electronic social media? We picked up the phone and put pen to letter.

I do not wish to be a luddite but I cannot help but look in the mirror occasionally and ask myself, what kind of contribution could I have made today if I wasn’t spending so much time naval gazing and looking for that perfect, funny, witty or perfunctory tweet that will, I assure myself, change the World.

My mother once told me two stories that have hung with me my entire life: after I spent an evening in front of the TV glued to a sitcom with my dad and sisters that the World could crumble around us if we did not occasionally “self assess” our devotion to pop culture (at the time television entertainment).

And while standing at a bus top in the early 70’s she overheard two young women talking about a TV celebrity as if they they knew the characters personally. And one of the girls said to the other one, “Hey, isn’t that you brother across the street sitting on that park bench?” And the girl squinted and said, “Yea, I think so… haven’t talked to him in years…”

Perhaps what life in the 21st Century should really be about is balance. It takes work to achieve balance and sometimes it’s just easy to go with the flow. And that’s what scares me.


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and writer, often with a mug of coffee in hand – looking for the truth or something that passes as truth.

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Rare Radio Canada Broadcast from December 24th, 1989 · 24.12.15 by colin newell

Click here for audio file if you cannot see flash player above.



RCI in History

The following is a 128kbps stream of a Radio Canada International broadcast originally aired on December 24th, 1989 – called a “Native Indian Christmas in Canada” – although a bit dated, it gives an interesting perspective and historic context of life in North America well before the European settlers arrived.

This article has a very, very limited life span and the file will be pulled on December 30th. Enjoy it while you can. This program originated from a 1/4” Reel-reel CBC Master tape. Sadly, much of the CBC archives have been trashed or disposed of due to cuts and restrictions on space. This little bit of history is now preserved for all time in the digital realm.

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If you can read this, thank your teacher - chapter 1 · 18.06.14 by colin newell

Teachers at war with the government

Had coffee with some of my work buddies this AM – and so clueless about what the life of teachers is like…
Nothing like a totally one sided discussion to get ones java boiling in the mug!

Anyway, I felt like sending them back to Elementary school… maybe Grade 1 even.

During the various rants various myths emerged – with my factual responses attached…

MYTH a.) Teachers work 180 days a year and get paid for 365 days a year.
FACT: They get paid for the days worked and the time in – Yes, they get a pay cheque year around for days worked – and consequently, their pay packets are about equal to 10 months work or more.

MYTH b.) Teachers get every summer off.
FACT: Many teachers work part time through the summer getting ready for the coming year.

MYTH c.) Teachers DON’T need to work in the summer because they have one set of lesson plans that they can use for their entire career.
FACT: Lesson plans and curricula change year by year depending on the needs of the students and the evolution of education.

MYTH d.) Teachers are overpaid!
FACT: No, bankers are overpaid… and even that is a bit of a stretch. Bankers make investors money (like you and I) which we appreciate.

MYTH e.) You cannot fire incompetent teachers because of the Union.
FACT: Progressive discipline is in effect in most unions and professional organizations. Bad teachers that break the law or, at the other end of the extreme, don’t do their jobs simply don’t survive.

Hey, if you can read this post and understand it (you might not agree with it…) Thank your teachers.


Colin Newell is a writer, technical analyst and engineering technologist at a local University that often gets asked… “Hey. Colin. What do you do on your summers off from working at a University?

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Philippine typhoon relief - help needed now · 14.11.13 by colin newell

Typhoon Haiyan – locally known as Yolanda –is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2013 and arguably the most destructive storm to hit the region in anyone’s memory. The storm has caused widespread damage, including landslides and flooding. Tragically, among the people affected are those who were left homeless by an earthquake in mid-October.

So, I ask you… I beg of my readers:

Donate to the Typhoon Haiyan Fund

The Philippine Red Cross has been on the highest alert since the typhoon was sighted, pre-positioning supplies, helping with evacuation plans and warning communities. Today, they are working to meet the needs of individuals affected by the storm. It is a tough job – and how can we help? With money.

Canadians wishing to help individuals affected by this storm are encouraged to make a financial donation online, at their local Red Cross office or by calling 1-800-418-1111. Please earmark donations “Typhoon Haiyan”. Funds will be used to support Red Cross efforts in all countries affected by the storm.

Our American readers can pop over here to donate.

International readers click over here for the International office of the Red Cross.

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