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2020-08-15 09:07:04
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Postmedia aiming to accelerate digital growth amid continued headwinds   

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Postmedia CEO Andrew MacLeod and Paul Godfrey, Postmedia’s executive chairman, at the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

Postmedia Network Canada Corp. has managed to grow its digital revenues despite strong headwinds, but needs to build on that momentum quickly, according to chief executive officer Andrew MacLeod.

“We are very proud of the results, because it is incredibly difficult to grow digital revenue, and it is an enormous achievement for us to have done it for close to three years now,” said MacLeod at the company’s annual general meeting at its head office in Toronto. Postmedia owns the National Post.

“You need to be proud of what you’ve accomplished, but also recognize that you need to grow at an accelerated rate,” MacLeod said.

In early January, the company had reported revenues of $156.7 million in the first quarter, an 8.5 per cent decline, due to a 16.8 per cent decrease in print advertising revenue and a 5.8 per cent decline in print circulation revenue. Digital revenue increased 8.7 per cent, with digital advertising revenue up 11.1 per cent.

“We anticipate the print advertising market to remain challenging and expect current trends to continue into fiscal 2020,” MacLeod said in an interview.

The company will continue to focus on its digital strategy to offset the decline in print revenue, MacLeod said, by investing in content-specific verticals such as The GrowthOp, Postmedia’s cannabis news site, and The Logic, a subscription-based website focused on the innovation economy that Postmedia holds a minority interest in.

“Podcasting is also a new medium that we need to be hugely present in,” the CEO said.

Postmedia expects to receive $7 million from the federal government’s journalism tax credit for the period of Jan. 1, 2019 to Aug. 31, 2019, an amount that MacLeod called “hugely important in supporting the cost of journalism.”

Based on current staffing levels, the media company that represents more than 140 brands across multiple print, online, and mobile platforms, expects its annual federal journalism tax credit to be between $8 to $10 million for the next fiscal year.

“Anything that provides a tailwind in our financial model, in the face of incredibly strong headwinds when legacy revenue for all major players is falling between eight to 11 per cent annually, is welcome. I certainly applaud the government for their support,” MacLeod said.

Wednesday’s AGM kicked off on a sombre note, as Paul Godfrey, executive chairman of the company, honoured Christie Blatchford, a longtime National Post columnist, who lost a short battle to cancer on Wednesday morning. Blatchford was 68.

“The world of journalism lost a legend. We at Postmedia lost a member of our family,” Godfrey said. “Christie Blatchford, a powerful force for truth — and I believe, the greatest Canadian journalist of our era — is gone. She was tough and sentimental, determined and thorough.”


          

Postmedia cuts salaries and closes 15 community papers amid COVID-related revenue declines   

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Postmedia Network Inc’s head office in Toronto.

Postmedia Network Inc., which owns the National Post, is temporarily laying off some staff, imposing salary reductions for employees earning more than $60,000 and closing 15 community newspapers in Manitoba and Ontario as advertising revenues have fallen sharply during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We regret causing anxiety for people and our employees, but we’re trying to be prudent in terms of navigating an uncertain future,” Postmedia president and CEO Andrew MacLeod said in an interview.

Generating advertising revenue is difficult for a media company while the Canadian economy is at a standstill, he said.

In an email to all Postmedia employees on Tuesday, MacLeod wrote that the company, “like so many, has been hard hit by the freeze imposed across the Canadian economy and around the world.”

Both print and digital advertising revenues have suffered “very significant” declines, he said.

The company is utilizing every government subsidy that has been announced so far but “no subsidy can offset the declines in revenues our industry is experiencing,” MacLeod said.

As a result, the company is permanently closing 15 community newspapers in Manitoba and around Windsor in Ontario. Shuttering those papers mean 30 jobs will be lost.

“The products that we closed today were really on the precipice and the crisis associated with the pandemic just pushed them over the edge. If we’re losing money on titles then that has an impact on the overall company,” he said. “We regret it, but it was the right decision relative to the overall health of the company.”

In addition, 50 staff in the company’s sales and operations teams will receive temporary layoffs and be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

For those that remain, salary reductions are coming May 4, with the largest pay cuts affecting higher-paid employees. MacLeod announced April 3 that he was voluntarily reducing his salary by 30 per cent. There will be a 20 per cent cut for executive vice-presidents, 17.5 per cent for senior vice-presidents and 12 per cent for vice-presidents.

All employees making more than $60,000 per year, with the exception of advertising representatives working on commission, will take at least a 5 per cent pay cut. The company is working with union representatives to come to an agreement on the reductions.

The temporary layoffs and salary rollbacks will be re-evaluated in three months when the company can better assess the country’s economic prospects.

“There’s no precedent to this, but we can’t even begin to understand what things will look like on the other side until we see the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and large parts of the European economy open up,” MacLeod said.


          

Torstar eliminates 85 positions as coronavirus cuts into ad revenue   

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The challenges that Torstar is facing are not exclusive to the Toronto-based publisher.

Torstar Corp. announced Monday that it would be eliminating 85 positions due to the negative effect COVID-19 has had on advertising revenue.

Torstar CEO John Boynton told staff in an online town hall that he had come to a decision to cut what had accounted for more than 3.5 per cent of the company’s workforce at the beginning of the year. Eleven of those positions came from the editorial department at Torstar, which publishes a host of newspapers including the Toronto Star.

“Like almost every business in this climate, we are taking steps to address the serious impact of COVID-19 and have had to make difficult decisions to reduce costs with a view to ensuring our continued ability to deliver high-quality journalism to the communities we serve now and into the future,” Boynton told the Toronto Star following the meeting.

The newspaper publisher, Boyton said, will soon be taking advantage of a new federal program where the government will provide a temporary 75 per cent wage subsidy to companies that have been hard-hit by COVID-19. To qualify, individual companies must have experienced at least a 30 per cent drop in revenue over the past month.

Torstar will also be a benefactor of the federal government’s $595 million media bailout. The funds, which will be provided in the form of tax credits, have yet to begin hitting the coffers of publishers. After the COVID-19 outbreak hit in full force, the federal government also announced support for media organizations in the form of a $30 million advertising campaign to raise awareness around the virus.

The challenges that Torstar is facing are not exclusive to the Toronto-based publisher. According to a Nanos Research survey, Canadian media outlets have seen revenues fall by as much as 60 per cent in the first two weeks of the outbreak, resulting in the layoffs of 500 journalists.


          

Torstar loss more than triples in first quarter as economic shutdown hits advertising revenue   

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Torstar Corp expects the negative trends to continue so long as the economic shutdown is in place.

Newspaper publisher Torstar Corp. saw its first quarter loss more than triple as the economic shutdown resulted in a significant hit to advertising revenues, company executives said in an earnings call Wednesday morning.

The company, which publishes the Toronto Star, reported a net loss of $23.5 million or $0.29 per share for the three months ending March 31, 2020. In the same period last year, Torstar posted a $7.4 million loss. Operating revenues declined by 20 per cent — also by $23.5 million — in comparison to the first quarter of 2019.

Most of the losses were attributed to double-digit percentage decreases in both print and digital advertising revenues. Torstar, like most legacy media, still relies heavily on print advertising revenues, which have been on the decline for years. This quarter, the company posted $23.7 million in print advertising revenue, down from the $38 million in the first quarter of 2019. Digital advertising revenues fell to $11.6 million from $13.3 million.

“Results in the quarter continued to reflect ongoing challenges in the print advertising market and towards the end of the quarter, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting government measures for social distancing and the closure of non-essential businesses began to have a negative impact on advertising revenue,” said John Boynton, Torstar’s CEO.

Torstar repeatedly pointed to the impact COVID-19 is having on its business. Print revenues, for example, were down 29 per cent on a “same-store basis” for the quarter but plunged 58 per cent in the latter half of March. Lorenzo DeMarchi, Torstar’s chief financial officer, said that the company saw a similar pattern in its flyer distribution business. The declines only continued into April, he said.

The lone bright spot for the company was an increase in digital traffic and digital subscribers that executives said continued to accelerate into April. Torstar now has 90,000 subscribers with digital access, including 32,000 digital-only paid subscribers. These gains, however, were offset by losses in print subscribers and so subscriber revenues were still down 3.7 per cent from 2019.

DeMarchi said the company expects the negative trends to continue so long as the economic shutdown is in place.

“We believe the advertising revenue impact associated with COVID-19 will persist so long as the current government-imposed business and social-distancing restrictions remain in place and that trends will begin to improve with the easing of these closures and restrictions,” DeMarchi said.

To alleviate some of its losses, Torstar sold the building housing the Hamilton Spectator for $25.5 million in the first quarter and eliminated 85 positions in April, a move that saved the company about $7 million on an annualized basis. Based off of the declines in revenue that the company saw in March, DeMarchi said Torstar will qualify for the federal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to cover 75 per cent of employee wages. The company expects to receive $12 million in the first eight weeks of the program and qualify for the last four weeks, bringing the total to $18 million.

Should the economic shutdown continue, Torstar is planning for further reductions.

“We are monitoring our financial outlook closely and are developing plans to implement additional labour and other cost reductions depending on the length and severity of potential revenue declines associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” DeMarchi said.

• Email: vferreira@nationalpost.com | Twitter:


          

Tough year for Torstar as revenue challenges continue   

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Torstar said it will harness

Torstar Corp., owner of the Toronto Star and other Canadian newspapers, announced its fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, posting a $51.9 million net loss for the year as operating revenues slid nearly 12 per cent amid declines in print and digital advertising.

Revenue from subscriptions provided the lone major source of revenue growth during the year, up one per cent, as digital revenue in the category increased while print decreased.

For the fourth quarter, the Toronto-based company posted a $14.1 million profit, boosted by one-time gains from changes to its pension plan and the sale of properties in Ontario, but it made clear that it faces a challenging operating environment in which print advertising, still its largest source of revenue, is declining and “global technology giants” dominate the digital advertising sphere.

Looking forward, the company said that harnessing “data as a key asset” to grow digital subscriptions is central to its business strategy. In a nod to the significance of the challenges ahead, Torstar flagged a new risk, warning it is in danger of being delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) as a result of thin trading of its shares.

“The TSX has broad discretion regarding delisting,” the company said in its earnings release. “If the TSX determines that we no longer meet the applicable listing requirements, including with respect to the public distribution or liquidity of the Class B non-voting shares, there is a risk that the TSX may delist them.”

Torstar’s shares, which fell 6.8 per cent to close at 41 cents on Wednesday afternoon, have lost 58 per cent of their value over the past year and are down 94 per cent over the past five years.

The company has made numerous attempts to reverse its fortunes since announcing it was selling its Harlequin book publishing company to News Corp. for $455 million in 2014.

In 2015, it paid roughly $200 million for a 56 per cent stake in VerticalScope Holdings Inc., a digital media company with 600 consumer enthusiast forums and content sites. VerticalScope posted an operating loss of $3.6 million in its most recent quarter and Torstar said revenues there “continued to be impacted by the ongoing transition of user forums to a new technology platform.”

Torstar also invested tens of millions of dollars in Star Touch, a tablet-only app that was launched in 2015 and scrapped in 2017 after it failed to attract as many readers as management had hoped.

This past December, one year after a rebranding effort that doubled the number of journalists at its StarMetro commuter daily newspapers, the company stopped their print editions and also announced voluntary buyouts for other editorial employees.

That came a few months after the company suspended its 2.5-cent quarterly dividend in an effort “to preserve cash and strengthen our financial position,” after posting a $40.9 million quarterly loss in October.

Suspending the dividend saved millions of dollars per year, but also started the clock on a potential shift in the company’s governance structure: There are about 10 million class A shares with voting rights, mostly held by families of the original owners through the Torstar Voting Trust, which is chaired by the company’s board chairman, John Honderich.

There are also about 71.5 million class B shareholders without voting rights, that are freely traded.

If the dividend is not paid out for eight consecutive quarters, the class B shareholders would gain voting rights.

Bob Hepburn, director of communications at Torstar, said the company is sticking to its plan to review its dividend policy before the end of 2020.

Torstar said restructuring in 2019 reduced 640 positions, which will result in $41.3 million in annualized cost savings.

The efforts tie into other cost-savings measures: It also transferred eight pension plans to the College of Applied Arts and Technology Pension Plans, which reduced its exposure to defined benefit pension liabilities and resulted in a $24.6 million gain in the fourth quarter.

Earlier this month, it announced a $25.5 million sale of the land and building used by the Hamilton Spectator newspaper, which followed a decision last year to close its print and mailroom operations there.

Lorenzo DeMarchi, chief financial officer of Torstar, said during the earnings call Wednesday that sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

“We continued to face a challenging print advertising market in 2019 resulting from ongoing shifts in spending by advertisers,” DeMarchi said. “Similar trends have continued early into 2020 and it is difficult to predict if these trends will worsen, improve or continue.”

Print advertising still accounted for 32 per cent of revenue, followed by print and digital subscriptions at 25 per cent, flyer distribution at 22 per cent, and digital advertising at 13 per cent.

Looking at all of 2019 compared to the previous year, print advertising declined 21 per cent to $155 million, digital advertising declined 8.1 per cent to $60.3 million, and flyer distribution revenue declined 11 per cent to $103.5 million. Print and digital subscriptions increased one per cent to $119.7 million, but the company did not separate them out.

Overall, operating revenue in 2019 declined 11.8 per cent to 479 million.


          

Meet Bell's new CEO — a likeable, blue-collar, hockey-loving sports nut at heart   

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Mirko Bibic, a likeable, working-class bilingual son of immigrant parents, is the new chief executive of BCE Inc., a.k.a. Bell.

MONTREAL — The ritual was unfailingly consistent for Sunny Handa and his new friend, Mirko Bibic, a fellow Montrealer he met in the registration line at the University of Toronto law school in the fall of 1989. At the time, both were 22, hungry for the world and starving for hockey, specifically, Montreal Canadiens hockey, a hometown team they were devoted to in a hostile, Maple Leafs-loving city.

On game nights, the two law buddies would hang out at Bibic’s apartment not far from campus, hitting the books until precisely 6:45 p.m., when the frozen wings and pizza would go into the oven and the quiet, concentrated study of case law would give way to animated discussions of Les Glorieux .

“We were religious about watching the Canadiens games,” Handa recently recalled. “And I could never have imagined where it would all end up for Mirko. You knew he was going to be successful, because he was driven to succeed, but to be CEO of the one of the biggest companies in Canada? On the day the news came out, I sent him an email, a WTF-question-mark-email, because, I mean, oh my god.”

Bibic, a likeable, working-class bilingual son of immigrant parents, is the new chief executive of BCE Inc., a.k.a. Bell, the monster telecom with 56,000 or so employees — plus a minority ownership stake in the Montreal Canadiens (Bell also has a stake in the Leafs).

It is a pinch-me, look-at-me-now situation for the 52-year-old, who woke up Jan. 6, his first day on the job, with an admitted case of the butterflies. By 2 p.m., however, the jitters had subsided, even if the novelty of the occasion had not.

A Bell employee since 2004, Bibic started the day by meeting his senior executive team at the company’s Montreal headquarters on Nuns’ Island, a short drive from the city centre. Following a boardroom lunch featuring mineral water, a mix of salads and assorted holiday fare, the new boss was spotted, coffee in hand, near a Tim Hortons on the building’s main floor. Two Bell employees approached him, asking to get their pictures taken.

 The Bell building in Montreal.

Bibic, looking sharp in a blue suit, with a silver Bell pin on the lapel, tossed an arm around each man’s shoulder and grinned.

“That’s the first time that’s ever happened,” he said. “I woke up this morning and it kind of all sunk in. I am from Montreal, and now here I am, and so I definitely had some butterflies, but I’m all good now.”

Keeping calm will be a strategic must for Bibic, given the country’s current telecom climate, one in which government regulators and federal politicians are eyeing the Big Three oligopoly (Bell, Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp.) for, well, a serious makeover. Gone, at least in theory, could be the days when running Old Ma Bell meant pumping out profits and competition — wink, wink — involved dividing the spoils into thirds.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals want to slash cellphone rates by 25 per cent , or else; the Competition Bureau and Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission are clamouring for greater competition in the wireless sector ; and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., a Bell supplier, is in limbo as the government weighs whether giving the Chinese behemoth access to the coming 5G revolution would potentially mean giving away too much to Beijing.

There are also market disruptors, such as Netflix Inc., Walt Disney Co. and whoever comes next; weary old landline customers cutting their home phone cords; and a young generation that almost exclusively consumes content on their phones. If all that’s not enough to disturb Bibic’s sleep, there is also the legacy of George Cope , his immediate predecessor, to consider.

Cope was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame two years before he left the top job at Bell. His 12-year reign was synonymous with dividends and year-over-year EBITDA growth. His charitable side project, Let’s Talk , was a campaign to raise awareness around mental-health issues that has since transcended the man and the company that started it.

To an outsider, the regulatory headaches, market uncertainty, placating shareholders and the big shoes to fill seem a little daunting, though Bibic said it is merely part of the “fun” of running a $55-billion enterprise. Part of what he learned from Cope, he said, was to plan meticulously, try to see around corners and “sweat the details,” even the small ones.

Unlike Cope, however, the new guy isn’t a telecom lifer, but a lawyer by trade, whose blistering rise from young associate to 36-year-old managing partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP, a blue-chip Bay Street Toronto firm where 36-year-olds don’t make partner, let alone become managing partners, was near the stuff of legend.

 BCE Inc.’s new CEO Mirko Bibic at the company’s Montreal offices.

Bibic could have stayed in Ottawa running, as he was, the firm’s office there, earning big money, weeding through the minutiae of regulatory law and raising his three boys with his wife, Jackie Philippoussis.

But Lawson Hunter had other ideas for someone he viewed as a protégé. Now a septuagenarian senior counsel at Stikeman, Hunter is largely responsible for drafting the country’s Competition Act. In legal circles, his career is the actual stuff of legend, and his past casework a staple on law school syllabuses.

Hunter met Bibic and Paul Collins, another young Stikeman associate, in the early 1990s, affectionately referring to the pair as his “mushrooms,” due to the crap load of work he piled on them.

“With Mirko, it’s obvious that he is smart, hardworking and that he has a great personality,” Hunter said. “He is the complete package.”

Hunter stunned his legal colleagues in 2003 by leaving Stikeman to join Bell as an executive vice-president and chief corporate officer. He stunned them again when he picked up the phone and asked Bibic to join him.

Bibic was already thinking about making a jump, he just didn’t know where to until his mentor answered the question for him: senior vice-president, regulatory affairs, Bell.

“It didn’t take me long to say, ‘This is perfect,’” he said. “I had done zero telecom work in my career. In fact, I tried to avoid telecom work at Stikeman. It just goes to show you: you have just got to throw yourself into something interesting — and any challenge can be interesting — and don’t pigeonhole yourself.”

Bibic and his fellow mushroom, Collins, have stayed close, and grabbed dinner a few months back at Harbour 60, a pricey steakhouse near the Toronto waterfront featuring porterhouse for $90 a cut. Upon cracking the menu, Bibic, on the cusp of a promotion to a job that paid his predecessor more than $10 million a year, practically gasped.

Collins relates the story to make the point that both he and Bibic grew up first-generation Canadians. Neither is from a Toronto or Montreal establishment family, or had a father, grandfather and great-grandfather who all practiced The Law. They turned up at school — Collins is another U of T law grad — in ripped jeans and T-shirts, counting every penny as they went, relying on their smarts, talent and a tireless work ethic to get ahead.

“No one handed Mirko anything,” Collins said.

Bibic’s first summer job was working construction with his Serbian father, Veljko, a carpenter, on commercial builds around Montreal. His mom, Ginette, an administrator, was born in France. Bibic also did a stint as a janitor at a local hospital. He isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

“My parents taught me the importance of education and the importance of having a work ethic,” he said.

Hard work got him to where he is now, a top executive, earning 200 times (or so) more than the Bell tech driving around in a repair truck. It is a staggering sum given his roots and although money is a thing, it isn’t The Thing for Bibic.

“I am not one to live an ostentatious lifestyle,” he said.

His four oldest pals are guys he grew up with in Longueuil, the predominately Francophone city directly across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal. (Bibic spoke French and English at home; his childhood hero was Guy Lafleur).

He met his wife when he was still a teenager. When their three boys, now grown, were younger, and Bibic was working maniac hours and travelling a ton, his family title was: Weekend Hockey Tournament Dad.

“I have stayed in every crappy motel in Quebec, Eastern Ontario, Sudbury, Peterborough, Toronto. You name it, I have been there,” he said. “Those were fun years.”

Sunday nights around the Bibic home meant mandatory family dinners, and non-hockey season weekends involved going to the family cottage north of Ottawa. It is a phase of life Bibic leaves behind with his new job. He and Jackie have left Ottawa, and are renting condos in Toronto and Montreal, while Bibic splits time between the city he loved in his youth and the city he left immediately after law school.

“I am going to have to find a new rhythm,” he said.

Part of writing about Mirko Bibic involves the impossible (to date) task of trying to find someone with a bad or even lukewarm word to say about him. There are no obvious enemies, old foes with axes to grind, friends he double-crossed, clients he failed or colleagues he stabbed in the back on the way to the top. By all accounts, Bibic is, as he said, “grounded,” and he is genuinely well liked, a people-person quality that was evident early on to Sunny Handa, his Habs-loving pal.

Law school is cliquey. People jockey for favour and jobs. Some play classroom politics, a potentially fraught environment Bibic skated through, not by pissing people off, but by making people laugh and being honest.

“Mirko is a no BS guy,” Handa said. “He always tells you like it is, but not in a mean way, just in a very honest way, and you need to remember he is funny. Mirko sees the humour in life, he loves to laugh, and what is not to like about that?”

 Bell’s new CEO Mirko Bibic at the company’s offices in Monrteal.

Being nice doesn’t mean being a pushover. One lawyer familiar with Bibic’s work said he is exactly the person you’d want to have watching your back in a “knife fight.” His instinct is that of a brawler, intellectually, and it comes with a self-confidence underpinned by a gentlemen’s understanding that being a jerk, in either life or business, isn’t particularly productive.

Bibic’s personality served him well during his many appearances before the Competition Bureau over the years.

“When Mirko didn’t succeed on a point, he would be very gracious, but he was tenacious,” said John Pecman, a former bureau commissioner. “He is tough as nails, and he likes to win, and he is going to be a great advocate for the company, but not at any cost.”

For example, later that first day on the job, Bibic’s nose is being powdered by a makeup artist at CBC’s Montreal headquarters in preparation for a taped television segment with Gerald Fillion, a French-language business reporter.

Bell has 14,000 employees in Quebec, and Bibic views his bilingualism as a distinct advantage. But Fillion wasn’t about to show his fellow Quebecer mercy and asked, as others previously had in both official languages, about the Trudeau pledge to slash 25 per cent off cellphone bills.

Bibic’s stock answer, if people were willing to listen to facts, is that the facts are thus: prices are already coming down, and cheaper doesn’t mean better. A race to the bottom price-wise could fundamentally “sacrifice” wireless quality and coverage, thus limiting the country’s potential to be at the global “forefront of technology.”

It is a great argument and in making it, Bibic surely knows he is paddling against a populist tide. As he put it after the Fillion chat: “Everybody will find their own answer.” Translation: the public is going to believe what it wants to believe, and the public generally believes it is getting screwed by the Big Three, whether they are or not.

Outside the CBC studio on the streets of Montreal, as light snow falls, a day that began for Bibic before 6 a.m. wasn’t over yet. He had a hockey game to get to. The Canadiens are in town.

Financial Post

• Email: joconnor@nationalpost.com | Twitter: oconnorwrites


          

My internet seems slow: How is the coronavirus affecting internet providers?   

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Tucows is redeploying cash flow earned from domains and Ting Mobile into Ting Internet, Kerrisdale chief investment officer Sahm Adrangi told the Financial Post.

Internet traffic in Canada typically peaks on Sunday nights and weekday evenings, but over the past week or so, usage rates have started to look like Sunday night a good chunk of the time.

The dramatic change in consumption patterns, which has strained networks big and small across the country, has come as Canadians have shifted en masse to working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We used to see peaks happen during the week at 7 p.m. Now from just after lunchtime till 9:30 at night, it’s pretty much flat out, all-out very busy,” said Matt Stein, chief executive officer of Toronto-based internet and telecom service provider Distributel and chairman of the Canadian Network Operators Consortium.

Distributel, which buys wholesale access to Rogers Communications Inc.’s internet backbone, has seen its traffic increase around 50 per cent during this period, Stein said.

While his company had been able to handle the capacity so far, Stein said the sudden spike in demand has led to some congestion, with service providers racing to upgrade capacity to deal with “astronomical” peaks.

Have a question about how the coronavirus pandemic affects you? Drop Financial Post a line at FPcoronavirus@postmedia.com.

Larger internet providers are also feeling the strain, but say their networks remain resilient and that they are working together to address any issues of interconnectivity.

“Our networks and services, including internet and mobility, have been performing well despite increases in usage and volume,” a Telus Inc. spokesperson told the Financial Post.

“Given the unprecedented volume of mass-calling events and new 1-800 numbers being set up through government agencies to help Canadians through the crisis, we are also working with all operators to address the increased congestion between networks and increase the capacity of the interconnection facilities.”

Sam Cullen, vice-president of global marketing for Sandvine Corp., which does active network monitoring for telecom companies around the world, said they’re seeing dramatic swings in the traffic that Distributel’s Stein described.

“We’re seeing some customers where the volume of traffic on their network is doubling, but it doesn’t mean they’re seeing their peak-hour usage grow,” Cullen said. “It just means that their off-peak hours are now equalling their peak hours.”

Cullen said one interesting phenomenon Waterloo-based Sandvine noticed was a spike in traffic related to video gaming after social distancing measures came into effect.

“In some of the early countries, for example Italy and Korea where the pandemic kind of hit first, they saw an immediate spike in game downloads and file uploads,” he said.

“What we saw is an initial surge of downloads and gaming, but then people backed off. So I think what happened is people went to the (Sony) PlayStation Network and downloaded four or five games, and now they’re just playing them, and playing them takes a lot less bandwidth.”

Cullen said many network operators are “traffic shaping” — a form of bandwidth management that involves changing the speeds of different kinds of data — to maintain quality of experience (QOE), for example by slowing large downloads on video games and operating system updates to allow video calling and other services to remain quick.

“We’ve seen QOE drop in some of our customer networks, but we have not seen a single network that we’re aware of, you know, essentially collapse,” Cullen said.

The overall surge in traffic has led major streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video to reduced the quality of their videos in some countries to take up less bandwidth.

On Tuesday Bloomberg News reported that YouTube will be lowering the default resolution for videos worldwide, although users can still switch to higher resolution if they want.

Lawrence Surtees, an industry analyst focused on telecom and communication for IDC Canada, said that the reason Canada hasn’t needed to do that kind of downgrading is because network operators have installed a lot of fibre optic cable, which has significantly increased bandwidth.

“The fibre network, which is fibre to the wall, is going to have less of a problem because its bandwidth and its speed is just so much greater. None of this is infinite, but there’s definitely a huge difference if I was on a copper DSL line here at my house,” Surtees said.

“If we didn’t have those that we’ve been (building) in the last five years, I think we would be faced with collapsing networks, like a blackout-type situation.”

Both Rogers and Bell also acknowledged seeing significant spikes in demand.

“We are seeing an increase in home internet usage and voice calls, and customers may see a change in their experience right now as our engineers and field techs continue to add capacity and manage traffic in real time,”  Rogers said in an emailed statement.

A Bell spokesman said the company was seeing increases across its networks.

“Home Internet usage is up the most — up to 60 per cent higher than usual during the day as people work remotely and stream more, up to 20 per cent higher than usual at night,” he said. “Our wireless network is performing well and we are working with other mobile providers to increase inter-carrier capacity.”

Distributel’s Stein called on carriers to work together to ensure Canadians continue to have quick, effective internet access as the volume of people working from home increases.

He said his team is working long nights to try to serve customers by adding routers and ports for upstream capacity.

“Unfortunately you can’t just simply turn on the taps and get capacity,” he said.

• Email: jmcleod@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

 


          

Internet networks feel the strain as COVID-19 sparks surge in Canadians working from home   

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Many network operators have undertaken bandwidth management, which involves changing the speeds of different kinds of data to help maintain the quality video calling and other services.

Internet traffic in Canada typically peaks on Sunday nights and weekday evenings, but over the past week or so, usage rates have started to look like Sunday night a good chunk of the time.

The dramatic change in consumption patterns, which has strained networks big and small across the country, has come as Canadians have shifted en masse to working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We used to see peaks happen during the week at 7 p.m. Now from just after lunchtime till 9:30 at night, it’s pretty much flat out, all-out very busy,” said Matt Stein, chief executive officer of Toronto-based internet and telecom service provider Distributel and chairman of the Canadian Network Operators Consortium.

Distributel, which buys wholesale access to Rogers Communications Inc.’s internet backbone, has seen its traffic increase around 50 per cent during this period, Stein said.

While his company had been able to handle the capacity so far, Stein said the sudden spike in demand has led to some congestion, with service providers racing to upgrade capacity to deal with “astronomical” peaks

Larger internet providers are also feeling the strain, but say their networks remain resilient and that they are working together to address any issues of interconnectivity.

“Our networks and services, including internet and mobility, have been performing well despite increases in usage and volume,” a Telus Inc. spokesperson told the Financial Post.

“Given the unprecedented volume of mass-calling events and new 1-800 numbers being set up through government agencies to help Canadians through the crisis, we are also working with all operators to address the increased congestion between networks and increase the capacity of the interconnection facilities.”

Sam Cullen, vice-president of global marketing for Sandvine Corp., which does active network monitoring for telecom companies around the world, said they’re seeing dramatic swings in the traffic that Distributel’s Stein described.

“We’re seeing some customers where the volume of traffic on their network is doubling, but it doesn’t mean they’re seeing their peak-hour usage grow,” Cullen said. “It just means that their off-peak hours are now equalling their peak hours.”

Cullen said one interesting phenomenon Waterloo-based Sandvine noticed was a spike in traffic related to video gaming after social distancing measures came into effect.

“In some of the early countries, for example Italy and Korea where the pandemic kind of hit first, they saw an immediate spike in game downloads and file uploads,” he said.

“What we saw is an initial surge of downloads and gaming, but then people backed off. So I think what happened is people went to the (Sony) PlayStation Network and downloaded four or five games, and now they’re just playing them, and playing them takes a lot less bandwidth.”

Cullen said many network operators are “traffic shaping” — a form of bandwidth management that involves changing the speeds of different kinds of data — to maintain quality of experience (QOE), for example by slowing large downloads on video games and operating system updates to allow video calling and other services to remain quick.

“We’ve seen QOE drop in some of our customer networks, but we have not seen a single network that we’re aware of, you know, essentially collapse,” Cullen said.

The overall surge in traffic has led major streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video to reduced the quality of their videos in some countries to take up less bandwidth.

On Tuesday Bloomberg News reported that YouTube will be lowering the default resolution for videos worldwide, although users can still switch to higher resolution if they want.

Lawrence Surtees, an industry analyst focused on telecom and communication for IDC Canada, said that the reason Canada hasn’t needed to do that kind of downgrading is because network operators have installed a lot of fibre optic cable, which has significantly increased bandwidth.

“The fibre network, which is fibre to the wall, is going to have less of a problem because its bandwidth and its speed is just so much greater. None of this is infinite, but there’s definitely a huge difference if I was on a copper DSL line here at my house,” Surtees said.

“If we didn’t have those that we’ve been (building) in the last five years, I think we would be faced with collapsing networks, like a blackout-type situation.”

Both Rogers and Bell also acknowledged seeing significant spikes in demand.

“We are seeing an increase in home internet usage and voice calls, and customers may see a change in their experience right now as our engineers and field techs continue to add capacity and manage traffic in real time,”  Rogers said in an emailed statement.

A Bell spokesman said the company was seeing increases across its networks.

“Home Internet usage is up the most — up to 60 per cent higher than usual during the day as people work remotely and stream more, up to 20 per cent higher than usual at night,” he said. “Our wireless network is performing well and we are working with other mobile providers to increase inter-carrier capacity.”

Distributel’s Stein called on carriers to work together to ensure Canadians continue to have quick, effective internet access as the volume of people working from home increases.

He said his team is working long nights to try to serve customers by adding routers and ports for upstream capacity.

“Unfortunately you can’t just simply turn on the taps and get capacity,” he said.

• Email: jmcleod@nationalpost.com | Twitter:


          

Ottawa delays 5G wireless spectrum auction by 6 months   

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The federal government announced Friday a six-month delay on plans to auction wireless spectrum that can be used for 5G cellular networks.

The federal government announced Friday a six-month delay on plans to auction wireless spectrum that can be used for 5G cellular networks.

In a news release, Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains said the COVID-19 pandemic was the reason why he’s pushing the auction from December to June 15, 2021.

“Canada’s telecommunications service providers are doing their part in this difficult time, providing essential services to keep Canadians connected as we face the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic together. A number of providers have raised concerns, and the Government is implementing measures to address them,” Bains said in the news release.

“The Government will continue to reach out to telecommunications service providers — and to the private sector more broadly — to understand their challenges and support them to ensure that Canadians have access to high-quality networks and broad coverage at low prices.”

Canada’s large telecom networks run by BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc., and Telus Corp. have already started building preliminary 5G networks, with Rogers already announcing it has activated its network in four cities — Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver  and Ottawa.

However, the much faster fifth-generation wireless standard relies on blending low- mid- and high-frequency signals in the radio spectrum, and in Canada much of that spectrum has yet to be auctioned off for licensing.

Earlier this week BCE and Telus announced plans to move ahead with their wireless network by sourcing equipment from European suppliers Nokia and Ericsson. The telecom companies have been waiting for word on whether they will be allowed to use Huawei Technologies gear in their networks; the Chinese company’s equipment is significantly less expensive, but national security experts have raised concerns about potential for Chinese government interference in critical communications infrastructure.

The Bains announcement Friday did not give any update on the Huawei situation.

Telecommunications networks have remained stable, but the major shifts in traffic caused by COVID-19 social distancing requirements have caused strain on network infrastructure, and forced the big three telecom companies to work to maintain connectivity.

In an emailed statement, Telus spokesman Richard Gilhooley downplayed the significance of the delay.

“Because of our continued investment in building out communications infrastructure, Telus’ 4G LTE network speeds are among the fastest in the world; faster even than South Korea’s 5G network speeds, according to Opensignal,” Gilhooley said in an emailed statement.

“We have long been ready to make the crucial investment in 3500 MHz spectrum and network infrastructure required to realize the full promise of 5G so that Canadian entrepreneurs, businesses, and innovators can leverage the next generation of connectivity that promises to benefit us all.”

Financial Post

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Rogers chief executive warns excessive regulation may lead to 'digital divide' in cell service   

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Rogers Communications' headquarters in Toronto.

Rogers Communications Inc. chief executive Joe Natale is warning federal regulators that that any changes that negatively affect his company could lead to curtailed capital investment, especially when it comes to the rollout of the company’s nascent 5G wireless network.

“Punitive regulation will slow, or worse, stall 5G deployment. An expansion of rural connectivity will happen at a snail’s pace, if at all,” Natale said on a conference call with analysts following the release of Rogers’ fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is currently conducting a review of the wireless sector in Canada, and looking into creating a regulatory framework for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) — smaller companies that can buy access to national wireless networks at wholesale rates and offer competing service to customers.

In an interview with the Financial Post, Natale said that sort of wholesale marketplace in wireline internet has led to a digital divide between urban and rural areas, and MVNOs would recreate that dynamic in wireless.

“We’re going to be the ones that invest in 5G. Resellers that come along that have no infrastructure, that have no capital to invest, they’re not going to be building 5G,” Natale said.

“So if the regulatory environment is created such that it impairs our ability to drive investment, we’re going to have to cut and pull back.”

Natale’s warning came as Rogers, along with other wireless providers, is transitioning its businesses for a data-intense future, a shift reflected in its full-year 2019 financial results and the outlook for the coming year.

For the second consecutive quarter, Rogers reported a decline in services revenue driven by a reduction in overage fees as customers shift to unlimited data wireless plans.

Rogers added 131,000 postpaid wireless subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2019, and the company said that it now has 1.4 million people subscribed to its Infinite unlimited data plans.

But the company reported a one per cent decline in services revenue, largely because they’re collecting less in data overage fees.

In 2019 Rogers had net income of $2.04 billion on overall revenues of $15.07 billion.

For 2020, Rogers chief financial officer Tony Staffieri said they’re expecting both revenue and earnings to be flat overall. In the first half of the year they expect declines as more people sign up for those unlimited plans, but that transition will be finished by the middle of the year.

“We expect service revenue growth for the year to be between positive two per cent and negative two per cent,” Staffieri said.

“We anticipate the first half of 2020 to reflect negative year-over-year growth in both (service revenue and EBITDA), abut in the second half of the year we continue to anticipate these numbers to resume year-over-year growth.”

The company forecast capital spending between $2.7 billion and $2.9 billion, but Natale told analysts that if they get hit with unfavourable regulatory decisions, the Rogers might curtail spending below the bottom end of that range.

Maher Yaghi, equity analyst with Desjardins Capital Markets said that the threat to cut back on capital investment probably isn’t just sabre-rattling.

“You look at what other companies in other parts of the world have done, when faced with that kind of outcome they have cut their capex significantly,” Yaghi said.

“That’s a decision that will reduce profitability for these companies significantly.”

Natale argued that the unlimited data plans represent a major decrease in prices to consumers, because on a per-gigabyte rate they’re much cheaper.

“We’ll continue to drive the affordability because we want our products to be used more by Canadians,” Natale said.

“Wireless prices have come down by 50 per cent over the last five years, and in fact with the launch of unlimited and Infinite just a few months ago, that sticker price has come down 25 per cent for an equivalent amount of data.”

Financial Post

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Telus announces $1.3-billion equity raise   

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The Telus building in Toronto.

Telus Corp. announced Wednesday that it intends to raise $1.3 billion through a sale of shares, with an additional over-allotment which could boost the deal to a total value of $1.5 billion.

The company said the money will be used “for general corporate purposes including funding growth opportunities, capital expenditures and the reduction of indebtedness.”

In a news release, the Vancouver-based telecom company said the deal was led by RBC Capital Markets and TD Securities, with CIBC, BMO and Scotiabank also involved in the deal.

The equity raise announcement comes a week after Telus reported fourth-quarter earnings, which included a two-for-one share split.

The company said that it expects the deal to close on or about Feb. 26.

The announcement comes at a time of significant investment for Canadian telecom companies, with all three of the large wireless network operators building out 5G networks, with plans to launch service later this year. The Canadian government is also expected to auction wireless spectrum in 2020 and 2021, which could be a significant expense for wireless network operators.

In December, Telus bought German call-centre company Competence Call Center for $1.3 billion in cash and stock.

Financial Post

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Telus to launch 5G network with Huawei by the end of 2020   

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An employee demonstrates a Huawei smartphone at a Telus Corp. store in Toronto. Telus says it will launch a 5G network in Canada this year using Huawei equipment.

Telus Corp. will launch a 5G network in Canada later this year using Huawei Technologies Co gear, Telus’ CFO said Thursday.

“We’re going to launch 5G with Huawei out of the gate,” Doug French said in an interview with the Financial Post, after the Canadian telecom reported fourth-quarter earnings.

“We will continue to work with the government to make sure we meet all their standards, but we don’t see anything slowing us down at the moment.”

The next-generation wireless technology is set to become a major narrative for telecom companies in Canada, as all three network operators plan to launch some sort of 5G service this year.

Rogers Communications Inc. has already announced that they have turned on their preliminary 5G network in four Canadian cities, though that’s something of a theoretical milestone, since no customers can actually connect yet.

Rogers is planning on using exclusively Ericsson gear for its 5G wireless network, and BCE Inc. has said Nokia will be its first supplier, but the company left the door open to using Huawei gear as well.

The upgrade to 5G has been inexorably tied to Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei, because it is one of only a handful of companies in the world that makes leading-edge wireless equipment. Huawei is also widely recognized as cheaper than competitors Nokia and Ericsson. But national security experts have raised concerns that its equipment may allow the Chinese to compromise Canadian communication systems.

In the United States Thursday afternoon, the government announced a 16-count indictment against Huawei, “to misappropriate intellectual property, including from six U.S. technology companies, in an effort to grow and operate Huawei’s business.” The American government also alleged that Huawei illegally worked with Iran and North Korea, and tried to conceal it.

The indictments include charges against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is currently in Canadian custody awaiting a decision on extradition to the United States.

The federal government has yet to make a decision on whether to allow Canadian telecom companies to use Huawei for 5G, as several allies have banned the equipment on national security grounds.

French said Telus will follow whatever course Ottawa sets, but he said the company isn’t slowing down in the meantime.

“We’ll continue to assess, and we will look at opportunities if that arises, but at the moment we’re going to continue to build our networks as we lead in the world on our 4G network,” French said.

“We’re going to continue to comply with whatever government rule comes out in the timeframe, but at this stage, we think our 4G and LTEa networks will be faster.”

French said that the plan right now is to use Huawei gear in the radio access network (RAN) — basically, the antennas that send wireless signals to the phones — but it will not be the backbone of the Telus 5G network for now.

“In the RAN network, we will be launching a 5G network with Huawei,” French said.

Telus wouldn’t give an exact date on when they will roll out their 5G, but French said it will be coming “shortly.”

He said that since 5G and 4G components are interoperable, it’s natural that the 5G system will use gear from the 4G network. Telus already uses a significant amount of Huawei gear in its current wireless network.

French downplayed the significance of 5G this year, because the federal government hasn’t auctioned off key 3.5 GHz wireless spectrum. Nor have the rules of that auction been set.

French said the Telus 4G LTE-Advanced network is solid, until the new spectrum allows for additional benefits.

“Any launch that goes in 2020 is not going to have 3.5 spectrum, and those auction rules are going to be announced shortly and we don’t expect to have the actual spectrum until at least Q4 — i.e. a full rollout in 2021 for 3.5,” French said.

“5G networks being rolled out early are fast — don’t get me wrong — but our LTE-A network and the current spectrum that we have, we believe, will be as fast or faster than any preliminary 5G launches until 3.5 is awarded.”

Thursday, Telus reported fourth-quarter revenue of $3.9 billion, up 2.5 per cent year over year, and net income of $379 million, up 3 per cent.

In the fourth quarter, the company added 176,000 net new customers, including 130,000 new wireless customers.

For 2020, Telus is forecasting revenue growth of between six and eight per cent, and adjusted EBITDA growth of between five and seven per cent.

The company is signalling that capital expenditure will fall slightly in 2020, from $2.9 billion in 2019 to $2.75 billion.

French said the slowdown in capex is driven by the fact that Telus has already built a lot of fibre optic cable in its network — a key component of both high-speed internet service, and 5G cell service.

• Email: jmcleod@nationalpost.com | Twitter:


          

Artifex Pereo Launch New Album Pre-Order   

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Artifex Pereo will release their sophomore Tooth & Nail Records album Passengers on September 9th, 2016! You can pre-order the album on CD, Vinyl LP (Milky Clear), or in bundle form at the Tooth & Nail Online Store, with an iTunes and Amazon pre-order to follow in the next few weeks.



Artifex Pereo has been teasing the new album on their social media accounts and today they released a new song "Paper Ruled All," which you can watch on YouTube or by clicking below. Be sure to give them some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest sneak peeks!



And be sure to check out Artifex Pereo's tour dates below and get your tickets at their Bandsintown.

Tour Dates:
Sept 9 - Sacramento, CA - The Boardwalk
Sept 10 - Portland, OR - Analog Theater
Sept 11 - Seattle, WA - El Corazon
Sept 13 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
Sept 14 - Denver, CO - Cervantes
Sept 15 - Lawrence, KS - Jackpot
Sept 16 - Saint Louis, MO - Fubar
Sept 18 - Detroit, MI - The Shelter
Sept 20 - Columbus, OH - The Basement
Sept 22 - Toronto, Canada - Hard Luck
Sept 23 - Worcester, MA - The Palladium
Sept 24 - New York, NY - Marlin Room @ Webster Hall
Sept 25 - Philadelphia, PA - Voltage Lounge
Sept 26 - Baltimore, MD - Baltimore Soundstage
Sept 27 - Charlotte, NC - The Rabbit Hole
Sept 28 - Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade
Sept 30 - Jacksonville, FL - 1904 Music Hall
Oct 1 - Orlando, FL - Backbooth
Oct 2 - St Petersburg, FL - Local 662
Oct 4 - Nashville, TN - The End
Oct 5 - New Orleans, LA - House Of Blues (Parish)
Oct 7 - Houston, TX - Walter's Downtown
Oct 8 - San Antonio, TX - Jack's Patio Bar
Oct 9 - Dallas, TX - Sons of Hermann Hall
Oct 11 - Albuquerque, NM - Launchpad
Oct 12 - Scottsdale, AZ - Pub Rock
Oct 13 - San Diego, CA - The Irenic
Oct 14 - Anaheim, CA - Chain Reaction
Oct 15 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom of The Hill

          

Artifex Pereo Song Premiere "As History Would Have It"   

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Artifex Pereo is premiering a new song "As History Would Have It" from their upcoming album Passengers in partnership with New Noise Magazine! You can watch the video at https://Model.blue/splash/_PLUS__SLASH_kyDt58N7nOay8B9FQ_PLUS_ka_PLUS_Wkdoxlkp0QMb6SIseUPggRNHcvgAkKUQD2svyfo6Vv1ESu5jav_PLUS_CxOl4x0JV5jcNxd6FydBfDVf7ymEhC9bU_EQUALS.

Passengers will release on September 9th, 2016! You can pre-order the album on CD, Vinyl LP (Milky Clear), or in bundle form at the Tooth & Nail Store, or on iTunes, Amazon Music, or Google Play.

Tooth & Nail Store
iTunes
Amazon Music
Google Play

Be sure to check out Artifex Pereo's tour dates below and get your tickets at their Bandsintown, and give them some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Tour Dates:
Sept 9 - Sacramento, CA - The Boardwalk
Sept 10 - Portland, OR - Analog Theater
Sept 11 - Seattle, WA - El Corazon
Sept 13 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
Sept 14 - Denver, CO - Cervantes
Sept 15 - Lawrence, KS - Jackpot
Sept 16 - Saint Louis, MO - Fubar
Sept 18 - Detroit, MI - The Shelter
Sept 20 - Columbus, OH - The Basement
Sept 22 - Toronto, Canada - Hard Luck
Sept 23 - Worcester, MA - The Palladium
Sept 24 - New York, NY - Marlin Room @ Webster Hall
Sept 25 - Philadelphia, PA - Voltage Lounge
Sept 26 - Baltimore, MD - Baltimore Soundstage
Sept 27 - Charlotte, NC - The Rabbit Hole
Sept 28 - Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade
Sept 30 - Jacksonville, FL - 1904 Music Hall
Oct 1 - Orlando, FL - Backbooth
Oct 2 - St Petersburg, FL - Local 662
Oct 4 - Nashville, TN - The End
Oct 5 - New Orleans, LA - House Of Blues (Parish)
Oct 7 - Houston, TX - Walter's Downtown
Oct 8 - San Antonio, TX - Jack's Patio Bar
Oct 9 - Dallas, TX - Sons of Hermann Hall
Oct 11 - Albuquerque, NM - Launchpad
Oct 12 - Scottsdale, AZ - Pub Rock
Oct 13 - San Diego, CA - The Irenic
Oct 14 - Anaheim, CA - Chain Reaction
Oct 15 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom of The Hill

          

Artifex Pereo Releases Passengers   

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Artifex Pereo's new album Passengers is out now! Pick it up on iTunes, Amazon, or the Tooth & Nail Store, or at one of the links below. The album features the songs "Soft Weapons," "Paper Ruled All," and others! Listen to the album and give the band some love on social media!

iTunes
Amazon
Google Play
Tooth & Nail Store
Spotify
Apple Music



Be sure to check out Artifex Pereo's tour dates below and get your tickets at their Bandsintown, and give them some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Tour Dates:
Sept 9 - Sacramento, CA - The Boardwalk
Sept 10 - Portland, OR - Analog Theater
Sept 11 - Seattle, WA - El Corazon
Sept 13 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
Sept 14 - Denver, CO - Cervantes
Sept 15 - Lawrence, KS - Jackpot
Sept 16 - Saint Louis, MO - Fubar
Sept 18 - Detroit, MI - The Shelter
Sept 20 - Columbus, OH - The Basement
Sept 22 - Toronto, Canada - Hard Luck
Sept 23 - Worcester, MA - The Palladium
Sept 24 - New York, NY - Marlin Room @ Webster Hall
Sept 25 - Philadelphia, PA - Voltage Lounge
Sept 26 - Baltimore, MD - Baltimore Soundstage
Sept 27 - Charlotte, NC - The Rabbit Hole
Sept 28 - Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade
Sept 30 - Jacksonville, FL - 1904 Music Hall
Oct 1 - Orlando, FL - Backbooth
Oct 2 - St Petersburg, FL - Local 662
Oct 4 - Nashville, TN - The End
Oct 5 - New Orleans, LA - House Of Blues (Parish)
Oct 7 - Houston, TX - Walter's Downtown
Oct 8 - San Antonio, TX - Jack's Patio Bar
Oct 9 - Dallas, TX - Sons of Hermann Hall
Oct 11 - Albuquerque, NM - Launchpad
Oct 12 - Scottsdale, AZ - Pub Rock
Oct 13 - San Diego, CA - The Irenic
Oct 14 - Anaheim, CA - Chain Reaction
Oct 15 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom of The Hill

          

Creativity and Class   

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 Dave Lordan, in the first of a three part series, explores creativity, the arts and cultural activities before the development of class-based societies.

Poetry is indispensable - if only we knew what it was for.
- Jean Cocteau

Before any major hunt the women of the Baka family group will sing "yelli". This they will do in the early morning before dawn and while the men and children are in their huts. One voice starts - a beautiful, haunting melody reverberating through the trees. After a few minutes another voice joins in, then another. Each voice will sing their own repeating melody, each one with its own rhythm and cycle, and yet all of them sitting together as one song composed of magical polyphonic harmonies that carry far into the forest, blending in with the unending night-time songs of the insects. 

To paraphrase the Nobel literature laureate Orhan Pamuk, creativity is putting things together to make new things. It is the modality by which humans shape the material world to meet their various needs and serve their various purposes. In the broadest sense then, it is similar to the Marxist conceptions of labour or work. Creativity is work and work is creativity.

The nature and conditions of work change over time and according to the dominant system of production. Factories, call centres, and now ‘working from home’ - alongside commodity production and the profit motive - are all extremely recent phenomena. For most of humanity’s time here on Earth (300000 years of Sapiens and millions more years if we include predecessor creative/labouring hominids) work (of hunting, gathering, sheltering, and tool production) was entirely dedicated to meeting basic survival needs. It was undertaken in common, and benefited all who participated. Things could not have been otherwise - in a hostile environment humans had no option but to work together on a more or less egalitarian basis to survive.

The efforts of each member of the nomadic band were required to keep all others safe and alive. No doubt petty rivalries and intra-group tensions existed, but, in the absence of significant surplus wealth for one faction to hoard, these tensions did not solidify into permanent hierarchical divisions or structural inequalities. Humans were chained to each other for good or for ill, and everything they had to do to stay alive, they had to do together.

The subset of creativity which we think of as artistic creativity evolved in this Palaeolithic context of endless struggle and scarcity and throughout the prehistoric period is also entirely dedicated to meeting the survival needs of the primal group. ‘Art’ is not in any way a distinct or indeed superior form of work to any other. Songs, for example, may have arisen as part of the work process, co-ordinating activity through call and response structures, as well as uplifting morale and increasing stamina during hard tasks and long treks.

B and R award

Cave paintings undoubtedly contributed in some way to hunting culture and activities, perhaps to magically increase the chances of hunting party success, or to conjure into being herds of large mammals during times of scarcity or declining herds, or as a way of ‘contacting’ or honouring the souls of dead animals by way of apology for killing them. The very first statues we find in the archaeological record mostly appear to be fertility or female-worshipping icons dedicated to the generative power of women and The Earth - they too were aids to reproduction and would have had no meaning or purpose outside of such putative magical aid.

Only with the emergence of class societies does art become distinct from other kinds of work and become subject, overall, to the dictates of class power, inter-imperial competition, and commodity production - against which of course many kinds of art and artist from the very beginning struggle and contradict. Only in the contexts of class and commodity does the artist eventually become a mystical figure unlike other kinds of workers, with insights and abilities inaccessible to most, interdependent not with society as a whole but with the profit motive and/or bureaucratic state patronage.

This epochal shift from the art of common purpose to mystified and commodified art can still be traced in the etymology of later ages. The Latin Creare, ancient root of the the English word Creativity, means ‘to make or to produce or to grow’ - the artist is like a farmer or craftsperson who makes socially useful things. By the late Middle Ages, however, when artists were firmly attached to aristocratic courts, the english word create had come to mean ‘form out of nothing’ and is ‘used of a divine and spiritual being’. The artist as demigod, beyond the apprehension of the commoner, aligned with and determined by those similarly heavenly things such as kings and queens and popes - and som-time later, the market.

Creation and creativity

Humans emerge from nature and consist of combined elements drawn from the natural world, in which creation and creatures exist, but not creativity. Nature is the process whereby, within geological time frames, things blindly combine with other things to make new things. The tendency of natural things is to gravitate out of chaos and towards form and equilibrium. But, due to the cosmic law of entropy, all material forms and cosmic equilibriums are temporary and subject to decay and reformation into fresh new things. In nature each creation is a temporary node in an always unfolding metamorphic chain. Thus atoms become elements, elements become stars and stars become galaxies. Tree-rats become monkeys become hominids become homo sapiens become....

Creatures, themselves new things unwittingly created by nature out of combinations of other things, create many new things out of other, pre-existing things. All of these creature-created things - consider nests, webs, burrows, anthills, hives - are purposeful and answer a direct question with regard to survival and reproduction. Some of them, from the human perspective are also beautiful and aesthetically pleasing: consider birdsong and the symphonic effect of a dawn chorus in woodland. 

But this is not creativity or work in the human sense, but blind instinct at play, however impressive it is. Animals do not know what they are doing, cannot describe or analyse what they are doing, cannot imagine in advance what they are about to do, cannot in real time alter their plans or intentions to meet new needs or changing circumstances. For sure, the designs of nests, or the hunting behaviours of hyenas, change through time and metamorphosing environments, but this is a result of chance forces operating over hundreds of thousands of generations. Creativity on the other hand, introduced to the universe by the hominid genus of which Homo Sapiens is the latest and sole surviving iteration, is not blind but visionary - working towards a goal imagined in advance. It is not accidental but intentional.

Marx puts it succinctly:

A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality. - Capital, Vol. I, Chap. 7, Pt. 1 

Somewhere between the higher primates and the early hominids consciousness - another word for imagination, or, indeed, for language - emerges and is added to creation. Thus is creativity created and invention invented, out of which spills everything from epic poetry to poison gas, from Beethoven’s symphonies to the Big Brother household. But hundreds of thousands of years elapse in the era of creative Homo before the need arises for any of these civilised creations.

For the vast majority of the human story, our creativity has been employed to serve fundamental natural needs that are distinct in degree, but not in kind, to those of other mammals. The key difference between us and other higher animals lies in our sophisticated generation of tools. The transformation of natural objects into tools with which nature is purposefully and intentionally shaped to suit our needs is the great leap forward from nature into culture, initiated by higher primates, and refined by a metamorphic hominid succession including Erectus, Australopithecus and Neanderthal, and lately accelerated into the space age by Homo Sapiens.

Humans are no different to animals in that our primary purpose is to cheat death in the short term as individuals and in the long term as a species, to survive against each and every obstacle and threat. To succeed in this never-ending challenge, certain fundamental needs have to be constantly provided for. Food and shelter are fundamental needs without which we die. Our food sources and our shelters need to be protected from environmental threats, therefore protection is another fundamental human need. None of these needs can be met by individuals alone - only cohesive groups working together can feed, shelter, and protect both individual and group. Therefore group cohesion is also a fundamental need.

Language

Language is the principal means by which group cohesion is achieved by humans. It tells us who we are and what we must do. It is the tool par excellence, the mother tool without which no other sophisticated tool could exist. The development of language by (at least) Neanderthals and Sapiens allowed for de-grees of collective labour and knowledge transfer previously unimaginable, enabling humans to accelerate development at an exponential speed. With the acquisition of language, humanity emerges from its pre-linguistic infancy into something like its childhood. Now all the members of a community, and all its succeeding generations can be taught the elements of hunting, cooking, shelter-building and group preservation.

This supreme tool of language allows us not only to repeat a-quired knowledge formulae, but also to build upon the already-acquired knowledge of the past by adding new layers of adaptability and innovation. Tools and techniques can be improved and new tools and techniques invented in real time for the first time. Thus, fuelled by the infinite adaptability of the word, the evolutionary processes of nature enter hyperdrive - within a geological instant the earth is cleared of forest and covered in cities and roads. Language speaks us, as the philosopher Heidegger puts it. Our societies and everything in them are created by language, our greatest creation, which creates us.

As Ernst Fischer puts it:

It was not only a question of prehistoric man believing that words were a powerful tool - they actually did increase his control over reality. Language not only made it possible to coordinate human activity in an intelligent way and to describe and transmit experience and, therefore, to improve working efficiency, it also made it possible to single out objects attaching particular words to them, thus snatching them out of the protective anonymity of nature and bringing them under man’s (sic) control. - Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art, Lawrence and Wishart, 1959

Individual human beings graduate from nature to culture, from animal being to human being, through primal acts of creativity enabled by language. Each infant that (finally and after an im-mense struggle) manages to combine meaningless noises into a word, and soon after a sentence, directed at the attention and for the instruction of another human being, is demonstrating incredible genius unknown on earth for its first five billion years. The first and best poem is was and always will be Ma-Ma!

The forms of work we know as the arts emerge from nature too, and, as in all other spheres, humans repurpose the natural inheritance to suit a fundamental need of their own. In the case of the arts, this fundamental need the arts satisfy in these prehistoric times is group cohesion, both in real time (synchronically) and down through the generations (diachronically). The ritually inter-related and overlapping arts of music, song, chant, dance and poetry base their varying and modifiable rhythms and melodies on those of the human body and of the surrounding elements - the footstep, the heartbeat, the breath, the beating or crashing of the sea against the shoreline, birdsong, wind noises, mammalian mating cries, and so on.

Chants, songs and dances synchronise group activities and annihilate the alienation of the individual from the group, increasing stamina and raising morale for the urgent tasks of gathering, hunting, food preparation, shelter building, and simple manufacture of tools, weapons, clothing - keeping spirits up and minds off the pain of, for example, long treks or climbs.

A collective working process requires a coordinating working rhythm. This working rhythm is supported by a more. or less articulate unison chant...The first word-signs for working processes - chanted sounds providing a uniform rhythm for the collective - were probably, at the same time, command signals intended to arouse the collective to action (in the same way as a warning cry produces an immediate passive reaction, e.g. the flight of the herd). Thus there was power stored up in every linguistic means of expression - power over both man and nature. - Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art, Lawrence and Wishart, 1959

Songs and chants retain this original group cohesion purpose into the modern era, most obviously in hard manual work and military settings - think of the worksongs of African-American Slaves, such as Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Think of the marching songs common to all infantries. The primeval structure of the participatory, unifying chant - call and response - is also fossilised in the verse chorus structure of most songs, in religious ceremonies such as the Catholic mass, in some participatory live poetry cultures in the Middle East, and so on.


Scottish Island women ‘Walking The Tweed’ while singing an old  worksong. 

The story has a different original purpose, which is present in the role stories play in the lives of infant humans today. Those of us who are lucky enough to have been born into a situation of love and care will universally have been told our first story by a guardian who is trying to calm us down at bedtime, to assuage our abandonment anxiety, to put us to sleep. This will be the case whether we are born in Tokyo or Tipperary, Timbuktu or Toronto.

The story, in other words, is a natural tranquilliser - Valium in a wordy form. For this original purpose, its content is far less important than its form - the pre-linguistic infant has no idea what any of the story means, it’s simply that the presence of familiar, uninterrupted voice-in-flow is calming and reassuring. Nonsense rhymes exist because sense is not a requirement for the job they are doing.

In a hostile natural environment, as darkness fell and the presence of potential predators in the surrounding landscape is felt more keenly and more terrifyingly with every passing instant, the enunciation of a story by a leading tribe member calms and reassures, allowing children and others to relax into a night’s shut-eye knowing someone is awake and keeping guard:

And then that sweet, heart-piercing melody
He drew out from the rigid-seeming lyre,
And made the circle round the winter fire
More like to heaven than gardens of the May.
So many a heavy thought he chased away

- William Morris, The Earthly Paradise, 1881)

All of the arts share this distractive and soothing function in common. Participation in them - and everyone in the primal group participated - requires all our individual attention, or, to put it scientifically, uses up all our neurological capacity. When we are immersed in singing, dancing, music-making and so on, our individual worries recede and we feel connected to and part of something greater than ourselves.

Primal societies viewed this something greater as divine or ancestral in nature, and accessed it through total collective immersion in ritual practices. The closest a contemporary human can come to such totally immersive collective rituals, which likely varied in scale from band-size - a couple of dozen - to far larger events at intertribal gatherings, is the way we might feel while dancing intoxicatedly at a rave, especially an ‘illegal’ outdoor one, our minds emptied of anything but the overwhelming music and our bodies locked into the collective rhythm provided by the bass. But anytime we escape into a film or a book we get an echo of the ancient immersion. Our minds are primed by evolution to take the escape routes offered to us by artistic experience, which all ultimately derives from these Palaeolithic rituals within which artistic practices originally evolved and were put to work for the collective good.

Many artists refer to the totally immersive and mentally/spiritually rewarding nature of creativity in one way or another. Composer Galen Mac Cába writes in the Irish Times that “composition is addictive. When a composer earns that feeling once, he or she wants to repeat it.” 

How often do we hear rock bands talk of ‘the chemistry’ between them? The more we do art - once we find an art that suits us, be it make-up artistry, origami, poetry, or whatever - the more we want to do it. Again, this is because our creativity is an embodied adaptive ability which develops in humans in response to basic, pressing survival needs of small nomadic groups. It is a development on the higher level of human consciousness of adaptive capacities present in the animal order.

‘Early’ or as I prefer to say ‘classic’ humans lived at more or less constant threat of annihilation. They had to rely completely on their own resources, their own ability to adapt and overcome. Their greatest resource was their own creativity i.e the ability to quickly generate ideas that can help overcome environmental challenges and lead to group survival.

Creativity and health

Creativity gives us an evolutionary advantage, and therefore becomes a species trait hardwired into our DNA. Over time, due to natural selection, the pleasure circuit associated with creativity becomes an internal chemical reward system. The brain encour-ages us to be creative by combining a boost to our arousal levels and our goal-oriented concentration with a reduction in inhibition. When we are being creative and enjoying it we feel happy, engaged, relaxed, immersed. When we finish a creative project to the best of our ability, we feel a a sense of pride and achievement. Because of its origins in evolutionary struggle and overcoming we receive a positive and productive high from engaging in creativity. This is the origin of what is referred to in the psychology of creativity by theorists such as the Bolshevik Vygotsky as the flow state:

the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. in essence, flow is character-ized by complete absorption in what one does.

While we are involved in the flow of creativity we forget our troubles. This is because being creative, a marshalling of all our internal forces for the purposes of group cohesion and or immediate survival needs, takes so much focus that it prevents us from thinking about or acting upon anything but the creative task before us. Then we get an organic chemical reward when our creative efforts are judged a success - echoing the ancient feelings of relief when our creative efforts enabled us to ward off an animal attack or erect a shelter that protected us from dangerous weather or produce a tool which enabled quicker skinning of animal carcases.

All of this explains why creativity is such a powerful healing tool, being the evolved capacity that kept and keeps us alive as it enables us to pro-actively shape our environment with our survival and satisfaction in mind. The individual mental health benefits to creativity are obvious, and are the reason why arts-in-health is such an important and expanding part of contemporary arts practice, one that every socialist should support.

Primal groups needed to respond quickly to all manner of situations, and they needed healthy, upbeat, connected and communally minded individuals - otherwise group cohesion broke down and, well, everyone died. That is why we have creativity and why the arts have therefore played and will continue to play an irreplaceable role in the communal health and prospects for survival of any human group struggling to survive in a hostile world - the vast majority of us.

Creativity, cohesion and solidarity

We have dealt with the synchronising role the arts played in group cohesion during the Palaeolithic period. But what about the role played by the arts in maintaining group cohesion across time, down through the generations? This, if anything, is even more vital, even more obvious. For knowledge to travel efficiently through long distances of time, humanity invented the time machine of poetry.

When the racist imperialist John Milton wrote in the introduction to his great blank verse poem Paradise Lost that ‘rhyme is the relic of a barbarous age’ he was inadvertently alerting us to the effect that formal elements of art are determined by the needs, structures, and capacities of the era in which they emerge.

In Milton’s day, now that the printing press had been invented and the age of mechanical reproduction had begun, poetry could potentially dispense with any formal elements whose primary purpose was the aiding of human memory for real recall - thus Milton dispenses with end-rhyme and makes such a fuss about it.

Yet poetry remains fundamentally and originally the art of collective remembrance through oral recall. Most of the formal apparatus with which we still generally associate poetry even half a millennium post-printing press - rhyme, alliteration, assonance, regularity of metre and verse structure, choric and trope repetition and much much more - are techniques invented by ‘illiterate’ and ‘barbaric’ peoples thousands of generations ago which modern poets have in no way managed to supersede.

Before the internet, before the phonograph, before the book, before papyrus and vellum, long before even ogham and runes, the oral artform of poetry, imprinted upon nature’s greatest recording device, the human brain, was the ark and fount of all useful knowledge - the original knowledge store or ‘cloud’.

Oral traditions and lyric poetry

In terms of efficiency and suitability to the task at hand - remembering what’s important to survive - oral poetry/song surpasses books or the internet. The oral traditions of the San People of South Africa and of Indigenous Australians, for example, have been proven to accurately recall events from up to 25000 years ago. Throughout such cosmic lengths of time, the members of such hunter-gatherer communities could rely on poetic recall for every manner of information, but especially for practical information such as how and where to find food and water in a desert, or even how to navigate at night:

“The sounds of the environment can be conveyed very easily in song. As any birdwatcher will know, trying to identify bird so, from a writ-ten description in a field guide is close to impossible. By encoding the call of birds in song, a particular bird can be identified. Accurate iden-tification of the birdsong can often mean the difference between life and death The aquatic diving bird, known as loons or divers, have a pierc-ing call which is used to detect land when a sailor is lost at sea by the Tlingit and Inuit, as no doubt it will have been by other cultures across its wide northern range. The red throated loon (Goviastellata), for ex-ample. is a fairly non-descript bird, espe-cially without its red breeding plumage, but its call is distinctive and this warrants its significant role in oral tradition. Being lost at sea at nightfall in the cold northern cli-mate, in weather conditions which block visibility to land-marks or stars, can be fatal. Loons, unlike many other aquatic birds, reliably re-turn to land each night. Survival can depend on being able to identify the call of the loon among all the bird calls at sea, in order to follow that call to land. Songs encode the call, and are the best way to constantly reinforce the sound into memory. “
- Kelly, L. (2015). Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory and the Transmission of Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

The poetry that we are in general used to encountering today is called lyric poetry, and is usually to do with expressing individual feelings, opinions, and experiences, with only a tangential re-ation to collective purpose or identity. The oft-remarked tendency towards obscure, self-referential, exclusive language in much contemporary poetry is a symptom of this fatal break with collective relevance and purpose - an analogue in the cultural realm to the ‘metabolic rift’ with which the birth of class society and settled urbanity broke the human race away from a direct and organic link to the natural world. Referring to the encoded eli-ism of much of contemporary poetry, Adrian Mitchell quipped ‘most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most peo-ple’.

The poets of earlier ages could not afford to be misunderstood or only understood by code-talking academic networks. On the contrary, they had to recite in a language and with a method that everyone could understand. So at the dawn of historical record during the bronze age, what we find emerging from prehistory are often very long poems, containing everything from thousand-generation genealogies to entire mythological cycles to encyclopaedias of natural medicine. Poets were capable of extreme acts of recall, right up until the early modern era.

It is thought, for example, that the Iliad took three days to perform in its entirety, and many societies have similar lengthy epic poems that are central to their culture and which were widely performed at everything from royal courts to cattle fairs. Epic performers probably adapted their performances to suit the tastes and needs of different audiences, so that epics could be entertainments for the people as much as flattery for the noble warriors and lords who populate them.

The poet-ritualist in prehistoric societies was therefore a very important figure upon whom the memory, identity, and spiritual well-being of the group depended. They were composite figures who were also healers and shamans, looking after the mind, body, and soul of the small group of which they were an integral part and apart from which they had no separate motives or interests.

Poetry, song, music, performance, self-decoration: all of these early arts combine into ritual and magic ceremonies in which the identity of the tribe is performed and remembered, and spells are cast to protect the tribe from predators, increase hunting success, guarantee food supply. The rudiments of science, religion, and political ideology, before these split into different modes of knowing and doing, can all be deduced from early artistic practices.

In these societies preceding class and commodity production, in which all the fundaments of human being and artistic form and function evolved in tandem with each other, arts and the artist were part of a seamless flow of communal living. This was all smashed to smithereens by the asteroidal impact of the rise of class-based societies.

In the next article in this series we will discuss the appropriation of age-old commonly held artistic techniques by the new elites and the repurposing of the arts as instruments of class rule back at the dawn of ‘civilisation’ in Sumeria, Egypt and elsewhere. In part three, we will look at how this appropriation was resisted and questioned from the very beginning, and tell the story of Thersites, literature’s first communist.


          

Government of Canada Continuing to Support Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network   

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January 14, 2009

TORONTO - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, today announced that the Government of Canada is continuing to support the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network (DSEN), first announced in July 2008.

"Canadians can be confident that this Government is taking the steps necessary to ensure that our drug safety system remains one of the best in the world," said Minister Aglukkaq. "The Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network complements Canada’s rigorous pre-testing of new drugs by studying how Canadians respond over time to already-approved drugs. The results will help in decision-making and enhance overall consumer safety."

Read the press release.


          

Ep. 55: LaTroy Hawkins, Toronto Blue Jays Pitcher   

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What's been the key to success for LaTroy Hawkins when it comes to his long career? What's the weirdest pregame ritual he's ever seen? You won't want to miss the answer to these questions and more as LaTroy Hawkins steps into the Chatting Cage.

          

Ep. 39: Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays Outfielder   

Cache   

Who does Kevin Pillar model his playing career after? How did he learn the instincts necessary to cover a lot of ground and be an elite outfielder? You won't want to miss the answer to these questions and more on the Chatting Cage.

          

La visión de los maestros sobre el diseño de información deportiva (3)   

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Ofrecemos una tercera visión de cómo abordar la información deportiva desde el punto de vista del diseño. Ésta la sacamos de la obra de Mario R. García 'Diseño y remodelación de periódicos' (Pamplona: EUNSA, 1983; página 193 y siguientes). Téngase en cuenta que García habla, preferentemente, de diarios estadounidenses pero los ejemplos pueden ser fácilmente trasladados a cualquier otra publicación. Lo que viene a continuación son palabras textuales del autor.


Los elementos gráficos en la información deportiva
Las noticias, crónicas, reportajes, etc. relacionadas con los deportes ocupan en un periódico más espacio que cualquier otra sección especial. Casi todas las publicaciones periódicas, desde los pequeños diarios a los de gran difusión, pasando por los semanarios de la ciudad y del campo y por las publicaciones estudiantiles, dedican a los deportes más espacio que a cualquier otra sección especializada.
Las páginas deportivas de un periódico ofrecen la oportunidad de combinar la información ‘dura’ con la ‘blanda’. Los lectores quieren leer el desarrollo completísimo del último partido, pero quieren conocer también otros detalles, como la información detallada sobre el jugador lesionado, o el perfil humano de un entrenador acostumbrado a ganar. También se interesan los lectores por los entresijos de actividades tan diversas como una huelga de jugadores, los nuevos fichajes, la situación económica de los equipos profesionales y la participación, o no participación, de las mujeres en el deporte.
Las páginas deportivas han fascinado siempre a muchos lectores de periódicos, principalmente porque la información deportiva se basa esencialmente en noticias que llevan consigo dos cualidades tradicionalmente atractivas: conflicto y acción. Cualquier encuentro se convierte en un conflicto, esto es, una confrontación de la que surge como vencedor un individuo o un equipo. El conflicto deportivo se resuelve mediante la acción. Los atletas corren, dan patadas, saltan, golpean o discuten en la vida real con algún funcionario desagradable.
El conflicto y la acción se convierten en ‘movimiento’, y este es el motivo por el que la información deportiva tiene tantas posibilidades gráficas que se traducen en magníficas oportunidades para el confeccionador. Sin embargo, la información deportiva va más allá de lo visual para incluir datos estadísticos con destino al lector del día siguiente. Los canales de televisión cubren los grandes acontecimientos deportivos, y las emisoras de radio mantienen su papel tradicional de narradores de los distintos encuentros, jugada a jugada. Pero esto no desplaza el interés de las páginas deportivas, ya que los aficionados al deporte tienen un hambre insaciable de información relacionado con su equipo favorito, por lo que devoran la sección deportiva del periódico aunque hayan presenciado íntegramente el partido en su receptor de televisión. Ahora bien, cuando los lectores acuden al periódico esperan mucho más que la crónica del partido. Quieren saber lo que ocurre entre bastidores antes y después de cada encuentro, necesitan que se les explique determinada técnica del juego, o que se les diga cómo aceptó la derrota éste o aquél jugador. Más aún, los lectores quieren una información completa de tipo estadístico, y están deseosos de conocer las actividades deportivas locales que no cubren ni la radio ni la televisión.

Prioridad en los contenidos
Las modernas secciones deportivas desarrollan su contenido de acuerdo con el interés de los lectores. Sin embargo, los redactores/jefes deportivos de los diarios suelen distribuir el espacio disponible de la siguiente manera:
1.      ‘Reportajes detallados’ de los acontecimientos deportivos más importantes ya transmitidos por las emisoras de radio y televisión.
2.      ‘Extensa información local’ sobre acontecimientos importantes o no que incluyen actividades escolares y universitarias, torneos locales de tenis de mesa, la marcha de los campeonatos locales, etc. Es un tipo de información en el que el periódico puede prestar grandes servicios.
3.      ‘Calendario’ de acontecimientos deportivos a nivel nacional, regional o local.
4.      ‘Información estadística’ con los resultados de los partidos y la clasificación de los equipos que intervienen en todos los deportes.
5.      ‘Artículos de interés humano’ relacionados con todo tipo de información sobre jugadores, entrenadores, árbitros y demás personas relacionadas con el deporte. Hay periódicos, como el St Petersburg Times que agrupan este tipo de material en una sección fija.
6.      ‘Participación de los lectores’. Se trata en este caso de un consultorio a través del cual los lectores que se dirijan al periódico planteando cualquier tipo de cuestión relacionada con el deporte, verán sus cartas publicadas y contestadas en esta sección.
7.      ‘Información para el consumidor’, en la que se asesora a los lectores sobre los mejores tramos del río local para la pesca, el estado de la nieve para los aficionados al esquí, lugares apropiados para hacer camping, modelos de zapatillas que mejor se adaptan a la práctica del footing, etc.
8.      ‘Higiene deportiva’, sección ésta que cada vez tiene mayor número de adeptos, como consecuencia del extraordinario incremento que se ha producido entre los lectores que practican algún deporte para mantener la forma.
9.      ‘Programas de radio y televisión’ solamente en lo que se refiere a la transmisión de acontecimientos deportivos. En muchos periódicos se utiliza una columna fácilmente identificable en la que se publican los programas deportivos del día. Cuando se trata de acontecimientos muy importantes, o de una programación que cubre toda la semana, se suele emplear una presentación más extensa que la columna diaria.
10.   ‘Suplementos especiales’. Algunos grandes periódicos editan suplementos deportivos de varias páginas en los que se abordan, entre otros, géneros tan especializados como la crítica de libros deportivos, medicina deportiva, crucigramas, guías para la práctica de diversos deportes, etc.

La estrategia del diseño
Se ha dicho ya que las páginas deportivas se basan en un contenido intrínsecamente visual. Su diseño, por lo tanto, debe procurar el realce de este contenido visual para atraerse a los lectores. Deben considerarse, por lo tanto, las siguientes constantes de confección:
Organización. Repetimos lo que se ha mencionado ya en otro capítulo de este libro: el ordenamiento del material de cada una de las secciones del periódico debe comunicar una sensación de orden. Los lectores de las páginas deportivas, que a veces las abordan antes de mirar la primera página, quieren encontrar siempre en el mismo sitio los resultados de los partidos, los calendarios de pruebas, las columnas deportivas y los pronósticos. Por lo tanto, al confeccionar la sección lo primero que habrá que hacer es decidir la colocación de estos elementos fijos.
Continuidad. La sección deportiva no constituye una unidad aislada dentro del periódico, por lo que las manchetas, títulos y tipos empleados para los textos, firmas y ladillos, estarán en consonancia con los que se emplean en el resto del periódico. De no ser así, el resultado puede ser muy confuso.
Facilidad de lectura. Así como el orden y la continuidad pueden considerarse como las normas fundamentales del diaseño, la facilidad de lectura es también muy importante. Una sección deportiva que pueda leerse con facilidad tiene la virtud de conseguir que algunas informaciones decididamente áridas, como las tablas de clasificaciones, por ejemplo, presenten un aspecto atractivo cuando están correctamente confeccionadas, esto es, presentadas en recuadros de distinto tamaño de acuerdo con su importancia. Tipográficamente, se pondrá de relieve en estas tablas el contraste entre tipos negros y finos para dar al lector un máximo de comodidad y facilitar el movimiento de sus ojos de una tabla clasificatoria a otra.
Impacto fotográfico. El material fotográfico de estas páginas viene dado por lo que hay de conflicto, de acción y de exhuberancia física en el deporte. Aunque se haya visto en la pantalla de televisión el momento cumbre en el que un jugador remata a la red, por ejemplo, siempre resulta interesante contemplar de nuevo ese momento en el periódico de la mañana. El público está familiarizado –y espera encontrarlas en el periódico– con esas fotos del jugador lesionado que refleja el dolor en su rostro, o las expresiones de júbilo por el triunfo, o las caras sudorosas, o los momentos más dramáticos de un encuentro. Este impacto fotográfico no debe limitarse a la primera página de la sección deportiva; todas las páginas dedicadas al deporte deben llevar este tipo de fotos que despiertan el interés del lector.

Confección de páginas deportivas. Primera página
En la primera página de la sección deportiva se incluyen los acontecimientos más importantes de la jornada, las mejores fotos, y un título (normalmente ‘Deportes). Teniendo en cuenta que la información deportiva varía de una temporada a otra e incluso de un día a otro, el confeccionador cuenta con diversas alternativas dependiendo siempre del material escrito y de las ilustraciones de que dispone.
‘Primera página con predominio gráfico’. La primera página de Today se basa fundamentalmente en dos fotos: la primera, un primerísimo plano de la entrenadora Betty Jeffers dirigiéndose a sus jugadores para que hagan un esfuerzo final que les permita ganar un encuentro de baloncesto. Obsérvese la foto que se inserta, en la que se ve la cara de la misma entrenadora, aquietada ya, después de que sus jugadores perdieran el partido. Otro punto de interés lo constituye la confección perfectamente estructurada de toda la página en un patrón rectangular.
La columna que firma el redactor jefe de la sección aparece a la izquierda. Se da un relieve singular a los resultados y clasificaciones de los equipos. Domina en la página el orden de los textos. Obsérvense los apartados ‘Today´s Sport on Radio/Tv’ (Deportes hoy en radio y televisión) y ‘Today’s Fishing Forecast’ (Pronóstico de hoy para la pesca) en la parte inferior de la página. En la mancheta, además del título de la sección ‘Sports’ y del diario (Today) se aprovecha eficazmente el espacio en blanco para incluir un sumario de lo que va en las páginas siguientes.
La primera página deportiva del Morning Call (centro) emplea una foto dominante, muy espectacular, rodeada por un amplio espacio en blanco. Obsérvese el tipo de letra especial que se utiliza para los títulos y la interesante confección de la columna deportiva de la parte inferior, así como el encuadre que se ha hecho de la foto del columnista, cortada en ‘máscara’ a tamaño muy reducido.
El St Petersburh Times utiliza también las fotos como elemento principal, y se atrae la atención del lector mediante una gran foto hacia una página estructurada en módulos. Destaca la eficaz utilización de fotos en toda la página. Se consigue con ellas concentrar el interés sobre distintas zonas, sin que por ello se congestione la plana.
Primera página con predominio de dibujo. El Atlanta Constituion utiliza las ilustraciones en color como recurso principal en el diseño de su primera página de deportes. Obsérvese con que eficacia se han montado los diversos elementos que la componen. La columna del redactor jefe deportivo aparece a la izquierda. En la página hay cuatro artículos, y el de la parte superior de la página se ve realzado por un recuadro atractivo en el que se combinan con sencillez la tabla de resultados y el índice de páginas interiores.
La primera página deportiva del St Petersburg Evening Independent está totalmente dominada por un dibujo a todo color de O. J. Simpson. El dibujante ha combinado el retrato  del atleta con alguna escena de juego en el fondo que representa también los rótulos ‘San Francisco’ y ‘49ers’. Con esto se consigue un enorme impacto visual. En cuanto a los textos, en lugar de firma, cada artículo lleva una mancheta con el retrato a línea del autor, su nombre y su cargo en el periódico.
Primera página con información especial. Muchos diarios americanos, grandes y pequeños, empiezan a publicar una información deportiva especial por lo menos una vez a la semana. En la primera página de la sección se anuncia este tipo de información, como vemos en el Sport Weekend del Milwaukee Journal que contiene una guía completa de los diferentes acontecimientos deportivos que habrán de tener lugar a lo largo del fin de semana. Obsérvese cómo se abre la página con un índice en la cabecera, seguido de dos fotos y una serie de reportajes. La columna del redactor jefe Mike Kupper va en la parte inferior de la página. Vemos a la derecha una página interior del mismo Sport Weekend dedicada enteramente al deporte escolar. La agrupación de los textos que guardan una relación entre sí, como es el caso que nos ocupa, facilita la lectura y simplifica considerablemente la confección.
Parece una página de revista –muy grande, es si–, y tiene poco parecido con esa masa de grises que tradicionalmente constituye la primera plana del periódico, pero lo cierto es que Sports Monday, la sección deportiva del New York Times, tiene un extraordinario atractivo gráfico. Como su nombre indica, se publica los lunes y su contenido incluye, además de una relación detallada de todos los acontecimientos deportivos del fin de semana, otras muchas secciones relacionadas con el mismo tema. Se caracteriza esta primera página deportiva por la inclusión de un índice ilustrado en la cabecera, el título SportsMonday, que se escribe seguido, sin espaciar las dos palabras, y el dominio de las fotos en todas las zonas. El artículo principal abre su primer párrafo con una capitular.
La estructuración en módulos predomina en la sección Spots Plus que publica el Toronto Star los viernes. La confección de esta página conduce con facilidad al lector a lo largo de los diversos artículos que contiene. La columna deportiva se sitúa a la izquierda, y una foto de gran tamaño domina la parte dedicada al baloncesto. El índice ilustrado con dibujos atrae la mirada del lector hacia la parte inferior de la página. El título Sports Plus va en tinta azul y el hecho de que sea éste el único color que se utiliza en la página produce un interesante contraste con los demás elementos. La continuidad de las páginas se consigue mediante la inclusión de la banderilla en diagonal en el ángulo superior derecho (arriba, a la derecha).
Primera página con publicidad. El número de lectores que reúnen las páginas deportivas las convierten en un objetivo codiciado por los anunciantes. Hay periódicos que se aprovechan de esta circunstancia para dedicar a la publicidad la parte inferior de la primera página deportiva.
Los vemos así en el Mineapolis Tribune, que inserta tres anuncios: uno de un hotel, otro de un fabricante de camisas y un tercero de máquinas cortacésped. No por eso pierde atractivo la página. El espacio destinado a la publicidad se encuentra bien delimitado, como puede observarse.

Páginas interiores
Las páginas interiores de la sección dedicada a los deportes deben resultar tan logradas como la primera. Puede conseguirse este resultado mediante la inclusión de grandes fotos, una publicidad confeccionada en módulos y un correcto diseño de fotos y textos.
La página interior del Toronto Star está dominada por la foto de un jugador de badmington. Obsérvese el formato a seis columnas, la dosificación eficaz del tamaño de los títulos y la limpieza general que facilita la lectura de los textos. La combinación acertada de fotos y textos se hace patente en esta página. Se trata de un reportaje sobre un centro de medicina deportiva que predomina sobre los demás textos. Las fotografías tienen el tamaño necesario para atraer la atención del lector sobre el contenido de la página. El texto, muy largo se ameniza con subtítulos y ladillos.
Las páginas interiores se dedican muchas veces a temas especializados. El Milwaukee Journal, por ejemplo, dedica una de las páginas de su Weekend al deporte escolar.
Conforme se va consiguiendo la igualdad a todos los niveles, aumenta el número de periódicos que dedican más espacio al deporte femenino. La página del Boston Herald American es un ejemplo de cómo el deporte femenino puede condensarse limpiamente en una página.

Páginas de fotos
Sucede a veces que el redactor jefe de deportes tiene un verdadero problema a la hora de seleccionar las mejores fotos entre el material disponible. En estos casos, y siempre con que exista espacio libre, una página entera de fotos puede realzar la información gráfica de la sección deportiva, creando al mismo tiempo un gran atractivo visual.
El St Louis Post/Dispatch dedicó una página entera de fotos al torneo NCAA de baloncesto. Es destacable el empleo eficaz del título ‘NCAA march to the finals’ (NCAA se acerca a la final) y la colocación de las fotos de manera que dejen espacios en blanco.

Páginas de resultados
Casi todos los resultados de los deportes de competición se resumen en unas tablas necesariamente aburridas desde un punto de vista gráfico. Pero se trata de una información importante para los lectores, y los confeccionadores  tienen la obligación de intentar que puedan digerirse visualmente. Los ejemplos que reproducimos a continuación demuestran que las tablas de resultados no tienen necesariamente que parecerse a una página de guía de teléfonos. Esto puede conseguirse mediante la inclusión de símbolos gráficos que identifiquen cada deporte, cierto contraste tipográfico de letras negras y finas, un sentido de la organización (¿qué es lo que quiere el lector que vaya en primer lugar?) y alguna dosis de creatividad en la confección.
El St Petersburg Time denomina su página de resultados ‘For the record’ y subraya el título con un filete grueso. Las diversas categorías de cada deporte van encabezadas por dibujos en blanco y negro que rompen las zonas grises sin ofender la vista. Las columnas van separadas por corondeles.
El diario Le Quotidien de París presenta los resultados de las carreras de caballos en una página a seis columnas, con buen uso de blancos y filetes verticales. La tipografía se destaca por el uso de números grandes, llamativos, que son subrayados por filetes finos, con inclusión de los nombres y datos de cada caballo.
Son muchos los procedimientos que pueden utilizarse para mejorar el aspecto de las páginas deportivas, pero solamente podrán considerarse eficaces si se tiene en cuenta la validez del contenido y no se olvidan los cambios que en este terreno se han producido en los últimos años. Lo más probable es que en los años próximos continúe aumentando la importancia de las secciones deportivas, dado el creciente interés por los deportes de competición, tanto por parte de una masa cada vez mayor de espectadores, como de los que descubren cada vez en mayor número los placeres y ventajas físicas de la participación.


          

Music Education: More Than Just Music!   

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Whether your child is the next Beyonce or more likely to sing her solos in the shower, she is bound to benefit from some form of music education. Research shows that learning the do-re-mis can help children excel in ways beyond the basic ABCs.

More Than Just Music


Research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas. “A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.

Making music involves more than the voice or fingers playing an instrument; a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often simultaneously. For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, cofounder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes.

“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” Guilmartin says.

Language Development


“When you look at children ages two to nine, one of the breakthroughs in that area is music’s benefit for language development, which is so important at that stage,” says Luehrisen. While children come into the world ready to decode sounds and words, music education helps enhance those natural abilities. “Growing up in a musically rich environment is often advantageous for children’s language development,” she says. But Luehrisen adds that those inborn capacities need to be “reinforced, practiced, celebrated,” which can be done at home or in a more formal music education setting.

According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.

This relationship between music and language development is also socially advantageous to young children. “The development of language over time tends to enhance parts of the brain that help process music,” says Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and a practicing musician. “Language competence is at the root of social competence. Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent.”

Increased IQ


A study by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, as published in a 2004 issue of Psychological Science, found a small increase in the IQs of six-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons. Schellenberg provided nine months of piano and voice lessons to a dozen six-year-olds, drama lessons (to see if exposure to arts in general versus just music had an effect) to a second group of six-year-olds, and no lessons to a third group. The children’s IQs were tested before entering the first grade, then again before entering the second grade.

Surprisingly, the children who were given music lessons over the school year tested on average three IQ points higher than the other groups. The drama group didn’t have the same increase in IQ, but did experience increased social behavior benefits not seen in the music-only group.

The Brain Works Harder

 
Research indicates the brain of a musician, even a young one, works differently than that of a nonmusician. “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain,” says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a specialized music curriculum for children aged two months to nine years.

In fact, a study led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found changes in the brain images of children who underwent 15 months of weekly music instruction and practice. The students in the study who received music instruction had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks, and brain imaging showed changes to the networks in the brain associated with those abilities, according to the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that supports brain research.

Spatial-Temporal Skills


Research has also found a causal link between music and spatial intelligence, which means that understanding music can help children visualize various elements that should go together, like they would do when solving a math problem.

“We have some pretty good data that music instruction does reliably improve spatial-temporal skills in children over time,” explains Pruett, who helped found the Performing Arts Medicine Association. These skills come into play in solving multistep problems one would encounter in architecture, engineering, math, art, gaming, and especially working with computers.

Improved Test Scores


A study published in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that students in elementary schools with superior music education programs scored around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests, compared to schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Johnson compares the concentration that music training requires to the focus needed to perform well on a standardized test.

Aside from test score results, Johnson’s study highlights the positive effects that a quality music education can have on a young child’s success. Luehrisen explains this psychological phenomenon in two sentences: “Schools that have rigorous programs and high-quality music and arts teachers probably have high-quality teachers in other areas. If you have an environment where there are a lot of people doing creative, smart, great things, joyful things, even people who aren’t doing that have a tendency to go up and do better.”

And it doesn’t end there: along with better performance results on concentration-based tasks, music training can help with basic memory recall. “Formal training in music is also associated with other cognitive strengths such as verbal recall proficiency,” Pruett says. “People who have had formal musical training tend to be pretty good at remembering verbal information stored in memory.”

Being Musical


Music can improve your child’ abilities in learning and other nonmusic tasks, but it’s important to understand that music does not make one smarter. As Pruett explains, the many intrinsic benefits to music education include being disciplined, learning a skill, being part of the music world, managing performance, being part of something you can be proud of, and even struggling with a less than perfect teacher.

“It’s important not to oversell how smart music can make you,” Pruett says. “Music makes your kid interesting and happy, and smart will come later. It enriches his or her appetite for things that bring you pleasure and for the friends you meet.”
While parents may hope that enrolling their child in a music program will make her a better student, the primary reasons to provide your child with a musical education should be to help them become more musical, to appreciate all aspects of music, and to respect the process of learning an instrument or learning to sing, which is valuable on its own merit.

“There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual. Music is for music’s sake,” Rasmussen says. “The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you have a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music,” he adds. “Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.”
 


Laura Lewis Brown caught the writing bug as soon as she could hold a pen. For several years, she wrote a national online column on relationships, and she now teaches writing as an adjunct professor. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and three young children, who give her a lot of material for her blog, EarlyMorningMom.com.

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Teachers Teaching Teachers #275-Walk Out Walk On & Occupy w/ Mary Ann Reilly, Liam O'Donnell, Ann Leaness, Fred Mindlin-12.7.11   

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65:12 minutes (14.92 MB) teachers275pic

Below the video here are notes and links on some of the threads we weave together on this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers (Please subscribe: https://Model.blue/splash/FTHsB_PLUS_Zr_PLUS_CPjSL1_PLUS_Ob9d5UJCuoh6ycw_SLASH_jHJkicFdrK_SLASH_Q7NdCOVRjXI1OUqoH4pZi_SLASH_zFLLo2nCRoEgu9KsH4sSMmhYR4Xhcs9RNRL6Qf4ZGWVchSDJ5lTco4FOuibk9fo ). Participants in this episode’s Hangout are: Monika Hardy, Mary Ann Reilly, Scott Shelhart (and his daughter) , Liam O'Donnell, Paul Allison, Ann Leaness, and Fred Mindlin

We begin a conversation about Margaret Wheatley’s and Deborah Frieze’s book, Walk Out Walk On [ https://Model.blue/splash/6x6A8d7ACWFWd9Vg8ROItcc_SLASH_MCK_PLUS_q_PLUS_NsQrSCLStwcqkrSscQA7R9NxSpW9tysjMvqEah4D3O4uAlIyjOlIi7ybQmjnZZSz51ancpXUnFLkc_EQUALS ], and we explore how the Occupy movements and Educamps might reflect some of the principles in this book.

Monika Hardy wrote recently that she is “absolutely swimming in Walk Out Walk On.” She goes on to explain:

We have been working on a quiet revolution the last four years in Colorado [ https://Model.blue/splash/tL46HdR1p5F0TmL3wla1shdEagwxboLz4sn2Q0lUvIBE6g3vxYu_PLUS_9RPRbGdnZooj_SLASH_qZWY8reN1tVkuiSIHQURXHsfUATeeNVS1tF8ky6iucGB8F9d5aYq5BLC8qbfw23 ], both outside and in the public school system, in order to create the communities the authors, Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze share and describe so poignantly, so beautifully in their book.

Mary Ann Reilly joins us this week. Mary is also be inspired by Walk Out Walk On, and has been trying to get a group of teachers together to talk about the book. Mary is a progressive educator, artist, photographer, and writer of Deepening Literacy Learning: Art and Literature Engagements in K-8 Classrooms. [ https://Model.blue/splash/DQUPtlKs6UPPa6OMu5aNwPTAYOv2oyMd6185tZseYQ3fI7xXDcBjskc6fwiGFqgS8afphI1jZeFO9t9hDMvgHKS2cx83Sc8NJjoZPYQ5_SLASH__PLUS__PLUS_5U26YseAykO7Q1jPB3MshNQZavVsIf2vd3NovoZxYsQ_EQUALS_EQUALS ] We are delighted when she is able to join our conversations at Teachers Teaching Teachers.

Ann Leaness joins us as well. Ann is a high school English teacher in Philadelphia, and she is a member of the edcamp foundation [ https://Model.blue/splash/l_SLASH_Q8k_SLASH_XpKTBmlrg4thMPCmqP1KDi2QAqkhjMlTxRRn_PLUS_1r5v1eoPxgpGMXpNbzYn1Upikepj8mRjMtiy_SLASH_pxC9UOYlmV6ToFY7dvwZ08Xknto_EQUALS ] board. Ann’s team began edcamp in Philadelphia [ https://Model.blue/splash/_SLASH_jC8nmBuiJebZc38VR9_PLUS_lbLx_SLASH_KGhRI0Ip61_PLUS_a2aAuT3SNjTSd78GWVSqlw2Qrx9KZcgnb4g7H8niKdT0xShMrbgLnU5iuRTORPJzh9VTTHs_EQUALS ] in May of 2010. Walk Out Walk On is on Ann’s bookshelf too, and recently she wrote about “The Dissenters” [ https://Model.blue/splash/IlCeS1RyKnrgXDNUh3XzMi5FwbY_SLASH_2_SLASH_Kn12OyVFIMznfEnuZYGqSq1HPHf_SLASH_sS_SLASH_vmwRfsRh2alnDshAgHHz3eWnvlo6MKjm0fU56qEIaTkWgblw8ypRw3IFMQxMNarQ6Z8ifYrV_SLASH_KOIg9mfWJy2tju9g_EQUALS_EQUALS ] in her blog:

I wanted to spark some interest and also to make this unit relevant for my students. To get started, I showed the students these two videos: “UC Davis Protestors Pepper Sprayed” [ https://Model.blue/splash/KTzey4s_PLUS_hyu6KJ77IB6N6Jf_SLASH_QJKos94dKpvmMM3fB3QGSCz3oTN9adRXIQPxZPJtOkfu4hbnETUixugaHhPfHqHTryU7eqejvfi6KikmO2c_EQUALS ] and “UC Davis Chancellor Katehi walks to car amidst protesters” [ https://Model.blue/splash/d96UAvYaY6F_SLASH_RaukOQU5r37DOotDds7XLrkOZeVzWnDdZGO5flyhcG8dDgPl42Fv4zRp6W5rv53NO6uzJpx6ZzrwNsX4QD_SLASH_DRJEDzL8zb3A_EQUALS ] These videos sparked some interesting discussion about non-violence and the violent reaction. Some students were shocked by the violence of the direct pepper spraying on the docile students, and the lack of reaction on the students’ part. Why did they just do nothing? Why didn’t they fight back? They also remarked about the silence on the second video. We talked about the impact of that silence and the effect of the sounds of the heels hitting the pavement. Again, someone questioned why they didn’t get up and get in the Chancellor’s face.

Reading Walk Out Walk On, one can’t help but wonder if the Occupy Wall Street movement might a place to find “Communities Daring to Live the Future Now,” as it’s put in the subtitle of Walk Out Walk On.

One of the authors of the book, Deborah Frieze also wonders in a blog post last month, “Is Occupy Our Opportunity?”

In Walk Out Walk On, we found ourselves often in the conversation about “building the world we want today.” The communities we wrote about were walking out of failing institutions and walking on to experiment with new ways of feeding and sheltering themselves, of creating health and safety, of learning together and rebuilding relationships. This has never been about creating utopia. It’s about confronting the reality of our situation with new eyes, being willing to abandon limiting beliefs about what’s possible and who’s qualified to make a contribution. Walking on is an invitation for a different kind of social order to emerge in community. So, too, is Occupy. Dewey Square [Boston] is in some ways a microcosm of our society—for better and for worse, it amplifies our gifts and diseases. It places our social impoverishment under a microscope and invites us to do something different. It challenges us to re-learn what it means to be citizens who take responsibility for one another. [ https://Model.blue/splash/WjL4tKwUsg3wkSiAXmhusaxzyeizK7cAU3k6FTiJ9J_PLUS_2l3kWAnMhq7o4IYJdYwS2aNcyc3QCBp8T6psaaeHuAJLGVFMtDA3UaV40E9wzTnqCFMxEW5_PLUS_p43G4DEOPrJljqqLtzGE_SLASH_1TTtgYjnweYS31cf54NrLMvRrTw1QOmJ68o_EQUALS-... ]

Also joining us on this episode of TTT is Liam O’Donnell, an award-winning children's author and educator [ liamodonnell.com/graphic-novels-books ]. He will help us wonder about communities and to talk about his work as an educator in the Occupy movement. He writes:

I’ve been bringing the Occupy movement into my work with Grade 5/6s studying government and protest (with videos, twinke fingers in the classroom, etc) As a member of the OccupyToronto Education work group, I can speak to the curriculum we're developing for schools around issues of social justice, and poverty.

Also, in a recent blog post, “How Twinkle Fingers turned my classroom into a General Assembly” Liam writes:

Instead of shouting out agreement or disagreement, students showed their “Twinkle Fingers” of agreement or their down low twinkles of disagreement. Confusion or questions were shown by making a letter ‘C’ shape with their hand. This “General Assembly Guide” [ https://Model.blue/splash/Jhis4yPsQo3Nolc_SLASH_UOJMRlRPJq6GCE0Gr6yg5Z0DYfH4CoFqrt6zMeKjOZkeMXBnjnWoYgaMmhjT_SLASH_zZdGhrVLv6B4qz5REZtByADBbb1df5Z2YeICB5BxavzFiZuPL_PLUS_s3FwP3odk0S5zYGa_PLUS_bvoKSA_EQUALS_EQUALS ] from the New York City General Assembly shows what each symbol looks like. And to ensure all voices were heard, not just the loudest, a “stack” or speakers list was put on the chalkboard. [ liamodonnell.com/feedingchange/2011/11/how-twinkle-fingers-turned-my-classroom-into-a-general-assembly ]

Fred Mindlin also joins us to reflect on his nine years of “living at Black Bear Ranch, one of the original 60's "back to the land" hippie communes, and perhaps the only one which survives on the same terms on which it was founded: radical free.”

Enjoy and plan to join us for follow-up episodes on Walk Out Walk On in the coming weeks.

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

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Video penampakan unicorn ternyata Hoax!!   

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Toronto, Kanada. Sebuah video memperliahatkan seekor kuda bertanduk atau dikenal dengan nama unicorn yang dikirim seseorang ke youtobe. Pada video tesebut ada seekor unicorn yang terlihat sedang bergerak (berlari). Pusat penelitian di kanada mengklaim telah menganalisis video tersebut, dan hasilnya video tersebut hoax alias bohong atau rekayasa.
Ini berita sebenarnya sudah agak lama, tetapi saya hanya ingin berbagi pada sobat yang belum atau mungkin sudah membaca atau mendengar tentang berita ini. 
Jika sobat belum lihat Video Penampakan Unicorn, cek ke tkp.

 
video di atas ternyata sudah dianalisis, buktinya noh ada lingkaran yang menandai pada tanduk, saya ga berhasil mencari video asli sebelum di analisis (bagi yang punya tolong kasih tau saya).

Pusat penelitian mengkaji rekaman tersebut frame by frame, dan akan menentukan kalau rekaman itu asli  atau tidak (emang rekamanya asli tapi objek di dalam video tersebut asli ga ya??).

Ternyata tanduk yang menempel di kepala kuda itu kayu.

Eits.. tunggu belum selesai..
setelah saya menyaksikan video tersebut beberapakali dan saya pun merasa aneh,. Kudanya terlihat seperti melayang.(walaupun tidak terlihat bawahnya)
simak video dibawah.

Apa yang sobaat lihat? ya ilustrasi seekor kuda yang sedang berlari/bergerak. Dapatkah sobat menyimpulkan nya?.
menurut saya, ketika kuda sedang bergerak :
--> Rambut bergerak

"tapi sob, pada rekaman rambut kuda telihat bergerak"
sabar..
--> Badan kuda terlihat bergerak

Dalam rekaman penampakan, kuda tersebut sama sekali tidak terlihat sedang berlari atau berjalan, tetapi seperti digerakan oleh sebuah roler (roda) dibawahnya. rambutnya bergerak kemungkinan karena adanya angin.

Kesimpulan
Jika saya menemukan penampakan unicorn, saya akan rekam unicorn tersebut dengan detail (rekam dengan durasi lama) dan mengejar unicorn tersebut sambil merekamnya.

          

Black I.P.A. from Beau’s “Le Cœur Noir” in LCBOs this Week!   

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Vankleek, ON

Juicy citrus & pine hop flavour intermingles with toasty malt intonations and restrained mocha in this contemporary American beer style

Beau’s Brewery’s newest beer release will become widely available beginning this week in LCBOs across Ontario. Le Cœur Noir Black I.P.A. is a contemporary American beer style that combines black beer colour, assertive hop flavour and aroma, and toasty dark malt character. Nearly opaque, this 7.1% I.P.A. is robust, but the alcohol remains well integrated. It offers up aromas of citrusy, piney hops with malt intonations, toast and restrained mocha.

The recipe for Le Cœur Noir was developed collaboratively in early 2015, with brewer Jordan Rainhard, of Rainhard Brewing in Toronto. Rainhard had won a home-brewing contest the year before, earning him the prize of coming to Beau’s and brewing a full batch of his creation. With Rainhard now having turned pro and starting a craft brewery of his own, the Beau’s brew team decided to bring back Le Cœur Noir in a new release to celebrate his success. Rainhard was on hand to brew the latest edition of this collaboration between the two Ontario craft breweries.

Le Cœur Noir marks the 60th release in Beau’s Wild Oats Series of beers, designed to explore bold flavours and exciting aromas. Beau’s resident chef Bruce Wood recommends pairing it with similarly bold-flavoured foods and cheeses, such as lamb vindaloo, black pepper seared striploin, and strong, dry blue cheeses like Glengarry Celtic blue or Ermite from Québec.

Le Cœur Noir is available this winter in Beau’s signature 600 ml bottles at Ontario LCBO stores, as well as directly from the Vankleek Hill brewery. It can also be ordered for home delivery in Ottawa via social enterprise BYBO. On draught the beer can be found at craft-friendly restaurants and pubs, and it will also be made available in Québec the following week.

          

Brrr… + Beer! Beau’s “feBREWary” Returns for 2016   

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Vankleek, ON

Beau’s Brewery’s annual winter beer celebration “feBREWary” is back for 2016, with weekend events all month long at the Vankleek Hill, ON brewery and a brand-new Beau’s beer tapped each week at participating restaurants and pubs in Ontario and Québec. Festivities kick off February 4 for the fifth annual edition of feBREWary, and continue into early March.

On sale today through Groupon and Tuango are a limited number of brewery-bound bus trip packages for each weekend in feBREWary: departures are from Montréal and Ottawa, both Saturday and Sunday, and the package cost is $10 per person. Each package includes round trip bus transportation to and from Beau’s Brewery, a brewery tour with beer samples, and a Beau’s gift.

Each weekend will have a cask-tapping of that week’s feature beer, Beau’s infused or inspired lunches and desserts created by Beau’s Resident Chef Bruce Wood, games, give-aways and prizes for visitors, as well as a different new beer to try, as follows:

·         Feb. 6/7: Tyrannosaurus Gruit, a red gruit brewed for International Gruit Day! Made with organic beets, hibiscus flowers, juniper berries and spruce tips.

·         Feb. 13/14: Embittermint IPA, an India Pale Ale that blends delicate and floral characteristics of select hops with organic spearmint and peppermint.

·         Feb. 20/21: Farm Table: Pils North German Style Pilsner, a traditional pilsner with the snappy, bracing hop character typical in Northern Germany.

·         Feb. 27/28: Elephant Monsoon, a “PB & Grape” Porter ale that gets a fun, flavourful twist with the addition of organic peanut butter and Concord grape juice.

·         Mar. 5/6: Koru, a Belgian-style ale with spicy, peppery yeast notes, tropical fruit inflections from New Zealand hops, and a pleasantly dry finish.

The Groupon and Tuango deals can be accessed at the following links:

OTTAWA: https://Model.blue/splash/I_SLASH_XEt3apU_PLUS_wiVQREItk1tN5a2qrRkQo_SLASH_zGY_SLASH_jM1pB_SLASH_Fg2_SLASH_49X84K_PLUS_idX9Gw_PLUS_M1M_SLASH_Xe0gZGaxanBbiyXdtshp_SLASH_4N_PLUS_veclKjnba9aaK6SteByPVGcZIxPaX5o5Zu9Oa9_PLUS_t_SLASH_jyWX95rNtsI9ikfyqLnAQ_EQUALS_EQUALS

MONTRÉAL: https://Model.blue/splash/2EdiJF7PSpUT6_PLUS_t1K355j_PLUS_hO14OtIjobTLYn5_PLUS_5CyZElNCS4EqHdFeQDCeR49SABlNT52Q96PnSuXvdcLbWjc76pF3JqjEQ_SLASH_UEX0mnAnm_PLUS_9HxqtZPdk6Blmt6AKRzYLOHCEQil69LhBpQpFNDHS0X8oNdBOW3BKAp_SLASH_H5WFfDsEZKnQL1GEoo_PLUS_E0ShT98aHW7OqaBrXTCou60vW2vm4yAJg_EQUALS_EQUALS

In addition to onsite celebrations, each of these new beers will be tapped weekly at more than 150 restaurants and pubs participating in Beau’s feBREWary. Each new beer will also be sold in 600 ml bottles from the brewery as well as through Ottawa home beer delivery service BYBO (www.bybo.ca). A number of satellite events in both Ontario and Québec will feature the Beau’s feBREWary beers, including the Richmond Hill Winter Carnival, the Toronto Brewfest, and more.

feBREWary 2016 will again be raising funds from the sale of glassware at the brewery, in memory of Bryce Elder, a special friend of the Beauchesne family. "Bryce Day" fundraising in 2014 and 2015 totaled more than $8,600; 2016 funds raised will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.


More details about Beau’s month-long feBREWary celebrations (including where to find the feBREWary beers on tap and by the bottle in Ontario and Québec) will continue to be updated at www.beaus.ca/febrewary.

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2020-08-15 09:07:05