The Canadian Record

Net Neutrality Is Kind Of A Big Deal

I don’t get worked up about real-life issues very often. I know there are important events going on all around me, every day, and I should probably be monitoring and taking action.

But I don’t.

Generally, my inaction boils down to two reasons: either I don’t know (my major contributions to political and social discussions around the office consist mostly of incredibly clever phrases such as, “Wait…what?” and “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”), or I don’t care (in which case, my contribution to the discussions consists of, “I don’t care. I’ll be in my office drawing robots.”).

One thing that I do get worked up about is net neutrality. In case you don’t know what that is, let me give you a quick rundown. You know the internet? You know how you can go from website to website, and it all pretty much runs the same?

That’s net neutrality.

Across the board, everyone has the same ability to set up a website and try to drive traffic to that website. On the other side of the coin, everyone has the same ability to look at whatever websites they like.

It’s a wonderful, amazing thing. Which means someone has to try to ruin it.

In this case, it’s basically politicians and cable companies—which, science has proven, are the most evil entities ever created (please keep in mind that I never fact-check these rants, so if some scientist tells you there’s something more evil than a cable company, please don’t use me as a reference in your argument…incidentally, if there is something more evil than a cable company, please don’t ever tell me, because, frankly, that’s really too horrifying for my mind to accept).

I’m going to try to keep my babbling to a minimum, because this really is important: they want to regulate the internet so that if a company (such as AT & T or Time Warner) pays more, it’s faster to view their site. Which means other sites (the ones that don’t pay) run slower.

If you have ever used the internet (and you have), this is an important issue to you.

Not just in a mundane “okay, so my kitten videos won’t load as fast” kind of way, either.

If net neutrality is taken away, it will literally change the world. In case you’re wondering, I’m not one of those people who uses “literally” lightly.

Staunching the free flow of ideas and information? That is literally world-changing.

Sure, you’ll still be able to surf the internet. But the majority of what you see will be decided by companies such as Comcast, Time Warner, and AT & T.

Hey, remember that cable company who up and left town after that big storm awhile back, and had everyone in town scrambling to find new internet and television service? Yeah, it will be people like that in charge.

So here’s the thing: you can quickly and easily get involved. Visit battleforthenet.com and it will help you send an email to our lawmakers. It takes less than ten seconds.

You can do more, of course. I suggest you at least take the time to read up on this topic—as wonderfully informative as my babbling is, it doesn’t do justice to the impact this has on all of us.

I know that reading can be boring, and you all have busy lives to attend to. But years from now, when you’re ordering a photobook you made of your children, or buying a custom-made pillow for your grandmother, or reading unfiltered tweets about the world around you, you can pat yourself on the back and say, “I helped keep this going.”

If you’d like to watch a hilarious video explaining this in more detail, here is John Oliver (please note, there is some adult language).

Issue #32 is about as bright as it can get.

Issue #32 is about as bright as it can get.

It Only SOUNDS Like The Kind Of Thing I’d Plant On Purpose

I generally try to stay away from writing anything informative or newsworthy. You might think that’s odd, considering I work at a newspaper. But the way I have it figured, there are a lot more people around here who do a lot better job of being informative and telling you about the newsworthy stuff.

Where I shine is babbling on about things that don’t matter too much, and seeing if I can string sentences along so much that the reader loses interest—or even falls asleep—before getting to the end, making it possible for me to say pretty much anything I want, without fear of retribution or dire consequences.

Still with me? Rats—I really thought you’d doze off on that last one.

I’m glad you’re still reading, because I actually have something to tell you that borders on both informative and newsworthy.

If you look around Canadian these days, you might notice something—particularly on empty lots or unkempt lawns. At first, you might think it’s just clumps of dead, yellow grass, or weeds that got too hot and are drying in the sun.

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If you look closer at some of these clumps, you’ll realize your mistake. That yellow stuff? Not dead.

That’s a vine called the dodder vine, but it goes by lots of different names. Let me run a few of them by you, so you can get an idea about what kind of a plant we’re dealing with, here: devil guts, witches shoelaces, strangleweed, and hellbine. Are you starting to get the idea?

(Sidenote: it also goes by the name “love vine,” but I’m pretty sure that one was added by some scientist who had just gone through a really painful break-up, and and he was trying to convince himself that being alone was way better than being in a relationship.)

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The dodder vine is a parasitic plant that feeds on other plants, you see. It doesn’t really have leaves (although, apparently some types do have little leaves? I don’t know, this is why I hate writing informative posts. If you’re so interested, go look it up on your own), and it doesn’t root in soil. Instead, it sends tendrils into host plants, sucking out nutrients until the host is dead. Meanwhile, the vine reaches out, looking for its next victim.

It can be spread through seeds—or in some cases, parts of the vine—and from what I’ve read, it can grow up to 3 feet per day, if conditions are right.

And guess what, everybody: conditions have been right. This stuff is popping up all over town.

I noticed it in my yard earlier this summer, and my initial thought was that it was a bit of dead grass. The second day I saw that it was much larger, and went over to investigate. That’s when I saw that it was intertwined through the vegetation (aka weeds) that make up most of my lawn. I had never seen anything like it, so I took a couple pictures and asked my coworkers about it.

There are very few things in the world you can’t learn about in the offices of The Canadian Record, but dodder weed was one of them. Nobody knew what this was, which worried me a great deal—if Cathy Ricketts doesn’t know about a plant, I figure it’s an alien species, here to take over the world. I began Googling, and found that although it wasn’t an alien species, it sure looked like it could easily take over the world.

Pretty much everything I read talked about how awful this stuff is, killing entire crops in California, murdering groves of trees, and being nearly impossible to kill.

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Most of the advice I found was along the lines of, “You can’t get rid of this. Kill everything it touches, and if that doesn’t work, move.”

Almost as scary as the plant itself were the extreme measures people had to go in order to rid themselves of it. I half-expected to find someone had performed human sacrifice in order to sate the angry plant (so far, I haven’t come across that, but I’m still looking).

One post I read, the guy started out by saying, “Burn it.” He went on to say you might try other things, but none of it had worked for him, and he had eventually just set his property on fire.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go that far. Since most of my yard is weeds, I just took some Round-Up to it, and wiped out everything living in the area.

Once I was aware of the dodder weed, however, I noticed it everywhere. Patches growing along the highway, on an empty corner lot on Main Street, and several yards around town.

So I guess what I’m saying is, watch out. This stuff is bad news, and I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before it develops a taste for human blood.

If you would like to read more about the dodder vine (stuff that’s probably way more accurate and way less dramatic), here are some links:

Texas Invasives Database

Devious Dodder Vine on NPR

UCIPM Online

Wikipedia

This is what I spent the entire day doing.

Music: “Tempting Secrets" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

"Don’t hit old ladies."
-Ray

"Don’t hit old ladies."

-Ray

"Drink deep the starry night, for day brings parched blue sky."
-Ray

"Drink deep the starry night, for day brings parched blue sky."

-Ray

"Whether you know it or not, you are the evil twin."
-Ray

"Whether you know it or not, you are the evil twin."

-Ray

"Dream big, nightmare small."
-Ray

"Dream big, nightmare small."

-Ray

"Eating toothpaste doesn’t make you a hero."
-Ray

"Eating toothpaste doesn’t make you a hero."

-Ray

Dinosaur Quote Of The Day

My brother recently sent my sister and I a picture of his new baby. There’s not much you can say about a new baby, except to acknowledge the fact that it’s cute.

And let’s be honest—most new babies aren’t cute. Most new babies look like something out of a science fiction movie—the part when things first start going wrong, and all the scientists realize they got way more than they bargained for when they parked their space ship on the creepy planet with way too much wind and the horrifying little pink screaming creatures.

That said, my brother’s baby is actually pretty cute (which is good, because I never lie about babies being cute—you show me an ugly baby, I’m going to cringe and pat you on the shoulder, maybe offer some words of condolence, such as, “Don’t worry—maybe it’ll look better once it stretches out some and isn’t so scrunchy.”). So that’s what I texted back: “Cute.”

I didn’t feel like I was pulling my weight, conversationally speaking, though, and I decided to send him a picture back.

I don’t have a baby of my own, so I sent the next best thing: a picture of the dinosaur note-holder I keep on my desk.

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Since then, I have decided that Dinosaur quote of the day should be a daily thing. I also decided that I should share some of them on this blog, because I’m always looking for an easy way to keep content fresh, and I don’t always feel like writing long, rambling posts about nonsense.

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So that’s what I did.

-Ray