The Fish Story

Rotting Takes a Turn for the Better; Trolls Give Trolling a Bad Name

By JAY MANN | May 10, 2017
Photo by: Jay Mann

If, as a kid, you were traumatized by the mamma-deer death scene in the movie “Bambi,” you likely stayed up at night contriving ways to get back at that hunter who shot Bambi’s mom. Well, it has taken a while, but chew on this long-in-coming fairytale follow-up.

Once upon a time, there was a faraway place, including Texas, where people in lab coats put human bodies outside to rot something awful. …

Oh, I guess I should have mentioned that this is not a fairy-tale fairy tale. You might want to hide it from the kids’ eyes. Too late, eh? Sorry. But, there really are these official-ish folks who put human carcasses out to decay to their heart’s content … both the carcasses’ heart’s content and that of the lab-coaters.

To these cadaver-placers, the more worms, the merrier; the greater the munching beetle count, the better; the grander the maggot number … you get the drift.

And there really are just such unfairytale-ish places … and people.

Not to worry. We’re not talking homicidal sickos here. In fact, it’s done in the name of research. These corroding corpses are legally donated to what might unscientifically be called the science of rotting folks.

The semi-official name to sites seeded with cadavers is “body farms,” indirectly indicating the folks behind such places have a finely tuned and twisted sense of corroding-corpus humor.

Per Wiki, “A body farm is a research facility where decomposition can be studied in a variety of settings. ... Body farm research is of particular interest in forensic anthropology and related disciplines, and has applications in the fields of law enforcement and forensic science.”

Reaching these fields can be a breeze, especially if you pass away with nary a soul knowing who the hell you are/were, thusly defaulting your mortal remains to an odd place in the sun, i.e. highly-academic decomposition fields. The fields offer a whole new angle to the now-proverbial “Build it and they will …”

The plantings of passed people began with forensic anthropologist William Bass, who, in 1972, woke up one gorgeous sunny day and realized how little was truly known about the disintegration of deceased human bodies. After some serious convincing of sundry – and surely stunned – authorities, the body farm concept was born. Bass also called his rather gruesome grounds “Death’s Acre,” which is also the title of a book on his life and career.

The largest body farm in America is a 26-acre site, operated by Texas State University. It’s called the Freeman Ranch. Yeehaw. “Get along little dogeys … Yo, dogeys. You gonna get along or ain’t ya?”

Freeman Ranch, which can hold dozens of rapidly maturing corpses, has become an astounding tourist destination, where entire families can walk the fields and marvel over …  I’m not serious! Sometimes I worry about you folks.

A big part of the academic corpse-watching focuses on those things that merrily munch on man meat – and in what order the diners arrive.

No surprise, bugs are the first to show … and, being party animals, are the last to leave. If you’ve ever watched over-colorized crime shows, like “CSI-wherever,” you know insects are the number one time-of-death teller.

Circling closely behind bugs are scavengers from above, most famously the proverbial vultures, with a crow or two thrown in for good measure.

Then, along comes a steady stream of omnivores and carnivores; sundry creatures of the wood and vale, all more than willing to opportunistically grab a bite or two from the, uh, spread. This includes the likes of rodents, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, wolves … the whole woodsy shebang.

For “Ranch” researchers, getting a good read entails a day and night watching procedure. To keep an eye on bodies left to the creatures of the night, motion-activated trail cameras are used.

Now, if you recall, this segment is ostensibly about a Bambiesque revenge. So, let’s venture out to the north 40 of the Freeman Ranch – and a stunning discovery made thereupon.

Over the years, the body-watchers have seen many a creature show up to taste-test the crop. But nothing could prepare them for what they viewed while reviewing the night cams back in 2015. I’ll let you hear about it through the headline I first saw.

“Forensic scientists caught a deer munching on a human carcass for the first time ever,” from the Popular Science website, popsci.com.

A May 5, 2017, article by Sarah Fecht read, “The camera caught a glimpse of a young white-tailed deer standing near the skeleton with a human rib bone in its mouth. Then it happened again on January 13 – the camera caught a deer with another rib sticking out of its mouth like a cigar.”

Hey, didn’t the hunter who shot Mrs. Bambi have a cigar in his mouth? Just sayin’ … and/or imagining.

It is obviously self-gratifying that I mystically aligned these deer-eats-man scenarios with finally getting even with the long-ago murdering of Mrs. Bambi.

That aside, the next time you see cute little deer munching on lawn grass, keep a close eye on the one or two delivering very un-vegan, lean-and-hungry stares. It’s your ribs at steak … make that stake.

TROLLING TURNED BAD: How can anyone get royally pissed off after watching a YouTube video showing a basketful of golden retriever puppies joyously frolicking, as only fluffy little puppies can? But there I was, furiously pushing back from my computer … pissed to bloody hell and back.

I wondered how many other fellow dog softies have eruptively responded in the same manner – after all, the puppy video has gone mildly viral, with well over 100,000 hits. However, the popularity count becomes meaningless when, just below the tally, the famed thumbs-up/down “likes” and “dislikes” columns glares “97” dislikes! Who in bloody hell would dislike a frickin puppy video?!

In a full-blown WTF instant, I felt the need to head over to my new Dick’s punching bag; the store is named after the person who prices its products. It’s a good thing I had yet to fill the Century® Wavemaster® bag with water, so I just nudged it one good and walked away … still pissed, though.

Upon calming a tad, I tried to rationalize that, just maybe, a couple/few folks got so teary-eyed over the pup video that they accidently clicked on the thumbs-down “dislike” column, instead of the thumbs-up one. I further imagined a “dislike” or two over the pups tumbling out of a big wicker basket and rolling along the floor, like hairy bowling balls. I then attributed a few negative votes as stemming from folks feeling the video outpoured too much attention upon obviously pure-breed pups, while the best dogs ever sit dejectedly in animal shelters.

Even with my generous tally of semi-reasonable “dislikes,” that left something like 90 folks just maliciously down-thumbing the pups-at-play. You sick SOBs!

Turns out that might be true.

Driven to researching the subject, it turns out dislikers are legion – and, as often as not, sorta sick-ass. There is even a name for the cantankerous actions of chronic dislikers. It’s called trolling, thusly offering a dubious angling angle.

The first-and-foremost interpretation of “trolling” is obvious to us. It’s fishing folks happily travelling in a boat with lures trailing seductively in the sea behind. And a troller? Obviously, it’s he/she who trolls, often with big-game fish in mind. But such sunny fishing concepts are far from the essence of trolling  when within the muddled waters of internet slang.

I herein humbly bow to the fine Urban Dictionary’s definition of trolls and trolling: “Being a prick on the internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it’s the internet and, hey, you can.”

Well spoken, my Urban Dictionary friends.

Looking further into thumb-downers, I discovered a slew of ongoing investigations into chronically negative web prowlers. Some researchers aren’t mincing words. An article on psychologytoday.com, written by Jennifer Golbeck, was headlined “Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists; Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.”

Sounds like a well-balanced article to me.

Golbeck was a bit more refined in her definition of the condition. She wrote, “An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved.”

But puppies! You good for nothin’ …! But I should remain scientific. In doing so, I can logistically offer a Canadian study on trolling, as presented in sciencedirect.com, under the “Personality and Individual Differences” genre. There, it is objectively suggested that “It might be said that online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists.”

They came to this conclusion after studying 1,200 people, via personality tests. One announced aim was to establish trolling connections to certain personality traits, including “narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism,” clumped into something called the “Dark Tetrad.” Wow, I can all but picture these researchers wearing Darth Vader-type outfits and bandying about laser swords. “Repent, trollers … or meet your certain doom!”

Long and short of it, many of those chronic thumbs-down dislikers on YouTube and other websites might simply be sick-ass individuals getting off on anonymously making social-media mayhem. Or, in the words of the Canadian study, they reflect “themes of boredom, attention seeking, revenge, pleasure, and a desire to cause damage to the community.” Meaning they’re total numbnuts. Am I right? And there is no escaping them, even for puppies.

Put off by the fishingesque term of trolling being exploited by the internet slang realm, I can’t help but see its similarity to the neologism (new term) phishing, a homophone of our sport, yet meaning the use of baited trickery to attract, hook and swindle a victim. Almost seems the internet is picking on us. Let’s see what they plug next.

RUNDOWN: Highly mixed reports, even more so than usual.

Big blues on one street-end and totally absent on nearby beaches. Blues running chopper-huge one place and closer to medium/cocktails at another. Still all-heads.

Bass are being highly finicky to downright AWOL on many prime fronts. Then, I get word of Scott Shirey’s 41-inch, 26-pounder taken from the mid-Island surf, weighed in at Fisherman’s HQ. It went for bunker in the a.m.

A let-up in winds might finally allow for some trolling and bunker spotting. This is not to say a few stripers aren’t being taken by boat, just no rhythm to the bite.

I just got word (noon Tuesday) of a bayside just-keeper bass that went for clams meant for drumfish. I’m betting it was a bayside bass. It was very rounded out for spring. That vernal chubbiness can sometimes indicate a milder winter since bass eat all the time if waters don’t get too far down into the 30s. Even then, I’ve caught  them while fishing atop ice in Collins Cove.

As for those drumfish, black drum anglers ain’t got squat to report. They are still dropping chicken liver for mega-drum.

That said, I was recently gifted with three of the most delicious drumfish and crab cakes I have ever eaten. The maker is one of those meticulous Martha Stewart type cooks. I’m thinkin’ it’s her homemade mayo that takes fishcakes to new heights.

“Jay, When might the blowfish show?”

If I’m not mistaken, they should have started to show already, often indicated by a few washing up on the front beach, stunned from 50-degree-water thermal shock.

The northern puffer, the blowfish’s haughtier name, is a piss-poor swimmer, using just its tail to paddle along. Any current-based resistance as it moves migratorily northward slows its arrival.

To date, I haven’t heard a peep about blowfish. It's often winter flounderers who note them first.

I get why folks are wondering about puffers. We’ve had a few consecutive years of very fine blowfishing. Of course, I greatly prefer if folks would forsake the spring bite until a month or more from now, after the species survival-essential bayside spawn is over. The larger females can then be caught, while the males watch the brood in shallow bay waters.

jaymann@thesandpaper.net

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