The Fish Story

When Cussin’ Becomes Too Damn Much; Sorting Out What Makes Atmosphere Go Gonzo

By JAY MANN | Oct 22, 2019
Photo by: Jay Mann LOCATION, LOCATION: While the bass bite at Holgate hasn’t been all that banner, it remains one of the most serene plugging sites on the planet.

MANN OVERBOARD: Do you curse your ass off? I’m talking about loosing a ton of crude cusses, per day; countless per annum. Is your language inevitably saturated with enough verbal vulgarity to incur the wrath of every known Almighty … real pillar of salt-worthy offensiveness? Do obscenities just kinda pop the hell out of you … and in front of, say, anybody, anywhere? “Uh, yes, Father, that might have been me who just blurted that out. But I couldn’t get the damn candle lit … Doh!”

Well, an electrifying cursing cure is in the making. This is going to shock you, literally and spiritually.

Before I revel the cure, I need to counter-intuitively begin with some recent academic studies alleging, and I paraphrase the finding of some mighty heady bastards, “Intellectual people tend to curse profusely.”

One frickin’ example, titled “Swearing Is Actually a Sign of More Intelligence – Not Less – Say Scientists,” has Richard Stephens writing, “The use of obscene or taboo language … is often seen as a sign that the speaker lacks vocabulary, cannot express themselves in a less offensive way, or even lacks intelligence. Studies have shown, however, that swearing may in fact display a more, rather than less, intelligent use of language.”

Another submission, from a NY Post story by Natalie O’Neill, draws on a University of Rochester study. “Researchers asked 1,000 people about 400 everyday habits – ranging from singing in the shower to swearing – and found potty mouths tend to have higher IQs.”

By the by, the above study also showed that brainy people like to eat spicy breakfasts and walk around their homes naked. For now, let’s just worry about bad word choices, holding off on the naked household walkabouts for warmer weather.

As to cussing, the pisser of a problem is how potty mouthing seldom sits well in many life situations, even when it’s your superior smarts that make you an ass-kicking profanity machine. A fine example is a bruiser buddy who once cursed more than a hockey player who was formerly a sailor. We lost touch for a goodly number of years, hooking up again after he was two kids deep into familyhood. He had become a fifth-grade schoolteacher to boot. Talk about one helluva mouth cleanup. I knew something had drastically changed when I blurted out the worst of all four-letter words and saw him instantly cringe and offer a “Shhhh!”

“What the ****, dude?” I whispered.

Yep, his days of free-flying profanity had ended. My first thought was, “That sucks.” But it got me thinking about the dirty deluges that endlessly flow from my once mom-kissing mouth. It also offered familyhood as one glowing example of needing to quickly de-curse one’s language. I’ll add churchgoing as another.

So, if you’re dead-ass serious about going cuss-free – and I absolutely assure that doing so won’t suddenly make you a dumb ass – I first need you to think cellphone, specifically voice recognition, i.e. “Alexa” and “OK, Google.”

For me, this voice-recognition/command stuff is straight out of the futurism playbook. Yet, for kids today, such mindboggling advances are just ho-hum. “Why shouldn’t phones and computers respond to our voice?” Why you brats! Back in my day we had to manually type commands into the computer if we wanted it to do s***! But I digress.

Rapidly advancing voice-recognition technology is simply part of the developing anti-cursing cure, one that will likely get millions from Shark Tank. It is a cure based on something called negative reinforcement.

Before we go there – “Come on, Jay, get to it!!” – I need to bring up those invisible electric fences meant to keep dogs pinned within assigned yard zones. Sometimes euphemistically called “pet containment fences,” an electric jolt befalls any rigged-up dog that goes too far astray, yard-wise. It’s more than enough shock therapy to convince Fido to forego going balls out after that passing poodle, the one with blue hair and a groom job straight out of Westminster. There’s something uncanny about the way electric shockwaves can make any creature stop in its tracks.

With that in mind, we can now proceed to curing overly foul-mouthed man creatures.

If you’re a Sherlock type, you might have deduced the essence of the arriving cursing cure methodology. Therefore, here are the specifics: You, as a needing-a-cure curseaholic, will attach a small skin-adhering pad on your belly area. The seemingly innocuous pad is wired to issue a singularly displeasing electrical shock, not unlike that issued by those electrified packs of playing cards from way back in the gimmicky day. You’ll feel it, believe me. (Snicker, snicker.)

The power-packing pad is coupled with a matchbox-sized voice recognition transmission device, essentially a two-inch by two-inch computer. It is loaded to the memory rafters with every known cuss word, even foreign ones. It easily fits into a shirt or pants pocket.

Once these two small items are in place, the anti-cussing magic begins. Through Bluetooth type communication, any time you cuss, the transmitter recognizes the cuss and instantly activates the pad’s electrodes and … zap! “Owww, you son of bitch! … Owwwwww! You son of a … uh, no you don’t.” That’s exactly how fast negative reinforcement works.

The possibly-called Cuss Zapper, while adjustable, isn’t routinely set with enough juice to make you scream out loud – possibly terrifying everyone within scream range, many of whom had already noticed the utterly paranoid look on your face – the result of you having been buzzed a dozen times in quick succession. The jolt is mainly meant to make you think twice before you cuss out some vulgarities like … Uh, no, you’re not going to get me this time, Cuss Zapper.

IS IT NATURAL OR ALL ABOUT US?: A recent poll indicated that 75 percent of New Jerseyans feel climate change is affecting the state. That’s a fine find and an even finer understanding of an atmosphere on the throes of who-knows-what. It hopefully inspires Trenton to continue cleaning up the state’s sky act, which it has been doing decently in recent years, though we still spew forth more ghastly gases than we should.

While the poll surely shows the Garden State is aflow with climate-fearing folks, the objectivity side of me balks a bit at the question, because it vicariously asks, “Is climate affecting New Jersey?” sans the global warming aspect. It might even read: “Does weather affect New Jersey?”

So, how much of our sky goings-on is true-unblue climate change and how much is every day run-of-the-mill stormage and temperature swings, simply made more foreboding by a pervading public perception fueled by global warming anxiety?

For the welfare of the world, it’s enormously important to avoid getting disproportionately caught up in the media-heightened climate change furor. Why so? Elevating everyday climate activity to fearful heights could easily diminish from any viable gains we’ll see by worthily cutting back on our sky abuses. You can’t fight climate, per se. What can be fought are mankind’s atmospheric abuses, which can clearly impact and exacerbate natural ongoing processes.

It’s worth repeating: You can’t fight climate. However, lessening and eventually ending climate-changing impacts imposed on the atmosphere by mankind is a whole other potentially removable matter … hopefully.

Trying to portray a worldwide sky-cleanup effort with reversing all of nature can become very counterproductive – and hopeless. It comes down to establishing realistic targets for climate repair. Is the ultimate goal a Utopian, Eden-like sky, obedient to mankind’s every pleasure? Ain’t happening. There’s a billion years of climatic proof to back that. Absurdly high hopes that an atmospheric cleanup by us will domesticate the weather evokes an unhealthy expectation, one that could lead to a growing sense of hopelessness, while killing fix-up efforts in their tracks.

Putting on my rallying cap, we must fight like all get-out to reduce anthropogenic (mankind) impacts on Earth’s life-protecting atmosphere. It simply can’t be based on achieving the unachievable. The climate is always going to be the master of all it surveys, even if and when skies are freed of pollution.

Full cycle, it comes down to properly differentiating between what the planet is doing because of mankind’s sky-high interference, and what it’s hellbent on doing all on its own – which can include insanely wild things, like tremors, tsunamis, volcanoes, freezes, thaws, along with hurriquakes and lightning, i.e. good old purely planetary things.

By the by, a spookily large number of top scientists are now proposing that current climate changes could be a fully natural thing, not mankindish at all. That it is a pendulum swing that emerging science inevitably displays. While I’m not going there – fearing it could take the oomph out of much-needed worldwide sky cleaning – it indicates an active effort to methodically differentiate between anthropomorphic impacts and those that are all-natural.

BLACKFISH AND BEYOND: I see where a massive 19.6 blackfish was taken off Rhode Island. I have to think – in the most hopeful of ways – such major tog will become more common, thanks to very restrictive harvesting regs, something many of us felt came too late to have a quick impact on these slow-growing structure fish. Here’s hoping we were wrong – in a big tog way.

Winter is the prime time for blackies, marked by a five-fish bag from Nov. 16 to the end of the year. Considering the time of year, it usually takes a vessel of decent backbone to get out and stay stable over blackfishing areas. Still makes for great off-season fishing fun.

As to tautog being a “recovering” fishery, per studies, there is scant evidence that the fishery is rebounding at the hoped-for rate. I relate the slow-go recovery to the perils faced by young-of-year tog trying to migrate out of Barnegat Bay. Those future full-grown blackies can’t get past a bottom paved with absurdly ravenous fluke. But speaking so much as a disparaging word about fluke, the most beloved of meat fish, is tantamount to sacrilege. Same speak-not-badly rule applies to stripers. So I shan’t speak gravely of these two wrecking ball species being protected, allowed to run amuck in a delicate ecosystem.

Back to blackfish, one of the endearing aspects of any significant harvesting cutback is usually the appearance of high-end fish, meaning trophy fish. In fact, a challenge will likely soon be made on the world record tog, a 28-8 mega-tautog caught by Kenneth Westerfeld, weighed in at Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland. A bit of a port name irony, the Maryland 28-8 crushed the existing record of 20-0 pounds, taken in 1998 by Anthony Monica out of Ocean City … New Jersey.

BIG IS ALWAYS BIG: Keeping prize-fish is what fishermen have been doing since time immemorial. Nonetheless, an era of criticizing the keeping of major hookups is heavily upon the modern angling community. Overlooked is the highly noteworthy way nowadays fishermen are abiding by sometimes Draconian regulations, which heavily restrict keeperage. Their ongoing conservation actions save untold numbers of fish, if not entire species. Being able to keep an occasional scale-straining catch is a trade-off that the ocean ecology can live with, sustainability-wise.

At the same time, when a fish species tends to lose its table appeal once grown to wow-worthy size, a photo suffices as living proof of a catcher’s prowess. A careful release rounds out that prowess. I have bluefish and stripers in mind when thinking in terms of bigger models becoming dang near unpalatable. Supersized bluefish lead the way in low edibility, as much for health reasons as taste. The old saying about eating big striped bass: You cook them on a cedar plank, then throw away the fish and eat the plank.

All this submitted, I stand firm with my doctrine that bass taken in tourneys constitute ridiculously few fish when compared to those needlessly taken merely to show the boys back at the docks. In fact, overall, contest fish are a minuscule take by comparison.

In my less-than-illustrious fishing career, I’ve still managed to catch-and-release what could well be 1,000 striped bass. That’s over many decades, mind you; and I count all sizes, even laughably tiny. Only on the rarest of occasions have I kept an eater-sized bass, despite the table excellence of stripers of around 28 inches – or smaller, when legal. I bring up that stellar catch-and-release history to pre-qualify myself – and, by extension, slews of other C&R anglers – when keeping a better bass to enter into the likes of the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic.

For every bass I kill, I release 99. And please don’t try feeding me that utterly nonsensical line that half all caught-and-released bass die. Take it from me, a solid 90 percent swim off no worse for wear. As to gut-hooked fish, if there is any chance of using them for foodstuff – and they’re of legal size – keep them, utilize them. I’ll piss off some folks by adding that gut-hooked fish can even be used for pet food … in just that one instance, though!

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