The Hagfish, up close and personal:
A long time ago in a cubicle a mile away, I used my idle hands to click an Interweb button:
"Get Your Own Blog", it said.
Oooh, thought I, rubbing my grubby little fingers in glee, I can make stuff up and see if people believe it.
One of the first things I fabricated was an article on the merits of starting a backyard hagfish hatchery. As I scoured the internet for information on the hagfish, it occurred to me that a hagfish farm would actually be a pretty good investment. One can use their skin to fashion small leather goods such as wallets and belts and the slime produced by the hagfish is a viable substitute for egg whites in baked goods and other foods. The hag itself is considered a delicacy by those who are unfortunate enough to have nothing else to eat.
Back then, I had a few strangers email me and ask me for more information on hagfish cultivation. The first couple of times, I wrote back and told them, sorry, it's a joke. There is no such thing as a hagfish farm, said I.
By the third email, this one from a gent named Paul, I was bored. I responded with a request for a $10,000 start-up fee. For $10,000, I wrote, I can convert your backyard pool into a hagfish hatchery- I need the cash up-front because the North Koreans have my best breeding pair in captivity and I need to bribe a half-dozen Communists in order to secure their release.
I never did hear back from Paul.
The joke, such as it was, is now on me. With the environment in shambles and the growing global food crisis, people are eating more hagfish than ever before- there is a huge boom in commercial hag farms and I missed my chance. Paul, I imagine, is a hagfish kingpin by now.
On a similar note, I "invented" Whalanol, which is a natural gasoline additive derived from whale oil; whales, I posited, are a renewable resource and we could take advantage of the rising oceans and use that abundant new seawater to grow more whales.
A few weeks after that post, I saw an article about Whalanol on an Eco-Hippy website. They reported it as news and the 'reporter' seemed to think that harvesting whales for fuel was a baaaad idea, which was my point, but they missed it...I didn't miss the fact that they had plagiarised me. I sent them a letter using the stationary from the law firm I worked at- the "reporter" sent me a check for twelve bucks. I dropped my imaginary lawsuit.
With gas prices where they are now, I am getting worried for the whales. If you don't see the "whalanol-free" sticker displayed at your local fueling station, ask the attendant why. If they can't answer, don't buy gasoline from that station.
Years later, I have reached a conclusion: Making stuff up on the Intertube is a waste of time and a recipe for cynicism. People often believe anything except the truth, which is a shame because reality is rich with unbelievable facts. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but She loves bizarre critters, including the human ape and all the weird stuff it does, such as eating hagfish.