An analogy for my dear readers

“Let’s just dump our waste in the town square from now on.” Those are the words of the owner of the local nuclear power plant in a small town, Springfield. The power plant generates a lot of waste and needs some way to deal with it. So the owner, we’ll call him Mr. Burns, organizes a party, gets a few municipal city councilors to show up and proposes to them that it’s a great idea to change the waste disposal procedures. From now on, all the nuclear waste is dumped in the town square. The councilors get a number of nice gifts, expensive bottles of wine, free electricity and a lifetime membership for the local bowling alley that Mr. Burns recently bought.

The mayor, Lisa and a number of other citizens are not very happy with this outcome, but Homer yelled “WOOHOO LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP” and put the whole issue out of his mind.

Soon enough however, strange things started happening. The dust flew through the air and the sky looked set alight at night, there was a strange green glow. “What’s going on?” Lisa asked her dad. “I dunno, just the weather I suppose.” Homer answered. She asked her teacher, one of the municipal councilors and he argued that this was just a temporary transient phenomenon, the Aurora Borealis was visible in Springfield. Humans don’t control the weather, so we just have to accept an eery green glow at night for now, he argued.

Soon enough however, stranger things started happening. Bart began to get very sickly, losing a lot of weight and his usual mischievous demeanor. When he would cut his finger, it just wouldn’t stop bleeding. Other children began developing similar symptoms. A bunch of moms got together, discussed it and began blaming Mr. Burns, for dumping radioactive waste in town square. They showed up to a council meeting and asked the municipality to quit allowing this dumping of waste in town square.

But the councilors were not convinced. “Look, there’s just nothing happening here that exceeds statistical chance. Sometimes you have bursts of sick children and you never figure out what led to this. We’d better wait and see first, before overhauling our whole economy. Do you realize what electricity would cost you, if we had to stop dumping the waste in town square?” One councilor said.

But Lisa wouldn’t put up with this. She began to document strange findings. Whereas in the past, the average rat in her neighborhood had one tail, these days she would encounter many that have two or three tails. She recorded her findings, that the average rat now has 1.8 tails, 3.7 eyeballs, an eerie green glow and every once in a while seemed to utter English words with a Zimbabwean accent.

So she set up her own website, to document what was going on in her little town. A lot of residents began to visit the website and people started talking about it. So Mr. Burns organized another meeting at the power plant, all the men in town were invited to the meeting and it was proclaimed:

There is some sort of elitist activist group in town here, that wants to take away your hard-earned way of life! Springfield is built on cheap electricity, it is what allows us to do everything we enjoy. Without it, we’d be back to playing board games and lighting candles. From now on, with anything bad that happens, they’re going to try to use it to badmouth our nuclear power plant, trying to bankrupt it by prohibiting us from disposing of our waste in the town square. And ultimately, these activist groups are run by the neighboring town, that wants to render us economically destitute so they can buy our whole town up!

Homer asked a question:

Wait Mr. Burns, aren’t you a bit of an elitist yourself? You know, Marge and Lisa have to survive off my meager salary.

Oh shut up! Mr. Burns responded.

And so now all the men in town were convinced: There’s some sort of special interest group, that wants to take away their way of life. Mr. Burns soon passed away, but the conviction that elitists want to destroy their way of life didn’t die with him. It didn’t help that Lisa was a vegetarian too. At Moe’s tavern, one drunk dude said to Homer: “Hey homer, once your daughter is done taking away our electricity, do you think we’re gonna have to give up beef next?”

And rather than asking themselves whether the nuclear waste was starting to cause problems, as the men found themselves noticing strange bumps on their skin, swollen lymph nodes and a pale exhausted appearance in the mirror, they all had their own unique individual theory, why Lisa’s hypothesis that the dumping of nuclear waste in town square is causing these problems can’t be right:

-Radiation occurs naturally in rocks and in sunlight. We’ve been exposed to radiation for generations, in fact, radiation exposure was much higher when people still had to work outside. In the past people even had radiation exposure when they would buy new shoes, as X-ray machines allowed them to see if the shoes fit. Why would it start causing trouble today?

-Radiation is what causes evolution! Mutations are made out to be dangerous, but without mutations, humans would not have evolved! If we enhance the rate of mutations, we will enhance the speed at which we evolve!

-Alright, let’s say the radiation is causing sickness. You know what problem we haven’t had anymore in recent years? Stray dogs. We used to have a stray dog problem, but whenever you walk through town these days there’s little left except for the occasional corpse of a stray dog with a glowing hammer or piece of mechanical equipment in its mouth. The town manages to save costs on fighting this problem!

-There’s no evidence that the radiation will continue to be a problem. Those Springfielders who survive will have some degree of radiation resistance. And in fact, at sufficient high doses of exposure, the radiation will kill the cells that lead to those unsightly bumps on everyone’s skin.

-I’m still not convinced that we even have a radiation problem. The Aurora Borealis may be visible above Springfield, but it seems to me that the years 1850-2022 were simply anomalous in the Aurora Borealis not being visible above Springfield. I know we have zero records of it ever being visible here, but it seems to me that it’s a natural cycle and so now we’re returning to a situation where the sky looks green and eery at night.

-Look, it’s pretty clear that Lisa has an issue with the nuclear power plant. She’s a biased source. And yes, she may have all this data she recorded, of a steadily growing expansion of mice with three tails and fifteen eyeballs, but have any of you ever independently verified it? I haven’t, but neither have you.

And that last suggestion, got all the men at Moe’s tavern excited. “Look Bob, if we all drop some cash on this and Joe fills in your shifts at work, you can go out there and study the mice for yourself!” Homer suggested.

And so it was. Bob set out to prove that Lisa was wrong, that Springfield didn’t have more mice with three tails than surrounding towns, that it’s normal for the occasional mouse to have three tails and that these extra eyeballs come in quite handy too.

So Bob set out and stumbled to his shock to a mess that was exactly as bad at Lisa had warned about, perhaps even a little worse. Springfield was filled with frightening deformed rodents of various sizes and various mutations. Three tails, twenty eyeballs. Bob didn’t like to admit it, but when Homer asked him how his research was going he said: “Well Homer, seems like intelligence is inherited from the mother after all, as you have a pretty clever daughter.” Bob announced in Moe’s tavern that his study was halted for reasons he didn’t elaborate on and the guys never talked about it again.

Whereas Bob was previously thought of as an integer man, the guys now became cynical about him behind his back: “Probably got Marge to whisper gentle words into his ear. Homer really can’t control his wife.”

In Moe’s tavern, fueled by alcohol, the men began to discuss their theories about what’s really going on, until they arrived at their grand synthesis: Mr Burns was secretly still alive and he was using the “nuclear waste hoax”, as an excuse to force through electricity rationing, which would then allow him to charge very high prices, without having to produce much electricity. And by selectively withholding electricity, he could force other businesses in Springfield into bankruptcy, giving him complete control. And of course, he was never a true Springfielder at heart, he was born in Shelbyville and any penny he earns with his swindle he spends on Shelbyville.

And although not every man in Springfield adhered consistently to this grand synthesis of theories, every man had his own collection of unique reasons why the habit of dumping nuclear waste in the town square should not be disrupted. All except one, a man who had seen doubt grow in his heart: Homer Simpson.

Homer spent a lot of time reading about radiation for his job and because Bart was getting really sick. He also knew that Lisa is really smart and despite being vegetarian harbors no genuine desire to make the men in Moe’s tavern’s lives a living nightmare. He also thought to himself that if all the theories of Lisa being on Mr. Burns payroll were true, he would have seen some evidence for himself.

And so Homer went back to the tavern one night and announced he had to confess something. His fellow attendants were not impressed however: “I knew you worked for Mr. Burns, but that you would get up here and shill for his agenda here in this bar, that disappoints me Homer, I had expected better from you!” One responded.

So Homer became depressed, gave up on alcohol and went back to smoking weed by himself.

Unfortunately the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Bart died the next year, after which Homer’s depression escalated and he added some opiates on top of his cannabis habit.

In addition to rats and mice with fifteen eyeballs and twenty-seven tails, the town began to see strange monstrous entities, venomous sparrows with bulging eyeballs and a hunger for human flesh. People continued to get sick and die at growing rates, the municipal government primarily concerned itself not with solving the problems, but with maintaining the appearance that everything is going as it should. Whenever someone died without any family, the appearance of an empty house was seen as threatening home ownership value and so these houses were demolished.

Sometimes Springfield would go a month without any children dropping dead, so the men in Moe’s tavern would point at that and say: “See, it has stopped!” Only for another wave of dead kids to follow.

At some point, once the pile of nuclear waste had grown so large that some men had to climb over it to leave their homes, there began to emerge a consensus that something had to be done about it. Although some continued to believe in the theory that the rats would eventually evolve mutations that would allow them to eat the waste. “You know, I’m not one of those whacko’s, but what if we just throw it into the local river and let the whole thing flush down to Shelbyville, let them deal with it?”

The men tried in vain to throw the waste into the river, but it was too much, the pile of waste sank to the bottom of the river, the river overflowed and nearby homes became flooded with water filled with radioactive waste. The few surviving residents fled Springfield.

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