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Week of 8 August 2022: The Rats find a new problem

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By Jim Thompson interpreting for Fos the Rat

After three lights, the Great Mother called us together again.

"We have heard a particularly disturbing story," she began. "It seems as though the Big Things want to be known for protecting this whole place where we live, but some of them take what they call shortcuts at times. The RBI, or Rat Bureau of Investigation, has been looking into this. I'll let them explain."

Phineas Kirby came to the front of the room.

"Hello. I am Phineas Kirby head of the RBI. It seems as though the Big Things want to take credit for something they call 'cycling.' Sometimes they put various prefixes in front of this word-- 'motorcycling,' 'bicycling,' or sometimes even 'recycling.' The RBI put a great deal of work into studying these various cycling words and finally figured out the one of interest is 'recycling.' My associate, Bill Dyson, will explain the situation."

They had the room's attention. Nothing like this had ever happened before.

Mr. Dyson came to the front. "Fellow rats, this is a very interesting story. It involves the brown, flat stuff we like to chew. Well, not only do we chew it, but the clerks also use it to archive their notes.

"This is a tale of two mills. Both of the mills recycle the old brown flat stuff. One of the mills knows how to extract almost all of the good fiber from the old, brown flat stuff. Now, to not have to keep repeating that, I am just going to use OBFS for old brown flat stuff. Using the OBFS over and over is what the Big Things call recycling. Not motorcycling, not bicycling, but recycling. Anyway, the other mill, and we haven't determined if they are lazy or incompetent, doesn't seem to know how to pull out all the good fiber from the OBFS.

"It so happens both of these mills, which are near each other used the same BTI (note--"Big Things' Invention"--trucks) to haul the left overs to the place where no good things are sent."

"Those are dumps," the crowd of rats roared. "We love those!"

"Anyway, the mill that does the good job of extracting all the good fiber from the OBFS happened to see a BTI of the other mill's waste. The Big Things from the mill looked at each other and said, 'There is a lot of good fiber here!'

"They talked to the operator of the BTI and persuaded her to bring the loads of waste from the first mill and dump them at their mill. They started using the waste from the first mill to extract even more fiber.

"Eventually, the first mill found out what was happening and made the operator of the BTI stop taking their waste to the other mill. But they went further than that. They were embarrassed and mad. They started spreading rumors that the second mill must be making inferior products, for they were using their waste."

The Great Mother arched her eyebrows. "Then what happened?"

Kirby jumped back in, "Well, the second mill had to call in some impartial observers and demonstrate that their product was just as good if not better than anyone else's. They showed tests, had Big Things talk to customers and do other things to show they were making a quality product. They were exonerated and commended for extracting all the fiber and sending minimum waste to the dump."

The Great Mother concluded, "So the first mill was, as the Big Things say, 'talking the talk' but they had forgot the second part of that saying which is 'walk the walk."

Malfeasance comes in many cycles.


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