|The following is an article from Uncle John's Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader
The Simpsons is loaded with references to cultural moments, historical people, and current events. But occasionally things happen on The Simpsons first ... and then they happen in real life.
ON THE SIMPSONS: In the 2001 episode "Hungry Hungry Homer," the local minor-league baseball team - the Springfield Isotopes - want to move to New Mexico and become the Albuquerque Isotopes.
IN REAL LIFE: When the Calgary Cannons announced a move to Albuquerque in 2003, they held a contest for Albuquerque citizens to name the new team. The winning entry: the Isotopes."Isotope" is a term used in nuclear energy, something the fictional Springfield (with its nuclear power plant) has in common with New Mexico, which is home to many of the nation's nuclear research facilities, including Los Alamos National Laboratory.
ON THE SIMPSONS: In a 1992 episode, Homer's brother Herb - with the help of baby Maggie - invents, markets, and gets rich off a device that understands infants gurgles, whines, and shrieks, and translates them into plain English.
IN REAL LIFE: In 2004 the Japanese company Takara announced that it had developed a successful prototype for a baby translator. In addition to analyzing a baby's coos and cries, it also examines facial expressions and body temperature to tell parents what their baby wants or needs. *No word on whether the product was successfully marketed...or turned to poo-poo.)
ON THE SIMPSONS: School superintendent Chalmers remarks to school principal Skinner in a 1993 episode: "We're dropping the geography requirement. The children weren't testing well. It's proving to be an embarrassment."
IN REAL LIFE: In 2007 Washington-state lawmakers dropped the math and science sections of the state's 10th-grade assessment test. Reason: Too few students passed those sections, severely driving down statewide scores.
ON THE SIMPSONS: Marge leads a group that wants to censor cartoons. She abandons the group and the cause when the other members go too far, trying to cover up the private parts of Michelangelo's statue of David when it is put on display at the Springfield Museum.
IN REAL LIFE: In 2001 a store in Lake Alfred, Florida, put a replica of Michelangelo's David on the grounds outside of its front door. A handful of citizens fiercely protested the "indecent" statue and successfully led a drive to cover up David's private parts with a white cloth. (The store's manager later replaced the cloth with a leopard-print bandanna.)
ON THE SIMPSONS: While juggling groceries, a dog, and baby Maggie, Homer sees a newspaper inside a paper vending box with the headline "Senator Helms Proposes Donut Tax." Frantically wanting to read the article, he shuffles his bag of groceries, the dog, the baby, and his coins from arm to arm until he gets the paper while, he thinks, keeping all his stuff safely in his arms. He's wrong: Somehow, his juggling results in Maggie getting stuck in the newspaper box.
IN REAL LIFE: In 2006 three-year-old Robert Moore of Antigo, Wisconsin, spotted a SpongeBob SquarePants doll in a grocery store's "claw"-style toy vending machine. While his grandmother went to get a dollar to feed the machine, impatient Robert crawled through the dispenser at the bottom of the machine and got stuck inside. (The store didn't have a key to the machine, so they had to call firefighters, who safely rescued the toddler.)
ON THE SIMPSONS: In the 1996 episode "Hurricane Neddy," a hurricane hits Springfield. Most of the town is spared. In fact, only Ned Flander's house is destroyed. Rebuilding his house and his life is an expensive test of faith for the extremely religious Ned, who doesn't have homeowners' insurance because, as his wife says, he believes "insurance is a form of gambling."
IN REAL LIFE: In 2007 Darul Uloom Seminary of Deoband, a politically influential Islamic school for Sunni Muslims in india, issued an edict, or fatwa, declaring life insurance illegal under Muslim law. Reason: "Insurance is nothing less than gambling."