Fairy Tales, Adapted For a Modern Audience
The following fairy tales have been adapted from their original format, to fit your modern perspective.
The Boy who Cried Wolf
There once was a young shepherd boy whose job was to watch the sheep and make sure they didn’t run off. He cared about his job, and he loved the sheep. The boy kept a cautious eye out for the wild dogs that roamed the nearby woods.
One morning, the boy saw a dog approach the edge of his pasture. The dog crouched low, bared its teeth, and drooled.
“Wolf!” shouted the boy. “Wolf!”
A few of the town guards dropped their posts at the walls and came running. They all laughed when they saw the “wolf” — a mangy dog too tired to do anything but drool. They mocked the boy for crying wolf, and he was ashamed.
They were annoyed with the boy, and hoped he’d learned his lesson. On their way back to the walls, the guards discussed recent rumors. Some said that spies from the enemy kingdom had tried sneaking through the gates. The guards pondered what they would do about this problem.
The next day, the same dog showed up again. The boy chased the dog off with his stick. He felt proud of himself for being brave.
Then, later that afternoon, a larger dog came. This time, the boy was unsure. He ran towards the dog, shouted and waved his stick — and the dog just growled at the boy.
The boy cried, “Wolf! Wolf!” and the guards came running again. The first guard to arrive smacked the dog with his shield, and the dog ran off. The guards yelled at the boy, asking why he didn’t smack the dog. The boy hung his head, and the guards beat him for distracting them. He needed to learn the lesson, they said, because a day ago when they were away from the walls, an assassin broke in and almost made it to the keep.
His mistake could have killed them all. Everyone went home tired and angry.
The next day, the boy was in the pasture again, watching the sheep. Another dog came. This one looked no bigger than the last one, so the boy ran up, shouted, and swung his shield to smack the dog. He missed.
The wolf ripped out the boy’s throat.
The guards heard the commotion, and came running to see what the fuss was.
While they abandoned their posts, their enemies broke in and killed everyone. Hooray! The wolf plan worked!
The invaders thanked their wisewoman, who knew people in this town tended to get angry at one another, instead of being patient and communicative. She patted her dogs on the head, and they smiled. They were all good dogs, and they knew it.
The invaders told themselves that they were superior, because they could listen and were kind to each other. They lived happily ever after on the ashes and bones of their enemies.
The Tortoise and the Hare
The Hare loved to brag about how fast she was.
“I’m so fast,” she said, “that I could take a nap in the middle of any race, and still win.”
The tortoise was very old, and even then, wise beyond his years. He challenged the Hare to a race: from the top of Brambleberry hill, to the cool lake at the bottom.
The Hare accepted.
The race began, and the Hare thumped down the hill, quickly leaving the Tortoise behind her.
All of the animals at the starting line turned to watch the Tortoise. They saw him gathering pebbles and grass.
“What are you doing?” they asked the Tortoise.
“I am exerting force on the physical configuration of the world state, to move us into a region of Hilbert space that the Hare doesn’t know about,” stated the Tortoise.
“You aren’t about to go all quantum woo on us, are you?” asked the other animals.
“Nah, fam,” said the Tortoise. “Just gonna get myself some momentum here. A little F=MA style.” He gathered more pebbles, and bits of grass and straw.
Meanwhile, the Hare napped.
As she napped, the Hare found the worldtree data structure she had built on the subconscious supercomputer that she accessed via lucid dreaming.
“The laws of physics generate a manifold”, the Hare hummed to herself, as she hopped through her dreamspace to the root of the worldtree, retraced from the big bang, and found the branch which represented her napping.
She watch the worldlines splay out to a timeless infinity, and the leaves which represented the tortoise’s victory fell away in her mind’s eye, dying the way all things die: a dead end in the laws of physics, so that the boundary conditions of the universe no longer support a vortex of self-referential information that carries an ego aloft, like a twisted face reflected in a whirlpool.
She spied the tortoise building a ball of straw and pebbles, and saw that there were future leaves in which the tortoise outraced her due to simple momentum: the ball carrying the Tortoise rolled faster than the Hare could run.
“Ah! My error”, chuckled the Hare, “was forgetting that you can always travel faster on the momentum of past choices, than due to any temporo-local force. There is no propulsive force so powerful as the wise choices we make in the past. The Tortoise invests wisely in constructing a vehicle to store gravitational energy, whereas I have depended solely upon the power of my hind legs. His calculus reigns supreme.”
The Hare’s nose twitched. She awoke with a leap, and landed perfectly atop the rolling sphere of straw and pebbles that now carried the tortoise (snug in the center) rapidly down the hill.
The sphere rolled fast, and there was no way the Hare could outrace it. If she could keep on top of the sphere, however, she thought perhaps there was maybe a chance. The Hare ran on top of the sphere as fast as her paws could carry her, until it hit:
“My instantaneous velocity with respect to the surface of this rotating sphere is equal to the velocity of the sphere on the ground. If I can’t outrace the sphere on the ground, I can’t stay perfectly on top of the sphere either.
I am not in a worldtrack which can ride along with this sphere’s momentum. It belongs to the tortoise alone.”
The sphere rolled over the Hare, and she embraced death like an old mentor.
The Little Red Hen
“I will bake some bread,” announced the little red Hen. “Who will help me pick the grain?”
“Not I,” said the Fieldmouse. “I can barely gather enough grain to feed my family, let alone save for the approaching winter. I’d like to be a part of something like that, but I simply can’t take the risk right now.”
The Rabbit was busy playing video games, and paid no notice to the Hen.
“I can help,” said the squirrel. “I’ve always wanted to be involved in one of these bread baking ventures.”
“Excellent!” said the Hen. They filed incorporation papers in Delaware to avoid state income taxes, and crafted a simple operating agreement which gave the Hen executive control. Soon, they had gathered enough grain and other ingredients to begin baking.
“Who will help me bake the Bread?” asked the Hen.
“Not I,” said the Rabbit. “I’d like to, but I don’t know how to bake. I know they have classes online, but I just can’t find the time. I’m exhausted from taking care of my grandmother, and when I do have time I’m just too tired to think.” He sighed.
“Not I,” said the Badger. “You’ve given away most of the shares in the option pool at this point.” She continued, “I’d take a big hit on salary, in exchange for small participation in the upside, and very little control over the direction things go. It looks like a bad gamble. If we don’t make it to market, I’m out the salary. Even if we do, chances are that I’ll be roughly equal to where I was before.”
“I will!” said the Chipmunk, who had just graduated college. “I’ve always wanted to live in San Francisco, and I’ve heard that baking bread is a good way to make money. This will be a great way for me to gain experience and learn about baking!”
Soon, the bread was baked. The Hen, the Chipmunk, and the Squirrel had their fill. Then they asked,
“Who would like to buy this bread?”
“Not I,” said the Fieldmouse. “It looks delicious, but I just can't afford any extra expenditures right now. Winter is closer than ever, and the grain that I’m getting isn’t as good as it used to be. I can’t count on social security, what with demographics being what they are.”
“I’ll take some,” said the Rabbit. “It would have been great to help and be a part of baking it. Still, I can enjoy the bread, even if I don’t get as much as I’d like.”
“No thanks,” said the Badger. “I’ve had enough bread in my days. I’m actually saving up the money to start one of my own bread ventures. I’m tired of working for other people and would much prefer to start my own company.”
The rabbit could only afford a tiny portion of the bread that was for sale. The rest of it went unsold, and grew moldy.
Economists call this problem “insufficient demand.”