all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

23 April, 2011

A Fairy Tale

Jimmy and the Lump of Coal

Once upon a time, a little boy named Jimmy told many lies.  One Christmas, little Jimmy, who had been naughty all year, received in his Christmas stocking only a lump of coal and no other present.  This upset Jimmy so much that then and there he vowed to hate coal forever and to hate anybody who mined or sold or burned coal.
When Jimmy grew up, he discovered that telling lies did not get him into trouble but instead made many people want to shake his hand and give him dinner and hand him lots of money.   Jimmy was very happy to be rich and famous and invited to lovely dinners all the time, but he was still angry that he had once received a filthy lump of coal instead of a nice present.
Jimmy soon learned that other people liked him even more when he told them how coal was bad and would make the world very unpleasant.  Soon, Jimmy had convinced the king and queen and lots of other important people that coal was so bad that it ought to be banned.
“Coal is so bad that it makes the seas flood the land, and the weather get really hot or really cold, and it will kill all of us very soon,” he shouted.
The people clapped and cheered when Jimmy said such things.  “Coal is so bad that it makes puppies and kittens and cuddly polar bears sad, and all food taste horrid.  Burning coal causes hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, heart disease, all sorts of aches and bad breath!  Stop using coal and people won’t get sick!  If you don’t stop using coal, you will all burn to death or be frozen solid in next to no time,” he yelled.
People applauded Jimmy, and shouted that the king should ban coal.  The king said that he’d start by putting a big tax on coal, which would make it too dear for poor people to buy, and by passing a law which said burning coal was wrong.  Nearly everyone believed Jimmy because he was a friend of the king and queen, and everybody who had ever received a lump of coal for being too naughty, or thought that coal was smelly or dirty, agreed that coal was bad.
Not everyone agreed with Jimmy, though.  Some miners, for instance, who dug coal out of the ground for a living, were angry with Jimmy because they would lose their jobs and have no money to buy food and nice things.  Blacksmiths too were unhappy because without coal they could not make tools and horse-shoes out of iron.  Some wise men said that Jimmy was wrong because there was no proof that coal could make the weather change.
After many years, the king and queen and other important people realised that the seas were not flooding the land at all, and the weather was not really getting worse, and all the other things that Jimmy said would happen had not happened, so they decided that perhaps coal was not so bad after all, and they felt very sorry that many miners and blacksmiths and their families had starved to death when they lost their jobs.
“It’s not our fault, though,” they said. “Jimmy told us that coal was bad and we believed him.  In a way, we are just as much victims as the miners and blacksmiths, because now we feel quite silly.”
Jimmy did not live happily ever after.  He choked to death on some of his own words.  After Jimmy died, the doctors found a lump of coal where his heart should have been.

The End.


Anonymous said...

this story makes no sense

they banned coal and nothing bad happened? That's just as Jimmy predicted. That's precisely why he said to ban it, to guarantee nothing bad would happen.

Deadman said...

I wrote the story yet I cannot remember Jimmy wanting to ban coal “to guarantee that nothing bad would happen.”
The point of the story was that Jimmy lied and credulous people believed his silly lies. If the banning of the use of coal were followed by no deterioration of weather, that does not prove a causal relationship. Perhaps you should check the meaning of post hoc ergo propter hoc some time.

Andromache said...

Anonymous asked “nothing bad happened?”
Did you miss “many miners and blacksmiths and their families had starved to death”?