Once upon a time there were two farmers, Farmer Steve and Farmer Sim, who produced grapes in a beautiful silicon valley.
Farmer Steve was a dogged worker, putting in long hours enriching his soil, carefully watering his vines, and employing advanced viticulture techniques to engineer the valley’s finest grapes. As a result, Farmer Steve produced fruit that was the envy of agriculture—plump, sweet, and delicious.
Farmer Sim’s grapes were sour—bitter little nuggets that routinely died on the vine due to the little effort Farmer Sim put into their care.
Yet Farmer Sim was dogged as well. He erected a large fruit stand in front of his farm, with a sign proclaiming:
Great Grapes Here!
Passersby attracted by the sign were not pleased with Farmer Sim’s fruit and did not return.
“Hmm,” mused Farmer Sim, “perhaps I need a bigger sign.”
And with that, Farmer Sim erected a billboard twice the size of the original. It read:
Silicon Valley’s Finest Grapes! (Much better than Farmer Steve’s!)
Yet customers remained scarce and those who did purchase Farmer Sim’s grapes left with a rancid taste in their mouths.
“Perhaps the sign is still too small,” considered Farmer Sim.
And he erected yet another sign, twice as big as the last, that read:
Only Sour People Prefer Sweet Grapes!
To help ensure the success of his sign, he asked the comeliest of the valley’s milk maids to drape themselves over the sign dressed in their most fetching dirndls.
And still customers continued to make a beeline for Farmer Steve’s establishment.
“I have the finest signs and comeliest maids in the valley, yet Farmer Steve continues to sell every grape he grows,” fumed Farmer Sim as he glared across the fence at Farmer Steve’s vineyard, “he must be cheating me!”
And as Farmer Sim glared he noticed something he hadn’t considered before.
“Wait a minute. The dirt in which Farmer Steve’s grapes are grown looks suspiciously like my dirt! I’ll wager that Farmer Steve waits until I go to bed, sneaks over here, takes my dirt (which provides his grapes with their succulence), and scatters it about his land! I must put a stop to this!!”
And with that he shouted to anyone who would listen, “Farmer Steve is a dirt stealing cheater! Farmer Steve is a dirt stealing cheater!”
Farmer Sim’s ruckus eventually attracted the attention of the valley’s weary sheriff, who called the two farmers together in an attempt to sort out their differences.
“Let me get this straight,” said the sheriff. “Farmer Sim, you are suggesting that the toothsomeness of Farmer Steve’s grapes is due solely to the dirt you allege he stole from your farm.”
“And what have you to say for yourself, Farmer Steve?” inquired the sheriff.
“Of course I deny taking Farmer Sim’s dirt. I have plenty of dirt of my own that, I might add, I’ve carefully enriched to my specifications,” said Farmer Steve. “Besides, dirt has been with us forever and no one may claim it as their invention. But putting that aside for the moment, I’d like to offer this simple test.”
“Sheriff, please close your eyes. I will give you two grapes. One from my farm and the other from Farmer Sim’s. If Farmer Sim’s dirt is so wonderful, wouldn’t our grapes be equally delectable? You be the judge.”
“No! No! No!” screamed Farmer Sim, but to no avail.
The sheriff ate the first grape—a fat purple grape from Farmer Steve’s vineyard.
“Wonderful!” smacked the sheriff.
“And now this,” said Farmer Steve, placing a specimen of Farmer Sim’s shriveled fruit in the sheriff’s open mouth.
” spat the sheriff as he messily expelled the purported fruit from his mouth. “Get me something to wash out this god-awful taste!”
“I apologize for putting you through that, sheriff,” sympathized Farmer Steve as he offered the sheriff a bottled water, “but what else could I do to prove that no rational person would find a reasonable similarity between my crop and his?”
“Agreed,” replied the sheriff, swabbing the remnants of Farmer Sim’s fruit from his mouth.
“Gentlemen, I have decided. Farmer Steve, you may continue to serve the interests of our valley by growing your delicious grapes.”
“Thank you, sheriff, I shall continue to do my best.”
“As for you,” glowered the sheriff at Farmer Sim, “though I’m tempted to compel you to leave our valley, I’ll allow you to stay under one condition.”
“And that is?” sulked Farmer Sim.
“You take your crop and put it to proper use. From this day forward you shall produce a product admirably suited to both your produce and disposition.”
“And that is?” Farmer Sim asked with some suspicion.