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Case 7

The Enemy of the Good

The monks of the Laughing Monkey Clan approached the Java master with a list of grievances.

“Our greatest frustration is the testing process,” insisted the youngest monk. “Manual testing is tedious, and automated tests are troublesome to compose. Both are distractions from the authorship of code.”

The master considered this, and said: “It is certain that we could forgo testing altogether, if we knew our code to be perfect. How, then, may we achieve perfection?”

“Through practice,” said one monk.

“Through diligent study,” said another.

“Through the appeasement of the proper gods,” said a third.

An old white-bearded monk, who had been sitting quietly in the corner, raised his head:

“I know how perfection may be achieved,” he said. “But I fear that all who hear my answer will be forever unconvinced of its truth unless I speak exactly the right words, with the most pleasing of intonations, at the most propitious time of day. I must now consider how this is best done.”

The old monk fell silent for a long time. Eventually the dinner-bell sounded.

“How long will this take?” asked one of the novices.

“No more than a hundred years,” came the old monk’s reply.