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Case 79

Cave Canem

A certain nun of the One Shoe Clan had run afoul of some sample code in a PHP tutorial. The sample contained error-handling code which was not intended for actual production use, yet this was not clear from the text. The nun copied the code dutifully, and disaster was the result.

When the crisis had passed, the nun found the old scribe Qi writing in the Temple’s great journal. She bowed. “Say something of instruction books that teach bad practices.”

Said the scribe, “I will petition the masters on this subject.”

- - -

The scribe brought the nun’s request to master Suku, who demanded readable code from all in her charge.

Suku said: “Books are faithful hounds, doing only as their authors have raised them. Some were doted upon, and some sorely neglected. If the Temple has been bitten, the fault lies with the one who reared the animal. His writings should be cast upon the midden-heap.”

- - -

The scribe brought the nun’s request to master Bawan, who reverently stroked the binder of his ANSI C Handbook.

Bawan said: “Books are sleeping dogs, incapable of mischief on their own. Some are tame and some rabid, so all are best awoken with caution. If the Temple has been bitten, the fault lies with the one who disturbed the animal. The nun should be punished.”

- - -

The scribe brought the nun’s request to the unhappy master Banzen, who sought perfection in all things and seldom found it.

Banzen said: “Books are wild mongrels, taking part of their nature from the writer and part from the reader. If the Temple has been bitten, the fault lies chiefly with the animal’s teeth. The only correction required is one done with ink.”

- - -

The old scribe returned to the nun, and placed his great journal in her hands. “I have investigated the issue of instruction books.”

The nun found the most recent case, which appeared to be unfinished. “I see the testimonies of three masters,” she said, “yet all are in contradiction. What will you write in conclusion?”

The scribe barked three times and went out.

Topics...  authority, sample code