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Case 17

Not Invented By Me

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A monk of the Elephant's Footprint Clan had been charged with eliminating the reams of redundant code created by that clan. He approached the clan’s head priest for guidance.

“Here, for example, are five schemes for managing user preferences,” said the monk, spreading the printouts on the table. “I must either pick the superior one or implement some compromise. Either way at least four modules will be tossed into the fire, and their authors ordered to consume the code of a rival.”

“Then you are doomed,” said the priest. “Once the cat wets her paw to rake a carp from the pool, she will not trade the belly for ten thousand mice.”

The monk wiped a hand across his brow. “And this is but one of a dozen redundant subsystems I must consolidate! Today I saw one of the senior brothers sharpening his throwing-knives. Is there no way that the monks of our clan might be mollified?”

The priest held up his left hand, which was missing the smallest finger. “If the cat cannot have the carp, a bit of the carp-thief will suffice.”

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