MJ to JC, God’s DRY Humor

Michael Jackson was remembered this week, having died last week at the age of 50. John Calvin was born 500 years ago this week. He died when he was 55. Both of these men were odd ducks. (Trust me, I knew them both very well.) It is a stretch to fit them into this blog entry, but I’m not so much crafting these entries as shedding them from my brain when they arise.

I’m not sure how much MJ and JC have in common. I started a comparison list that made me laugh, but I’ll save you the effort of trying to figure out my humor and save myself the shame of not being able to pull of what David Letterman does. While the exercise gave me some of that We are the World sense of unity, thinking about these two men also brought to mind how God must use the Don’t Repeat Yourself (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_repeat_yourself) approach to the construction of humans. At the very least, thinking about MJ and JC together made me appreciate the sense of humor of the Divine.

My next door neighbor is writing her dissertation on Calvin’s view of the body. You might wonder what the odds are that I would live next door to another Calvinist, but around here the odds are very high (I was going to write “good” but…). I live in a city with a population around 6,000 and at least 10 churches of Dutch Calvinist descent, right here in the heartland of America.

As an aside (as if the rest of this were not), while the popular press often highlights Irish-American, African-American, Italian-American and other ghettos, rarely does the national press pick up on stories related to Dutch Americans. Except in a few odd places around the country, we are a people who fade into the backdrop, or equally likely, step up to the plate looking like the average American. In some ways, we are a good example of the melting pot at work.

In the popular press, Calvinism has typically taken abuse in those cases where I have noticed it was referenced during my adult life. I would have no problems taking a few jabs at this “-ism” myself, since I consider it descriptive but not prescriptive for myself (this is where another blog entry might go off on a data schema tirade, I’ll stop myself here), but most of what I have heard has simply been inaccurate.

Calvinism is now getting some revived popularity. Bill Clinton mentioned recently that he was “too much of a Calvinist…” regarding his work ethic (http://video.aol.com/video-detail/clinton-not-a-house-husband/1604078481) and someone just pointed me to this more recent post too http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8140821.stm. There is a New Calvinism discussed in religious circles, even if among a group more conservative, it seems, than I (those apposed to women in church offices, for example). I wonder if it will ever be cool to be a Calvinist?

I have gone off on quite a tangent here, but let me talk about one tiny place where I would like to see a revival. I have several cases where the use of a DRY approach to coding would suggest factoring out some similar code. In particular, I have a tab 6 in one web page that should be almost identical to tab1 in another, with a few differences. Right now I am going to specify these pages in XML by cloning one to seed the other. Cloning and changing is part of the lifeblood of developers, but unless the changes are significant, it should also prompt one to try to figure out how to not have to write and maintain the same or similar code in multiple places, how to write DRY code.

In our framework there are several ways to reuse code. In this particular case I do not think any of the approaches of which I am aware would be quite right. This is not a good case for subclassing a superpage. Taking the contents of an entire form and other components from a page and rolling them into a single component would also make for unnecessary complexity. Additionally, the use of iframes has pros and cons and we have avoided them to date for such purposes. This isn’t a good case for making new aggregate objects, more shared methods than already planned, nor even for a good old-fashioned shared subroutine.

You know what would work in this case? A simple insert or copy code with a code fragment, in this case a piece of xml that might not even be well-formed (the start of the xml differs in each case), that is simply inserted into each of these classes at the right spot. That isn’t a hip way to employ DRY programming tactics, but it has served the discipline well for years in many places, from COBOL copy books to server-side includes for html. I’m missing that feature right now and I would like to have it.

I would ask, just to make sure that I am correct in thinking I do not have this option with my toolset, but I have other dumb questions to ask so I won’t waste a chit on this. Plus it’s Saturday, so maybe I’ll bake this gluten-free Bob’s Red Mill chocolate cake and decorate it with R.I.P. M.J. and Happy 500th J.C. Maybe I’ll just google to see if anyone has made a John Calvin moonwalking video instead.


2 responses to “MJ to JC, God’s DRY Humor

  1. Frank Richards

    I suspect that you probably could manage to get Xinclude working with the Xerces parser in Studio, which would give you what you want.

    Before trying it, I recommend switching to a version of Christianity which says your good deed would be rewarded in heaven, because you’ll never get the effort back here on earth.

    • Yeah that would be an ambitious undertaking, and, yes, I’m too far down the road with that “grace thing” to switch at this point so no good deeds from me. smiles.

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