Yesterday, I noticed a houseplant on Alipé's desk, with long green leaves surrounding a pretty red core. I inteded to compliment him on it, but it slipped my mind.
Around noon, he and I got into a debate over a particular detail in C++ style. A couple of hours later, he told me, "I emailed the C style mailing list."
"Good Lord!" I said, "How did that go?" The C style mailing list has its share of style enthusiastics who will happily spend hours debating indentation and naming.
Alipé revealed that he garnered staunch support but eventually the decision stalemated.
Me: [unsurprised] I see. [pause] ... By the way, I like your plant.
Alipé: Oh, do you? I got it from Safeway last night. ... [muttering] Perhaps I can talk to it about C style.
Me: You can say to it, 'If you agree with me, DO NOTHING.'
Alipé: ... Or 'If you disagree with me, prepare to face imminent death."
Me: That's what you should have said to the C style mailing list.
Later I told the story about Alipé's plant to Peter.
Me: Then I told him that he can say to the plant, 'If you agree with me, DO NOTHING.'
Peter: Imagine if just at that moment, a single leaf falls silently off the plant.