Well the ORM side is about the same kind of philosophy Phil is talking about. Use only a common denominator subset of many database engines, add it a few best practices and you get closer to the goal of an ORM. Also once you have started hiding the actual database (to the point it does not matter what it is!), you can start thinking about even more powerful abstractions.
The other day I came across DBIx::Perlish and wondered if it was another full-fledged ORM...still there was that 'perlish'. The author addresses just that in the docs.