links for 2009-05-19

  • "Whatever happened to the Muse? She was once the female figure — deity, Platonic ideal, mistress, lover, wife — whom poets and painters called upon for inspiration. Thus Homer in the Odyssey, the West's first great work of literary art: 'Sing to me of the man, Muse, of twists and turns driven time and again off course.' For hundreds of years, in one form or another, the Muse's blessing and support were often essential to the creation of art.

    Poets stopped invoking the muse centuries ago — eventually turning instead to caffeine, alcohol and amphetamines — but painters, musicians, and even choreographers have celebrated their actual female inspirers in their work up until recent times. And now, we learn, having a muse isn't a benefit restricted to artists."

  • "yahoo2mbox is a small Perl script which retrieves all messages from a mailing list archive at Yahoo! Groups (there is a missing copyright sign somewhere here probably) and stores them into a local file in MBOX which is recognized by all Unix mail readers and good many of other ones."
  • "But for the players, these routines 'bring order into a world in which players have little control,' writes anthropologist George Gmelch in a paper titled Baseball Magic. 'And sometimes practical elements in routines produce tangible benefits, such as helping the player concentrate.' Gmelch notes that 'A ballplayer may ritualize any activity–eating, dressing, driving to the ballpark–that he considers important or somehow linked to good performance.'

    And in this, the rituals performed by baseball players aren't all that different from the habits of productive programmers."