Hardscrabble 🍫

By Max Jacobson

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Are my blog posts getting longer?

March 25, 2020

Earlier, I was chatting with a coworker about blogging and speculated that my blog posts have gotten longer over time. Tonight, I thought I’d check if that was true, so I wrote a little script:

$ ruby app.rb
Avg word count by year
2011    1133.0
2012    554.57
2013    639.44
2014    676.81
2015    491.5
2016    1155.29
2017    1573.86
2018    816.0
2019    1125.0
2020    3757.0


Well, not as clean a trend as I thought. Interesting.

Here’s the quick-and-dirty script which should work for any Jekyll blog:

Dir.glob("./_posts/*.md").each_with_object({}) do |path, obj|
  path.match(%r{^./_posts/(\d{4})})[1].to_i.tap do |year|
    obj[year] ||= []
    obj[year] << File.read(path).split(/\s+/).count
  sort_by(&:first).tap do |word_counts_by_year|
    puts "Avg word count by year"

    word_counts_by_year.map do |year, counts|
      [year, (counts.sum / counts.length.to_f).round(2)]
    end.map do |year, avg|
      puts "#{year}\t#{avg}"

    end.tap do |avgs|
      # https://github.com/holman/spark
      system *avgs.map(&:to_s).unshift("spark")

As a fun little exercise, I tried writing without using any local variables. Not to sublog a former coworker, but I did work with someone who I never saw use a local variable. He never mentioned it, and I never asked. Sound off in the comments if you think this is a fun style.

(I don’t have comments but do take care).

The chef and food writer J. Kenji López-Alt makes fantastic cooking videos with names like “Late night dan dan noodles” in which he quietly whips himself up a midnight snack without overthinking it too much.

I’ll call this: late night code.

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