Matthew David Rodgers


Entry 2

Hello there chums. Last week’s log was much longer than I wanted it to be, so I’m gonna try and keep this one concise.

This week (finally) marked the end of Whole30 for me. I committed myself to this diet in mid February, partly to kickstart some discipline in healthy habits, and partly to see if I could isolate any food groups that were upsetting my stomach.

The diet is 30 days, but what I didn’t realize is that after those 30 days there’s a whole big “reintroduction” phase to gradually add food groups back and see how each affects you. Most people I know who’ve done the diet skip this step, as they’re really only doing it to lose weight or change their habits, but I had to submit to this second half of the diet– and it really is another half. You reintroduce on group at a time: three days with the new food, and then two days back one full Whole30 to reset your stomach. And you repeat until everything’s back. So this tacked on a whole 25 days to the original 30, and I honestly found it much harder to get through. Focusing your diet around a food group for three days is much harder than a simple diet of healthy food– not to mention the planning and shopping around these three day windows.

Did I learn anything from this whole endeavor? Eh… not really. Didn’t find any food groups that were seriously upsetting my stomach, and while I did lose some weight, I didn’t all of sudden have 2 percent body fat or anything. But my first goal– to build some discipline around healthier habits– I’m considering achieved. Just gotta keep it up now.

This week some of my favorite blog posts have been on my mind again:

  • Where Did Software Go Wrong by Jesse Li - which looks at why software isn’t what our utopian best hopes said it should’ve been. One of the most important things it touches on is how software is built upon abstraction - not only in the structure and design of source code itself, but in the voices and labor that comprise it. And that abstraction tricks us into thinking software is a pure, unadulterated tool without bias, when really, it’s a concentrated distillation of society and its structures, all of which revolve around capital. “When software, that ultimate solution in search of a problem, found the questions answered only by capital, we lost our way, caught in capital’s snare.” The piece isn’t able to give us a way to fix this, to direct software to something other than huge structures of captial, but I think it’s something we need to confront before we can actually do good with code.
  • An App Can Be A Home Cooked Meal by Robin Sloan - Robin shows how software can be small, personal, intently authored. It can be designed not to scale, not to grow or do anything other than the human purpose it was concieved for. What’s fascinating is how wrong this feels within the ecosystem! His app, installed only on his and his family’s phones, is in TestFlight, a staging and testing area for apps in development, and it will never leave there. It’s in its own version of production, and that version does not coincide with Apple’s whatsoever. It’s a bit like he’s co-opting the space, bending it to his own purpose, and I think this is maybe the most noble thing you can do with software at the moment. We all should try to fill a real human need and buck the structures that push us towards money and industry.

There’s certainly some sort of manifesto to be written here, but for now these blog posts will do. I seriously encourage you to give them a read!

Some other things I’ve been thinking about this week:

I’m continuing through SICP, but I’m itching for something tactile and practical to build. I found a couple promising looking tutorials, but I haven’t decided what I’m going to focus on. I could build my own lisp, which would fit well with SICP and my recent read of Crafting Interpreters. Or I could build my own text editor, which I’m realizing might be inspired by my recent interest in the 100 Rabbits tools. I’m excited by both! But I know I have to show restraint, or I’ll jump into too many things and finish none of them.

Both of the tutorials above are in C, which is still holding my interest as something I want more experience in. There’s something exciting about ripping blocks of memory out of a machine and purposing it to your goals, like it’s actually me that’s in conversation with the hardware, not some runtime. I’ve got the classic K&R textbook, as well as a few others, and I enjoy reading blog posts about practical usage when I can, but I know there’s no equivalent for building useful things for gaining real literacy.

Sigh. Once again I’m really pushing the definition of “concise”. Before I sign off, I’ll note that I’m burning through Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett at the moment, based on truly emphatic urging from a friend. It is HYSTERICAL. I’m glad there’s a whole series of these books (holy shit– I just checked and there are 41 Discworld novels), as I’m sure I’ll be coming back for more.