Cam Pegg Pocket Articles

While I don’t read as many books of the physical, dead-tree variety as I probably should, I do have a fairly well-stocked RSS reader, so I tend to read quite a lot of stuff online, and have a correspondingly long list of things to read that (mostly) get saved in Pocket. The articles below are ones that I a) have actually found the time to read, and b) think are worth sharing.

October 22, 2020

How to read

Five years ago I realized that I remembered almost nothing about most books that I read. I was reading all kinds of non-fiction - pop-psychology, pop-economics, pop-sociology, you name it - and felt like quite the polymath auto-didact. But one day, after I had finished blathering at a friend about how much I had enjoyed Thinking, Fast and Slow, they asked for a quick summary of the book’s overall thesis.

Robert Heaton • 1,742 words • 8 minute read

October 21, 2020

Blockchain, the amazing solution for almost nothing

Blockchain technology is going to change everything: the shipping industry, the financial system, government … in fact, what won’t it change? But enthusiasm for it mainly stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding. The blockchain is a solution in search of a problem.

The Correspondent • 3,945 words • 17 minute read

October 19, 2020

Taking Back Our Privacy

Walking down Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the retail strip in Venice, California, can feel like scrolling through Instagram. One afternoon this July, people sat at outdoor tables beneath drooping strings of fairy lights, sipping cocktails and spearing colorful, modestly dressed salads.

The New Yorker • 8,563 words • 39 minute read

October 18, 2020

Kim Stanley Robinson on inventing plausible utopias

Global pandemic. Raging wildfires. Political upheaval. Never-ending Zooms. Twenty-twenty is the dystopia Hollywood has always dreamed of, sans a satisfying narrative arc. In times like these, nihilism beckons. Just give up, history seems to be saying. There’s nothing you can do.

Eliot Peper • 3,329 words • 15 minute read

October 15, 2020

Why Are the Noses Broken on Egyptian Statues?

“Why are the noses broken?” This exhibition and essay grew out of my search for an answer to this simple question, which is one of the most common inquiries I receive from museum visitors about the Brooklyn Museum’s extensive Egyptian collection.

Hyperallergic • 6,036 words • 27 minute read

October 15, 2020

CEOs Want To Ditch Sterile Zoom Calls: From The Folks Who Brought You Boring Meetings

Lately, Zoom meetings have been hitting a nerve with CEOs. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says there's no vital "creative combustion" happening in virtual settings. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker finds Zoom meetings awful. And Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calls them transactional, where "30 minutes into your first video meeting in the morning … you're fatigued."

NPR • 957 words • 4 minute read

October 14, 2020

Do We Live in a Simulation? Chances Are about 50–50

It is not often that a comedian gives an astrophysicist goose bumps when discussing the laws of physics. But comic Chuck Nice managed to do just that in a recent episode of the podcast StarTalk. The show’s host Neil deGrasse Tyson had just explained the simulation argument—the idea that we could be virtual beings living in a computer simulation.

Scientific American • 2,023 words • 9 minute read

October 11, 2020

Magic and the Machine

A hallmark of the puzzling era we’re now living through is a remarkable juxtaposition of two apparently contrary trends. In many social circles, there exists a buoyant sense of possibility, an upbeat and expectant optimism with regard to the near and long-term future.

Emergence Magazine • 6,325 words • 29 minute read

September 27, 2020

Reasons Revealed for the Brain’s Elastic Sense of Time

New research finds that the subjective experience of time is linked to learning, thwarted expectations and neural fatigue. Our sense of time may be the scaffolding for all of our experience and behavior, but it is an unsteady and subjective one, expanding and contracting like an accordion.

Quanta Magazine • 1,355 words • 6 minute read

September 25, 2020

How to Make the Most of Covid Winter

In Victorian England, the baked potato had dual purposes. Sold from street-side “cans” — metal boxes on four legs, with charcoal-fueled fire pots within — the potatoes could be used as hand-warmers when tucked inside a mitten or muff, or body warmers when consumed on the spot as a hot and filling snack.

Bloomberg • 2,576 words • 12 minute read

September 24, 2020

The math of New York City's recovery

New York City is suffering its worst year in decades. The years to come, partly as a result, could be some of its very best. The big picture: New York, like San Francisco, entered 2020 with one overarching problem: It was far too expensive, as a place to live and work.

Axios • 501 words • 3 minute read

September 21, 2020

Build Personal Moats

My favorite career advice is to develop a “personal moat.” A personal moat is a set of unique and accumulating competitive advantages in the context of your career. Like company moats, your personal moat should be a competitive advantage specific to you that's not only durable, but compounds over time.

Erik Torenberg's Thoughts • 1,146 words • 5 minute read

September 9, 2020

How to Read Fewer Books

The modern world firmly equates the intelligent person with the well-read person. Reading books, a lot of books, is the hallmark of brilliance as well as the supreme gateway to prestige and understanding. It’s hard to imagine anyone arriving at any insights of value without having worked their way through an enormous number of titles over the years. There is apparently no limit to how much we should read.

The School of Life • 1,437 words • 7 minute read

September 6, 2020

How to Talk Yourself Into Better Endurance

I’m an instinctive skeptic, so the widespread claim from sports psychologists that the semi-random babble of words bouncing around in my head can influence my 10K time has always seemed… improbable, to put it politely.

Outside Magazine • 1,218 words • 6 minute read

September 1, 2020

The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free

Paywalls are justified, even though they are annoying. It costs money to produce good writing, to run a website, to license photographs. A lot of money, if you want quality. Asking people for a fee to access content is therefore very reasonable. You don’t expect to get a print subscription to the newspaper gratis, why would a website be different?

Current Affairs • 3,979 words • 18 minute read

September 1, 2020

Six Ways to Think Long-term: A Cognitive Toolkit for Good Ancestors

Human beings have an astonishing evolutionary gift: agile imaginations that can shift in an instant from thinking on a scale of seconds to a scale of years or even centuries. Our minds constantly dance across multiple time horizons. One moment we can be making a quickfire response to a text and the next thinking about saving for our pensions or planting an acorn in the ground for posterity.

The Long Now Foundation • 2,990 words • 14 minute read

August 31, 2020

Mathematicians Report New Discovery About the Dodecahedron

Even though mathematicians have spent over 2,000 years dissecting the structure of the five Platonic solids — the tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, icosahedron and dodecahedron — there’s still a lot we don’t know about them. Now, a trio of mathematicians has resolved one of the most basic questions about the dodecahedron.

Quanta Magazine • 1,200 words • 5 minute read

August 30, 2020

How to foster ‘shoshin’

The Japanese Zen term shoshin translates as ‘beginner’s mind’ and refers to a paradox: the more you know about a subject, the more likely you are to close your mind to further learning. As the Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki put it in his book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (1970): ‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.’

Psyche • 2,303 words • 10 minute read

August 24, 2020

So You Think New York Is ‘Dead’

When I got my first apartment in Manhattan in the hot summer of 1976, there was no pooper-scooper law, and the streets were covered in dog crap. I signed the rental agreement, walked outside, and my car had been towed. I still thought, “This is the greatest place I’ve ever been in my life.”

The New York Times • 711 words • 3 minute read