Cam Pegg Pocket Articles

February 5, 2021

Studio Ghibli: Everything You Need To Know About Legendary Japanese Animation House

For fans of anime, there’s nothing quite like the works of Studio Ghibli. The small team of animators spends years lovingly crafting each amazing story, bringing to life tales of adventure, love, and friendship through countless hand-drawn frames. From My Neighbor Totoro to Howl's Moving Castle, each captivating film allows viewers to immerse themselves in magical fantasy worlds.

My Modern Met • 1,517 words • 8 minute read

February 2, 2021

Is Van Gogh hiding at the back of this Toulouse-Lautrec drawing?

Although we know Van Gogh so well from his 36 painted self-portraits, depictions of him by other artists are rare. We can now add another—from no less a hand than his friend Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the lover of Montmartre nightlife.

The Art Newspaper • 1,588 words • 8 minute read

February 2, 2021

If You've Been Working from Home, Please Wait for Your Vaccine

To me, it’s simple. If you, like me, are not medically compromised and have been working from home over the past year while drawing your full salary, you have two options. You can sit patiently until some institution calls you to get vaccinated. Or, you can proactively organize with other people to make sure your government is distributing vaccines equitably to people who need them the most.

Scientific American • 2,769 words • 12 minute read

February 1, 2021

The Cult of Best Practice

Best practices are, despite the name, not universally good. Many best practices in programming don’t meet the definition. They spread not based on merit or evidence but thanks to authority bias and social utility. As they spread, they lose nuance. As they lose nuance, they become easier to evangelise. Combined with lack of experience, they can lead to cult-like behaviour.

Dominik Krejcik • 1,469 words • 7 minute read

January 31, 2021

Future Schlock — Real Life

The “thought leaders” in Silicon Valley don’t talk much about techno-utopianism anymore. Once, ideologues like Ray Kurzweil would hold court by discoursing on the inevitable “singularity” that would bring forth an immortal race of posthumans who ascend to godhood through biotech, nanotech, and robotics. An entrepreneur like Byron Reese could extol the virtues of “infinite progress” and comfortably predict that “the internet and technology” would finally solve such intractable problems as “ignorance, disease, poverty, hunger, and war.”

Real Life • 2,831 words • 13 minute read

January 28, 2021

Lunik: Inside the CIA’s audacious plot to steal a Soviet satellite

In late October 1959, a Mexican spy named Eduardo Diaz Silveti slipped into the US Embassy in Mexico City. Tall and well-spoken with slicked-back hair, Silveti, 30, descended from a family of bullfighters. He had learned spycraft at the Federal Security Directorate, or DFS, Mexico’s secret police. During the Cold War, the capital had become so overrun by Communist spies that the CIA had enlisted the help of the Mexican secret services in their fight against the Soviet Union.

MIT Technology Review • 5,256 words • 24 minute read

January 25, 2021

Newsletters; or, an enormous rant about writing on the web that doesn’t really go anywhere and that’s okay with me

Newsletters give me permission to fall in love with someone I'll never meet. Someone very far away. And over the past few years I’ve fallen in love with so many writers through newsletters! On all sorts of subjects! There are dazzling newsletters; those of grand adventures and epic mysteries and newsletters about complex systems, showing us how the world is put together. Not to forget smaller newsletters, too. Break-ups! Coffee beans! Clocks! Northumberland flower gardens!

Robin Rendle • 1,717 words • 9 minute read

January 25, 2021

The Soul-Killing, Wallet-Emptying Struggle to Buy a Video Card During a Pandemic

It was the day before Christmas, and I was in a large electronics store looking to buy a video card for a computer I was assembling. The card was two generations old, the salesman warned me, not exactly cutting-edge. There was a note of parental concern in his voice, as if in addition to his commission my entire digital future depended on my choice.

Slate • 1,499 words • 7 minute read

January 17, 2021

Make Way for the ‘One-Minute City’

In 2020, as pandemic lockdowns forced billions of people around the world to become intimately familiar with their neighborhoods, one of the hottest ideas in urban planning was the “15-minute city.” A vision for a decentralized urban area that allows residents to meet their daily needs within a quarter-hour walk or bike from their homes, the concept has been pursued as a means of cutting greenhouse emissions and boosting livability in a host of global cities — especially Paris, where Mayor Anne Hidalgo has embraced the model as a blueprint for the French capital’s post-Covid recovery.

Bloomberg • 1,711 words • 8 minute read

January 17, 2021

Camera Obscura: Beyond the lens of user-centered design

It’s 2020 and our systems are failing us. We are increasingly reliant on technology that automates bias. We are celebrating “essential workers” while they are underpaid and their work is precarious. We are protesting in the streets because of policing systems that put black and brown people at risk every day. We use apps for travel, shopping, and transportation that productize exploitative labor practices. The list goes on and on.

Alexis Lloyd • 4,870 words • 22 minute read

January 16, 2021

Trying to Stay Optimistic Is Doing More Harm Than Good

When her patient started talking about sick notes, neuropsychologist Judy Ho decided to intervene. Her client, a wildly successful entrepreneur, was rich, happily married, and well-regarded by his peers. The problem was the days when he felt depressed and run-down but unable to admit it.

Bloomberg • 1,243 words • 6 minute read

January 16, 2021

Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories

2020 was a banner year for conspiracy theories. First there was the proliferation of QAnon, whose followers insisted that Donald Trump was all that stood between us and a “deep state” cabal that was running a global sex trafficking ring and harvesting a chemical from children’s blood.

Slate • 1,908 words • 9 minute read

January 14, 2021

Why can't I write code inside my browser?

So I can write code inside my spreadsheet, but not inside my browser? WTF. Ok, let’s back up. Coding is too hard. I’ve been playing with the web and code for years now and still feel like I’m an outsider to the "code club".

Tom Critchlow • 693 words • 3 minute read

January 14, 2021

The Uncanny Valley: The Original Essay by Masahiro Mori

More than 40 years ago, Masahiro Mori, then a robotics professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, wrote an essay on how he envisioned people’s reactions to robots that looked and acted almost human. In particular, he hypothesized that a person’s response to a humanlike robot would abruptly shift from empathy to revulsion as it approached, but failed to attain, a lifelike appearance.

IEEE • 2,354 words • 10 minute read

January 12, 2021

A “no math” (but seven-part) guide to modern quantum mechanics

Some technical revolutions enter with drama and a bang, others wriggle unnoticed into our everyday experience. And one of the quietest revolutions of our current century has been the entry of quantum mechanics into our everyday technology. It used to be that quantum effects were confined to physics laboratories and delicate experiments.

Ars Technica • 5,361 words • 24 minute read

January 8, 2021

How the 'Goldfinger' Alpine sequence gave rise to Bondmania

A supervillain, an assassin, a mountain car chase and an Aston Martin equipped with gadgetry — the Alpine scenes in 1964's "Goldfinger" set a new benchmark for the archetypal James Bond sequence. And as well as being, arguably, the most iconic six minutes and 37 seconds in the franchise's history, it is also one of the best documented.

CNN • 906 words • 4 minute read

January 6, 2021

A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage

One of McDonald’s most divisive products, the McRib, made its return last week. For three decades, the sandwich has come in and out of existence, popping up in certain regional markets for short promotions, then retreating underground to its porky lair — only to be revived once again for reasons never made entirely clear.

The Awl • 2,961 words • 13 minute read

January 5, 2021

What Is the Geometry of the Universe?

When you gaze out at the night sky, space seems to extend forever in all directions. That’s our mental model for the universe, but it’s not necessarily correct. There was a time, after all, when everyone thought the Earth was flat, because our planet’s curvature was too subtle to detect and a spherical Earth was unfathomable.

Quanta Magazine • 3,230 words • 14 minute read

December 29, 2020

The Very Real, Totally Bizarre Bucatini Shortage of 2020

The very real, totally bizarre bucatini shortage of 2020. Part I: The Mystery Things first began to feel off in March. While this sentiment applies to everything in the known and unknown universe, I mean it specifically in regard to America’s supply of dry, store-bought bucatini.

Grub Street • 3,975 words • 18 minute read

December 15, 2020

Slack Is the Right Tool for the Wrong Way to Work

In 2016, I interviewed an entrepreneur named Sean who had co-founded a small technology startup based in London. As with many organizations at that time, Sean and his team relied on e-mail as their primary collaboration tool. “We used to have our Gmail constantly opened,” he said.

The New Yorker • 1,128 words • 5 minute read