Erik Bates | October 13, 2023
Scott and I got into a lengthy conversation the other day about popular (or obsure) YouTube channels that we follow. I don't subscribe to a great number of channels, but here's a few:

Mad Scientist BBQ - because I need to learn how BBQ better
Up and Atom - because I need science dumbed down for me.
Dreaming Spanish - because I really want to learn Spanish.
Smarter Every Day - see above about science, but for literally everything else in the world.
YNAB - because I've been on a personal finance kick lately

Scott Hardie | October 19, 2023
Thanks for sharing those, Erik! I'll try each one. I watched a few Smarter Every Day videos earlier this year after Mark Rober recommended the channel a couple of times, but I had trouble getting into it. If you start from the beginning, the videos are too rough and amateurish. If you start from the most recent, they're a bit long; half an hour is not a small ask of my time. I will give the channel another try, because I trust that it's really interesting and well-done; the longevity and subscriber count prove that Destin Sandlin knows what he's doing.

I previously made some recommendations of YouTube channels that Kelly and I enjoy, but they kind of got lost in a larger discussion about something else. I wish that I had thought at the time to spin them off to a dedicated discussion, so thanks for starting one, Erik. Here's quoting what I wrote before:

For informative videos, we love The Tim Traveller, a Paris-based Brit who travels around Europe teaching about geography with gentle humor; Tom Scott, another Brit who has a gift for turning science topics that sound boring into really interesting videos; and I've previously mentioned Beryl Shereshewsky, a New Yorker who tries recipes that her viewers send her and learns a surprising amount about different cultures in the process. Beyond that, Pop Culture Detective does a great job of breaking down the misogyny that permeates pop culture. Vox tells neat stories about important things quietly happening in the news, and their producer Phil Edwards has his own good channel about neat overlooked topics. Also, Allen Tsai tells rapid-fire movie trivia, sometimes with a joke at the end. and Corridor Crew is a team of Hollywood VFX specialists who explain (and sometimes invent) amazing new technology.

For silly videos, we love Daily Dose of Internet, which collects clips of neat and weird and interesting videos from around the web; HiHo Kids, in which kids have funny reactions to new foods and experiences; and Southern-themed comedians It's a Southern Thing and the related channel Matt Mitchell (their former head writer). Joel Haver makes weekly skits but he's really hit-or-miss. The Graham Norton Show publishes many clips of their often-hilarious celebrity cross-talk. And there's a weird niche genre of editing pop-culture characters into video game footage; Pertinax and eli_handle_b.wav are my favorites.
Seriously, I cannot recommend Pop Culture Detective enough. Jonathan McIntosh makes long videos, but they're worth the time and there's not many of them. They really open your eyes to the stomach-turning toxic messages buried within mass media entertainment that you might not have noticed, like this one about how Harrison Ford's most popular heroes are aggressive sexual predators, particularly Rick Deckard, that I for one had never considered before. Sometimes McIntosh misses the forest for the trees, like when he points out that the Star Wars droids are slaves and the heroes don't care about their suffering, which is horrifying (particularly the treatment of L3-37 in Solo), but merely a symptom of the larger problem that Star Wars morality is fairy-tale good-and-evil stuff that has no capacity for nuance and automatically codes anything the heroes do as "good," but he's spot-on in his fundamental argument through his entire YouTube series that media should do better. (To be clear, I haven't bothered with any of the audio-only episodes on there, since the running times are intimidating. I'm only recommending the video episodes.)

Some other channels that I enjoy: Adam Conover (formerly of Adam Ruins Everything) has really smart social commentary that cuts right through the lies we're told. Of the many "react" and "try" channels out there, The TRY Channel and its precursor Facts are my favorites; I can just watch them endlessly. The long-running videogamedunkey has a mix of smart video game commentary and time-wasting goofing around that hits more often than it misses. Defunctland chronicles lost theme-park attractions, and in the process gets at some terrific points about how attraction design is an art form and thus subject to the particular eccentricities of its artists for better and worse. CinemaStix is one of many short-form movie criticism channels and I haven't seen a bad video from it yet. Jay Foreman, sometimes with partner Mark Cooper-Jones, teaches geography and history with a heavy dose of British silliness.

Scott Hardie | November 4, 2023
So far, I'm really liking Up and Atom, Erik. Thanks for the suggestion! I'm looking forward to trying more.

I hesitate to mention them because the subject matter can occasionally feel bleak, but the awkwardly-named Kurzgesagt produces excellent animated science videos of a high quality. Their music is so good that they release it separately on Spotify.

Erik Bates | November 4, 2023
Well damn that's depressing.

But I'm subscribing!

Scott Hardie | November 30, 2023
Funeratic has lots of "game" people on it, so I hereby recommend Lateral with Tom Scott to you all. This channel hosts clips from a weekly podcast in which Tom Scott gets online with three other YouTubers and/or podcasters, and they take turns asking each other interesting questions about history and culture, and you try to figure out the solution faster than they do. The entire 45-minute first podcast episode is online if you want to see what a whole block is like, but otherwise the clips are all around 5 minutes, each one a perfect fun little dose of food for thought.

There must be something in the water lately, because two unrelated favorite channels of mine just released hour-long animated videos with little or no narration, and they're both excellent. Theme-park channel Defunctland released a musical depiction of how Epcot made it from Walt Disney's concept to opening day, and science channel Kurzgesagt released a recreation of Earth's entire history at the scale of 1.5 million years every second. I'm impressed at the creativity that it took to pull off each of these.

Speaking of Kurzgesagt, I love it when a video bends my mind and makes me consider the universe in new ways. And speaking of Tom Scott, his main channel continues to put out really interesting videos, and while he deserves his upcoming break, I hope that he's back at it before long.

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