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    1. Your favorite video essays of 2020

      As a bit of a change of pace, I want to ask you all what your favorite video essays were on YouTube in 2020. Taking some queues from this Polygon article, The best video essays of 2020, here are...

      As a bit of a change of pace, I want to ask you all what your favorite video essays were on YouTube in 2020. Taking some queues from this Polygon article, The best video essays of 2020, here are some guidelines for a video essay.

      1. The video must be scripted. Momentary improvised asides are fine, especially if they come in the form of voice over added in editing, but the video must otherwise follow a written script.

      2. The video must have a thesis, and that thesis must be more than “this is good” or “this is bad.” The thesis should concern the impact of the subject matter, not just its content.

      3. The video also shouldn’t be a documentary (like NoClip’s documentary about the making of Pyre). The focus should be a subject from an analytical standpoint, not an interview standpoint.

      4. But this doesn’t mean the video should necessarily aim for pure objectivity; personal video essays are, in fact, a thing.

      17 votes
    2. Cheap Rejection as a Mental Model Feature

      I’m increasingly convinced that worldviews / mental models are not simply modeling devices, but information rejection tools. Borrowing from Clay Shirkey's "It's not information overload, it's...

      I’m increasingly convinced that worldviews / mental models are not simply modeling devices, but information rejection tools. Borrowing from Clay Shirkey's "It's not information overload, it's filter failure", the world is a surprisingly information-rich space, and humans (or any other information-processing system, biological or otherwise) simply aren't equipped to deal with more than a minuscule fraction of it.

      We aim for a useful fraction. It paints an incomplete, but useful picture.

      Even a bad model has utility if it rejects information cheaply: without conscious effort, without physical effort, and without lingering concerns or apprehensions. It's a no-FOMO mechanism.

      Usually, what happens is that we apply our bad models to a given scenario, act, process the new resulting scenario, and notice that that is obviously not favourable, and take appropriate actions to correct the new circumstance. Net loss: one round of interaction. Net gain: not succumbing to analysis paralysis or having to hunt for a new and improved worldview (especially: a new concensus worldview shared with numerous others, creating a large coordination problem).

      Sometimes that doesn't work out and people (or companies, or governments, or cultures) get stuck in a nonproductive rut, often characterised by "doing the one thing we know how to do, only harder".

      The big problem comes when there's a recognition that a former large-scale world model no longer applies. I'm leaning strongly to the notion that this is behind many psychological conditions: Grief, denial, meloncholia, depression, PTSD. Possibly burnout and ADHD.[1]

      Classic grief is triggered by the loss of a loved one, or in the "five stages of grief" study, news of the subject's own impending mortality (a fatal disease prognosis). That is, an invalidation of a previously-defining mental model. This triggers denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventually, for some, acceptance of a new world view.

      It's a pattern once recognised that one sees repeated across numerous scenarios, and scales, from individuals to groups to entire countries --- almost any disaster, epidemics, global catastrophic risks, wartime attacks, business failures, relationship breakups, and on. The phenomenon intersects with the problem-solving success (or failure) chain.

      What's curious to me is what the threshold for grief or denial is. There are some surprises which don't elicit this response: almost all humour is based on the principle of surprise, and horror films and thrill rides are based on the premise of surprise or extreme experience, but rarely result in a traumatic response. We go through our daily lives experiencing small and medium-sized suprises and disappointments all the time. The grief/denial response seems to be triggered only above a magnitude or repetition threshold, though that can differ markedly between individuals.


      Notes:

      1. I'm not claiming that all PTSD, burnout, and ADHD are grief responses, but rather that there are at least strong similarities. Early psychologists linked grief and melancholia (itself then considered a much stronger longing, to the point of mental illness). The mechanisms for overload might be internal --- chemical, physical, illness, injury, or genetic in origin --- or external. But there's a common thread that seems to run through these conditions, ultimately an inability to cope with a level of change.

      (Adapted from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22208255.)

      18 votes
    3. Jreg (Greg Guevara) has recently "toured" his apartment and people are genuinely getting concerned about his mental health and wellbeing

      Admittedly the forcibly neutral headline should probably be changed. The video has been unlisted but this is the link. One important thing to note is that he recently made a video satirizing how...

      Admittedly the forcibly neutral headline should probably be changed.


      The video has been unlisted but this is the link. One important thing to note is that he recently made a video satirizing how people pretend your life condition doesn't affect your mental health implies that wasn't satire, which is incredibly concerning.

      He deleted the comment where he talks about his landlord but it has been screenshotted here. It's also proof that's actually where he lives.

      Someone has unironically compiled how that house violates Canadian/Ontarian legislation

      After the house tour, Jregs patreon has spiked to its highest ever, and he has gotten 52 new patrons and 230$ more a month in two days

      r/jreg is in some mix of meme-ing and genuine concern.

      9 votes
    4. Could "fuzzing" voting, election, and judicial process improve decisionmaking and democratic outcomes?

      Voting is determinative, especially where the constituency is precisely known, as with a legislature, executive council, panel of judges, gerrymandered electoral district, defined organisational...

      Voting is determinative, especially where the constituency is precisely known, as with a legislature, executive council, panel of judges, gerrymandered electoral district, defined organisational membership. If you know, with high precision, who is voting, then you can determine or influence how they vote, or what the outcome will be. Which lends a certain amount of predictability (often considered as good), but also of a tyranny of the majority. This is especially true where long-standing majorities can be assured: legislatures, boards of directors, courts, ethnic or cultural majorities.

      The result is a very high-stakes game in establishing majorities, influencing critical constituencies, packing courts, and gaming parliamentary and organisational procedures. But is this the best method --- both in terms of representational eqquity and of decision and goverrnance quality?

      Hands down the most fascinating article I've read over the past decade is Michael Schulson's "How to choose? When your reasons are worse than useless, sometimes the most rational choice is a random stab in the dark", in Aeon. The essay, drawing heavily on Peter Stone, The Luck of the Draw: The Role of Lotteries in Decision Making (2011), which I've not read, mostly concerns decisions under uncertainty and of the risk of bad decisions. It seems to me that it also applies to periods of extreme political partisanship and division. An unlikely but possible circumstance, I'm sure....

      Under many political systems, control is binary and discrete. A party with a majority in a legislature or judiciary, or control of the executive, has absolute control, barring procedural exceptions. Moreover, what results is a politics of veto power, where the bloc defining a controlling share of votes effectively controls the entire organisation. It may not be able to get its way, but it can determine which of two pluralities can reach a majority. Often in favour of its own considerations, overtly or covertly --- this is an obvious engine of corruption.

      (This is why "political flexibility" often translates to more effective power than a hardline orthodoxy.)

      One inspiration is a suggestion for US Supreme Court reform: greatly expand the court, hear more cases, but randomly assign a subset of judges to each case.[1] A litigant cannot know what specific magistrates will hear a case, and even a highly-packed court could produce minority-majority panels.

      Where voting can be fuzzed, the majority's power is made less absolute, more uncertain, and considerations which presume that such a majority cannot be assured, one hopes, would lead to a more inclusive decisionmaking process. Some specific mechanisms;

      • All members vote, but a subset of votes are considered at random. The larger the subset, the more reliably the true majority wins.
      • A subset of members votes. As in the court example above.
      • An executive role (presidency, leader, chairmanship) is rotated over time.
      • For ranged decisions (quantitative, rather than yes/no), a value is selected randomly based on weighted support.

      Concensus/majority decisionmaking tends to locked and unrepresentitive states. Fuzzing might better unlock these and increase representation.


      Notes

      1. A selection of articles on Supreme Court reforms and expansion, from an earlier G+ post: https://web.archive.org/web/20190117114110/https://plus.google.com/104092656004159577193/posts/9btDjFcNhg1 Also, notably, court restructuring or resizing has been practiced: "Republicans Oppose Court Packing (Except When They Support It)".
      14 votes