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Uploaded:2021-06-14
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Why are printers so bad? When do you change the hair color on your ID? Does NASA fake the color of Mars? Why is Venus hotter than Mercury? How do I tell people I don't work for free? What do I do with peed-on lettuce? Hank Green and John Green have answers!

If you're in need of dubious advice, email us at hankandjohn@gmail.com.
Join us for monthly livestreams and an exclusive weekly podcast at patreon.com/dearhankandjohn.
Follow us on Twitter! twitter.com/dearhankandjohn

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 Intro


Hank: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John!

John: Or as I prefer to think of it, Dear John and Hank. 

H: It's a podcast where two brothers answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon! John, I was a little bit surprised this year when you came in for our first reunion since getting vaccinated, and you showed up, and just, I think, just for the joke, you did put an elephant in my living room. And I was like, "Wh-, wh- I guess thanks for the elephant?" And you said, "Don't mention it!"

J: [laughs] I like that. I like that mostly because when this is uploaded, like when you're listening to it, dear listener, Hank and I will be in the same place at the same time for the first time in a long time, but now we're not. Like, it still hasn't happened, so it's just fun in the joke to imagine being together. And good news Hank, I am getting you an elephant.

H: Oh great.

J: I've heard they make great pets and that it's not at all problematic to have them in one's home, so.

H: They're very easy to acquire. No big—

J: Is your son—

H: Maybe a little one? Is it a little one?

J: It's not a little one. It's a regular sized one. Hank, before we answer questions from our listeners I think it's important to discuss a really troubling development on TikTok, which is that on—

H: Uh oh.

J: June 3,

H: Uh-huh.

J: 2021,

H: Uh-huh.

J: —you made a TikTok,

H: Mm-hm.

J: and the TikTok begins with you saying—

H: Oh no!

J: —"Orin would like to say happy birthday." Orin is Hank's 4-year-old son. "Orin would like to say happy birthday but we don't know anyone who's birthday it is, so if it's your birthday, Orin go ahead!"

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J: And then Orin, in this adorable little voice said, "Happy birthday!" And it was a great TikTok, it did very well, it got a lot of traction. Lots of people were like, "Oh it's my birthday! Orin thank you for thinking of me!"

H: [laughs]

J: You know who else's birthday it was, Hank? It was your only niece's birthday.

H: I mean, all of this is true! I have no defense. I have no defense.

J: Orin—

H: And obviously, Orin knew!—

J: Orin knew! Orin knew!

H: —Like, Orin was like, it's somebody's birthday.

J: He had the feeling. And somehow you didn't have the feeling.

H: [in the background] Oh I didn't have the feeling!

J: Were you even like, I don't know, [unintelligible] to google it? 'cause like, it's not like you have to text me or somehting, like you can just google "Alice Green's birthday." I know because Alice and Henry are obsessed with the fact that Google knows who they are. Like the "Hey Google" Google Home assistant. [laughs]

H: Uh-huh. Oh my god...

J: You can google Alice's birthday. It's available online, publicly. So anyway, next time Orin's like, "Hey, Dad, I feel like we need to be saying happy birthday to someone," listen to him.

H: [laughs] 'Kay. I mean, he is very smart. He knows a bunch of stuff that I don't know. The other day, he was outside, and he was peeing. He was leaning against a tree and peeing like a good Montana boy, and he said, "This is a walnut." And I was like, "What's a walnut?" And he was like, "This." And he looked and pointed at the tree. "This is a walnut." 

J: Wow.

H: And I was like, "That's a walnut?" And he was like, "Yeah!" And I was like, "What do you mean?" "It's a walnut tree!" And I was like, "Is it? I don't know." And then, he was like, "Look!" And he picked up off the ground—he was like, "I thought it was a rock!" It was a walnut shell. 

J: Wow.

H: From the walnut tree. 

J: Wow.

H: From like last year, it was like a dried up old walnut shell.

J: I'm writing a new episode of The Anthropocene Reviewed right now

H: Uh-huh.

J: —it's taking a long time, and it's about a tree, and—

H: A particular one?

J: Yeah, one particular tree. But in writing it I've come back again and again to the fact that like, 20-year old me, if 20-year-old me found out that 43-year-old me was writing an entire essay about a single tree, 20-year-old me would be furious.

 (04:00) to (06:00)


H: [laughs]

J: Like, 20-year-old me felt that like, trees in literature existed only when they were being interacted with by humans.

H: Yeah.

J: I felt so strongly about this—I often think about the fact that when I was 20 I knew so much about writing, and now I know so little about it. And I wonder like, what is it that I know so much about now that I will now very little about when I am 66?

H: [laughs] They say in your yearbook, "Don't ever change." And don't ever listen to your yearbook.

J: No, when they say "keep in touch" just don't. Just, it's good. It's fine. Let it go.

H: Keep in touch with the people that you want to keep in touch with—

J: Yeah.

H: —and change in the ways that you want to change.

J: Or in ways that would surprise you, but are okay.

H: Yeah.

J: Like, discovering that you like writing about trees even when there are no people near them.

H: [laughs]

J: Aw man, I was probably the world's biggest believer in, "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, it does not make a sound." Like that was like, my foundational understanding of being a human being in the world.

H: Aw man

J: And now I'm like, man, those trees? They're good. With or without us. They're good.

H: This is a—I have always been like, very confused by that sort of, I guess philosophical question? 

J: Yeah, I think—

H: It's never seemed confusing to me. And I think, the fact that like—and I imagine probably most people hearing this feel the same way—I think that that is just reflective of a change in how we understand our place in the world.

J: Yeah, I think that the original Zen k?an was trying to do a bunch of things that have been contextually lost in—

H: Sure.

 (06:00) to (08:00)


J: —the kind of repurposing of it for a 20th century thing to put on your wall or whatever? But yeah—

H: Yeah, we also have a more sort of physical understanding of what a sound is now. Like, a sound is a—

J: Oh yeah.

H: —is a real thing that exists. It's not just something that is perceived by your ears.

J: Yeah, although there is still a double element of it, right? Like, there's two meanings to the word sound.

H: Sure.

J: It's both like, the waves and the experience of the waves hitting the... meat in your ears.

H: [laughs]

J: How—it's so weird. I just can't get over the fact that all of our—

H: Not that meaty in there.

J: I know, but there are meat parts or like, even weirder—

H: Yeah.

J: —hitting the bones in my ears. The tiny little, like, bone spurs that are rattling around in there and like, helping me to keep my balance and—it's crazy. This is nuts!

H: Mhm.

J: Our bodies are made out of chemicals. It's nuts!

H: Yeah.

J: I feel like every new story on CNN tomorrow morning—

H: [laughs]

J: —every day, for the rest of human history, should be like, "All our thoughts are made out of chemicals."

H: [laughs] This is a—I mean, TikTok found a great way to say this, which is—I mean, I don't know who originated it, but I've seen it on TikTok a bunch: "Four billion years ago: a bunch of dirt. Now: Bluetooth." [chuckles]

J: [laughs]

H: And it's like—

J: Yeah.

H: —how did a bunch of dirt—

J: Yeah.

H: —become Bluetooth?

J: Yeah [chuckles]

H: How are [laughs]—Like, and understanding the answer to that question—because of course we don't understand it with any level of precision—but like, we have understandings of, you know, a lot of the steps of that, and like, the mechanisms, at least, if not the actual events is really wonderful. And also new.

J: Yes. Super new.

H: It's a new huamn experience.

J: Super new, and it so much defines our understanding of those experiences, or like, recontextualizes them that I think it's difficult sometimes—

H: Yeah.

J: —to empathize with the way that people used to think about that stuff. 

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