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Will a nickname change who I am? Are the bees OK? Should I go to a fancy college? And is it OK if you don't feel as sad as you think you should?

 Introduction (0:00)

Hank: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John.

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

Hank: The podcast where we answer your questions, provide dubious advice and give you all the week's news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. But first John, do you have a poem for us?

John: I do have a poem for you Hank, and I was - I was thinking that we're kind of like missing a segment from the podcast where we uh, just where I ask you how you're doing, I find out what... you know how things are so, how are you?

Hank: Oh! Well, uh I was expecting a poem and now I have a question being thrown at me. I'm great!

John: Well I mean a poem will come in the fullness of time, I just... I just wanted to know if there's anything going on with you, that if you're up to anything.

Hank: Well - 

John: Mostly I want to talk about myself but I know it's polite to let you talk about yourself first.

Hank: Uh when this podcast comes out, I will be in France. Um, and I will have been in France for about a week, and hopefully I'm having a good time there, on a little mini vacation that started out with work but then I stayed in France. 

John: Well congratulations to the future you on getting to visit France. I was just in France, uh very recently as part of, you know...

Hank: Ah yeah.

John: Hank it occurs to me that lots of people don't know that we, um, are not just professional podcasters with a podcast sponsored by... Shirt TalesShirt Tales, the 1980's children's cartoon uh that changed lives, including ours. No, uh we are not just professional podcasters, we also have other jobs - Hank is an internet entrepreneur, Vlogbrother, Crash Course, co-created The Lizzie Bennet Diaries which won an Emmy, SciShow, lot's of things. Um, what else do you do Hank? I can't remember. 

Hank: VidCon, DFTBA Records, I make videos with you on this channel called Vlogbrothers, Crash Course.

John: I mentioned several of those things but clearly you weren't listening to me. Um, yeah so uh, mostly I am the tail to Hank's comet but I also had this other job which is that I write books, or I guess maybe I should say that I used to write books since I haven't written one in more than 3 years. And one of the books that I wrote, Paper Towns, is being turned into a movie that comes out in a few weeks, and so I have been traveling constantly, so I actually spent 22 hours in Paris, Hank. I left the hotel precisely twice. Mostly... I was in Europe, I was in Europe for five days, I spent almost all of my time in hotel basements, which are lovely, I mean, some of the loveliest hotel basements that Europe has to offer, doing press junket stuff, but I did leave the hotel twice in Paris. Once to visit the dentist, because no visit to Paris is complete without a dental appointment, and then once to do a signing that was supposed to be at a bookstore but turned out to be just sort of in a large public square, but from what I could gather, Paris is lovely. It has some of the very best hotel basements that you can find in all of Europe, so enjoy your time in France, that's what I'm saying. Can I get to the poem part of the day?

Hank: Yeah, you can tell us a poem now. It sounds--that sounds really exciting and I look forward to your new blog, 

John: Oh my God, there's some great ones. Which reminds me, by the way, that Dear Hank and John is sponsored by Paper Towns. Paper Towns, the new movie coming out July 24th in the US and other times elsewhere in the world. This is a poem by Walt Whitman. It's designed to make Hank angry and it's called When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer.

"When I heard the learn'd astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars." 

Hank: Ehhh, you know. That didn't make me angry. I just think that Walt Whitman could enjoy both of those things in different ways. Those are both wonderful things. I like listening to learned astronomers myself and looking at the stars in the mystical mists or whatever he said it was.

John: Well, I think it's the--I think it's the debate between whether there's value to mystical experiences and whether science can damage that value. I--this is a poem where I disagree with Walt Whitman, he has a few of those, because I do believe that science only improves our, sort of, like mystical relationship with the stars. I mean, the more I know about the stars, the more kind of beautiful and massive and overwhelming they become, and that's very close to the feeling of the mysterium tremendum, you know, that fear and awe and overwhelmedness that accompanies, kind of, experiences with the divine or with the radically other or whatever, um, but I still love the poem. It's a funny thing--funny thing about poems, Hank, sometimes I disagree with the argument of the poem, but I find its language and rhythm so compelling that I can't--I can't help but like it, you know?

Hank: Yeah! Oh, absolutely. Except for the part--except for the part where I don't really get poetry because it--well, I--actually, I like it a lot more when you're reading it to me. I have a hard time reading poetry because it doesn't have the normal line breaks and it's taken me long enough to be able to read words the way that they're normally presented that when they're presented differently I have a very hard time with reading comprehension and I just completely lose track of what's going on. So, I think that all poetry should be read to me by someone, but preferably John Green, if that's an option.

  Question 1 (5:53)

Hank: Can we get to the questions?

John: Yes, yes of course, Hank. Liv asks, "Dear John and Hank, Are you worried about the disappearance of the bees and do you know of anything people can do to help save the bees?" This is obviously more of a Hank question than a John question but I just want to jump in real quickly here and say Liv, um, as far as I can tell from my backyard, the bee situation is, uh, I'm not concerned about the bee situation in my backyard. Is this a moment Hank where maybe anecdote is not the singular of data, and that sometimes just because you see bees doesn't mean there isn't a larger bee issue?

Hank: There's a larger bee issue. There is definitely a larger bee issue. The bee issue that we're having is mostly an economic sort of commercial bee issue. So there are bees all across America that are driven around to crops and they are planted outside of the crops during the pollination season and then -- and then brought to new crops when it's time to pollinate those crops, and the bee farmers who do this are paid to do it and then they... at the end of the year also have honey that they can sell... and, uh it is a job that people have. It's not, uh, so much a wild bee problem it's more of a commercial bee problem and it is a huge problem because commercial bees -- in addition to providing jobs for those lovely beekeepers and honey for all of us, also produce you know, all of the crops by pollinating them and crops that don't get pollinated do not turn into food, and that's bad. Uh, and they do not turn into seed for next year's harvest and that's bad as well. Um, and colony collapse disorder is basically a, uh, a huge widespread unknown phenomenon in which the beehive just suddenly dies, and that is happening to a huge percentage of commercial beehives. And the reasons for this are not well known though they are being increasingly well studied and likely have something to do with sort of a combination cocktail of pesticides that should not -- should not and are not being sprayed on the crops that bees are currently pollinating but may be being sprayed on nearby crops or may just be still on those crops after longer than we thought they were sticking around, and the way that all of these things are combining may be, this is still, you know, like, being studied, is basically lowering the immune system of the hive as a whole and allowing for outside pathogens to get in and the, you know, the pesticides aren't what's killing the bees, it's just sort of a general lowering of the health of the bees that then allows for pathogens to kill the bees. This is a problem, but the good news is that it is an economic problem and capitalism is good at solving those problems, because it says, "Oh, God, we need to continue selling our crops and having our bees so we need, like, so research is easy to fund studying colony collapse disorder, which is why there is lots of research being done on it. The, fingers crossed, is that it will get figured out and we will modify or cease our -- the use of certain pesticides and that will allow for bees to not collapse in their colonies and that is a thumbs up. The, you know, the feeling that bees in general are in trouble is not really what's happening, it's more of a humans are in trouble situation and we're okay at solving those, because we like being us, and we like selling things to each other.

John: Hank, one of the things I think about a lot is the -- this new word that's emerged in the last few decades, the Anthropocene? Anthropocene? I don't even know how to say it for sure, you know what word I'm referring to, though?

Hank: Yeah, I think Anthropocene.

John: Yeah, the Anthropocene, the idea that we're living in this new geological age where suddenly one species, specifically humans, is having an outsize impact on kind of every facet of life on Earth, and we're still getting used to this power that we've suddenly had since the Industrial Revolution to make or break Earth. It freaks me out to think about, but we do need to start thinking about it, and I think when we live in denial of the fact that we're living in this new geological age when humans can make or break lots of different things on Earth, choosing which species survive, choosing what the carbon levels of the planet are, et cetera... Yeah, when we kind of put our heads in the sand and just pretend that we don't have that power, I think it's very dangerous indeed.

Hank: Indeed! The interesting thing about the Anthropocene is that it is often stated as the age in which humans are the dominant power, but in fact, what it is more like is it is an age in which future geologists would be able to tell a sharp difference in things like climate and species diversity in the geological record and be able to say like, "This marks a new beginning of something new". We are the cause of that new beginning, but the Anthropocene will continue to exist for, theoretically, a very long time, and that age may not have humans as its dominating factor for that whole time, it may just be that humans were the thing that changed, like, that created that defining moment, and then over time, it was, you know, the Anthropocene continued to exist, but either 1) humans stopped existing and the Anthropocene would continue because future geologists would look at it and say this age continues and species diversity did not come back and carbon levels did not decrease. In fact, even without people, carbon levels would probably continue to increase 'cause as things get warmer, carbon dioxide production increases. It's a feedback loop, it's bad. And, or it could be that we will have less of an effect but we will continue to see those effects continue despite the fact that we are having less of an impact on the Earth in the future through hopefully technology and intelligence but... but the changes that we have made will continue - they are not something that we can turn back the clock on.

John: Yeah. This is a great comedy podcast.

  Question 2 (12:28)

John: We got another question, Hank. Um, this one's from Samantha, she writes: "Dear John and Hank, would you rather know what happens after you die or know everyone's secrets?"

Hank: I would not... maybe like to know either of those things! 

John: Well yeah no obviously, in a perfect world, you wouldn't know either of those things-

Hank: Oh I see! Ah yeah

John: -I completely agree with you, I have no desire to know what happens after I die and I have no desire to know everyone's secrets, but I do have a preference, and I think that's what the question is - what is your preference? If you were forced to choose between the two, what would you choose? And for me that's easy. I would want to know everyone's secrets. 

Hank: I think that this question is in fact... would like-- those are both good things, and phrased in that way, I think some people would like to know both of those things. But maybe not? We are just old stodgy curmudgeons, and both of those things sound awful but to most -- to many people that might sound-- sound lovely to know what happens after you die or...

John: Yeah no Hank I... yeah I find your philosophical ramblings interesting but again, Samantha's question is a value-free, would you rather-

Hank: Right, okay.

John: -know what happens after you die or know everybody's secrets? And to me that's uh, that's-

Hank: Yes, I would rather know what happens after I die because knowing everybody's secrets would be crushing and awful.

John: Nooooo! No no no knowing everyone's secrets will be far-

Hank: And it would completely -- it would completely remove my ability to be a human in the world. 

John: No! First off, knowing everyone's secrets would be incredibly helpful and useful in terms of navigating the world and you would quickly become a billionaire and then you would be able to do something about malaria, so it's a clear win to know everyone's secrets, you just exploit and abuse other peoples' secrets to get billions and billions of dollars which you then use to fight global poverty, obvious. For instance, I could probably use knowing everyone's secrets just to bet on, you know, like, to bet on future sporting events or whatever, because I would know who's secretly injured. Versus knowing what happens after I die, that's going to ruin the rest of my life, because I'm just going to be too focused on it, I'm gonna be thinking about it too much. What I wanna be thinking about is what is happening now while I'm alive that I can do to abuse other peoples' secrets to become a billionaire who then cures cholera.

Hank: Ah. I, uh, yeah, I think that I would be very little affected by knowing what happens after I die.

John: Well, but you also think you do know what happens after you die. 

Hank: I do think I know what happens after you die, you're right.

John: So I think that might be slightly biasing you here on the question. Anyway, long story short, listeners, try to find out everyone's secrets.

  Question 3 (15:08)

John: What's next, Hank?

Hank: We have a question from Loyal. Loyal says, "Dear Hank and John, I'm going to college soon, so I have a lot of choices to make. Not only must I decide what to study, but I'm also toying with the decision to start going by a nickname. I really do like my name, but I hate introducing myself because my name is also an adjective and people think I'm describing myself, plus I'm socially awkward and even though Loyal is a boy's name, I'm a girl and et cetera. Beyond that, I've started to question if changing what people call me will change me as a person, so my question is this: How much does a person's name shape their identity, and do you think I should start going by a nickname in college?" I have always gone by a nickname. My name is William Henry Green, and they call me Hank. My parents called me Hank from the day I was born, which is a fate that I would never suggest a parent bestow upon their child, because it results in the bank often saying, "This check is not for you." And me saying, "Oh, please, please, please give me my money." But I think that Loyal's question is very interesting, specifically the--

John: First off, can we just pause and note that Loyal has a fantastic name, and that in my opinion, it's not a boy's name or a girl's name, it's just a great name. 

Hank: Yes. Correct.

John: Top notch name, so I mean, first, shout out to your parents, Loyal, or whoever named you, because that's--that's some good naming right there. I have a lot of background in the field of choosing your own nickname because I tried to do it throughout middle school. I don't know if you know this about me, Hank?

Hank: No.

John: Yeah, so I ch--I wanted a nickname, but nobody would give me a nickname because, like, nobody was even kind of aware of my existence, so they didn't know me by my name or by my nickname, so my nicknames only existed in my head, but in 6th grade, I tried to get this nickname going: Shrimp. I really wanted people to call me The Shrimp or just Shrimp, because, you know, I was a smaller person and it was something of a derogatory nickname, but it was at least a nickname, you know? Like, at least then I would be a nicknamed person instead of just a kind of nonexistent person. So I really tried hard to establish this identity of Shrimp, I would always--I would ask people to call me Shrimp, I would behave in ways that I thought were Shrimp-like. By the way, I do like shrimp, I think they're fantastic animals. Are they animals?

Hank: I'm just--yes, they're--God, are they animals?

John: Point being--Are they animals?

Hank: I just love the idea of watching middle school John like, act in shrimp-like ways. Whatever that means, I'm picturing it, and it's great.

John: Yeah, well, I'll tell you Hank, as you can probably imagine, it was not a stretch to be shrimp-like. I mean, I wasn't trying to act like the animal shrimp, I was trying to act like the slang word Shrimp, which was kind of slang for a person who is maybe weaker and a little bit less masculine, and et cetera. So it wasn't that much of a stretch for me. And then, when I was in high school, I--again, I desperately wanted a nickname, and I never got one until the last couple years of high school, and I really loved having a nickname, and in some ways, I miss it. Like, I loved being known for something other than my given name. And I've always been fascinated in my fiction by the relationship between like, given identities and chosen identities. Like, a lot of my characters have nicknames, but also they, you know, generally, I'm fascinated by the way that in adolescence and the first years of adulthood, we're trying to find ourselves and part of that is, like, finding a name for ourselves. So, in high school, I was called Kuffs, K-U-F-F-S, because one time I said that Christian Slater, who was an actor, never made a bad film, and it turned out that he had been in a cop buddy comedy named Kuffs, in which his buddy was a police dog named Kuffs with a K. And I really enjoyed being called Kuffs, even though it was, like, making fun of this you know, stupid thing that I'd said. So anyway, Loyal, I think it's totally cool to have a nickname, like, I think it's cool--I think you have a great name as it is, but I also think that if you wanna have a chosen identity as well as your given identity, then that's wonderful. We are the things that were given, we are many of the things that we're born with, but we also get to choose a lot about what we are, so I think it's awesome, go for it. Hank, do you have any nickname suggestions for Loyal?

Hank: Um. No. I think that it's a--I think it's difficult to give yourself a nickname, because it's always going to be awkward to be--to like introduce yourself as something that you're not used to introducing yourself as and like--

John: I don't think so, I could totally do it.

Hank: Yeah, well, I mean, but you're John Green, and you're very confident and an adult, so there's--

John: No no no no no, like just--I could've done it in my freshman year of college. Like, somebody walks up to me, they ask me what my name is, instead of saying John, I say... I don't know I'm trying--struggling to think of a nickname for myself, you got anything? 

Hank: Kuffs! 

John: I say "Oh! Yeah! My name is Kuffs, Kuffs Green good to meet you." Um, actually you're right. That would have been difficult just because Kuffs was such a specific nickname. But if it had been a nickname, uh, like, I don't know, uh, Daisy Pants, then people, uh, then I'd just been like "Oh, my name's Daisy Pants Green." I think people would have accepted that over time.

Hank: Yeah. No, I think they'll accept it, I just think that it's odd, that it would be difficult for me to do personally. The thing I want to say to Loyal is that it is actually really valuable to have a weird name. Like there's som... Like as a Hank there's something nice about having a name that's pretty unusual and, like, people remember my name which is good. People do not remember Katherine's name for example because it's normaler and people, I think, feel like remember me more and being remembered is advantageous in general in life. So I think that there's a lot good about Loyal and in fact it a little bit sounds like it already is a nickname and that might be part of what makes it awkward to introduce yourself is that people think that you're giving them a nickname or, you know, something that you've chosen for yourself and you feel weird about that. But I think that, like, comfort in one's identity is one of the greatest things that we can achieve as people and it is very difficult to achieve. So whatever you can do to achieve it is worth attempting.

John: So Hank, ultimately what you're suggesting is that Loyal remain loyal to Loyal.

Hank: Oh dang.

John: The nice thing about when you talk for, like, three minutes in a row is that I get to think of puns.

Hank: Ah, yes. That's, that is really how puns happen. You just have to let a friend monologue for long enough.

  Question 4 (21:43)

Hank: We've got another question, this one is from Emma. Emma says "Dear Hank and John. There are a lot of accredited colleges online. Lot's of these places let you get college credit for taking tests like AP or CLEP exams. I'll be a high school senior next year. I've been homeschooled since kindergarten so I'm used to being self taught. If I can get a college degree using one of these resources, along with things like Crash Course - sponsor of today's episode of Dear Hank and John - for test prep, why don't I -- why should I go to a brick-and-mortar school? Is the real life experience worth it? 

John: Well, I think that they is real value to in-classroom education. I think that there is a value to person-to-person physical interaction, and I know that that sounds like a double entendre and it is, this is a comedy podcast. Ba dum chuck!

Hank: Heh heh heh heh!

John: Um, but I do! I think that there's something valuable about classroom experiences, about IRL classroom interactions and about IRL experiences with really really excellent professors. That said, there's also lots of other things that are valuable about college that you can get online, so I... I, you know--when Hank and I were designing Crash Course we imagined it as educational material that didn't try to replace classrooms as opposed to everything else that was being done which sort of was trying to replace classrooms because I think we both really believe in the classroom experience and classroom education, and in the power of teachers. That said, I think that there are lots of values to online education and even if for, uh -- for me at least, it's not as complete an educational experience, it is still very much a good and valuable educational experience. So, that is my way out of answering your question!

Hank: I also -- this probably is just in my mind 'cause we were just talking about identity but I think that college is a great time to sort of come to better understand yourself, and... and that is most effectively done by interacting a lot with peers and being able to have these intense years of peer interaction and friend interaction. And there are certainly other ways to find that as well but, um, for a lot of people, you know, higher education is really the time when you get to hang out with people who are adults but who are not busy or, like, stuck with big other life things like, you know, marriage and kids and jobs and stuff. So, it's, uh, you know, those relationships are extremely valuable in my life and I know that they are in a lot of people's lives, not just then -- they were very valuable then but they continue to be valuable now. So there's good stuff about college, there's good stuff about having 4 years or so where you, you know, you are really concentrating on personal growth not just academically but also you know, all the rest of the ways. 

John: Plus it's usually where you meet your college girlfriend who will later crush your soul! So, that's not without value. 

Hank: That's John's experience! I got married to mine. 

John: Well, I mean maybe she's just gonna crush your soul later then. All relationships end Hank! Either in break-up, divorce, or death. 

Hank: Oh, well...

John: God I love this comedy podcast. Um, why on Earth did you make this a comedy podcast!? All of our negative reviews in the iTunes store are like "Perfectly enjoyable but not particularly funny!" Anyway, I don't mean to focus on the negative but it's also the only thing that I know how to focus on.

Hank: (Laughs) See! That was a great joke, John. 

John: Thanks buddy.

  Question 5 (25:31)

John: Uh, so we've got a question from Josiah, he writes: "Dear John and Hank, when 3D printers become widely accessible, what will be the first simple object you will print and why?"

Hank: Uh... Smurf. Maybe something -- maybe oh-

John: A Smurf!

Hank: Well you can get Smurfs, maybe an action figure or like...

John: But Hank why would you print a Smurf when you can print a Shirt Tale! Shirt Tales, the 1980's children's television program that sponsored today's episode of Dear John and Hank!

Hank: What was I thinking! You're absolutely right. Now I think I might print a Snork. Even better.

John: Oh god, I have such fond memories of the Snorks. In fact when I was thinking of that Shirt Tales joke, I was trying to think of the Snorks. It's funny because Hank, Henry watches a show Octonauts that is today's Snorks, like it's -- he will remember it the way I remember the Snorks. But I really remember the Snorks as the first and in some ways the most important narrative experience I've ever had.

Hank: That's really weird. I think for me that was a show called Cities of Gold, which was not popular and not on for a long time but I was really obsessed with it. I'd get up every morning at like 7 in the morning on Saturdays to watch it, and I had a huge crush on the cartoon girl.

John: Well, I think Josiah's question has been answered but not in the way any of us expected. 

Hank: No, you didn't answer it -- you want a Snork as well? 

John: Um, no I don't think I would print a Snork, I think the first simple object that I would print would probably be a... like a mechanical hand that could sign my name for me? Because that's something I spend a lot of my leisure time doing.

Hank: That might not be qualifying as simple. 

John: (Laughs) What about an Xbox controller because mine is always breaking. Is that simple? (Hank laughs) No I'm just kidding, of course I would I would uh -- my first 3D printing project would be a bobblehead version of Hank, I'm no dummy. I just want a bobblehead Hank in my life.

Hank: I have a bobblehead you in my life already, I'm looking at him right now. He looks a little weird 'cause he--

John: You have a bobblehead Hank or a bobblehead John?

Hank: Yeah, yeah bobble John over there, he looks a little weird because his head fell off once and now it doesn't quite rest correctly so your chin sorta like leans on your -- like your right shoulder kind of and it-

John: Yeah.

Hank: -it's like "You okay there buddy?" And he's like "I had a long night."

John: Yeah my other big issue with the bobblehead Johns, which I think were produced in 2008 or 2009, is that um... uh I'm a little concerned that bobble John looks significantly younger and thinner than current John? And, it hurts my feelings sometimes to look at my bobblehead self, which I'm doing right now. I'm just like "Who's that handsome, young, large headed human?".

Hank: Yeah. That's a norm- that's-

John: I used to be that guy.

Hank: You've gotta- you gotta be OK with the skin that you're in, John.

John: Oh man, that's good. That's good dubious advice, Hank. Um. (Hank laughs)

  Question 6 (28:19)

John: Uh, we've got another question, this one is from Lia, she writes "Dear John and Hank, recently my grandma died. She's been with me my entire life and I've always thought of her as a second mother. It's only been a week but I'm doing OK. I don't think I'm as sad as I should be. It was really hard the first few days and whenever I think about her I feel sad but generally I'm fine. Does this mean that I'm heartless? Am I a bad person for not being completely devastated for longer than a couple days about the death of someone I loved so much? This has been constantly on my mind and I would really appreciate an answer."

Hank: This sounds like a John Green question to me.

John: Lia you are fine. There are lots of ways to grieve and there are lots of kinds of grief and judging your grief or other peoples' does not do you any good. You are not heartless. If you were heartless you would have already, you would already know. It's perfectly possible that your grandmother lived a long and full and rich life and that you feel very grateful to have had the time with her that you had and that, um, that you've integrated the sadness that you feel about her death into your life and that it's part of your life but not a consuming part and that's not unhealthy. You're OK, I promise. I wasn't that sad when my grandma died and I was very close to her as well. So yeah. Does that make me sound heartless, Hank? Now I'm concerned.

Hank: No.

John: Now I'm feeling exactly what Lia felt.

Hank: No, you do not sound heartless and I thought your answer was very good.

John: I think a lot of times we like to judge our grief or other peoples' grief but, um, yeah. Your grief is yours and it's OK, it really is. It's also OK if in three months you find yourself suddenly extremely sad about that loss. Like one of the difficult things that I go through a lot is, like, judging my own feelings and making my life worse by judging them. So I'll be like "I'm sad and also I'm angry at myself for being sad and also I'm angry at myself for being angry about being sad." And then I'm pretty far away from where I should be which is "I'm sad" and that happens sometimes.

Hank: Yeah. Great answer, John.

John: Not as good as your answer about the bees which was full of information that I did not know. Can I tell you a funny story about bees, Hank?

Hank: You want to tell me a story about bees?

John: If you don't mind. Do you have a second?

Hank: I do.

John: So my son is in preschool and I got an email a few weeks back and in all capital letters the subject line of the email was "THE BEE INCIDENT". And then the email itself was like, the first sentence was "I just want to reassure all parents that our students and heroic teachers are all fine." And I was like "What the hell has happened?" And it turns out that two students and three heroic teachers were stung by a nest off ground bees in the playground on the campus of the school itself. But to read this email you would have thought that there had been a catastrophe on the scale of the Lusitania sinking. That, like, not since the Titanic itself has humanity struggled with such a catastrophe. And then the last sentence of the email was "I would again like to thank all of our heroic teachers." Um, so yeah. (Hank laughs) That's life in the contemporary American preschool these days.

Hank: That's just good management. She's making everybody feel good.

John: The bee incident.

  Question 7 (32:00)

Hank: This question is from Bailey. Bailey asks, "Dear Hank and John. If given the choice, would you rather know virtually nothing but be incredibly happy or would you rather know everything but be incredibly miserable?" Oh Bailey.

John: We seem to like  answering these hypothetical questions, Hank. I--I've never taken a ton of value in hypothetical questions. I'm not sure how our podcast became the hypothetical question podcast, but, um, I'll answer this question. Um, this is a, uh--, you know, it's a bit of a Faustian dilemma, right? Like, uh, there is the character, not just in, uh, Goethe's Faust or Doctor Faustus, or anything, but also in The Little Mermaid. There's always a character in a Faustian dilemma, who makes a deal with the Devil in exchange for knowledge. And then of course, the deal with the devil, uh, comes full circle and, you know as a result of your knowledge you have to suffer some terrible fate, possibly including hellfire. And, you know then on the other hand you've got, uh, the great examples of, the sort of, like, happy, uh, happy but ignorant people of, um, I don't know. Say, John Barnes's novel Losers in Space. You can take a drug that makes you increasingly happy as you get, uh, as you know less and less, you become happier and happier. Um, I would, uh---, I don't know, Hank. What would you rather do?

Hank: Um, I would rather know everything but be incredibly miserable because then other people could be happy because of my knowledge that it... Everything is a lot of things and I think you probably would be incredibly miserable if you knew everything. But, if you knew everything, then you could make a lot of people's lives better, and that would be an OK trade off.

John: Yeah. That's a really good point, actually, 'cause you could probably cure cancer, if you knew everything. 

Hank: Yeah. Yep, you could. 

John: Yeah, I mean knowing everything would be so incredibly valuable, not just to the human species but to the universe as a whole, to, like, the idea of life that you would almost be a bad person not to take that choice, you know, not to make that sacrifice. On the other hand...

Hank: The one question is if you are incredibly miserable are you able to help anyone at all because of your incredible misery or do you become Doctor Manhattan and you're just like "I'm incredibly miserable and I understand how to make people happier but why even bother? Blah."

John: Mmm, that's a great question because if you're so miserable... Yeah, yeah. On the other hand I don't think that being happy is particularly the point of being alive. Um, I remember I was dating a girl once, I don't know why this is the ex-girlfriends episode of Dear John and Hank, but I was dating a girl once and she was talking to me about how I was very unhappy and, you know, I should be more happy. And I realized in the conversation that I just, I don't value happiness particularly highly. I value productivity and connectiveness and attentiveness and I certainly value, you know, love and loving relationships and everything but I don't know that I really seek happiness as such. Maybe I should. Maybe I've been underrating happiness this whole time. Now I'm having an existential crisis in the middle of a comedy podcast.

Hank: That's not unusual here at Dear Hank and John. I value happiness fairly highly myself. I think that it is a lot of the point of life and I think that it guides you in good ways. What is happiness really?

John: Well now I'm starting to think that not only have I been undervaluing happiness all of this time but in the last, like, five or so years I've secretly been valuing happiness more than I thought which is maybe part of the reason why I've been doing more work that I enjoy and generally feeling better about being alive. Now I'm thinking that've been underappreciating happiness but I've also, I've been secretly appreciating happiness. It's getting too meta, Hank. We've got to go to another question.

Hank: I feel like maybe Dear Hank and John has become really good talk therapy for you.

John: It is becoming good talk therapy for me. Can we talk about how I was bullied in middle school? That's the number one subject of my therapy sessions. Also...

  Question 8 (36:22)

John: Actually Hank, while Dear John and Hank is becoming a therapy session for me, I want to share with you this question from Julia that is of great personal interest to me. "Dear John and Hank. Ever since I was seven or eight I've had a couple strange habits. I talk to myself, flair my nostrils, and sometimes bulge out my eyes, not all at once, without even realizing what I'm doing. I've noticed people being really creeped out by it and expressing concern for my mental health because of it as well. I pretend I don't care but I do. It's annoying and it's something I really hate about myself. I will soon start my junior year of high school which means I will soon start the college looking application process and I don't want to have these really creepy things sort of hanging over me for the rest of my life. Any advice on how to stop?" Well Julia this is a question that I can relate to, maybe in a way that isn't going to be helpful to you. But first I want to say that Dear John and Hank is a podcast full of dubious advice and that if you want actual good advice you should definitely talk to a health professional, in this case a mental health professional, which I'll probably recommend anyway just because this seems to be something that's really upsetting to you and really difficult for you to deal with. When I was in high school and before that and well after that I had these compulsions I guess, I have OCD, and one of them was actually talking to myself, like I needed to talk to myself very quietly and in a way that I think ultimately wasn't that distracting to people around me but I did need to do it sometimes. I don't know if that's similar to what you're going through. I don't know if these feel like things that you have to do, I don't know if they're ticks or compulsions or just habits and it's impossible for me to know. But I guess what I would say is that, you know, A: I'm sorry that, you know, you feel so uncomfortable with these parts of your life and B: It's really, really difficult to know what's going on when you're kind of stuck inside of your own head and that's why I think it is really useful to talk to someone for whom this is an area of expertise.

Hank: Yeah. And if it annoys you that is the main thing to be concerned about. If you are perceiving the annoyance of other people you may be perceiving their feelings incorrectly and often times, you know, I have friends who have weird fun habits and I just think of that as how they are not as something that is, you know, annoying about them. So...

  Corrections (38:49)

Hank: Alright. So we're about to head into the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon but first we have a correction from a couple podcasts ago. One of our sponsors was the Orlando Solar Bears which I referred to as a defunct International Hockey League team from the 1990s. This was, in fact, a true statement because the International Hockey League team the Orlando Solar Bears does no longer exist but - and part of the reason for that is that the International Hockey League does no longer exist - but there is an American Hockey League team that started in 2012 called the Orlando Solar Bears that took over the legacy of the IHL's Orlando Solar Bears and they do exist. The Solar Bears are a current team and they play at the TD Waterhouse Center or whatever the arena in Orlando is now called, I have not lived there in a while, and you can go watch them. They have an attendance of roughly 6,000 people per game so there are seats available. The Orlando Solar Bears are a real thing. They just weren't for about a decade.

John: Did they really sponsor our podcast or was that part not...?

Hank: No, they did not actually give us any money. No-one gives us money.

John: Did they sponsor our correction?

Hank: No. A person on Twitter told me this.

John: Oh, that's disappointing. Thanks to the Orlando Solar Bears, however, for re-existing. They are one of the great sporting memories of my childhood.

  News from AFC Wimbledon (40:10)

John: Speaking of great sporting memories, let's talk about the news from AFC Wimbledon this week. Hank, I mean, as always it's an incredibly exciting week for AFC Wimbledon. They just drew their first round Capital One Cup tie. The Capital One Cup is a competition in which all the teams in the Football League play each other. So in the first round AFC Wimbledon will be playing Cardiff City, a fascinating match-up for Wimbledon for a couple reasons. First off, our manager, Neal Ardley, used to play for Cardiff, also used to play for Wimbledon, and he began his coaching career there. But also Cardiff City is a great more recent example of the same process through which AFC Wimbledon kind of came to exist. So Hank, as you know, there was a team that played in Wimbledon for 120 years called Wimbledon FC that was moved by, I try to be as objective as I can here and not biased, but it was moved by greedy, actively evil owners to Milton Keynes where it became the filthy pond-scum currently known as MK Dons. And that left the community of Wimbledon without a football club so they formed their own football club which is entirely owned by its fans and worked their way up from the ninth tier of English football all the way back into the Football League, back into being a full-time professional team so that there is now again full-time professional football for that community to support. And this is evidence to me that, like, football clubs are not ultimately, you know, businesses owned by people, they are ultimately communities. Cardiff City has gone through some of this as well because they were bought by a guy named Vincent Tan who unfortunately for him looks like a 1970s Bond villain but also has been acting like a 1970s Bond villain. He changed their... Cardiff has traditionally been known as The Bluebirds and he changed the uniform color to red from blue and started trying to affiliate them with dragons instead of with bluebirds. And Cardiff City fans started to boycott games and they would sing "We're Cardiff City, we'll always be blue" and they would only wear their old blue uniforms to games and they refused to buy the new red jerseys. And eventually the owner of Cardiff City capitulated and this will be the first season opener game in several years in which Cardiff City will be playing in blue. So congratulations to Cardiff and their supporters on getting to play in blue and getting to be the club that they have historically been and saying no to their owner. But I hope that you get crushed by the mighty machine that is AFC Wimbledon on August 11th.

Hank: That was some really fascinating news from AFC Wimbledon, John. I am riveted to my seat. I only wish there were more.

John: I can't tell if you're kidding.

Hank: But we have to get on to the Mars news But we have to...

John: Well there is more.

Hank: But we have to, but...

John: Thanks for mentioning it, there is more. Callum Kennedy, AFC Wimbledon's left-back has signed a new contract after a recent return to form. He's, you know, he had a difficult second half of the season but he's showing a lot of promise. He's still a young player. Callum Kennedy, he's going to be an AFC Wimbledon player again next season.

  News from Mars (43:38

John: I'm sorry, was there news from Mars?

Hank: But we have to get onto the Mars news. Thank you for your AFC Wimbledon news, John. Six scientists who were taking part in an eight month long Mars simulation mission have been released and are now part of human society again. They spent eight months in a dome together, a very small area with very limited privacy. And every time they went out of the dome to do science on the slopes of Mauna Loa in Hawaii they had to wear space suits. Upon emerging from the dome they said the things that they missed the most were their families, peaches, and the feeling of wind which they did not experience for eight months which I can imagine is somewhat upsetting. But they were eight people, six people selected for their temperament and their scientific knowledge to be a good team and to be able to spend eight months together and not go nuts and they succeeded and we now know that that is possible. Now they're going to do it again and this time for twelve months, I believe, where they will have people basically participating in human experiments to see how people handle living together in close quarters, being able to shower for only six minutes a week, and not go nuts ans still be able to do interesting science.

John: That sounds like my idea of hell.

Hank: It does sound awful. It does sound awful.

John: I mean, you know, colonizing Mars is all fine and good until I can only shower for six minutes a week. Let me ask you a quick question about that though, Hank. How often were they allowed to take nice, comfortable, soaking baths? (Hank laughs) Because I could handle only six minutes of showering a week but I'm going to need eight to ten really chest-deep baths with very hot water.

Hank: One of the most fascinating things about this is that one of the crew members, Jocelyn Dunn, when she walked out she was a little bit afraid to leave the enclosure without her suit on.

John: Wow.

Hank: And after doing it for eight months she was like "Can I really go outside and is that OK?"

John: Wow.

Hank: Which is just terrifying. Yeah.

John: I mean Hank, I don't like to enjoy the news from Mars but that actually was interesting primarily because it was the news from Earth.

Hank: (Laughs) Well I appreciate your appreciation.

  Conclusion (46:13)

John: So that's all the news from the world's greatest fourth tier football club and also all the news from the Solar System's fourth rock from the Sun which brings us, I'm afraid, Hank, to the end of our podcast for the day. What did we learn?

Hank: Oh gosh. I should probably take notes 'cause I always forget what we learned.

John: Well we learned that the Snorks was the greatest television show of the 1980s.

Hank: Yes. We learned that John and I disagree about the implications of knowledge about the afterlife.

John: And we learned that Hank is very knowledgeable about bees. I wonder what Hank isn't knowledgeable about? It's kind of frustrating sometimes.

Hank: Well I stand in front of a camera and am paid to talk about science. So even when I don't know about things someone has written a script and then I read the script and then I do know the thing.

John: And we learned that against all odds the Orlando Solar Bears are still a thing.

Hank: Yeah. That's very exciting. I suggest all Orlandoans get your butts to those games. Sounds like a good time.

John: Alright. Go Solar Bears. Thank you for listening, we'll be back again next week. You can send your questions to or visit us online. I'm @johngreen on Twitter and Hank is @hankgreen.

Hank: Yes. Thank you to Nick Jenkins for editing this podcast. And as we say in our hometown:

Together: Don't forget to be awesome.