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Do other people exist? How do I become a good middle school teacher? How do I know if I'm being egotistical? What is "home" and will I ever find it? And a secret that Hank has never told anyone and is totally ashamed of!

 Intro (0:00

Hank: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John. 

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

H: It's the podcast where me and my brother, John, talk about stuff and we answer your questions and we give you dubious advice, and it's fun!

J: We also share all the news from Mars, which is a cold dead rock distant from the Sun, and AFC Wimbledon, which is the white hot center of America's most popular sport!

H: And we usually start off this podcast with a poem, from my brother John.

J: Actually we usually talk about how we're doing. How are you Hank? 

H: Oh is that really, I don't know, I don't know how the podcast works! I'm good. You know what I just did, John? Do you know what I just did, like, moments before this podcast began?

J: Did you get a new refrigerator? 

H: No. Better than that! 

J: Is your refrigerator fixed? That's what the world wants to know! 

H: I ate pesto that was taken out of my fixed refrigerator. 

J: (Laughs) Congratulations on having fixed your refrigerator and being able to enjoy pesto. In personal news, today is day 29 of my 30 day elimination diet, which means that tomorrow I can begin to re-introduce food groups to find out what I'm allergic to, that's causing my eosinophilic esophagitis. At the very least, along the way, I have learned that many of the things that I thought were required for living turn out not to be and that, in fact, you can survive without dairy, and wheat, and soy, and essentially everything that makes food taste good.

H: Yeah. I bet you can't have pasta, huh?

J: I have not been able to have pasta in some time. Would you like a poem for today? It's kind of on the topic, now that I think about it.

H: Oh, it's a pesto related poem?

J: It's a poem related to consumer goods, and pesto would have been, you know, pesto-

H: Alright. 

J: -is essentially a consumer good. It's... Today's poem is actually a request, Hank.

H: Oh. Oh my goodness.

J: Luis, long time listener to Dear John and Hank, requested this poem, by...

H: Well, not that long time.

J: Yeah, long time. No, he's listened to all eleven episodes. He requested this poem, The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth. Great, British, romantic poet, William Wordsworth, and this is a great example of his poetry.

"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn."

William Wordsworth, expressing concern about our relationship with nature, and our obsession with consumer goods, way back in, like, 1808.

H: I guess, I guess we have less to concern ourselves with. If it's been a concern so long, then it must not be a real concern. Right?

J: I don't think that's how concerns work, but I do think that Wordsworth would be alarmed by the proliferation of inside culture. But sadly, I have to say that as much as I enjoy a good William Wordsworth poem, inside culture is my favorite kind of culture.

H: John, I have a question for you on the subject of poetry. Why do poems sound like poems? We don't talk like that in any other situation, except when poeming. You know what I mean. There's a way that you talk when you're, when you're reading a poem out loud. Not you, but a person. All people talk this way when poems are being read.

J: Yeah.

H: You sort of have to, like, you have to emphasize the syllables more and make the, make the things sound the way that they should. It's like, it's kind of, like, performing a musical piece except that there's a lot more room for improvisation.

J: Well, I think you've... Well, there's lots of room for improvisation with some music pieces, but I think you've hit upon precisely what it is which is that poetry is rhythmic. Poetry is musical, you know. And so, not all poetry, but lots of it is, and so I try to reflect, when I'm reading, you know, what I think the meter of the poem is. And the most common meter in English is iambic, right. Where it's doo doo, doo doo, doo doo, doo doo, doo doo. That's iambic pentameter. "The world is too much with us; late and soon". That's the first line of that Wordsworth poem. And I don't know exactly why we use iambic pentameter in English poetry, except that it sounds good. That doo doo, doo doo, doo doo, doo doo, doo doo. Something about it just fills our little heads with delight, in the same way that, you know, I think certain kinds of music do. So that's my theory about it, but, when I'm reading a poetry that isn't in iambic pentameter, like if I'm reading, you know, a little bit of Walt Whitman Song of Myself, for instance, I would go in a totally different direction. Like, let me, let me give you the first stanza of Song of Myself, OK.

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you."

So, I feel like that's a very different poetry reading voice than you have when you're reading, you know, someone like Wordsworth. No?

H: Ah... I disagree. It sounds the same to me. It sounds, it sounds in the same way that it sounds different from normal human speech. It sounds the same.

J: Well, I think it's supposed to be elevated. I think it's supposed to be elevated human speech.

H: Yeah, yeah. And it has, like, yeah. It has, and I think the question is could you read that in a way that doesn't sound like reading a poem or is it the poem itself that sounds like a poem?

J: I mean, I think a lot of, I think a lot of poetry, you know, does want to sound like heightened language. I think some doesn't, you know, like Frank O'Hara's, Having a Coke with You. You know that poem?

H: Right. Mmm, no, but, but I can feel it already.

J: (Laughs) You're just trying to get me to avoid reading you some Frank O'Hara, and I don't blame you. Or, you know, what about, what about some light verse, like, you know, Dorothy Parker? You know, like her poems, they still sound like...

H: Right, right.

J: They still, you know... Dorothy Parker poems still sound like poetry, but, you know, they're making fun of the way that poetry sounds, if that makes sense. So I think sometimes there's a self-consciousness about it.

H: Right. Well, what if, what if you just take Song of Myself and you just say it like words. Like, "I celebrate myself, and I sing myself, and what I assume, you shall assume, for every atom belonging to me is as good belongs to you."

J: Nope, you still sound like you're reading poetry to me. I don't think there's anyway to avoid it because the language is precise and the language is chosen and it has a rhythm to it, right. I mean, you could, sort of, like, tap out good poems, and like I don't think that's a bad thing, I think that's a great thing. Like you can tap out any great sentence in literature, right. Like, the first sentence of Great Gatsby. "In my young..."

H: Is there, maybe, a better reading of Song of Myself, of most poems, that isn't the way that we read them because we sort of get caught up in the way of reading poems that sounds like poem reading. 

J: No, because, I think you have to acknowledge the heightenedness of the language in this-

H: You do!

J: -the specificity of the language.

H: But you just said, like, the..

J: But I don't, I think your underlying concern is maybe that people when they're reading poetry get too obsessed with line breaks and I think that's absolutely true. Like you should try, in so far as possible, to read a poem, I think anyway, as if you were reading. Like, you know, as if you were reading aloud. But, you know, and the line breaks are only there to give you, like, the briefest of an eye pause, rather than the pause of, like, a comma or something. But I don't know. I'm not an expert in poetry, Hank, I am just a guy who read you a great Wordsworth poem, that you should have enjoyed more than you did.

H: I did, no. But here's the thing that's happening, I think, with Dear Hank and John and my being forced to listen to a poem every week, is that I'm starting to think more about poetry and about what it is about poetry that sort of rubs me the wrong way. And now, and, like, there are lots of poems that I enjoy, like, you know, more modern stuff is always more enjoyable to me, I think because it's made for, you know, like, me and people who are alive right now, and so it requires a little less to, like... There's a little bit lower of a barrier to entry. Like, I like Watsky's poetry, for example. But I think that a lot, like, a lot of it is the pretension, and the way that we perform poetry sort of does elevate it in a way where I'm just like, "Ah, I can't". Like, it's like people talking about how, like, about, like, the notes of raspberry and twists of lemon in a glass of wine when I'm like, "You know what this tastes like is freaking grapes! It's grape flavored alcohol. Let's get over it." And I, and I just...

J: Yeah, but I think that's, I think you're maybe not giving enough credit to, like, the validity of other people's passions and interests. So as a counterexample I would say that, like, a lot of people find the language of science or the language of mathematics to be very off-putting and to be very alienating. However, that language exists for the purpose of specificity and for the purpose of accuracy and so if someone's trying to, you know, accurately map something from inside of human experience or accurately map a relationship between, you know, contemporary human consciousness and the natural world, like, you know, you need specific language to do that. And so I don't... Just as I think that there's nothing inherently wrong with someone saying that certain wine tastes better than others, or trying to find out what it is about that wine that tastes better than others, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with the sort of heightened language of poetry. But I will try, next week, to find a poem that you will enjoy that is unpretentious and is read in a way that does not sound like poetry. Deal?

H: Deal. And I don't want you to think that I'm criticizing you, and I don't want poetry to think that I'm criticizing it, I just... Just in the same way that when I'm talking about science I like to do it in a way that will be interesting to the maximum number of people and lower those barriers to entry and make it less alienating.

J: Yeah.

H: I think that there's ways to do that with poetry and that people who are into poetry should think about that.

J: Yeah, that's why I picked a very accessible Wordsworth poem instead of one of the more difficult ones.

H: (Laughs) Sorry about that. Oh. Well, let's do some questions, John, does that sound good to you?

J: It sounds fine. I think increasingly that the way that I wanted you to feel about AFC Wimbledon is instead the way that you're starting to feel about poetry, which is extremely unfortunate because I just wanted to read a poem to sort of, like, set the mood and now I have to read a poem and then defend it every week for twenty minutes.

  Question 1 (11:16

J: Our first question comes from Zara (Zar-a), or possibly Zara (Zare-a), who writes, "Dear John and Hank. Can you find some way to prove that my life is not a big crazy experiment and that all the people I interact with are nothing but actors and everywhere around me is one big artificial movie set, and that the real world is completely different to the one I think I am living in now." Which is not really a question because it ends with a period, but I appreciate the sentiment, because for many years I believed exactly that. When I was a child, I believed that I was the only real person and that Hank was an alien and my parents were aliens and that the entire world that I knew existed only to sort of entertain and distract me because I was the only real human in this very complicated, like, alien play about what would happen to a human if you did various things to them. So I'm very symp...

H: Do you think that that comes from, do you think that that comes from a place of, of, like, just knowing a lot more about yourself? And like you know, the experience of the self, as a much richer experience than the experience of the other, and so, is that where that... Like I think a lot of people sort of, like, have this thought at one point in their lives.

J: Right, yeah. So, there's a bit of a word for it, right. Solipsism, the idea that-

H: Oh, OK.

J: -like the self is, you know, my self is the only thing or the only self that can be known to exist and that I should act out of that, out of that belief. Like that's a, you know, big idea in Greek philosophy and then moving forward as well. It's very difficult to prove a negative or disprove a negative. You know, it's very difficult to prove that that's not true. However, I don't think that it is true, and I think, like, one of the central facts of being a person who is alive in a world with other people is that you have to have faith that other people are as real as you are, and that their experiences are as real as yours, that their grief is as real as yours, because otherwise you will end up acting in a way that puts you further from, you know, further from connection to people. So, it is a leap of faith to imagine that other people are actually people and not like some kind of, like, complicated experiment, but it's a leap of faith that makes a lot of sense. It is the far more likelier scenario, for starters.

H: Yes, and I, yes. Certainly. I'll also say that it'd be very, very unusual for Hank and John Green to have done a ten year long video blog project so that we could play this one very small part in the life of Zara.

J: Well, I mean, it would be unusual, except not from Zara's perspective, because from Zara's perspective essentially the only thing that's ever verifiably happened are things that happened to Zara, right? So there is no, there is no world outside of Zara to Zara, and that's kind of the challenge of being stuck inside this prison of consciousness, that like my consciousness is the only one that I'll ever have, my eyes are the only eyes I'll ever see out of, I'll never know what it's like to be someone else, I'll never be able to inhabit another person's mind, and, like, I don't want to minimize the size of that challenge because I think it's the greatest challenge that humans face. But I do think that responding to that challenge by saying, like, "Oh these people probably aren't real or I can't verify that they're real so, you know, screw 'em" I think that's the wrong response

H: Right, yeah. So the answer is, can we prove it? No, but it is the case, everybody's just their own person

J: Yeah, as much as I can't prove it, I am still sure of it. That said, there are a bunch of philosophers who have ostensibly disproved solipsism. There are others who still argue for it, but not so many. But yeah. I think the right way to go about the world is to assume that people are probably people who don't exist purely for your amusement and/or edification.

  Question 2 (15:13

H: Alright, we have another question. This one is from Christie, who asked "Dear Hank and John. It's occurred to me for the last few years I've always been between places. I live in places temporarily, at university or my parent's house, I travel between them, as well as around the country to see my friends. Either due to a restless nature or reading too much Kerouac, I want change, and new things, feeling that I need to be moving. What is home? Is it a place? Is it an environment? Do you reach a point in life when you find home, and how do you know when you've found it?" Aw, dang!

J: Yeah, that's a big question, I don't think everybody reaches a point in their lives when they find home, and I don't think everyone needs to. I have an artist friend for instance who's in her forties and was born in Afghanistan and lived for most of her childhood in Afghanistan but doesn't, you know, have a permanent residence now and also doesn't particularly want to have one. She spends a lot of time in the US and a lot of time in Canada and some of the time in Afghanistan. And she isn't seeking permanence in the way that I would seek it. But that said, I remember that feeling of restlessness and having read a little bit too much Kerouac. And it took me a long time before I felt at home. But now that I do, which is, it's almost like something that you see in retrospect where you, at least for me, where I'm like, "Oh. I guess this is home, 'cause I've lived here a long time and I don't want to move any more". And once I found it I've been very reluctant to leave.

H: I... Yeah, I also feel very at home in the place where I am but I also empathize with Christie in that sometimes... You know, I do love to experience new things and I do love to do things, I also love to sit and stay at home and do the thing that I normally do and have a routine. And I think that what this boils down to is the idea of, I mean, maybe not but I've been thinking about this a lot, the idea of normal, the idea of the regular. And having... And there's sort of, you know, there's a push in my life and I think in a lot of people's lives, to avoid that, to be weird, to try new things. And especially when you're young, I think that there's sort of a mutagenic force of youth in culture and that's an important part of that is, like, this desire to do things differently. But then when you settle into the normal and you find a normal that really works for you - and it might not be society's normal, hopefully, of course it isn't exactly society's normal and it may be very different from society's normal. But the normal that works for you, and of course that normal can change from day to day and year to year, can be a really wonderful thing. (Laughs) As much as...

J: Yeah, I kind of think that it's underrated. As you know, Hank, I believe that stability in general is underrated. Both political and social stability are underappreciated, because we're always fomenting revolution. But, yeah. I quite like normal, but there is a wonderful, like, friction to, you know, life before you settle into a normal where lots of good and interesting things can happen but I also found that time of my life to be very stressful, like there was this constant deep down gnawing fear of not having a safety net, of not knowing who my people were, for lack of a better term, like, you know, not knowing who I could count on day to day and, you know, not having a great understanding some days of, like, you know, what my bed was even gonna look like. I've had the same bed for twelve years. That to me is the definition of home. Home is that bed that I've had for twelve years that, like, has, you know Sarah-shaped and John-shaped dents in it.

H: Yeah my definition of home is comfortable normalcy. As much as my high school self and college self would hate that. 

J: I was gonna say somewhere seventeen-year-old Hank is spitting on thirty-six-year old Hank.

H: (Laughs) Yeah.

  Question 3 (19:47

J: Our next question is from Megan who writes "Dear John and Hank. I've been a nerdfighter since 2007". Thank you for sticking with us Megan. "And I am beginning my first job as a middle school English teacher in two weeks. I moved from upstate New York to Southern Maryland for this opportunity and I'm very nervous." That's because you're not in the normal period yet, you're in that terrifying, difficult, but exiting pre-normal period. "I want to cultivate a love for reading and writing within my students, while also performing to the high standard I've set for myself. How can I balance rigor with my joy in my job?" That's a great question. And in general, Hank, do we have any advice for a new middle school teacher? The only thing that I would really say, Megan, is that you are doing God's work with God's people. God's people, of course, being middle school students. And that I am deeply and permanently in your debt, as is the entire United States of America, for the hard and good work that you are about to start doing with middle school students. And a special message to the middle school listeners out there: Be nice to your teachers! They are trying hard and as you can see right there, they are maybe just as scared as you are. Maybe not just as scared, but quite scared! So, I think you'll be fine.

H: Yeah! I mean, I just like that you're asking difficult questions like that, like, wanting to cultivate appreciation while also wanting to, you know, get good stuff out of your pupils. That's exactly the balance that you have to find. And I, having never been a middle school teacher, cannot help you with that. But the fact that you are asking it shows that you, you know, that you care and that's probably the number one thing.

J: Yeah, I mean, my only other piece of advice to Megan would be to find good mentors, people who are better teaching mentors than John and Hank Green, who know absolutely nothing about teaching. So, I'm sure, at your school there will be good mentors for you and, you know, I'm sure, once you're there, it'll feel normal. You probably are there by now, by the way, since we're answering your question belatedly, and probably everything is going fantastically. But, yeah. Find good mentors, that's always my advice to anybody starting out in any career.

H: And I also want to say, like, people enjoy being mentors. A lot of times it feels like it's a one sided thing and you're, like, asking a great deal of a person, but if you find someone who you really respect and you like the way that they do their work, people often enjoy sharing that, because if they're doing a good job it's because they love it, and they're passionate about it, and probably think a whole lot about it, and want opportunities to talk about it.

J: Today's episode of Dear Hank and John is brought to you by enthusiastic mentors., a website where you can find a mentor who wants to be a mentor, not some person who feels like they got tricked into it, a real proper enthusiastic mentor., a website built in the future, probably tomorrow, the day after, by Hank Green.

H: Today's episode of Dear Hank and John is brought to you by reading too much Kerouac. Reading too much Kerouac, inspiring restlessness and change in generations of students, and humans, before they realize that really there's a lot of pleasantness about just sitting around and watching Netflix with people you love.

J: Today's episode of Dear Hank and John is brought to you by poetry written after 1980. Poetry written after 1980, the only kind of poetry that Hank thinks is for him.

H: Today's episode of Dear Hank and John is brought to you by The Truman Show and The Matrix, which have reinforced this idea of solipsism, apparently that's a word that is really old...

J: Did I just teach you a word!?

H: Yes, I know I did not know that word, I'd heard that word, I did not know what it meant.

J: Wow!

H: And everybody thinks that these ideas are so new, but they aren't.

  Question 4 (23:48

H: All right, we've got another question, this question is from Blake, who writes "Dear Hank and John. I'm a transgender man, which in my case means my parents had one son and one daughter, but now two sons. This also means that my brother now has as a brother. My dad and brother, not my mom, have been very supportive of my transition and refer to me as their son and brother. My question is how do I brother/son? I feel like there is a set of skills or a way of being that I don't understand. It isn't necessarily about gender roles, I'm not concerned with that, I won't be able to bond over similar interests or anything, but being a brother and son still feels different. I am in my early 20s and my brother is in his late teens. What does being a brother mean to you? And is it in any way defined by gender or sex? How do I operate as a brother and son, both in public, and in private?"

J: That's a big question. It sounds to me like you already are a brother and a son, Blake, so you're probably doing it right merely by doing it. I always encourage people to, like, reach out to other people in the trans community and other people who've had similar experiences who you can find via social networks, or in real life, in meetings, but I think my experience as a brother is that, you know, being a brother or being a son means, you know, trying to be a good person in a relationship, which is not that gendered. 

H: No.

J: I don't think.

H: Yeah.

J: I don't know though, I've never been a daughter, or a sister. 

H: But I would say that, like, there's, you know, probably as many ways to be brothers and sons as there are brothers and sons and everybody does it differently but the thing that they have in common is appreciation and love and respect for the rest of their family and compassion, you know, like that stuff. And so in a lot of ways I think that you have become a brother and son just by being, like, just as everyone else has. You do the thing, you know. And if your family knows that you love them then you're doing the thing right. 

J: Do you love me Hank?

H: Aw, come on.

J: (Laughs)

  Question 5 (26:05

J: Alright we got a question from Julie, who write "Dear John and Hank. I was raised in a cult where we couldn't read outside books." I don't know what outside books are-

H: Yeah, I do.

J: -but that sounds like the vast majority of books.

H: Yes, correct. 

J: "I always love to read but was only allowed a very limited amount of material. I left the church a couple of years ago and I constantly hear people talking about all the books they were required to read in high school and I wish I could've had a high school reading list, instead I was attempting to teach home school to my younger siblings which was a disaster. My question is, what books would be good to read in order to better fit into this new world I have discovered outside the confines of the one I was raised in." That is a fascinating question, Julie. 

H: Yeah! 

J: The first short story I ever wrote, Hank, was about a kid. I was in high... Well, like, the first serious short story I wrote when I was in high school, was about a kid who'd only been allowed to read the Bible and had been homeschooled and all of the language that he had was the language of the King James Bible. That was the language that had been spoken to him, and then he found himself, you know, in a world where the King James Bible and quotes from the King James Bible and stories from the King James Bible were not the only quotes and stories and language that were used and it was quite overwhelming to him. It wasn't a bad idea for a story, the execution was, of course, just epically terrible. But, yeah. I mean, I think it's tremendously challenging to try to live in a world where the sort of common cultural references are very different from the common cultural references of your own experience or of your own childhood. 

H: Yeah. At the same time, like, I wouldn't necessarily be searching for the books that are gonna help you, like, associate with other people and understand their references, you might just be looking for the books that you're going to enjoy the most. So what I would do is just pick a bunch of classics of a bunch of genres and find the things that you might be into. 

J: Right, yeah. 

H: And when I say classics I mean from like today, you know The Fault In Our Stars being an important classic that you should read.

J: I would say, you know, you wanna start with the book like The Fault In Our Stars that's kind of a contemporary classic, and then... But you wanna read more broadly so you also want to include, for instance, like, a great boarding school novel like Looking for Alaska or a good sort of, like, comic road trip novel like An Abundance of Katherines. Really, between the Bible and the works of John Green you should be pretty well set. (Both laugh)

H: Yeah. 

J: Yeah, I mean I think that you can't try to read in a systematic way to, like, catch up or be able to, you know, like, converse at cocktail parties because everybody's read different stuff and that's good. It's good to be able to talk about books that other people haven't read and maybe get them excited about them. I think it's good to have, you know, different kinds of reading experiences. I will tell you the 5 books that I read in high school for school that mattered the most to me and then Hank will do the same thing. Number 1 for me, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, completely changed my life. Number 2, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Number 3, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Number 4, The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, and number 5, Angels in America by Tony Kushner. Those are my 5 books that I read in high school English classes that had the biggest impact on me. I feel bad about excluding you know, Whitman and the entire American canon and Shakespeare and Wordsworth and Theodore Dreiser and whoever else but those are the 5 that really mattered to me that I read in English class.

H: John, do you want to know a secret that I don't know if I've ever told anybody? 

J: Yes.

H: I didn't read any books in my high school English classes.

J: Are you serious? None?

H: I don't think I finished any book.

J: Wow! Really? 

H: Yeah. 

J: What about, like, Romeo and Juliet, or something that's pretty, pretty short.

H: Mmm, that's not a book, and no.

J: I mean they print it in book form. You didn't, well did you not have good high school English texts? Like did you not get...

H: I did have, I had good high school English teachers and I enjoyed, I enjoyed exercises in high school English. I have very mild dyslexia and I read very slowly and when, what would happen is, like, I would be assigned, you know, the three chapters for that night, I'd read the three chapters and then the next night I'd have to read another one and I just couldn't keep up. And by the time I was behind I was just behind and reading the Cliffs Notes.

J: Mmm.

H: So I didn't. And I didn't enjoy any of the books because I was reading them to try and churn through them as fast as possible. I did not enjoy a book-

J: Right

H: -until I read Jurassic Park.

J: Mmm. Well that's an enjoyable book, no question about it. I remember reading Jurassic Park in high school and really enjoying it. 

H: Yeah. So I, I enjoyed Jurassic Park. That was the first book that I read all the way through and the first, like, adult book, and I, and it did inspire me to then go out and then read longer books that took me, you know, I probably in the beginning of this process would spend a month or two reading one book. And, like, I just couldn't go faster than that, so that's what I did. And in class it was like we're reading these, like, ten books this semester. I just was never going to be able to do that.

J: What else did you read in high school that was book length that, that you liked or that you finished? Can you remember anything? 

H: I read the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, and that was huge for me and I honestly, until college, don't think, I may not have read... I must have read some other books. But I don't, I don't know man. It took me a long time to become a reader and now I read just, like, you know, I still read slowly, but I read a lot. 

J: Yeah. You're a better reader than I am now. 

H: Well yeah. You have, you have... Everyone who has children will sometimes look at me and, like, touch me softly on the arm and say "What's it like to just read?"

J: It is true that you don't have as much time to read but I could choose to read a lot more than I do because, you know, at the end of the day after the kids go to sleep I often watch television instead of reading.

H: Yeah. Yeah. 

J: So I could definitely make better choices, or different choices. I'm not, I don't know if it's actually better. There's some pretty good TV shows on these days. But that's really interesting. That explains...

H: Oh! Oh! A book that was huge for me and that changed, that I read in high school was T.H. White's book about, what is it? What's it called?

J: The Once and Future King?

H: Yes that one. 

J: I never read it actually, but I bought a copy once and cut a gigantic hole in it and put a ring inside of it for Sarah's birthday. 

H: Oh. I remember you doing that and actually I remember looking at that hole in that book and feeling like you had burnt an American flag, basically. 

J: Oh whatever. You buy a book it belongs to you, you can do whatever you want with it. (Hank laughs) That's really interesting. It also explains your continuing fascination with Mars. That, like, it was these three Mars books that had such a huge impact on your reading life. It almost makes me sympathetic to your position that Mars is of anything other than passing interest. 

H: Well I may also point out that I'm not the only person who is fascinated with Mars. And in fact, I would like to see an analysis of movies about outer space versus movies about football, the game played with the foot, not football, the game played with the hands, and see which there are more movies about. I bet there's more movies about space, John.

J: Well I'm sure that there are more movies about outer space because it's inherently far more dramatic. Special effects budgets are higher, people like to go to the theater to see stuff blow up. Almost never do things blow up in soccer matches. Only when something goes very wrong with a flare in the stands.

  Question 6 (34:31

H: Alright we've got another question. This one is from Aaron who asks "Dear Hank and John. If you could add any one mandatory course to the high school curriculum in the United States what subject would you focus on?" I love this question!

J: Great question. Hank, let's answer together. Ready 3, 2, 1. Computer programming.

H: Mars!

J: (Laughs) I do feel like not enough American high school students are educated in the field of fourth tier English soccer which is one of the reasons that AFC Wimbledon doesn't have as large a following here as I would like, but I think that Mars and AFC Wimbledon should be off the list for future courses. I really think computer programming. I think understanding how, the basics of how computers work and how we get them to do stuff with and for us is extremely important to contemporary life. So that would be my vote. Hank?

H: I like that a lot. I feel strongly in that regard as well. I think that that, you know, it is offered in a lot of schools and I hope that lots of students are taking computer programming. Even if you're not going to become a programmer it's just a really important thing to know. I have taken computer programming courses and I am not a programmer, but it is very helpful to me in my life to know what is possible and to be able to communicate with programmers, so that's great. I, you know, just to go in a different direction,  I feel like there needs to be a course on how to live.

J: Yeah.

H: Like how taxes work and personal finance and, and things like that. I would really like for that to exist. And then I think that there should be a course on critical thinking that is just called BS Detection 101. And I don't know, I feel like that's just something that isn't, we just... You know, it's supposed, like it seems like it should be something that is in all of the courses, but somehow we've lost it. 

J: Yeah. I would say that that, I would say critical thinking needs to be integrated into existing courses rather than made into it's own course, but I don't disagree with you about what used to be called home economics, or home ec, being really, really relevant to people's lives. Like knowing how to, you know, like not overdraw your checking account is very important, and I did not really know how to do it until I was about 28.

H: Yeah. Right. And like the consequences of it. And like, just and understanding the difference, like, what it really means when you have a monthly bill and, like, and what it, like, and all of the different ways that being, that not having money costs money, and how to avoid them. 

J: Yeah. 

H: Because I just, I think that there's a huge, there's a whole industry in America that's based on people not understanding how money works, and it just, it's a great industry for making poor people poor and rich people rich, and it makes me very, very angry, and I don't know why it's not something that is taught. And also I would like that course to teach how to vote.

J: Yeah, how to vote. 

H: Not which person to vote for.

J: But just how to vote.

H: But how to, like how to engage with the American political system. 

J: Yeah. 

H: And that no matter how much money you have, you have the exact same number of votes as the richest person in the world.

  Question 7 (38:02

J: Our last question for today, Hank, it comes from Iam who writes "Dear John and Hank" I just realized that Iam's name is not Iam because his username-

H: Yeah, nope.

J: - is iamdecadent.

H: (Laughs) Yeah probably not.

J: I think that person's name is something that is not in their email address. Okay. Anyway. Iam writes "Dear John and Hank. Do you like cooking? Is there a go-to meal you have when you want to be fancy? What if you're tired but don't want delivery? Thanks, and happy eating." First off, when I'm... There is no such thing as me being tired and not wanting delivery. 

H: (Laughs) Yes.

J: Even when I'm not tired I want delivery. I do like...

H: Yeah. Now that you've mentioned it, I want delivery right now.

J: Yeah actually. Come to think of it, why isn't there a pizza here? Oh right, because I can't eat wheat, or soy, or dairy. (Hank laughs) The go-to meal for me when I want to be fairly fancy is a nice piece of fish very simply grilled with cauliflower, some nice kind of, you know, baked cauliflower and very lightly boiled asparagus. That's the perfect meal for me. But it takes a lot of work and I'd just as soon have pizza delivered. 

H: I think for us it's either like a curry, like massaman curry is sort of, like, the fancy if we want to spend some time. And then if, like, I just want to eat and I don't, and I, like... Honestly if I don't want delivery it's because I don't want to wait thirty minutes, and so it's something like a tortilla with cold cuts and cheese, microwaved. That's my...

 J: Oh God, that sounds terrible. 

H: That's like "I need food" food.

J: Mmm. Mmm.

H: Or just, or just a cold cut wrapped around a piece of cheese.

J: Oh God.

H: Or, or two bananas.

J: Yeah, two bananas sounds more reasonable to me. I have to say that I've had to plan my meals very carefully over the last thirty days because I can't eat any normal foods and that's been really helpful to me, to know every morning what I'm going to eat that day, to know what breakfast, lunch, and dinner are gonna look like and to know when I'm gonna prepare them because I don't find myself in that situation where I'm super hungry and, you know, have no idea what to eat and then have to, like, ransack the pantry in search of something to provide me with calories because every morning I'm like "Oh, this morning I will have spinach, and then later today I will have chicken and asparagus, and then in the evening I'm going to have, you know, salmon stir-fry or whatever." Oh God, it's been a long month.

  News from AFC Wimbledon (40:56

J: Hank, can we move onto the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon?

H: Let's do that.

J: Do you want to know the news... Do you wanna, do you wanna, do you wanna know the news, do you wanna know the AFC Wimbledon news?

H: OK, tell me the AFC Wimbledon news.

J: Do you wanna, do you wanna know? Do you wanna know? Do you wanna... We won a home game! We did it!

H: Oh good. Oh, that's very nice.

J: We beat Exeter City at home. Fans got to see a victory from the John Green Stand, Hank. Thousands of people sat in the John Green Stand and watched an actual AFC Wimbledon victory, beating Exeter City 2-1 and it was a beautiful game. The winning goal was scored by our 21 year old striker, Azeez, new striker. He was with the team last season, scored seven goals. This year, an expanded role, looking very promising, very exciting and, and, and, Hank, currently five games into the season, AFC Wimbledon are twelfth in League Two, they are in twelfth place. There are 24 teams in League Two, the bottom two get relegated and then the top few get promoted up to League One. Twelfth is dead center mid-table, very comfortable. Not a bad place to be right now and hopefully, if we can put a string of results together, we'll be up nearer those promotion places and we can dream of third tier English football. But it's too soon for that, it's just one home victory but oh, it was a good weekend.

H: That is amazing news. I'm so happy for you. And also for everyone because of how AFC Wimbledon is the most important sports team and institution in history.

J: I thought that you were just going to say sports team and I was gonna have to correct you but I appreciate your expansion. (Hank laughs) Hank, name another significant institution owned equal shares by every single one of its fans. You can't. Not even Nerdfighteria is owned by its fans.

H: No. I actually looked into doing that once, it turns out to be quite complicated.

J: I know, but AFC Wimbledon has overcome those regulatory hurdles because they actually care about their community unlike some people. (Hank laughs)

  News from Mars (43:07

J: What's new in Mars?

H: Alright, this week on Mars, well really on Earth, a slab of ice 130 feet thick that has persisted for tens of millions of years was located on the surface of Mars. It's the size of, like, Texas and California put together. It's a very big, thick slab of ice that was probably deposited as snowfall tens of millions of years ago and it has, it is very odd that it has persisted for so long. We don't understand why and how it has happened and it is, you know, we knew that there was ice on the surface of Mars, there's ice all over the place, but there were... Mostly we were just thinking that there were these big, thick slabs at the poles and that all of the water around the rest of the planet would have evaporated into the atmosphere but it looks like that lots has persisted all around the planet and it's sort of leading us to understand that Mars has had a much more variable and peculiar climatic history than we expected.

J: Mmm.

H: And also it's pretty cool that there is so much dang water on this planet.

J: So there's a lot of water on Mars right now.

H: Yeah! Tons!

J: And Mars has had a more variable climate than we previously believed.

H: Yeah.

J: Were there dinosaurs on Mars?

H: No.

J: But that would have been high school Hank Green's ultimate book, it's Jurassic Park plus the Mars trilogy.

H: No. You know what would be that is if we were, like, you know, it would be... We could make dinosaurs but we've seen the Jurassic Park movies so we're not gonna put them on Earth.

J: We know it would be a bad idea to put them on Earth but...

H: We're gonna have Jurassic Mars!

J: Jurassic Mars! Oh my God! Hank, we have a bone fide hit on our hands. Somebody call Steven Spielberg. Jurassic Mars! We had Jurassic Park, we had Jurassic World, the logical next step, Jurassic Solar SystemJurassic Mars.

H: Alright John, you're the writer so I expect to read a short story called Jurassic Mars within the next six months.

J: Mmm. I'm pretty sure that that is a copyrighted idea and they seem to protect that copyright pretty aggressively.

H: There's no, there's nothing copyrighted about the word Jurassic.

J: Hmm, I think there's something copyrighted about the idea of bringing dinosaurs back from the dead.

H: Nah!

J: You don't think so?

H: Nah! No way!

J: Alright, that's... Then it's settled. Forget writing a short story, I'm a movie producer now, Hank, I have a movie producing deal with Fox 2000. I'm going to make the movie Jurassic Mars. Do you think Spielberg will mind?

H: No! No. Especially if it's really, really surrealist and, and, and crazy, just stupid.

J: Did you see Jurassic World?

H: No. It... Maybe it should be animated and it should be for kids but there should still be lots of blood and guts.

J: Jurassic Mars for kids. I mean, it's a great idea for a TV show. Dinosaurs on Mars is a fantastic idea for any format. I cannot think of a format where dinosaurs on Mars wouldn't work. See, Hank, when you come up with, when you tell me the news form Mars, I try to use that to make your relationship with Mars even deeper and better and when I tell you the news from AFC Wimbledon, you dismiss it. And that is the fundamental difference between us. I am a generous-

H: I did everything I could to be supportive this time!

J: -giving, thoughtful, engaged sibling who's truly a collaborator and you are an underminer. You are trying to undermine my passion and the world's greatest institution owned by its supporters.

H: I did, I did everything I could. I'll try to be better in the future.

J: Oh. Hank, what did we learn today other than Jurassic Mars?

H: Do you think that we could get Kristen Bell to play Veronica Mars, the character, and solve a mystery involving dinosaurs on Mars?

J: You know, there's always one step too far and you took it.

H: (Laughs) OK.

J: We need to keep thinking. Hank, we've only had this, we've only had this dinosaur on Mars idea for, like, five minutes, OK. Let's not expect it to completely cohere yet.

H: OK, OK.

J: But it's coming together.

H: Alright John.

J: I can feel it. I can feel the creative juices working. As soon as we go off the air of the podcast I think you and I need to set up some meetings with Hollywood producers and it's just all dinosaurs on Mars all the time.

H: Alright.

  Conclusion (47:54

H: Until then, John, what did we learn this time?

J: Well, we learned that William Wordsworth is a good poet whether Hank likes him or not.

H: We learned that we don't know whether everyone else exists. But they probably do.

J: We learned that being a good brother and a good son is mostly a matter of loving and being loved, even though Hank wouldn't say that he loves me.

H: Thank you for spending some time with us. I'm Hank. That other guy is John, he's my brother. This podcast is called Dear Hank & John and you can send us questions at This podcast is also something that is edited by Nicholas Jenkins, the theme music is from Gunnarolla. And as they say in our hometown:

Both: Don't forget to be awesome.

  Post-credits (48:40

J: One other thing, Hank, you just said that you could send us questions via, which... Oh! You can! You've created a website!

H: Oh, well, it doesn't actually... Did I?

J: Well, there's a It looks... Oh nope, nope. That's a different thing. Yep, you can't submit questions via You have to go to Confirmed!

H: What is this? There's a

J: Yeah, it's a Tumblr where people write us really nice letters.

H: Oh!

J: It's really sweet.

H: Oh yeah! That existed before this podcast did. Oh.

J: It did. Yes, we stole the idea from them.

H: Well, we stole the name from them. Different idea, same name.

J: Yeah.

H: Sorry about that, dear...

J: Probably, in retrospect, maybe should've called the podcast "Dear John and Hank" (Hank laughs) I think is available. In fact I'm going to register it now.

H: No! (laughs some more)

J: Thanks for listening.

H: Bye-bye.