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How do I balance my marriage with my career? What if your job isn't morally ambiguous? Is there something wrong with me if I am informed but also not sure who to vote for?

But boy do we spend a lot of time on that first one because we clearly think about it a lot! Also...WATER ON MARS!

 Intro (0:00)


Hank: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John.


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


H: It's a podcast where me and my brother, John, give you dubious advice, answer your question, and bring you all the week's news both Mars and AFC Wimbledon and man is the Mars news good this week!


J: Oh, big Mars news week, Hank, but I would argue an even bigger AFC Wimbledon news week. You know what we found in South London at AFC Wimbledon's stadiums? You will not believe this!


H: Well maybe you should save it for the news.


J: Occasionally, Hank, not all the time, but occasionally there is flowing water in Kingsmeadow in South London, AFC Wimbledon's stadium.


H: (Laughs) They probably should level the field.


J: (Laughs) Oh man. Oh boy, it's exciting, it's exciting.


H: Alright, John. How are you doing?


J: I'm doing well. You know, how am I doing? I don't know. I'm working on a story and I'm trying to stay in the story and hit a word count every day and so it's a little bit disorienting to try to interact with the regular world but I'm, on the whole, doing well. I can't... I've been writing a lot down by the river.


H: That's nice.


J: Which has been lovely and it's just beautiful here in Indianapolis. Ever since Taylor Swift left a few weeks ago, she left but the weather that she brought has stayed. It's almost like as long as we can hold on to the memory of the magic night of Taylor Swift's concert here in Indianapolis winter will never come. (Hank laughs) How are you?


H: I'm fantastic. I launched a Wizard School Kickstarter yesterday. I'm making a game, it's called Wizard School. And when I say yesterday I mean yesterday as of the recording, not as of the uploading of this podcast. And it's going very well and I'm very excited and it's kind of taking over my life and has been for a while, but at least now it's taking over my life and I can talk about it which is exciting.


J: Yeah, it's a really cool card game. I have not played it yet, but I was one of your first ten Kickstarter backers.


H: Oh, thank you for that.


J: I just, I'm amazed by your ability to continue to make stuff. And I know that you love card games, so I'm psyched that you get to finally make one. And I love, like, the idea of a wizard school that is not so Hogwartsian. That's like, more like a normal high school that just happens to have a lot of people with special powers.


H: Mhmm, yeah. I mean, it's, you know, you're going about your daily lives and sometimes it's gonna be a normal school thing that you might expect and sometimes it's gonna be a Scorpelican that's loose in the school and it's affecting everybody's magical abilities and you have to either kill it or, you know, do a number of other things. There's a lot of choice involved in the game, you know, like a lot of things that you...  And then sometimes the game forces you to do things and then there's a lot of, for me when I'm playing the game it's a lot about card management and figuring out, like, "Okay, I could do this, but do I want to or do I wanna save this for a better time?" It's very, it's a lot of tension and it's really fun and I'm excited to be doing this.


J: Yes, you can go to Kickstarter and check out the Wizard School card game that Hank has invented with some of his friends. The first project from Hank's new company, DFTBA Games. Just go to kickstarter.com and search for Wizard School. I am genuinely excited about this, Hank. I don't talk about your projects that I think are less cool. (Hank laughs) I just ignore them completely. But I think this one is great. I would say that your two greatest achievements as an entrepreneur, number one, 2D glasses of course.


H: Oh yeah, of course.


J: You know, that render three-dimensional movies in a crisp two dimensions. And then number two, ahead of VidCon, this card game I haven't played yet.


H: Alright, well I actually am excited that I made 2D glasses, because The Martian is coming out very soon and will have come out by the time this podcast uploads, and it's in 3D and I wanna see it in 3D, but Katherine does not.


H: And so, I'm gonna bring her with me, but she's gonna get to watch it in 2D.


J: (Laughs) Hank, would you like a short poem for today?


H: Is your short poem about 2D glasses?


J: It is not. It is about grief.


H: Okay, sure.


J: Sorry to ruin your day. It's by Raymond Carver. It's called Grief.


"Woke up early this morning and from my bed
looked far across the Strait to see
a small boat moving through the choppy water,
a single running light on. Remembered
my friend who used to shout
his dead wife's name from hilltops
around Perugia. Who set a plate
for her at his simple table long after
she was gone. And opened the windows
so she could have fresh air. Such display
I found embarrassing. So did his other
friends. I couldn't see it.
Not until this morning."


Grief by Raymond Carver. I love that poem, really gets me, gets me, like, just below the solar plexus.


H: Hmm. That's a soft spot.


J: I can tell that you prefer the funny poems.


H: (Laughs) I was a little bit unable to keep the train of thought on that one. My dog was being cute.


J: Can I tell you a poem that I think is quite funny, that's two lines long by Ogden Nash?


H: Okay, sure.


J: I think it's actually four lines long. 


"Candy
is dandy,
but liquor
is quicker"


H: That is, those are some short lines if that's a four-line poem.


J: Yeah, I thought you would like that one, 'cause it's funny, but maybe you're just paying attention to your dog instead of listening to me.


H: I did, I... No, I did, I did. I liked it, I've heard it before. In fact, I didn't ever consider it so much a poem (John laughs) as something people say.


  Question 1 (5:48)


J: Hank, should we answer some questions from our beloved listeners?


H: Let's do that. We've got one from Sienna, who asks "Dear Hank and John. I've recently joined the Model UN at my high school. I'm super excited, but kinda nervous. I've never been ashamed of being a nerd, but I was wondering how to not be pressured or hurt when people make fun of you doing nerdy things. I know being a nerd is wonderful and you should embrace, embrace your nerdiness, but high school is hard and scary and full of peer pressure."


J: Ah, so before we get to Sienna's excellent question, Hank, I just have to tell you that I was in the Model UN in high school. For those who don't know, the Model UN is a, it's a thing where young people pretend to be in the United Nations, pretend to represent certain countries and have sort of a model United Nations. And I was a really bad Model UN person. One of my problems in high school was that I wasn't able to, like, empathetically imagine what it was like to be anyone else other than myself. So it was really difficult for me to, like, be told to play the role of, you know, whatever country I was being told to play the role of. And my most memorable Model UN tournament or whatever it was called, I was Turkey. And I really liked the girl who was Russia. She was great, she was funny, she was really smart, (Hank laughs) she had lots of good ideas and so I co-sponsored a lot of her resolutions, because I thought they were just excellent. Even like, she would be like, "I think that Russia, which at the time was a new nation, that had emerged out of the Soviet Union, should have access to some Turkish ports." And I was like, "You know, that's not a bad idea. Why are we hogging all of our ports?" (Hank laughs) You know?! Like, it's not, we're not... Poor Russia has no warm water ports and we're just sitting here, on the Mediterranean, you know, it's not like we can't share. So, yeah. I am not the person to tell you how to be good at Model UN. But I am really nerdy, so I can say something about that. But Hank, you're even nerdier, so you answer the question.


H: (Laughs) I don't, like, I felt that. And I rebelled against looking nerdy and tried to not look nerdy, while also trying to not lose my identity. And, but like, yeah, I think that, what I noticed was, no matter what skin I put on, no matter what, you know, clique I was a part of, no-one, like, there weren't any, cause I went to a really big high school, there weren't any that were under the radar. There weren't any that were above anyone else. Everyone made fun of everyone else at my high schoo and nobody was cool. There may have been some groups that were ignored and that was probably the best that you could be. But there was, even, like, the people who everybody sort of, like, saw as the popular powerful people in school, even they got ripped apart in terms of like, people tearing them down. And I, I don't know if that's something that happens only at big schools or if that's something that everybody experiences, but what I've noticed is that it's not, it's not about trying to figure out how, like, how to not get torn down, it's about trying to figure out how to be confident enough in the stuff that you like, that it doesn't, you know, ruin you day when it happens.


J: Yeah, and also how to not be a tearer-down, but instead to be a builder-up. And I think, you know, if you focus on stuff that you love and stuff that you feel excited and passionate about, and, you know, try to not focus so much on that, like, fear and negativity that is a huge part of any social order, but especially probably high school social orders, I think things get a lot better because you love the stuff that you love and you know something about why you love it and you have friends and lots of other people who, like, make your life better, who share some of those interests and what people outside of that think matters less when you can find that real pleasure and passion in the stuff that you do.


H: Yeah, and that's where a lot of that confidence to sort of, like, to, like, shrug off unpleasant interaction comes from. When you really believe in the coolness of the thing. And if somebody else disagrees with that, then that's because they disagree with it. And if they're being mean, that's because they're mean. Nothing wrong with you.


J: Good for you, Hank. I love that answer.


  Question 2 (10:17)


J: We have another question. This one is from a grownup, Hank. Like a proper adult listener of Dear John and Hank. We love our adult listeners. 


H: (Laughs) There's lots of those.


J: I know. In fact, it's mostly adult listeners, they just don't send in as many questions. Alright, anyway Hank, the question's from Amber, who writes "Dear John and Hank. Marriage is hard work. I love my husband more than anything but as my career is taking off, I'm traveling for long periods of time, and it's difficult to stay connected and communicate effectively. My husband is extremely happy at his hometown 9 to 5 job, but I work for a large corporation that sends me all over and sometimes requires I work from dawn to dusk. Since both of you seem to travel and work for a large majority of your life, do you have any advice on ways to stay connected while apart? Sorry for the serious topic but who are we kidding, your podcast isn't always comedy." (Hank laughs) Thank you Amber, for your wonderful question. First off our podcast is hilarious. That Raymond Carver poem that I read earlier today was riotous. I would describe it as riotous. The part where he talked about the dead, (Hank laughs) the guy opening the window so that his dead wife could have air to breathe is just hahahahahahahaha. Yeah, I mean this is, I think this is a really difficult thing in a lot of marriages is balancing, you know, the needs of one's career or you know the urges, one's career ambitions and business ambitions with one's personal ambitions. And I think a lot of it too is, for me, a ton of it is being respectful of your partner and their choices, and so not trying to judge the person who has a 9 to 5 hometown job, not trying to see one or the other of those ways of being as better. That can be very difficult when obviously you like your way of being and want to defend it, but I don't think those kinds of, like, defenses of "My way is the best way" necessarily make relationships better. But it's something that I struggle with a lot, and one of the big reasons that I travel a lot less these days, I mean Sarah travels a lot for her work with The Art Assignment and I still travel, you know, a fair bit. But I used to travel 150 days a year, and that was just too much for me because it was difficult for us to stay connected, and I just felt like I wasn't as much a part of my family's life as I really needed to be and wanted to be. So I cut way back on travel in the last year, and it's been great. But, you know, it seems like Amber, you want to, you're in a part of your life and a part of your career where you want to be taking those opportunities and you want to be traveling the world, and doing whatever you do, working for that large corporation. And, you know, and then you've just gotta, you've just got to keep those lines of communication open. I believe that it is basically impossible to have, like, really high quality conversations in a marriage when you're on the road and you're just doing, like, fundamentally different things. Actually, I don't know if I believe that. I don't know. I should let Hank talk. Why am I just talking?


H: You did, yeah, I mean, you got to most of the points. I mean, I'm a little concerned when anyone says that their working dawn to dusk, because I, you know, in the same breath you're saying that their marriage is the most important thing to them, or they love their husband more than anything else. I mean, like, I try so hard to not have the people who work for me do that. And sometimes they want to, but, like, you know, for me, I don't, like I don't think that, I try to not ask that of people and I... If I were in a situation where my employer was asking that of me, I would not want to be in that situation. But I also, like, you know, when I am my own boss, I absolutely sometimes work that way, and so there is, you know, validity to that and excitement in that, and as long as it's not personally draining or draining in your relationships. But yeah, I think John hit most of the important parts of this, which is, like, you guys have to, like, recognize that both of you want to do a thing, and being open and allowing for that is great. And I, you know, I think doing it while apart is hard, and so, like, the best thing you can do is when you're together, have consistent and high quality interactions where you don't have your phone out and you are, you know, talking about how, like, not just what happened, but how you feel about what happened, and how you feel about life and how you feel about the place where you live. And how you feel about, you know, the next five, ten years. The things that are going to happen to you, and, like, the things of deep relationships.


J: Yeah, and taking each other's work and concerns seriously, and with, like, equal seriousness, I think that's really important. Like, I had this weird period in my career where, like, there were movies being made, and I was like "What did you do today at work? Well, I talked to The Today Show." And, you know, and it's easy to imagine that, like, that is, like, more interesting or more important than what someone else did, and if you do that, you're doomed. (Hank laughs) Like if you start to believe that, I really think that you're doomed.


H: Yeah. Mhmm.


J: And, like, I felt like I almost had to pull back from some of that stuff because otherwise, it was just, like I was gonna start to believe that that stuff was inherently more important and more interesting than like, you know, Henry going to soccer practice. Like the other day I took Henry to his soccer game and it was great, he played great, I know that you're curious Hank, he played amazingly, the kid is just, he is a future star of AFC Wimbledon but after the game he was, like, going through every single time he touched the ball and I realized that, like, to Henry it was incredibly important, like it was as important to him as an AFC Wimbledon game is to me and that I really needed to, like, listen to him and try to treat, treat it seriously, even though its five year old soccer and like they're all, you know, technically, horrible.


H: (Laughs) Yeah. 


J: The other thing I would say Hank, I'm a big fan of Google Hangouts, like I believe in looking someone in the eye, I think it just makes a difference.


H: We've been on this question a long time but I want to add one last thing which is that we have many projects in our life and John was just saying like, how do you, like Hank has so many things and he does all the things and I think that it is important to not think of your relationships in your life as something that just happened and that are there but that are continuous projects that you are working on and in many ways the most important projects in my life are my relationships and I want to cultivate them and I want to build them and I want them to be interesting and different just that in the same way that I want to cultivate and make interesting and different and successful my businesses. So, like, like just in the same way that I want to focus on my career, I think that, like, focusing on relationships as a project and, like, focusing on, you know, child rearing as a project. Like obviously making, like, creating a human is probably the biggest project that people ever engage in. You know, any individual, I don't care if it's Elon Musk or if it's John Green or if it's, you know, you, like those things that we do, like that's how the next, like, its not just that's like, you know, this is  something that we're building for people, this is like we're creating the next generation of people, and without that there would be no more people anymore.


J: Yeah, it is overwhelmingly the most important part of my life and the most important kind of project in my life is my family. Now I'm very lucky that, like, for me, you know, Hank is part of my family and we get to collaborate together on a lot of work stuff and that feels like both work and family stuff, but there's also a lot of, like, private family stuff in my life. You know, I don't talk a ton about my kids or my marriage, but that's by far the most important thing. I mean there's... Yeah. And I think you have to remember that. It's hard to prioritize, particularly, you know, because there can be some excitement and intrigue and kind of joltiness around work and professional success and you get a lot of outside encouragement and outside affirmation, but for me at least, like, the family projects, those have to be in the very, very center of things.


  Question 3 (19:15)


H: Alright, John. We've got another question, this one is from Numaira who says "Dear Hank and John. I'm finding it harder and harder to form an opinion of a lot of compelling political problems in the world because I keep imagining complexly. My opinion keeps getting split both ways. What do you think I should do about that?" Oh Numaira, I think you should celebrate.


J: Yeah, that's great news, Numaira. Congratulations.


H: (Laughs) I mean, it might make it harder to figure out who to vote for but that means you are that most valuable and interesting of constituents, the swing voter.


J: Yeah. We need more swing voters. We need more, like, high interest, really dedicated, knowledgeable, thoughtful swing voters.


H: Mhmm. People who don't know which way to vote despite knowing lots of things. And to some people that might sound completely impossible. If you are educated then you must know. But look, 50% of America votes one way and 50% votes the other way, I mean not exactly, obviously, but pretty much. And so what you're saying is if you're educated then you're definitely gonna fall on one of those two sides. No. Some people are gonna fall in the middle and I often find myself thinking, you know, like, if I'm really paying attention not to the news and not to, you know, not to Reddit, not to the blogs I follow, but to what candidates are saying, I will occasionally be like "Yes. No, that makes sense" when I'm listening to someone who on other subjects I'm like "You need to pull your head out of your butt, sir, because that is an inexcusable way to think" and it's interesting that I could think that way about a person, that some of their ideas are good and some are bad but of course you can because that's how people are.


J: Yeah. We have such a personality driven political culture and I understand why that's valuable and good in a lot of ways, but we never talk about actual policy positions. You know, we're constantly having these arguments about the underlying ideologies but, like, let's talk about what you would actually do. And I think when you talk about what you would actually do, you find that a lot more people are swing voters you know...


H: Right.


J: So I think that if we focus on policy, then you do see that this is, it's not as black and white and it becomes a lot more of an interesting conversation. Now political candidates are reluctant for many reasons to focus on policy. For one thing I don't think they think that it gets them votes, but also, you know, it puts them in the position of likely breaking campaign promises down the road. But I think, I think that when you focus on that, when you focus on, like, what people are actually proposing and what the implications of it are, the conversations can get a lot more interesting and also less, like, heated and rhetorical.


H: Yes.


  Question 4 (22:02)


J: OK, Hank. This question is from Katie who writes "Dear John and Hank. After struggling for a few years out of college I finally managed to find a full-time job." Congratulations Katie. "I'm grateful to be able to support myself but it's for a business market I think is pretty morally ambiguous. How do I help myself justify going to work everyday supporting something I don't believe in?" Oh, that's a big one. Oh boy. The first thing that I would say is that every business is a little morally ambiguous, right.


H: (Laughs) Yep.


J: Like I, I try very hard, and I know Hank tries very hard, to create an environment here where we're working on, you know, Crash Course and SciShow and Mental Floss video and Art Assignment, like, stuff that people can feel really passionate and good about. But make no mistake, lot's of things about my work are morally problematic. Like there's a lot of things about the book business, for instance, that really trouble me, particularly some of the business practises of the largest book sellers in the country: Walmart, Target, and Amazon. I know that it is alarming that those are our three largest bookstores in the U.S. but they are. And I, and yet I still believe in writing novels and I still go to work. That said, like... So I don't want you to think that there's some, like, shimmering city on a hill out there where, you know, you can work in a field that's totally removed from any kind of, like, ethical problem, but, like, one of my good friends is a rocket engineer who is designing engines for war planes and that is very troubling to him and I definitely understand why it is troubling to him and I don't have an easy answer for that so hopefully Hank will.


H: You know, I don't know any specifics, Katie, of where you're working, what you're doing. I, you know... If you're working for a drug kingpin killing people, then I would definitely be concerned. But if you're working for, you know, Walmart as a, as, like a, you know, logistics person, how to get food from one place to another, like, you know, Walmart is troubling in some ways but it's also, it also solves problems and there's a reason why Walmart is successful and there's a reason why people go... You know, like, there's a reason why people work at Walmart, there's the people, reason why people go and shop at Walmart. And, you know, there's definitely, I think, you should probably ask Numaira about this because she might, or he, I'm guessing she 'cause it ends in an A, would have a good set of thoughts on, you know, like, the, you know, the ambiguity of it. Like there is good being done and there is bad being done and the question always is "Is the good outweighing the bad?" And, like, I, as a person who is, you know, really, really concerned about climate change hate the fact that I get on a plane, like, once a month to go to a place to have a business meeting or to, like, hang out with family or, you know, to go to L.A. to talk to a bunch of my YouTuber friends. You know, that is troubling to me and, you know, when I ask myself "Is this, you know, is it worth the, you know, adding to the tremendous problem that we are going to have to face of climate change?" I'm never quite sure. And, like, and that's just a, like... Moral ambiguity is part of, I think, being a human, definitely part of being a human in today's society. So...


J: Yeah, the other thing that I would say is that a lot of times you don't have good choices. You know, like, it's not your fault if you don't have good choices in this situation and, like, it's an easy choice to make if you're choosing between, you know, jobs that pay the same amount and allow you to take care of yourself and your family, where one is, you know, like, doing development work somewhere in an underserved community and the other is, like, you know, like, murderer for a drug kingpin. (Hank laughs) But, like, the truth is that, like, almost all of us, like, live in the middle and we have limited choices and you have to make, like, the best choices that you can make while still acknowledging the fact that you have to take care of yourself. So I think it's more of, like, a spectrum than it is an easy yes or no. I'm reminded of the great resignation letter that the novelist William Faulkner wrote to the United States Postal Service when he, when he quit his job working for the post office in Mississippi. Hank, are you familiar with this letter?


H: No.


J: Well this letter is the best advice I can give, I guess, because it acknowledges the fact that we are all going to be influenced by capitalism but also acknowledges that, at least in Faulkner's case, a limit had been reached. This is the letter in its entirety:


"As long as I live under the capitalistic system, I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.


This, sir, is my resignation."


H: (Laughs) My last piece of advice for Katie is that, is to not lose sight of the moral ambiguity, to know that it's there and as you rise, as you have more career opportunities, as you're able to do more, as you have access to more resources, recognize that there are other things that you could do or, inside or outside of your organization, to make those places, to make those organizations better and, like, 'cause really, you know, we talk a lot about how capitalism is the thing that drives everything in America but it is really a mix of both capitalism and human culture that are the thing that shapes what this country is and, like, the fact that this, you know, this weird, you know, divorced from reality market thing has such a massive effect is kind of, can be terrifying, but it really, it cannot, it cannot make us make decisions. We make decisions and every, you know, every decision, everything that a corporation does is a decision made by a human being and so, like, be a good human being, even if you are in a place where the thing that, you know, you might not believe in the thing that your company is doing, be a good human being within that and that can change.


  News from AFC Wimbledon (28:59)


J: Hank, I think we have to move onto the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. I think that we'll do the news from AFC Wimbledon first because from what I understand, it was a big week on Mars. Now Hank, you may remember that in 2011, the AFC Wimbledon, having risen from the 9th tier of English football, was on the cusp of returning to the Football League,  the full-time, professional Football League. So the top four leagues in England are full-time, professional teams and then below that it's amateur, semi-pro, a couple professional teams, but mostly sort of varying degrees of amateur. That fifth tier, the one that you have to win or finish, or win the playoffs in to get to League Two, which is the bottom rung of the Football League, is called the Conference, or it was at the time, anyway. And AFC Wimbledon made it to the last game, the playoff final, and they were playing Luton Town, and it was a nil-nil draw at the end of 90 minutes, there was 30 minutes of extra time then it was still a nil-nil draw. And then there was a shootout and 19 year old Seb Brown, the goalkeeper for AFC Wimbledon, saved two penalties. Danny Kedwell, the 33 year old journeyman who'd never played a game in the Football League in his life, scored the decisive penalty, AFC Wimbledon's captain, he ran to the fans who own AFC Wimbledon together, collectively. It was an amazing, amazing moment. AFC Wimbledon were back in the Football League after the horrors that had befallen them at the beginning of the century. It was one of the greatest moments in sports history. Well! A couple years later, Luton Town got promoted to the Football League as well, so now Luton Town and AFC Wimbledon are in the same league and they just played their first game against each other since that magical night in Manchester when AFC Wimbledon were promoted to the league, and Luton Town won and AFC Wimbledon lost. (Hank laughs) Let's move on to the news from Mars.


  News from Mars (31:05)


H: Oh man. Well that was some really long brief news John. (John laughs) I, yeah. So first I want to say that as of the release of this podcast The Martian is in theaters, I haven't seen it yet because as of the recording of this podcast it isn't out yet. I'm very excited about it though and I'm probably going to like it and so you should go see it. That's kind of Mars news, but in addition, there's some actual, very exciting Mars news which is that they have,  they, we really, the human race, has found that there is super salty flowing water on the surface of Mars. It's not like a river, it's more like sort of trickles through wet sand kind of muddy stuff. It's coming out of really steep, you know, cliff sides, craters, and valleys, and it's... The big question is, you know, "Where is this stuff coming from?" and the, you know, most obvious potential answer is that it is in fact flowing out of liquid water that is below the surface of Mars. Now there are some other potential mechanisms for this, but it's probably that there is a lot of liquid water below the surface of Mars and it just happens that in these places and in these particular circumstances it's able to flow out and persist for a large amount of time on the surface. So there's a lot of water on Mars and it turns out that it isn't just ice, there's quite a lot of liquid water on Mars and that is very exciting. You know, it doesn't change how livable the planet is to us because we could, you know, there's always been ice there that we could turn into water. But it does change the potential for existing Martian biologies and ecologies which is exciting. Because boy, if we found life somewhere else and that life was substantially different from life here on Earth, now of course it might be that life was seeded from Earth to Mars or from Mars to Earth and the life will be actually very similar, but if it was a completely new set of biology that was based on different chemicals and, like, no DNA, no proteins, but a different kind of building block, that would be the kind of science that would be unthinkable to do right now, to be able to observe that, to be able to understand and put that puzzle together would be one of the great endeavours of humanity. And so it's the kind of thing that people get really excited about and...


J: Wait, wait, wait.


H: And for good reasons. Yes, what?


J: Wait, wait, wait. You're telling me that all human, all life on Earth is DNA/RNA based, right?


H: Correct!


J: And you're saying that it's possible that Martian life is not DNA or RNA based, that it's completely separate, that it evolved completely sep... and that it might be totally different?


H: Yeah! Yeah, I mean that's...


J: Like how?


H: We don't know, that's the thing. We can't imagine another system because the system that we have is so ridiculously cool and complex and took us so long to even figure out how our system works, and we have it all around us to be examining and understanding, whereas trying to come up from scratch with another way to have life work is, is difficult, is not, that's hard. So that's one of the, you know really exciting things about, you know, Mars and Europa, that we could, like, observe not just life somewhere else, but life that is... Like 'cause if life happened somewhere else, it would not be based on the exact same system as us, like the, you know... It, you know, my guess is that our, you know, the way that our RNA and DNA function is an accident of chemistry, it's just the way that it happened to happen for the first life form on Earth and if it had happened a different way then all of us would be very, very different not just, you know, not just chemically but, you know, physically. And in different places where different, where there's different chemistry, different temperatures, different pressures, different stuff in the water, then you might see a completely different set of chemistries that would define the life.


J: Alright, that's pretty cool actually, that's kind of exciting.


H: Oh God, it's very exciting! I mean, even if there's no life involved it's very exciting because getting to observe a hydrology and a geology that's based on different chemistry and on different amounts of gravity on different, like, different atmospheres, different chemicals in the crust, you know, the fact that, like, Mars doesn't have a liquid core but probably still has magma somewhere underneath the surface because the most recent volcanic eruptions were very recent. Like there's a lot, like, just having a second sample, you know? We have Earth and we can study the Earth, but Mars is very different. And so getting to, getting, like the fact that we get to have, you know, we can, like, increase our sample size from one to two, that's pretty massive in terms of studying anything, and so, like, you know, hydrologists and geologists of the world, maybe a little less exciting for the average human, but like, those people are like, it is the most exciting thing in the world that there gets to be another world for us to study.


J: Can we back up a little? You mentioned something about Europa? What is Europa? I know the Europa League in Europe is, like, if you're not quite good enough to get into the Champions League, like Liverpool is, then you play in the Europa League. Is it similar? Or is it different?


H: (Laughs) It is different. Europa is a moon of Jupiter, and...


J: Tell me more about this moon.


H: Europa is made of ice, probably entirely, so it's just a big ball of ice. And below the surface because of tidal pressures from Jupiter it is liquid ice. So, water.


J: Oh. So it's, like, got an icy crust, but then there's some warm ice underneath.


H: Yeah, there's a giant massive subsurface ocean on Europa, and we would very much like to be there and to check it out. Because, like, it's literally, like, probably the water of Europa, if you were under the surface and you had a swimming tank, like it would be awesome. It would be like, you'd just be, like, you know, 80 degree water.


J: Really?


H: Yeah I mean there would be areas of the planet where it would be much hotter and much colder than that, but there would be, you know, bands of, you know, perfectly tropical-feeling water.


J: Can I ask a couple of stupid questions?


H: Yes sir.


J: Why is Europa's water warm when Europa itself is so far from the Sun?


H: Europa's water is warmed by tidal pressures from Jupiter. So as it goes around Jupiter and spins, the... Jupiter actually, like, stretches the planet out a little bit and that causes friction, and that friction is transferred into heat which basically makes the entire surface of Europa look like this weird puzzle piece thing and it has like these big cracks and rifts in it because it's basically has, like, plate tectonics because it's the solid crust on top of the liquid, the liquid water inside.


J: That's kind of cool.


H: It's super cool.


J: But we couldn't live on Europa because there's no land?


H: We could live in Europa if we wanted to be inside of submarines all the time. We could also live on Europa if we wanted to be inside of you know, controlled habitats, as well.


J: OK, like floaty controlled habitats. Or just like how they do it in Antarctica where they build, like, a thing on an island of ice.


H: Yeah I mean, it would have to be a little more advanced than that, it'd have to be air tight, there's no atmosphere on Europa. As far as I know.


J: Mmm. OK. You know, we could also just stay here!


H: Yeah, no absolutely. I wouldn't suggest going to live on Europa unless, like, we run out of, like we really run out of resources and space but I would definitely want people to be there to do science on Europa. I don't think that it's a place to go to chill.


J: Yeah no, I mean, you've... I have to say, Hank, you've kind of gotten me excited. I did not get that into this Mars news, but now you've got me excited thinking about the idea that life could have fundamentally different building blocks elsewhere than it does here. That's pretty mind blowing.


H: Indeed.


J: It is not, however, as mind-blowing as that moment when Seb Brown, a virtual child, took 5,600 people's lives in their hands, went the wrong way on a penalty, and then held up his huge glove, his right hand. It was almost, like... I don't believe that it was supernatural, like obviously I don't think that God has an interest in the outcome of football games, but it felt that way when his hand reached up the wrong way and just got enough of the ball, and then his celebration was just immense. And then, I mean, the weeping, these grown men and women who'd had their football team taken away from them by this, you know, just corrupt organization and then built it from scratch. And then just them dissolving into tears as they realized that they were back in the Football League, that they had a professional team, that there was going to be football in Wimbledon. It was amazing. You know so like, lots of things are amazing.


H: Lots of things are amazing, and I want to say that Europa, I said that it is a ball of water, it is in fact mostly a ball of rock, but with a full water covering over it. I had that wrong. So I corrected myself before next week.


J: I feel like you might not have been listening to me when I was talking about how great Seb Brown's second penalty save was.


H: Well you know I've heard the story before.


  Conclusion (41:21)


J: Oh boy, today's podcast is brought to you by Europa. Europa, it's made of ice! And possibly rock.


H: Today's podcast, John, is brought to you by children's soccer games. They're a monument to understanding value in human psychology.


J: And of course today's podcast is brought to you by the nation of Turkey. The nation of Turkey, inexplicably friendly with Russia.


H: Russia sure is cute.


J: Just, they couldn't be any sweeter. Hank, what did we learn today before we depart for the fairer shores.


Hank: We learned that the American swing voter is in great need of cultivation and appreciation.


J: We learned that marriage is hard work and the most important work in many people's lives.


H: We learned that all businesses, John, are morally ambiguous.


J: And of course we learned that there is occasionally flowing water on Mars as long as you define "flowing" and "water" very generously.


H: (Laughs) It's water. It's just like the ocean is water, it's just salty water. And it's not salt.


J: It's saltier than the ocean.


H: To be clear...


J: At some point it stops being, at some point it stops being water and it just becomes wet salt.


Hank: Yeah, that is kind of true. They call it hydrated perchlorates. And people tend to think when you say salty water, they're like "Oh, like the ocean, so if I put it in my mouth, it would taste salty" but salts are any ionic compound, and the salt in question is not sodium chloride, it is magnesium, calcium perchlorate, different perchlorates. Which are not good and you don't want them in your mouth.


J: Do not put Martian salt in your mouth.


H: Do not put that in your face!


J: One more lesson from a comedy podcast by two brothers. Thanks for listening, our podcast is edited by Nick Jenkins.


Hank: The theme music is from Gunnarolla. If you want to send us questions, you can do that at dearhankand nope, at hankandjohn@gmail.com, no dear, just hankandjohn@gmail.com.


J: And as we say in our home town:


Both: Don't forget to be awesome.