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Can I eat expired Mac N Cheese? What would you do if you only had 300 subscribers on YouTube? Is a kitty on my lap an excuse for tardiness? What if you dumped the sun into a massive MASSIVE bucket of water? What do you do when someone asks you a question that you aren't ready to answer?

 Introduction (00:00)


Hank: Hello! Welcome to Dear Hank and John!


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


Hank: It's a comedy podcast about death where my brother John and I answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. How you doin', John?


John: I'm ill. I'm unwell, Hank. I was unwell last week, and -


Hank: You're still sick!


John: - this week, my cold has settled into my chest for a small amount of what appears to be bronchitis. Ah, I'm just- I'm not feeling great but I'm excited... you know, it always lifts my spirits to be able to podcast with you.


Hank: Oh good! Oh good. I have an update for you, John.


John: Great.


Hank: Last week we discussed the peculiarity and potential disgustingness of putting water on cereal. 


John: Yes.


Hank: And I went to my house, got my frosted mini-wheats out, put some water on it, and ate 'em. And do you want to know how I felt about it, John?


John: I do. Was it delicious?


Hank: It was awful.


John: Oh.


Hank: It was so bad.


John: Oh, that's disappointing! 


Hank: It's just not a good idea. N-- I mean: Why?


John: You really didn't like it with water?


Hank: No. So the thing is, milk is sweet. Milk has a sweetness - especially the milk I drink, which is almond milk - and I've gotten used to that over, you know, my entire life. And when you put a thing that is not sweet, has no sugar, onto your cereal, it just tastes.. it tastes almost bitter. But more than that, more than anything, it tastes empty, likes there's just no richness to the flavor. Um, I encourage other people to try it because maybe you will feel differently than I do, and you can have a lower calorie, less impactful breakfast meal, but it's not gonna happen for me, John. 


John: That's disappointing, Hank. Because I stand by my original argument that cereal with water is a healthy and delicious solution to the How to Moisten My Cereal problem.


Hank: Right? And who knows, maybe if everybody used water on their cereal, all the world's problems would be solved, John. Maybe. 


John: Hank, would you like me to read you a poem about death?


Hank: That sounds like the kind of thing that you do. 


John: This poem is by WH Auden. I've been thinking a lot about memoriam poems, like, poems that have been written in memorial to other people, because there's been so much death. It's January, still. Actually, it's not, it's February. I guess now it's the least deadly month. January is the deadliest month for humans. February, the least deadly month, but only because it has so few days. Anyway, this is a great poem by WH Auden, and I apologize in advance for it not being shorter. But it's still fairly short.


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.


Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.


He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.


The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


WH Auden, the poem often known as "Stop All the Clocks, Cut off the Telephone."


Hank: Thanks for bringing us up, here, John! Glad to start the podcast off on the upbeat note!


John: Yeah, I was wrong about the title. It's actually called "Funeral Blues." I really like that poem, though. It is a little dark. As I was reading it I realized that it's a little bit sad [laughs].


Hank: [laughs] I did. I felt the sadness. It was in me. It's still there! Indeed.


John: You know what I like about that poem, though, Hank. Just real briefly, what I love about it is that when people die - when people you love die, one of the things that I'm always struck by is that the world goes on?


Hank: Hmm.


John: Uh, so, I remember when we were burying our grandfather - our father's father - I remember looking down at the street and just seeing all of the cars moving and thinking "Well, that's very strange, that the world is going on as if nothing has happened." And that WH Auden poem is for me, that clarion call of "This is what death should be". But of course, it can never be because it's something that people do everyday. Uh, anyway, sorry to start on a dark note. Let's move on to questions from our listeners. 


Hank: Uh, before we get to questions from our listeners, I have an idea that we should revisit a question we brought up a couple of podcasts back. Which is "How much oil could have been saved if we made DVD cases the appropriate size for fitting a DVD inside of and not the size that looks the shape of a book or VHS tape, this rectangular shape that is completely arbitrary. We had two people write in, after having done significant research and/or math to determine how much oil, in fact we use.

We had a response from Alex, who did this all with math. And Alex says that there have been approximately 24 million barrels of extra oil equivalent. Though most plastic is apparently made with natural gas, I didn't know that, to produce the extra plastic in DVD cases since the inception of DVDs. Now, of course that's a very round number but of that is sort of like back-of-the-napkin calculation, that's a huge amount of oil, John, or oil equivalent.

John: That is a very large amount of oil. And then Aaron did a different set of calculations and he came up with 200 million kilograms of oil, which is just under 1.5 million barrels. Regardless, it's an extremely large amount of oil that was used to produce the excess plastic in DVD cases, and I do have to think that when future generations look back upon us, the thing that they will be most baffled by is our inefficient use of resources. And whenever anyone points to me, you know some econ 101 model of supply and demand, I always want to reply by saying like, look at the massive, massive inefficiencies in our existing economy of goods and services, it's just absolutely astonishing when you pause to think of it. But yeah, I'm sure that we'll be remembered for having produced so much unnecessary plastic. Millions of barrels of oil that took hundreds of millions of years to make and we just used them to make DVD cases look like VHS tapes.

Hank: I'm curious if you want to know the reason why Aaron and Alex's numbers are so different, and also why Aaron, in his response, said that it's possible that we in fact have wasted no plastic.

John: I am fascinated to know the answers to those questions.

Hank: It is because, when you are making plastic from natural gas, you're not just making plastic for DVD cases, you're making a bunch of things, and all of those things have different uses. There's different kinds of plastic that get made, there's also different byproducts that get used in other industrial processes, there's just a ton of different things that-- basically, instead of thinking about like "this is a barrel of oil, 100% of it is gonna be turned into plastic," that's not how it ends up working because of chemistry. It's like a cow, where you have a cow and some of it's gonna be ground beef, and some of it's gonna be liver, and some of it's gonna be bone meal, and some of it's gonna be steaks, and all of those different parts are gonna have different prices based on different markets. And basically what Aaron is saying is that based on a person that he talked to that works in this industry, his name is Chris, that this plastic was kind of going to be produced anyway because all of the other things that were being produced, the byproducts of this natural gas, were going to be bought anyway. So it's another way in which like wow, suddenly the world is so much more complicated than it seemed.

Aaron also adds that there's a huge number of complexities like the plastic wrap that goes around the DVDs which is not technically necessary, the DVDs are sometimes sleeved in cardboard for no reason other than product marketing, it turns out to be very complicated. Also, the big difference in why those two numbers are so different is that Alex basically said "every barrel of oil that was involved in the creation of the plastic" whereas Aaron only focused on the fraction that ended up becoming the plastic.


John: Hank, as you know, people come to our podcast largely to learn about plastic.

Hank: [laughs] I'm like giddy, I think it's so fascinating.

John: They come here to learn about plastic and to hear incredibly depressing poems about death, and here we are, already having delivered, and we've still got most of the podcast to go.

Hank: It's been ten minutes, you can turn it off now. Everything you've ever wanted out of a comedy podcast has been delivered on Dear Hank and John.

John: That was one of the funniest summaries of the use of plastic in DVD cases I have ever heard in my entire life. I, for one, feel that I have gotten an ab workout just from laughing.

 Question One (10:15)


Hank: [laughs] OK, now you can ask a question.

John: our first question comes from Richard who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I have, at the time of writing, 336 subscribers on YouTube. I'm happy and grateful for all the people who make up that number, but I often find myself daydreaming about if I had more than two million subscribers like you guys. So here's my question: what would you do if in a Freaky-Friday style body swap, you woke up and you only had 336 subscribers on YouTube. Would you still make the same kinds of videos?"

I think first of all, in that situation, my first concern would be my children and my spouse.

Hank: [chuckles] Why?

John: I would be like, why am I in another person's body,

Hank: Oh yes, I see what you mean.

John: and who am I now married to, and where are my children, and are they safe or did they also experience a body-swap scenario.

Hank: Yes, that is true. I think maybe you want to think of it as not a body-swap, but simply a channel-swap. [John cackles] But I want to get to the mechanics of this because I want to get to how the script of this movie will be written because I want to watch it. But, I feel like that's not Richard's question and we should focus on that. And I don't-- it's so fascinating to think about because my life is so-- certainly my professional life is so focused on the existing audience that I have and that we have, and that community. They're the reason why I push myself to make stuff, why I never don't do it, and like knowing there's that audience there drives me to make something as accurate as possible, I'm putting this out into the world, I'm affecting the world, and I need to be responsible about that. And so I'm just so affected by this in so many ways that trying to put myself into a world where, let's say everything else is the same, but I just don't have as many YouTube subscribers, but I'm still making content, I'm still a YouTuber and I still care about this. I think that I would probably make similar stuff, but I don't think that I would be able to work as hard on it as I do. I think that the reason I work so hard on YouTube videos is because the audience is there.

John: I would not make similar stuff. I mean, I think that, you know we had 200 subscribers, a little less than 200 subscribers after our first 100 YouTube videos back in 2007. And I think I would have finished the year, I do not think I would have continued after that year. I think that it would have been like a cool experiment and I would have been really psyched about all the neat stuff that we'd done together, and how much it had brought us closer as brothers. And I think I might have continued, in fact we sort of did that even with the 9,000 subscribers we ended up having at the end of 2007, we slowed way down, we went to I would make a video one week, you would make a video the next week almost. And we did not have a schedule, and I think that would have kind of continued down that path until we were making videos very very occasionally.

Hank: Right, right.

John: I think you would have made more because you were always more invested in the making videos part of making videos, and I was always more invested in the audience part of making videos. I mean I've never been a good video editor, I've never been a particularly good YouTuber. So I think I would have stopped. And in general like, it's very hard for me to make stuff absent-- If I don't have an audience or the hope of an audience, it's very hard for me to make stuff.

Hank: Right, the other thing I would say, what you said just now made me think a different thing about my answer, which is that I would be making different kinds of content, and it would be more focused on the audience that was there, it would certainly be influenced by the audience that was there, and back when we had a smaller audience, there was more of a feel that that-- you know, not just because of the smaller audience, also because it was the early ages of YouTube and people were really excited about it, but the fact that it was smaller made it easier for there to be a stronger community, and I think that I would still be focusing on that.

John: Yeah.

Hank: And also focusing on growing that audience, but having-- I was just thinking about this today while I was shuffling my sidewalk free of all of the white stuff that falls out of the sky-- about how there was a moment in 2007 when like suddenly, and I've never said this publicly before, there was like a week in 2007 where I realized what we were doing was bigger than just like, me making content for other people and them making content for me and everybody's sort of on the same playing field. When I got like four different phone calls from people who said, "Did you know your phone number's in the phone book? Because like, freaky people could call you." And I was like, "of course my phone number's in the phone book, I'm a person. Like, that's what the phone book is for, it's a book full of people's phone numbers." But there were like-- something had changed in enough people's minds that a bunch of people, seemingly independent of each other, looked me up in the phone book and were shocked to find that I would be publicly listed. And that was a thing that--

John: I mean, I remember that week because it was the weirdest Freaky Fridayest week of my whole life. I remember that vividly, where all of the sudden it felt like it went from this very personal project with a small group of extremely tight-knit audience members who were essentially co-participants in the project to us making something for a big audience. And it was interesting because I think our content got way better, in terms of being appealing to a broad audience immediately. It was almost like the new audience inspired us to think about making videos differently, but it also got, in terms of it being-- yeah, it just changed dramatically, and I remember that week more vividly than I remember almost any week of my life because it just felt like this massive somewhat terrifying wave that crested over us.


 Question Two (16:50)


Hank: Alright, I got another one, this one's from Emma Grace who asks, "Dear Hank and John, The other day I found a box of mac and cheese in the back of my pantry, it looked and seemed just about the same as any other box of Walmart brand mac and cheese I've had, but it had been expired for about a year. Since it was just powdered cheese and noodles, I went ahead and ate it anyway, but many of my friends have since told me that I'm going to die. Am I going to die? Thanks."

John: I mean, you're not going to die, but you have made a terrible, terrible mistake.

Hank: I disagree with John, and so does science.

John: No. I don't care what science says, they put that date there for a reason, I feel anxious just from the overall situation. You should not eat out-of-date mac and cheese.

Hank: Uh, you should not eat mac and cheese that you have cooked and left in the fridge for more than a week because... that is a problem, but when-- what you're concerned about is bacterial growth. This is not going to happen in dry macaroni and cheese. What will happen is that the ingredients will oxidize, they will taste less good. So there will be things in there that were once one chemical that will have become other chemicals, both of those chemicals are safe to eat but one might not taste as good as the other. So you are going to lose some flavor, that's, on dry goods, what the sell-by date is usually about. Same with sodas, sodas have a sell-by date, but they're not going to become un-sterile on the inside, they're going to become less tasty. And that's what you want to watch out for, in terms of health, is anything where bacteria could grow, which seems extremely unlikely inside of powdered macaroni and cheese.

John: Emma Grace, I want to emphasize that Hank is wrong and that you should not eat out-of-date macaroni and cheese, no matter how confident he sounds in his sciencey talk.

Hank: Alright.

John: This is such a great comedy podcast, Hank. I just can't tell you-- when I look at the iTunes comedy top list, I just think like, of them, we are the funniest.

 Question Four (21:33)


Hank: Absolutely. We got a question from Gee, John, who says, "Dear Hank and John, my cat is asleep on my stomach and I'm late for work. However, I don't want to move because he looks so comfortable. Plus, it is a known rule of cat owners that if the majestic animal decided to name you it's bed for a period of time, you lay there and enjoy it! However, I am still late for work. Does this count as a valid excuse for my tardiness?"

John: No.

Hank: But in a just word it would!

John: I mean, I think this might be the difference between people who have a deep underlying affection for cats, and people who don't understand why we chose to domesticate that particular animal.

Hank: Yeah, I have a deep underlying affection for cats and I totally, totally sympathize with you Gee. This happens to me all the time. Sometimes I will be laying in bed and I'll have to pee really bad, and then the cat will come and lay on my bladder and I'm like [squeaky voice] "Okay, I looove you, I'll just lay here with you, just stop moving oh god." But you just lay there, that's what you've gotta do. However--

John: That's so weird. I can't even tell you from the outside how weird that seems. That seems weirder to me than me eating my cereal with water probably seems to you.

Hank: I can't imagine that that's the case, but I will trust you.

John: I think you need to try it with raisin bran, I think that might be the issue. I think that maybe you need to do it with like, a good pre-sweetened cereal like raisin bran.

Hank: Maybe the next time we do a Patreon livestream, which we did before recording this one, we did a livestream at patreon.com/dearhankandjohn I will have that Patreon livestream while eating raisin bran with water.

John: Mmm, god that just sounds delicious. What I would give for some watered down raisin bran right now.

Hank: [negative moaning]


 Commercial Break (20:46)


John: Today's podcast is brought to you by watered down raisin bran. Watered down raisin bran: John's number one way to eat raisin bran.

Hank: This podcast is also brought to you by the complexities of the production of plastics. [John giggles] The complexities of productions of plastics: making life better for everyone through science.

John: And today's podcast is also brought to you by expired macaroni. Expired macaroni: I don't care what science says, throw it away.

Hank: And today's podcast is brought to you, of course, as always, by dubious advice. Dubious advice: the specialty of a couple of guys who are obsessed with death and not being funny.

John: Don't forget, our advice is dubious. I just don't want to get in trouble for dispensing such terrible advice.


 Question Four (21:33)


Hank, we have another question, it's from AJ who asks, "Dear John and Hank, my friend and I were wondering what would happen if you had a body of water as big as a star and you dipped the sun into it. Would the energy of the sun just evaporate all the water? would the water put out the sun? We are very curious."

Hank: Oh, AJ. I love this question. I love this question so much that I want to call a plasma physicist and be sure that I'm going to give you the right answer, but I'm going to give you my guess. I LOVE-- wow, OK. So if you had a ball of water, a body of water as big as a star, that would be a sphere of water in space and it was the size of a star, it probably would on its own change dramatically before you were able to get it to interact with the star. So the moment that this thing appeared into existence, it would crush down, the weight, the density of the gravity pulling all of those molecules of water might be-- I don't know that this is definitely the case, but might be enough to initiate fusion and that ball of water that you were going to try and put out the sun with could become it's own star.

Now I'm not certain that this would happen because there's a lot of oxygen in there, oxygen is much more difficult to fuse than hydrogen, there's also-- it might, because of the density, contract a great deal when plasma began. It might also, though, I'd be interested to know the density of the sun... I should have looked that up but I haven't. It might also expand in size and actually become a larger star than the star you were trying to quench. This is the marvelous nature of the universe, that a ball of water the size of the sun is not going to be a ball of water for long. It is going to undergo some magnificent and truly substantial changes.

John: You know Hank, sometimes I think like--

Hank: BUT then if you did dip the sun into that ball of plasma, it would just become a much bigger star.

John: You know Hank, sometimes I find your genuine enthusiasm about science actually infectious. Like I start to glimpse how great teachers get students excited about science, like you seemed to genuinely love that question, whereas I only asked it because I wanted to make some jokes about taking the sun to the beach. [Hank laughs] Like, I wanted to take the sun to the beach, but ugh, the sunburn!

Hank: Yeah, I see, you bring it to a body of water and you're just like "Hey, I like it on the beach. Do you as well, giant ball of plasma?"

John: [chuckles] Oh, man.


 Question Five (24:40)


Hank: Alright John, we've got a question from Colette. This is definitely an opportunity for some dubious advice. Remember our advice is dubious. She asks, "Dear Hank and John, my older sister is currently dealing with depression and has left high school, the same high school that I attend. It's been hard for me to understand where she's going through, so I haven't told anyone. People at school sometimes ask me why she isn't at school or when she's coming back. I'm not really ready to start telling people about what has happened, so I don't know what to say. What do you do when someone asks you a question that you aren't ready to answer?"

John: Yeah, I mean this is a tough one. Not least because when you say the truth, it only makes people ask more questions, right? Because the truth is: I'm not ready to talk about it, or it's a family matter, or it's private, or you know, it's more I want her to be able to talk about it, I don't feel like I should be talking in her place. And all of those answers are only going to make people gossip and chitter and chatter and that's difficult. I took a semester off from college, partly because I had whooping cough but partly because I had mental health problems, I suspect that if I hadn't had whooping cough I still would have had to take the semester off. And when people ask me why-- later I was able to talk about it, but that's direct experience vs. a sibling's experience. If people had asked Hank why I was taking a semester off from school, you know, it's not really--

Hank: my place.

John: Hank's place to answer, you know? And maybe that's something that you can say, is just like, "I don't feel like it's my place to talk about it," you know? "I love my sister and she's getting what she needs?" I don't know, that's tough.

Hank: It's tough. It's also something that it might be good to talk to your parents about because obviously they're more familiar with the situation than you know, people at school, than hopefully anybody else in the situation aside from your sister. And also asking your parents if it would be a good idea to talk to your sister about it. It might not be, it might just be adding stress to this already very unpleasant situation. But yeah, I think that there is no good answer and the problem being that telling the truth in this situation, which you kind of have to do, is going to create a little bit of drama, it's gonna make people feel a little bit uncomfortable, and yeah people are probably gonna guess. Now I don't know how supportive your friend group is at school, I don't know how supportive her friend group is at school, but yeah, from my memories at school it's always difficult to deal with stuff because people are... you know, people are all dealing with difficult things but--

John: And they are not always kind. I mean I think that's one of the issues it's that if you can count on your friends to be kind and discreet that's one thing, but a lot of times you can't. I know certainly for large swaths of my school life I couldn't, and that makes everything harder. So we're sorry. We're sorry you're going through that, we're sorry your sister's going through that, and it can be tough to hold onto secrets and deal with those family struggles. As far as empathizing with people with depression I think that's a huge challenge. To be honest with you I don't feel like people empathize particularly well, or even like it's possible to empathize particularly well because depression is so specific and interior, I think it's really hard o empathize with. And in general I think it's really hard to empathize with people's pain, there's a great observation in this book I was given by Mike Rugnetta, called The Body in Pain by Elaine Scarry, I think her name is, and she says "to be in pain is to have certainty, to hear of others' pain is to have doubt." Like your own pain, nothing is more certain than your own pain, but other people's pain is kind of inherently dubious because you don't know what they're going through, you don't know how it hurts, or where it hurts, or whether it hurts really, it's just incredibly difficult to bridge that empathy gap. And like, I think it's even difficult in art. Art is one of the places where people connect the most in terms of empathy and even in art I think it's difficult. God this is a funny comedy podcast, we just kill it.


 Question Six (29:45)


Hank: Alright, John, I have what I think is an important question that I want to get to, it's from Emma who asks, "Dear Hank and John, in the last episode of the podcast--" not in the last episode, but in a previous one, "a listener wondered if there was anything in the world that wouldn't lead to widespread death and John replied 'yeah, Purell!' but in biology class we learned that overuse of hand sanitizers could in fact be working against us. If hand sanitizers kill 99.99% of bacteria, that 0.01% that survived would have some genetic property that helped them live on and would pass that immunity on down the generations until it evolved an antibiotic resistant super-bug so no hand sanitizers in the world would be able to combat--" [stutters] You get the idea. "So in the end, couldn't Purell lead to our widespread death after all, sorry John!" No.

John: I have wonderful news, which is that Purell does not work the way that like antibiotic soaps work.

Hank: Yes.

John: So, the .01% of bacteria that it doesn't kill, it doesn't kill because it doesn't touch.

Hank: Yes.

John: The way that alcohol-based hand sanitizers work is different from the way that like other antibiotics work. And while it is possible that some day, I guess bacteria could develop a resistance to alcohol, they have not shown a great ability to do it over the millennia. So that's good.

Hank: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Based on the physical way that it affects bacteria, it's impossible for them to develop a resistance, it affects the physically. Like most antibiotics that you take or the antibiotics in antibacterial soap work in various chemical ways, but this is a physical reaction. It's basically the same thing as boiling them or heating them up a lot, it actually causes their cell membranes to rupture. That's a thing that happens, and that's why if you get alcohol in a wound that hurts very bad, because it's doing that to your cells, and it will do that to any cell on Earth unless a bacteria evolved like, a cell wall, and then it would not be a bacteria anymore.

John: Speaking of which Hank, we should point out that several listeners have written in to say that Purell does cause widespread death, of course it causes the extremely widespread death of bacteria.


Hank: Ha, that is a great point John.

John: It's just, it's absolutely terrible for them and seemingly in a way that they have no defense against.


Hank: No, never, and never will, which is great news because I am in favor of the widespread death of infectious bacteria.

John: I guess I am, too. I just find infectious bacteria to be one of the least likable organisms. It's on my top 10 of least likable organisms:

Hank: [laughs] Yeah, I mean there's-- 

John: Infectious bacteria that damage humans.

Hank: There is some complexity here, in that some of the bacteria that cause disease are also part of balanced, healthy microbiomes, as long as they don't get out of balance, or as long as they're in the right place in your body. So there is complexity, you don't want all of infectious bacteria to not exist. You know E. Coli exist in our guts all the time and E. Coli causes disease, but also is just a normal thing to have in your body. I also have another update. We've had a lot of updates, but I feel like I need to get to this one because it's been a few episodes now and I feel bad about it. A few episodes back, someone asked if there were Earth eclipses on the moon. And I waffled on that and I wasn't sure, and I should have just said, what is the obvious truth is that yes obviously it does happen, there are Earth eclipses on the moon all the time, they are what we call a lunar eclipse. Some people said that that happens every new moon, but that's not in fact what's happening during a new moon, the side of the moon that's being lit up is just facing away from us. But when a lunar eclipse happens, that is when the shadow of the Earth passes over the moon and during that time if you were on the moon, you would be seeing the Earth come between you and the sun, and the Earth would be blocking out the sun and that would be a Terran Eclipse, I guess, and you would be shaded by the Earth. And that happens like four, like more than four times a year, four to seven, I think. So it happens all the time.

John: One thing I'd like to point out, Hank is that when that question came up, I very confidently stated that yes indeed, there are such eclipses, and then you were wibbly-wobbly waffly waffly and as usual, I was right on science and your wibbly-wobbling accomplished nothing. All your wibbly-wobblying accomplished is that you have to post this update and in six weeks you have to come back to the podcast and say "turns out that you shouldn't eat macaroni A YEAR after it has expired," because some poor soul out there got botulism because of your extremely dubious advice, I will again look like the genius that I am. 

 News from Mars (35:00)


Hank, I am in no great hurry to move onto the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon, but I'm afraid that we have reached the point in the podcast when we must.

Hank: I think that is correct.

John: Well I have only terrible news, so perhaps you should give me news.

Hank: Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that. Well, I have good news, I think. Though of course as with interplanetary news it turns out to be complicated and maybe not news at all, but basically there's been a formation on Mars that's been studied for years now because it looks a lot like the kinds of formations that we see around hot springs on Earth, and this is probably an area that was geologically active and that had hot springs on Mars at one point. And hot springs of course are an excellent place for life to exist, there are multiple different ways that life in hot springs can get energy, they can get it from the heat of the water, the minerals in the water that have themselves extracted or in one way contained the heat from geothermal processes, and you can also of course just get it from the sun. So these are very interesting areas, they're worthy of a lot of study. There are microscopic features on some of the rock on this location in Mars that-- they call them cauliflower-like, so imagine tiny cauliflowers all over these rocks. And they've been studying these and trying to find analogs of these kinds of formations that have formed on Earth through geologic processes and they haven't found any, but they have found, at hot springs, that there are very similar-shaped rocks, crystals that are formed by biological life, by microorganisms. And the fact that they have seen these very similar shaped rocks on Mars and near hot springs and around hot springs on Earth, and that we cannot find a geologic way where those same, similar structures would be formed, is very exciting as you might imagine, and is being discussed very actively right now. Of course there's really no way that we can tell for sure unless we are able to bring a sample back from Mars, study that more carefully in a laboratory, or take a person to Mars along with a laboratory with which to study those samples. But it's very exciting, and sort of continues to point to the-- you know, what we often find in interplanetary science and what we continue to find as we look for and discover more exoplanets, that there's obviously something very special and unique about planet Earth and the life there and humans in particular, but things turn out to not be as rare as we think they should be, and the fact that now we've seen flowing water on Mars and the possibility that there was once life on Mars could really be the kind of thing that we are going to find out within my lifetime, and that is extremely exciting.

John: So what you're saying Hank is that there is a small possibility that there are living cauliflowers on Mars.

Hank: There's definitely a small possibility, a very very very small possibility that there are living cauliflowers on Mars.

John: That's just incredibly exciting, I don't blame you for having gotten excited over that news. Meanwhile on Earth--

Hank: To be clear when I say very small, I mean just astronomically, more zeros than you could put in your brain, after the decimal point kind of probably.

John: No, you just described to me Martian cauliflower and it does, I guess my main concern is that it doesn't sound delicious, and I'm suspicious of any food grown near a hot spring, but I'm excited to find out what develops. I will say that I am deeply concerned if there is life on Mars that it's just gonna completely take over this podcast. (Hank laughs) That's my main concern, I think it would be bad for our podcast if there were life on Mars. But time will tell.


 News from AFC Wimbledon (39:40)


Meanwhile on Earth, life has evolved to such an extent that there is a species capable of knowing itself and fathoming the universe. That species is called homo sapiens. It is, so far as we know, unique among all of the species that have ever lived in the entire universe, and that species is capable of intense and profound collaboration, and one of the ways that it collaborates, one of the most beautiful and interesting ways is football. And the species has evolved an ability to not only play football in a collaborative manner, but also to own football teams in a collaborative manner, as AFC Wimbledon is owned in equal parts by all of its fans. YOU, Hank, can join The Dons Trust at AFC Wimbledon's website--

Hank: You're gonna get there eventually right? You're gonna get there, you're gonna get to the news?

John: It's only $35 a year, and you can be an owner of AFC Wimbledon just like I am. You'll own the same percentage of the club that I do. I am getting to the news from AFC Wimbledon. It is not great.

Hank: OK...

John: We played Yeovil Town which is right down-- it seems is a fictional place. I believe it's in Middle Earth.

Hank: They are not high in the table, John, Yeovil Town.

John: They are not high in the table. They were lower in the table, but then they beat us.

Hank: Oh goodness.

John: It was a 3-2 game in the end, we led on two separate occasions, but Yeovil came back from 1-0 down, came back from 2-1 down, and then won the game 3-2. This is bad for us on many levels. It's the kind of game that we're expected to win, playing Yeovil Town, a fictional place, at home, you would expect to win that game. It puts us tenth in the table. Look, we're 22 points clear of relegation, the main goal for this season is of course to stay in the Football League, but we're now three points off the playoffs, so it's definitely a disappointing result, not what we were looking for. But, the arc of history is long, Hank, and it bends toward Wimbledon.

Hank: Well also you have a lot of time to make up those three points, right?

John: Uh, yeah, but if you can't get three points against Yeovil it's-- there's some deeper concerns.

Hank: Mmm. Yeah, well, you know there's also just the universal dice, sometimes first seeds lose to 16 seeds, it just happens.

John: That's right, that's definitely true, and I think we've gotta stay hopeful. I'm sort of in a state of perpetual concern over AFC Wimbledon, I'm not the kind of person who-- I don't know, I'm just a worrier Hank, and I can't help but look at AFC Wimbledon's remaining fixtures and feel, for lack of a better term, deeply concerned. We play our next game against Bristol Rovers, this weekend, that will have already happened by the time this podcast is uploaded, so people of the future, I can only hope that we have gotten a result against 4th place Bristol Rovers, but only time will tell.

Hank: Yes, that would be excellent, you could move them down in the rankings while moving yourself up, it's a big game, an important game, everybody get excited about the game and check out the results of the game when you hear them on the podcast ending, as it is doing right now.


 Credits (43:04)


John, what did we learn today?

John: Well Hank, we learned that you try really hard to care about AFC Wimbledon but you just don't.

Hank: [cackles] I did my best. I'm sorry. Did I step on your news, was there more? Was there more to come?

John: No, it's fine.

Hank: We learned that we waste a lot of plastic making DVD covers. We are an inherently wasteful group of people on this Earth right now, but also that due to the nature of the manufacture of plastics, it's complicated.

John: And we learned that Purell is different from antibiotic hand soap in ways that are very encouraging to John.

Hank: That's true. And finally, we learned that while the world is not yet at a place where a cat sleeping on your stomach is a proper excuse for the tardiness of your arrival at your source of employment. It may one day.

John: Nope. "oh, why are you late for work?" "Oh, because an animal that we chose to domesticate several thousand years ago that weighs about 12 pounds didn't want me to stand up. [Hank chuckles] That's never going to be an acceptable excuse here at the Indianapolis branch of Dear Hank and John.

Hank: Yeah. If a person said that to me, and I believed them, and you're not allowed to have this excuse every day, but I would be like "I understand. I understand." So-- and they're so comfortable, they look so comfy, and they just...

John: I mean if anybody at the Indianapolis offices of Dear Hank and John shows up with that excuse, they aren't just, it isn't just an unexcused absence, they're fired.

Hank: Wow. Oh wow.

John: Yeah, they're fired. You're out.

Hank: Well, we operate our businesses very differently, it's good to have different ways of doing things to see which way is more productive and which place people enjoy working more, and everybody can just guess which office is best.

John: [Hank is giggling though John's spiel] Anyway Hank, this podcast is edited by the hard-working, underappreciated, and overall brilliant Nicholas Jenkins. Our theme music is by Gunnarolla... we're laughing because we screwed up so many times in this podcast that the hard-working, underappreciated, Nicholas Jenkins basically has had to craft a podcast from scratch using just like, previous incidences of our voices.

Hank: He's molding it from the raw clay. [both chuckle heartily] He's crafting the waveform into cuneiform.

John: Thank you all for listening and as we say in our hometown,

Both: Don't forget to be awesome.