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How Canadian am I, really? How should I unpack? How do I reconcile my ideals with my actions? And more!

 Intro (00:00)

Hank: Hello, and welcome to Dear Hank and John.

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

H: It's a comedy podcast where me, and my brother John, that's that other guy, answer your questions, give you dubious advice and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. How you doing John?

J: You know to be honest I'm a little bit tired. Sarah's been out of town for a few days, ah, and I've been sort of running around trying to write, and record stuff, and make good videos, and also sleep and take care of my children. And the thing that fell by the wayside was sleeping especially last night for some reason, I think I just got too sucked in to watching the election returns -- we're recording on a Wednesday. After so called Super Tuesday, named that because it's the fifth time that we've supposedly had a Super Tuesday, it's the American primary election system is just astonishingly inefficient and arcane, ahh, so I stayed up too late. How are you?

H: I'm good. I, uhh I did not stay up. I was at a concert last night, I did check my phone, and it said the thing that you would find out if you would have just waited, and that you could not have possibly change. So, and I look down half way through, and found out all the things, and then I went back  this morning and found out that we have a nominee for Supreme Court Justice. Which is uhh...

J: He's an elderly gentlemen. 

H: Elderly!?

J: Yes.

H: He looks like he's like maybe 56.

J: He is the oldest new justice in 44 years, or he would be if he were to be confirmed, which he won't so it's irrelevant.

[Hank laughs]

H: Really?

J: And the next President will nominate someone far far far more liberal than he is. And that person will become the next Supreme Court Justice, because of course Donald Trump is not going to be elected President. But he is apparently going to be chosen as the Republican Party's nominee. Which, uhhh...

H: Is that the, is this the first time that we've said Donald Trump on the podcast, cause I'd be really impressed if it is was?

J: Uhh, God.

H: I feel like it is, and I feel like maybe that's been a little bit of an conscious decision, cause, oh goodness, gracious do we not wanna live in this world.

J: I don't really wanna live in a world where I have to talk about Donald Trump's policy position as if they are, um, serious, or anything other than... Yeah, I don't know Hank. I am frustrated by the quality of political discourse here in the United States as I have been for a long time. I keep trying to remind myself that this is not, in truth... an entirely unprecedented turn of events. You know, we've had periods like this in American history where, um, an extremely polarized times populist candidates gained lots and lots of traction. Uhh, but boy, I'm not encouraged right now. I'm not encouraged by the...

H: Yeah.

J: ...the way that we're talking about policy, or the way that we're talking about each other. It's, it's... puh... Not a lot of fun right now to be an American living in the presidential season. It is, however, astonishingly profitable. Uhh, the ad rates for both Crash Course, SciShow, Vlogbrothers, everything that we d have gone absolutely through the roof. Which should indicate maybe part of the reason why this whole process drags out for so long and benefits the people who are the most media savvy, which is that this is a huge part of how media companies stay profitable. 

H: Yes, it is, it is, uhhh, it's very frustrating I wish I did not profit from it, but I'll tell you what John it's only gonna keep going up from here. The advertisements haven't even really begun.

J: I know, I know.

H: It's just, it's , it... The spending is just at it's very beginning and I can, we can already tell the difference, and it is an amazing thing as a content creator. Because, of course I think that, like, you know traditional media don't really want that to be a thing that is known, because it's terrifying.

J: They seem to be wanting to hide it but nobody watches CNN, except when there are election results coming in, and the more dramatic and crazy and shocking and upsetting those election results are the more likely we are to be watching, and therefore better the ad rates are. But also, just the number of political ads in, because we had very little campaign finance oversight in the United States. The number of, just the raw number of political ads that people are trying to get out forces ad rates up higher and higher and higher. So,  that in 2012 they were, you know, the two months before the election we were getting three times as much money per view as we were in 2011 or 2013. It is a, it's a crazy situation.

H: Yes, correct! Accurate and ...

[talking at the same time]

J: Let us move on to questions from the viewers

H: We should probably, probably make a video about that. 

H: But, no, you have to a short poem John.

J: I forgot to do the short poem, I even had a short poem Hank.

H: Oh good.

J: This short poem was actually sent to me by twitter from Julie who wrote "Have you read There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale on the podcast? If not, I recommend you do, it's about death if that helps." It does help, it does. There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale, and I guess this is written about, or in war time.

"There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools, singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire; 

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done 

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly 

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone."

J: There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale. A nice poem about the apocalypse.

[Hank laughs]

 Question 1 (06:27)

 H: Alright, John. We have questions, we have so many questions and they're good questions, and we should try to do our best to answer them. Well, also..

J:Okay, I'd like to start with one.

H: Okay, oh, you got one ready.

J: This question is from Claire who writes "Dear John and Hank, I'm a fifteen year old Taiwanese female, who is currently living in Taiwan. However, I am also  a Canadian citizen, but I haven't actually lived in Canada in 11 years. I know I'm Canadian, because I have a Canadian passport, but I also feel like I'm less Canadian than someone else who's currently living in Canada. But I'm always quick to identify myself as Canadian whenever people ask me why I speak English so fluently. This makes me feel guilty, since I don't have the same amount of exposure to Canadian culture as someone who's lived there their entire life. It got me wondering, as someone who has a Canadian passport but hasn't lived in Canada in a while, am I more Canadian than someone doesn't have a Canadian passport but has lived in Canada longer than I have?"

I just thought this was a fascinating question Hank, and it reminded me of one of my all time favorite novels Ulysses by James Joyce, which I read with my friend Ransom Riggs when I was a junior in college. Ransom went on to write Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, the movie adaptation of which comes out soon, the trailer looks awesome. And in that book Ulysses, there's great moment where, the book is about this guy Bloom who's, he's an Irish person, but he's also Jewish and so he's seen by many Irish people as, sort of belonging to two nations, you know the Jewish identity and the Irish identity. 

And it's almost seen as a treat to his Irishness that he is Jewish, and in some ways treat to his Jewishness that he is Irish, and, uhh, at one point somebody in a bar asks him "Well what is a nation?" And Bloom says "A nations is the same people living in the same place" and then he pauses and says "well, or different places." Because, of course, you know by then the Irish diaspora was such that most Irish people lived outside of Ireland, and the Jewish diaspora had long since been such that almost all Jewish people lived outside of, you know the traditional Jewish homeland, now known as Israel, and -- the book was written before Israel was a state.

I just find the concept of nationhood and national identity completely fascinating, and all I can say to Claire is hold on to that discomfort, explore it, think about it, because it's a way into thinking about the identities that you choose, the identities that are thrust you and what you're going to do with them in you're life.

H: Mostly, I'm fascinated that you could feel guilty about having a nationality. Yeah, I ... I would never feel ... I just have a hard time like...

J: Well, I think it's more that she feels guilty that she feels like inadequately Canadian. 

H: Like the... like... like saying I'm Canadian when you aren't truly, like that you don't have that inside, like the actual reality of Canadianess inside of you so saying it is a kind of lie. Umm, but like, yeah, --

J: Alright.

H:-- but what is any of that anyway? Yeah, ..

J: What does it mean to have Canadianess inside of you? Like I know that Molson beer has it, I know that ice hockey has it, --

[Hank Laughs]

J: -- but I don't know how people have it.

H: Ohh, well, I don't know that I that I've ever had Molson in my life.

 Question 2 (09:53)

H: Here's another question John! This one's from Meghan, who asks "Dear Hank and John, I love the podcast and listen to it as soon as it comes out each week." Thank you Meghan! "I have moved just recently, and am completely overwhelmed by the unpacking processes. How do I prioritize what to unpack first, and how I keep my 1 year old from negating any progress I might make finding spots for all things? Any dubious advice would be appreciated." 

Well, the dubiousest of advice is to put your 1 year old into some kind of pen, which I believe they call a crib, and just lock it in there.

J: Well, not just that but I mean if I'm not... if I'm not mistaken Meghan is literally surrounded by boxes.

H: Right! Yes! Just turn upside down one of the boxes and place it over the child.

[John Laughs]

H: 1 year olds, they are not very capable. 

J: Yeah, if you turn upside down one of the boxes the kid will have a... a... like a play pen for hours, and you'll be fine. 

H: Yeah. Yeah, sure kids like the boxes is what you're telling me, they're like cats?

J: They're like.. they love box forts. 

H: Hmmm, boxes... Cool, cool, cool. So, how does she prioritize though John?

J: Uuuuh, first off, I think that moving is just incredibly stressful, so I think just acknowledging that is important. The way that I unpack boxes when I move, is I unpack my books first because it makes me happy, and then I slowly unpack everything else --

[Hank laughs] 

J: -- as I use it. And then after about a year, I find that there are still a bunch of things that I haven't unpacked and I throw those things away. 

H: Yeah, uh, or you just, if you have a big basement you just put it down there, which I do. Umm, I.. yeah, I think you gotta unpack... like... first do the things that make you happy, that's important, uhh and, do the things that are going to make you comfortable and make your life livable, like kitchen stuff. I also really think that it's important and often the last thing that gets done is putting stuff up on the walls because that seems like a sort of like, you're not actually unpacking, you're decorating at that point. That's not... that's not unpacking, i need to unpack. But I think putting stuff up on the walls is how you make yourself sort of feel like you're at home, and I... I think that can be an important part of unpacking, even though it doesn't feel like you're the most productive thing you could be doing.

J: I think that was extremely un-dubious Hank. It was almost distressingly good.

H: Alright, if you say so. I very rarely follow it. We only recently got our downstairs walls unpacked upon in the last few months after living in our house for about a year, but it is something that I like to do, and actually makes me feel like I live in a place.

J: I think that's wonderful. Should we move on to another question? 

H: Yeah, sure.

J: Alright. This question comes to us from Stephen, who asks, "Dear John and Hank, I noticed earlier this year that the license of Vlogbrothers videos since September of last year were changed from standard YouTube license to Creative Commons Attribution. I'm curious about what led to this choice for Vlogbrothers in particular."

So for those of you who don't know, Hank and I are not just world-famous podcast stars. We also make YouTube videos. We have a channel, Vlogbrothers, that we've been doing since 2007, and a bunch of other channels. And Creative Commons Attribution basically says, "You can do whatever you want with this as long as you attribute it to us. Um, thank you."

H: Yeah, basically.

J: And we made that change I believe--Hank, correct me if I'm wrong--nine years ago, it's just that YouTube didn't update their settings until recently.

H: Well, kind of. YouTube didn't nine years ago have a thing that let you identify your content as Creative Commons. They introduced that sometime in the last nine years. I don't know when it was, but we noticed it in September.

[John laughs]

H: And that...I believe that happened after I posted a video of my Yellowstone trip; and then I posted on Hankschannel, and I said, "Here's all the footage from my Yellowstone trip. It's Creative Commons, anyone can use it." And somebody said, you don't have to put that in the beginning, you can just, like, click that button in the YouTube license and I was like, "Oh." And then I made that the default switch for Vlogbrothers videos. So all Vlogbrothers videos are Creative Commons, though they are not all labeled that way on YouTube just because we can't...there's a lot of clicking necessary to make that happen.

J: Yeah.

H: And we want that basically because, like, who cares? And we love it...we have always loved when people have done cool things with our content. And we can't do that for SciShow and Crash Course for various funder reasons but are happy to do it with Vlogbrothers because we don't even really know what we're doing still. And it's still just, like, the connection and interaction between the people who, you know, connect with our content on Vlogbrothers is the most important part of that channel for me.

J: Yeah, I mean I think that copyright law is pretty broken on the internet, obviously; and insofar as we can stay out of people's way and help them make stuff, that's what we want to do. I even think that copyright law is pretty broken when it comes to books, as evidenced by the fact that, you know, my work will be copy-written until like 95 years after my death or whatever.

H: Mmhmm.

J: I am very uncomfortable with that; and, although I don't expect my books to be read in that distant future, if I find that it's looking like they might be, I definitely will put it in my will that that stuff gets released into the commons, because I think it's so important for art to be able to work off other art and to be able to respond to other art and to be able to quote liberally.

H: Mmhmm.

J: Even to be able to, you know, lift whole passages or rewrite it so it's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or whatever.

H: You know, John, I have to say that you might die at any time. You should probably put that into your will now.

J: Yeah, well if I died now...Thank you for the reminder. If I died now, I would want my work to remain copy-written for some time because it would help, you know--

H: Right.

J:--my kids with their education and everything.

But Sarah is under instructions. She knows. It's all written down...

H: Okay.

J: ...Uh, you don't have to worry. Everything is fine.

H: Okay.

J: I am going to die. You have a will, don't you?

H: Uh... It's... I think it's called... Hank's will. It's a folder, in fact, and it also contains instruction for what to do with uh... like, how to access all of my files and such.

J: Mine is called 'Have I suddenly died?' and if you log on to my computer as a guest it's the only file that you have access to.

H: [Laughs] I love that so much! Oh my god...

[John laughs]

H: that's so wonderful. That's... ohh, yeah.

J: Um, so, yeah, if you log on to my computer as a guest there's just one file in the center of the screen that says 'Have I suddenly died?'.

H: You're so prepared.

J: Um, it's actually—but most of it is, like, Sarah has all of the passwords. Uh, if she has also suddenly died, uh, we all better hope that Rosiana's around.

H: [Laughs] Never let John, Sarah, and Rosianna on the same airplane.

J: Exactly. No. It's too dangerous, too dangerous.

H: All those passwords. Um, yeah, fascinating. Glad to know that you've got that all taken care of, John.

 Question 3 (17:29)

Uh, in line with that line of questioning of thought, I have a question that I would like to find... [chuckles] somewhere. Here it is. Uh, it's from Jessica who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I don't know why Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy is one of the most revered romantic man in history. He was a jerk in the beginning of Pride and Prejudice and that somehow makes his change of heart more endearing, like, what? Why is that? I know you're both familiar with Pride and Prejudice so I thought I would ask you to share some of your thoughts. My husband and I love your podcast." Well, you've come to the right place for a guy who's gonna to defend William Darcy to his dying day. So... Do you want to start, John, or should I?

J: Uh, you start.

H: [laughs] I think it's because- because uh he shows that he can change. Not because like he can change from being a bad guy to being a good guy, but because he has a worldview and when he gets new data he doesn't change his worldview, he recognizes that he should change in light of his worldview and the data that he has.

The 'pride' in Pride and Prejudice is Darcy's, but the 'prejudice' is Lizzie's and, uh, she has all of these opinions of him, but she also has incomplete data. So he's being a jerk for a number of different reasons and some of them are like, some of them are bad reasons and some of them are good reasons, but a lot of those reason are not known; they are hidden and when the come to light, both his reasons and, which help Lizzie overcome her prejudice, and the, and the sort of like how the world is functioning outside of that, it helps Darcy overcome his pride, is a process of change and of listening to other people and having a good, strong worldview that you believe in that turns out to be filled with thoughtfulness and kindness, but you couldn't share all of the information and you didn't have all the information because the world is complicated, and overcoming that shows that two different people with different upbringings actually can have very similar worldviews if those worldviews are about thoughtfulness and kindness.

And that's a wonderful thing. And I think it's really important because I hear a lot of guys, particularly, saying, "Lizzie doesn't fall in love with Darcy, she falls in love with his house." And I don't- That's just not true. Like if you read the book that's not what it's about like she, they fall in love with each other after considering each other's thoughts and words.

H: That's what happens. It's not just about what they looks like, it's not just about how much money he has and I think it's uh, you know like, uh his rude behavior in the beginning turns out to have had uh, a lot of motivations that couldn't be shared. And uh, and for good reason. And when those things come to light, uh, you know, everybody realizes that they were kind of in the wrong and then are able to come to a place of agreement and beyond agreement, you know, love and marriage, and presumably babies.

J: I knew uh, I knew you were going to answer that question well Hank. Uh, Pride and Prejudice truly is your Irish nationalism. Um.

[Hank laughs]

 Question 4 (20:45)

J: We have another question here from Claire. Very interesting question uh, particularly in this historical moment, "Dear John and Hank, I'm a huge supporter of bipartisanship, or multi-partisanship, as I live in Canada and we have a multiparty political system," Uh quick side note Claire um, please let us into Canada.

H: Well you know John, I've been looking into it and it's not that hard uh, but apparently so have a lot of people, and additionally, I don't actually want to move to Canada. I want to be, I want, I wanna do this America thing, we can make it happen.

J: I love the United States so much. I love it's chain restaurants. I love it's broken, dysfunctional medical system, that I know how to navigate. I love like, I am so American, so incurably American. When we moved to the Netherlands for a few months, thinking that we might make it a permanent move, I immediately realized that I can't. I can't live in Holland because I am too American. But I might be able to live in Canada. Anyway. Uh, I'm sorry that isn't Claire's question, um, "... I think our repulsion from bipartisanship is what's slowly destroying western politics, however, when I meet with someone who has different political view from mine, I'm immediately turned off from them. How do I reconcile myself with my own hypocrisy and move toward accepting a more politically diverse group of people in my life?" Oh Claire, I thought you were going to answer that question. I have no idea.

H: [laughs] I, so I'm reading a book right now about this actually. Uh, which is fascinating, it's by, it's called the re-u, "The Reunited States of America" and it is by Mark Gerzon. And it has, uh, it just recently came out, like, like, this month, and it has a lot of uh, high quality reviews on Amazon, but it does have one star, one one-star review on Amazon, and I would like to read you that one-star review John.

J: Okay.

H: That one-star review says,"Doctor Phil?"

[John laughs]

H: It is just the words, doctor and Phil, followed by a question mark. And I do not have any idea what's going on. But uh, it's the number one new release in government-

J: Uh, can I tell you my, have I ever told you about my favorite one-star review for "The Fault in Our Stars"?

H: Oh sure go ahead, tell me about it.

J: In addition to being a world famous podcaster and YouTuber-

[Hank laughs]

J: I am also a uh, part-time novelist, and I wrote a book called, "The Fault in Our Stars", and it has a lot of one-star reviews on Amazon. All of them, gold in their own way. Um-

H: mhmm

J: Like, I mean it's ju-, it's hard to, to say what's my favorite one-

[Hank laughs]

J:-because I've read all of them so many um, so many time, you know.

[Hank laughs]

J: Uh, but my favorite is from a user named Katherine, presumably not your wife-

[Hank laughs]

J: Uh who says uh, uh, "Item was not received as described."

[Hank and John laugh]

J: And, and I don't know if she's talking about my, my novel or the shipping process or what, but like, uh, I can't tell you how many things in life, I feel are described by the sentence "Item was not received as described." 

[Hank laughs]

H: Yeah, yeah, I think the United States of America may in fact be one of those items, or at least Congress.

[John laughs]

J: "I have not received the congress that was described to me. I have received a congress, but not the congress that I was told about in 7th grade civics."

[Hank sighs, then laughs]

H: So this book has been a fascinating read, and it is about, you know it is about that process: how do you come to talk to other people, and present yourself in a way that is not immediately de-humanizing, other people, or immediately demonizing, vilifying them, thinking that they are either ignorant of something or evil or um like dissolving into an argument or a fight every time you have a conversation with someone who disagrees with you. We have become very, sort of tribalistic in the way that we think about our parties. One of the points that was made in the opening chapter of the book is that the majority of Americans don't want their children to marry someone of the other political party. And that's like wow--

J: Yeah

H:--that's, I mean like I get it, like I think about myself and I'm kinda like "yeah, yeah maybe, but like the fact that we're there-Um-feels really wrong, and it feels like there's something...Like we're driving along in a car that has had the oil light on for a while -like for decades- and we need to take this thing in for service. I'm only like a quarter of the way through and it's a short book, so far it's really great and I suggest it, The Re-United States of America, to sort of like, think about this very thing, because I don't think there's an easy answer. But I think that answering that question is important for every single person right now. 

J: Yeah I mean we've just gotta find a way to talk about things better. I've been thinking a lot about the support that Donald Trump has, which you know, the minority of American voters-but it's a significant minority of American voters, and just trying to understand that. And I think I understand some of it. I certainly understand why lots of people feel that they have been left out of the so-called "economic growth" that the U.S. has been experiencing, since 1990, or really since 1980, because a lot of that growth hasn't been particularly inclusive and so it isn't experienced as growth by the vast majority of people, which kind of means that it isn't growth. And I certainly get why people feel that the country has changed in ways that they aren't comfortable with, or like we've been "left behind" in some way. But, I find it really difficult to have discussions about policy statements like, "We should not allow Muslim immigration into the United States," because that's... incorrect--

H: Right

J: --and its based on this very circular reasoning of, "We will be safer if we don't allow Muslim immigration into the United States," which I see no evidence for, and it's kind of not a provable data point--

H: no

J:--followed by the circular reasoning of, "and we must do everything that we can to be safer." Without considering, what do we mean when we talk about 'safe'?What do we mean when we talk about safety in the U.S.?

H: And what do you mean when you say "everything"? If you are talking about, "we must do everything we can to make ourselves safer..." no one, no one, believes that.

J: Right, right, no one actually believes that, right? So then you get into these very circular logic loops and you don't get to have discussions about like a really interesting topic which is, you know, should the income tax rate for income over $500,000 be 39%, 42%, 37%--

[Hank laughs]

J: those are things we can talk about, and disagree about, without it feeling like our lives are on the line. And I think part of the problem here is that to try to get elected, to try to get attention, politicians and frankly, the media have made it sound like our lives are on the line for who gets elected president, and when the stakes feel that high it becomes very very difficult to talk about policy with someone because what you're really talking about is, "Wow if the top marginal income tax rate is 42% everyone I love is going to die."

[Hank laughs]

J:--and that...were not going to be able to have a conversation.

H: It's that and it's also that we've tied our ideology so very tightly to our identity that we feel when our ideology is being threatened our personhood is being threatened--

J: Right.

H:--and when I listen to the conversation, what I'm trying to do now, is hear not whether or not this sounds objectionable to me, or sounds awful to me, or I disagree with the policy statement, but to think about whether the statement is designed to create division. And that's what a statement like "We should not allow all Muslims to...we should ban Muslim immigration to America." That statement is not a policy statement, that is a statement designed to create division. And all politicians do this. And so I'm trying to listen as hard as I can, to statements that are designed to create division on all sides, and like right now the person who is best at not doing this, is of course, Barack Obama, who doesn't need to care about getting elected.

H: Uhh..and so like it's sort of remarkable to hear, but like, you know,you can definitely hear in everybody; in all, every single candidate, statements that are designed to create division.And like 

J: Yeah 

H: Uhh

J: yeah, it's not.

H: And being turned off by those first ,and then the policy second, is not an easy thing to do. I have like, so there's this,in the liberal world, which is like,if Donald Trump is the Nominee,that's probably a good thing for the progress of agenda.Because he probably won't get elected and he'll  probably get a lot of people out of the polls, a lot of liberals to the polls.

I have like, so there's this,in the liberal world, which is like,if Donald Trump is the Nominee,that's probably a good thing for the progress of agenda.Because he probably won't get elected and he'll  probably get a lot of people out of the polls, a lot of liberals to the polls.

Uh and, and we might get, you know, more control uh more power, to do what we want to  and force our agenda and that's like, that's a good thing right, coz that's what we wanna do.As we believe that this agenda will make the world better. 

That I like, I think that view of this situation is like,kind of terrifying because what you're saying is I don't care how torn up this country gets as long as I get to enforce my agenda.Uh And like, you know I can, I can see that point of view, but, like a 100%, you have to say, like,do I care more about America not getting torn up and like dragged.Like the steering wheel of this country being dragged in every direction uh,by people, who just,who just want this control? or do I care,about like, the the Nation feeling like a nation,and healing itself.

And not, not getting,like having these wedges driven deeper and deeper between people.And a a, who do not actually differ that much ideologically.Uh but who have been convinced, have been convinced that we do.

J: Yeah.No,I think that's a hugely important point that in a lot of cases, there's a lot of uh ideological uh crossover, there's a lot of policy uh opinion crossover.It's really the, the way, the that we approach it. And just so we're no lambasting only the republican party.I have to say that, you know, in in the Democratic party, uh there is a very similar us-them

H: Yeah.

J: Uh dichotomy created ,which is the phrase "the Billionaire Class"

H : Uhuh

J: That you hear over and over and over again which is some vague uh, other uh, these you know, fifty or a hundred families in the United States who supposedly sort of control the future of the U.S.. Uh, let me submit that if this were an actual oligarchy those fifty to one hundred families, the vast majority whom are Republicans, would have found a way to get literally anyone on earth other than Donald Trump to be the Republican Nominee.

[Hank laughs]

J: Uh, I don't - I don't think that they think that it's in their best interest to have Donald Trump be the Republican nominee, uh the billionaire class. Uh but I think anytime that we're trying to, you know, uh create this sort of vague villainous other. Even if it is a sort of somewhat villainous group like billionaires, uh, I think we need to be very very cautious because uh, the truth I think turns out to be a lot more complicated than-

H: Says a guy who's really good friends with a billionaire!

J: I am not good friends with a billionaire. I do not know any billionaire intimately. Um I am good friends-

H: It seems like you and Bill Gates just hang out all the time.

J: Bill Gates and I do not hang out a ton. However, I do suspect that my having met Bill Gates a few times has humanized billionaires to me in a way that perhaps most people have not experienced.

[Hank laughs]

J: And I, and I realize too that I'm, you know, obviously I'm coming at that whole conversation from an extremely privileged perspective and um and and probably a somewhat defensive one. But the truth is, and I think that the big underlying truth that is a cross party problem that needs to be acknowledged is that the growth in the United States, the economic growth in the United States, since you know about 1980 has been very very unevenly distributed and that that is a problem. 

J: It's not going to be solved by like quote unquote negotiating with China, it's not going to be solved by like, emulating Putin, it's not going to be solved by, uh you know, somehow like bringing down the billionaires because it's not that easy. Like the truth is that it's a really complex problem that's born of a globalization that has been in many ways beneficial, not just to the world but also to the United States. Not in every way but in some ways. And acknowledging that complexity and trying to start from there. Like, how are we going to get better jobs in the United States? And how are we going  to find ways for wages to go up. Uh, which they haven't really done in  a long time. That's a big interesting questions. uh I don't think we're going to solve that problem by you know, villainizing the Chinese or lionizing Putin, or villainizing billionaires. I just don't think that's going to solve the problem. Like if we raise taxes, income taxes, on billionaires to 95%, it would represent like, I looked, I figured this out the other day, it would represent like, something like half a percent of uh of our income tax going up.

H: Yeah

J: Like, there just aren't that many billionaires. 

H: Yeah, yeah, there aren't. And they have a lot of, they have a lot of the wealth but they don't have that much of the income. Uh, which is a -

J: Yeah and they don't, they have a lot of the wealth but they don't even have a lot the wealth relative to overall wealth, like they do but, yeah.

H: Yeah.

J: They don't, yeah. It's complicated.

H: It's complicated. We should make a video about it. 

J: Sorry, you've got Hank and I off on a rant in which we never actually answered your question Claire so I apologize.

H: Well I suggested a book at least which will I think, help. 

H: But I do, I do hope that this has, like, as we get closer to the election we're going to do our best to make this podcast open to people and interesting to people who are not Americans, and I apologize for the amount that we're going to be talking  about America but we're not gonna do it as much as, as we would be inclined to. Uh not that we-

J: I don't know when I was in Jordan lots and lots of people asked me about Trump.

H: Oh that's awful. That's terrifying. That is terrifying, I am terrified and I want to  run away. 

J: Yup. They asked me if he was gonna be president. 

H: They shouldn't know. God, can't we just, can't we just keep this one under wraps and be like 'ah, that didn't happen.'

 Question 5 (36:33)

J: Alright, can we move onto another question?

H: Yes we can. I have one from Adam, John who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I have an urgent life or death question. Why do we say 'yes please' and 'no, thank you'? Why don't we say 'yes, thank you' and 'no please'?"

J: Oh because when I say "yes" I'm generally saying, "please give me that thing" "yes I will take that thing, please." No I guess I could say thank you too. Actually now, the more that I think about the stupider it is. Adam is right, we've been doing this wrong all along.

H: No, no, no, because you can't say "no please." Because "no please" is, uh, what you say when you're being tortured in a movie. 

[John laughs]

J: That's true. That's true, yeah. That's when like, uh when like Putin shows up in his bear costume and he's got like, he's got like a car battery or something and he's about to shock you.

H: And he's doing judo

J: You're like no please

H: Yeah he's got a car battery

J: Yeah, you're right you can't say "no please" Adam. You can say "no, thank you" and "yes, thank you."

H: Yeah.

J: Yeah.

H: Yeah, and I think it's because of what those words mean, as the reason that we say them the way we do. 

 Question 6 (37:40)

J: Uh, I have a question Hank that I want to get to before we get to the news from Mars and the news from the dark light-less cave that is AFC Wimbledon. 

H: Alright.

J: This question is from Aisha who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I am a Christian and it can be rough. I had to leave the main Nerdfighter Facebook group because the hate of religion is so strong there, although I love some of the other Nerdfighter groups. I'm not an-evangeli-an-I'm not evangelistic but I get so much backlash once people find out that I'm a Christian. I know that I'm not being persecuted but I don't feel like defending my belief system every time I speak to someone who doesn't share my faith. But I also don't feel like I shouldn't have to hide something that makes me who I am. How do I handle this negativity?" I think that's a really interesting question Aisha, the internet, uh, is sort of on the whole, pretty strongly anti-religion in my experience, like, at least that is my feeling about it, um, I am also a Christian... I handle it mainly uh, by talking about my religious faith but not trying to defend it.

H: Mhm.

J: And when people ask me to defend it, I generally just say that I'm not really that interested in defending it, like it just doesn't interest-

H: Yeah.

J: me much. Because I don't think it's going to be a productive or interesting conversation.

H:Yeah, uh, I think that's really good advice and it's not it-t, like, as a person who is not religious, I, like, it is so-it has become more and more perplexing to me the way that non-religious people-some non-religious people approach religion as a source of, as like this monolithic source of badness or like, that-that there's some, that there's some really fun thing out there that is the, uh, that is the attempt to argue and, and put on the defensive a religious person and, and make them have to defend their faith and I just like, it just, it's so tired and uninteresting to me.

J: [laughs]

H: And I-

J: I mean, it feels tired to us because, uh, you know, we were-

H: Right.

J: We were part of that first wave of internet discourse in the late nineties-

H: Yup.

J: Early nineties that was doing the exact same thing-

H: Yeah, no, absolutely. I-I literally-

J: But, uh, it does feel tired to me now.

H-The other day I found I had printed out and kept in a binder some stuff from, like, my old, old IAG email address and one of them was like a literal email debate-

H: I had, with another, I assume, 12 year old, uh, about the existence of God. And I, you know, I, like, and I thought that was important enough for me to save, I guess. And, uh, and like, it's, you know, if it's about helping yourself, helping you define who you are, and what you believe, and how you interact in the world, then, then like, yes. But if it's about you trying to feel superior to other people, and, uh, and to, like, have this, this view that, like, certain kinds of people are responsible for all of the evil in the world, then uh, then you are - like, there's an issue. There's an issue. And it's not them, it's you.  

J: Yeah, I remember the, like, awakening moment for me was, I was talking to someone on the internet. And I think I was probably in college, so I don't have the excuse of being 12, like you did. Talking to someone on the internet, and um, and they were pointing out all of these things in the Bible that, uh, that contradict themselves. Especially things in the gospels, there's four different, uh, gospels that tell four different accounts about the life of Jesus. And, uh, they often, uh, at least appear, to me, and to most people, to speak contradictorily, um, about the life of Jesus at times. He has three different last words for instance, in the four gospels. And someone was pointing this out to me. And I was like 'yeah, no, yeah, I get that'. And they're like 'well that means that you can't believe in God!'

H: [laughs]

J:  And I was like, and yet I still do. 

H: [laughs]

J: So I think I might have just disproved your point.  

H: [laughs]

J: Like, like, at some point, it, you know, it ceases to be, um, it ceases to be productive. Or, to me at least, it ceases to be like a fertile ground for exploration. And it becomes, you know, personal and complicated and nuanced in ways that you don't really, necessarily -       

J: -talk about well with strangers. And I think, accepting that, for me, was the turning point.

 Question 7 (42:07)

H: I have one more question that I want to ask before we get to the news from Mars, John. Are you ready for that?   

J: Yes. 

H: Alright, this one's from Lizzy who asks, "Dear Hank and John, today a couple of my room mates and I were talking about nuclear weapons and how terrifying they are and how many exist in the world. I was wondering if there were a way we could even ever hypothetically get rid of all of the nuclear weapons that we currently have-"

J: -Oh, there's a way. 

H: "-without, you know, totally destroying the planet. Like shooting them in to the sun or etc." But no, no,

J: Yes, oh wait, that was my way.

H: Indeed, yes, there are easy ways to get rid of nuclear weapons, and we do it all the time. Mostly we do it through nuclear power plants.

J: Really?

H: Yeah.

J: Well, that's nice.

H: We take the fuel from nuclear weapons, and we put it in the nuclear power plants. And then when we decommission nuclear weapons, this works for most nuclear fuel, we are able to actually take that, put it in the power plant, and make power with it.

J: So that's wonderful.

H: That's where a lot, a lot, of the current fuel of nuclear power plants comes from. And we're actually running out of that fuel. Which is a problem. So we have to, like, get more of it again.

J: I have an idea.

H: What?

J: We could decommission more nuclear weapons! 

H: I like it! I like it!

J: Just throwing it out there!

H: [laughs] Yeah. I will also say, John, that our nuclear power plants are also a source for nuclear weapons. And indeed, we were designing our nuclear power plants, we made it specifically so that some of the by products of the nuclear power plants could be used in nuclear weapons. And, if we had not had that alternate goal in mind, we probably would have ended up with a better system for generating nuclear power that would have been safer because it wouldn't have produced all of these byproducts that could potentially be used in weapons. So that's a bummer. 

J: Wow. So, uh... I guess that knife cuts both ways.

H: [laughs] Yeah. Yeah, it's a bummer.

J: But instead of a knife, it's a nuke.

H: Yeah, I guess- can we use the phrase from now on, "I guess that nuclear weapon cuts both ways."

J: [laughs]

H: "That really seems like a double-edged H-bomb."

 Commercial Break (44:18)

J: Today's podcast is brought to you by double edged H-bombs! Double edged H-bombs: sometimes used for fuel, sometimes not so much.

H: Today's podcast is also brought to you by the complexities of Mr. Darcy! Handsome, rich, and additionally, with a complex thoughtful worldview that makes people who take the time to get to know him really, really fall in love.

J: And today's podcast is brought to you by Vladimir Putin wearing a bear suit holding a car battery. Vladimir Putin, wearing a bear suit, holding a car battery - please, please, no.

H: No, please!
And this podcast is finally brought to you by placing your 1-year-old into a cardboard box so you can get some freaking work done. Placing your 1-year-old into a cardboard box so you can get some freaking work done: saving everybody time since the year 10,000 BCE.

J: I don't think they had cardboard. We should also thank our Patreon subscribers, who actually bring Dear Hank and John to you. If you want to get a monthly livestream, which is inevitably disastrous. Hank spent this week's talking almost exclusively about his struggles to get an appointment with his gastroneurologist. If you want to, uh, if you want that kind of hot, hot content, check out the Dear Hank and John Patreon, You can become a patron of our show and get a livestream, but mostly you just help out with Claudia and Nick and their work on the podcast. Also you can choose between AFC Wimbledon and Mars, which you want to support. It won't actually matter, because the money goes to the same place, but right now AFC Wimbledon is losing by a lot and it makes me sad.

H: Well, you know, maybe we should get to the Mars News then.

 Mars News (46:00)

J: Alright, what's the news from Mars, Hank?

H: Uh, the first component of the ExoMars Mission, a joint project between the European space agency and Roscosmos, launched last week and is now on its way to Mars and it will arrive there in about 7 months, 8 months(ish). There are two components to this first mission. There's a lander, which is mostly just designed to test a landing system, but it's gonna do a little bit of experiments, but mostly it's just testing the landing. And the other is an orbiter, which has the main job of detecting trace chemicals in the atmosphere. Because the goal of this two-part ExoMars mission is to like- actually, they're biological goals which we've been really sort of wary about at NASA, but the ESA and Roscosmos is just going after it.

So the orbiter is going to be looking for, to detect methane in the Martian atmosphere, which we've detected before and we're a little bit confused about where it's coming from. Though here on Earth it's often generated by biological processes, so we are very interested in where that methane is coming from. So the orbiter will be able to figure that out and then take pictures of where the methane seems to be originating from and then use that to find a good landing site for the next component of the ExoMars Mission which will launch in 2018, which is a rover that will land around where that methane is being produced, theoretically, and do science and explore that area to see what's goin on with this mysterious methane.

J: That is...

H: That is a giant spider! That is a giant- wow, that is a BIG spider!

J: On Mars?!

H: Wow! No! I was not looking at Mars. It's on my wall. I don't know what to do. It's SO BIG!

J: Oh, take a picture of it and put it on the Dear Hank and John Patreon!

H: It's so big, oh my- ahh, I can't see it anymore! It's like all the way across the room, and it's going really fast, and now I can't see it.

J: Take a picture of it! Take a picture of it for our Patreon!

H: Okay.

J: Which, by the way, you can access that for free. You can see Hank's spider pictures for free. [Note: You cannot actually see this spider picture on the Patreon, as it was not posted.]

J: I, I just- Hank, we need to do more content outside the podcast.

So Hank, do you remember that on my way to Jordan I stopped by AFC Wimbledon, met all of the players, had a wonderful time, they lost to Oxford 2-1?

H: [in the distance] Uh, I, you can still hear me but the podcast can't.

J: Oh, apparently the podcast can't hear Hank because he has run away from this microphone. Because he is afraid of a spider. Is that correct, Hank?

H: That is correct!

J: Well could you hurry back? I can't pod without you.

H: You told me I had to take a picture of it!

J: Well, I didn't think that it would involve getting out of your seat to take a picture of it.

H: It's real big.

J: Can I deliver the news from AFC Wimbledon?

H: [back at his mic] Yes, you may.

 News from AFC Wimbledon (48:50)

J: Hank, you will recall that I went to visit AFC Wimbledon on my way to Jordan with Rosianna and we saw them lose to Oxford 2-1?

H: Mhmmm

J: Sadly, unfortunately, I seem to have cursed them while I was there. I met all of the players and I accidentally put a hex on them. Since then, things have gone from okay, to terrible, to yet worse than terrible, to unbelievably bad. Lost to Oxford 2-1. Tied, lead-leading North Hampton 1-1, that was a great result actually. Nil-Nil draw against Accrington Stanley. Then, lost to Bristol Rovers, and then a loss to Morecambe!

H: Ugh, no, Morecambe!

J: Hank, to give you a sense of what it's like to lose to Morecambe: their mascot is a shrimp. An actual shrimp. They are known as the shrimping team. They come from the shrimping country in the far northeast of England. Possibly northwest, I have exceptionally bad ability to distinguish between east and west.

H: You don't know how good a shrimp would be at soccer! Maybe there's like a super long history of shrimp soccer.

J: Maybe, but uh, given the size of the ball and the size of shrimps, I'm a little dubious. Anyway, we lost to Morecambe, it was devastating. I don't want to make it seem worse than it is, but they're 18th in League 2, and we are now down to, I believe, 9th, possibly 10th. Which is just, it's very bad. We're 9th. We're 9th on 53 points, and we need to get up into the top 7 spots in order to have a shot at the playoffs. There are now just 10 games remaining in AFC Wimbledon's season, so they would have to go on an incredible run to make the playoffs.

That is the update. I wish it were better news, but instead it is like walking all the way into a cave, so deep down into that cave that you turn around and you find that there is light neither behind you nor in front of you. It's called cave darkness. There isn't a single lumen of light. That's how I feel right now.

H: So, I look at the table and you're in 9th, though, and you have to be in 7th, right, so you're only 2 out.

J: Yeah, it's just, the way the results have been going though, Hank, it's like... are you familiar with the concept of momentum?

H: Yeah, but I do not think that it applies to phenomenon such as this. I think that if you- past performance, as they say, is no guarantee of future success, OR future failure. You- it's, it's all just dice. It's all just dice being thrown on that football page, John. And you just gotta keep throwing those dice.

J: Well, it's not all just dice.

H: It's all just dice!

J: It's not all just dice, or North Hampton would win fewer games. But yeah, I think- I guess, I guess the reason that I feel so hopeless... I mean look, it's always- it's great news. AFC Wimbledon staying up in League 2 is great news, that's the main goal for every season. But like, the reason I feel such despair is that I let myself feel such hope. By the time of the Oxford game, by the time that game kicked off, I was properly dreaming of League 1 football. I was- I was imagining it. And that's- that was a big mistake. 

H: I, yeah. Well, it would have just been that one season anyway, as you said. Uh, and...

J: That's true, but what a season! We would have been able to travel the country! Visiting the likes of Swindon Town!

H: Ooooh, Swindon Town!

J: I know! I know, it would have been great. But it ain't going to happen. Or maybe it will! But it looks less likely than it did a few weeks ago.

 Outro (52:36)

J: So that's the news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Hank, what did we learn today?

H: We learned that John has a lot of complicated thoughts about nationalism and Ulysses, which is a book.

J: Yes, I guess we learned that. Uh, we also learned that both Hank and John are clearly distressed about the quality of political discourse in the United States so much that it kind of derailed the podcast.

H: We learned that you should unpack your boxes in order of what stuff you need, and then if you don't need it, just don't unpack it, and you'll just have like 4 forks, and just a bunch of boxes.

J: Yeah, our advice is so good. Hey Megan, how come you've got 4 forks in your house? Ahh, John and Hank told me to. They told me to stop at unpacking 4 forks.

H: I haven't needed one since.

J: That's also why my 1-year-old child is in this here box.

H: [laughs]

J: And of course, we learned that if Vladimir Putin, wearing a bear suit, approaches you with a car battery, you should say, not "no thank you", but rather "no please".

H: It's important linguistic advice from here at Dear Hank and John. Thank you for podcasting with me John, and thank you to all the people for pod-listening! Which I think is what that's called.

J: I believe that is the technical term. Our podcast is edited by Nicholas Jenkins. Our hardworking amazing intern is Claudia Morales. Thanks also to Rosianna Halse Rojas for help with the questions.

H: Uh, our theme music is from Gunnarolla. You can email us at or find us on Twitter @hankgreen, @johngreen. Or on Snapchat, I'm hankgre! And as they say in our hometown,

Both: Don't Forget To Be Awesome.