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What are nerdfighters fighting? How do I learn to enjoy physical activity? How do I stop talking about Mars in my sleep? And more!

 Intro (00:00)

H: Hello, listeners of this podcast. In keeping with us generally always being behind the schedule, the podcast was recorded before the last weekend, which was a very bad one. So, if you're wondering why we don't reference the shootings in Orlando, that's why. I imagine they will come up in the next episode. Thank you for listening, and DFTBA.

H: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John!

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

H: It's a comedy podcast where me and my brother John, we answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and we bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon, a third-tier English soccer club.

J: I'm not tired of hearing that, Hank.

H: I believe it. I gotta update the description of Dear Hank and John and I'm not entirely sure how to do it.

J: (Laughs) Right, because it says we talk about a fourth-tier English soccer team but we don't anymore. It's almost as if there was a planet discovered between Earth and Mars (Hank laughs) we have to add to the podcast description as well but it turns out that AFC Wimbledon much more changed than Mars, no offense to Mars.

H: Uh... Yeah, no. Agreed. There is kind of a planet between Mars and Jupiter, but that's not gonna help anything. How you doin' John?

J: I'm doing well. I'm having  a little bit of an existential crisis as a result of a book I'm reading that was recommended to me by our father, called Sapiens, are you familiar with this book, Hank?

H: I am. I just received it in the mail from our father.

J: It's a great, uh, really interesting history book, but I can not in good faith recommend it because it has sent me into an absolute spiral of fear and loathing.

H: Fear and loathing?

J: I think, as Robert Penn Warren once famously wrote that I'm a bubble on the tide of empire, more than ever, I feel that I am not making any of the choices that are supposedly mine, but instead I'm just a tiny dot in a much larger pointilist painting that is being shaped by forces far, far larger than myself.

H: It's interesting to me that that's not how you felt previously.

J: Well, I have little moments where I feel like I have something approaching proper free will, but no longer. That's ending.

H: I, uh, yeah, actually we just recorded an episode of Crash Course Philosophy on free will and in general, the philosophical agreement is that we don't, we just don't... there's... it's very difficult to... once you start down that rabbit hole, to come to a conclusion that indicates that we actually have any choice in the matter. However, it feels like we do, and that's the important thing.

J: I'm not sure that is the important thing, actually. (Hank chuckles)

J: I feel, you know, as I've gotten... It's interesting because as I've gotten older I find myself less and less convinced by the acts of my so-called volition and I feel more and more like, you know, people don't wield power so much as power wields people.

H: Oh my. Well, that's not really what I was talking about, but maybe we should have a poem before we just start talking about existentialism for the entire episode.

J: Alright, this is another haiku from Richard Wright. I'm a huge Richard Wright fan, and he has written a lot of good haikus over the years.

You moths must leave now;
I'm turning out the light
And going to sleep

H: Alright. So the real...

J: You love that one, Hank, because it's short. Hold on, let me crack open a delicious Diet Dr. Pepper.

H: Alright. Oh my goodness.

J: Is there a better sound on Earth?

H: I though we were gonna stop with the Dr. Pepper stuff.

J: Why would we stop with it? It's delicious, I love drinking Diet Dr. Pepper.

H: Okay, I see. I see. Well, you just continue with the loving Dr. Pepper. But we won't mention whether or not we would like Dr. Pepper to sponsor.

J: No, I don't want Dr. Pepper to... I don't actually want Diet Dr. Pepper to sponsor us. And now that Diet Dr. Pepper follows me on Twitter, I feel that we've kind of flown too close to the sun on this one. (Hank laughs) And I'm getting very anxious that Diet Dr. Pepper might actually offer me money, and then I would have to turn them down, because my stupid brother doesn't allow me to take sponsorships. So, yeah.

H: Uh huh. Yeah, yeah, so we have to turn off the light so that the moth, that is Diet Dr. Pepper will go home.

J: That is correct. We have got to turn off those lights to keep those Diet Dr. Pepper moths from floating about Dear Hank and John.

 Question One (4:10)

H: (Laughs) Alright, John, I have a question that I wasn't actually intending to ask but it became so apropos while we were having this conversation at the beginning of the podcast. It's from Ellen who asks, "Dear Hank and John, Elon Musk said in an interview that we are probably all simulations of people rather than actual people. I feel weird when I think about this. Does this mean that my choices matter less because the aren't real, or does it mean that my choices matter more because they matter not only to me but to whatever entity is observing/experiencing what I do? Do you have any advice for how to feel about possibly being a simulation of the person that I thought that I was."

J: (Laughs) Well, I wouldn't worry too much about it is my advice.

H: (Laughs) Yeah, though John is worrying quite a lot about it right now due to a book he's reading.

J: It's hard not to worry about. The problem is that it's just not particularly useful to worry about. Hank, are you familiar with the "turtles all the way down" thing?

H: Yes. Now, I think you've talked about the "turtles all the way down" on this very podcast.

J: For me, it's just that, uh, for me the question of whether we are simulations is a "turtles all the way down" type of issue. It is not something that can be too productive lines of thought, and I'm not sure... as I... I'm not sure that it is worth thinking about things we can't fix.

H: Yeah. We just recorded an episode of Crash Course Philosophy about this topic. It has not come out yet, but it will. So I suggest that you go watch Crash Course Philosophy where we'll talk about determinism and free will and whether free will exists, and all of the ways in which we have made those arguments over the years. In some ways, it doesn't even matter whether or not it's a simulation because even if it weren't, there are a logical trains that you can follow that will lead you to the realization that just based on how the big bang happened, today was inevitable.

That's a very difficult thing to come to terms with. I do feel like I'm making choices all the time. Uh, you know, many of the things that I do are clearly not choices, but many of the things that I do are, and I do feel as if I make those choices and I think that the way that we experience the world is, in many ways, the most important thing rather than the way that the world actually is. I don't know that everybody is gonna agree with me on that but that is what I have come to believe. Done.

J: Yeah, I mean, there is different kinds of realness, right? I mean, there's the realness of, uh, you know, there's the realness, for instance, of the theory of relativity. Like, we know that these laws govern the natural world. And then there's the realness of, like, the limited liability corporation or laws against murder (Hank laughs) like, those things are constructed, but they are also quite real, you know?

H: Yeah.

J: They're real because we all believe in them together, but that doesn't mean that they're not real. And I think we have to be very careful about the things that we believe in together, the things that we choose to make real by force of our believing in them. But I think we will always have those things whether they are gods or corporations or laws against murder. We have to have those kind of shared beliefs. Those are the things that I'm worried about. I guess if we collectively decided that we're living inside of a simulation, that would have a big impact on the human story. But I don't think that's a likely (Hank laughs) shared belief. And I don't think it would necessarily be a very helpful one.

H: Yeah, I kind of feel a little bit like Elon Musk is just making the gamble and saying like, "I'm gonna go ahead and say that we live in a simulation, potentially we do, and if we do, maybe the person who's watching can be like, 'Ugh, Elon Musk, he does so many interesting things in my simulation including realizing that he's in it! Oh what a great guy. And that makes Elon Musk feel good about himself.

J: Right it's like Pascal's Wager, right, except it's Elon Musk's wager. He's betting that we're in a simulation and he just really impressed somebody. There's some 11 year old boy in some kind of super universe who's just like "aw man one of them finally figured me out."

H: Alright John, you've got another question for me.

J: Not really, I'm still stuck inside of this existential loop that I can't get out of. The whole problem with obsessive thinking, Hank, is that it takes the form of these ever tightening spirals from which there is no freedom, until suddenly it does just go away and you're like "huh that was weird."

 Question Two (8:49)

J: Anyway, yeah Hank I have a question. This question comes from Bella who writes "Dear John and Hank, my brother makes me listen to your podcast on the way to school every day, and although I try very hard not to, I started to like it. Though my brother claims I am now a nerdfighter, I refuse to accept a title I do not understand. Do nerdfighters fight nerds? Fight for the term nerds? Or are they nerds that fight? My brother says he thinks nerds that fight, but fight what? You can't fight without having something to fight, that's just really bad/weird dancing." That's just a great observation, Bella. That if you're fighting without having something or someone to fight, really you're just dancing.

H: And well I don't know that it's necessarily bad/weird dancing, maybe you're a really good no-person fight dancer.

J: Yeah it could be excellent dancing. The point is that it is not fighting. It's dancing. She makes a good point there.

H: Well I think that it's possible that John and I are members of the community of nerdfighters, and all we are in fact doing is bad/weird dancing... about things. That might be a really astute insight.

J: Yes but to answer your question Bella the idea is that nerdfighters fight for nerds, in the same way that freedom fighters ostensibly fight for freedom. As far as being a nerdfighter, we've always said that if you feel like you might be a nerdfighter, you probably are one. There's no initiation rite or anything, it's just one identity among many that you choose for yourself for the time that you consider yourself to be that. And we would welcome you as a nerdfighter, but we also welcome if you don't consider yourself a nerdfighter.

H: Yeah you could just be a fan of the pod.

J: Yeah the only requirement is that you do hae to fight, but not fight against anyone. So you do have to do the dance fighting. That is a technical requirement of joining our club.

H: Right, even of being a listener of the podcast. I expect that all of you are doing weird dance fighting.

J: Right now, wherever you are, two things that you need to know. First, oh my god it's burning. Second, you better be dance fighting right now. I'm doing it.

H: I'm doing it.

J: Drinking my Diet Dr. Pepper and dance fighting in front of the microphone.

H: I am likewise dance fighting.

J: Alright Hank, should we move on to another question? I don't even believe you by the way. You're dancing is too-- my dancing is very subtle, you know, it's something I do primarily from the elbow to the fingertip. Your dancing is a full body thing, so there's no way you could be doing it in front of a microphone.

H: Oh but I have an excellent body isolation, so I can keep my head perfectly still while moving the rest of my body vigorously. Which is what I'm doing right now.

J: I mean I would love to see that dance in real life. The head-still body-vigorously moving dance.

 Question Three (11:30)

H: Alright, this question's from Megan. She asks, "Dear Hank and John, I'm pretty new to the podcast, but a long term fan of the Vlogbrothers, so I have been binging on all of the old episodes to catch up. I have a long term history of talking nonsense in my sleep. My boyfriend recently told me that I have been talking about Mars in my sleep, and I attribute that to the pod. Do you have any dubious advice for how to stop talking in my sleep?"

No I do not! Why would I make you stop? This sounds great!

J: No, talking in your sleep is a dangerous dangerous business, Hank, because you could say something that's true, and secret. So you definitely don't want to talk in your sleep. Unfortunately I know of no way to prevent yourself from talking in your sleep except to take Ambien, which does seem to work at least for me. But not a great long term solution.

H: I think, I think that as long as you're just talking about Mars in your sleep, there's no problem. So just make sure that you continue just about Mars. The only way you can do that is to think a lot about Mars, which is obviously a wonderful thing to do anyway. And then have your boyfriend take notes on the things that you're saying about Mars, and send them to us. We'd be interested to hear.

 Question Four (12:39)

J: Alright Hank, we have another question. This one is from Robin who writes "Dear John and Hank, my name is Robin." Stop trying to be Ryan, Robin. "My name is Robin, and I'm the germ-conscious mother of a two year old who absolutely loves going to the library and checking out stacks of books. As we sit and read through the books each week, I can't help but wonder if they are actually virus and bacteria infested things that I am bringing into my home and allowing my daughter to touch and enjoy. Am I being paranoid or are other grimy kids leaving their germs on the books we're checking out?" Great question, Robin, and way to get to an issue that's right at the heart of my personal experience with the world.

H: Well, you aren't being paranoid, Robin. Those books are indeed covered in viruses and bacteria. The good news is, so is everything else. And you're fine.

J: Yeah the nice thing about books is that at least you're learning something while getting sick instead of just getting sick.

H: Well let's say that the world is alive with a thin film of beautiful and invisible organisms, and they almost never kill you. So that's good.

J: Right no, one thing I would say about this actually is there was a study done recently, a pretty robust study, that followed kids who went to daycare starting at twelve weeks of age, and kids who stayed home, and followed them through primary school. And one of the findings was that kids who go to daycare do get sick more often during the preschool years than kids who stay home, either with their parents or with a nanny. However, over the course of the entirety of the study, to the end of primary school, the kids got sick an approximately equal amount, because the kids who stayed home just got sick more in elementary school. So in the end I don't think there is any way-- you know, wash your hands obviously, encourage your kids to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer if you want to.

But in the end there's no way to prevent your kids from getting colds and flus, it's just a part of growing up. And actually an important part of being a kid.

H: Yes, we have powerful and amazing immune systems. If you want to learn about those, you can watch Crash Course Biology.

J: My god, Hank is with the shilling today. I wonder where you can get high quality active-wear, Hank. Maybe at

H: It's possible, for all of your high quality active-wear needs.

J: I don't even want to do the podcast with you if you're going to be a sellout.

 Question Five (15:10)

H: Alright, let's move on then. I apologize, deep apologies. We have another question, this one's from Ben who asks "Dear Hank and John, my name is Ben and I Ben have been having a difficult time determining whether or not the amount of paper towels given to me by the paper towel dispenser in bathrooms is enough to fully dry my moistened hands? Please reply by podcast."

J: Well first off Ben, I'm gonna say the same thing to you that I said to Robin. Stop trying to be Ryan. There's only one Ryan, and his name is Ryan.

H: That's right. Second, as the owner of a building, I was surprised to discover that the owner of the building determines how much paper towel comes out of the paper towel dispenser. There's a setting on it that lets you do that. And you can be like, tiny amount or huge big sheet. You can usually stop it if you're like "hey that's enough paper towel" just by ripping it off and the machine will be like "okay you got enough." But sometimes they do like these tiny little sheets and I'm like yeah okay I kind of need more than that. there's a great video on the internet about how to properly dry your hands.

J: Yeah, by Joe Smith.

H: Like it turns out that drying your hands is a really important part of washing your hands because wet hands have more bacteria that stick to them, so it's best to dry them as quickly as possible after washing them. And the most efficient way to do it turns out to be like quick shake them dry, like twelve times, and that gets off the vast majority of the water. And then use a small piece of paper towel, folded over, and when you fold it over this increases a capillary action that will pull more water off of your hands more quickly. And there's a video that you can watch, it's quite short about that.

J: Yeah, it's a TED Talk actually. It's about four minutes and thirty seconds long and it's this brilliant guy, Joe Smith, who tells you how use exactly one paper towel while getting your hands entirely dry. And of all the videos I've spent four minutes and thirty seconds watching, it is the one that probably has had the biggest impact on my life. Because ever since then I have only used one paper towel, and I've gotten my hands completely dry. And it's a game changer.

H: It is, it is. I'm not going to disagree with you, John.

J: We're going to put the video up on the Patreon so everybody can check it out, I apologize for the shilling, but you don't have to give to look at the video. You can just go to

 Question Six (17:32)

H: Yeah, all that stuff's open to the public. You got another question for us? It's your turn.

J: Speaking of bathrooms, Hank, we have a question from Emma who writes "Dear John and Hank, if someone knocks on the bathroom door, what is the least awkward way to let them know the bathroom is occupied?"

H: This is a great question because it's such a--

J: It's a great question because we have all been in this situation where like somebody knocks on the door, and then you don't know what to say. Sometimes I say "I'm in here." Sometimes I inexplicably speak Spanish and say "ocupado"--

H: Ocupado! You know, I almost always say, and this is awful, I almost always say "just a sec!" And then it's like, but no, not just a sec!

J: Which might be a false promise. There are times when just a sec is factually inaccurate.

H: Oh yeah almost always. As soon as I say just a sec, in my head I'm like "who am I kidding, it is not going to be just a sec. It is going to be many secs." But then you can't say that, you can't be like "just a sec, by which I mean probably about four minutes."

J: So Hank in the same way that we have established a rule for proper arm rest usage in movie theaters and on airplanes, I think this is the moment. We have a chance to really affect culture, here. I may not believe in free will, but I do believe that a group of committed people working together can come up with one word or phrase to express "I am in this stall of the bathroom that you are attempting to occupy."

H: Yeah like really all you have to say is anything and they know that you're there. So you can just be like "blaeagh."

J: Yeah but you don't want to say that because then people will be like "well that was an odd encounter." Right you want to have something where it's just a kind of universal "okay I got it." Basically you want to have "yaaaaa" that's a socially acceptable phrase. That's why I'm quite fond of ocupado.

H: What if you want to convey more information than that? If you are in fact just washing up and you're about to be out, you could say just a sec. But if it's gonna be a while, you could be like "four minutes!" Or "it'll be a minute, I'll be in here for a bit longer."

J: I think four minutes is a terrible idea. I still like ocupado because I think it's like a universal language, everybody knows what ocupado means.

H: Oh man, why don't all bathroom doors have those locks that when you lock them it shows whether there's somebody in there. It's a physical mechanism that's like "occupied!" And it's done.

J: That's probably an expense issue. So to summarize, Emma, Hank and I are struggling between two competing ways of saying "I am inside of this bathroom." One is to shout "ocupado." The other is to shout "four minutes." Or two minutes or eight minutes or whatever you think is appropriate. What I like about not shouting a number of minutes is that then you aren't making a potentially false promise, right? All I can say for sure in this messed up crazy world is that right I am in the bathroom. I have no real way of knowing if I'm going to be in there forever, frankly. Once you read Sapiens, you'll agree with me. I might be in the bathroom for thirty seconds, I might very well die inside of it. So I feel like saying ocupado is just a way of saying, like, 'I am describing the current situation.'

H: Right right, okay. I can get behind ocupado unless I hear better from someone.

J: You can always send us some tweets at @hankgreen or @johngreen, with the hashtag #dearhankandjohn if you have a better suggestion that ocupado.

 Question Seven (21:33)

H: Alright we've got another question, this one's from Scott. Scott asks, "Dear Hank and John, I have had a nagging fear about money lately, purchasing anything has left me feeling stressed out, even though I'm out of college, have good income, and graciously am not in crippling debt. And I feel like I'm becoming obsessed with saving money. Maybe it's my unconscious desire to fund the Wimbledon stadium or a fear that I won't have enough money to survive the apocalypse, which is very irrational since currency probably won't be accepted then. How can I learn to relax and not let my spending be a source of anxiety?"

J: This is an interesting question, Hank, because I think most of us struggle more with saving than with spending. You know I think it's really really important to save money, especially when you're young, I really believe that. If you can save even very small amounts of money in your twenties, it makes a massive massive difference much later in your life, especially after retirement. But there are people who begin to treat saving sort of obsessively and become very anxious about trying to save more and more and more money, and just like anything, it's never enough.

I don't have a great solution to this, I think that it's better than the spending problem, but I don't want to minimize it because I think that it is still a problem.

H: Yeah I actually, this is something that I struggle with. Less now, but any time as a younger person when I was making a significant purchase, I would get sweaty, my chest would clench up, especially right afterward. I would feel a significant amount of anxiety, which is pretty unusual for me, but this is a thing that I have experienced anxiety about. I still do, though generally with business spending than with personal spending now. So it is, it is an anxiety. And things like that tend to get better with experience. Of course don't run out and have like a bunch of spending experiences to get over your anxiety, because that could have other negative consequences. 

But my strategy, and this is just my strategy among many strategies, is to think about it economically and in sort of a analytical businessy way of the return on the investment of the thing that I'm spending.

And this is called ROI analysis, it's a thing that you do in business. So if I'm getting a new computer, I have always had this feeling when getting new computers, even now.

But if I think about like my current computer is wasting my time, because it is broken, it is slow, and fixing it would take a lot of my time. Getting a new one, the value that I am spending money on is the time that it's going to free up, so the value when I'm buying a new car, like what's the value there? The value when I'm getting gasoline, what's the value there?

Getting car insurance, or getting health insurance? Or buying healthier food, like the value of being a healthier person is worth the money that I'm spending. Understanding the value transaction that's happening helps me get over this hurdle of like always having felt weird about money and about spending money, and always knowing that is a thing that you can't undo, and it is money that you can't get back, which for me is often the source of the anxiety. I think. Also probably just a weird relationship I have with money for lots of different reasons.

J: You know the other thing you can do, Hank, that I would suggest is you can have a brother who steals your money and spends it.

H: Yeah, then you know.

J: I feel like that's been useful for you over the years, really starting when I was about 14 and Hank was 11, I noticed that Hank had hundreds and hundreds of dollars that he'd saved over the years from never having spent any money. And I liked spending money so I didn't have any money, and I thought that's not fair that Hank has like $400 that he's rolled up into these tiny, tight bills, that he's then stuffed inside of his soccer participation trophies. And I just remember thinking it's just not fair that Hank has all of this money and that I have none, and I would complain to my parents about it and they would be like "but we gave you the same amount of money, it's just that you spent it and Hank saved it." And I was like "right right, I understand that, but the point is that he now has money, and I now don't. Like we can't do anything about what happened in the past. The current situation is that there is this extreme unfairness of Hank having hundreds of dollars stuff into soccer participation trophies that, there is no way that Hank is ever going to spend any of that money." The truth is, Hank still hasn't spent that money. I bet if you go to his childhood soccer trophies, and you unscrew them, you'll find a bunch of $10 bills wadded up in there.

H: No, no.

J: And so I started spending Hank's money, and let me tell you, it felt great. It wasn't even really stealing, because again it was a question of it being our money, that Hank had just failed to spend.

H: So what John is saying is that it's important to note that you can't take it with you. Sometimes you can't even take it with you to middle school.

J: (laughing) Well okay, with all of that noted, when I was in college, one summer you decided that I didn't need my baseball cards anymore, and you sold them all on eBay.

H: Well... you did just leave them home.

J: Yeah but you sold them on eBay and then you saved the money and never gave it to me, so I think we're even.

H: I don't remember that, I don't know if that's a thing that happened.

J: That's absolutely a thing that happened. That is 100%, I mean we can call Mom and Dad if you want, but that is 100% a thing that happened. You sold my baseball cards, just as surely as Tuggle is not dead.

 Question Eight (27:40)

H: Let's move on to another question, then. This one's from Arry who asks "Dear Hank and John, do you have any dubious advice on how to enjoy physical activity? I've been going to the gym more lately but the thing is, I hate it. Listening to your podcast helps pass the time, but it's still not enough to make it remotely enjoyable. How can I make exercising more fun?" Well Arry, podcasts are my only trick. So John...?

J: Well to be honest I don't even find podcasts to be adequately distracting, because there's a lot of dead air in podcasts when I can hear my labored breathing, and during that time I become aware that I am inside of a slowly decaying vessel, and that's very distressing to me, so I usually just listen to music. All I can say is that in my mind, at least, the benefits of exercise are back-ended, like the benefits of exercise mostly come 10 or 12 or 16 weeks into the process. And for me, at least, once that happens, it gets way more fun, but you've got to put in all of that time before it happens.

H: I have also heard people who are experts in this saying things like "you have to trick yourself as if you are a dog." So give yourself rewards for doing a thing that you don't like doing and then you will start to like them and not really know why. So do your best to make going to the gym some kind of positive experience and I do not know how to do that, but give yourself some kind of chew toy or play time or doggie biscuit that will make it feel as if it is a positive thing in your life. I don't know how to actually do that, that is a piece of advice I have heard from other people and not been able to implement in my own life.

 Commercial Break (29:23)

H: So I've got another question if that's okay with you, John.

J: No no no, it's not okay because I would just like to say a word from our sponsors. Today's podcast is brought to you by tricking yourself like a dog. Tricking yourself like you would a dog... I don't really... Tricking yourself like you would a dog, the fastest way to enjoy exercise.

H: This podcast is also brought to you by weird/bad dance fighting. Weird/bad dance fighting, it's the only thing that you're allowed to do while you listen to Dear Hank and John, and it's probably also exercise, kind of. So, good.

J: This has just been such a funny podcast. We should do this more often. Okay now you can get to your other question, Hank.

 Question Nine (30:08)

H: Alright, this one's from Nena, who asks "Dear Hank and John, I recently started thinking about how we as humans never stop growing and changing every year, every decade, every century. We surpass unimaginable milestones that are simply incredible to witness. What makes me sad, though, is that I will know what existed before me, but I will never truly know what will exist after me. I think of how awe-struck Jane Austen would have been if she had had a chance to look at where the world is today, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Isaac Newton, or anyone else. How do I overcome or manage this gloominess caused by the unknown/unknowable?"

J: I would say we actually don't know that much about the past. You know, like, there's 2.5 million years of hominid history, and we only know anything about like the last ten thousand years of it, and we only know much of like the last three or four hundred years of it. And if you look outside the realm of like the most noted or famous people, the people who had access to the kind of power to tell their own stories, we really only know the history of hte past 150-200 years at the most. So I actually think that we're living in a kind of a weird island, where we don't know very much about how human life was like on a day-to-day basis before relatively recently, and of course we know nothing about what it will look like in the future. But we don't know what hunter-gatherers were like, we don't know much about what life was like in early agriculturalist communities. I would say that ultimately we kind of only know ourselves.

H: Yeah, I think this is one of the sad things about death, John, and not just on a macro scale but on a micro scale. When you die, if you die in sort of the correct order, the sad thing will be that you will never get to see who your grandchildren fall in love with, and what they become, and you don't get to find out all the things about the people that you love that you wish you could find out. It ends, and it's a super bummer. And the fact that you're thinking about this, Nena, on a humanity-wide scale means that you believe in humanity and you have a lot of interest and faith in humanity, that's good, and this is a side-effect of that feeling of appreciating all of the things that humans have come together to create over the years that have made your life better.

And appreciating that and knowing that there will be things that come after that you won't know about, it's a symptom of your appreciation for the work of other people, and a symptom of the fact that we're all going to die and it's a bit of a bummer. There's really not much to do about it, though. Except to recognize that it comes mostly from good places.

J: It's a bit of a bummer, but on the other hand, to me at least, there's something beautiful about the fact that we're all sort of collaborators in this massive sprawling story, and that we're going to be in the middle of it. I don't want to be at the end of the human story, you know, like I don't want my life to be like the last human life. I want to be in the middle of the story, and I want to try to, in my infantesimal way, shape the story so that it makes it more possible for it to go on longer and better for as many people as possible. So in a way it's good news.

 Question Ten (33:32)

H: I have a really quick question from Ray who asks, "Dear Hank and John, in the past, John, you have okay-ed tattoos inspired by your books so long as they are not somebody's not first tattoo. Hank, do you have a similar request for tattoos inspired by the things that you create? I'm getting a Hanklerfish tattoo next month and I want to know your thoughts. Love, from your brother with the last name of another color, Ray Brown." Uhhhhh. Yeah, I don't know, it's your body, man. Do whatever you want. That's how I feel.

J: I think that's great. The only reason I'm concerned about people getting their first tattoo with a quote from my books or something is I just worry that later they'll regret it. But if it's a second tattoo, I somehow feel that I've been absolved. But you're right, it's not my body, so why am I trying to intervene?

H: Indeed.

 Question Eleven (34:15)

J: Adam writes "Dear John and Hank, if nothing sticks to Teflon, how do they get Teflon to stick to a pan?"

H: Alright, I'm gonna do this, and I assume that John doesn't have much to say on this subject.

J: Correct.

H: Alright. Teflon is a chemical, it's actually a brand name for a chemical, and that chemical is basically a carbon chain, so every carbon is bonded to two other carbons, so that makes the chain. And then on the top and bottom of the chain it's bonded to fluorines, and fluorines love to bond to stuff, and carbon also loves to bond to stuff, so that bond becomes very strong, those electrons become very sort of occupied with that bond, and they don't interact with the rest of the world at all. They hate the rest of the world, they are super happy and never want to talk to anything, which is why nothing sticks to it.

So, you have that problem then. If it doesn't want to stick to anything, how do you make it stick to the pan? They do chemistry on it. So once you make this sort of Teflon coating, it will have sides. It will have a top and a bottom side. The top side is what's going to be facing the world, so you want that to remain all Teflon-y. The bottom side, you do chemistry on it to make those fluorines go away.

And when you do that, it actually gets super sticky, because suddenly those carbons want to bond to stuff. So you knock those fluorines off of the bottom layer of the Teflon. They really don't want to get knocked off, so you have to do pretty intense chemistry. You either like bombard it with high-energy plasma, or like really strong reducing agents, and then those fluorines go away, and the carbons want to bond to something else, and they bond to whatever the pan is made of. And that's how that works. Thank you for the science question, it's been a while since I got to talk about science on the pod. I don't know why. More science questions, people.

J: Wow. I don't actually know if we need more science questions. That was interesting, but I kept zoning in and out, almost like, I don't know. It was intense, Hank.

It was intense for me.

H: Well, Teflon is just another example of the tiny changes that we make in our world that make life better for everybody. And how to make Teflon stick to a pan? They had to figure that out. And who figured that out? Yeah, I don't know. Mr. Teflo? Probably not. Somebody. Somebody who mattered to the world.

J: Well I think it's great. I think it's beautiful. Hank, is there any news from Mars this week?

 News from Mars (36:38)

H: Oh is there ever. There's always news from Mars, John, it's just I have to pick which bit to cover. So this week 40 people have been selected from over 200,000 applicants to be finalists in the quest to die on Mars.

Mars One is an ambitious and probably impossible plan to send people on a one way trip to Mars, and they will eventually from that pool of 40 people, select 26 people that they want to send. Sort of 4 people at a time.

Mars One is one of several existing plans right now to get humans on the surface of Mars. In my opinion if you lined those projects out from most to least likely, Mars One would be at the bottom of the list, but still interesting.  Still a thing that they're trying to do.

And they want to build a permanent colony on Mars. So it would be a one-way trip, and hopefully those people would live their natural lifespans on Mars and not get killed by Mars, which is pretty likely. But they will live their natural lifespans on Mars, and even maybe have children on Mars, and raise generations on Mars, and start the process of having there be a sort of second humanity out there.

And they plan to partially fund this effort with a reality TV show, and they want to use SpaceX's Falcon Heavy to get to the Red Planet, so they're not like developing any of their own technology, they're just trying to figure out how to fund it, which I don't understand how it's going to work, but it is interesting to me, and they do have these people who are talking about why they are people who see this as a thing they want to do with their lives, and I find that interesting and cool to hear these people talk about it. It's not a choice that I would make, but it is interesting to hear people talk about it.

And of course SpaceX, which is making the Falcon Heavy rocket, has its own plans -- or Elon Musk at least does -- to send humans to Mars and actually get them back. But I'm not gonna judge, let's send people to Mars. I'm into that. Let's investigate possibilities.

J: I myself would want to die on Earth.

H: I know, John. I know. But not in Titusville.

J: I just want it to be clear in case like, in case I happen to not die on Earth, I just want the world to know, that was not my wish.

 News from AFC Wimbledon (39:01)

Alright Hank, the news from AFC Wimbledon is that, as you know, AFC Wimbledon is now a third tier English soccer team. This is both an opportunity in that we find ourselves in the third tier, and a massive problem in that we would like to stay there. And AFC Wimbledon which used to have the smallest stadium in League 2 now has the smallest stadium in League 1.

As a result, Wimbledon fans are raising money for the playing budget through the We Are Wimbledon fund. You can learn more about it at Basically it's a trust that's set up to increase the playing budget. It's been working for several years, but because the club is owned entirely by its fans, money for the playing budget and stuff has to come primarily from its fans. So they've been raising money.

And in other, more personal news, last week was my daughter's birthday, and as is the case with every birthday, AFC Wimbledon sent her a card signed by a bunch of players, and most adorably, there was a long letter in it that was really, really thoughtful about how great a season it's been-- As I read the letter to Alice, she was of course just enraptured by it. But my favorite part of the letter was when they were like "So we're in the playoff final, I waited as long as I could to send this letter, but in order for it to arrive by your birthday, I had to send it before I found out what happened. So hopefully we won."

But every member of the Dons Junior Trust, which by the way it only costs 10 pounds per year and you get a birthday card signed by the players, so that's like 18 dollars or something, every member of the Dons Junior Trust gets a birthday card, and you can also join the trust if you want at, if you want to become an owner of AFC Wimbledon like me, and Hank against his will, and my daughter, and my wife, and Hank's wife against her will, you can become a member of The Dons Trust at

For adults, that is for people over the age of 16, or actually people over the age of 21, it's 25 pounds per year, so around $42. And I'll tell you what, it's the best $42 you'll ever spend. It's an amazing organization, so fun to be a part of it, and I want to encourage people to become owners of AFC Wimbledon.

 Note (41:35)

H: Alright, thank you John. We have one note before we get to what we learned today, from Katie, who says, "I am a former pizzeria employee, hoping to solve the slice versus pizza piece debate. All slices are pieces of pizza, but not all pieces are slices. A slice refers to an individually-purchased piece of pizza. If you would like to get a whole pie, a cut off of that would be referred to as a piece. Hope that clears things up, thanks for all of the work you do." I don't know, I'm not convinced.

J: I don't know, I'm not sold, I'm not 100% sold on that, although I am not a former pizzeria employee, so Katie has more authority on this topic than I do.

 Outro (42:18)

H: Okay. So what did we learn today, John?

J: Well we learned that there are a bunch of people who want to die on Mars but who probably won't.

H: We learned that it would be a total bummer, like a super bummer, to know how the human story ends because it would mean that you are the last human, so that's actually worse than not knowing.

J: You know it's funny when you phrase it that way, I don't actually seem that optimistic. We learned that when you're fighting, but don't have an opponent, you're actually just dancing.

H: Just weird bad dancing. And of course we learned that if you are in the bathroom and somebody would like to be in the bathroom you are in, John would like you to just shout out "ocupado!"

J: Ocupado!

H: "Just a sec! Not though, not just a sec."

J: Don't make false promises. If anything, maybe you should just under-promise, so you can just say like "just twelve minutes." And when you come out three minutes later they'll be like "what a wonderful turn of events."

H: "You should probably go next door! To a different restaurant!"

H: Alright John, thank you for being on a podcast with me. It's always a pleasure.

J: It's fun for me as well. Our podcast is edited by Nicholas Jenkins, Claudia Morales is our intern, we get help with questions from Rosianna Halse Rojas. Our theme music is by Gunnarolla. You can email us your questions, concerns, or complaints at Or you can just go to the Twitter, where I am @johngreen, Hank is @hankgreen. You can use the hashtag #dearhankandjohn. You can also follow us on our preferred social media Snapchat, where Hank is hankgre and I am johngreensnaps.

H: John Green, he's just taking naps. Thank you everybody, and as they say in our hometown, don't forget to be awesome.