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Are bell peppers airtight? How do I quit smoking? Why is that new baby smell so good? And more!

 Intro (00:00)


Hank: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John.


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


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


John: I'm doing alright. Vidcon has ended which is great because it's a significant stressor, but it's also terrible because I am, of course, horrifically ill.


Hank: Are you? Me too.


John: Well it's just the natural course of being with twenty six thousand people. Hank I don't know if you know this but until very recently in human history, twenty-six thousand people were never together.


Hank: No yeah that's really--well I mean how--what's--what's your definition of recent?


John: Well if you look at the two hundred fifty thousand uh year of humans, you're looking at about 4% of it where twenty-six thousand people were together or could be together.


Hank: Yeah, I been--I was very impressed to know that uh that like the uh some of the the race arenas in the ancient Roman empire, I think. This was like in the time of Nero. They had, they had gatherings that rivaled the size of some of our biggest gatherings.


John: Yeah, but that was only 1% of human history ago.


Hank: Yes, yes, correct. Uh human history is a long time.


John: Indeed. Would you like a short poem for today?


Hank: Uh yes I would. Ah but first I want to tell the audience--the listeners of the pod--that I have a bad cough, so I'm gonna do my best but if I sound gross or make bad noises, blame viruses, not me.


John: Hank I don't want to say that you don't seem to be at your best right now, but you don't. You don't seem--I don't--I don't feel like I'm getting 100% of that Hank Green pod energy that I come to the pod for. 


Hank: Well you know John, what really gets me going is a short poem. Is short poems.


J: Well, this one's about depression, and it's called "Not so far as the forest" by Edna St. Vincent Millay.  Actually, just part of "Not so far as the forest" so as to keep it short.  "That chill is in the air, which the wise know well, and even have learned to bear.  This joy, I know, will soon be under snow.  The sun sets in a cloud, it is not seen.  Beauty that spoke aloud addresses now only the remembering year.  The heart begins here to feed on what has been.  Night falls fast, today's in the past.  Blown from the dark hill, hitherto my door, three flakes, then four arrive, then many more."  "Not so far as the forest" by Edna St. Vincent Millay.  Longtime favorite poem of mine, Hank, I even put it in Looking for Alaska, I liked it so much.

H: Uhhh, yeah, that's--that was good, I liked that, and also appropriate for post-VidCon, when I am often sick but always in a little bit of a cannot-see-the-sunset-because-of-the-clouds funk due, just due to, I think, psychology and coming down off a big high.  It's always a wonderful moment when VidCon is over, not because I didn't enjoy it, but because the chances of something going wrong have reached 0 and it does not 0 until it's over, but then, the weeks afterward, I'm always like, what--what is life for?  I'm no longer having that time.

 Question One (3:40)


J: Alright, well, there's the news.  Should we answer some questions from our listeners, Hank?

H: Yeah, sure, hit me with a question, John.

J: Well, Hank, we got a lot of questions this week about sad depressing terrible things.

H: Yeah.

J: Because I don't know if you've been watching the news, but sad depressing terrible things feel as if they are everywhere, despite in fact, I would argue life on average for humans not having gotten dramatically worse this year, even though it feels otherwise, I hope. I think.  Maybe.  

H: Yes.  Yes, indeed.  

J: Ohh, I don't know, I'm in a darkness.  Hank, this question comes from Meg, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I am addicted to reading comments on the internet, Facebook, YouTube, Buzzfeed.  I hate it, yet I can't stop.  The more I do it, the more frustrated I become.  There is so much said online that doesn't need to be said.  I love the internet, but even within communities I love, like Nerdfighteria, there are always going to be people who use the shield of a computer screen to hide behind as they write thing they probably wouldn't normally say to a person's face.  Can we do something about this, or do I just need to give myself an intervention and stop reading comments on the internet?"  Meg, I think you need to give yourself an intervention.

H: Yeah, I don't think that there's anything we can do to fight against this particular tide in the near term.  I think there may be an eventual solution, which is that everyone realizes that this isn't making them happy.

J: Right, but it will have to be a structural solution, Hank, I don't think that it's going to happen right now.

H: No.

J: I am actually thinking pretty seriously for the first time in many years of really structuring my internet life so that it is more pleasant and less frickin' terrible.

H: Yeah.  Yeah, I--it has gotten bad, and I also, I don't wanna say that--I never wanna say that, like, the internet is the cause of some problem that I'm seeing in society, but it does seem as if finally the filter bubble is catching up with us and just--and lies and misinformation are running rampant on every side and it's creating sort of deep dissatisfaction not so much with the world as with each other, and but also with the world, and it's making everyone feel as if they are unheard and that they are the only sane voice in a room full of insanity, and it makes me want to disengage in a way that I have never wanted to disengage.

J: I think disengaging might be the right decision, Hank.  I really do.   I think it might be time to say, 'You know what?  Like, I can't do this anymore, and I'm not sure that my participation in these spaces is helpful."  Like, I know it's not helpful to me, but I'm also no longer sure that it's helpful to anyone.

H: Right, I mean, I think that there are helpful places to be, but I think that it is very--you have to be very aware of the neighborhoods you go to, because there are certain ones that are destructive to the self.

J: So long story short, Meg, we completely endorse you having an intervention with yourself, no longer reading the comments.  I mean, I think that's the least you can do, and then you have to have a long talk with yourself about how and whether you even want to participate in the existing social media models, because I think right now, at least for me, they feel pretty broken, so if you see less of me on Twitter, that's why.  

H: Alright.  Uh, we will not disengage from the entirety of the internet, there are many spaces that we do enjoy, however.  

J: Yeah, no, I'm still gonna be making Vlogbrothers videos every Tuesday, and Dear Hank and John, as far as I know, is still not available on Vinyl, so gonna have to stick with podcasting as well.  

H: Dude, we should do a vinyl release.  

J: Oh, yeah, that's a great idea, Hank, that's exactly what this podcast needs to finally achieve financial stability.

H: We should do a--no, for the Project for Awesome, we should do a special vinyl cut--this would do well, a special vinyl only episode of Dear Hank and John, that is a dope idea.  You have to agree with me.

J: Uh, first off, I want to go back in time to the time before you tried to sound hip and cool and young by using 'dope' as an adjective.  Secondly, that is a pretty dope idea.  

 Question Two (8:14)


H: Alright, here's another question, it's from Neve, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I need to know, it has long been bugging me, are bell peppers airtight?  Are they waterproof?  How did air get inside them when they were growing?  Is there just a vacuum inside of them until we slice them open? Please help me."

J: What a great question, and I mean, I wanna live inside of this person's consciousness for a while, because they're interesting and very curious and they clearly have the kind of life that I want to have, where you're paying attention to the details of existence, and I also have no frickin idea of the answer.

H: Yeah, I had to Google this, but I did, and the answer is that there are--so--leaves and plant tissues of all kinds have to let oxygen and other gases to fuse into them, just for the processes of photosynthesis, so the bell peppers have stoma on them that allow gases to diffuse, and they can open or close those stoma as they wish, and they actually let gases diffuse into them as they grow, and they can--and then after they grow, after they reach full size, they actually get covered in this wax that prevents gas exchange and prevents, you know, pathogens from getting into those vulnerable areas.  So that's how it works.  Other--

J: So they are airtight?  

H: They are airtight after you buy them.  But airtight is a weird thing, because diffusion happens, you know, through membranes that we would consider to be airtight, like a balloon, for example.  You think of that as airtight, but you if you leave it around for long enough, eventually it deflates, because there is some diffusion happening across that membrane. It just takes a very long time, and smaller molecules do it faster than bigger molecules, which is why helium balloons will deflate faster than balloons you blow up with the oxygen and nitrogen in your lungs, and also that's why they will sometimes fill your tires up with nitrogen instead of oxygen and nitrogen, because nitrogen will take less--will diffuse more slowly than atmospheric gas, which contains more stuff than just nitrogen.  

J: So you really don't wanna fill up your car tires with helium.

H: No!  That would be bad, though, an interesting an fun experiment, I would be interested to see how much less my car weighed if I filled my tires up with helium and someone--

J: That's what I was thinking.

H: I would love to see someone doing that math.  Yeah, but this--yeah, I had to look this up for sure, but it would be interesting, it would be super cool if there was a vacuum in there and you cut it open and it was like, pop!  Like it was some kind of like, suddenly all the air rushed into the pepper, but that is not what happens.  

 Question Three (11:07)


J: Well, Hank, you got to answer a question from one of your areas of expertise, now I'm going to answer one from one of my areas of expertise.  This question comes from Haboon in Norway, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I remember John mentioning that he's quit smoking in the past.  I am now 20 years old and have been smoking for close to three years, and I'm finding it difficult to quit.  I would like to quit for a multitude of reasons--"  Yeah, I agree, obviously, "--but when the craving kicks in, all those reasons dissipate and I was wondering if you could share some tips that worked for you and how you stopped."  Hank, I know of very few people who have quit smoking as many times as I have quit smoking.  I am an expert in quitting smoking, and then about 12 years ago, I had my first experience with staying--I had--about 12 years ago, I had my first experience with remaining a quitter, and I have not smoked since then. So I've only successfully quit once, but I failed at quitting many, many, many times.  The number one thing that I would say is that for me, the key was Nicorette.  Hank, do you remember like, the five year period where I chewed Nicorette?  

H: Yes, very vividly.

J: Ugh, I just--I mean, I came to like Nicorette much more than I ever liked cigarettes.  Quitting Nicorette was the real challenge, but Nicorette is so much better for you than smoking, so um, I do think that, like, it's not that it comes without health risks, because there are health risks to Nicotine itself, but it is way better for you than all the stuff you put in your lungs when you smoke cigarettes, so I would encourage you to use the patch or use Nicorette or use any kind of crutch that works for you.  There is no shame in using a crutch.  I don't even think there's any shame in chewing Nicorette for years, like I did.  You know who chews Nicorette, Hank?

H: No.

J: The president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

H: There you go.  There you go.

J: Longtime Nicorette chewer, also apparently still sometimes smokes cigarettes.  It's very, very hard to quit.  I don't want to minimize how hard it is, but it is possible.  I actually think it's harder when you're younger.  I tried to quit smoking when I was about 20 as well, and I did successfully quit for about 10 months, but I ended up going back to it and as I got older, even though my addiction was sort of a longer term problem, I found it easier to quit, I think psychologically, but I would encourage you just to use crutches.  Don't be afraid of that.  I think that's fine.  So when the craving kicks in, instead of having a cigarette, you chew a piece of Nicorette, and then you can worry about the Nicorette problem in a couple years.

H: Alright.  

J: God, that's dubious advice.

 Question Four (13:47)


H: Yeah.  Yeah, a little bit dubious, but better than the alternative.  Got another question from Clara, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I've been in my first job since graduating college for about one year. I just volunteered for a new team on this team.  I get to write blog posts and make info-graphics.  The problem is that the team leaders want to publish the work I do under the name of a co-worker who is the lead of the team.  They say they don't want to confuse the audience with who is writing the content, and they want a single point of contact.  The team lead is also a fairly new graduate and has been at the company for only a couple weeks longer than me, so I know it's not about seniority or authority on the subject.  Is it wrong for me to not want my work published under someone else's name?  I wouldn't have a problem if it was just posted under the company's name, without someone specific attached to it, but I can't get over the feeling that I don't want my writing attributed directly to someone else.  Should I get over it and just contribute anonymously to the team, or should I insist that my name gets published with my work?"

J: I mean, I would insist that a different name gets published with the work, like, I think it's ludicrous that someone else, an actual human being, is being credited with your writing.

H: Yes.

J: If they wanna have a single point of contact and not confuse the readership, then you've gotta invent a person.  Everybody knows that.

H: Yeah, you either invent a person or you just create an info@whatever.com e-mail address.  Like, this is pretty unacceptable.

J: Yeah.  By the way, how bad do you never want to work at a company where there are teams and team leads?

H: I mean, we have kind of teams and team leads at my company.  

J: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.  Anytime somebody in this office uses the word 'team', I shush them.

H: I like teams.  Teams are good.  Teams are groups of people who work together.

J: No.  Oh G--it makes me physically sick.

H: Well, what makes me more physically sick is the idea of someone writing something and someone else--some other human, getting their name on it because they're the lead of the team.  Like, that is--yeah.

J: Yeah, you clearly--you need to invent a pseudonym and then give them a full rich complicated life as I have given Leon Muss.

H: Sure.

J: Twitter user @LeonMuss4Earth.  You know, you've gotta like, uh, give someone a rich and complicated backstory so that you can have a proper fun pseudonym. Hank, in fact, without revealing like, too much of a secret, I have worked under the name of a pseudonym, who I have given in my mind a complicated backstory and who at least at one time had an e-mail address and answered e-mail from that e-mail address, et cetera, and I was totally comfortable with it.  I'm not opposed to being dishonest with your readers.  I'm just opposed to someone being credited for your work.  Like, down the road, if that's under their byline, are they gonna, like, claim it when they're applying for their next job?  It's just a very weird situation.  

H: Yeah, I mean, it just does not make any sense at all.  Either there should be no name or a fake name, but a real person should not be getting credited for the work that you are doing, Clara, and I don't know how to solve that problem except to have your co-workers listen to this podcast.

J: Yeah, just like, really subtly, be like, "You know what one of my favorite podcasts is?  It's called Dear Hank and John, they've got a new episode out that it's just really funny.  John reads an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem, Hank has no energy, it's great, you should really listen to it."  

H: Yeah, but just for the first like, one quarter of the podcast, that'd be great.

J: I'd just make sure that you make it to like, minute 30, just in case there's anything that's like, real relevant to our particular interest, but I mean, not like I submitted a question or anything.  By the way, sorry for using your real name, Clara.  

H: I mean, I don't feel bad calling these people out at all.  That is not how it works.

 Question Five (17:44)


J: Yeah, that's not how it works.  Speaking of not how things are supposed to work, Hank, we got about 75,000 questions about Brexit.

H: Yeah.  Do you wanna read one of the questions?  

J: Sure.  This one comes from Ray, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I'm a UK citizen and I'd like your dubious advice on the following topic: How do you react when your democracy makes a decision, probably a permanent one, that you deeply disagree with?  Right now, I'm just feeling anguish and frustration, as well as an overwhelming sense of powerlessness.  How do I escape this spiral?"  Well, Ray, the good news is that soon, you will be asking yourself an even more important question, which is, "How do I escape this spiral of deflation and increased debt that my country chose for itself when it decided to exit the European Union?" I'm just kiddin', Ray, it's possible that this won't be as bad as everyone worries it will be.  You know, Norway, for instance, has a really good relationship with the EU without being technically part of it, so if there's a Norway-style solution to the UK's exit from the EU, I don't think it will be catastrophic.  But that would require a lot of the things that the leave vote was voting against, including free movement of people, and I share your concern and I don't know what to tell you.

H: The othe--I would also say, Ray, that the feeling of anguish and frustration and the overwhelming sense of powerlessness is a part of democracy and it is the way that 50% of the population of your country would be feeling if you had--if your side had won, and that's always a very difficult thing to appreciate and feel, especially when, you know, we are so certain of our rightness, and I'm not saying that I'm not certain of your rightness, I am, but for example, we have had a lot of people in the US feeling tremendously disenfranchised and powerless because now people have rights that like, that like gay people have the right to marry in my country where they didn't, and people feel like that is a betrayal of their values and that their voice isn't being heard, and that makes them more and more angry and disenfranchised, and feeling like their perspective does not matter, and it really is a part of--and like, every time a vote has not gone my way, I have that feeling, but it is important to recognize that more important than winning any election is the idea of democracy and the success of democracy and sort of the beauty of that system. Getting--and I think that that helps me, like, believing in the system of democracy, not America's system of democracy, but the idea of democracy, helps me get over that feeling of you know, as you put it, anguish and frustration and powerlessness.

J: I don't agree with you about this particular vote, because this is not a vote that should have occurred.  This is not a thing that should have been put to a vote, and I think part of the frustration is that one particular historical moment became incredibly important because the particular population alive at that moment was allowed to vote about something that had broad repercussions, both for people who are--I just, I don't think it ever should have been allowed to come to a vote.  There are lots of  things in a democracy that we don't vote on.  There are reasons that we have representative democracy instead of direct democracy, and I don't agree that this is an example of democracy working.  To me, this is an example of you know, populism at its worst, at its most dangerous.

H: And I absolutely feel the same way about the denial of rights to people, like, that should not be something that we vote on.  We shouldn't vote on whether or not we can deny people entry into this country based on their religion.  We shouldn't vote on whether or not people should be able to get married to the person that they love.  

J: Yeah, I think it's a weird difficult time, and I think the internet is part--I know we don't like to blame the internet for problems, I'm not blaming the internet for the problems, but I think the internet is part of the issue.  I think the echo chamber that we're all living inside of has made it very difficult for us to see the other well, and that includes me not understanding, really, not having a good understanding of the arguments in favor of--for the UK leaving the EU.  It's not my decision, it's not my country, I understand that, but I do not think that it should have been put to a vote.  Perhaps we should move on to another question.

H: Yeah, uh, I don't know if we have helped, Ray, at all, or anyone.  

J: No, we haven't helped Ray, there's no helping--Ray, it gets better with time, and hopefully the actual repercussions will be less dramatic than the repercussions that we all fear.  I think that's the other thing, is that a lot of times, things aren't as bad as they seem, nor are they as good as they seem, you know.  It's always somewhere in the middle.

H: Yeah, and there's nothing wrong with incremental human progress, and sometimes things go down and then--but the goal is that the march of human progress is won, that you know, life gets better for everyone on average, which has happened and is happening.

J: Yeah, I think the long arc of history still definitely points toward unity.  I mean, it was only--not to get too much into like, broad historical context, but 25,000 years ago, you know, most groups of human beings numbered in the dozens, not in the hundreds, not in the thousands, not in the millions, and certainly not in the billions, and so over the last 25,000 years, we've seen again and again that humans unify when they have the opportunity to.  They go to cities when they have the opportunity to, even when it frankly doesn't make sense for them to be in cities, they go to cities.  They--people want to be with each other.  They want to be in ever-larger groups.  They wanna be better connected to more people, and over time, I think that will continue to be the trend, and I think that has been good for the species, and I think it will continue to be good.

 Question Six (24:35)


H: Alright, we have another question from Barker, who asks "Dear Hank and John, I'm in Europe for a summer abroad, and I've noticed something.  Tomatoes in the old world taste so much better than tomatoes in the United States.  I hate tomatoes at home, won't eat them on anything, but here, I can probably just eat a couple raw.  I was wondering if there was a scientific explanation, like the environment they were cultivated in, or is it just because my environment has changed?  Is it all in my head?"

J: Well, it's important to note that tomatoes did not exist in the old world until there was a new world, because tomatoes are a food from the Americas.

H: Yes.  Yes, that is important to note.  The other thing that you are noticing is that in the US, we have--we mostly eat tomatoes that are very specific varieties of tomatoes that are very easy to cultivate in mass quantities, and they're very durable, and they're very symmetrical and pretty and they look good on grocery store shelves and they last a long time, and there are other varieties of tomatoes that we don't see as often that taste very different and have much more taste and aren't just sort of a watery sourness, which isn't nuthin'.  I like tomato--like, an American tomato, on my hamburger, but heirloom tomatoes as they call them, these older varieties of tomatoes or varieties of tomatoes that are--when we say older, they're not neces--they're not like, actually an older species, they're just what people used to grow before more industrial forms of agriculture. They're harder to grow, but they have much more flavor and are--they just--I am totally with you and I had this exact same experience, not when I went to Europe, but when I moved to Montana where they grow these tomatoes and you can get them at the farmer's market and they are delicious.  It's ridiculous.  I had no idea.

J: Yeah, I don't think Parker's eating the tomatoes in my garden, because the tomatoes in my garden are 10/10.  I mean, like, a different--a fundamentally different food than the tomatoes that I buy on the grocery store shelf, so I definitely think, come back to the United States and enjoy our many varieties of heirloom tomatoes, Parker, and you will be glad to be an American again.

H: Yeah.

J: I mean, you won't have healthcare.  There are a few other problems that we haven't solved, but we've got this tomato thing down.

H: Yeah.  Alright.  I'm glad we had a good answer for that question at least.  

 Question Seven (27:09)


J: Hank, we've got another question, this is an important one, and it comes from Taylor, who asks, "Dear John and Hank, I'm just sitting here breastfeeding my brand new two week old baby and wondering--why is it that newborn babies smell so good?  Is it just because I'm a mom that I enjoy that distinctly sweetish baby smell, or is something sciencier going on here?"

Well, Taylor, I cannot tell you if something sciencey is going on, but I can tell you that nothing smells better than a baby until and unless they poop.  I mean, I remember my dear friend Shannon, who I've talked about on the pod before, after my son Henry was born, Shannon was like, I need to get to see Henry in the first few weeks, and I was like, why?  You know, he's not really doin' much, and she was like, "Because nothin' smells as good as a fresh one."  And she's right!  There is noth--nothing smells as good as a fresh baby.  There's just--it's just an amazing thing. They just--you wanna be with them all the time, and I do think probably ultimately something sciencier is going on there, because it is the smell of the baby that makes the otherwise unbearable, bearable.  

H: Uh, well, I can tell you that--two things.  One, we don't know what the smell is.  We don't know what the smell is composed of, where it comes from, if it's like a leftover thing from like, the sort of, like, the wax that covers a baby upon birth, and that gets washed off, but maybe there's a little bit of it left, or if it's a consequence of the degradation of that wax by microbes, or if it's produced from the sweat glands of the baby, but we do know that that smell has a cognitive effect upon people who smell it.  This study has only been done on women.  It's been done on both mothers and people who have not had kids, and in both groups, but more strongly in mothers, it has an effect on the brain that is very similar to the effect that dopamine has, and it creates bonding, it is--and it also just is just sort of like a pleasurable sensation.  So we do know that that smell, which only lasts for a few weeks, is a--does have a measurable cognitive effect on the brain of humans.  So that's pretty cool.

J: So, I don't wanna oversimplify this or anything, Hank, but you're basically saying that like, babies smell like heroin feels.

H: Yeah, a little bit.

J: I--I mean, I'll tell you what, I do not want to have another child.  I found having babies to be extremely difficult and I didn't even have to have them, and yet nothin' smells like a freshie.

H: Well, the good news is, John, that if you wanna get that sensation back, all you have to do is (sings it like a jingle) go out and get some heroin.

 Question Eight (29:55)


Alright, John, this one is from Corey, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I'm currently an animation major who loves the world of character design. Lately I've been lucky enough to be hired on several different projects developing and illustrating characters. A lot of the people in my life are supportive of my goal to work in the Art Industry but there are still a good amount of people who see my work as just a hobby and constantly asks when I am going to get a 'real job'. How do I explain to these people that my freelance work is a 'real job'? Personally, I would like to shove my money in their face while yelling, 'See? Look at the money that I earn from my "hobby!"' But I don't think that would be socially acceptable."

John: Yeah, so, I mean, for many years, especially after we moved to Indianapolis, people assumed that Sarah sort of provided for me with her work at the museum while I had this hobby writing books that no one read and making YouTube videos, which was not a thing that you could turn into money. And it did bother me at first, but then, something switched inside of my brain, and I realized that I was making my life and my self-worth about what other people thought of my work, rather than just doing the work. 


John: Like, I remember my neighbor after the first time I mowed the lawn. I was really excited to mow a lawn, Hank, because I grew up with Dad mowing the lawn, and I thought, you know, now I'm going to be a proper adult who mows their own lawn and everything. And my neighbor came up afterwards and I was just drenched in sweat, because it turns out that I'm not well-suited to mowing a lawn, surprisingly enough, and he said, "You know, when the Coffmans lived here, this was the best lawn in the neighborhood." And I was like, "Well, they don't live here now." And he was like, "And it seems like you've got time to take care of it..." And it did hurt my feelings, but I was giving them way too much power. Like, if you get to live your dream and make money, it doesn't matter. Why do you have to prove to these people that you live your dream and make money? It's fine, just live your dream and make money. Congratulations on, like, winning the absolute life lottery. 


Hank: Yeah! I mean, I'm very happy for you, Cory. That's really fantastic, and I want to see some of your work and what a cool thing to get to do and if this is one of the prices that you pay for your job, then that's one of the prices you pay, is that because like, I think most of the time, when you're meeting somebody and they ask you what you do and you say you do freelance character design for animation, like, for animated things, people will be like, "Oh, that's cool!  Tell me more about that!" and that's great.  They're not gonna be like, "That's not a real job," and I think that the people who don't--who are wondering when you're gonna get a real job just maybe have a different conception of how life is supposed to be than you do, and that's fine, and it's fine to have that difference.

 Commercial Break (32:10)


J: Today's podcast is brought to you by not having what some people consider to be a real job.  Not having what some people consider to be a real job: downright pleasurable.  

H: Today's podcast is also brought to you by heirloom tomatoes.  Not just available in Europe, also in America, they're like tomatoes except they taste. 

J: And today's podcast is brought to you by Clara.  Clara, who wrote all of that stuff that's being attributed to Sara.  

H: And finally, this podcast is brought to you by putting helium in your car tires.  Putting helium in your car tires: it will make your car weigh slightly less which will make it more efficient even if your tires suddenly and rapidly deflate.

J: Alright, Hank, slightly related question, how big of a monster truck would I need to have in order to build a floating car? Like, if I filled the tires with helium and I want the car to just float all the way to the stratosphere, how big the tires have to be?


H: Can we just say off the ground, because atmospheric pressure changes a lot as you get up into the stratosphere, and that would make the tires have to be immeasurably different?

J: Sure, I really just need to be--I wanna build a--I wanna build a hover monster truck with helium tires.

H: Alright, well, I don't know the question to that answer yet, but I bet somebody will maybe help us do that math?

J: I also don't know the question to that answer.  You're really not bringing your A-game today.

H: I'm bringing my C-game.  I've actually been pretty impressed by my ability to do this.  Earlier this morning, I couldn't go like five seconds without coughing, so I'm quite pleased.  

J: Oh man, I just--I can't stop thinking about how good babies smell.  Just--ugh, babies.  Babies are amazing.  They are just absolutely--the thing that gets me most about babies is that despite having essentially none of the things I associate with humanness, they're little people.  They're like tiny little human beings.  

H: Yeah.

J: I don't know, man.  I'm getting a little baby-crazy, Hank, we need to answer another question.  

H: Uh, I can't believe this podcast wasn't brought to anyone by baby smell, but um, I guess--

J: Mm, nothing smells like a fresh one.  

H: (giggling) Nothing smells like a fresh one.

 Question Nine (35:30)


J: Let's answer this question from Nicholas, Hank.  He writes, "Dear John and Hank, Pertaining more toward Hank, I've been wondering what to call your style of music.  I went to one of your concerts about a month ago and I brought a date, but she and her friends would ask me what type of music you'd be playing prior to the concert and I was never able to come up with a clear answer.  You frequently called yourself a punk rocker, but I've never really associated your music with punk rock.  I'd like to think that you and bands such as Harry and the Potters have created a type of sub-genre called 'nerd punk', similar to pop punk, and I now refer to your music as nerd punk.  Do you accept this term as valid?  And John, how would you describe Hank's music style?"  

H: You go first.

J: Quick side note. 

H: Okay.

J: Quick side note.  Hank, your set at VidCon at VidCon 2016 was not just the best 30 minutes of music I've ever heard you play. It was like, among the best 30 minutes of music I've ever heard anyone play.  It was--I don't want to sound paternalistic or like I didn't used to like my music, but it was so much better than you were in 2008 or 2012 when we toured together.  It was like you were doing a fundamentally different thing than the thing that you were doing a few years ago.  It was beautiful to watch.

H: Well, it's--it's very nice to have a band, and--

J: I've seen you play with that band before, usually it is not that good.

H: Yeah, we--it was a very tight set.  We had just got off tour, so we got off that a very similar set a bunch of times and we have a really good time and it's funny because I, in the work up to that, you don't know this, John, in the work up to that, to that set, I had gotten what might, if you were not an adult, would be considered diaper rash, quite badly, walking around VidCon, just due to the life that is Hank's, and so during that entire set was quite painful, but I had--

J: Wow, really?!

H: I had gotten some medicated cream thanks to my assistant.  Julie, thank you.  But uh, yeah, it was, so I really, I had to work through the pain.  Maybe that was good for the--maybe that was good for the art.

J: Maybe it was.  You were moving quite freely.  I mean, I always forget that you are a good dancer, because you would think that because we are so closely genetically related that we would have something in common, and yet, we don't. We really don't.  You can dance, you can sing, you know science, it's like we are wholly opposite people.

H: We are a weird, odd couple

J: I would call your music nerd punk, I like that.  I like that label.  

H: I also often go with nerd punk, I think that it is--yeah.  I often have a hard time describing it myself, but nerd punk is fine, and I think the best way to do it in two words.  

J: Alright, Hank, we need to answer one more question before we get to the all-important news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon.  Huge news out of AFC Wimbledon this week, Hank.

H: Oh, big news from Mars as well.  

 Question Ten (38:52)


This one is from El, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I've only ever lived in port towns, and I've only ever spent time in port towns.  Tell me, in landlocked cities, what constitutes downtown?  In my city, downtown is always around the harbor, and is often the oldest part of town.  In a place with no harbor, what's the place marker for downtown?  Is it a river?  A park?  A very large shoe?  I'm very confused about this.  How is there a downtown with no harbor?  Please help."

J: Yeah, I mean, there are some Midwestern cities where I feel like the downtown was created more or less at random. 

H: Yeah.

J: Like, you know, there was like, there was one store there, and a street, and somebody built a second store, and then a third store and then a tenth store and then you had your downtown, but in Indianapolis, the whole city is built around the White River because the planners of the city believed that the White River was gonna be, you know, similar to what the Chicago River is in Chicago, but in fact, the White River is only like, six inches deep, so, it's a totally non-navigable river, and it turns out to have been a completely useless body of water from a commercial perspective, and yet, the downtown is all sort of structured around it nonetheless. But yeah, I think it's usually around bodies of water.  In fact, as you know, Hank, Indianapolis was for many years the largest city in the world not on a navigable waterway.  So I think it usually, it is some body of water.

H: Yep, and oftentimes it is the intersection of two large streets.  It can also be where the railroad depot was built.  In my town, it is sort of both of those things, so there's the railroad--where the railroad--old railroad station was, and then there's where the river is, and the road that went from the railroad station to the river is sort of how downtown happened, but yeah, it's always different things, but it always--it almost always is indeed the oldest part of the city, unless it's a--it's like, a sort of suburb that's being built and they sort of construct a downtown through very intentional urban planning.

J: Right, like if you go to Celebration, Florida, the town built by Disney, there is a downtown there, but it's just--it's made up.  Well, I guess all things are made up, but it was made up all at once, which makes it feel more made up.  

H: That--yeah, but no, I've never seen a town built around a very large shoe.  

J: Not yet, but the arc of history is long and it does bend toward shoes.

 News from Mars (41:20)


Hank, what is the news from Mars this week?

H: Well, it's so hard to pick.  We had two really big Mars newses this we--what do you do, John, when you have two big AFC Wimbledon newses?  

J: Just tell me both of them, I'm excited.

H: Okay.  Let's do all the news!  So first, Mars was once much, much more oxygen-rich than we thought, which is a bit of a mystery.  So, Curiosity has done some new chemistry on some new rocks that we could tell had some interesting properties, but we found a bunch of manganese oxide, and that stuff can only form through two mechanisms. One: it can be formed by microbes, or two: it can be formed in the presence of both a lot of water and a lot, a lot of oxygen.  So obviously, there must have been more oxygen than there currently is on the surface of Mars, because it's covered in iron oxide and--which is what gives it that rusty color, and iron oxide is, as you might expect from the name, composed partially of oxygen.  So, but the manganese oxide requires much more oxygen to form than iron oxide, which means that there was a period in Mars' history when there was a ton of oxygen and we've had some thought in the past that the presence of oxygen is impossible without life, but we--you know, the immediate thought is like, well, how else could we explain this, and the current explanation for how Mars once had both a bunch of water and a bunch of oxygen is that when its magnetic field first shut down and the sun's like, you know, high-energy sunbeams could finally hit the surface without being interfered with, there was a bunch of water on the surface of Mars.  Those high-energy, you kno--high energy radiation hit the surface of Mars and broke much of the water molecules apart into hydrogen and oxygen.  The hydrogen being very light, it's, you know, the lightest of all the elements, was able to float up higher into the atmosphere, which--where it was pushed away out of the atmosphere of Mars by the solar wind.  The oxygen was then left behind.  That's very interesting, because oxygen is a very reactive compound.  It can actually be quite negative--a negative consequence for the potential for life, because it can break down the--you know, what we call oxidizing, it can break down complex molecules very easily and quickly.  However, it can also be utilized by life very effectively, allowing for a great deal more interesting chemical processes that wouldn't be possible without life, which is why there was sort of a life explosion when life on Earth first started utilizing oxygen after it had been produced through biological conditions. So almost all of the oxygen on Earth is produced by plants and then it's consumed by animals, and animals weren't really possible on Earth until plants had created a huge amount of oxygen in the atmosphere.  So that's very exciting news that tells us maybe something about Mars' history and also you know, like, having this period of time when there was a lot of water and a lot of oxygen shows us a potential Mars in the past that was very, very similar to Earth.  

J: Wow.  So, just to clarify this here.  There's gonna come a day, probably in the next, like, ten years, but we don't know when, when the solar winds will just blow away Earth's atmosphere and then, like, whatever, if there are some kind of people eventually in the future, they're going to be thinking about and talking about Earth the way that we are currently thinking and talking about Mars.

H: Well, let's hope not.  Our magnetic field seems to be pretty robust, so let's hope that it sticks around for a while and that we don't have all of our--all of the water on Earth split into gases that we can no longer drink or bathe in.  

J: If Mars was really like Earth a long, long time ago, is there a possibility that fairly complex life evolved on Mars a long, long, long, long time ago, and of course, we don't have any record of that?

H: Yeah, there is.  You know, and like potentially multicellular life, certainly not--a lot of people hold on to the hope that there was like, advanced life, like, maybe even what we would consider, like, civilizations. That's not a thing.  We would see evidence of that.  But it's possible that there was--

J: Would we though?  If it was millions and millions of years ago?

H: Yeah, pro--I mean, yeah.  Yeah.  Like, if it was anything like our civilizations, but of course, maybe it wasn't anything like our civilizations, but the possibility that there was, you know, it's always very weird when you're talking about life on other planets, because if it was based on entirely different chemistries, if it was based on, you know, like, not based on you know, like, DNA and RNA like our life is, it becomes very difficult to even know what that would look like or how to look for it, and yeah, so--

J: Right.

H: You know, like, when y--when I say like, 'multicellular life', like, maybe life didn't even exist in a way that we would consider to be cellular or multicellular.  So, it's very difficult to say, but yeah, it was absolutely possible that life existed on Mars.

J: Yeah, I mean, I think about the fact that we don't really know much about the human-- humanoid species that predated homo sapiens, you know?  We know very, very little about them, despite sharing a planet with them and it not being that long ago.  We only have a fossil record that we wouldn't have access to if we could only see the surface of the planet, so I don't know.  Maybe? 

H: Yeah, I mean, like, it--yeah, life can have a pretty substantial impact on a planet.  

J: I don't know what you're talking about.  Humans haven't had a substantial impact on this planet at all.  We're doing fine.  Everything's good.

H: Well, I mean, not just humans, but you know, the, you know, the way that like, the sort of whole planet biology of Earth has affected the chemistry of the Earth's surface has affected, you know, the, you know, how erosion happens, like, affects--it actually affects the geology of the planet as well.  It affects both the composition of the planet and the structure of the planet And it would be, you know, I wouldn't know what a planet that had life, a whole life ecosystem and then didn't have it anymore would look like, but my guess is that that would be an easier thing to detect than the kind of, you know, more the algae mat kind of life--

J: Right.

H: --that was very prevalent on Earth for a really long time.

J: Right, well, Hank--

H: Before advanced life happened.

J: This all sounds like it's gonna be really interesting stuff for the first humans on Mars to explore in 2028.  

H: The other news is that NASA actually just tested its gigantic biggest ever solid rocket booster that will be, if all goes to plan, be the solid rocket booster that takes humans to Mars and they are planning on that happening sometime in the 2030s, so no help for me!

J: Phew, that's great news.  I can't wait for the 2030s and all the Mars stuff that we do then.

 News from AFC Wimbledon (48:59)


Hank, the news from AFC Wimbledon, very, very exciting, Wimbledon have signed one of their big signings of the summer, a new winger named Chris Welpdale.  Hopefully we'll be saying his name a lot this season.  Chris Welpdale.  You'll never guess where we signed him from, Hank.

H: Was it from Welkdaleton?

J: No.  It was from your beloved Stevenage.  

H: Oh!  My goodness, sorry, Stevenage.

J: We showed up to Stevenage and we just ransacked the place and we left with Chris Welpdale.  So, Stevenage, stuck in league II for another season, which means, Hank, you won't even get to hear the news from Stevenage twice a season, because we'll be playing the likes of Swindon Town.  Yeah, Chris Welpdale is gonna be playing in League I next season for AFC Wimbledon, the third tier soccer team sponsored by Nerdfighteria and sponsored by this podcast indirectly. Really, everything that we do at this point goes to sponsor AFC Wimbledon, so uh, yeah, we're gonna be rootin' for Chris Welpdale.

 Outro (50:11)


H: Goooo, Chris!  Alright, John.  What did we learn today?  

J: Well, we learned that nothin' smells as good as a fresh one.  

H: We learned that Nicorette gum has only one of the toxic chemicals that will destroy your life that, while smoking has hundreds or even thousands.

J: We learned that Hank plays nerd punk music, and plays it astonishingly well.  

H: Aww.  And we learned that if you're writing a thing and someone else's name is on it, that's not cool!  That's not cool.

J: No, that's a problem, that's an issue.  It's time to invent a new person who can share the both of you.  

H: Alright, John, thanks for podcasting with me today.

J: I hope that next week you bring your A-game with somebody else, because I'm gonna be on vacation for two weeks.

H: Oh man, me and somebody else or possibly no one, including not even me.

J: Yeah, we might take a week off, depends on how things fall out.

H: Depends on how long I feel like I've been destroyed by foreign invaders inside of my body.

J: Those are the worst invaders.

H: Yeah, well, no, no, there are worse invaders.  I've read some--I've seen some world history.

J: Thanks for podcasting with me.  Thanks to Nick Jenkins for editing today's high quality podcast.  We've really killed it on two consecutive episodes, Hank.  Gunnarolla wrote our theme music.  Our intern is Claudia Morales.  Rosianna Halse Rojas helps out with questions.  Thank you, again, for listening, and as we say in our hometown...

Both: Don't forget to be awesome.

H: And you can e-mail us at hankandjohn@gmail.com.  

J: AHH, right, you can e-mail us at hankandjohn@gmail.com!  Anybody who made it to the end of the podcast should get like a privileged e-mail address, but that's the only one. hankandjohn@gmail, that's us. Alright, thanks for listening.

H: Bye bye.