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Why won't people accept my tissues? Should half-wolf children be vaccinated? What do I do when I see a stranger crying in public? And more!

 (00:00) to (02:00)

H: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John!

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

H: It's a comedy podcast about death where me and my brother John, that's that other guy there, we answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars (the planet) and AFC Wimbledon (the league one English soccer team). How you doing, John?

J: I'm doing well. I had a terrible night last night. I got very little sleep because my dog would not stop howling, uh, and my children... Poor Alice was having nightmares, it's like a mix of sweet and sad.

H: Yeah, that sounds very sad.

J: Uh, so I'm a little bit fatigued.

H: Mmm hmm.

J: But, ah- on the whole, I would say that things are great. How are you?

H: I'm good. There are so many beautiful things in the world. And I just like, I wanna like, take a look at like, a nice fall leaf, with all of its many colours, as all- as its chlorophyll is finessing into the body of the tree, and think how beautiful life is, how beautiful Earth is, how wonderful all of the interplay of all of the- the- you know biological and physical and even uh, sociological systems are, and I just wanna take it all in and love it and not ever, ever think about the only thing I can think about, which is Donald Trump.

J: Yeah! No, I hear ya. Uh, I share your concern. I do wanna just say one thing though, Hank. Which is that you know where none of those things happen? Mars!

H: Well, but you do have like the interplay of billions of years of water dancing across the surface of this planet. And as we will find out maybe later in today's episode of Dear Hank and John, that the amount of time that that water was dancing across the planet was maybe a little longer than we thought previously. And maybe that means that there was more time for life to have its wonderful, beautiful impact upon the surface of the red planet. Uh, but we will never know, we will never know!

J: Or maybe not. It's also possible that it's been a cold dead rock the whole time.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

I just--

H: Until we get there and Elon Musk confirms again, this week, that it could be within the next ten years or, "maybe sooner" so take that!

J: Within the next ten years or maybe sooner.  What's sooner than the next ten years?  The past?

H: No!  Well, oh, I see what you're saying.  Within the next ten years, maybe sooner than sometime between now and ten years from now, it could be sooner than that.

J: Yeah, it wouldn't surprise me actually if Elon Musk built a time machine just so he could go to Mars before 2028 so that I would lose my bet with you.  Alright, let's move on.  You might remember, Hank, that last week, we had no corrections whatsoever, so I got to read a proper short poem written by an actual poet.

H: Mhmm, yeah.  

J: And I promised that we would not perform so well ever again.  

H: Okay.

J: And I have kept that promise.  Tons of corrections from our last episode that I have turned into the following short poem.  Can I read to you?

H: Yes please.

J: The plural of Lego is Lego.  Penguin flesh is delicious, and the human GI tract is complex.  It's a short poem of correction there.  We got a letter, a very long letter actually, from Tom, who is a penguin researcher living in New Zealand.

H: Uh-oh.

J: Pointing out that essentially everything that Hank said about penguins in our last episode was incorrect.  They have delicious flesh that is not full of fat, in fact, they have the strongest pectoral muscles of any bird.  Their flesh is frequently eaten, especially in South America where it is known to be a delicacy for Sunday roasts, and while penguins are concerned about climate change, their biggest challenges are fishery competition and something called bycatch as well as habitat destruction, introduced predators, and you know, just humans in general.  So, I just wanna say that.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

One other correction: the plural of Lego is not Legos, apparently, 150,000 people wrote in to tell us that, so thanks to every single person who listens to our podcast for that correction.

H: John, do you know what bycatch is?

J: Is bycatch where you don't mean to catch a penguin but you accidentally do?

H: Yeah, it's when you catch things that you don't mean to catch when you're fishing, and that's a sad thing to happen to a penguin.

J: I cannot tell you how many times I've just been trying to catch a small mouth bass in the White River, and boom, penguin.  

H: Yeah, that's, that's bycatch right there.  Oh, we got another correction, I don't know if you noticed it, but uh, but I talked about how frustrated I was that there's like the major soda companies are trying to get in on LaCroix's game, and somebody--and I mentioned that like, it's okay if you wanna go with like, an old seltzer company like Polar or Seagram's, and someone pointed out that Seagram's is, in fact, owned by Coca-Cola, like, as you might imagine, everything else.

J: Well, not everything else.  My soul, for instance, is owned by the Mars company.  They make Snickers.

H: You're--this podcast is also apparently owned by the Mars company who makes Snickers.

J: I mean, if they send me 378 more Snickers bars, I will sell them this podcast.  Last correction before we get to some questions from our listeners.  We were also totally wrong about the human GI tract and its relationship to the fight or flight response.  We said that at that response, all the blood and energy or whatever from the human GI tract gets diverted to the extremities, in fact, it gets diverted mostly to the heart and lungs.  

H: Oh, that makes sense.

J: So our bad.

H: Yeah.  Yeah.

J: Okay, Hank.  

H: Yeah.

J: Having now corrected essentially the entire last podcast, shall we move on to some questions from our listeners?

H: Yeah, yeah, okay.  Here's one from Alex, who asks, "Dear John and," whoops!  "Dear Hank and John."  I don't know why Alex wrote the names of us backwards, but apparently Alex did.  "What do I do when I see a stranger crying in public?  Today, I saw a woman crying in the bathroom at a restaurant.  I saw her twice and I know that she saw me, so I panicked and gave her the thumbs up, something I know is not the right thing to do." 

 (06:00) to (08:00)

So there's one thing that you shouldn't do, is be like 'ehhh!'  

J: Yeah, I mean, this is one of those golden rule situations, I think, where you have to imagine how you would want a stranger to react if they saw you crying, and I think one of the things you don't wanna see is the double thumbs up.  

H: (laughs) Ehhh!

J: What about the international symbol for Ok?  Like, ehh!  You're ok!  

H: Gotta come up with a new hand gesture for this one.  Just do--you could do like the, do like the wikka wikka, where you put your index finger into a hole made by your thumb and forefinger and just make that gesture?

J: You mean the third grade sign for sexual intercourse?

H: Yeah, that one.  Wikka wikka wikka wikka.

J: Yeah, that is not a good response to seeing a stranger crying in public.  In fact, I would argue that a hand gesture is the wrong call altogether.  Again, I'm gonna--I'm someone who's done a fair amount of crying in public, so I feel like I'm a bit of an expert in this situation.

H: Okay, okay.

J: I'll tell you what I want a stranger to do when they see me crying in public.  Move on.  

H: Yeah.

J: I mean, let's just try your best not to look directly in my eyes and continue about your day, because there's probably not a lot that you, stranger, can do in this moment for me.

H: But what about like, wikka wikka wikka wikka?

J: Like--no.  I mean, everybody has different needs, but I don't need the wikka wikka wikka woo.

H: Okay.  I tried my best.  Uh, yeah, I think that John's advice here is good advice and I think that I've made all of the fun that I can with this joke, so let's move on.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

J: Yeah, I mean, there may be times when it's helpful, you know, to hear from a stranger that you are loved or you're gonna be okay or whatever, but I've never had one of them, so I don't know.  Our advice is so dubious in general.  Let's move on to another question, this one is from Aze, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, My name is Aze, don't worry about the pronunciation, you'll definitely get it wrong," I resent that, Aze.  Or Ase.  "I'm a 20 year old student from Norway.  Today, I, Aze, was talking with a girl in my class about how scary I think one of our professors is and when I turned around, I saw our professor walking past me just as I said it.  I've accepted that I can never go back to her class again and that I will most likely have to flee the country.  My question to you, where would be a good place to start my new life?  Any dubious advice is appreciated.  Pumpkins and Penguins, Aze."

H: Ace.  Like Ace of Bass, John.  You know?

J: It's not like Ace of Bass, you can tell because there's a weird accent mark on one of the letters.  

H: It's--yeah, it's not an accent mark, it's like the a has a little hat. 

J: Yeah.

H: Like it's a party hat.  It's got a pom on it.  I'm gonna say Aca, like it's the first two--it's just like, if you were gonna spell 'awesome' but then you like, left off the 'ome' and it said just--it's an e--so you would say 'awes' so you would say, like, I'm awes, that's awes right there.

J: Yeah, I mean, I'm not gonna recommend leaving Norway, Hank, just because, you know, it's Heaven.

H: Right, and also, nobody's gonna know how to pronounce your name.

J: That's true, too, but mostly like, it's one of the top three countries with the other two on either side of you if my geography is correct.  Please, God, Norway, be in the middle.  

H: Googling, Googling!  It's not, it's not, it's on the edge.  It's the one with all the fjords!  

J: Aw, dangit, it's on the Atlantic Ocean!  

 (10:00) to (12:00)

J: What's that one in the middle called?

H: Yeah, Sweden's the one in the middle.

J: Sweden, apparently.  

H: Yeah, not Switzerland, as that's a totally different part of the--

J: Yeah, no, I didn't think it was Switzerland.  I knew that the three were Finland, Sweden, and Norway, I just couldn't tell you for the life of me which, you know, which was where.  Anyway, let's move on to the question.

H: Man, look at all those fjords, John!  That country has a lot of--look at 'em all!  Aw, geez, that's awesome.  You could live in Harstad or Sortland or Holmstad or Blokken or Hennes, all these places right on the fjords, beautiful.  Beautiful place.

J: Oh, it's a good life.  It's a good life, Aze, you don't wanna leave.  I think you should stay.  So, I've had a few experiences of this, Hank, have you ever had an experience of this?

H: Uhh, of--I've had experiences like it when I've said something about someone and then realized that they were sitting there.

J: For me, it's usually that I said something about someone and realized that they were CC'd on that e-mail.

H: Oh yeah, you do that all the time, and it is a legitimate threat to our business.

J: It is frequently catastrophic.  I'll tell you what, I never do it when I've said something nice about someone.  

H: Oh man, John, I--you know, I honestly, and when it happens, I--now, as a very grown person who has to work with people even if I have made a fool of myself, I find that it is good to immediately reply and say, "Hey, so, here's what--here's the situation, it happened, we're gonna have to power through, and I apologize," and maybe even a little bit of explanation for why I think that way.  Now, I don't know if you can have that conversation with your teacher, but maybe you can.  Probably not.  Especially if you're afraid of them.  So it might--the best course of action may be to just really do your best to pretend like this never happened.

 (12:00) to (14:00)

J: Yeah, you've just gotta move on with your life, that this didn't happen, and try to do really well in that course, but I would also say that it's not necessarily a bad thing from a teacher's perspective to be scary.  Right, like, it's not exactly an insult. It's close to an insult, but it's not like you said this teacher is terrible. You just said that they're frightening.  They may like being frightening.

H: Yeah, maybe they're trying to be frightening in order to be a better teacher.

J: Yeah, so, I don't know, I wouldn't worry about it too much, but the right thing to do now is to let it go.  Let's move on to another question, Hank, this one comes from Nina.

H: John, but no, before we do that, can we just talk about how many weird little towns there are in Norway?  I wanna know where Aze is from.  If you're from one of these weird Northern towns among the fjords, like, these places have to have like, population: 5.  Just these tiny little places.  It's beauti--God, I wanna go to Norway.  

J: I wonder--how many people live in Norway?  A hundred million?  Two hundred million?

H: Yeah, probably about that.  Yeah.

J: Uhmm, five million.  

H: Yeah.  You know.  Well, it's a--it's a bit way off.  You know, Sweden is twice as big as Norway in terms of population.  That's interesting.

J: I mean, I feel like people probably don't come to the pod for really terrible Scandinavian geography lessons.  So can we move on to a question from our listener, Nina?

H: Yeah, I guess so.  Can I just--I may--I may just like, interject every once in a while with the name of a town, like (?~13:29).  

J: Please resist that urge.  

H: Alright.  This question comes from Nina who writes, "Dear John and Hank, It's my birthday today, and every year, the same thing happens."  Quick pause on the question to note that good news, Nina, it is no longer your birthday.  You sent us this question like, fully four months ago.  "When someone calls you on your birthday but you miss the call, are you supposed to call back?  It's always strange to open a conversation when there clearly is no reason to ask why they called me.  Your dubious advice is needed.  Thanks in advance and greetings from Germany.  Nina."  Today, by the way, Hank, we're only answering questions from Europe.

 (14:00) to (16:00)

H: I just--it depends.  If they leave a message and the message is the full birthday thing, then I feel like they have accomplished their goal, they've done their duty, and they sang you a birthday song, and maybe you text them back and say thanks for the message.  If they leave a message and they're like, I'd love to talk, then you call them back.  If they don't leave a message, then they are the problem and you shou--you have no obligation to them.  

J: No, if they don't leave a message, yeah, you have absolutely no obligation to them, but I would argue that you have no obligation regardless, because it is your birthday.  Your only obligation is to call them on their birthday and hope that they don't pick up and so that you can leave a message.  Hank, I just wanna point out that so far, we've answered three questions from our listeners, and in all three cases, our advice was just ignore them.  

H: It's really--yeah, it's--it may say something about contemporary social life.  It's--yeah.

J: It also may say something about how we're feeling overall about life in America right now and the political situation and everything else.  It's like, every time somebody asks us a question, our only answer is, "Have you considered putting your head in the sand?  That's what ostriches do and it's worked great for them."  

H: Uh, did you mention that Aze ended Aze's question with Pumpkins and Penguins?

J: Yes, I did, and I have to say, we got a lot of questions this week that ended with Pumpkins and Penguins.  Just as we were getting over the flood of questions wherein people claimed to be competitive Pokemon card players, almost all of them tragically lying.  We now have a new thing, the Pumpkins and Penguins sign off, so yes, we have encouraged this.  We have brought it upon ourselves.

 (16:00) to (18:00)

H: Indeed.  Indeed.  Alright, do we want another question, John?

J: I do.  

H: Alright, this one is from Josh.  Josh asks, "Dear Hank and John, I recently watched the 2012 animated film Wolf Children wherein a woman falls in love with a werewolf and gives birth to, go figure, a pair of half-wolf half-human children.  This leads to a variety of domestic complications, and without going too deep into spoilers, eventually, raises basic medical questions such as whether or not children of hybrid birth should or can get inoculated without suffering from severe side effects.  My question then follows thusly: would children of hybrid birth be able to, or even need to, receive vaccinations in order to establish a good immune defense?"  So, John, what do you think?  Half-wolf, half-humans, should they get vaccinated?

J: Well, I have a couple of questions before the question.  My biggest question is that apparently in this movie, at least according to Josh, a werewolf falls in love with a human and then they have a half-wolf half-human child.  I would argue that, at best, this child would be 1/4 wolf, right?  Because the werewolf is already half human, the person is presumably 100% human, so their offspring would only be one quarter wolf, so I don't agree with the premise of the question.  That said, I do happen to be an expert in the field of humanzees.

H: Oh.  You kind of--you kind of do have that weird expertise.  Do you wanna continue with that or should I tell you more about Wolf Children, this movie of which I have now seen images but not a trailer or anything.  It would appear that these children are not half-wolf children, it would appear that they are half-werewolf children, where they can--


H: --sometimes switch back and forth between being children who happen to have ears all of the time, but then sometimes they look more wolf-y and sometimes they look more human-y.  It is unclear.  It is unclear.  I'm only looking at images.  

 (18:00) to (20:00)

J: Listen, I do not feel at all qualified to comment on whether mythical creatures need vaccinations.  That is not a field of my expertise.  I am terrible when it comes to that kind of imaginative fiction.  The speculative stuff.  I do know however a ton about humanzees.  So it's not exactly Josh's question, but it is, you know, it falls into a category of something that I know a lot about.  Long story short, and it is a very long story, it is maybe possible to make humanzee children, but it is a terrible idea.

H: Yes.  Big bad.  Big bad.

J: Very bad.  Very big bad.  It is a terrible idea on every level and just because something is maybe possible, probably not, but maybe possible does not mean that it should happen, but if you did make a humanzee child, I assume that it would benefit from vaccinations, because chimpanzees do and humans do, so I assume humanzees would.

H: Yeah, good answer.  You know, it's possible that the hybrid child would not have--be susceptible to a human disease, but it should be vaccinated against both human and dog diseases just in case.  Also--

J: Dogs?!  Who said anything about dogs??

H: I think that it would just--I think that wolves and dogs are probably close enough that we can use dog vaccines on a wolf child?  

J: Wait, whoa, whoa, back up the tape real quick.  Is it seriously possible, maybe, to make human-wolf children?

H: No.  

J: Okay, so this is irrelevant!  

H: I am only answering the question about whether the children from this movie should be vaccinated, John.  

J: You scared the crap out of me, making me briefly believe that it was possible for humans and wolves to have children.  

 (20:00) to (22:00)

J: I'm like, still working my way through it.  

H: Alright, well, I do think that this movie--

J: Josh, my advice is just to ignore it.  

H: This movie looks adorable, though, I wanna see it now.  It's super cute.  Cute mom with her cute little kids with their cute little tails.  Aw, wolf children.  It's got really good typography, too.

J: Does it?  Okay, well, I mean, maybe I'll put it in the queue, is it available on Netflix?

H: It appears that it's not available on Netflix, John.  It's called Wolf Children.  It got 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, from 2012.

J: 93% fresh!  I mean, that's pretty good!

H: Yeah, I mean, it's too early for sponsors, but I'm putting it in the list of things that might be sponsoring today's video.

J: Alright, Hank, should we answer another question?

H: Yeah, yeah, sure.

J: Alright, this one comes from Aaron, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, As I was pondering/trying to study for my geology exam, I realized I had a question.  So the core of the Earth is hot, right?  Like, clearly it's hot enough to melt rock and metal and all that jazz.  The sun is also very hot.  Assuming we could manage to go that far and not melt, would the center of the Earth produce any visible light like the really hot sun does?  I cannot rest until I know the answer."  I just wanna say that I'm sorry about the last part, because it has been literally three weeks.

H: Uh, yes.  Well, yes.  Yes.  You've seen magma, right?  The stuff that is bubbling out from the middle of the Earth?  That casts its own light.  You can see it in the dark.  It's called black body radiation and it is the light that things give off when you heat them up and the electrons get energized to--er, the--get energized enough that they jump between energy levels in an atom, and as they do that, they emit a photon and that photon can be viewed by your eyes.  Yes.  I don't have any other answer for that one.

J: Alright.  So, the center of the Earth would--it would be like an extremely small sun.

H: Uh, it would cast its own light.  I don't--it would not be like an extremely small sun in a lot of physical ways.  It would--the mechanisms by which the photons are created are very, very different. 

 (22:00) to (24:00)

J: I've never heard--I've heard of the phrase 'cast a shadow', I've never heard of a phrase 'casting light', but I like it a lot, which is why I'm talking, because I know that we have to keep talking during the podcast, but I'm also making a note to myself for my new story.  Things do sometimes cast light as well as shadows.  Okay, nobody else use that.  I called that.  

H: I--yeah, I think that that's not like a crazy--

J: No, it's beautiful, Hank, don't apologize for it, it's excellent.

H: Okay.

J: And also, we were finally able to properly answer a question.  I have another one for you.

H: First, I have to say that there is an entertainment lighting podcast.  It is a podcast for the industry of people who light things in entertainment.  So like shows lighting, that kind of thing. 

J: Yeah.

H: It is called--that is called Casting Light.

J: Really? 

H: Uh-huh. 

J: Of course there is.  Is there not a pod--at this point, there's a podcast for everything.  There's even a podcast devoted entirely to AFC Wimbledon, The Nine Years podcast, because it only took nine years to rise through the non-league ranks to get back to League II in professional full-time league football.  Hank, I have another question for ya.

H: Alright.  

J: Okay, Hank, here's another question for you, this one comes from Matthew, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I recently picked up The Great Gatsby from my local library and wasn't super into it."  That's an indefensible position, but whatever, I will continue to read the question.  "I was very turned off by how creepily Nick described people, particularly his cousin Daisy, but I realized this the day I checked it out and I'm terrified about returning it so soon.  I don't want to offend the librarians by returning potentially one of their favorite books the day after I checked it out.  My question is, when is the appropriate time to return a library book that you do not like?"

H: Oh man.

J: "Any dubious advice would be much appreciated."  

H: John, I think it's--it's interesting that Matthew here has decided that it is worrying to offend a librarian in returning this book, but not worrying to write to John Green, a great author and lover of The Great Gatsby, about the reasons why you don't like The Great Gatsby.

 (24:00) to (26:00)

Like, what are your--what is your main concern here?

J: That's a terrible reason not to like The Great Gatsby!  I don't wanna--I don't--I don't wanna go off on a rant and not answer the question, but in my opinion, that is not a good reason to not like The Great Gatsby.  Like, of course, Nick is in many profound ways an unreliable narrator and not an entirely likeable character, although I would argue that like, ultimately, he's pretty likeable, but like, that doesn't mean that the book isn't good.  I don't know where we got this idea in our heads that books are only supposed to be about characters who are straightforwardly and eminently likeable and in no way like, creepy or weird.

H: I don't think--I don't--

J: Like, I don't know any people like that.

H: I don't think that it's an idea that we have that a book should be this way, I think that some people are looking for a pleasant experience and to identify with people who they think are good people, and if you're, like, if you're looking for that--

J: Oh, The Great Gatsby is an incredibly pleasant reading experience.  It's fun to hate all of the hateable characters, it's fun to love all the loveable ones, it's maybe the most pleasant reading experiences among the major American novels, like, it's far more pleasant than, for instance, like, reading Absalom, Absalom.

H: Yeah.

J: Or more pleasant than reading Beloved.
H: Yes, but--but--but--but--

J: Anyway, I am not--

H: Matthew may be coming from the place where he doesn't read Absalom, Absalom and yeah, and this is a--yeah, and is looking for a--I think that a lot of the reason that I liked to read, especially in my like, teenage and early 20 years was I was looking for people to emulate, and I was looking for people to like, and I needed some guidance.  I needed people who I saw were in, like, in the world in the correct way, because I wanted to know how to do that, and if I found like, protagonists that I didn't feel like were doing that, I'd be like, eh, I don't want this, this isn't helping me figure this out.

 (26:00) to (28:00)

So there's lots of reasons to read, I guess, is the thing I should have just said.

J: Okay.  I--I apologize.  I came at that way too hard.  

H: But--but I think--

J: That was probably, like, that's one of those emotional reactions that probably isn't about The Great Gatsby deep down, you know, like, probably more about me than about F. Scott Fitzgerald?  

H: Maybe, maybe.  I think what you've gotta do is go back and bring The Great Gatsby back like, two days later and be like, this was so good I read it in two days.  Now, where's your nearest copy of, you know, a Jason Bourne book? 

J: Uh, I think you could go back and say, I mean, look, it's only like 180 page book or something, so yeah, I think you can go back right away and if you're asked about it, then you can respond honestly, and Matthew, don't let my little overzealous rant discourage you from having your opinion, but you probably won't be asked about it, because librarians are busy people so they'll probably just be like, uh-huh, and you know, what's next?

H: Yeah, yeah.  

J: And you'll, and you'll, you know, like, you'll hopefully move on to find a book that you like more.  I'm gonna say that I don't recommend the Jason Bourne books if you're looking to avoid creepy descriptions of women.  I don't think that's the right direction to go in at all.  

H: Yeah, pro--I don't know very much about the Bourne books, John.  I'll be honest, I was just looking for something popular.

J: I read a couple of them.  They're--you turn the pages, you know?  I--and I have to say, before we move on, that I love a pageturn-y novel.  I love, like, I love romances set in castles and Edwardian England, I love action books, I rea--so, like, I don't--I don't--I don't mean to judge other peoples' reading habits and I apologize if I was doing that.

 (28:00) to (30:00)

Again, that was not about Gatsby or F. Scott Fitzgerald but probably deep down about me.  Alright, Hank, do you have another question for me?

H: Yeah, this one's from Lindsay, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I always carry tissues with me to class.  The tissues are not only for me but also for other people.  I always see someone wiping their nose on their sleeve or their hand or somewhere else that snot does not belong, and when I see this, I get them out of my pocket and I offer the people a pack of tissues who need them.  I've done this many times but only twice have people accepted my tissues.  Why don't people take my tissues?  Thank you for attempting to answer my quandary.  Lindsay."  

J: Mm, nope.  (Repeated 'No') Nope, nope.  Nope.  I am going to have to go back to our default advice of this episode which is that you need to ignore other people.  

H: I know!  That's why I went with this question!

J: I feel like what other people do with their own snot is not your business, even if it's happening near you.  You've just--you've gotta let it go, and it--I feel like it's kind of presumptuous to tell other people that you know the proper way for them to deal with their own snot.  

H: Yeah, I mean, I think that--so I have been thinking about this a lot in general my life and the people around me, there's this thing that happens when there is a request or a statement or a suggestion that comes with nothing.  It comes with, you know, maybe a little bit of, with good meaning will, like, just I want you to have a better life, and then there are the requests and the suggestions and the advice that come laden with this opinion about me and it can sometimes be an opinion about me that I'm creating and I hear it even when it's not there, but it is very difficult for me to have like, wiped snot away from my nose with my hand and then have someone offer me tissues without feeling like you're judging me and without feeling like that tissue's coming along with a little bit of an opinion.

 (30:00) to (32:00)

J: Right, right.  So I think that's why you're getting the negative responses when you offer the tissues, because people feel judged, and even if they secretly maybe do want the tissues, they don't wanna take them because then they're put on the defensive.

H: Yeah, yeah, and I--and Katherine, Katherine, my wife says this to me all the time, "Do you need a tissue?" and I'm like, you know, no!  I'm just gonna put that snot right on the inside of my sleeve.  It's gonna happen.

J: Right.  You know what, I do--I needed  a tissue, until you asked.  Now I don't.  

H: Why don't you say the thing that you mean, which is, "That's disgusting.  Stop."  

J: Right, I guess that's the thing, it feels passive aggressive and people usually respond to passive aggressive things passive aggressively, you know, like we answer experiences with the way that we are--that we experience them usually.  I didn't say that very eloquently, but you know what I mean.  Today's podcast is brought to you by Kleenex.  Kleenex: for your self mostly, or other people, but only if they ask you for the Kleenex.

H: Yeah, or they are, you know, a little baby incapable of blowing their own nose.  This podcast is also brought to you by--

J: Oh, Hank, you don't even know about this yet, no, no, no.

H: I know.  Well, I do, I've watched so many babies covered in their own snot.

J: You don't--you don't use Kleenexes.  Not when they're little babies.  You use something even more adorable.  You use this bulb that sucks the snot out of their nose.  

H: This podcast is brought to you by the bulb that sucks the snot out of their nose.  The bulb: It sucks the snot out of their nose!  It is necessary because children are built so poorly that they can like, stop themselves from breathing because of all their little boogers and stuff.

 (32:00) to (34:00)

J: They are horribly designed.  Do you not have one of the little bulbs yet?  I'll send you one.  I have like forty of them.  

H: I don't know that I do, John.  

J: Well, I'll tell you--I think you get one in the hospital regardless, but I will send you one of the bulbs.  Today's podcast is also brought to you by humanzees.  Humanzees: terrible idea!  

H: Finally this podcast is brought to you by the town--the Norwegian town of (?~32:24).  Norwegian town of (?~32:27): It looks like it's got about eight people in it, but it's got a name and it's on a fjord.

J: I asked you really nicely to let that bit go and you refused to do it, and I don't even know if I can finish the podcast now.  

H: Are we even brothers anymore?

J: You know, (?~
32:43) is actually the name for one of Ikea's mattresses.  

H: Did you look it up?  

J: I did, I did.  The--in fact, like the first page of like, search results are all for the Ikea mattress, nothing about the place.

H: Well, if you go to Google Image search, it's just like mattress, mattress, mattress, beautiful town, beautiful town, mattress, beautiful town, beautiful town, mattress.  

J: I'm trying to find out the population of (?~
33:11) to find out if I could--I'm wondering if it's worth making a trip to (?~33:16) so I'm trying to find out the population.

H: I think probably it's not worth making the--on any of the services that keep track of things.  

J: My biggest concern is that (?~
33:33), does have a Wikipedia page, the (?~33:38) chapel is located there, that's exciting.  The Wikipedia page does not contain any kind of demographic information.  

H: So here's what I think you need to know about (?~
33:49), John.  If you go on Yelp and search for the best restaurants in (?~33:54)...

J: Yeah.

H: The nearest one--the nearest good restaurant, the nearest restaurant is 20 miles away.

J: They have one church that seats 100 people that was built in 1968.  

 (34:00) to (36:00)

It was originally a school.  That is the entire Wikipedia article in question.

H: There is a really interesting fact about (?~34:19), John.

J: Yeah?

H: The nearest town to (?~34:20) is called (?~34:22).

J: Mm.  Norway.

H: You so silly!

J: Oh, I don't think (?~34:30) is a real place.  I think that--I think that it's one of those things, you know how--it's not that hard to make something up now on the internet, you just create a couple Wikipedia pages and it seems real?  I think it's a (?~34:39)

H: Are you saying that it's a paper town?

J: I think it's a paper town.  Let's answer another question from our listeners, Hank.

H: Okay!  Is this one from anyone in the Norwegian town of (?~34:51) which is the nearest--location of the nearest restaurant in (?~34:55)?

J: Uhhh, this is the last time I'm gonna ask you to end the bit, and then after this I'm just going to end the podcast prematurely.  Do you have a question?

H: Oh, no, but I do have a Yelp review from one of these--

J: Damn it!!

H: I just have to read it to you 'cause it's amazing.  "It's very busy at times.  It's a self-seated place where you can order at the till.  We enjoyed a great reindeer stew, and I absolutely recommend that you give it a try."  

J: Alright, so if you ever go to (?~35:23), drive 20 miles from (?~35:25) to the nearest restaurant and enjoy the reindeer stew.  Now can we answer another question from our listeners please?

H: Yeah, sure, John.  This one is from a Swedish person, Julia, who says, "Dear Hank and John, I recently listened to your podcast where John was adamant that red, yellow, and orange were all the--were all shades of brown, but that purple absolutely was not, but in Sweden, it sort of used to be.  A long time ago, Sweden was a very poor and remote country and purple was not yet in our vocabulary.  In Sweden, we didn't have access to purple dye or any way of making the purple color.  We did, however, have what we today call purple flowers and berries growing wild in our forests, and because we didn't have a name for their color, we called them the nearest color that we had a name for, which was brown."

 (36:00) to (38:00)

J: Wow!  

H: So, there you go.  Every color is brown.  

J: You know the--have we talked about this before, that the ancient Greeks probably could not see the color blue?

H: Right, well, that they just didn't see it as a color, almost, weirdly.

J: Right, they thought of it as a kind of grey.  Very hard to get your head around that idea.  

H: Yeah, yeah, the evolution of like, of colors being named and blue tends to be the last color that gets named, which seems so weird, because it's like, the ocean and the sky, like, it's the two things!

J: Right, but, you know, as Homer famously wrote in The Odyssey, "It's the wine dark sea", right, like he had a way--a different way of seeing the ocean than you and I do, but that idea that something doesn't exist until there's a word for it, very controversial in the world of linguistics, I know, and I don't wanna get in a fight with linguists because they, well, they just have such a great vocabulary, but um, it's a very weird idea that like, language kind of co-creates reality along with sensory experience.  It's very--humans are so weird!

H: I agree, John, I agree.  Do you want to do another question before we finish up the podcast?

J: Yeah.  I just wanna read--by the way, I can't help but notice that Julia's question was not a question.  

H: No, that was actually in the comments section of the podcast.  I just wanted to talk more about Sweden.  

J: Similarly, I just wanna read this wonderful e-mail we got from listener Ruth, who wrote, remember a few weeks ago, Hank, we talked about what to do when you're at the dentist, what to do with your eyes, specifically?

H: Mhmm, mhmm.

J: Ruth writes, "When I'm at the dentist, I look at the light and imagine that it's a maternal praying mantis-like creature looking over me and keeping me safe while I'm being made extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable."  I just thought that was so beautiful.  

 (38:00) to (40:00)

H: Why a praying mantis, though?  They're creepy.

J: No, but like, the way that the light sort of comes, you know, the way it bends over the table, it does look kind of like a praying mantis.

H: Oh, ohhh.  It is the--oh, I see what you're saying, yeah.  It's some kind of weird alien insectoid thing.  

J: Yeah.

H: That is--that is just like, you could just imagine that it's like exuding support and joy and love.

J: Right!  That's what Ruth imagines, is that it loves you and that's such a smart way of dealing with dental anxiety.  It almost makes me think that all dentists should start dressing up their lights as praying mantises and then they can see if that leads to less dental anxiety.  I'm not sure that that would actually work.

H: It seems unlikely.  Okay, here's our last question, John, it's from Melissa, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, You talked a bit recently about the fact that longer commutes to work every day significantly impact peoples' happiness.  However, the house used as #4 Privet Drive in the Harry Potter movies recently went up for sale.  The description of the house says that it is ideal for commuters, as it is just about an hour from London by train.  My question is this: would my commute to work still make me unhappy if I lived in Harry Potter's frickin' house?"  

J: Mmm, yes.  So, I do think that architecture matters in your daily lived life.  I've lived in a bunch of vastly different spaces and even when they were similarly sized, I think the architecture affected my life, but I don't think the like, history of a home matters on a day-by-day basis.  It's like a cool thing to talk about when you bring people over, but I think when you're living there, you just get used to it, don't you?

H: Yeah, I think that's definitely the case.  The other thing that I wanna say about this, though, is that, first, train commutes don't make people as unhappy as driving, because driving is this weird like, you know, like halfway activity where you have to be on and so you can't like, be thinking about and doing other stuff.  You can't be reading a book, you can't be watching a show, you can't be lis--like, you know, like you can listen to a podcast, though, hey, Dear Hank and John.

 (40:00) to (42:00)

But--and the other thing I'll say is that it might not make you significantly less happy.  These studies study many different people and they're looking at bell curves of happiness and happy people tend to be on the happy side of the bell curve whether or not they drive to work.  They just--the bell curve sort of slightly shifts to the less happy side in a measurable, noticeable consistent way, if you're looking at people who have long commutes.  

J: Yeah, yeah.  Alright, well.  

H: Just because you have a long commute doesn't mean you're unhappy, but I do feel like I'm curious whether that home in particular has a higher asking price than all of the other homes because it was Harry Potter's house.  I can't imagine that it doesn't.

J: No, yeah, I would think that it definitely would.  I should also say, Hank, that I once had a long commute and because I liked the radio stations where I was commuting and because I needed the kind of mental break of the commute, it was when I was working as a chaplain at a children's hospital, I really valued it and I think it made me happier, so everybody's different and like you said, these studies are big and they look at bell curves and they--it doesn't have anything to do with individual experience, necessarily.  Can I tell you the news from AFC Wimbledon?

H: Yes, you may.

J: So, Hank, AFC Wimbledon recently played Charleton away.  This is a disastrous game or it was gonna be a disastrous game, you know, Charleton, not too long ago, was in the Premier League, you know, like, they were at the top of the top.  Now they're down in League One, but they're a very good team, you know, they got a big stadium, all the fancy stuff that big teams have, and they're pretty high up in the table.  They were like, tenth or something, whereas Wimbledon, down there at the bottom and, you know, it wasn't looking good.  

 (42:00) to (44:00)

We went one-nil down, and then we scored two goals and won 2-1, got our second victory of the season, we're off the bottom, we're all the way in the 18th place, 8 points from 8 games and only one point away from the franchise currently playing in Milton-Keynes.  The team who when Wimbledon plays them, the Wimbledon fans sing 'Who were you?  Who were you?  Who were you when you were us?'  

H: Oh man.  Well, uh, that, so you've won two games now, is that correct?

J: Uh, I mean, that's one way of looking at it, yes, two games out of eight, but we've also tied two. 

H: Okay, that's good, too.  

J: So you've only lost half your games.

H: Only lost half the games, currently comfortably in 18th place, so eight points from eight games is not probably going to be a good enough ratio to stay up at the end of the season, like, at the end of the season, Wimbledon will have played 46 games and 46 points probably won't be enough.  Last season, I think it took 51 points to stay up, so things will have to improve slightly, but I've gotta say, I'm feeling a lot better than I was feeling a few games into the season when we were down there at the very, very, very bottom, currently occupied by Coventry and either Roachdale or Rockdale, nobody knows for sure how to pronounce it.

J: Alright, well, do you have any idea why you've gotten better at soccer at AFC Wimbledon at the last game?  What happened?  Why was it different?

H: I haven't had the chance to go to a game live yet, and none of them have been televised, so uh, I don't know, but I will be going to a game very soon, which I'm pretty excited about, yeah, so that'll be fun.  Hank, what is the news from Mars?

J: We've got some research coming out now recently that is indicating that Mars had water longer than we thought it had.  So Mars had liquid water on it as recently as 2-3 billion years ago, and we thought that there was a time that came when Mars' atmosphere had basically been blown away.

 (44:00) to (46:00)

The magnetic field shut down, and that basically made it impossible for liquid water to continue being on the surface, but it appears that there are much more recent geological features that were carved by liquid water that are on the surface of Mars and that it may have had Mars for several hundred million years longer than we thought that it had, and not just like, valleys that may have been carved by like, ice dams breaking or just like, huge upswellings of water from, you know, inside of the planet, but that emptied into basins, like, lake basins that stayed filled and then overflowed and then you know, filled back up, and we can sort of see this process and that it was happening long after Mars should have been too cold for liquid water to happen, which makes us sort of need to re-think things and probably that this hydrological cycle was fed not by rain anymore, but it was fed by snow, but there were some systems that were taking that snow and allowing it to, some times of the year, or due to geological activity, keeping that water wet and flowing, which, the more we know, the more exciting this place gets, John!  

J: So, how--how similar was Mars to Earth a billion years ago?  Like, pretty similar it sounds like.

H: Well, a billion years ago, not so much, but two billion years ago or three billion years ago, when life was forming here on Earth, you know, and sort of like in its fairly early stages, you know, from like molecular life to single celled life to, you know, sort of the divergence between plants and animals, all that stuff, it looks like, you know, Mars was very similar to Earth and that, and like, in very, you know, real consistent ways, and if we looked at Mars then we would see a planet covered in clouds, a planet with rain, a planet with hydrological cycles, a planet that has all the stuff that Earth has.

 (46:00) to (48:00)

J: Yeah, but I just wanna underscore one thing, which is that Earth already has all those things, right?  

H: Yes, Earth currently has clouds and rain and life, yes, correct.

J: No, we are doing a great job right here on Earth and I think this is the perfect place for humans until 2028 or later, which reminds me that even though you said that Leon Muss was only going to be a phase, my #1 social media account, @LeonMuss4Earth, number 4, @LeonMuss4Earth continues to put out piping hot high quality content and at this point, it's arguably my most active social media channel.  Do you know--?

H: I mean, it gets an amazing, amazing response per like, you have 11,000 followers?

J: Yeah.

H: Or Leon Muss has 11,000 followers, and Leon gets like, up to 500 likes per Tweet, which is a really amazing ratio and not one that you very often see on Twitter.

J: Well, I mean, partly that's because Leon Muss provides such excellent content.  For instance, a couple days ago, he Tweeted and this is a direct quote, "Earth!"

H: Yeah, that one did really well.

J: Yeah, it got 476 life--likes.  So that's pretty good.  Yeah.  He's just a really talented Tweeter.  A couple days ago, he got 490 likes with the following Tweet: "Sometimes I'll be at a 24-hour Wal-Mart and I think, I could live here for a week if necessary.  It really does have everything I need."  and then he replied to himself saying, "Well, Earth is the 24-hour Wal-Mart of the solar system. #ThinkAboutIt #EarthLife #EarthOnly #Until 2028"

 (48:00) to (49:27)

H: Oh, Leon Muss.

J: I don't like to toot my own horn, but I'm a genius!

H: What did we learn today?  We have a meeting that starts in one minute, so what did we learn today?

J: Oh man, we learned that the plural of Lego is apparently Lego.  

H: We learned that the color blue didn't exist until after Homer.

J: We learned that Norway is not actually in the middle of Scandinavia.

H: And we learned that they do have a delicious reindeer stew and also that if you wanted to sub penguin for that, if you were--if you had some (?~48:35) in your reindeer harvest of penguin, that you could also throw some of that in there too, and I--don't correct me, I know that penguins are from the Southern part and not from the Northern part of the Earth.  That--that was just a goof.

J: Okay, thank you for listening to our podcast.  Hank tried to act like we weren't gonna make a mistake.  I'm sure we made a bunch of other mistakes, though, don't worry.

H: Oh sure, yes, absolutely.

J: This podcast is edited by Nicholas Jenkins.  Rosianna Halse Rojas helps out with questions.  

H: Victoria Bongiorno manages the podcast and the Patreon.  The theme music is from Gunnarolla.  You can email us at with all your questions.  We're also available on Twitter @hankgreen and @johngreen and if you wanna follow Leon, he's @leonmuss4earth and as they say in our hometown...

H&J: Don't forget to be awesome.