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Where are all the fireflies? What is "the spark"? Was Alexander Hamilton or Sirius Black a bigger drama queen? And more!

 Introduction (0:00)

(Cheering crowd)

John: Thank you to whoever left the 'Hello, my name is Ryan' stickers by our microphones, and hello to all you Ryans out there.  I see so many of you in the audience.  What a name, what a great name.  If somewhere there's somebody who's maybe considering having a child or about to have a child or recently had a child whom they haven't named yet, don't you wanna name your kid after an inside joke on the internet's 237th most favorite podcast?

(Audience cheering)

J: We're just waiting, Hank, we're waiting for that one baby, the one baby to save us all.  Baby Ryan.  

Hank: The one true Ryan.  Hello, John.  This is Dear Hank and John!  

J: That's not how we start the pod.

H: How do we start the pod?  Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John!

J: Nope.  I wasn't ready, I wasn't ready!  So, guys, alright, we've never done this live before.  I did a live podcast once without Hank, it was great but it was all because of Karen Hallion.  I had nothing to do with the quality of the podcast.  Now, I've got this yahoo, so we're gonna do our best, but please bear in mind we've never done this live before.  We are going to be taking your questions, but first we're gonna take a few questions from the listeners and then we'll get to some of your questions hopefully.  I apologize in advance for the fact that we're not gonna answer almost all of your questions.  Okay, Hank, go, 3, 2, 1, bang it out.

H: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John!  

J: That was weirdly over the top.  Let's try it one more time.

H: It's always over the top, John!  Have you listened to the pod?!  

J: Oh, you're right.  You know, I was actually, I was listening to our most recent podcast and that was the one time I thought we weren't over the top, and I was like, pfft, low energy! 

H: Yeah!

J: Alright, alright, last time, last time.  

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 where me and my brother John, we talk about death, answer your questions, give you dubious advice and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon.  Today we are live at NerdCon: Nerdfighteria!

J: Wow.  

H: How ya doing, John?

J: I'm doing so well.  The--for one thing, for the first time in nine weeks, there is good news from AFC Wimbledon.  For another, I have to say that this first day at NerdCon: Nerdfighteria, this has been really one of the best days of my life, just an incredible opportunity to hang out with people who are the best, like, who are the best people.  

H: Objectively the best and it's, yeah, it's not all the time that you get to throw a party for yourself and have a bunch of people show up.  

J: And it really does feel like we're just in a room full of friends and people who share our values and passions and interests and it's just--you know, when you grow up a nerd, you dream that something like this will happen and I hope that everyone is having the same kind of experience that we're having, and thank you so much for being here.  

H: Well, I'm also having a very good day, John.  My Mars news is bad.  It's bad Mars news, John, so I'm glad that you've got some good news while I've got--

J: When you say 'bad', do you mean that it's good for the internet's leading Mars opponent Leon Muss?  

H: It is good for Leon Muss.

J: Oh.  

H: Do.  Not.  Cheer.

J: Good news for Leon Muss is good news for me.

H: I know that you guys are out there, but I don't wanna know that you're out there.  I don't wanna hear you out there.

J: Hank, follow up to the original bet re: whether the name of the podcast is Dear Hank and John or Dear John and Hank, does the moment we rename the podcast "Dear John and Hank' come in 2028 or does it come when it becomes truly impossible? 

H: No, it comes in 2028, John.  

J: I think it could come any day now, because it is not looking good for humans on Mars by 2028.  Hank, I have some corrections.

H: Well, do you have a short poem?

J: I don't.  

H: Okay, well.

J: I know, I know.  So, here's the thing about the short poem.  I am reading this incredible book of poetry by a guy named Clint Smith, I think is his name, he has four--it's so good!  There's one other person in the audience--the book is called Counting Dissent and it is so good and it also has a number of short poems in it and so I wanted to read one of those poems but I haven't reached out to him to get permission so I'll do that and you'll get an incredible poem next week.

H: I've got one, John.

J: Oh.  Great.

H: It's a cold place
And they say it gets colder
You're bundled up now,
wait till you get older
But the meteor men beg to differ
Judging by the hole in the satellite picture
The ice we skate is getting pretty thin

J: Oh God.

H: The water's getting warm
So you might as well swim.
My world's on fire
How about yours?  
That's the way I like it
and I never get bored.

So that's what happens when you forget, John.

J: For those of you who don't know, that was a poem called--

H: For--who's the don't know???

J: "Allstar" by Smash Mouth.  Alright, we gotta get through some corrections really quickly 'cause we got so much stuff wrong on our recent podcast.  First off, we got the population of the United Kingdom wrong. The actual population of the United Kingdom is 17 hundred billion people.  We also got the population of Canada wrong.  It's--there are 14 Canadians.  So I apologize to everybody in Canada, all 14 of you, all listeners of the pod, all wrote in to correct us.  Then, we got several corrections about bacteria as we often do.  So first off, babies are born with gut microbes.  Who knew, but they are.  We got that from Frances, and Frances seems very knowledgeable on the topic.  Then, we got several emails correcting us about the microbes inside of cow stomachs and I have to say Hank, that 100% of the emails we got correcting us about cow stomach microbes also corrected us about Star Trek.  

H: That is a thing.

J: There's a--the Venn diagram is a circle.  So--

H: Almost bound to happen.

J: I'm gonna read you one example.  There's several emails like this one, but this one is from James who writes, "Hello.  It was stated in the last pod that it was bacteria in cows that produce methane, but it is not.  Instead it is the--"

H: Archaea

J: "--in the guts of cows that do this."

H: Archaea

J: "--while they appear to look like bacteria under a microscope, are in fact, as distantly related to bacteria as you can get, sharing a common ancestor billions of years ago."

H: Pretty cool.

J: "Humans, plants, et cetera are a subgroup of--"

H: Archaea

J: "--that once ate a bacterium and kept it around as a power plant within our cell, the mitochondria.  No bacteria--"

H: "Only archaea"

J: "--are known to produce methane.  These--"

H: Methanogens

J: "--have been produc--have been proposed to be very ancient.  They cannot stand any oxygen and methane production would be a good way of producing energy in times long ago, or some scientists think." 

H: Another possible correction, "While the United Federation of Planets was formed from the threat of an external enemy, the Romulan Star Empire, Earth was united through humanity coming together after many years of war, World War III with 600 million casualties and the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s before them."  So that turned out better than we thought.

J: I mean, oh, to get 90s back.  

H: Yeah.  "When first contact with the Vulcans was made after those wars.  Fingers crossed that the Vulcans make it here soon before World War III.  Of moss and moose, James."  

J: So there you go, thank you, James, for those two corrections.  We're wrong about Star Trek, we're wrong about the microbes inside of cow guts.  I mean, if this podcast provided more dubious advice--

H: Yes, or dubious truth--

J: Mm, dubious truth.  That's a good--that's a good name for a band in the 21st century.

H: Current world.

J: Hank, let's uh, one other thing.

H: Wait.  What?

J:  In the previous podcast, Hank said that streetlights were boring, and then we got this beautiful email about streetlights that is too long for me to read because, like anything, when you pay attention to something, when you are attentive and pay close attention to it, it becomes beautiful and interesting and it turns out that streetlights are no exception in this regard.  We got a beautiful email from a land surveyor who's been doing that work for 23 years about streetlights.  We're gonna post it on the Patreon at, where you can see it even if you're not a Patron, though you are welcome to become one.  It only costs $1 a month and you get essentially nothing.

 Question 1 (9:29)

H: Alright, John, we got a question.  Oh, thanks to any Patreon Patrons out there in the audience.  Hey, thank you guys.

J: Thank you.

H: That's pretty great.  We mostly use that money to run SciShow and CrashCourse, we'll be honest.  

J: That's actually entirely, what we use all of it for.  

H: Oh, well, a little bit goes to Nick for his non-SciShow time, or non-CrashCourse time, but...(weird sound).  Anyway, this question is from Glen, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, Quick question, now that we can grow meat in labs, can vegetarians eat hamburgers? Is lab-grown meat vegan or is this also a problem for vegans?  Science has blurred the lines for me.  I'm not even a vegetarian."  Well, I mean, I don't know why you care, then, Glen.  "How do they cope?"  He's not concerned for his own sake, but for the vegetarian's sake, and then he says, "Trolls and bridges, Glen."  What do you think, John?  You're out.  You guys--this is my question?  John just got like, 85 miles from the mic.  I don't know what's happening.  

J: I'm moving away from the question.

H: Oh.  You don't wanna--you just don't want any piece of this one?  Well, you guys, well, the thing is, it depends on why you're doing it, being a vegetarian.  There are lots of good reasons to be a vegetarian, but I would say that like, the original cells that the lab-grown meat is made from came from an animal.  They might not have come from an animal that had to die, but for a vegan, that doesn't matter.  It has to like, it's just anything that like, influences, that says, like, you are an animal for my sake and I'm gonna take your stuff so that I can survive when I don't even need that stuff, then like, lab-grown meat probably doesn't make sense.  Also, probably to your average vegan, just sounds terrible because of how it probably sounds terrible to also your average human.  It's kind of like, mm, I get why this might be better but also bleaughh.  I, however, want it.  I want it so bad.  Somebody get me some lab-grown bologna, I'm gonna put that with some mustard on some white bread and be a happy, happy man.  I'm not complicated.

J: So please send Hank 378 lab-grown hamburger patties.  

H: You will be a sponsor.

J: While we're on that topic, I just wanna say a quick thank you to Nerdfighter Ira who sent in--

H: Ari.

J: I literally turned his name around in my head.  While we're on the topic, I just wanna say a quick thank you to Nerdfighter Ari who sent in 378 Dear Hank and John keychains. I took two of them, Hank took one, and we're selling the rest--

H: Liar.

J: What?

H: I didn't take one.  You made me buy 'em.

J: I reserved one for you!  I reserved one for you.  We're selling the rest at the booth here at NerdCon: Nerdfighteria to raise money for the Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck, so thank you, Ari.  Also if you spell your name backwards, it's Ira and it anagrams to air. 

 Question 2 (12:34)

J: Hank, we have another question.  This question comes from Jordan who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I am a newly born Nerdfighter."  

H: Aw.

J: Let's just pause and thank Jordan for coming out of the womb able to type.  It's extraordinary.  I have a three and a half year old and she's hopeless at typing.  Oh.  Pfft.  Now I feel like a failure as a parent, Jordan, thank you.  "I'm a newly born Nerdfighter and last night at dinner, an interesting question was posed.  Is a person who grows cucumbers and makes them into pickles a cucumber farmer or a pickle farmer?  Please answer as this is causing distress in my family.  Jordan."

H: Wait, no sign-off?

J: "No longer a fetus, Jordan."  Sorry, it's no memento mori.  I felt that I could skip it, but okay.

H: Well, I wanna give people credit for their sign-offs.  I like that people are taking it seriously.  First of all, I also like that Jordan has taken the sort of cosmic perspective of time and said, hey, look.  It was not long ago.  It was very recently that a person who is in their 90s was in the womb.  Like, it's time and we experience it quite slowly for how quickly it passes geologically and universally.  

J: What are you talking about?

H: Well, I'm assuming that Jordan is not like, six months old because of Jordan's concern for the distress--

J: Oh, so like, by 'newly born' he means like, 17?

H: Yeah.

J: 'Cause like, in the scheme of geologic time--

H: Right.

J: --he's just been born.

H: Yes.

J: Right.  Okay.

H: That's what I'm talking about.

J: That's a great point.  

H: Second--yes, we are all newborns.  

J: It's true.  We're all just a bunch of babies trying to make our way in this dark and broken world.  

H: You guys, give that one to Neil deGrasse Tyson so he can Tweet it for me, and secondly, I think you are a cucumber farmer--

J: Yeah.  Who makes pickles.

H: --who makes pickles.

J: Yeah, I agree.  100%.

H: You produce pickles.  Cucumbers are your produce.  

J: Pfffft.  If somebody asks you at a party what you do, you say I make pickles.  But if like, somebody asks you who you are, you are a cucumber farmer.  You know, like, if you wanna take it all the way down, like, yeah.  Alright.  I'm glad we took that question seriously.  Um, oh my god, it's burning.

H: Oh my god, it's burning.  For those of you at home, don't forget.

 Question 3 (15:17)

J: "Dear John and Hank," writes Lane, "I am in the 11th grade and I am being forced to take chemistry this year.  I was a straight-A student before this, but now, for the first time in my life, I'm faced with the prospect of failing a class.  I feel like my world will fall apart if I do.  That my parents will hate me, I'll never get into a good college, and I'll end up living under a bridge.  How do I ease this anxiety and get better at a subject I hate with all my being?  Memento mori, Lane."  

H: Well, you don't have to.  Just go live under a bridge.  

J: No.  Here's the thing, Lane.  You're freaking out about something that like most things that you freak out about, when you zoom out and think about geologic time are irrelevant, because your life doesn't have like, geologic significance.  You're just future oil, Lane.  So, like, and by the way, you know how that happens?  Chemistry.

H: It's true.  It's weird to think about having geologic impact, because humans do.  Humans have become the largest impact upon the geology of the Earth in the last 50 years.

J: Oh yeah.

H: It's remarkable.  We re-route rivers.  We turn mountains into holes.

J: Yep.

H: We eliminate the trees from the landscape, which completely changes how erosion happens.  It's, like, it's shocking, 'cause like, of course, when--I once saw a paper, it was a test, and the question on the test, it was a geology class, and it said, "What is the greatest force in the world?" and the person wrote 'love' when the teacher was obviously looking for 'water'  because the hydrological cycle has a huge impact of course--

J: Don't you think gravity is the greatest force in the world?

H: Yeah, gravity also pulls the water downward, which, without gravity, there would be no hydrological cycle, but, but, John, but if humans have the greatest impact on the world, as I believe they do now--

J: Yeah.  

H: Isn't it love that made the human in the first place?

J: Kind of.  It is kind of love.

H: So they were right.

J: It's kind of love.  

H: They were right.

J: Yeah, it's true though, we are killing it in terms of--

H: Actually answering questions.

J: No, geology.  And also answering questions.  Here's the thing about chemistry: don't fail.  Like, so, just get that C-, get it right where you need to be, you're still gonna go to college.  It's gonna be okay.  There's lots of colleges that don't care if you got a C- in chemistry.  

H: Um, I remember my first, like--

J: Hank, is this good advice?  I think it is.

H: Yeah, fantastic, absolutely.

J: I think it's great.  Yeah.

H: Not dubious at all.

J: Just, just don't fail. It's okay, like, it's even okay, probably okay, I mean, as long as you can get that diploma, Lane, and you can get out of high school--

H: And you still believe in yourself and your own worth as a human.

J: Yeah.

H: Which is, I think, like, one of the big problems with grades, but obviously it's complicated.  I will say that like, my first chemistry class in college, I freaked and I did very badly in like the first semester of chemistry and I majored in biochemistry so obviously, like, that wasn't gonna go, and I like, it was so terrifying to--and I was, and it was really the fear that was the reason.  Like, I couldn't get the information in because I was so freaked out about it and it took time and like, thought, and like trying to find other ways of learning it that weren't just my teacher, that were other, like, the book and the internet to find ways to get it into my head and eventually it all sort of like, fell into place and stopped being--

J: Yeah, that's the other thing.

H: --stopped being this terrifying thing that was blocking me from enjoying it.

J: Sometimes you just have to keep going until it starts to click in.

H: Yeah.

J: And sometimes right before it starts to click in is when it feels completely hopeless and you think I will never understand this.  I am the worst chemistry student ever and then you start to--it starts to click in, but you do have to seek out other ways of learning.  My suspicion, Lane, given that you've done well in your other classes, is that maybe the approach that's being taken to chemistry is not the approach that's gonna be most helpful to you and so that probably means you're gonna have to seek out other approaches.  I recommend CrashCourse: Chemistry but there are also other ways.

 Question 4 (19:40)

H: We got another one!  It's from Amy who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I've been doing very well at school lately but to achieve all these good grades, I feel, like, very fake and almost as if I don't deserve them and am stealing somebody else's work.  It's like I take my knowledge from some obscure source and then make it sound smarter and there's my grade.  Does this to happen to you two when you upload things online and answer questions?  Am I just being weird?  I've never done this before, so please excuse me if I say something unusual.  Thanks.  Also, is it rude to email?  Is Twitter better?  I'm freaking out.  Best wishes, Amy."  I mean, there's an email address, Amy.  It's and it's for this specific purpose.

J: Yeah, first off, I just wanna say, in terms of doing that correctly, Amy, it was great.

H: Yeah.  Win.

J: It's perfect.  It could hardly have been better.  I love the exclamation point after your best wishes.

H: Yeah.

J: I love that you included your name.  The only thing I disagree with is that you wrote 'Dear Hank and John' which seems like you could have done that a little bit better, but on the whole, I would say this is an A+ email.  You even got all the punctuation correctly inside of your parentheticals.  This is phenomenal.

H: Yeah.

J: I'm gonna post this on the Patreon as an example of a top class email.  So, you got that going for you.  Secondly, Hank, it seems to me that the process Amy is describing is called 'learning'.  

H: Wait, so somebody tells me something and then like, I understand it and then I say it back in my own words because I've understood it well and then people are like, oh yeah, you get that and then they give you an A on a test or paper?

J: That's learning.

H: Good job!  That's--you did school!  You did school right.

J: I mean, I think there's something else maybe going on here, which is that maybe like, the dawning awareness that there's a big difference between understanding what other people have already figured out and understanding something new.

H: Yeah.

J: But, in my experience, having essentially never realized something that other people hadn't already realized before me, you can go a long way without ever figuring out anything new.  

H: Oh yeah.  You--I never figure out new things.

J: No, I've literally never had a new idea.

H: Yeah.  

J: Brotherhood 2.0 was entirely stolen from Ze Frank.

H: Yeah, it was like, what if we did Ze Frank but there was two of us?

J: Yeah.  

H: That's not really--

J: Maybe a slight innovation?

H: Yeah.

J: Maybe I slightly tweaked the formula to add a second person so that I would only have to make half as many videos?

H: Yeah.

J: Every single book I've written, I mean, my critics will be happy to tell you how derivative they are.  I mean, you guys, listen, you guys can keep going, but trust me, I've thought a lot about this and I've never thought about anything new.  So, Amy, you are crushing it and congr--I mean, I cannot say enough about the grammar of this email.  Even in the parts where the grammar is poor, it's obviously intentional, which I love, so Amy, just keep going.  This is great. 

 Question 5 (22:52)

J: We got another question from Jamie Jo, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I grew up with a number of cartoons and children's books that all contained some instance of a character traipsing idyllically through a field illuminated by fireflies.  My question, where are all the fireflies?  I grew up in Washington State and now go to school in Southern Utah and there aren't fireflies in either of these places.  Do I have to go somewhere specific to find fireflies?  Are they only native to very small portions of land in North America?  Warm thoughts and warm regards, Jamie Jo."  Alright, I'm just gonna ask for a show of yelling.  If you--well, no, no, no, no, no--no, no, not location, it's too soon.  Just, do you have firefli--if you have fireflies, please yell now.  

Crowd: (YELLS)

J: Okay, and if you do not have fireflies, please yell now.  

Crowd: (YELLS)

H: Different voices but still a lot.

J: Yeah, I would say that, according to my scientific study, Jamie Jo, there are fireflies in approximately 60% of Earth.

H: Oh man, that's good science, John.

J: I mean, we've gotta get that peer reviewed to be sure, but I'm--I think that's on.

H: Well, John, this podcast is brought to you by fireflies.  They're just trying to find someone to love.  Fireflies: they're there.  Just not there there.

J: And of course, today's podcast is brought to you by every koala ever.  Every koala ever: a long time sponsor of Dear Hank and John.  

H: This podcast additionally is brought to you by 36-year-old newborn humans.  Like me!  I haven't been here very long!

J: And lastly, today's podcast is brought to you by the song 'Allstar' from Smash Mouth.  The song 'Allstar' from Smash Mouth: overplayed?  

H: NEVER.  Never.  Deliver 378 of them to my PO Box puh-lease.

J: Oh, that is just--that's asking for it, Hank.  I mean, that's--oh God.  

H: John?

J: Yeah?

H: I think it's time to--I think it's time to put the papers down.

J: We're gonna take some questions from our beloved listeners.  

H: Oh, I think that the lines are already--

J: And the line is sufficiently long so no longer get in line.  I'm sorry it's your birthday.  What's your name?

H: Raise your hand if it's--

J: Alright, let's just quickly sing 'Happy Birthday' to Emily, just before we get to the--

H: And also, and also who else's birthday is it?  I mean, when there's 3500 people in a room--

J: Okay, listen, if it is your birthday, stand up.  We're about to sing happy birthday to you.  Everybody who it's your birthday, stand up.  Don't lie!  We'll know!  Are you sure?  Alright, they're sure.

H: Alright.

J: Everybody up there, couple people at the top, okay.  There, up there in the corner, okay.  

H: One, two, three!

All: Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear (CHAOS)
Happy birthday to you.

J: Happy birthday, everybody.  And those of you listening at home, if today is your birthday as you're listening to this, happy birthday to you as well.  If it is the day before or the day after, stop trying to horn in other peoples' birthdays.  

H: That's right.  Makes it so much less special.

 Question 6 (26:31)

J: Alright, we have--we're gonna take our first question from over here.  Hi.

Asker: Uh, hello.  Um, I have always struggled with dedicating to things that I've wanted to do.

J: Yeah.

Asker: And my mom has quoted me as saying that "I want to be really good at things without being bad at them first".  How do I deal with that?

H: You know, I snowboarded for um, for, you know, four times, and one thing I noticed about snowboarding is that not only did I hate being bad at it, but all the people on the mountain also hated me being bad at it.

J: Right.

H: And I was like, I don't know you guys.  Were you born with, like, slidin' down a mountain, on, with like, a wood strapped to your feet and like, your knees locked together in this thing that's definitely going to kill you, 'cause, like, did you ever not know how to do this?  And so that's one thing, is I feel like we should all be more forgiving of each other sucking at stuff because like, you don't start out great and then, additionally, it's really good if you can try--like, first, I think you have to be forgiving with yourself so that you can enjoy being bad, and if you, like, if you can find a way to enjoy being bad, then it doesn't matter whether you're good or not.

J: So if you can't sing, if you're like me and you're really just not a great singer, when I sing in the shower, I love singing and it doesn't matter that I'm bad at it, because I love doing it. You have to find, for lack of a better term, like, the love of the game, whatever the game is that you're playing.  You've gotta find that thing that makes you want to keep singing in the shower, even if you're not great and then sometimes, not in the case of my singing, but sometimes you'll get better.

 Question 7 (28:20)

H: Alright, we'll go with the left, the--yeah.  Over there, that way.

J: His other left.

H: Your left.

J: Your--it's true actually.  Great point, Hank.  It's everyone else's left.  You were being very empathetic.

Asker: Hi, my name's Ryan.

Both: Hi, Ryan.

J: It's like an AA meeting.

Asker: Okay, my name's actually Tori.  

J: It's disappointing.

Asker: I'm disappointed, too.

J: Yeah.

Asker: Blame my parents.

J: Yeah.  I do.

Asker: Anyway, two days before this, I was dumped, which sucks.

J: I'm sorry.  

Asker: And, um, anyway, we met online and we had everything in common and I really really liked her and she just said she didn't feel the spark.  What is "the spark"?  

H: I mean, well, you got your answer from the audience, I think, which is maybe a bit of BS.  I feel like John's backed away from the mic despite the fact that he is, among us, the expert in being dumped.

J: Well, I'm good at--I mean, I know a lot about how to be dumped.  I don't know a lot about "the spark".  I mean, you just have to--you have to trust someone when they say that and it's hard to hear but you have to let them have their life, you know?  And you have to let them have their feelings.  It's not a reflection on you, although I'm sure that right now it feels like it is, but it does not mean that you're not worthy of love or that you're not a good person. Like, I don't think that human beings deserve much of what they get, good or bad, but I definitely think that we deserve to love and to be loved and you are loved and you will be loved in your life and this is a moment when you feel probably distant from that but it's still really deeply true, like, you're a valuable person and you're loved and you will continue to be loved in your life and I hope that's some comfort, but you can't, yeah, you can't make other people feel stuff, as much as you maybe want to.  I'm sorry, that really sucks.  

 Question 8 (30:48)

H: Back to the middle.

Asker: Hello.  My name is Brian.  Unfortunately, there's a B at the beginning.

J: Wow.  That's close.

H: God, that's so close!

J: That's close.  You know, you can go to a courthouse and get that 'b' chopped right off.

Asker: That's one choice.  Anyways, my question isn't actually from me, it's from my friend Kaitlyn and she's trying to decide whether to focus on biology or English and given your two professions and majors, she was wondering if you could speak to that.

H: Get yourself a self that can do both!  

J: Yeah, I mean, well, right, like, I think you're gonna do more than one thing in your life.  Like, we always weasel out of this question and so you're gonna watch us do it again, but there's this idea, like, especially when you're young, because you are forced to pick a major or a field of study and it's hard to pick both.  I mean, you can double major in biology and English, and I know people, some of my friends from college did it, one of whom is now a very successful doctor who is also a very good writer.  This is possible, but you're gonna do more than one thing in your life, you know, and so it's good to know about both.  Like, ultimately, I think biology and English, aren't they both trying to understand what we're doing and how we got here? It's just different approaches to the same, like, big questions in a lot of cases, so I don't--yeah, I'm weaseling.

H: Yeah, definitely weasel, weasel, weasel, weasel, weasel, weasel, weasel, weasel--

J: Yeah.

H: --weasel weasel weasel weasel, make your own decision.

J: Yeah.  The only other thing I'd say to Kaitlyn is I'm gonna flip this cup and if it lands like that, that's English and if it lands like this, which I think is slightly more likely based on my knowledge of physics, it's biology, 'cause I think that it's probably, on average, slightly better to study biology.  So here we go.

H: It's really weird you think either of those things are gonna happen.  Weasel, weasel, weasel, the cup landed on its side.

J: Yeah, she's gonna have to make her own choice, unfortunately.  Over here.

 Question 9 (32:47)

H: Hello, lefties.

Asker: Hi, so I'm happy that Brian went ahead of me, because my name is Brianna, which also kind of has Ryan in it.

H: Gah!

J: I mean--

H: We're getting so close!

J: We're getting really close, and by the way, the first person who says their name is Ryan is definitely going to be lying.  Anyway, hi, Brianna.  Brianna?

Asker: It's Brianna, I tend to go by Bri because even my loved ones call me Brianna, so.

J: Sorry, sorry.

Asker: It's okay, you're not the first.  

J: Okay.

Asker: So my question is that, so I'm 19, and I have one younger sister who is 15.  I love her and we are very close but I also very much want to murder her most of the time, so my question is, are there any particular issues or anything that you guys feel the urge to murder each other over?

J: Can I stop you real quick and just ask a follow-up question to your question?

Asker: Yes.

J: Do you mean murder literally?  

Asker: I mean, I've tried to hit her with things but I'm older so my mom told me that's not responsible, so I mean...

J: Alright.

H: Well, don't kill anybody.

J: Don't kill your sister.

H: Or anybody!

J: That is gonna be--or, great point, Hank.  Don't kill anybody.  Yeah.  

H: Yeah.

J: That's our advice.

H: I mean, some of our advice is dubious, but uh, was it more of a question about our re--

J: Yeah, that was the question but I just wanted to, I wanted to check in real quick on the murder situation.

H: I mean, have we punched each other?  Yeah, I've punched you.

J: Yeah.  I mean, we were--not in a while.  I mean, Hank and I had a pretty intense rivalry when we were kids, you know?  

H: 'Cause I was like the same size but three years like, less mature and younger and--

J: Right.

H: --and looking up to him.  Yeah, so I could beat him up but I was very, very, like, less cognitively mature.  

J: I mean, I think like, for me, the critical moment came when I started respecting Hank and thinking of him as a really interesting person, which was probably around the time that I was, like, 16 or 17 and I recognized--

H: Oh, wow.

J: --that he was a really, like, smart, interesting guy and after that, you know, a lot of it felt like I was almost trying to like, repair our--it felt like there was some repairs that needed to be done in our relationship but to be honest, we were not really close until brotherhood 2.0.  I mean, that's--

H: Yeah.

J: --why we did it, because we would talk on the phone maybe like, once every year, once every two years?

H: You would like, AOL Instant Message sometimes, when there was something important going on.

J: But not even that often.

H: Yeah, yeah.

J: Not like weekly or anything, and I just admired--it was kind of like I admired Hank from afar.  I was like, what a cool person who's technically in my nuclear family and so when I was thinking about, oh, it would be great to do a collaborative video blog that would be like lonelygirl15 meets the show with ze frank because it really was just those two ideas, um, I thought, you know, it would be cool like, what a great opportunity that might be to get close to Hank again and since then, since January 1st 2007, like, we've never had a big fight.  Right? 

H: No, I mean, like, yeah, we have dealt with--I mean, I don't think we've shouted at each other.

J: No.

H: Yeah.  

J: I mean, when we have shouted at each other, it's been about the sa--like, it's been in agreement.

H: Right, there's definitely been shouting in the same room.

J: Where we're just really worked up but we're on the same page.

H: Right, yeah, we're really shouting at someone else who's not there.

J: Yeah, we're mad but we're mad in the same direction.

H: Not this way, this way.

J: And there have been a few times when like, Hank has been like, super annoyed with me.  I remember one time at the first VidCon--

H: Oh yeah.

J: He said, "Why are you looking at me?" and I was like, "What do you mean?" and he was like, "Put your eyes away."  

H: It was a stressful moment.

J: But it was just stressful and I wasn't helping, you know, I was like, Hank, there's a problem, and he's like, I'm aware there's a problem and I was like, but there is a problem, and he was like, I know about the problem and I was like, but I was told to come tell you that there is a problem and I don't know how to solve it.

H: And then, then I murdered him.  

J: No, then eventually the Gregory Brothers got their video working and then they, as it happened, the weird thing about that story is that in that moment, we were so tense, like, more stressed out than we've been almost probably since then, except for a few occasions, and we were thinking like, this VidCon thing that's, you know, is gonna fail, and this is the moment where it's truly gonna fail and then once the video started working, the Gregory Brothers performed an actually and literally sacred version of their song 'Double Rainbow' that transported all of us out of the basement of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza into some like, ethereal land that only like, beauty can take you to and it all worked out better than expected.  

H: Not really answering your question, but thank you, that was lovely, and everybody loves Yosemite Bear and going back to the middle.  Hello.

 Question 10 (37:58)

Asker: Hi!  My name is Stephanie, I'm not Ryan, unfortunately.

H: Not even close.

J: Sorry.

Asker: And I wanted to start by thanking you both for everything you do.

J: Thank you, Stephanie.

Asker: Thank you.  

H: You don't know everything I do.

J: Reminds me of a line from James Joyce, someone once walked up to him on the street and said, "May I shake the hand that wrote Ulysses?" and he said, "No, it's done a lot of other things."  He was a complicated man.  I'm sorry, Stephanie, what was your question?

Asker: My question is, between Alexander Hamilton and Sirius Black, who is the bigger drama queen?

H: Contentious question in the room!

J: That puts us in a tight spot, Stephanie.

H: Yeah.

J: I mean, you're asking us to basically pit the two greatest fandoms in the world right now against each other.  

Asker: I asked--my best friends and I started the debate.  I asked Lin Manuel Miranda and he had no answer.  I can only bring it to you guys next.

H: Reminds me of that time that John asked Barack Obama to name his child and Barack Obama was like, no, I will not do that.

J: Yeah.  Yeah, I might pull a Lin Manuel-Miranda on this one, like, if, if, if Lin Manuel-Miranda won't answer the question, there's no way in hell I'm gonna answer the question, because my answer is literally whatever Lin Manuel-Miranda said.  

H: High quality answer, John.

J: Thank you.

H: Thanks for the question.  

Asker: Thank you.

J: Oh my God, we are so good at weaseling.  Bring us more.  We should run for office.  No.  No, no, no.  Thank you, but no.  I honestly, I don't know if that applause is a compliment.

H: Yeah.  

J: Yes?

 Question 11 (39:44)

Asker: Hello, my name is Glen.  Sadly, it's not Ryan.  My brother's name is Ryan if that counts for anything.

J: That's great, congratulations to him.  

Asker: And my issue is, my girlfriend is vehemently against the idea of me going into space.  She thinks it's very dangerous.

H: I understand--yes, I've had this experience as well when I was first dating my current wife.  

Asker: Do you have any dubious advice of how to convince her that I will probably not explode and die?

H: You know, I have a f--like, I actually have a literal friend, who may go to space who is married and has children and I have--I know some other people who've been to space and it's not an insignificant thing for the family.  Like, it is a dangerous job.

J: Yeah, no, I mean, I--I don't--I think you're on the wrong side of this one.

H: Well, I wouldn't go there, I wouldn't necessarily go there, but I do--I under--and I think that, you know, to take that concern seriously and my friend has, like, it was a long conversation about like--and also, like, as he got closer to that dream, it became more of like a, oh, we actually have to talk about this and not in a jokey way kind of thing.  So it's not necessarily something, like, a bridge you have to cross right now.  You know, there's a number of life choices that you don't make early in a relationship, but--

J: Yeah, I mean, that's maybe what I'd say, is wait to have the conversation seriously until you're, you know, confident that this is--well, maybe you are, I don't know, but 'til you're confident that this is a lifelong thing, both the space thing and the relationship thing, but I mean, I would never--

H: 'Cause what happened to me is I was like, I wanna go to Mars, like, that's one of my goals in life and Katherine was like, you know, like, we're not gonna get married so what's the concern.  I don't care, you go to Mars, like, we've been dating for three weeks, and then it turned out I don't want to go to Mars, because like, I throw up on, like, I get nauseous in elevators so Mars is not the place for me.

J: Is Mars the place for anyone really?  

Asker: Yes.

H: Yeah.  

J: Oh, okay.  Alright.

H: Get over yourself, John.  Back to the middle.

 Question 12 (41:56)

Asker: So I'm Ben.  My name is Ben.

J: Hi, Ben.

Asker: Hi.  So, my question is, you guys have been doing this for ten years, so ten years ago, where did you guys think you would be and ten years from now, where do you think you will be?

H: Oh yeah.  What about you?  Where do you think you'll--I have never really, I'm not really like a future thinker.  I have to be honest with you.

J: Yeah, I mean, certainly ten years ago, I didn't think I'd be making YouTube videos in ten years.

H: No.

J: Like, I thought YouTube was gonna, you know, pass through the world the way that most things do and I certainly never--I mean, yeah.  It was unimaginable.  Like, the--I look back at where, like, what I was doing ten years ago.  I was living in New York, I was--I had just published An Abundance of Katherines which had been this, like, colossal commercial failure, frankly, and you know, I was trying to write another book and I was making videos with my brother, at the time, ten years ago, you know, between 400 and 500 people were watching each video and it felt great.  I mean, that's the weird thing is like, it felt like we had a really, like we were beginning to form a really strong community that was starting to do really cool stuff, like, it was almost exactly ten years ago that I got this infection behind my eye, orbital cellulitis and that was really the first Nerdfighter project, was Hank asked people to send in pictures of themselves with stuff on their head and we had like 400 viewers and we got like 350 pictures and I was like, it's happened, like, we are--like, we have this amazing community of viewers and we're gonna be able to do lots of cool stuff together and I basically still feel that way.  Like, that feeling hasn't really changed much and I just, kinda just wanna have that feeling in ten years. I don't really--I hope that there's still a bunch of people, but if it's just like, four or five hundred of us, but it's four or five hundred of us who care enough to send in a picture, then that would be awesome.  

H: Keep doing it with me.

J: Oh, I don't think I have a choice.

H: Yeah.  That's the best yes, hahahaha.  You can't, you really can't go off on your own.  I've locked you in.

J: I don't want to.

H: Yeah.

J: I mean, I really like collaborating with you.  It's fun and weird and like, you're super--

H: Eh, shut up.  

J: No, I don't mean--I don't--I was about to say a bunch of negative things about Hank, but then you interrupted me with your 'aww's.  

H: What else am I, John?

J: You just, like, you don't--you have a different set of incentives from every other person I know.  Like, I am a normal person who is motivated by money and ego and power and success and you have no interest in any of that stuff and it's so cool to be your brother because you pull me in all kinds of weird directions that you can only get pulled in if you genuinely do not experience those incentives the way most people do.  

H: Well, that's very nice.

J: Huh?

H: Well, that's very nice, thank you.  I just--yeah, I'm pulled in those directions as well.  I am also just pulled in like, toward weird.  I really like weird.

J: I know, my favorite people are people who just wanna do weird stuff.

H: Yeah.

J: Like, I just love it, like, especially when the weird stuff is in some ways like generous or kind to an audience, I love that.

H: You know, I was just thinking about how like, it's almost like, it feels wrong in some ways to think that you can be like silly and dumb and absurd and at the same time really authentic and caring and thoughtful.  Like, those things don't feel like they're two things that should be able to be pushed together but that's the--those are the things I like to push together.

J: When they are, it's amazing.  Like, Harry and the Potters, it's amazing!  

H: Yeah.

J: Like, when there's stuff--when that stuff--it's like nuclear ...fusion?

H: Yeah.  

 Question 13 (46:13)

J: Yes!  Alright, Hank, we have like a few more minutes to answer questions, so let's get to as many as we can, hello.

Asker: Hi, my name is Ryan, spelled U-G-O, Ryan.  

J: Cool, great, great.

H: Cool, perfect.

Asker: Me and my girlfriend were on a trip, traveling, and then we got stuck in immense traffic and there was no way I had to go to the bathroom there, so I decided to, like Ben in Paper Towns--

J: Yeah.

Asker: --improvise.

J: Yeah.

Asker: And my question is, we had this debate.  What's the proper way to dump the content that was--

H: Uh, well, hopefully, you've got--did you have a screw-top, was it like a Gatorade bottle or was it like an open can?

Asker: It was like a McDonald's--

J: Okay, great, that's very helpful, thank you.  So it was a McDonald's cup.  So what you do in that situation--

Asker: So do you throw it on the road?

J: Oh, nooo.  

H: John has advice.

Asker: Or do you throw the cup and everything away?

J: No, no, no, no, no.  So you go, when you eventually come to a place where you can go to a bathroom, you go to a bathroom, you dump the urine into the toilet and then you take the de-urined cup and you put it in the trash, but you put it in deep enough that nobody will touch it by accident.  That is, I think, your responsibility.

H: Yeah.  Like, if y--like if there's a piece of pizza that gets throw in there, you don't want it to land on the cup because I might come along later and eat that piece of pizza.

J: You need to--what you probably wanna do is you wanna put a couple paper towels maybe over the de-urined McDonald's cup.

H: Right, exactly like what I do when I get an illicit corndog on the way home from work and then I put that in the trash and then a couple paper towels over it so Katherine doesn't know I had the corndog.  'Cause that--

J: Yes.

H: That stick is still in there.  

 Question 14 (47:53)

Asker: Hi, my name is Lance, and I was wondering, what goes into making a podcast, like, beside--behind the scenes, like, how does--how is Dear Hank and John made behind the scenes?

H: Oooooh.

J: Well, as you can see, Lance, we're an incredibly professional operation. 

H: We upload the files to a Dropbox where Nick then downloads them and then he does something and then it comes out on iTunes.  

J: Yeah, we don't know what he does.  We don't--it's some kind of black magic.  Yeah, we don't know much about how it works, but we're grateful.  Every Monday it comes out and I'm like, ooh.  We sound much better than we sounded in real life.  Good work, Nick.

H: We're gonna take one more question before the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon.  

J: Sorry, sorry, last person to not have your question asked, I'm so sorry.

H: So sorry, that's the worst.

 Question 15 (48:40)

Asker: Alright, hi, my name's Jackie, it's an honor.  So I guess to set up a bit of my question, I used to be in a research masters and basically the professor told me I couldn't do it and I basically said, well, to heck with it, I'm gonna prove you wrong and I did it anyway, but--

J: Great.

H: That's awesome.

Asker: It--but I guess the problem was that even though I was eventually able to do it, it kinda destroyed my self-confidence, so I'm in a new degree now.  I'm studying to be a genetic counselor but I get told a lot from my supervisors, a lot of good things and a lot of bad things.  Well, maybe not all bad things, but critiques from both sides and a professor told me a few weeks ago that she's noticed I always, like, keep my head down, but I'm a good student.  I can be a good genetic counselor but I always focus on the bad that I get.  What is your dubious advice of how can I learn to remember the good things that come out of feedback?

H: Yeah, I mean, I--so like, I deal with people, like managing people a lot in my daily life now, and whenever I'm talking to them, I'm trying to help them learn.  Ideally, they can learn something from me, and so if I only give them positive feedback, even if they're the best, like, they're not growing, and so I'm looking for things to be like, what aren't you perfect at and like, that is a very important part of all of our developments. Like, I need to hear from you guys when I mess up.  I need to hear from John when I mess up.  I need to hear from my employees when I mess up.  Like, like, when I'm not doing stuff--like, if I could be doing something better, I wanna know that.  So, it's more like--it's less about concentrating on the good things, it's more about understanding that the criticisms that you're getting are--they're not saying that you suck or that you shouldn't be doing this, they're saying like, we could all be better.  Like, there's no one like, there's no one who couldn't be better at the thing that they're doing.

J: Right, like, here's the next step.  That's how I try to think of it, like, okay, what's the next, you know, what can I learn and do better in the next book?  I will say, like, negative comments penetrate in a way positive comments never can, because you, you know, you suspect that they are secretly true or that it reveals the secret truth about you, which is that you are worthless or whatever, and that's--that part isn't true, you know, like, like, when you're hearing something negative and taking that in as 'I am worthless' or 'I am not up to this' or 'I am not good enough', like, that part is not true.  You are good enough.  You are up to this.  You do, you know, you are capable of it and you can get there, and that's--I try to remind myself of that, that like, when I'm turning feedback into reflection on me as a person and thinking that it makes me a piece of trash, as--in the parlance of the internet, like, that's a mistake, because no person is and certainly not me, and I guess the only thing I'd say on that front is like, when I get negative feedback, I really, really try hard not to get defensive but instead to say, "Okay, is that right, and if it's right, can I learn from it and get better at what I love doing?" and hopefully that turns it into something that's not so biting and personal but instead is an opportunity to, you know, focus like, figure out what you're gonna focus on in your next few steps as you go toward the goal that you will achieve.

H: Alright.  

 News from Mars (52:32)

J: Hank, let's face it.  Nobody comes to this podcast for dubious advice.  They come to this podcast for two reasons and two reasons only.  Number one, and by far the most important is to find out the news from AFC Wimbledon.  

H: Whoo.

J: League One's greatest team, not by quality of results, but by quality of something greater than results, and the other reason is to find out the news from Mars, the solar system's second most important planet and 8th most important by mass.  Maybe?  6th?  4th?  The planet--you've got Jupiter, Saturn--

H: You're going by mass?

J: Is the sun a planet?  Earth.  

H: No.  You're--Neptune and Uranus are also gas giants.  It doesn't matter, John, we don't have enough time for you to figure out the frickin' order of the planets.  The news from Mars, as people trickle out of the auditorium, 'cause no one cares.  

J: That's not true, the vast majority of people are still here.  There's like 2500 people here waiting on the edge of their seats to find out what just happened on a cold dead rock light-minutes away from us.

H: It didn't even happen on the cold dead rock.  It happened here on Earth.  SpaceX, as you may remember from last year when I announced this, decided that they were going to go to Mars.  They're gonna send one of their dragon capsules to the surface of Mars and it was gonna launch in 2018.  That was a very ambitious goal.  They have decided that they are not going to meet that goal.  Getting the dragon capsule to the surface of Mars in 2018 was really like, kind of the thing that needed to happen for 2028 to be not like, a ridiculously ludicrous timeline for getting a human to Mars, which really always it was.  It's really about locking it in til '28, 2028, with the Dear Hank and John, 'cause you're not gonna change the name on me.  It's not gonna happen.  We're gonna fight about this later, it's fine.

J: If we get--if Elon Musk himself says that 2027 is no longer a possible date, if we get Elon Musk on tape--

H: No, that's not how it works!  Not how it works!

J: Alright.  

H: Yeah, they're starting to--how it works.  Not how it works!  Not how it works!

J: I mean...okay, alright, okay, okay, alright.  First off, there are a bunch of people who weren't chanting and I know all of those people agree with me.  

H: Anyway, but regardless of those peoples' existence or not, SpaceX has decided that they are going to be launching that mission in 2020.  it takes about, like, two year launch windows for Mars exploration so you basically only, like, the planets only line up at the right spot every two years, so we are gonna have to wait.

J: So Hank--

H: But, but, but it's possible that they will be able to make this a better, more useful, cooler mission by incorporating a sample return mission that they wanted to do a little bit later as the second mission to Mars, so maybe this will allow enough time to develop that sample return so the first mission will collect some samples from the surface of Mars, ore that have previously been collected by a rover, and then return those to Earth to be studied by real human hands, which is almost like going to Mars, except bringing it to us instead.  

 News from AFC Wimbledon (55:56)

J: Why go to Mars when Mars can come to us?  So Hank, it has not been a great 2017 for AFC Wimbledon or, some would argue, more generally, but in fact, since Christmas, AFC Wimbledon has won uh, eh, by my games?  No, just the one, just the one, beat Oxford United 2-1 on January 14th.  Since October, Hank, AFC Wimbledon, until very recently had scored no goals away from home and has had a very tough January, not least because of our noted opponents, Waterlogged Pitch and Frozen Pitch, both of whom we drew against, and then uh, lost 4-0 to Sheffield United, had two fight backs down 1-0 to get 1-1 draws earlier in the month, then lost a game in the last second to Shrewsbury and then we've played our old friend Gillingham or possibly Gillingham, I still don't remember, and we drew that game 2-2 with a last minute equalizer, so that was good but there have been a lot of draws and no wins and we were beginning to creep down the table to the area where it gets very scary because if you are one of the bottom four teams in League One, you do not get to play in League One next season, you have to go play in League Two, which is the fourth tier of English soccer because everything is named very appropriately in England, and it was getting very nervous and I was very anxious and I was refreshing throughout this morning at NerdCon, Hank, I was just thinking, I'm having the best day ever, if only, if only AFC Wimbledon could find a goal, and then in the 68th minute, who should score but the Messi from Montserrat, the Carribean Cristiano Renaldo, Lyle Taylor, scored a goal to put AFC Wimbledon 1-0 up.  Their opponents, Walsail, nobody knows how to say it, they hit the post, they hit the inside of the post in the 90th minute, but they did not score.  AFC Wimbledon won the game. Ending eight weeks, eight long weeks, of not winning, and they now find themselves, I wouldn't say comfortable, but they find themselves in thirteenth place on 43 points.  Hank, the magic number is 52.  If we can get 52 points, we almost definitely stay up.  We've got 13 games to get nine points.  That should be doable.  

H: Go, sports!  

J: Yay, sports.  

 Conclusion (58:33)

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

J: Uh, well, Hank, we learned that that an actual dog?

H: There's a real dog in here.

J: That's cool.  Oh, I'm sorry for stressing your dog out.  

H: Oh, there's--

J: Oh no, oh, they're probably stressing each other out now.  Oh, there's--yeah, there's support dogs out there.  Uh, what did we learn today, Hank?

H: Well, that was the question that I asked you got, but you got real distracted, so I'm just gonna go ahead and say that we learned that streetlights and their planning can be beautiful and complex and wonderful and you can learn that at

J: Way to get the Patreon in there for a second time today, Hank, that's hard work.  Of course, we learned that Hank wants 378 lab meat patties.

H: And we also learned that if you pee in a cup, you pour pee into the toilet and then the cup goes into the trash, buried a little bit down.

J: And lastly, we learned that all of us, in the scheme of things, are newly born.

H: Even that doggie.  Thank you all so much for being here.  That is ultimately what we learned is that doin' live Dear Hank and John works and is real fun.

J: Yeah, hopefully we'll get to do this again.  Thank you all for listening.  Real quickly, I gotta do the credits.  You can email us at, I think.  Is that our email address?

H: Yeah.

J: I'm @johngreen on Twitter, Hank is @hankgreen.  Use #dearhankandjohn.  Our podcast is edited by Nicholas Jenkins, produced by Rosianna Halse Rojas and Sheridan Gibson. Victoria Bongiorno is our head of community and communications, and our music is by the great Gunnarolla.  Thank you again for listening.  As we say in our hometown...

All: Don't forget to be awesome!

J: Thank you guys.  Don't leave.