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What should my motto be? What vegetable is happiness? When is enough really enough? And more!

Email us: hankandjohn@gmail.com

 (00:00) to (02:00)


(Introduction)

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

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

Hank: It's that kind of comedy podcast time where we talk about comedy, and death, and answer your questions, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon! How are you doin', John?

John: Not great. Not, uh, not brilliantly to be honest with you. The biggest problem I have in my life right now, Hank, and this is going to come as a huge surprise to you, is that I had an oral surgery yesterday. And it was complicated, and painful, and it's just- it's not my favorite thing. I don't love dental pain, but I have it a lot.

Hank: I also don't love dental pain, and I don't have it a lot. You--

John: Well, in general I find you to be a very lucky person, and also right now, if you brag about not having dental pain, I am going to reach through the ether and strangle you.

Hank: [chuckles] We did the Patreon chat just before this and you told the story of why you're having your current dental pain, and I just want to tell everyone, just in case John doesn't want to tell that whole story right now, it's real bad. And, ew. And, I'm so sorry.

John: I'm not gonna tell the story again, but it is really bad. I'm not going to tell it mostly because it would lead to a not insignificant number of our listeners vomiting.

Hank: [Laughing] Yeah. I mean, when you have like a hundred thousand people and you tell a story like that, you know somebody's got to get a little bit of something coming up. Oof! Well-- 

John: Yupp.

Hank: It's a beautiful day here in Missoula, Montana, By which, I mean it's gross. Um, but, in comparison to other planets, I mean, perfect outside. Uh, it's--

John: So true. I mean, just the fact of having weather is really excellent,

Hank: I mean, actually, most planets have weather. Uh, they have significant weather, in fact, I would say more weather than we have here on Earth. Just like Jupiter's weather would basically take your skin right off. So, I mean, Venus's weather would even faster. You'd basically be--

 (02:00) to (04:00)


John: That sounds lovely.

Hank: You'd basically be, uh, cooked, but in a way that would be inedible, if you lived on Venus.

John: Delicious. Uh, would you like a short poem for the day?

Hank: Uh, sure, John.

John: Too bad, I don't have one. Let's move on to questions from our listeners.

Hank: [Laughing] Do you, do you want to do the one that I posted on Twitter earlier today?

John: Uh, Hank, I don't know if you know this about me, but I am no longer on Twitter.

Hank: I know! So, you don't know about this wonderful poem I wrote.

John: Oh my god, you tweeted so many times today. What is it like--

Hank: I tweeted two times!

John: to feel that the world needs to hear from you multiple times a day? I, actually, that's not fair, because I tweet all the time as Leon Muss.

Hank: [laughing] Leon Muss is not on social media hiatus.

John: Nope, no no. Just because I quit Twitter, doesn't mean that Leon Muss also quit Twitter. Um, is it, uh, is it the one about water?

Hank: Yeah.

John:
I dreamt of dozen of glasses of cool fresh water.
When I woke, I was still thirsty.

Hank: This is a dream that, a poem that I wrote inside of a dream after waking up from a dream in which I found a bunch of glasses of cool fresh water, because I was really, really thirsty.

John: I mean, that's, that's Inception level stuff, right there. Somebody was planting something inside of your subconscious.

Hank: Yeah.

(Question 1 3:24)

John: Uh, Hank, I want to ask a question from our listeners.

Hank: OK, John.

John: That subject and verb did not agree; so, first, I want to apologize to our listeners for my terrible grammar, and then I want to ask this question. It comes from Michael, who writes, "Dear John and Hank. I've been thinking a lot about mottos lately, because I want to design a tattoo with a coat of arms, and the best ones, coats of arms, I mean, not tattoos, always have mottos. I've mostly settled on "above all, compassion," but I was wondering if either of you have better ideas for a motto. Do you have a personal motto? Should I translate my motto into Latin? Mystified by mottos, Michael."

Hank: First of all, I got to say, John, the way that you said "above all compassion," it did not feel like what, like the comma was where it should be. So, it's "above all, compassion," not you are-- I am--

 (04:00) to (06:00)


John: Not like you're above all compassion.

Hank: --it sounded a little like I'm above all compassion. Yeah. Um

John: Sorry, my mouth hurts.

Hank: I'd say memento mori?--

John: That's a pretty good, it's a pretty good motto.

Hank: --Question mark?

John: And, it's also true. I have actually composed a list of like my top ten Latin mottos, Hank.

Hank: Oh! Oh my goodness.

John: I might have over-prepared for this podcast while I was, uh, suffering from some dental pain. Uh, so my wife's grandfather had a huge coat of arms in his house, like a massive, probably seven foot tall, coat of arms. And, beneath it, in Latin, in like fancy script, it was written, uh, illegitimi non carborundum. Do you know what that mean?

Hank: No.

John: It means don't let the bastards get you down. That's my number one preferred Latin motto.

Hank: Uh, you've also got on here, uh, homo homini lupus, John. Man is a wolf toward man. Is that that one?

John: Man is a wolf to man, it's true and it's funny. Not really funny, but it's true.

Hank: Uh...

John: Sic transit gloria, glory fades.

Hank: Glory saves. You got, uh, carpe noctem, which I know, uh, as seize the night from the, uh, live-action role playing game, Vampire, that my friends played back in college.

John: Then we got, tempus edax rerum, which means time, the devourer of all things. I'm not sure if that's referring to time, the idea, or Time Warner, the company. But, uh, based on the quality of my cable subscription it might be both.

Hank: Uh, you also got on this list, draco dormiens nunquam titillandus, never tickle a sleeping dragon.

 (06:00) to (08:00)


John: Yupp, good advice, and also a good life motto. Uh, ultima forsan, which means, perhaps, the last. Which is often also translated as, it's later that you think, and appeared on a lot of clock faces back in the day to remind you every time you were looking up the time that you were also one minute, or five minutes, closer to death.

Hank: Oh, yes. Uh, John, I'd like to say about never tickle a sleeping dragon, uh, I've never had a opportunity, nor do I imagine I will, to tickle an actual sleeping dragon; however, I do find myself occasionally tempted to tickle a sleeping baby, because--

John: No, that's a terrible idea.

Hank: --Super cute baby, and I'm like, I just want to give you a little bit of... and then it's, and then I'm like, why? why?! Why have I made this terrible decision? I now have to deal with this. I just wanted to touch a baby--

John: Yeah.

Hank: And, now I've got this thing. It was so good when it was sleeping.

John: No, yeah.

Hank: That's what, really, what it should be. Um, baby dormiens nunquam titillandus. I don't know what the Latin for baby is.

John: Yeah, I like above all comma compassion, but to me it's no illegitimi non carborundum. 

Hank: That's right, John. illegitimi non carborundum! That's just, that's to you and by illegitimi, I mean your teeth.

(Question 2 7:21)

Hank: This question is from Kato, who asks, "Dear Hank and John. Recently, my friend Carrie, who calls me potato, informed me that the rocks and general terrain on Mars are putting holes in the wheels of the Curiosity Rover. Apparently, the rover has been driving backwards for some time now in an attempt to make the wheels last longer. This upsets me. How much longer can Curiosity continue to give us gifts of discovery until it can no longer move? Once it's stationary, can it still do research of any importance to us? Will we have to wait for astronauts to land on Mars to find out more about the planet? Is Hank's actual Mars news at risk?" It's true John, I do rely on Curiosity for Mars news, and if, uh, if we run out of Curiosity we're gonna have less, though certainly not no, Mars news.

 (08:00) to (10:00)


Hank: Um, lots of Mars news still, but less Mars news. So, yeah, that is, that is a problem, and the, the Mars 2020 rover, which we are developing right now is, uh, going to have a different wheel design for this very reason. But, at the moment, it's, it's, it's a concern, and, uh, and we're much more careful about how we drive the rover now, uh, now that we know these, uh, these wheel holes are a thing. Uh, but it's a heavy rover, and its got, uh, you know, its wheels are built to be light-weight, because everything on it is built to be light-weight, and it turned out that they, uh, were a little less durable than we had hoped. Um, the uh, Curosity rover does have a life span, but that is more determined by its power source than its wheels. Um, but even once it is no longer mobile, it will become a, uh, a stationary science experiment on Mars, and it will continue giving us good data, possibly for ten years or more, as the Opportunity rover has shown; which is still operational on the surface of Mars after having had, uh, a planned life of like 6 months. Its ten years later, and it's still going. So, more than ten years. Uh, its a very, very, uh, testament to how fantastic NASA engineers are at making things that can, uh, can live the test of time.

John: Hank, I think that you failed to address the most important part of this question. So, I just want to stop you, if I can. Did you, or did you not, point out that this person's name appears to be Kato Potaterson?

Hank: Oh, hmm? Hmmm. Is there, is Potaterson a real last name? 

John: Uh, well, I mean, it is the name that they signed off with.

Hank: Oh!

John: And...I..

Hank: You guys, Potaterson, yeah, it's a thing.

John: If there is a person in the world named Potaterson, and there do appear to be several--

Hank: Yes.

 (10:00) to (12:00)


John: --judging from Facebook. Specifically, by several I mean, three. Um, that's the best. How, how have I gone through life so long without knowing that I could use Potaterson as a last name in one of my novels?

Hank: Well, I worry no-

John: Margo Roth Spiegelman could have been Margo Roth Potaterman.

Hank: You know, my guess is John, my guess is that this person's last name is Peterson, and they have added a potato into a portmanteau of their name and have made themselves potaterson. Because, I clicked on Jeffrey Potaterson the only Potaterson on Facebook, and it is just a picture of a person drawn onto a potato.

John: That is true, also I'm now reading Jeffrey Potaterson's status updates, and they do seem to be potato-centric. For instance, "Some people like me loaded and some people like me plain", I think that is a bit of a double entendre. Um, and then previously, there's one that says "This is a picture of my parents, I know it's a bit inappropriate but it was the only picture I had of them", and it appears to be two potatoes situated in such a way that they are simulating, the what-not. Um, and- 

Hank: Also, Jeffrey Potaterson has, has posted "Just got out of the oven, so baked right now".

John: [Laughs] I mean, just, I have not added a friend on Facebook in like, literally seven years, until today.

Hank: [Laughs]

John: I just sent a friend request to Jeffrey Potaterson. I will let you know if he gets back to me. 

Hank: Yeah, I mean Jeffrey Potaterson has a bunch of friends, uh, ten of them. And started high school at Burnsville High School on May 5th, 2011 so I don't really know how that worked, but uh, hasn't updated since January of 2012 John, so we'll see how that goes. I'm gonna go ahead and add that friend as well.


 (12:00) to (14:00)


[Question 3, 11:59]

John: Alright Hank, our next question comes from Benjamin, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, when I first started going to my hair stylist, I gave the phone number for my dad's membership card, and when she said his name, I just confirmed, and since then she thinks that that's my name. [Hank laughs] I've been going to her for many years now, but I don't have the heart to tell her the lie that we've been living. [Hank laughs] I don't want to admit the truth, but haircuts should be built on trust, right? What do I do, DFTBA, Benjamin."

Hank: Uhhhhh, you just gotta- you just gotta live this lie. In fact you might wanna change your name completely, and let everybody know - and let them know why, and the only person you're not letting know about your name change is your hairdresser.

John: Right that's one strategy, I think another strategy is to go into your hair stylist, and when they're like "So how have things been going the last six to ten weeks?" You say, "You know, the biggest thing that happened in the last ten weeks was that I went to the courthouse and I decided to change my name to Benjamin."

Hank: [Laughs]

John: "And now, I am a Benjamin for the rest of my life and it's a new thing, it's a fresh start for me, I've always kinda wanted to be a Benjamin, and now I am one." And your hair stylist will be like, "Cool, so should I start calling you Benjamin?" And you be like, "I mean that'd be great, yeah, it's my name." 


Hank: [Still laughing] That's good, I like it.

John: You've solved the whole problem.

Hank: It's totally solved. It's totally solved, I, I don't have any-

John: God, it's so rare that we're able to actually fix people's problems, that feels great.

Hank: Can I ask you, John, is the phrase hairdresser a weird phrase, because you don't like, dress your- like it makes me picture two things. Either they're putting clothes on your hair, or they're putting salad dressing in it. That is the only things that I dress. 

John: I definitely prefer hair stylist, so I talk to David about this, who's my hair stylist, and he prefers hair stylist, but I think different people use different words and, uh, it's mostly about listening to your hair professional on what they want to be called.

Hank: That- yes, just like your hair professional should listen to you, Benjamin, about what you want to be called. 


 (14:00) to (16:00)


[Question 4, 13:59]

Hank: This question is from Cole who asks, "Dear Hank and John, when I have to go number 2, I've noticed that the sensation sometimes comes in waves. In some moments, I feel that I need to run to the bathroom and then moments later I feel as though nothing is wrong, and then soon after it feels as though I will have to go at any moment. I'm hoping I'm not the only person who experiences this. Wouldn't it be easier for my body to tell me when I have to go badly and when I don't have to go badly? Why does my body do this? An avid pod listener, on the throne, Cole."

John: Hmmm.

Hank: What do you know about, about poopin' John? 

John: Not much, but uh, I am familiar with that phenomenon, I call it contractions, which Sarah takes exception to.

Hank: [Laughs] Um, yeah, I- I actually do know something about this, I think both because I- I am a bit of an aficionado of poopin', but also, I know about how the human body works a little bit better than the average person. So you have a, basically a spot on the inside of your rectum that when it experiences pressure, it's like "now's the time to go!" And, it actually creates a little bit of a positive feedback loop where, it will open and that will allow for more pressure and that will open it more, and that's why it'd be hard to not poop. Um, and that- like the reason that that spot will be experiencing pressure is 'cause the rectum is not empty, but also because your body all the way from your mouth on down, uh, has these muscle contractions that go in waves and it's almost like imagine it like you're milking a cow, like, you take the udder and you're like squeezing it down. And like that's what's happening, that's what forces food and stuff through your digestive system. And, at the end there, when you're getting one of those waves, that's when you feel "Ooh, I'm feeling the pressure now," and that spot in your rectum is saying "poop time", and then that wave will stop, because it comes in waves--


 (16:00) to (18:00)


And then you won't be experiencing that pressure anymore and things will be able to like, go back up a little bit.  But I will say that if you felt one of those waves, you can usually intentionally make one happen by going to the toilet and it will happen automatically, even if you don't feel like you have to poop in that moment, if you've had one recently, you probably will go.

J: Wow.

H: And that's why that happens.

J: Interesting.  Well--

H: And it really--and it wasn't really a funny answer, John.

J: I didn't know that I'd come to this party to learn about that, but I'm glad I did.

H: I'm sure, I'm sure.  

J: We've got another question, Hank, it comes from LeAnn and this is kind of up your alley.  She writes, "Dear John and Hank, Are solar panels designed to work with light from any star or just our sun?  Like, if Tony Stark invented a solar powered suit and was then transported to a different solar system, would he still be able to charge his suit?  Thank you for the answers, the poems--" I'm sorry about the lack of poems, LeAnn, "--and the news."  Sorry about the lack of news, LeAnn.  "Not a descendant of Beyonce, LeAnn."  You're not yet, but the good news is, LeAnn, is that you're descendants will be someday.  

H: That's right, that's absolutely right.  Uh, John, no, our solar panels that we make are optimized for our sun, optimized for the wavelengths that come off of our sun and also the wavelengths that make it through our atmosphere so at least the ones that we use on Earth are, so our atmosphere scatters certain wavelengths and so the light that makes it to the surface of the Earth is mostly light that we--in what we call the visible spectrum and the solar panels that we design are made to absorb light in that spectrum and other stars, brown dwarfs, red dwarfs, red giants, there are some whiter stars out there, some bluer stars, they would, like, certainly our solar panels would be able to work in those places but you could design better solar panels for those stars.

J: Quick, quick follow up question, Hank.  Would our solar panels work well on Mars?

 (18:00) to (20:00)


H: Uh, yes, because, well, first, we've developed solar panels that work in space, and they're basically the same thing but it's mostly the light that is being emitted by the star that matters so our solar panels would work just fine on Mars, and indeed, in outer space, which as they do, right now.

J: Uh, well, I guess that's encouraging for those of us who think that it's a good idea to go to Mars, which I don't.  I think it's a terrible idea.  I think the--I think there's a right time and a wrong time for everything in human life and the right time to go to Mars is in 2028 or later.

H: Alright, John.  This quest--

J: Okay, I have another question, Hank.  Oh, no, you go.  You're right, you go.  

H: Okay, this question is from Caitlyn who asks, "Dear Hank and John, Why does cookie dough taste so much better than the cookies after they've been baked?  Is it the texture?  The temperature?  Any answer for this would be appreciated.  Stay gold, Ponyboy!  Caitlyn."  

J: Oh, that's a fantastic sign-off.  Stay gold, Ponyboy is in my top-ten all time Dear Hank and John sign-offs.  

H: I don't know what it's from.  Is it from something?  

J: Oh my God.  What is it like--

H: Oh no.

J: --to be able to know so much about pooping and not know 'Stay gold, Ponyboy.'  Did you ever read The Outsiders as a child, Hank?

H: No.  I didn't.  

J: Are you kidding??

H: In fact, someone gave me a copy of The Outsiders at NerdCon: Nerdfighteria.  It is sitting on my kitchen island.

J: Well, it will take you two and a half hours to read and it is a really great novel.  They also made a very good movie out of it that you could just watch the movie if you want.  It's like a classic YA novel.  It--one of the founding novels of the YA genre.  It comes from a Robert Frost poem that I'm surprised I've never read to you, 'cause it's so short.  I'll read it to you right now.  It's one of my favorite Robert Frost poems.  

"Nature's first green is gold, her heart is to you to hold
Her early leaf's a flower, but only so an hour.  
Then leaf subsides to leaf, so eat and sank down to grief,
So dawn goes down to day, nothing gold can stay." 

Nothing gold can stay, but stay gold, Ponyboy!  Oh, God, it's so good!   

 (20:00) to (22:00)


H: I gotta say, John, that was better than the poem we started out with today.  I feel like, just a little, just a little bit better.  

J: Yeah, yeah.  You know, I have a good friend who said that Robert Frost never wrote a poem that a reasonably intelligent fourth grader couldn't understand, but I kind of think that's a compliment.  

H: Yeah.  

J: So yeah, anyway, why does cookie dough taste better than cookies?

H: You know what, I'm not sure that it does.  

J: No, I prefer cookies.

H: I think that it tastes different, yeah, I--there are times that I want both.  Like, you know what's real good, John, is you take a cookie, like a cooked cookie, cooked, chocolate chip cookie, and then you spread cookie dough on it and you eat it like--and then you put another cookie on top of that and then it's a cookie dough cookie sandwich.  Boom!  Five stars to Hank Green.  I'm selling those from now on.  That's--don't--nobody take that idea, it's mine.  

J: Oh, did you--I mean, you couldn't possibly have invented that idea.

H: Uh, I don't care.  I definitely did just invent that idea.  I'm Googling it though.  

J: Uh, it's a great--I mean, I have to say, it is a really, really good idea.  I don't know that it's safe, because I feel like cookie dough might have some salmonella implications, that's always my worry.

H: Yeah, but you can make cookie dough without--can't make it without that.

J: Make it without raw eggs.  It's hard to imagine how you make cookie dough without eggs.  

H: You would have to use a egg substitute, John, a--which, sometimes, those egg substitutes are made from eggs but they come from a process that sterilizes them.  So it's like the cookie dough that they put in, like, Ben and Jerry's ice cream.  Like, that cookie dough doesn't have raw eggs in it.  

J: Really?!  I always thought I was taking a risk with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  It's good to know that I'm not.

H: Yeah, like--(laughter).  Yeah, no, you're good, but there is something to it and I can't--I can't tell you--I don't have the science there, but I know that for my personal preference, sometimes I want one, sometimes I want the other.

 (22:00) to (24:00)


J: It's a really, really good idea, Hank, for a frozen treat that's like, you know those frozen treats that you can get where it's two chocolate chip cookies and in the middle it's ice cream, I can't remember what they're actually called?  But if you just--

H: Yeah, Chipwich!

J: Sure.  If you just put frozen cookie dough in that middle, you could have some magic on your hands.  That's an interesting concept.  I'd like to see you take it to market.  Our next question comes from Lucy, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I'd greatly appreciate some dubious advice.  I'm 19 and I've been best friends with a girl for 3 1/2 years.  I'm also a girl, and we are incredibly close.  About two months ago, we started making out.  I didn't know if I liked her, so we decided to kiss.  I felt I probably wanted to kiss her because we were so close.  Now we've been doing it for two months and enjoying it a lot, as well as seeing each other almost every day.  I can't imagine my life or future without her.  We don't know if we're 'in love' though.  I've always heard that you just know when you're in love, but I feel like my situation might be different.  How can you tell if you're in love with someone when you already love them deeply as a best friend?  Is it easy to mix up romantic love with friendship love plus sex?  How would I break this news to family and friends who would be extremely shocked to discover our relationship is not platonic?  So many questions!  Beetroot and polar bears, Lucy."  

H: Is that a--is that an Office reference, like very abstractly?  Beets and bears and Battlestar Galactica?  

J: Uh, I don't know.  I didn't get--I didn't get the joke.

H: Okay.

J: I don't--I'm not--You can--this is another place where our world of references does not have a ton of overlap.  Like, I get jokes about--

H: The Outsiders?

J: Like I get jokes about The Outsiders and you get jokes about The Office, so it's good.  We complement each other.

H: That's right, John.

J: Anyway--

H: Yes.

J: Hank, how do you know the difference between romantic love and friendship love and how do you know that you're in love?

H: I--I don't know.  Like, the--the--I'm--I--

 (24:00) to (26:00)


It definitely--when it starts as friendship, it's a different thing and it may be like you have a little bit less of that, like, you know, heart in your throat kind of feeling, where it's like, this is really happening and oh my god and I love this--this person likes me and it's so much and it's like this positive feedback loop of affection and infatuation that is the thing that is like, being in love, and--which is a wonderful feeling but not necessarily the most important feeling that you're ever gonna feel, but to me it's like, a friend that I wanna hook up with, like somebody who I care really deeply about and also want to have relations with.  That's kind of--is that love?  Asks the 36 year old man.

J: I don't know, I think that's why I wanted to ask the question, 'cause I think it's complicated.  I kind of agree with you that there is a culturally celebrated idea of being in love where you just know and it clicks all at once and there's no doubt in your mind that you're in love and it's instantaneous and overwhelming and the candle is burning at both ends and will not last the night and etcetera but like, I have found that the most fulfilling romantic relationships I've had were with people I cared really deeply about as friends, like, when Sarah and I started dating, we were--we really liked each other as people before we ever started kissing.  The, like, the attraction, the initial attraction was definitely intellectual friendship attraction rather than, you know, an intense romantic attraction but, you know, when the romantic attraction came, it was powerful and an important part of our relationship, obviously, so I mean, I think you've gotta, Lucy, when you say like, you've heard that people "just know", I don't think that--I've said this before, but I don't think that love is like, a station on like, a train stop or something, you know?  It's not like a place you arrive at and then stay in for a certain amount of time or forever.

 (26:00) to (28:00)


It's more of like, for me at least, it's more of a process than an event, if that makes sense?  

H: Mhmm, yeah, definitely.

J: I think most things are more processes than events, though.  Events are so overrated and processes are so underrated.  

H: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to--it's ha--like, it's that thing, like, there's a moment and you can celebrate a moment.  We have this problem all over our society and even all over my life where like, you--in a way, society's, like, the reason we create ritual is to give the significance of an event to the reality of the process and like, marriage to me is that same thing.  Like, marriage isn't--

J: Right.

H: Like, a--it's not like a binary switch like, you're married and then you're not married, like, that's how it is legally but we've made it that way in order to give significance to the process of becoming a committed couple and yeah, and so you've got--and like, and things like birthdays are a little bit that way and coming of age ceremonies like graduations are that way, where you've--in a way, sometimes they can cheapen the process by making it all about this one moment and so like, the four years of high school become all about this one moment of graduation when in fact, they were about every moment in which you became a better and smarter and you know, more full human being through the process of learning about the world and how to do stuff and how to interact with people.

J: Right, yeah, no, and then you end up like, you end up being really focused on the event of a wedding rather than on the marriage.  I see that all the time, where you know, you just get so into planning the wedding and making sure that the wedding is perfect and the wedding is successful and like, really, when I look back at my engagement, by far, the most important parts were the parts when we were talking about what our marriage was gonna look like.

 (28:00) to (30:00)


H: Yeah, not what your wedding was gonna look like.

J: The parts where we were talking about which flowers were gonna be at our wedding are not the parts that I look back to 12 years later and think like, boy, I'm glad that we had that conversation.

H: Well, I mean, I don't know that that's helped particularly with Lucy's question, but--

J: No, we're way off the rails, Hank.  

H: And I don't really know, but I think that if you like this person a lot and also like the romantic relationship you have with them, then think about the, you know, the now of it and appreciate the now of it and do you have to create--do you have to like, fit this relationship into the tropes of how we talk about relationships or can you find a way to appreciate it for exactly what it is and understand it from your own perspective rather than from the perspective of how everybody else thinks about romantic love.

J: Alright, Hank, let's move on to another question.

H: This question comes from Grace, who says, "I've been thinking about this one problem or idea or situation pretty much my entire life.  Also, hi, I'm Grace, long time Nerdfighter, big fan of the pod.  When is enough really enough, particularly with money?  I've been thinking about John's comment on how he was pretty much anthropologically studying rich people and he has witnessed that while we think we will be more generous and useful when we have money, we really aren't.  In general, because we're human and our desires grow right along with our wallets and almost as a rule, always outgrows them.  So how do we measure our necessary money/wealth and determine how much to donate or give away or use for not-us centered things?"

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Oh, John.  This is a good question and I think about this a lot as well, Grace.  It is a thing that is constantly on my mind and a little bit makes me uncomfortable because I'm thinking about other people and how they should do things maybe more than I'm thinking about me and how I should do things, but--

J: So rich people really do donate less of their money percentage-wise to charity than people in the middle class and I am fascinated by this phenomenon where people who make $50,000 a year don't think twice about pledging 10% of their income to charity or to their church or however they give back but people who make $5,000,000 a year think like, well, you can't give $500,000 to charity, and so it really is true that people in upper income brackets give a much smaller percentage on average of their wealth to charity than people who are in lower income brackets and I think that is because it genuinely never feels like enough.  There is always one more thing that you want to have.  I mean, in this email, Hank, Grace goes on to talk about how, for a long time, she was living in a car with her partner in order to save money and still felt a lot of guilt about the money that she was spending, so um, you know, when I'm like, hanging out with people who belong to country clubs, you know, the level of cognitive dissonance is overwhelming but like, the level of cognitive dissonance in my own life is also overwhelming, right, because I do all kinds of things and buy all kinds of things that are ridiculous and completely unnecessary and it's--and that are very hard to justify, so I have no idea where the line is.  

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I don't think that I draw it well in my own life, but I don't--also don't want to be looking to make more money because in my own life, I think I have known that it doesn't make me more happy.

H: Yeah.

J: Like, it made me more happy for a while, but then I hit a wall after which it didn't really increase my happiness much.

H: Yeah, I mean, I think it's worth noting that there's just a weirdness to economic inequality and people don't think--people don't think in terms of percentages but the world operates in terms of percentages so, you know, if you have $500,000 and you invest in the stock market and the stock market goes up 10%, then you made a lot more money than somebody who had, you know, $5,000 in the stock market and that's how that works and when you have more money, you can make more money, but it also seems like, well, shouldn't we all kind of give the same amount in terms of absolute dollars because like, $500,000 to charity is like, it's a lot, like I don't even know how to do that without like, messing up a charity's finances.  Like, if the charity's too small, you could--like, and you wanna give them a one time gift, you can mess stuff up.  It's--you almost have too much power and that responsibility becomes like, scary or you don't know how to wield it properly or you start to convince yourself that people aren't gonna do as good a thing with that money than you would do.  

J: You also start to feel like it's yours, you know?  I mean, there's a weirdness to--it's something that I--Bill Gates said to me when I visited Ethiopia with him, not to drop names.  That was the worst namedrop I've ever done in my life, but this is true, you know, he never talks about giving money away.  He always talks about giving money back as if it really isn't--

H: Yeah.

J: You know, his.  Now, that noted, Bill Gates lives a very nice life, you know?

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I mean, I don't think Bill Gates is wanting for any of the material joys of the world, but I do appreciate that lots of people who have billions of dollars don't give back because they think that the money is truly deeply theirs and I just--I--I don't feel that way.  So I guess, I don't know, I don't have a good answer to this, Grace.  I think it's really hard and complicated and I've been trying in my life to give more back and take less.  

H: Yeah, and I also think that as, you know, there's just--percentage-wise, there's a lot of, like, a fairly large number of people who listen to this podcast who have a lot of money because in the last ten years, we've all heard that the majority of the economic gains of this recovery went to the rich and that means that a lot of people in the last ten years have gotten pretty wealthy and more and more people are kind of having to deal with the fact that they have the ability to have an outsized amount of influence and that maybe they're feeling even guilty about the money that they do have and don't know what to do with it, so I've been thinking about--and I am also am in that situation and so I've been thinking more about like, how do we structure society in a way that actually allows those benefits to not just affect such a tiny group of people and I am--I feel like it's such a big question though that it--it needs like a, it needs at least a--it needs several books to deal with it and I hope that people are writing those books right now 'cause I want to read them.

J: Yeah, I mean, I think wealth and inequality is the biggest, the biggest or one of the biggest problems facing the rich countries in the world right now. 

H: Yeah.

J: I mean, it's--wealth inequality is one of those things that really is getting significantly worse.  I think a lot of human life is getting better but wealth inequality is getting much worse and that's not just--I think that's bad morally, but if you just put aside the ethical questions, the moral considerations, it's also bad for economic growth.

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It's bad for economies to have so much unfairness built into the system where, you know, some people get huge legs up because they have access to educational opportunities and you know, unpaid internships and all kinds of other opportunities and that doesn't end up making, you know, an economy where everybody has equal opportunities and where lots and lots of people can be maximally innovative.  It ends up creating this really unequal economy and you know, yeah, it's a big concern to me.

H: Which reminds me, John, that this podcast is actually brought to you by huge legs up: the plural of huge leg up.  Possibly is it huge leg ups or huge--you know, you're not entirely sure, but huge legs up: fighting to be the plural of huge leg up.

J: And of course, today's podcast is brought to you by Jeffery Potaterson--Jeffery Potaterson, Facebook's only Potaterson.

H: Additionally, this podcast is of course, brought to you by Hank Green's brand new chocolate chip cookie dough cookie sandwiches.  Two cookies with cookie dough on the inside.  It'll make you squeal with heart disease!  Cookie dough cookie sandwiches!  By Hank Green.

J: I think you might want to work on the branding a little bit there, Hank. 

H: I'm on it.  I'm on it. 

J: People don't like--okay, yeah, good idea, alright.  And lastly, today's podcast is brought to you by time.  Time: really not a very good cable provider.  

H: And also the devourer of all things.  

J: I mean, it's so true.  It's so true.  Okay, Hank, I've got a question for you and you won't understand why I'm asking it for like the first 2/3rds or so of the question but then you will understand.  This question comes from Allison, who writes--

H: Okay.

J: "Dear Brothers Green," Although she said that in French and I don't know how to say stuff in French so I just translated it, "I am an English teacher who has been teaching Charlotte Bronte's novel Villette," I might have said that wrong.  "In rereading the book with my class, I came across my favorite line from the book again.  The main character, Lucy Snow, has been suffering from what I think we would today call depression--she calls it despair and a fever of the nerves."  That's actually a really good phrase, fever of the nerves, I can--I can--that resonates.  "Her friend/doctor tells her that the cure is to, quote, "cultivate happiness".  In response, she thinks, "No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness."  What does such advice mean?  Happiness is not a potato to be planted in mold and tilled with manure.  So my question is, if happiness is not a potato, what vegetable is it?  Also, can happiness be cultivated?  Your dear reader, Allison."  I just thought this was an important question to ask given the discovery of Jeffery Potaterson and in general, you know, our own orientation toward trying to cultivate happiness, Hank. 

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What vegetable is happiness?  For me, it's a cauliflower.

H: Mmm, cauliflower!  I mean, I don't know, John.  Of the--ahhh, it seems like a pretty bland vegetable for happiness.  

J: Do not ever again say that cauliflower is a bland vegetable.

H: Okay.  I will not ever again say that cauliflower is a bland vegetable out of respect to my brother John Green.

J: Good lord.  Cauliflower is delicious and amazing and it's one of the world's healthiest foods, according to worldshealthiestfoods.com so shut your mouth.

H: I'm sure you looked that one up, John.  

J: I did.  I did.  I was Googling cauliflower to try to learn some things about it really quickly so that I could defend it against your accusations that it's bland.  Hank, do you know that cauliflower was Napoleon Bonaparte's favorite food?

H: No.  It--

J: I don't know that that's true.  It's a speculation on my part.  

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