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Is Batman a superhero? How do I claim an island as my own? Is there a "no politics" rule in dating? And more!

Email us: hankandjohn@gmail.com

 (00:00) to (02:00) [opening theme]


Hank: Hello, and welcome to this here episode of Dear Hank and John.

John: Or as I prefer to think of it, Dear-

Hank: It's a comedy podcast about, oh, sorry, I forgot about you, John.

John: Usually I get to come in there.

Hank: What did you want to say?

John: Forget it.

Hank: [laughs] It's a comedy podcast about death where me and my brother, John, we answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. How you doing, John?

John: I mean, I was doing alright until I didn't get to say my line. But now I feel like I've been left out. I feel like I got picked last on the playground. Actually, you know what, Hank, it's not so much a question of how I'm doing. It's a question of how I'm smelling, and the answer is fantastic, and do you want to know why? 

Hank: Oh! Oh, sure, yes, go.

John: It's because I've acquired a new sponsor, Hank.

Hank: Did you get 378 of something?

John: So you may remember that I got 378 Snickers bars after telling the nice folks at Mars that I loved their work at Vidcon Anaheim. I'm no dummy. So when we went to Vidcon Europe, Hank, I sought out all of the sponsors whose products I enjoy, and I was sure to let them know about it. 

Hank: Are you serious? Did this happen again? Am I going to be really mad?

John: Including Lush.

Hank: What?

John: The makers of fine bath balls. Hank, I don't know if you know this about me but I am a bath person.

Hank: I know you're a bath person.

John: I don't take showers. I think showers are just terrible. It's a form of assault. You're basically agreeing to be assaulted by droplets of water coming at you at a high rate of speed. They're kind of like slow water bullets, is how I think of showers. 

Hank: Ok? 

 John: And so I am a bath taker, and I have always loved Lush's bath balls, and I'm not just saying that because they're now my personal sponsor. So I met the people from Lush, and I was like, "Obviously I love your work. It's cruelty free, it's organic, it's great." (02:00) to (04:00) John: "You make some wonderful soaps and shampoos. All kinds of stuff. I love it!" And sure enough, four days later, what shows up at my office but a metric crapton of of bath balls. 


Hank: God dang it! Ok, John. I... ok, ok. So, first of all, I am happy for you. I don't know why this keeps happening to you and not to me

John: Thank you. I am so excited, I have already had two bath ball baths, and they're wonderful. 

Hank: But I do have two things to say. First of all, I have received from not sponsors, but fans of the pod, two different 378s. I have received 378 pennies, from some ne'er do well, who can go find a hole to crawl inside of and be ashamed of themselves. But I have also received, and my office has been very pleased, or certain members of them, from a bunch of fans of the pod 378 of a candy snack thing from Philadelphia called "Oh Ryan's Irish Potatoes". Which is a weird thing to say because potatoes are kind of already Irish potatoes. But they are kind of like a coconut ball dusted with cinnamon, and they are not my bag, but lots of people in my office like them, so we've got them up. And they're getting gone through pretty quick. So I did receive that sponsorship from Oh Ryan's even though Oh Ryan's didn't pay for it. So if you live in Philadelphia and you want to try something that's mostly coconut, check out Oh Ryan's Irish Potatoes. They're candy?

John: Hank, you know I don't like to be pedantic, but I would just like to point out that potatoes aren't Irish. Potatoes are a new world food that only came to Ireland after the Columbian exchange. 

 Hank: [groans] I know, but they were very important in the history of Ireland! (03:58) (04:00) to (06:00) H: We think about potatoes as an Irish thing, just like how we that of potatoes and an Idaho thing, even though they are also not from Idaho.


J: I think they actually might be from Idaho.

H: They're not, they're from South America.

J: Only South America? Didn't they travel north?

H: I mean they have now. Potatoes are everywhere now.

J: (Interupting) Where is anything from in the end? Point being, Hank, LUSH makes wonderful bath balls, and I've just learned-as a result of this gift basket that I was given-also excellent soap.

H: Uh-That's wonderful, I, you know, I know that we are still talking about this and it's been ten minutes of podding already-it hasn't-but-

J:Yup.

H: I also, I did do the thing. I tried to do the thing and I reached out to Pocky on Twitter, the makers of the Pocky candies, and they got in touch with me, and they sent me a Pocky gift basket, but I feel like it didn't quite count because I was expecting 378 boxes of Pocky and what I got was maybe 378 individual Pocky sticks. If- I didn't really count, but that doesn't seem like it to me, because it's like saying: "oh I got you- rice sponsored your podcast with 378 individual grains of rice." That's-

J: Well, Hank, here's the thing, I mean you'e good at a lot of stuff obviously , like you're really good at planning and executing vidcons, which I personally appreciate, because it allows me to have sponsors. But what you are not good at is talking to corporations and corporate representatives in a way that makes them want to send you free stuff. And like, that's why there's two of us. We have you to organize the conferences and run the businesses and all that boring stuff, and we have me to look dead into the eyes of the person who runs LUSH's marketing and say I love your bath balls. And to say it so sincerely that they cannot help but send me amazing high quality A number 1 bath balls. By the way, it came in, it was a huge variety of bath balls too, and I was just having the best time.

 H: *laughing* (06:00) to (08:00) John: God, I mean, can you explain to me before we get to questions from our listeners really quickly, why anyone who has the choice to take a bath would ever take a shower?


Hank: I have the choice and I take maybe a bath a year. Maybe.

John: Oh my God. Oh my God. Like you could have a relaxed quiet you-focused experience. Or you could have these water bullets attack you.

Hank: John, John, I don't have time to have a relaxing quiet me-focused experience. And if I'm gonna have one it's gonna be me alone in my office working, which I enjoy quite a lot. That's my bath, John.

J: Alright, I feel bad for you. I feel bad for people who think they don't have time for baths because if you don't have time for a bath, what do you have time for? Nothing. In the end, if you're not taking care of yourself, you're not taking care of anybody.

H: I am taking care of myself. I'm taking nice, relaxing baths in logistics, John. 

J: Alright, let's get to some questions from our listeners, Hank. 

H: Alright, this one's from Emmy, who asks "Dear brothers Green, My name is Emmy" ...ahh it happened again..."and while this problem will probably not be an issue for me for a few years yet, it's bothering me. I have this intense desire to see the world from Thailand to Machu Pichu to Paris. At the same time, I care deeply about the environment. I know that traveling has a lot of significant effects on the environment. So how do I keep my carbon footprint low while seeing this big world? Is it even possible? Penguins and pollution, Emmy."

J: It's not really possible.

H: It's not really possible. Ahhh.

J: No I mean I guess you could get really good at rowing. There are some people who row across the Pacific Ocean.

H: Sailboats. Just get a sailboat. Powered by wind.

 J: Yeah, but I mean, I feel like there's a lot of carbon that goes into the building of a sailboat. Get a little kayak, and you just row that guy across the ocean. (08:00) to (10:00) J: You can see most of the world that way. Most of the cool parts are connected to the oceans. I can say that, of course, because I live in Indiana. 


H: I mean, the problem is that there's a lot of ocean that is not connected to cool parts, it is just connected to other ocean.

J: That's a great point, Hank, that's a great observation. I've actually never been more than about 3 miles off shore. But a casual glance at google earth does confirm some of those concerns. 

H: I once investigated whether or not I could just hitch a ride on a barge that was already carrying a bunch of stuff. Because of course barges are always going across the ocean and you can book passage on a barge and you can stay on the barge along with the barge crew who makes the barge function.

J: Really?

H: Yes. And you can get a cabin and it's pretty miserable and slow and it takes a long time and it is not a nice experience. And also, additionally, you get that not great experience and it is more expensive than flying. I don't know why, but maybe because there's a certain type of person who does this and they are people who hate planes but also really need to get to Europe a couple times a year and  don't mind spending a month doing it. So don't try that one. 

J: Well you could do that, Emmy. So there you go. If you have a ton of money and also a ton of time and also a desire to hang out on a container ship, now we've got your passage to Europe.

 H: It's done, it's done. You can always buy carbon offsets and those do function. It feels a little bit like cheating to me, but the people who use carbon offsets to do good things, they rely on people to buy carbon offsets in order to do those good things whether that's protecting forest land in South America or planting trees here or making wind power or solar power less expensive in America.  (10:00) to (12:00) H: So, carbon offsets are always a thing that's available but there is no way to get around the world without pumping out that CO2. I will say that per passenger mile, a 747 is not that inefficient. It's just that there's a lot of miles that go into international travel.


J: Right. But this goes back to something we've talked about a number of times on the pod, Hank, which is that there is always going to be a tension in contemporary life between values and lived experience and I do not know, I have no solution for that problem. It is complex.

H: No. The more you look at it the more you realize, wow I sure do live in extraordinary luxury while people die and there's no real way to get around that. 

J: You can definitely spend all of your resources on Malaria and it would be a better use of your resources than probably whatever I'm buying except for, of course, Lush cosmetics. 

H: Oh my goodness.

 J: Which are cruelty free and everybody involved in the company is paid a living wage. Let's move on to another question from our listeners. I am such a good advertiser, Hank. I'm just trying to... can you imagine if Diet Dr.Pepper had the good sense to get on board with me? I mean, my god, I would transform their business. Instead, they're relying on this prince-like spokesperson called lil sweet. It's one of the strangest marketing campaigns I've ever seen and also one of the least effective. (12:00) to (14:00)


J: This question comes from Natalie: "Dear John and Hank, My friend and I recently had a heated discussion about whether or not Batman is a superhero." Oh no. Why did you highlight this question? We've already had this discussion. 

H: [Laughing] You highlighted it! I didn't do it! 

J: [continuing] "You've experienced the wrath of Batman fans, John, so you'll know that they defend him to the death. However, I would argue that he isn't a superhero. I say this because to me, a superhero is a hero who has superhuman abilities." Excellent point, Natalie.
J: "I think superheros don't exist outside of comic books. So does a superhero have to be able to do things other humans physically never could, like fly, or super strength, etc.? Could they be people who just have great abs and some cool technology? That man is a hero for sure," she said dubiously, "I just don't think he's super. Shark repellent and sidekicks, Natalie. 


J: Great question. I would argue that Batman is not a superhero and furthermore that Batman is not a particularly impressive member of the Justice League. 

H: I also want to argue that Batman also does not exist outside of comic books? So just like first things first, take care of that point. Makes it sound like Batman is real. Not actually, but there is a definition of superhero both on Wikipedia, and whatever google is parsing. Says "a benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers such as Superman."

J: Yep.

H: So you're right! Batman is not a superhero, at least according to the definition that popped up first when I googled "what is a superhero?"

J: Yeah and you can tell Hank has spent a lot of time researching the question as well. Um, I don't think Batman's a superhero at all--

H: Mhmm I did type! 

J: Also, I just, I continue - I understand that I got a lot about Batman wrong in my video where I criticize Batman, I still think -- you want to talk like about effective use of resources? I still don't think Batman is using his resources particularly effectively. Now I am happy to admit that I am not either. Right?



 (14:00) to (16:00) J: Like, if I were distributing resources effectively toward altruistic ends, I probably would not sponsor AFC Wimbledon. 


H: [Laughing] 

J: But, I also don't expect to have like comic books written about me and what a great guy I am. And that's the thing that's always bothered me about Batman. Like in a way, Batman is like a celebration of a billionaire mostly for being a billionaire. 

H: It is a weird thing. And uhh I think, you know, I feel you. I feel you and I think that we are both right on the Batman issue, John. And I think that there can be nuanced positions that seem initially contradictory but are in fact in agreement. And that's how I feel in our Batman debate. I think we have come to a place where it makes a lot of sense. And we understand Batman in a fuller way than previously could have been possible without a songification by the Gregory Brothers. Which every argument deserves. Uh--

J: I agree. They've done-- They're amazing. They're my favorite brothers on Youtube. And that's really saying something. 

H: There's another question, it comes from Vienna who asks "Dear Green Brothers, if hypothetically I took a boat into the middle of the ocean and found a hitherto unknown island, what steps would I have to take to claim it? As my own. Is it enough to just land there and set up a colony in the Great British tradition? Do I have to have some kind of military to defend it? Please respond, as I feel it important to have a plan for this contingency. Pimento quarry, Vienna."
H: [Laughing] I didn't get that until I said it out loud. 

J: [Laughing] Uh, I mean, I've got good news and bad news for Vienna. And the bad news is that there are no hitherto unknown islands. And based on the trend in sea levels, none will be appearing any time soon. 

 H: I mean the government of China would disagree with you. (16:00) to (18:00) H: They seem to be very good at discovering hitherto unknown islands and setting up military bases on them.


J: That's true. They're doing a great job with their dredges at building new islands. And if Vienna is in possession of a extremely large, uh, scale industrial economy that will allow Vienna to build islands out of the ocean al la the South China Sea or... umm.. what's happening in the Persian Gulf, then that's great.
J: But if not, then this is irrelevant. If so, it seems like in order to claim an island as your own, mostly you have to convince the international community that that island is your own and you need to get them to acknowledge it, which is something that China has kind of struggled to do. 

H: Well, you know, they're still working on it. Now John, it's possible Vienna does have, you know, a fairly large industrial economy. Is Vienna the city of Vienna?

J: I would argue even if so, which it's possible that the city of Vienna wrote in to our podcast to check on the sitch with regards to  colonizing hitherto unknown islands-- it's unlikely but it's possible-- I would argue that the city of Vienna, based on the one day that I spent there, is not really in the position to be building new islands. They have a lot of history to take care of just in their city. And as I recall, Vienna is not on an ocean.

H: No. In fact, it is in a country that does not have access to an ocean or a sea. There is a lake.

J: Not direct access. I think you can get there by the River Danube in an emergency. But it takes a minute.

 H: I bet-- my guess is that if you got to the River Danube, you would eventually reach the sea, correct?  (18:00) to (20:00) J: Yeah [laughs]. Hank and I are experts in geography, as you can likely tell. 


H: I am following the Danube down to the ocean right now, it's a long freaking river.

J: Wait, back up, back up, back up, there is an island, there is a huge island on the river Danube.

H: Wait, where?

J: In Vienna, like downtown Vienna, based on this Google Map search that I'm doing right now, is essentially divided by an island. Let me see if there's people on it. 

H: I see it.

J: Yeah, it's a nice-looking island, it's got-- oh, it's a beautiful park, it looks like it's mostly just park land. Vienna, I don't think you're gonna have trouble claiming this park as your own, especially since there's a festival, seems to be some kind of music festival in it called "Rock in Vienna," so just the language of that would make me think that that's yours, so I think you're good on this one one river island? I don't know if you'd be good on like--

H: Yeah, this river island

J: Nice-looking island, actually

H: Yeah, it seems to be that Vienna has already claimed this river island, it seems that this river island is clearly already Vienna's, so Vienna, you've got it right now.

J: I mean, if this makes me actually wanna go back to Vienna so that I can go for a jog on this massive and beautiful river island-- 

H: It's good, it's a good river island, it looks very nice, and it's completely uninhabited, it's just a public park, it's like Central Park, but in the middle of a river and bigger than Central Park. Have we settled that one or what?

J: I mean, we really nailed it. It has a beach, even, for families with in parentheses "small children, the 250-meter-long family beach offers safe and child-friendly bathing fun." Why do your children have to be small? My children are like medium-sized.

H: Yeah, what if I wanna bring my grown children, 45 and 32?

 J: No, what if I wanna bring my like, medium-sized seven-year-old child, do I have to, is there a, if you're taller than this you can't visit the family beach thing? (20:00) to (22:00) J: Okay Hank, this place is actually called Danube Island--


H: [laughs]

J: And according to the government of Austria, which admittedly does have a dog in the fight, it is a recreational paradise. For one thing, "it has the world's biggest trampoline center, at the Danube Jumping Complex in the immediate vicinity of the Reichsbrücke, young and old jump closer to the sky, and all in front of Vienna's wonderful skyline. We're talking about the world's biggest floating trampoline center, with 40 individual jumping areas. Trampolining is a unique combination of sport and fun. The adults should also have a go."

H: Hold on, is it outdoor?

J: I love it. I can't wait, I cannot wait to go to the Danube Island, this place looks amazing.

H: It's an outdoor trampoline center?

J: They also have one of those high ropes courses where you learn teamwork.

H: I mean, of course, because the Austrians, they love teamwork, also this rock festival that is going on in the Google Maps version that we're looking at right now, you can camp on the island! There's a bunch of camping happening.

J: I think I'll stay in one of Vienna's stately old hotels and just visit the island during the day, but yes, I understand there's a lot of opportunities. Point being, what Hank and I really need is not like, sponsorship from another corporation, what we really need is visas to almost any European country that would just allow us to stay there and get that sweet sweet healthcare and contribute meaningfully to society.

H: Well, I mean, yes. Is that a kind of brand deal? Like is that a brand deal that's available like, instead of getting like, 378-- 

J: Oh my god, what a great idea for a brand deal.

 H: --Snickers bars, it's just like, you come live and get free healthcare,  (22:00) to (24:00) H: It's like the brand deal-- visa, immigration.


J: It's the ultimate brand deal.

H: Yes.

J: You're agreeing to cast your personal brand with Australia or New Zealand or Austria or whomever it is that comes up and makes the deal. That would be the best brand deal ever. If they came to you and they were like, "Listen, if you live in Australia for the next 20 years, we will give you that sweet sweet free healthcare, and in addition maybe like a stipend? A small stipend?

H: Yeah, just like an apartment here, maybe on Danube Island. Get me an apartment on Danube Island, I'm the only person who lives there.

J: Yes.

H: And then I just go around Austria, and I'm like "You should vacation in Austria. Austria: It's beautiful, mountainous, I know nothing about this place, there's salt mines."

J: Are there salt mines?

H: For some reason that's a thing I know about Austria, yes they have this place called Salzburg, is that right?

J: They do have Salzburg, yeah.

H: It's named that because there was salt there.

J: During the one day that i spent in Vienna, of course all I did was go to the catacombs, where there's like thousands of dead bodies underneath the churches, and I walked around the tunnels and saw the thousands of skulls and everything, and I was very impressed. It was one of the better catacombs that I've ever seen, and I definitely emerged from that catacomb experience thinking, "I could live here."

H: [laughs] All right, well they seem to have Alps, they seem to have a good number of Alps in Austria, it just looks like a real nice place. So we figured it out, as long as it comes with that healthcare.

J: I'm sorry, what was the question?

H: Uh Vienna, you already have an island.

 J: Oh god! My god, we have traveled a far distance from the original question. (24:00) to (26:00)


J: Let's move on, let's re-center ourselves, Hank, with another question, this one comes from David, who writes: "Dear John and Hank, I live in Tooting, South London--" can we just stop the question for a second, and I realize we have not answered a lot of questions today, but that's not really a place, is it? Tooting? [speaking to someone off-mic] Rosiana, is there really a place called Tooting in England? There is? There's also Tooting Bec, she says. This is-- how can a country with like 18 people have so many place names? 

Anyway, "I live in Tooting, South London, not far from Wimbledon (yay team). I recently discovered that there's a Langston Hughes Close in Brixton, which I thought you'd be pleased to learn--" I am, though I don't know what a close is. You already have a fictional space in Nerdfighteria, but would you like to have a real life road named after you? Where would it be? What would be on it? And what would you go with, street, avenue, road, close--" I guess close is a kind of road, " lane, or way? Acknowledging that even this attempt at immortality would decay in time, David." Thank you for the acknowledgment, David.

H: Uuuuhhhh, would it just be called Hank Road? Is that the idea?

J: I assume it would be like, Hank Green Way, and it would be somewhere in Missoula, like somewhere in downtown Missoula, like they'd rename 4th Street Hank Green Street and everyone would be annoyed and they would continue to call it 4th Street for the next 40 years, but eventually people would just start calling it Hank Green Street, would you be into that?

H: Not really. I feel like that's weird. I feel like roads should be named after presidents and book characters and birds and trees, like any normal place.

 J: I don't know, I'd be kind of into it. There's a writer, a local writer here named Dan Wakefield, he's a great writer and just been a part of the Indianapolis literature landscape for like 50 years, and he just had a park named after him, (26:00) to (28:00) J: Like I always drive past Dan Wakefield Park, and I would be cool with that, I would be cool with a park, but I would not be cool-- I'd also be cool with a school, you know? That's super cool if you can get a school named after you you've really done something either very right or very wrong. I also wouldn't feel right about a road, because I feel like people resent roads that are named after people.


H: Well I feel like people resent roads kind of like, no one really loves a road, like "Boy, this thing that takes me to the place I wanna go is a place in itself." No, it's just a place that takes you somewhere, but for the most part it's fallen apart, a little bit rubble-y and always under construction, ah, I don't know. I also just feel--

J: On the other hand there would be children growing up on Hank Green Street, and later in life when they're thinking about their childhood they would think about Hank Green Street the way that you and I think about our childhood street, which we're not gonna say the name of because it's involved in both of our passwords.

H: [laughs]

J: There's something cool about forever being a bunch of people's password because they grew up on Hank Green Street, so their password's like hankgreen61. Dangit.

H: You ruined it. It's over.

J: I've given people everything they need to get into my Twitter.

 H: Our whole lives are gonna be taken over. I don't know, I often feel like, and I know this is wrong because we need stories and we need to focus on like, people, we need to connect through humans, but I always feel weird about extra recognition being focused on people unless they are truly remarkable. I mean, even if they are, all people were necessary. (28:00) to (30:00) H: The people that we choose to name things after are only representations of the thousands or millions of people who worked to accomplish the thing that that person is getting credit for.


J: That's so true.

H: And I know that this is dumb, and I know that it's a dumb way to see the world and I am wrong, but I feel like recognition, individuals don't deserve recognition, humanity does, and I don't know how to solve that problem, and I don't think it's a real problem, I think I'm just a stick in the mud.

J: Well, I mean, they've done a good job of solving that problem in many Communist countries, where they just name everything after the workers or the proletariat, but then they started doing the Animal Farm trick of saying that all animals are equal but some are more equal than others, and they started naming stuff Leningrad and Stalingrad and all that. I agree with you though, Hank, we should name every street Thousands or Millions of People Contributed to This Street Street, then when people need directions they'll just be like, "what you do is you turn left at Thousands and Millions of People Street, and then right on Thousands and Millions of People Street, and you'll get there in no time."

H: That's why I think we should name all the streets after birds and flowers and trees, John.

J: All right, that's fair.

H: [laughs] I did a terrible job at answering that question, I feel like such a curmudgeon right now, but I have another question for you.

J: No I think it's nice! You know what Hank, there are not enough hardcore Communists [Hank laughs] who believe that everybody should have an equal number of streets named after them, and I appreciate that you are standing up for that worldview.

H: This question is from Linda, who asks--

J: I totally agree with you, by the way, I think you're absolutely right that it's ridiculous that we slather individuals in praise as if individuals are the center of the human stort. But go on, what's the next question.

H: This question is from Linda, who asks:

 (30:00) to (32:00) H: "Dear Green Brothers, I'm in a wonderful relationship with an amazing guy, and while I love him and his family, I harbor a dark secret: I hate his mom's cooking. That would be fine, but we eat dinner with his family once a week, where we eat the most flavorless, disgusting food I have ever had. I mean, honestly, stroganoff should not be orange." I feel like that was too much information, Linda, now everyone knows who you are. "I know that this is a first world problem if I ever heard one, but I just don't know how much longer I can keep eating this food. Should I eat before I go over? Will they notice if I never eat in front of them? Can I ask for salt? Or is that considered rude? Boyfriends and boysenberries, Linda." That's a hard one. That's a legit problem.


J: Yeah. Well, you know who had this problem, was our mom.

H: Oh yeah yeah yeah, she did. She did, like they would open the cans and empty the beets onto the plate in my dad's house.

J: Yeah, and my mom was just absolutely horrified by the way that my dad's family cooked. I don't think there's any problem with asking for salt, I don't think that's weird at all. I would argue it's-- obviously there's a bunch of culinary problems in this family, but it's weird not to have salt on the table as an option. I don't think it's weird to ask for salt, I don't even think it's weird to ask for like, some Tabasco sauce so that all you taste is hot instead of having to taste the orange stroganoff. I do think you can--

H: What I'm seeing is like a possibility of like an Assassin's Creed kind of thing, where you've got instead of like your hidden blade up your sleeve, you've just got a bottle of Cholula, you unscrew the top and it's dribbling out through your sleeve, and then you just put the cap back on, maybe that'll work.

J: And you can bring your own salt. I could totally agree, bring your own salt and just palm it.

 H: [laughs] (32:00) to (34:00) H: Your pocket is just full of salt and you just reach in there and like-- handfuls-- [dissolves into laughter] it's good, and there's nothing else in your pocket that you might accidentally get in your food at all.


J: The reason I do think you have to choke it down, or at least try to choke it down, is that somebody has worked hard to make food for you, and I always feel like in that situation, unless you feel like your health is at risk, you have to choke it down, or at least that's the obligation I feel, but I have to say just for the record, in case they're listening, my mother-in-law is an excellent cook and I'm very grateful to her, and I--
H: I never have this problem!
J: I never had this problem.
H: Yep, I feel like I then immediately have to say the same.
J: [laughs] Hank and I are both terrified of our in-laws. No, seriously, I, okay--actually, let's move on, Hank. Let's move on.
H: You're afraid--
J: I love my in-laws so much and I don't want to ever make any trouble.
H: Never make any trouble.
J: Just don't make trouble. You know what? Linda, why are you making trouble? Stop making trouble! No trouble! Never make trouble.
H: Yep, move on, let's move on. [laughs]
J: This question comes from Morvin, who asks: "Dear John and Hank, my name is Morvin, don't worry about mispronouncing it, you wouldn't be the first. I'm a 17-year-old sixth-former from England. Recently I received an unconditional offer from the University of Nottingham to study chemical engineering." Hank, I don't know what that is, but it sounds very impressive. I've never received an unconditional offer of any kind, except I guess LUSH. LUSH sent me an unconditional offer of bath balls, but I felt obligated to mention it on the podcast so it wasn't that unconditional. "Naturally I was overjoyed as conditional offers are very rare. However, as I've been telling more people my good news, more people have been saying that I have only received an unconditional officer because I'm a girl--"
H: [groans in exhausted protest]

 J: "--and the universities want more girls to help with their gender statistics in Engineering." I think the noise Hank made actually would not be a bad answer to the question. Hank, do you want to just make that noise again?" (34:00) to (36:00) H: [grumbles like an angry bear]


J: Yeah, I share your noise feeling. "I assumed at first that the offer was just because I was a strong candidate, but now I'm starting to question every academic [Hank starts making the noise again] achievement I've made. How much truth do you think these claims have? How do I stop second-guessing myself and reclaim my confidence? How do I maintain the validity of my achievements going into a male-dominated course and profession when my gender will always be the first thing that people judge me on? Oh, and just for fun, John seems terrible at pronouncing the names of English towns, so he should try saying mine: I live in--" I swear to god the word appears to be Soilhole.

H: [laughs]

J: Oh, wait, I...

H: Sella-- Sullahole!

J: Soley-hole

[Hank and John each try to say the name at the same time in about 4 different ways]

J: First off, Morvin, congratulations on escaping Solihull [transciber's note: that's how it's actually spelled] for the University of Nottingham. I mean, that's gotta be one of the greatest achievements in the history of the human social order, that's amazing. Congratulations!

H: You know nothing about Solihull, John--

J: I'm googling it now.

H: it could be a place where everyone ends up in the greatness of great places, they have a sport team named the Solihull Moors, they just won against [Hank mispronounces this] Macclesfield Town.

J: Macclesfield, I can actually say that one. They have a soccer team.

H: I'm looking at it, I'm on Google Maps now, it's a suburb of Birmingham, John.

J: It does have a population of 200,000, which is pretty shocking to me, because I didn't even think there were 200,000 people in England, but Hank, let's answer the question.

 H: I wish that I had a better answer for you, I'm sorry that your confidence has been taken away in this frustrating way, but you did great. You deserve this thing! (36:00) to (38:00) H: And the fact that anyone's first reaction is, "I bet you don't deserve this thing" means that they suck. Is that okay to say? Not in everything, but in this thing, yes.


J: I mean, they may not suck, but they are wrong, deeply wrong, and I share that feeling, it's just really, ah, it's distressing.

H: Like even if you had that thought, why would you say it out loud? Why are you that kind of person?

J: Because you're jealous, because you're jealous and you're resentful and you feel like an opportunity that ought to belong to you has been taken away from you, but that's just dead wrong. It's just dead dead wrong. You did not receive an unconditional offer because you are a girl, you received an unconditional offer because you are obviously a very talented student who the University of Nottingham is going to be luck to have and desperately wants to have, and you're gonna be a great chemical engineering student.

And you are gonna have to live in a world in which you're unfortunately gonna be judged by your gender, it's inevitable, and it's part of the world, but that's also part of why you deserve this. The odds are stacked against you in so many other ways, you absolutely 100% deserve this. Hank, can I tell you something about Solihull?

H: Oh, I cannot wait because we had such a good time in Vienna.

J: It's the hometown of Nick Drake!

H: Who is a superhero? Or an actor? A famous, uh...

J: Oh my god. Nick Drake. Nick Drake, Hank, Nick Drake.

H: Like a famous cardinal? Like a cardinal?

J: Nick Drake was an amazing singer-songwriter.

 (38:00) to (40:00) J: Also Craig Gardner. You know Craig Gardner, Hank.


H: Craig Gardner the football player?

J: He plays for West Bromwich Albion.

H: I was right! I'm right!

J: Yeah, he's a football player. What about Will Grigg? You know Will Grigg.

H: Yeah, Will Grigg, the engineer? The inventor of flash memory?

J: Nope, nope, former player--

H: Oh, also a football player?

J: for the franchise currently applying its trade in Milton Keynes.

H: Did you know that there is a health and dental center in Solihull called the Bupa Health and Dental Center? Bupa. That's fun.

J: I didn't. I didn't. But the point is that Morvin, you rule, and anyone who tells you that you don't rule because of your gender is just a jerkface, just the worst, that's very disappointing to hear.

H: I'll tell you what, John, Solihull has a terrible-looking roundabout. This thing is terrifying and I never want to go there. Wow.

J: Really? It can't possibly be as good as Swindon's roundabout. Swindon's roundabout is a roundabout for the ages. In fact, every time I talk to people from Swindon they're always like, "Have you seen our roundabout?" and I'm always like, "Yeah, yeah, no, I have, I've also been to the train museum, so I think we've done it. [giggles]

H: I feel like we should put the Swindon roundabout on a t-shirt, because it is impressive, like it's a cool thing.

J: It's a hell of a roundabout. Yeah, no, no doubt about it. It's great-- wow, I just googled Sullyhern-- Solihull-- Rosiana, how do you pronounce Solihull? [pause] Am I saying it right? [another pause] She said I'm saying it sort of right. There's not a ton to do in Solihull. The number seven attraction in the town is a factory tour called "The Land Rover Experience," where you get to tour the Land Rover factory.

 H: Oh! Enh, that's pretty cool. (40:00) to (42:00) H: I'd do that.


J: Yeah, it's got a nice park. But it's not a river island park. Let's move on, because this has not been a good episode of dear Hank and John.

H: I think we're knocking it out of the park, dude, I don't know what you're talking about, I'm going to spend the entire rest of this episode clicking around the Solihull roundabout just going around in a circle on Google Street view, it's great, it's beautiful, so green and lush.

J: Actually, to go back to to go back to Emmy's question earlier, why do you need to travel anymore when you can just go to Google Earth?

H: It's so good now, it is getting better and better, they just did an update, it's freaking amazing, it is, it's like going to the city, I was doing Venice yesterday and I was like, "Why do we ever need to go to Venice?" And also we've got this now for when Venice doesn't exist anymore in 40 years, this is great.

J: Uh, well, I will say Hank, as somebody who's been to Venice a couple times and had a total of zero fun, it might be better on Google Street View. I did have one interesting experience in Venice which is that I-- well, anyway, let's move on actually, I'm not gonna tell that story right now, I'm not in the mood for it. I got a question from Henry.

H: in Venice was the first time I was ever struck by ice falling from the sky. I also went to Venice one time, that was my experience. You know, google street view in Venice is more like Google sidewalk and canal view, which is fascinating because there's no streets.

J: Not a lot of cars.

H: Okay did the did the guy with the street view camera go down this alleyway? Oh, he did! It's pretty good. Anyway, John, what are we doing, what's this podcast about?

 J: Oh, I have no idea. This question comes from Megan who writes: "Dear John and Hank, I am a 22 year old female who has recently gotten interested in politics within the last few years. As is expected with growing up, I found that my social and political views, as well as the issues I'm passionate about, have drastically changed since graduating high school. I was wondering what the best way to navigate the dating world is, now that things like intersectional feminism, (42:00) to (44:00) J: LGBTQ rights, and minority rights are such a strong presence in my life.


I don't mind differing political opinions, but I do want to make sure I'm dating someone who also finds these things important. Should I just come out and ask future partners their feelings on all these issues first, or should I abide by the never discuss politics rule? Thanks in advance for the most dubious of advice, pumpkins and protests."

H: Is there a no politics rule in dating like, "don't do that," because I think that's a bad idea--

J: I think that is a bad-- if that is a rule that is a bad rule.

H: that's a bad one, like, I don't know what you're trying to get out of this experience, but if you're trying to find somebody who you want to spend time with maybe you should, I don't think you should be like, " So, I've got some litmus tests here, how do you feel about these issues?" But I think that absolutely it should be on the the list of conversation topics. What else is there to talk about these days?

J: Oh god, it's kind of true. So I know a couple of married couples-- that wasn't a great sentence grammatically-- [Hank laughs] who have very different political views from each other, and they share other values they share a lot of like deep core values and stuff, but I look at their relationships-- to me it's completely alien, I have no idea how I would navigate that if that were the case with Sarah and me.

Because I count on being able to turn to Sarah and say like, "Can you believe this S?" on a pretty regular basis, and if I couldn't do that it would be really bad for our marriage. If I was like, "Can you believe this s?" and she would be like, "I know, it's awesome," that would be a big problem for me.

 To give you an example, if I was like, "I just feel like (44:00) to (46:00) J: it's really weird how Vladimir Putin has become a somewhat popular figure in American political discourse," and if Sarah responded to that by saying, "I don't know what you're talking about, Vladimir Putin is awesome," it would be a big problem for me in our day-to-day life.


H: I agree with you, but that's not to say that there are no things that I disagree with my wife about, in terms of like, how the world should be.

J: Sure, yeah!

H: Yeah. Definitely have disagreements about world view and about politics and that's fine, but I think that any good relationship has to be based upon some shared values, and I think that our belief about how the world should be, which is kind of what politics is in some ways, should definitely be on the table for discussion. And that that's a really good indicator for what values people do have, and you have to figure those things out so that you can have good and productive relationships with people. And if you think that you have to compromise that in order to have a good relationship, you don't, and you shouldn't.

J: I agree. Although have you ever voted knowingly for a different candidate than Catherine voted for? I don't know if you guys discuss your votes, but Sarah and I do and we have voted on a couple of occasions for different candidates

H: M-hmm, yes we have.

J: And whenever we have, I have always been proven wrong by time, and then I have to endure a certain amount of I can't believe you voted for this jackass for governor sort of things.

H: Yeah, I mean, be careful what you say there because because now people know that you voted for a certain jackass for governor.

 J: Well, I mean, at some point in the last 20 years, they don't know which jackass, Hank. I lived in Illinois for a while, they have had a string of jackass governors. (46:00) to (48:00) J: I've lived in Indiana for the last 10 years, we've had some good governors we've had some really poor governors, one of whom is now serving in a different office. So yeah, they don't know exactly.


H: You didn't vote for that jackass governor, I don't think.

J: I did not vote for Mike Pence, no. No.

H: But yeah, in the case of me and Catherine it's always been like, local offices and it generally turns out that for like, comptroller of Missoula County one person's gonna be better, but not so much better that it's gonna be a huge problem for anyone.

J: It's true, it's true. Which reminds me actually, Hank, that today's podcast is brought to you by sharing values with your partner. Sharing values with your partner: it's not something that you can really buy and sell, so it's not heavily marketed, but it is valuable.

H: This podcast is also brought to you by the technical definition of superhero. The technical definition of superheroes: it's available on-- if you search on a search engine and then you're like, okay yeah, I guess Batman doesn't count.

J: And most importantly this podcast is brought to you by Austria. Austria or possibly another country with universal healthcare: now offering visas to third-rate podcasters, hopefully?

H: We have hit upon something, John, and if we can't figure out how to monetize it then we are failures. And lastly, this podcast is brought to you by intercontinental barge travel. Get yourself a little room on a working vessel in which people will be like, "Why did you make this peculiar and bad decision?"

 J: All right Hank, it's been quite a journey with you. We tried to answer a question about islands, (48:00) to (50:00) J: we visited both Tooting and Solihull, England. It's been an adventure. Let's answer another question, and then get to the all-important news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon, the stuff that people really come to this pod for.


H: All right John, this last question comes from Elaine, who asks: "Dear Hank and John, I work in a library as an intern, and a huge part of my job is alphabetizing authors in order for them to be shelved. I was doing this the other day, and I got to thinking: who came up with the order of the alphabet? Is there any particular reason that A is first and Z is last, etc? I can somewhat understand that we need a specific order of the alphabet--" Somewhat? You're a librarian, you obviously need that. "--but I cannot fathom how they decided what letters come in what order. Any answers, dubious or not, would be appreciated. Memento mori, Elaine."

J: [sings] Nobody knoooows.

H: Yeah, I mean, this is the second question that we are answering today that we have discussed previously in a vlogbrothers video, which makes me think we have made too many vlogbrothers videos, but I made a video about this called "Why is the alphabet in alphabetical order?" and the answer is: nobody knows. And in fact the weird thing about this is [dramatic pause] that the alphabet has been in alphabetical order for longer than any individual word has existed.

J: Yeah, also that the alphabet has sort of been in alphabetical order since before it was the alphabet, like since before it was the English alphabet

H: Oh, yeah.

J: Nobody knows.

H: For longer than English has existed, for longer than any language currently existing on Earth has existed. That's weird! What a cool weird thing, it's like somebody did that.

 J: Yeah, it kind of points to the possibility, and this is something that I think about a lot and that really makes my head hurt, but there's a relationship between thought and language that is so deep and profound that you really kind of can't separate the two of them. (50:00) to (52:00)


J: Like, thought without language is very different, it looks very different, it feels very different I think, and the few people that we've encountered who don't have language and who later acquire it in adulthood talk about thought differently, and it's just weird and overwhelming, and I'm just grateful for the alphabet.

H: Yeah. Well, I mean to me it's indicative of the great lineage of of humanity, like these are things that that continue and that progress, and that like, you know, they're just a useful tool and they were useful every single generation since language existed, and so we have continued to use that tool and had no reason to refine it, and so we still have this this tool, that is the order that the letters come in, that stretches back pretty much you know farther back than we can see. And whoever did that, whatever group of people did that, they had a tremendous impact on you know humanity over the years and we will never know who they were or what they were thinking. And that's fine and great.

J: Yeah, it's also why we need to name every street Thousands and Millions of People Street.

H: [being talked over by John] Everybody works together in this great, great enterprise.

J: Hank, before we get to, we got a couple corrections before we get to the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon.

H: Oh god.

J: First off, we've talked a lot of smack about Russia on this podcast, apparently, and Natalia wrote in to say: "Dear Green brothers, you've probably heard about the mass protests that happened all over Russia last week. My family and I live in Russia and are strong supporters of the Russian Opposition, and I've always been frustrated with the fact that people outside of Russia often judge the whole country by its leader. 

 I'm not saying that no one in Russia supports Putin and despises the liberal values that most people in the U.S. believe to be essential, like freedom of speech--" I'm not sure that most people believe that to be essential, Natalia, but your point is well taken, "--but there are people like me and my friends that desperately want change and spend a lot of time trying to make it happen. (52:00) to (54:00) J: I see so much surprise for the fact that there were mass protests in Russia, yet hundreds of people have been doing so much in the last couple of years." And she signed off, "I really want to be free, Natalia." And I just wanted to underscore that, because it's very easy to imagine countries monolithically, and it is a mistake. And the people who are fighting for a freer Russia are doing so at great risk to themselves and to their families, and they are real heroes in a way that I cannot imagine. So I just wanted to read that. And then I also wanted to have a couple quick corrections, Hank. Most importantly from Austin, do you want to read this one?


H: Right, yeah. I mean, that seems seems dubious to me, but I am going to read it. It's a bit of a shift from the last correction

J: Yeah.

H: John just highlighted one word on this list that it made me laugh. So anyway, in a recent podcast, a "sponsor" told the listeners to pee anywhere except in a toilet. My correction is: please don't. I have a very close friend who had made the terrible mistake of peeing on a bonfire. They felt safe being several feet back, however, the intense flames super-heated his urine stream and burned the inside of his urethra. Please please please.

J: Yeah, that does seem a little dubious.

H: I don't know how that would happen. I don't think-- it's not that good of a conductor of heat, just a stream of pee I don't think would be. But I can see getting a burn, I can see like the steam flashing back and getting a burn around that area, but I have a hard time seeing how the pee is going to get so hot to burn the inside of the urethra, but I'm not saying you're wrong, I would like to know more

 J: Austin, did you go to the hospital with this friend or is this a story that your friend told you, because my feeling is maybe like, (54:00) to (56:00) J: Unless you were in the hospital room where the diagnosis occurred, I think that there may have been a little bit of exaggeration in this story, and I say that as somebody who's pretty experienced in the field of exaggerating stories.


H: [laughs] I do want to say that there are lots of dangerous places to pee where you shouldn't pee. For example, we were just in Amsterdam, where a number of men are found dead in canals every year, and the vast majority of them have their flies down because they were peeing into the canal.

 J: Yep.

H:And then they fell in, and the canals have sheer walls that are very hard to climb out of.

J: Yeah, don't get drunk and pee in a canal in Amsterdam, that's a great idea.

H: Unless there is a murderer who is going around unzipping people's flies and then pushing them into the canals.

J: That's a really good premise for a mystery novel, but I suspect that that's not--

H: Do you want to know what the title of that novel is, John?

J: Desperately.

H: Because--

J: is it called

H: [laughs] what?

J: As a throwback to a very old episode of the pod.

H: Yeah, no, John. This was not my joke, but I can't remember who made this joke, but it was made on the canal in Amsterdam at Vidcon.

J: [laughs]

H: But what were we talking about?

J: Okay, Hank, it's time to get to the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Let's start with the news from AFC Wimbledon. Hank, AFC Wimbledon have gone on an amazing, amazing run, and by amazing amazing run I mean they have not scored in one, two, three, four games. They have they've scored zero goals in four games.

H: That doesn't sound very exciting.

 J: And their last two games against Peterborough and Swindon Town were both nil-nil draws, which is very impressive in one sense-- we haven't kept that many clean sheets this year, but slightly less impressive in the sense that we haven't scored in 360 minutes of football,  (56:00) to (58:00) which is a lot. Even for soccer that's not enough goals.


H: Yeah, that sounds like a lot of sitting around for the fans of the Wimbles. The waffles.

J: The only question at this point is: will the Wombles somehow finish above the franchise currently applying its trade in Milton Keynes in the end-of-season table? Currently we're down by two points with two games to play, two games left in the season, so it's possible. There is no chance of being relegated, Wimbledon are now mathematically un-relegatable, and that in and of itself is a massive success for this season. Getting promoted to league one this year and being able to stay in league one is awesome, so it's been a successful season, even if the last four games have featured zero goals.

H: Well, John, some folks at Purdue University have created a device, and the goal of this device is to basically have a small-scale simple food processing system that can take things like soybeans or other or grains and make it into food more like food than just the soybeans. So like, we take soybeans and we make a lot of stuff out of it, but we usually need very large scale equipment to do that, to like make soybean oil from soybeans and then take whatever the end result of that is, and you take all that stuff that isn't the soybean oil, and you make stuff out of that. So this is all very important if you're thinking about how to like, set up a group of people to survive on another planet for a substantial amount of time. It's ideal if they could be taking raw materials and creating foodstuffs that aren't just those raw materials.

 And so these Purdue University scientists made this thing that separates the stuff using like,  (58:00) to (1:00:00) heat and and vacuum and etc., a bunch of different techniques. It separates oils from grains or from soybeans or other things, and creates stuff that can then be used for the manufacture of other kinds of food. Now they did this, and it's sort of like a first test of the kind of thing that NASA would need. It's too big, it's too heavy, but it's definitely the first thing of its kind. I would say that like basically it's the size of a of a microwave oven, which is much smaller than the kind of equipment you would normally need to do this kind of stuff. It's not the shape of a microwave oven, it looks for all intense purposes like a piece of a lawn mower, but it turns out that this technology is also very useful in places where we are still doing a lot of manual labor (and when I say we I mean humans) in order to convert food into things that can actually be eaten.


So you might grow stuff, and then you have to slam it together and then boil it to make a porridge that's actually edible, and a lot of labor goes into that, and in places where you now live in a city, but still you're somewhere in the developing world, you don't have time to do all that labor to get your food ready to eat. And so oftentimes people then purchase food that has gone through an industrial alteration somewhere far away, and then has to be shipped back.

 So that food might have started out in the country where you are, been all the way to another country, and then come back processed, and then you have to pay for all of that, and so they're realizing now that they could be using this kind of technology to have smaller scale distributed food processing that was designed originally for NASA and for Mars, (1:00:00) to (1:02:00)  but could actually be used to help people turn the food that they grow in the place where it's grown into the kind of food stuff that people would want to consume, and help enliven those economies and also free up some time that people would otherwise be using to prepare their food, which I thought was pretty cool.


J: Yeah, and you know that's happening in my home state of Indiana. That's great to hear! By the way, you know who the president of Purdue University is?

H: No idea.

J: Former Indiana governor Mitch... what's his name? Mitch... Daniels. Mitch Daniels, there you go, just a little bit of information for you, that's all being headed up by Mitch The billboards for him always said "My man Mitch," which I just thought was so Indiana.

H: Thanks, my man Mitch!

J: Thank you, Mitch, for providing more food, possibly to the world and certainly to the future people on Mars. Hank, what did we learn today?

H: John, we learned that there is no no politics rule when it comes to that swiping... dating... thing that the kids are doing these days.

J: We learned, of course, that there is a place in England called Tooting.

H: We learned that Danube Island is a recreational paradise with the largest outdoor trampolining available on planet Earth

J: And of course we learned that if you really cannot stand your mother-in-law's cooking, just hide a couple salt packets in your palm, get really good at magic, [Hank laughs] and then use your magic skills to salt your food.

H: It's the first, step one in most dear Hank and John answers, get really good at magic.

[both laugh]

H: All right John, thanks for podding with me.

 J: That's such good advice, Hank it's so important as step one: always get good at magic. Hank, thank you for podding with me.  (1:02:00) to (1:02:54) We are now gonna make "This Week in Ryan's," our new podcast, which is available at our Patreon. It's like a five to ten minute bit where we talk about a Ryan every week. If you go to patreon.com/dearhankandjohn you can find out more and get free information on various things related to the pod. But Thanks for podding with me, you can email us at hankandjohn@gmail.com , that's the place to send questions.


H: Dear Hank and John is produced by Rosianna Halse-Rojas and Sheridan Gibson. Is this what you were gonna do, John?

J: Yep, do that.

H: Our editor is Nicholas Jenkins, Victoria Bongiorno is our Head of Community and Communications, and our music is by the great Gunnarolla. And as they say in our hometown:

H+J: Don't forget--

H: [finishes at a normal pace] to be awesome.

J: [pausing dramatically between each word and finishing a few seconds after Hank] ... to be... awesome. Sorry, I didn't kill that one. But to be fair you didn't do very well on the intro.

H: [laughs as the music plays out]