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Why do I like the smell of gasoline? What should I do about my racist boss? What is the clothes fastener technology in Star Wars? And more!

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 (00:00) to (02:00)

Hank: Hello and w- were you just whispering?

Mayim: Yes I was just whispering to nobody - Sorry, I was just whispering that if the cats become a problem he should lock them out, I'm sorry.

H: Okay

[both laughing]

H: Hello, and welcome to Dear Hank and John

M: Or as I prefer to call it - Dear Mayim and Hank

H: It's a comedy podcast where me and my brother john but occasionally guest- uh, guest hosts like this weeks Mayim Bialik, answer questions, give you dubious advice and bring you all the weeks news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Mayim did you bring AFC Wimbledon news?

M: You know, I did and it's big.

H: It's big. I- I actually looked up some and I was like John's gonna be sad he missed this week. How are you?

M: Oh yeah well I- I'm okay but you know, AFC Wimbledon is really-

H: No!

M: in goalkeeper shock.

H: Don't tell anyone yet we have to save it for the end of the pod.

[both laughing]

M: Okay. I'm doing okay.

H: Good. Good. H- Where are you at?

M: I'm in my children's room.

H: [Laughing]

M: and I'm uh- I'm in Los Angeles.

H: Why are you in your children's- is this where your podcast studio set up is?

M: Because- it is- no there's no studio set up to be had here. It's the quietest room in the house as it were because my children are not here.

H: Right, yes I would imagine it's not usually the quietest room in the house.

M: No.

H: No. Um I have a child now-

M: I know!

H: The last time we talked I did not.

M: [laughing] That's right, congratulations again.

H: Now I do and he's uh- he's sleeping inside right now and uh, thus does not need me. So that's- what I've heard is that if a child is sleeping you can just leave, right? And go somewhere?

M: Oh yeah, no they got that. They figure that out.

H: Perfect. Um, yeah thanks this is excellent parenthood advice. Uh I have a parenting question for you.

M: Okay.

H: Am I gonna be okay?

M: [laughing] Are you gonna be okay? Haha! 

H: Haha - is everything-

M: You will be okay- You'll be okay in about four years.

H: Haha alright. Well good.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

H: Uh at least there's a horizon, I appreciate-


H: I appreciate the perspective. Um, uh yeah well it's an absolute pleasure to have you here I've uh, you know- it's very interesting to hear your voice. I assume that people know uh, some things about you but you are um, obviously on some TV shows and have been for a long time.

M: Right.

H: And also you are just sort of a- I don't know, like a professional helpful nerd person on the internet. Is that right?

M: [laughing] Um, I guess? I mean I definitely have um, made a sort of- an active decision to- to find an audience that understands me as I am. Uh, since being an actor means uh, having people like you for what they want you to be, and um, I started a website called Grok Nation and I've started entering the YouTube space, honestly completely inspired by you and your brother, uh, to try and make an impact in positive ways that are helpful and entertaining, and don't necessarily rely on a casting director telling you that you're good enough.

[both laughing]

H: But yeah that's- I have done a little bit of the L.A. thing and I don't really know why anyone would give up what I do for that.

M: Yes.

H: Just 'cause it's so- it's so- it's rough.

M: It's- it's rough. And it's not like "I work in the coal mines" rough. But um, it is a psychologically and spiritually challenging environment to uh, to exist in and you know I was in the industry as a child and I left for twelve years and got my undergraduate and graduate degree, I had two kids, and I've returned and The Big Bang Theory is a very big blessing in my life, it is not what I thought my life would look like so there's a lot of adjustment going on in general, as there is for all of us.

H: I feel that. Well, um, speaking of psychological challenges, we have a question- Oh no wait! You have a short poem for us.

M: I do. I have a stanza of a longer poem, but yes.

H: Okay.

M: Okay. Just like go at it?

H: Do it.



 (04:00) to (06:00)

M: Okay so this is a medieval poet. He was born in the middle of the twelfth century, his name is Peire Vidal, and um, when I read this particular poem, and this stanza, it reminded me of one of my favourite musicians: Morrissey. And you will see from the final line why that is so. This is translated by Paul Blackburn.

Mayim, reading the poem: "Lady, when I was within your hall, it seemed Saint Julian must have been my host. God never made such a perfect day as you formed of that day with your hand. In your making he made no mistake. Such arms were cast only to kill me, sure. I trust your excellence is too good a thing, but even if you killed, me it would be an honour, and if I died, I could only die praising and rejoicing."

H: Mmm.

M: The Morrissey lyric "to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die" is what I thought of when I read that medieval poem.

H: [laughing] Yeah, uh, things have not changed. 

M: Exactly.

H: I mean things have changed but as far as like, overly sacchrine love poetry, we're still goin' at it.

M: Oh yeah, in terms of painful love, not much has changed in the last eight hundred years or so.

H: Well in terms of painful love, or in this case, painful non-love, this question comes at us from Lindsey who asks: "Dear Hank and Mayim, I recently asked one of my friends to prom. She's a year younger than me, and I wanted to carry on my tradition in my friend circle of bringing underclassmen to prom a year early so they can experience it. Unfortunately, she took my prom-posal to mean that I had a romantic interest in her which I don't. She has confessed that she likes me too and I don't know how to deal with this. Do I tell her that I'm not interested and have the most awkward prom ever? Or do I just not break the facade and let her down later? Dubious advice is much appreciated. With much uncertainty, Lindsey."

 (06:00) to (08:00)

H: Aye aye aye. I don't know I felt like you were gonna have the answer Mayim-

M: Oh I have the answer, is it my turn to say it?

H: Yeah!

M: I uh, I'm always going to advocate for honest and sincere conversations-

H: Yeah.

M: Even if it hurts other people. And it's never to young to start doing that kindly and lovingly.

H: Yeah. Yeah, so how do you do this kindly and lovingly? Is it sort of like, okay, here, Lindsey, I uh- asked this question to a podcast, they have answered it, and I would like you to- I would like you to listen to the podcast so that we don't have to have this awkward conversation? That seems like a good way to do it. 

[both laughing]

M: Yeah I- Yeah no I think that that's pretty much they way you have to do it. There's no way to soften the blow of reality in this case.

H: Mhm.

M: And it's going to hurt her and I think a lot of people avoid having honest and sincere conversations because they're trying to take care of other people's feelings, and I feel like it creates an environment where no one is able to be honest or deal with their feelings, so this gets to be the first experience where uh, that's the conversation. It seems that my prom-posal - fancy word - it seems that my prom-posal may have introduced a conversation that's really hard to have, but I really want to go to prom with you, but I'm not romantically interested in you and I hope that we can still go and have a good time, and if you don't want to, I'll understand.

H: Yeah. Yeah, and uh, and I don't know if there's a good hug that can come along with it that isn't awkward but it does seem like a moment that requires a hug. Uh, what a bummer.

M: Sure

H: What a bummer! What a like- Oh man.

M: I wouldn't want a hug in that situation.

H: [laughing] Okay, well that's good to note.

M: Yeah. "Dear Hank and Mayim, I'm currently in the middle of getting divorced. For the most part everything is amicable, and we have both moved on with our lives over this past year. We do have a wonderful 3-year-old son together."

 (08:00) to (10:00)

M: "My ex-husband's birthday is usually the same week as Father's day, and I'm not sure what, if anything, I should do. I would like my son to be able to give his Dad a gift but I can't just give a 3-year-old cash and send him to the store. [Hank laughing] Should I buy a gift for my ex-husband? Or invest time in a craft with my son to give him? Is this my job at all now that we are separated? Should I just assume his new significant other will take this over? As always, dubious advice is appreciated. Thankyou, Cat."

H: Oh yeah-

M: Cat, I have- I have been in this exact situation.

H: [laughing] I mean I-

M: That's why I like this question.

H: I had a feeling it seems like you ended this amicably and you're still friends, so like, he's still a father and it's still his birthday and he's still a part of your life.

M: Right and I would say- my ex's birthday is not the same week as Father's Day but there are other holidays that fall around my ex's birthday so this is something that has been in my head a lot. Um, here's my thing: we get to teach children how to behave, separate from our relationships and resentments or issues. The fact that it's the same week as Father's Day, I think it would be really nice to show your child whether the father has a new life, to show the child: "this is how we celebrate Dad on Father's Day and his birthday."

And you don't need to go over the top. I think the first year after we were divorced I was like "Let's buy him a computer!'

[Both laughing]

And my therapist was like "No, you don't need to buy him a computer." But I think um, I think making cards, having the child decorate a card is always a nice thing. When I had children that age and I was just divorced I would have my child say nice things about Daddy. Like, I would say "What's something you like about Daddy?" and I would sort of transcribe um, you know like, "Daddy whatever... gives me candy" or whatever it is and then have them decorate the card. I think that's nice. And if there's something small, as a gesture that the child can participate in, wrapping, I think it's important to show we give important people gifts. And it really is- it's the ultimate gift to teach that child that while giving the ex-husband a gift.


 (10:00) to (12:00)

H: Boom. You're really good at this. You're better at advice than John and Hank Green are.

M: Hey thanks!

H: For sure!

M: [laughing]

H: I mean uh, I feel like we are dispensing actual good advice on this episode of Dear Hank and John - it's super off brand.

M: Sorry! [laughing]

H: Well so to turn things around I'm gonna hit a question from Steven who asks: "Dear Hank and Mayim,
Something I have been wondering for years: what is the clothes fastener technology in Star Wars? Do they have zippers or velcro or did all species use the same? Pimento in your eye, Steven in Cincinnati." So-

M: I'm gonna let you take this one first.

H: Are you a star wars fan? I can't imagine you're not a Star Wars fan.

M: I am, I am. I am a Star Wars fan.

H: But did you, upon reading this question, go and Google like every costume design from all of Star Wars? 'Cause that's what I did.

M: Oh! No, no. I didn't do prep. I don't know if that's what I was supposed to do. No I didn't do prep I just used my brain, like thought about it. 

H: Yeah I-, so I did a little bit of prep and I'll say that they use- they seem to use everything.

M: Yes.

H: They seem to have velcro, they seem to have uh, even magnetic fasteners, it looks like on a couple of uniforms. Some- you know those belts, like the straps on like backpacks. A couple of those show up.

M: Right.

H: But then you have zippers and you have buttons all over the place, lots of zippers and buttons. 

M: I think, you know- I think but-

H: Just like normal life.

M: But not- But unlike normal life, I think there's a lot of hidden zippers.

H: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well that's a costume design thing in general- is like you don't necessarily want a zipper pop up like sh- So I think there's a lot of like the fabric goes over where the zipper is 'cause otherwise there's no way to put that shirt on.

M: Correct.

H: So you know there's a zipper in but you can't see-

M: No and it doesn't- it doesn't- it just doesn't look as nice.

H: I mean then you can't use a Mickey Mouse zipper pull, which is what used to be on one of my favourite jackets.

M: I mean I think zipper pulls are s- like we need a solution to the zipper pull crisis.

 (12:00) to (14:00)

H: Zipper pulls have gotten so boring. All my hoodies have normal zipper pulls and they're just like- they're from you know YKK which is the- the biggest you know they make 90% of the zippers in the world. And I think that there- like there should be a way for me to replace my YKK zipper pulls with something a little more interesting. And I like-
M: Well I just like attach things to the zipper, is my solution. 
H: You attach- so you like put something onto the end of the zipper pull?
M: Yeah, so like I used to have a - this is not an advertisement for Mickey Mouse or Disney - but I used to have a Mickey Mouse thing. It would clip onto your zipper so that you could grab Mickey's face and pull that up. So I took to doing that, because that's what people like me do. I would attach a cute little tie or something like that and it's easier to do then, and cuter. 
H: Yeah but I think the whole- the whole assembly, there should be a way to replace it. If you can't hear me well it's because I'm examining my hoodie zipper right now. Um, I did a bunch of research on the company, on YKK the company that makes every zipper in the world and it's amazing. It's an amazing company with a fascinating history. Uh, but anyway, do that yourself that's not what this podcast is about. But I do, I have had this thought several times in the last couple of years that like zip- I feel like zipper pulls are an opportunity that we're missing, is all.
M: Agreed
H: Like belt buckles had this for a little while, socks are having it right now, where people are expressing themselves through their socks in a way they hadn't previously. 
M: That's true
H: Of course, enamel pins are happening but I think- I'm going to predict right now that zipper pulls are the next bit thing for- for self-expression for nerds like us. 
M: You heard it here first folks. 
H: Hank Green, fashion expert. Um. So yeah, uh I think this is a- obviously this is a galaxy that is very far away, it was a long time ago, and I think this is a case of just convergent evolution of fastening technology.

 (14:00) to (16:00)

H: Like it's just gonna happen that these are the things that work well: velcro, um, you know, straps, and belts, and uh zippers, and buttons, and magnetic snaps. 
M: Absolutely 
H: Alright. Do- Do you have another one for us?
M: Yes, and actually if you're uh, here's a little hint as to which one I'm gonna ask: if you're having a cold, you may want to eat something spicy. "Dear Hank and Mayim, My boss keeps asking me things like, 'Are you Kim Jung Un's cousin?' or 'Did you bring dog meat for lunch?'"
H: Oh no. Oh God.
M: "This is obviously a harmless joke, but I hate it"
H: Is it?? Is it a harmless joke??
M: Wait, well let's see what the question is. "I'm the only Asian working at a build of about 200 white people"
H: Ahhhh
M: "So when I first started, I cracked some jokes about being Asian to make everyone feel comfortable with me. But now, my boss's daily racially-centered banter is getting old, annoying, and at times mean. Should I stop her? I feel like if I do, she won't know how else to communicate with me. Also- Also I feel like it's kind of my fault for starting it. Any advice? Kim chi and vegemite, Sam"
H: Oi-oi-oi. First of all, uh uh, so I'm understanding this, you've got 200 white people in this building, your direct report boss is- uhh thinks that- thinks that your race is a thing to comment upon like the color of your shirt. Um, uh, but worst than that- way worse than that- um uh I don't. So the thing is, this boss is obviously not the top boss at your company. With 200 people you have an HR department, and this is what the HR department is for. When you have a problem with your boss that doesn't have anything to do with your job, that's who you're supposed to talk to and that is the exact kind of problem that they want to hear about because it is a huge- like it is a pretty big deal. 

 (16:00) to (18:00)

M: Mmhmm and also what I think is really interesting, the "I feel like it's kind of my fault for starting it" um, yeah let's not go down that road. There is no excuse for what's going on. It is not your fault for starting it, unless by "starting it" you mean "being Asian." 
H: Yeah. I mean it's interesting that coming into a place where you are different there's- there's often a psychological desire to be like "hey, I know, I'm aware that I'm different and here it is. I'm Asian, and here's my joke about how I'm a different person" and like, alleviate the tension of the difference that's there. 
M: I have- and right- as a Jewish person I've absolutely done this. I've absolutely when I'm in a situation where um it is clear that people are either unfamiliar with Jewish people or um have not had a lot of interaction with Jewish people, there is a little bit of almost social ice-breaking you do as it were. I mean I would never say like, "How do ya like my hook nose?" or anything like that. And um anything I would say would um would- would not- it would not be acceptable to open the door to people saying, "Oh, are you never gonna buy lunch?" or anything like that, so yeah.
H: Yeah, I mean there has a huge difference between those two things. Uh calling it out and being like "I"m aware that I'm different" and someone else being like "Yes, you are. Let me re-emphasize that every day for the rest of the time that you work here. Uh, beacuse that was fun when you did it." Ughhhhh oh man.
M: No, not okay. And, you know a um really really important 21st-century realization: these kinds of things don't have to be brushed under the rug anymore. Um you know, a lot of sort of the explosion of you know the notion of equality, of liberalism, a lot of that sometimes is taken too far but my thought is let's air on the side of being sensitive, cautious, and respectful. 

 (18:00) to (20:00)

H: Yeah! Oh man. It's- it's- it's very weird when people are like "Oh God, I have to think about that now?" and you're like "You know, if- if you wanna be nice. If you want to respect other humans who are different from you, sure. I'm so sorry that it's inconvenient?" 
M: Right. Don't put a question mark!
H: Um yeah. I have- I have- I deal with this a lot in my professional life because I have a science show on YouTube where people are like, are uh, are familiar with people who are like them mostly
M: Right
H: And they are, the vast majority of SciShow viewers are white dudes and they, you know, it's difficult to understand the experience of other people and maybe they're not experienced at it and maybe when they're like "why did you talk that way?" I'm like because I have trans friends who are like, it's better- it's less troubling for me when you talk a certain way when you don't connect biological sex and gender and I'm oh, okay well then I won't do that. And then people- and then somebody who this doesn't affect at all starts screaming at me like I have just caused the greatest unjustice in human history by acknowledging the existence of trans people. And I'm like- I just- I don't know where to go from here. Like, why are you so mad? I didn't tell you how to talk. 
M: Right
H: I talked in the way that I thought was respectful to the people who have talked to me about this issue and uh yeah. Totally lost on that and I wanted to say it out like because I've been- I've been experiencing it for the last, uh, two years and I didn't really talk about it until recently. 

 (20:00) to (22:00)

H: And I talked about it to the SciShow audience and I feel like it's been a little better for everybody to, uh, to have it out in the open so-
M: Agreed
H: Anyhow. This question is from Rachel who asks, "Dear brothers from a mother with the last name of another color," - that's a reference to a song I wrote a long time ago, but unfortunately is not applicable in this situation unless Bialik is a color
M: Actually
H: Is it?!
M: It is from the root of the word white. Yes, from the Bialik region of Russia/Ukraine/Poland
H: *laughs* Hey! Yeah, but we're unfortunately 
M: Amazing, amazing
H: We're not *wheeze* perfect, excellent. We're not siblings at least. Um, Rachel- Rachel asks: "I was playing a game of French Toast online with friends and- that I met at Nerdcon: Nerdfighteria - thanks for that by the way - and we stumbled upon a problem that is threatening to rip us apart. Is a neck tie a type of scarf?" 
M: In all caps
H: I mean like I don't- I don't even wanna look at the rest of this question I- it's very long. There's a substantial amount of uh of- of discussion of what a scarf is that continues here. Can we just get beyond needing to label everything? To know what things go in what category and people being like "Poptarts are sandwiches!" and I'm like quit it, just go away!
M: Okay but Rachel wants to know! I want you to tell her.
H: Mayim, is a poptart a sandwich? Because it's basically it's two pieces of bread with something in the middle. 
M: No. 
H: You're not ready to accept that?
M: No. It's not. 
H: What makes it not a sandwich then?
M: I mean like, you and me hugging someone in the middle of us doesn't make us a sandwich either.
H: *Laughs* But it's, but it's food. It's two pieces of bread-
M: No, but this is like the transitive property of our existence. 

 (22:00) to (24:00)

 (24:00) to (26:00)

H: *laughs* Okay. Well- 
M: We're food to someone... or some animal. 
H: *laughs* That'd be good. A shark- to a shark, three people hugging is a sandwich. Perfect.
M: Done. 
H: It's- 
M: *inaudible* That shark is going to call it a poptart. It's what their going to call it. 
H: Now if a poptart is not a sandwich, then a neck tie is not a scarf. K-
M: My feeling is, the fact that the word tie is in the name of it, means it's not a scarf. It's got the word tie. That's like a verb. It's a thing you do with it.
H: But... but oh god, now we're in the rabbit hole, because you could tie a scarf. I've done it.
M: You could-
H: No, I do it.
M: But it's not called a scarf tie.
H: *laughs* But I...
M: You could also knot... wait... you could also knot it. 
H: But you can... you can, you can knot a tie.
M: You can wear a scarf as a hat. You can't wear a necktie as a hat. 
H: *laughs* Oh my God.... That's...That's... That's not.... That's not helpful. That is... that is not...
M: My Mother used to make me wear headbands made out of vintage ties. It was like a thing.
H: *laughs* I think I can picture Blossom doing that.
M: Exactly. She also would give me... ummm... I would wear... ummm... wear neck ties as belts, and when I be like, 'Mom, I don't think this is cool.' She'd be like, "Gene Kelly did it."
H: *laughs* 
M: That's a true story. 
H: Uhhh so is a necktie a belt? Is uhhh the next question?
M: Everything is everything. 
H: Ohhh wow. Okay. Yes. I-
M: K-
H: Well. You know what. I think it's up in the air. Honestly, Rachel, I think, I think we're not going to get there. I think that, I think that, we... there comes a point at which things blend, and there is no definition for what a sandwich is, or what a scarf is, and we're just going to have to accept that there... that there are these areas where there will be disagreement. Like some people will say that color is orange, and some people will say that color is red because it's right between red and orange. And that's just... that's just part of life. And you're going to have-

 (26:00) to (28:00)

M: And also this is... this is... going to vary culturally, as well... right?
H: Sure.
M: We have a culture with a language that has names for ascots, and ties, and bow ties, and scarfs.... and.... I'm sure there are other things I don't know the names for that are related to things that go around your neck. But we only have one word for snow, right?
H: *laughs* No.... you clearly don't live in Montana. We have lots of words for snow.
M: *laughs" Alright. I stand corrected.
H: Ahhhhh oh man. Well.... *laughs* I feel like I asked that question just to get mad at Rachel. But I'm not really-
M: Clearly 
H: mad at Rachel. I'm mad at Rachel for letting this come between her and her friends. Like... don't let this tear you apart. 
M: *laughs* Like you could tear apart a neck tie after tying it.
H: Right... Just rip it off. Just rip the whole controversy apart. And say, we share values. And we share... uhh.. we share... uhhh...we share a connection and we share experiences... and that's what ties us together. Not this stupid piece of silk, or other kind of fabric.
M: *laughs* Okay. 
H: You want to hit me with another question?
M: I'm very.... I do.... I'm really excited about this one. Both for you and for me.
H: Okay.
M: Thomas says: "Did Mayim and Hank," 
M: Uhhhh I love this question so much - 
M: "At the time of writing this, I've just arrived at my favorite place to go and relax - my local library. While the library is awesome for my de-stressification needs - being quiet, peaceful - it is currently packed with shouting babies and their equally loud mothers, on account of it being, according to the website - "Baby Time."
H: *laughs*

 (28:00) to (30:00)

M: HA. Wait... wait for it... I'm going to ask it, the way I would ask it: "How is this a thing???!" "If there is one thing everyone learns about libraries, it's that they're suppose to be quiet. How do you two feel about this? Should baby time be a thing? Also should I get another quiet place during the weekly shouting match between the tiny humans that seems to be taking place. Coffee and rage - Thomas." 
M: Thomas - Are you single? Because you are absolutely the person for me. I am mother. I am a mother of two children. And this stuff makes me bonkers. 
H: *laughs*
M: Makes me bonkers. 
H: I - uhhh- I-
M: I- Go ahead.
H: I live in a town that is very baby, baby and child friendly. And like uhhh... the owner's of businesses are aware, that, in order to fill out their clientele, they have to appeal to parents, and get them out of the house, and get them going to places. And so, in my pre-baby life - like I haven't gotten to the point where I can do this yet, because my child sleeps every 30 seconds, and uhh like we don't want to mess with it. uhhh it's just like... at this age, at 6 months, they're all like... it's always, they're about... they're just getting up or they're about to go to sleep. There's like, 30 minutes during which you can do stuff. It's very frustrating. But eventually I will imagine this will happen. Uhhh... But before in my pre-baby life, I would show up at a bar, and then suddenly it would be like a person would be on the stage singing children's music, and a thousand uhh children would be running around, screaming, and it would be all - and I would be like - I CAME TO A BAR?! I came to a bar to do bar things. And suddenly I have found myself, in what is apparently like a bar-gymboree. Like. It's, it's, it's like... it's as if the Mcdonald's play pin-
M: It's a barboree.
H: Yeah... got, got it on... with uhhh, with like a regular dive bar in Missoula Montana that smells like cigarettes, and like, and like... a century of beer poured across the floor boards. This is not normal. 
M: No. But it is a thing.

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