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How do I memorize all the birds? Should I join the Navy? How do you eat trail mix? And more!

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[Dear Hank and John theme music plays] 

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

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

Hank: It's a comedy podcast where two brothers answer your questions, give you dubious advice and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. How are you doing, John? 

John: I'm doing so well, Hank. Mostly for reasons that we can't talk about until the end of the podcast. 

Hank: Oh! Oh, I see.

John: I have to confess that I am a little bit limping to the finish line of 2017. It has been a pretty long year for me. I published my first book in six years. That was pretty stressful. Exciting but stressful. Lots of things have been happening. Movie stuff. Like just a lot of - and I had labyrinthitis -

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: - which I don't recommend despite its metaphorically resonant name. It's just been - the last couple of months have been a little intense, so I am just trying to get to the end and move on to 2018. How are you? 

Hank: I'm good! I just have a baby, and it's so good.

John: Yeah. 

Hank: I also really, really want to see the Star Wars movie. I want to see it -

John: Oh, yeah! 

Hank: - but I can't, because like, how do parents ever watch movies? How does it ever happen?

John: We - you get a babysitter. Get a babysitter! 

Hank: I guess, but I feel like if I'm getting a babysitter I should be like, doing something where Katherine and I hang out. 

John: No.

Hank: Not just stare at something together. 

John: No, that's ridiculous. No.

Hank: Okay.

John: Go see the Star Wars movie. It's a lovely - I still love a good movie as a date night. I think movies continue to be a great date night. You know what movie is going to be a great date night, Hank? 

Hank: What movie?

John: Turtles All the Way Down, coming to a theater near you. 

Hank: Okay. Oh goodness. Okay, John. Who - do you want to babysit my baby while I go watch the Star Wars movie?

John: Yeah, that's a good idea. I want to spend 12 hours flying to Missoula so I can spend 3 hours with my nephew.

Hank: Well -

John: No. I don't. You want a short poem? 

Hank: [laughs] Okay! 

John: Alright. This short poem was sent in by Heather. It's very good, and it's about death, so thank you Heather for sharing a poem about death. I appreciate it. It's by Moriya Sen'an whose name I'm probably mispronouncing, and it is translated from Japanese. "Bury me when I die beneath a wine barrel in a tavern. With luck, the cask will leak." 

Hank: Mmmm. 

John: It's good Hank. It's good.

Hank: Mmmm, poems.

John: I would love to have just a few glasses of wine after my death, but I feel that the odds are against me. 

 Question 1 (2:43)

Hank: John, our first question -

John: Yeah.

Hank: Of Dear Hank and John -

John: Uh huh.

Hank: Comes from Tin, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, Aaaah! Help! I have a final on birds in less than two hours. I have to memorize all the birds' orders, families, and species of California, and in two hours I have to put all that knowledge to a test. Please help! Please send help! With the atomic number of 50, Tin." Like tin!

John: Yeah, no - T - I - N. It does have the atomic number of 50. Hank, do you know where the elements get their atomic numbers from? I thought this was just a fascinating fact. 

Hank: Uh, yes?

John: Where do they get their numbers from? 

Hank: The number of protons they have? 

John: See, I always thought it was from just a dart board, that like, chemists would throw a dart at a dart board and they'd be like, "50! Tin!" But no, it turns out it's the number of protons they have!

Hank: Well there's a certain amount of logic to just like, "oh, well this is the lightest one and so it's number 1 and this is the second lightest one so it's number 2 and we'll just order them by weight."

John: Yeah.

Hank: And that is how they are ordered, but it just happens that's sort of also a consequence of the fact that protons are where a lot of the mass of an atom comes from and as you increase protons you also increase neutrons, which is the other place that the mass of the atom comes from. But! That is neither here nor there, John. That's chemistry, and we have a problem with regards to bird taxonomy, apparently -

John: Yeah, it's a little weird to me.

Hank: This is not - [trails off in squeaky voice] 

John: Taxonomy - bird taxonomy feels a little bit dated as a thing that you should have to memorize -

Hank: Yeah! 

John: - to me. Maybe Tin is writing from the distant past, like 1964?

Hank: Yeah, what is going to help you by - how are you going to be assisted by knowing all of the order, family, and species of all birds in California? That is a huge - like, California is a big and diverse place. 

John: Yeah! 

Hank: It's got mountains, it's got ocean, it's got like, cold, it's got hot, it's got Yosemite and it's got all of the things. It's got -

John: Hank, would you like to take a guess how many bird species there are in California? 

Hank: I'm going to go with 500. 

John: 600!

Hank: That - I was remarkably close! 

John: Actually, yeah. I wouldn't have been within an order of magnitude. I would've said 12. I thought we'd eliminated most of the non-human species, but apparently a few of them are still going strong. You know what the official state bird of California is? I bet Tin does. [laughs]

Hank: [laughing] The herring gull, John, it's the herring gull. No. It's the condor! The California condor! Must be! 

John: Nope! It's the California quail! 

Hank: That's terrible! 

John: You've got to look at a picture of a California quail, Hank. They've got one of those head-dresses that makes them look a little bit like Napoleon. They look like bird Napoleon. 

Hank: [typing noises] Uh, I can't spell, and so I've just Googled the "California qualile".

John: Well, the California qualile is also excellent, but the California quail - I mean, to be fair, the condor is a wonderful bird. Very majestic. But I have never seen a bird that is so clearly suited to official statedom as the California quail. I mean, the California quail might be the next governor of California. 

Hank: [laughing] The California quail looks as if it is tipping its hat to you all of the time. 

John: [laughing] It does! It's a - "hello, sir." 

Hank: Hello, sir! Hello, ma'am. Hello, madame. Hello, monsieur. 

John: So, Tin, this is a dumb assignment and we disagree with it. That is our take. We do not like this as an assignment. We think you should be learning about why tin's atomic number is 50, not about all of the genuses and species and orders of birds in California. 

Hank: Yeah, ah- 

John: But I do want to say, Hank, I have a buddy who is an ornithologist. 

Hank: Mmhmm?

John: That's just something I wanted to say because I very rarely find myself in a situation where I get to talk about my friend who's an ornithologist. 

Hank: Oh, well. Yeah, maybe we should talk to him about why or why not this is important. Though I could probably talk real quick with my friend who's a professor of turtle studies and ask him what he thinks about this. If you'd be interested in that. 

John: Oh- I don't, I do not- Alright. Is Doctor Turtleman available? 

Hank: Hey Doctor Turtleman!

Hank [with squeaky "Doctor Turtleman" voice]: Hello! Hey, how's it going?

John: Oh god. 

Hank: So we've got somebody who needs to learn a bunch of species and orders and families of birds in California. Is that -

Hank as Dr. Turtleman: Oh come on, really? They're still doing that? That's ridiculous. Uh, yeah, I mean what you've got to know, it's not like all of the different species and genus - it's that these things are related and how they're related. Understanding the connection between organisms is much more valuable than being able to name the genus and order and family and species of all the birds of California. Come on, teachers! 

John: There you go. Dr. Turtleman, everybody. Just when I thought he'd retired. 

Hank: [laughs]

 Question 2 (7:36)

John: Our next question comes from Talya [pronounced TAHL-ya] or possibly Talya [pronounced TÆL-ya], who asks "Dear John and Hank, two weeks ago I got very sick and I ended up in the hospital." I'm very sorry to hear about that, Talya. "I'm a college student and now I'm left with a bill I can't afford." Oh my god.

Hank: Mmhmm. 

John: "This is even after the hospital cut my bill by more than 50 percent." Right, but it was cut by more than 50 percent from like, tens of thousands of dollars, whereas if you'd gotten sick anywhere else in the world - I assume that you're American, Talya because this isn't a problem for college students usually outside of America. Although it is occasionally. Oh god. Anyway. "What do you do when you can't pay for something that you have to pay for? Talya." 

Hank: Um, I mean. Usually you sign up for a payment plan, John. 

John: [sound of soda can opening] Sorry, I was just opening a Diet Dr. Pepper. I don't know if you heard that but that's the sound of me feeling despondent. Yeah I mean -

Hank: [laughing] There's only one real response, which is go get yourself a six pack of crisp Diet Dr. Pepper, not yet a sponsor of this podcast. 

John: Yep. It'll solve all your problems, Talya. No, yeah, I mean usually you get in touch with the hospital and you see if you can work out a payment plan over a long period of time.

Hank: Mmhmm. 

John: Another option in some cases is to file for bankruptcy. If you don't have a lot of assets it may make sense to file for bankruptcy although that comes with its own set of problems. I just wanted to read this question mostly because I want to make the point that I believe very strongly that it is really bad for our economy and for our social order to even have the possibility that a college student can be left with a bill that they cannot afford. It is bad. It is bad economically, it is bad policy, it is bad social policy, it makes our lives as Americans worse. Period.

Hank: Mmhmm. Mmhmm. Yeah. And it kind of makes living in this country a little bit of a gamble. And I know that all life is a gamble and that bad things are going to happen, but eliminating those uncertainties is such a valuable thing for, you know, mental health, but also the economy, like -

John: Right.

Hank: Allowing people to take the risks, to do interesting things and to try to make their own business that may end up then having its own employees, and it feels very strange to you know, sometimes know that I have to compete with companies that don't have to pay for their employees' health insurance, and it's just like, huh, that must be easier in a lot of ways for you to not have to deal with that. 

John: Right, but also it's in the best interest of our country and our economy to have Talya focusing on her studies -

Hank: Yeah.

John: - so that she can become a better educated person and be productive in not just the labor market but also in bringing new and interesting ideas into the world instead of having to stress out about paying her medical bills. It should not be a thing that exists. And we know that it doesn't have to exist, because in a lot of the world it doesn't. 

 Question 3 (10:45)

Hank: This next question comes from Lina, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, how do you eat trail mix? Am I supposed to stuff my face with a handful of it all at once or do I eat each piece one by one? Nuts and pretzels, Lina." Are you - what? What?

John: What? 

Hank: What?

John: What? That doesn't make any sense.

Hank: Yeah, you fill your whole hand up, Lina! And then you put that whole handful in your mouth! And that's the whole great thing about trail mix is you get all the different flavors all at once! You get the little slight sweetness of the raisins and the crunchy salty of the nuts, but you also get the crunchy very sweet of the peanuts - peanut butter - peanut M&M - what am I happening? Of the M&Ms! 

John: I have to say, Hank, I feel like there've been a few occasions, most of them have probably been cut out of the podcast by Nick, but I think there have been a few occasions today where something went wrong with your circuitry and you just, like, [laughs] it's almost like you had to reboot.

Hank: [laughs] It's been a very long week! It continues to be, and I meant to eat a Balance bar sometime in the last four hours and I just haven't. 

John: Yeah, that also contributes to my having to reboot periodically. This is what I want to say to Lina. Lina, when I first started dating the woman who is now my wife -

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: I remember we went out to see a movie. It was called Lost in Translation. And we sat next to each other as you do when you're on a first date, or usually. And we sat next to each other, and I had ordered a large popcorn, because that's what I like to eat at the movies and Sarah asked if she could have some of my popcorn, and I said, "yeah, of course!" Not because I actually think it's okay for someone to take part of my large popcorn, because I strongly, strongly dislike it when someone takes any of my large popcorn, but because, you know, it was a first date. I was trying to impress her. 

Hank: I mean, I'm so -

John: But these days if anybody asks me if they can have part of my large popcorn, no. Get your own popcorn. I didn't order this for you. This is my popcorn, and yes, it comes with a free refill, but that's my free refill. Anyway, back to my story. So Sarah reaches over into the popcorn bucket and pulls out a single piece of popcorn and then puts a single piece of popcorn in her mouth, and Hank, I could not have been more surprised if she had grown a second head. 

Hank: [laughing] That's good! It's like putting water in your cereal, it's so weird. 

John: I'm - [laughs] - that's not fair. When I see someone eat a single piece - like, when I finish a large popcorn and I stand up at the end of the movie, it looks like there's been a massacre. 

Hank: [laughs] It looks like there was the Spartan popcorns -

John: Yes!

Hank: - versus the Persian popcorns -

John: Yes!

Hank: - and they had a whole, there was a chicane -

John: Yes! 

Hank: - pass in the mountains. 

John: There are a million dead. Yes.

Hank: That is - yeah. 

John: And I know that that's terrible.

Hank: Yeah.

John: I do always throw away all my stuff. I know that it makes it hard for movie theater employees but I cannot - I eat popcorn a handful at a time. I eat trail mix a handful at a time. Of course! You want as much food in your mouth as possible at any given moment. 

Hank: John, did she then later take a second piece of popcorn or did she just go -

John: Correct. No -

Hank: Okay. So it wasn't like, "I will have this one, thank you very much," and then she was like, "I felt the wave of animosity coming off of this man -"

John: No.

Hank: "- who I thought it would be okay for me to ask for his popcorn, but clearly it wasn't." 

John: No, not at all. No, it was just, it was a pure - she still, like, she'll get a popcorn when we go to the movies and she'll eat it one piece at a time. Like - I mean, it's like watching - it -

Hank: Do you want to know the best popcorn related thing that ever happened to me? So I once went to the movies with one of our cousins and he got a popcorn and a box of M&Ms and we sat down - and this was the coolest thing that had ever happened to me. I was probably like 15 years old and he's older than us. And he set down his popcorn, opened up his M&Ms, and just poured the M&Ms into the popcorn! 

John: Oh yeah. Oh, it's a miracle. 

Hank: Oh, it was so cool! I was like yeah!

John: It is a miracle. 

Hank: Oh my god, and it is so good! 

John: So good.

Hank: It's so good! It's like making your own trail mix. 

John: It really is. It's like -

Hank: Except way worse for you. 

John: Ah, I mean, I don't know about that. It's just - the thing about trail mix is that ostensibly you're eating it while walking.

Hank: Right.

John: Whereas with a popcorn M&M combo you're eating it while reclining. 

Hank: Trail mix has like a - like, if popcorn and M&Ms was sort of a normal trail food then it would be fine, because the point of trail mix is that there's a lot of food in it -

John: Right.

Hank: - and it's easy to eat. 

John: Right.

Hank: Whereas the point of popcorn M&Ms is not like you need a lot of fuel for this three hour movie-going experience. 

 Question 4 (15:43)

John: Alright, Hank. Our next question comes from Hannah, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, my sister's python escaped several days ago and she just fed it, so it's not even hungry." Um. Well -

Hank: Uh, what? Okay. 

John: Okay.

Hank: Mmm. It's - okay, well -

John: I would -

Hank: It's going to get hungry -

John: I think I probably prefer a not hungry python - 

Hank: Right!

John: - all things being equal. 

Hank: Yeah. So it's not even hungry. We don't -

John: I feel like it's good news that it's not hungry. 

Hank: It's such a bummer! We don't have a hungry escaped snake in the house. 

John: Yeah! If only the python was hungry, then it would reveal itself while strangling one of us to death. "I'm coming home for Christmas break pretty soon and my room hasn't had anyone in it for weeks."

Hank: Wait - how very soon? Wait, weeks? Okay, the python's - how much do python eat? Do they eat like, once every six months? 

John: Um. How often do pythons eat? 10 to 14 days. 

Hank: Okay! Alright, okay. So it's not hungry.

John: Yeah, so "My room is the perfect quiet place for it to hide out. How am I going to sleep at night? How do I prevent it slithering next to me for heat?" Oh god.

Hank: Uhh, is that - okay, if that's the main concern, like I'm fine - like, if it's just cuddle time? I'm in. I'm in for snake cuddle time.

John: Oh no, -

Hank: But I don't want to like, wake up with it on my thumb. 

John: No no no no no. I do not want to wake up out of a deep sleep to learn that there is a snake cuddled next to me. 

Hank: Ehhh - 

John: Hard stop. 

Hank: I mean, okay. Alright. I agree. I just think that it's not the worst possible outcome. 

John: Uhhh, well, I mean, I guess it's not the worst possible outcome, because the worst possible outcome is always death. But like, it's a very bad outcome. Hannah, there's an obvious solution here. Which is that this is not your python, this is not your problem, and this was not your mistake, so you come home from the Christmas holidays and the first words out of your mouth are, "hello sister, I will be sleeping in your room until the python is recovered." 

Hank: Yeah. "What I need from you is when I arrive home, all of my furniture is out of the room. There is nothing, nothing in the room. And so I can see its python free-ness."

John: Right.

Hank: Just complete lack of pythonity.

John: Yes.

Hank: And then I can move all of the furniture back in -

John: One at a time.

Hank: Searching each - yep.

John: You reintroduce things into your room.

Hank: Yes.

John: Hank, I think we've solved the problem. Unfortunately, Hannah is already home in real life, and so she's probably -

Hank: Cuddling.

John: - already been strangled to death by her sister's python. Sorry about that Hannah! Wish we'd gotten to your question earlier, but you know. So it goes. 

Hank: Hey, it's okay to have a cuddle, I just don't - I've met people who've gotten constrictors latched on their hands before and it sounds like it's real not good. 

John: Oh my god. 

 Question 5 (18:35)

Hank: Ahh, this next question comes from Anika who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I have a dilemma. I want to try to get information on current events from a variety of sources. I currently use BBC and The Economist for my main news sources." Making you more better at this than literally everyone. "However in a recent conversation with a friend she pointed out that both of those sources are fairly liberal."

John: What?!

Hank: "I would like to use moderate and more conservative sources as well in hopes to get a fuller picture of -" [laughing] The Economist is liberal. 

John: In what world is The Economist, which I believe endorsed both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush a liberal magazine? 

Hank: I don't know, I haven't -

John: That's so weird. Like, The Economist was in favor of American intervention into Vietnam and into Iraq. The Economist is an extraordinarily, in my opinion, moderate news source. I think they endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 but, dot dot dot. I think The Economist is a very, very middle of the road news source and it would only be considered, like, a liberal rag in my mind - 

Hank: Yeah.

John: Also, it doesn't really fall along the lines of like contemporary liberal / conservative bias -

Hank: Yeah! 

John: - because its bias is pretty strongly toward free markets which used to be a conservative thing and now seems to be a thing that doesn't neatly fall on a liberal or conservative thing.

Hank: Mmhmm. Yeah. 

John: I feel like you're doing okay.

Hank: Yeah, Anika's problem is that the only conservative news source she knows about is Fox News and I have some problems with them! [laughs] 

John: Yeah, I would actually, I would recommend - if you're looking for a conservative news source that isn't like Fox News, that isn't kind of aggressively partisan and always constantly trying to frame every news story around, you know, a left / right axis, I would read The Wall Street Journal. I think The Wall Street Journal is a pretty consistently conservative paper, at least in its editorial column, and it's pretty in general, not always, but in general well reported stories, so that's what I read. But I think you're doing okay with the BBC and The Economist. You're doing better than most of us. I mean, most of us, and I'm guilty of this as much as anyone, do nothing but read like, the opinion pages at blah blah blah .com slash opinion. 

Hank: Yeah. I mean most, to be very honest, most of what I read is the headlines on Twitter. So that's not -

John: Ooh oh oh god! 

Hank: I'm one of them. 

John: Oh god! 

Hank: Which is also what most people do. 

John: But then the great thing is you then retweet the headline on Twitter because it's enraging! 

Hank: Yeah. Well, I do try to read a little bit of the article if I'm going to retweet it first. But I will say that there have been studies done that we tend not to do that as a rule, so probably I do that as well. 

John: Yeah. I mean, in limping to the finish line of 2017, Hank, I have to tell you that part of what I'm thinking about is what my 2018 is going to look like in terms of my relationship to the social internet. Because just um. I - mmm. Sorry I had another hard reset there. Ah. I - I have such mixed feelings. 

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: Agh. It's a hard one for me. I love the dopamine rush of the social internet and also it's a big part of my professional life, but at the same time I think it might be really bad for my brain. 

Hank: Yeah. I think that it may be. And it is very hard to use it in a constructive way. I'm trying to do that more by asking myself how Mr. Rogers would tweet, and that is rewarding, to some extent, but -

John: Alright, okay. I want to read some of your recent tweets to you, just real quick. If I may. Just the last - you know what, Hank, let's not - just the last 24 hours. Okay?

Hank: Alright, I'm going to check out what I've said! 

John: Okay. "Can anyone build a webpage very quickly that auto-updates from the indiegogo api? The person who donated most recently and what perk they got, like by Friday?" That doesn't seem like something Mr. Rogers would have tweeted. Like, I don't think Mr. Rogers had access to any of those ideas. 

Hank: [laughing] Well, I mean, maybe if Mr. Rogers was running a charity campaign and he needed somebody to help him out real quick. 

John: Let's go a little bit further back, because Hank has tweeted a lot in the last 24 hours, which also, I would submit, is not something Mr. Rogers would have done. "It's not surprising that Moore hasn't conceded. His campaign was based on the idea that he is the only credible institution in the country." What? That's not something Mr. Rogers would have tweeted. "People in power pushing the fake news narrative have nothing to lose from continuing to question every institution outside themselves." Again, I'm not convinced -

Hank: Yeah.

John: -that Mr. Rogers would have tweeted that. 

Hank: No, I -

John: Let's go back to 20 hours ago! 

Hank: I agree. That was the one I knew you were going to pick, too! I was like, when I tweeted it I was like, "Mr. Rogers wouldn't tweet this." But then I did it anyway. 

John: Okay, earlier yesterday you tweeted, [laughing] okay Hank, here's another example of a tweet that you tweeted very recently that I don't think Mr. Rogers would have tweeted. Quote, "My Mom just now: 'So,' very long pause, 'what is a furry?'" 

Hank: [laughs] Yeah, I don't - yeah, I feel like maybe Mr. Rogers wouldn't have tweeted that. But he might have tweeted the update tweet, which was, "Update: My Mom is excited that furries are living their best lives and hopes that the pressures of the world aren't getting to them too much." 

John: Hank, I do not know of a Twitter feed - I mean, actually I do. I was going to say I don't know of a Twitter feed that less resembles -

Hank: Oh!

John: - what Mr. Rogers tweets would look like. But of course I do. 

Hank: [laughs] I know of a couple. 

John: Yeah. Most of them. Yeah, so my argument would be that I think Mr. Rogers might not be tweeting. 

Hank: If he was around in this particular timeline, at this particular moment, he'd be like, "Eh, think I'm not going to engage in that way."

John: Yeah! Because like, I think engaging in that way kind of comes with tweets that Mr. Rogers wouldn't tweet. Let's move on to another question. 

 Question 6 (24:57)

John: This one comes from Abigail, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, after a recruiter came to my school, I've seriously considered going into the US Navy. Many people have told me that I can't do it because I'm only five feet tall and I've never really worked out a day in my life, but I'm very determined to succeed in this endeavor. I've started running and doing sit ups and push ups. My Mom isn't fond of this idea, as most mothers wouldn't be. She would rather me do two years of community college and then decide from there. I'm 18 so I could usurp her and enlist on my own, but I really want her approval on this life choice because, you know, it's a big one. Any dubious advice is greatly appreciated. Not the root beer, Abigail Whitcomb." That's A and W. 

Hank: Ahh. Hmm. 

John: For those of you paying attention at home. 

Hank: Uh-huh.

John: Um, Hank, this is exciting because we get to decide if somebody goes into the Navy. 

Hank: [laughs] Well, if anybody should be given that power it should be me. First of all, I'll say that I don't know that there are physical requirements that you - that they won't take a person under a certain height. A lot of what is done in the Navy is work that doesn't necessarily require a lot of physicality. I have several friends who are in the Navy who are not big strong people. But I think that your Mom is the more interesting part of this question. 

John: Yep.

Hank: And also maybe friends who are like, "maybe not do that." It's a big ask. It's a thing that - it is a big commitment and it is a commitment to something that you won't know if you like until you're there, and that is what it is. 

John: Yeah. I'm going to go ahead and just say do it, Abigail! Join the Navy! No, I'm just kidding. Don't listen to podcasters about whether or not to join the Navy! Make that decision with your Mom. I understand that you could enlist on your own, but I also don't know that it will negatively impact your career to have two years of community college before you enlist in the Navy. 

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: In fact, it might be good for your career, and then even if you end up having your whole career in the Navy, you know, a 20 year career, that would put you at 40 when you retire from the Navy, which isn't, [sighs] that old. 

Hank: [laughs] 

John: I know it seems old to you right now Abigail.

Hank: I know it seems very old. 

John: I remember being 18. It seemed like 40 was forever away. But let me tell you, it arrives before you know it. 

Hank: There's also separate kinds of being in the military. There's officer school, which is a very different track from just enlisting, and that might be something that if you had a couple years of community college might be an option more open to you, and that comes with a bunch of perks and options that you don't necessarily have if you just enlist. 

John: That said, Abigail, you've come to the worst possible podcast -

Hank: Again, yes.

John: - to get advice on a military career.

Hank: Yeah. There are probably some out there that actually have some experience, whereas John and I have less than none. 

John: Yeah, I mean, we have a couple cousins who are in the Navy. That's as close as we get. And actually they're both out now. So yeah. We have no experience. 

 Sponsors (28:08)

John: Today's podcast is brought to you by the United States Navy. The United States Navy! Not a subject of expertise for the Green brothers. 

Hank: This podcast is also brought to you by limping to the end of 2017. Just - we'll get there. 

John: We can do it! And today's podcast is also brought to you by snake cuddles. Snake cuddles! Avoid them.

Hank: [laughs] I don't know! If I'm not surprised by them I'd be into it. I'd be into some snake cuddles. I just don't want to wake up and have snake cuddles be happening to me. This podcast is additionally brought to you by M&Ms and popcorn mixed together inside of my popcorn bucket and my mouth. It's the best, and maybe you'll be a little bit more careful to not drop any on the floor to create a battlefield of lost popcorn souls. 

John: Alright, that went on longer than I think any of us expected. We also have a real sponsor today. Our real sponsor today is Storyblocks, which is a fun sponsor for us to have because it's something that Hank and I both use a lot and really believe in. You can go to to learn more. That's Storyblocks, capital S, lower-case b. Storyblocks allows anybody to have access to lots and lots of stock footage. It's really an incredible tool whether you make websites or you make Youtube videos like we do. It just has a huge library and it's very affordable! 

Hank: Yeah, so they have audio, they have video, they have images. And each of those is its own separate subscription service usually, but the offer here is that you get all of those for the price of just one of them, and that comes with the stuff that comes with the subscription, and that's sort of labelled separately, and you can see those images really easily, like the membership images and video, but then there's also stuff that you - that are being submitted from outside of the Storyblocks system and you basically pay the creator of that stuff directly, and this is a good thing because then artists can pay artists for the use of their art and then everybody's art gets better and it's good and I like it. And the prices for those things that are outside of the member library, the marketplace things, are not included in the member library, and the prices for those things vary, but the member library is really big and robust and has a ton of stuff and we use it pretty frequently when making things for all of the things that we make, both SciShow, Crash Course, but also Vlogbrothers when we're doing it directly. So I've had a Storyblocks subscription for a couple of years now. I got it after I found out about it from an advertisement on a podcast. So, boom. 

John: There you go. Thanks for sponsoring today's podcast. And you can get that triple bundle, that's images, video, and audio all for the price of one. It's 149 dollars a year and at least for us a really, really good deal. 

Hank: Yeah. One stop shop for all your stock media needs. 

 Question 7 (31:26)

John: Alright Hank, I want to answer another question from our listeners.

Hank: Alright John. I want to answer that too.

John: This one comes from Helen, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I'm a first year university student and I have two friends. I love my friends and I am very grateful to have gotten to know such nice and genuine people so early on in my college experience. However, I've come across a huge problem and a threat to this sense of security I have in these friendships. To my dismay recently both of them have separately confided in me that they have feelings for the other."

Hank: Ooooh! Oooh!

John: "This is a problem. Or is it? How am I suddenly stuck in a teen rom-com where I have at once so much power of information and yet feel so powerless against the forces of my friends' love for each other. Should I tell them how the other feels? Should I see how long this takes to play out and stay out of it? Mostly I'm worried that I will lose both of them if their impending relationship either fails or I become an eternal third wheel. Should I find new friends? Dubious advice needed, Helen." 

Hank: Alright, Helen. I've got a great idea. 

John: Okay, what is it? 

Hank: So you're going to take your friends and you're going to go on a fun little adventure. Just go some place that you have to drive to, and then get the - I don't know, just a playground in a nearby town. Hang out there. Do the things that you like to do. And then be like, "Oh, I've got to go!" and drive away and leave them there. 

John: [laughs] I mean, that would've been kind of like a funny rom-com idea in 1997, pre- Uber, but now they would just be like, three minutes behind you. 

Hank: Okay. Okay. Okay. So instead - 

John: In like a Toyota Tercel. 

Hank: You leave the car - yeah. 

John: They'll just be like oh, sorry, Jane picked me up in the Toyota Tercel and we're coming back - we'll be at the dorm three minutes later. Here's -

Hank: So this is even better. And this is better for all kinds of reasons. You get the Uber, and leave your car. Say "I'm going to leave the car so that you guys can come home, I'll just get an Uber home because I've got to - my python is really hungry." And then just slash the tires of the car so they have to stay with the car but they can't leave.

John: [sighs] Oh yeah, that's a really good way to ensure that your friendship doesn't get ruined by this new relationship. That's the best idea.

Hank: Just one of the tires. Just like it was a nail.

John: Just slash their tires. 

Hank: Just get a nail in there and it'll be like, "oh, it's just a nail." 

John: Yeah.

Hank: And then they have to like, work together -

John: Oh yeah, absolutely. Resort to subterfuge. Yes. That's a great plan. No, that's a terrible idea, Hank. Helen, here's the thing, man. This is actually a really obvious situation. Your friends don't actually have feelings for each other. They're testing you!

Hank: [laughing] What?

John: They agreed to pretend to have feelings for each other and to go to you separately to see how you would react.

Hank: Oh, it's yeah - you have to reverse prank the prank! 

John: You've got to reverse prank the prank! So what you need to do is you need to go to your friend - let's say your friends are named Joey and Bob. You need to go to Joey and you need to say, "Joey, Bob told me something very, very serious. He told me that -" No. Back up, Hank. Let's say your friends are named Joey and Chandler. You need to go to Joey and you say "Joey, I have the most amazing news! Chandler has feelings for you!" And then you go to Chandler and you say, "Chandler, I have the most amazing news! I am in love with you." 

Hank: [laughs] What? 

John: That way you've got a full Friends situation.

Hank: Right, it's way -

John: It's a proper love triangle.

Hank: - way better. Yeah, because this isn't even a love triangle! This is just like -

John: It's not, it's just like, this is a love line! It's not even a plot, Helen. 

Hank: Yeah, I mean I still - so what's the most romantic thing you can think of, John? What's the most romantic situation you can get in with two of your friends? You go shopping for a fish. 

John: That's very romantic. 

Hank: At a fish store.

John: Uh-huh. 

Hank: And then - but you only have enough money for one fish but then you realize as you're leaving that you don't need the fish so you give them the fish and then they have a shared fish. And it's basically like being married. 

John: Right, that's how love blossoms. I have a couple problems with that strategy as well. I -

Hank: [laughing] You don't like any of my ideas. 

John: Well I've got - okay, so let's take a - the bold choice here I think is for Helen to go to both Joey and Chandler and say "you guys are crushing on each other and I think you should pursue this but I need to stay your friend no matter what." No, that's not good. I think that - alright. The reason I'm sympathetic to this problem, Hank, is that I definitely had this happen to me a bunch of times in college. 

Hank: Mmmm. 

John: Like, one time I was on a road trip with my two best friends to the Grand Canyon and we would, like, sleep in like 30 dollar a night hotels. And then eventually I realized that they - like, one afternoon I saw them kissing at the Grand Canyon and I was like, "Ohhhh! Yeah, no that explains why I'm in one hotel room and they're like there in the other. I see." 

Hank: I mean, what's the actual thing you do is you pick one of them and you say, "I'm pretty sure that if you go for it, it'll work out."

John: Right! Right. Because the next time Joey comes to you and says, "I really have feelings for Chandler." You can just say, "listen, I'm not positive, but I suspect that if you talk to Chandler about this, Chandler's going to reciprocate." 

Hank: Right. If you're like, "Hey. We should go to the fish store," and then it's a date! And it's going. It's moving. 

John: [sighs] That's not a date. That's not a date.

Hank: I mean -

John: You have a weird definition of dates. 

Hank: You went on - one of your first dates with Sarah was to Target. 

John: It was very romantic. 

Hank: See! And this is better, because there's fish! 

John: I think they have fish at Target, actually. 

Hank: Not at my Target.

John: Oh, maybe they only have fish at Walmart. 

Hank: Well John, they do have -

John: I'm not sure how we feel about aquarium fish. I don't want to get in trouble with the anti aquarium fish people. 

Hank: They do have, um, fish fingers at Target. 

John: [laughs] Alright. So now we're just in trouble with the vegans. 

 Question 8 (37:37)

John: Let's answer one more question from our listeners before we get to the incredible news from AFC Wimbledon! I mean - ah, god, alright. I'm so excited. Alright. Hank!

Hank: Yeah.

John: It's you're turn to ask a question. You ask.

Hank: It is. This final question, John, comes from Sarah, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, when we say 'it's raining,' what is 'it'?"

John: Mmmm. 

Hank: What is it?

John: Yeah. Yeah.

Hank: It is! That's an upsetting thought to me! 

John: I mean, I -

Hank: Is "it" just the experience that I am inside of, like the bubble of reality that I sort of consider to be applicable to me at the moment? Is that it? 

John: Well, I mean, here's the thing, Hank. What does it mean to be like, "it is midnight"? What is midnight? Time? What is -

Hank: Euuugh - it, no it! It is the thing that I am in! 

John: Right.

Hank: It's my entire conception of my world that is applicable to me! It! Is midnight. It! Oh man! It!

John: Yeah. I just don't think it means anything. 

Hank: No, it does -

John: I think -

Hank: - mean something. 

John: No, because you could - it's just a way of saying "raining." But if you just say "raining," it doesn't feel like a sentence. 

Hank: [laughs] Raining. Yeah, you do need a sentence, and so you need a thing and you need a verb and you need an adjective. So you need the adjective to apply to some thing. And that is it. But I think that it is a thing!

John: Oh, there seems to be a phrase for this. It's called a "dummy pronoun." 

Hank: Oh! 

John: Yeah. It's just a grammatical construct of English, is what I'm reading, which requires that a sentence have a subject. So if you didn't need a subject for the sentence, you could just say "raining." But since you need a subject for the sentence of some kind, you have to say "it is raining." And the thing that's raining is - right. Just like you said, the universe around you. Like, your world -

Hank: Right.

John: In your world it is raining. Just as in your world it is midnight or in your world the sun is shining. Or, you know, it is sunny.

Hank: This makes me think - is there an amount of individuality that is based on linguistics? Like, knowing that an occurrence has to be happening to a thing and that thing is this dummy pronoun "it", but that "it" has to do with the world as I perceive it.

John: Yeah.

Hank: Like, does that effect how I see the world?

John: Oh, totally. So Hank, you may be familiar with the hot new book Turtles All the Way Down. It's actually been number one on the New York Times bestseller list for eight consecutive weeks. 

Hank: Mmm. "It" is an actual book and not a construct. 

John: Correct. It is not a dummy pronoun. It is a book. But I kind of wrote that book in the wake of this sort of extended period in which I felt that I was not, like, a singular noun, and I felt like all of the definitions that had been provided to me of self were completely inadequate in the face of my own experience with the relationship between consciousness and language and the relationship between what people were calling "myself" and the things that myself was supposed to be or be able to do. And my conclusion coming out of that period, which is a little bit what the book is about but mostly just like, my personal conclusion coming out of that period is that thought and self and constructing self - there's no way you can really construct self separate from thought, and there's no way you can really - in my opinion anyway, in my experience - no way I can construct thought separate from language. Like, I can't find a way into myself that makes sense except via language. So "it is raining" is like a reflection to me of the selfness of my experience. 

Hank: Mmm. It. There. Where is it? It's there, it's here, it's all around. 

John: It's within. 

Hank: It's in me! It is in me! 

John: Okay, now it got weird. Hank, do you want to say the news from Mars first, or can I say the news from AFC Wimbledon?

 News from Mars and AFC Wimbledon (42:10)

Hank: Yeah, I'll give you some quick news from Mars. So right now, as of when we're recording this podcast, some temperature differentials have spawned a dust storm at Mars's North pole. Dust storms are a thing that happen fairly frequently on Mars but occasionally there will be these gigantic sort of planet-wide dust storms that can last for a very long time. You know, like, hundreds of days, on the order of. And we actually haven't had those for a while and that's very good, because these dust storms blow a lot of dust around which can get into the equipment of our rovers. It can also block out the Sun so the rovers that are powered by solar panels have a harder time functioning. So it's nice that we have had a break in large dust storms, but it's possible that since it has been a while since we've had one that another one is sort of on the way and maybe even forming right now. So there's a big old dust storm and hopefully it will not be one that affects too much of the areas where we have our rovers. That's what's happening on Mars right now, John. 

John: Oh, I really hope that the Martian weather stays good for our rovers. 

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: That would be terrible - ah! It's so hard, I mean, the thing about working for NASA in this situation, it seems to me, is that you control for all the variables you can, but the stakes are so high and you can never control for all the variables. 

Hank: Yeah. Yeah! And it's crazy that weather is one of them, because of course we are aware of like, when we plan a wedding, we're like, "well, we should probably have a a place where we can do it indoors if we have to."

John: Right. Right.

Hank: But yeah. You cannot - when you have, every three to four years there's a global Martian dust storm that will impact the ability to do the mission, that's, you know. Three of four years is the life of the Curiosity rover so far. 

John: Right.

Hank: So it's nice that we've had this little dust storm drought. 

John: Yeah. Thank goodness for dust storm droughts. Well Hank, the news from AFC Wimbledon, I have to say, is just incredibly exciting, which is that earlier today as we are recording this it was announced, it's all over the English newspapers, that AFC Wimbledon have been given final permission to build their new stadium at Plough Lane, returning to their historic homeland. As you know, Hank, for the last 25 years Wimbledon fans have been singing this song, "Show me the way to Plough Lane, I'm tired, and I want to go home. I had a football ground 20 years ago and I want one of my own." And today they got final final approval to build that stadium, to go home, and it is an incredible moment for this club. The stadium is going to seat between 11 and 20,000 people, I think 11,000 people to start, but it can be expanded to hold up to 20,000 people, which would probably be enough to support a Premier League club. I'm just saying. And it's a really wonderful moment. The construction will begin fairly soon now that they've been given final permission. It is a 25 million dollar project.

Hank: Whoof! 

John: That's a lot of money. A lot of that money has been raised, a lot hasn't. But they're hoping that this will be done - the new stadium will be finished in time to play the 2019 - 2020 season. Wimbledon back in Wimbledon, back at their spiritual home. It's just an amazing story of what fans can do when they come together. 

Hank: Woohoo! Congratulations, John, that's very exciting!

John: Thank you. 

Hank: And it just seems like things are going good for AFC Wimbledon right now, even though you guys are still pretty far down at the bottom of the table. 

John: Yeah, I mean, for the long term health of the club -

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: - and for the long time well being of the club, this stadium is such a big deal, because it allows the club to have the kind of budget that you need to be in League One or The Championship. Because they won't have the smallest stadium in the Football League anymore as they currently do. But yeah. It's definitely - it's going to be a difficult season. I mean, 20 games in to a 46 game season and only one spot above the relegation places is definitely nerve-wracking. But I am hopeful! I really am. Not least because we've got that Tottenham money coming in from the third round of the FA Cup. 

 Outro and Credits (46:43)

Hank: Alright John, what did we learn today on this episode of Dear Hank and John

John: We learned that Hank ios weirdly unafraid of snake cuddling. 

Hank: We learned that there are 600 species of birds in California! 

John: And also we learned that the California quail is not just California's state bird, but also maybe California's next governor? 

Hank: [laughing] And finally we learned that Sarah eats popcorn one popcorn at a time and also I now just also learned that the plural of popcorn is apparently popcorn. Did not know that.

John: Oh! I didn't know that.

[outro music plays]

Hank: There it is.

John: Well, there you go. Well Hank, thank you for podding with me. Thanks to everybody for listening. I hope it's been a good 2017 for you even if it hasn't necessarily been the best year in a macro sense, I hope it's been a good year for you. And thanks to everybody again for listening. And you know, pretty soon I'm going to be reaching out to everybody asking them for several million dollars for this AFC Wimbledon stadium project, so if you are a billionaire out there listening to Dear Hank and John I've got a good place where your money can go, without it saving any lives or curing any diseases. 

Hank: [laughing] Alright, this podcast is produced by Rosianna Halse Rojas and Sheridan Gibson. It's edited by Nicholas Jenkins. Our head of community and communications is Victoria Bongiorno. The music that you're hearing right now and at the beginning of the episode and also at the beginning of This Week in Ryans our podcast about Ryans that available only to our Patreon patrons - we really thank you to our Patreon patrons, we'll put some pictures of the California quail up there - is by the great Gunnarolla! And as they say in our hometown -

Hank and John together: Don't forget to be awesome.

[outro music ends]