Previous: 191 - The Engagement Duck
Next: 193 - It's Like a Pool of Liver!



View count:5,233
Last sync:2020-08-22 11:45
Vanessa Hill of BrainCraft joins Hank to answer your questions! Has it ever not been raining? Can I change my major if I have a scholarship? Should there be compulsory voting? How do I learn to ride a bike? What is tipping etiquette in the US? When is it my turn to watch TV? Can I take a blanket covered with pictures of me to college? Will the US claim Mars as a state? How does boxed mac and cheese work?

For more Vanessa, check out!

If you're in need of dubious advice, email us at

Join us for monthly livestreams and an exclusive weekly podcast at

Follow us on Twitter!

 (00:00) to (02:00)

Hank: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John Vanessa: Or Dear Vanessa and Hank, is how I like to think about it

H: Oh that’s very good. It’s a comedy podcast where two brothers, and sometimes one brother and a guest, answer your questions and give you dubious advice and bring you all the week’s news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Vanessa, I was recently at the DFTBA warehouse and it kept howling at the moon, and it was so distracting, and then i realised, that its a werehouse!

V: Oh no. I was like “where is he going with this?”

H: I’m glad that I sold it well enough for you to understand that the j- I’m sure that like 10 percent of people were like “I still don’t know”

V: “What is DFTBA?”

H: It’s our merchandise company. Do we sell your products?

V: Oh some things, a very nice hat

H: Oh good. Yeah. Well go to and find a BrainCraft hat. Vanessa, what do you do for a living?

V: I, like yourself, am a youtuber. I have a channel called BrainCraft. It’s all about psychology and the science of you. I have made a little pivot this year into scientific personal development, let’s say.

So things like how you can stop overthinking, when you should and shouldn’t say sorry, how to construct the perfect apology, all kinds of fun things like that. 

H: It sounds like you might be good at giving advice. 

V: You know what, we’ll see. I don’t wanna oversell myself. That’s a very Australian thing, is just to- to keep quiet about one’s own- own abilities.

H: Right, right. 

V: But it is one thing to read through scientific papers and write video scripts and another thing to dish out advice to real people

H: Right. I’ll tell you what. The- the thing I’ve learned about giving advice to real people is that if I actually think about like “what would be the best advice for this person”, I’m completely unable to speak at all. Because of course I don’t know the details of your situation!

V: You have more questions from their questions

H: Yeah we need to do a session, them and me, ‘cause I’m perfectly, you know, trained,  and certified to do that work

 (02:00) to (04:00)

V: As a therapist. Well in one way that’s the beauty of this kind of advice is that you can give advice and you just have no idea what happens after that.

H: That’s true

V: So you can just assume

H: We occasionally we get follow-ups

V: Having an optimism bias, you can just assume that everything went great

H: Yep, I’m sure that we’ve never led anyone astray. Do you wanna answer some questions?

V: I’m ready.

H: From our listeners. This first one is from Lauren who asks “Dear Hank and Vanessa, has there ever been a time when it isn’t raining?” This isn’t really advice, I’m sorry I gave you false information when I told you it was an advice podcast. “Is there any time when it isn’t raining or precipitating in some form in any part of the world or is it constantly raining at least a little bit somewhere?” Now I know this is your area of expertise.

V: I- you - you’re aware that I’m a paleoclimatologist

H: Are you?

V: Is that a word? I just kind of made that up. I’m pretty sure that

H: Sounds like that’s a thing

V: I think that is somebody who studies the climate of the past.

H: Yes.

V: Because did it rain during the Ice Age? Just a follow up question that I have.

H: Uh, well yes. Lauren says “or precipitate in some form”

V: Right, right

H: But was it icy enough that it didn’t rain anywhere? I think there were still probably rain parts. There was a period of time in the distant past called the Snowball Earth. That was like not just an Ice Age.

This was like way way long ago, like way more than a billion years, but how much more? Don’t ask me - I haven’t googled it. When the entire Earth was covered in ice.

And it was like a big deal, it was a problem for the life at the time, which I think there was some of.

V: Was it hard ice or was it soft powdery snow? I’m just wondering what kind of snowball we’re dealing with here

H: Well I think that soft powdery snow eventually turns into hard ice if you give it enough time

V: Right, under the right conditions

H: If- You being from Australia you wouldn’t know, but in here, Missoula, Montana

V: It snows! It snows in a few places!

H: It snows sometimes and then it immediately melts. When it snows and then stays you notice that snow like is so beautiful

 (04:00) to (06:00)

H: on day one and then a week later you just live in Sharp Land

V: Sharp Land?

H: Where everything is poke-y. It’s awful.

V: Snowball Earth just turns into Sharp Land after a while

H: It become- well that’s how glaciers get made, it snows and then over time the snow just sort of like sticks to itself and then becomes a giant, big ice rock

V: That’s blue

H: Beautiful ice rock, gorgeous ice rocks. It’s definitely raining at some point on the Earth at all times

V: There’s probably a very very small probability that it’s not?

H: If you go like, to first principals I don’t know if there’s a reason why it must be raining at all times. I think it’s just that the chance is so small it’s like the odds that all of the air in this room would collect in one corner and we’d die

V: Right now?

H: Yeah

V: Well, this has been fun!

H: It’s something that my chemistry professor told me was possible! But again, I haven’t googled it.

V: It would’ve been warmer around the Equator right?

H: Right

V: So it probably still would have had some kind of rain, around the Equator

H: Right. Yeah. And there’s also a place where it rains, there’s like a thunderstorm that like never ends, in South America. There’s this very weird geographical feature and it’s this giant lagoon where like warm winds from the Caribbean blow in all the time and like hit this V-shaped mountain and there’s just a thunderstorm that never stops!

It does sometimes stop during the winter or something. But like, just that one place!

V: You said that quite forcefully. “A thunderstorm that never stops!”

H: That never stops! Except for like a hundred days a year

V: which is quite a few days

H: That’s a lot, yeah

V: Yeah, yeah

H: That’s like a third of the year. But it’s good and you can hear about it on my podcast Earth Bones... where I -

V: That’s not a real podcast

H: No it’s not

V: For a moment I was like “Well, Hank does like 30 things, so… perhaps Eons evolved into a podcast called Earth Bones”

H: Yeah, Earth Bones is my podcast where I just look at Google Earth and I’m like “Wow, that’s cool!” but it’s really boring to listen to because you can’t see what I’m looking at.

V: Some people listening here might disagree

 (06:00) to (08:00)

H: I feel like we handled Laurens question with a plum, and so we’re going to move on to this one which is from Emily and is actually advice!

V: I’m ready

H: “Dear Hank and Vanessa, I will be attending a very expensive private university in the fall.”

V: Congratulations Emily!

H: Yeah, congratulations, this sounds terrible. “Thankfully, I received a lot of scholarships and got all of my tuition covered but my scholarships are dependent on my major. What do I do if I decide to change my major? The idea of being stuck with one major seems like too big of a life choice when I’m so young. What if I now like music but in a month fall in love with juggling and decide to be a clown, or psychology?

A future clown psychologist, Emily” Emily it sounds like you’re a music major. It sounds like you’ve worked hard to get good at a music thing of some kind.

V: An instrument.

H: Yes, well possibly

V: Yes

H: You could just be very thoughtful about music I guess.

V: Music theory?

H: Yeah. “I’ve never played an instrument but I think about it a great deal.”

V: “I love writing sheet music.”

H: “Just write it down, I don’t want to hear it though” So Emily, I’m gonna go ahead and say, that you need to stick with your music. But you can also do some psychology on the side.

V: So, university interests me a lot because it’s a bit different in Australia, where I’m from, compared to the US.

H: Yeah probably, is it better?

V: Um..

H: Is it cheaper?

V: Yes. But I think it’s just different because it’s cheaper. Like a lot of the degrees are shorter. Here they all go for four years.

But there you can do a Bachelor’s Degree in three or three and a half, or four depending on what, on what it is. But you have to pick your major before you even start, so when you’re 17.

H: And you can’t switch?

V: You can, but sometimes it's disadvantageous because you have to take the 100 level courses over. I switched but it was within sciences, so I was able to like retain a lot of what I had done

H: A lot of the things. Yeah.

V: Yeah, but I think the lesson from that for me, is that a lot of my friends who took random majors aren’t working in those fields at all.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

H: Yeah, right.

V: And, you get a pretty cheap education in Australia and I think if Emily is also in this position and that has all these scholarships and things, just do it.

H: Yeah

V: And then maybe you can take general education subjects, you can take a minor in whatever it may be, or you can do another very expensive degree after

H: Right. Yeah, that one you’ll pay for! Sure, definitely get the free education you can get.

V: Exactly

H: Especially if you get to go to a very expensive private university, which now does sound like a little bit of a brag.

V: You think so?

H: When I first read it it sounded mostly like “I have made a terrible decision” but now that I know that she’s not paying for it. So the other thing I’ll say is that like get those psychology courses because like ultimately most people who major in psychology don’t end up working in psychology, they end up using their education in various other ways, whether that's in writing, or in public relations, or just in being a human being. And so you know, you get those general education things but you also come out of it, I would think, you know having a skill, in this ability to play this musical instrument that will be with you for your whole life. Possibly it will be your job and so people won’t be surprised, but usually it will be something that is a  skill that you just bust out one day and people are like “Holy moly you can fiddle girl!”

V: So there could be a lot of busking in Emily’s future

H: Possibly

V: She’ll never be down and out because she can always busk.

H: There’s always busking.

V: There’s some wedding performances which have a real high premium.

H: Right. Well at the very least you can do it for your friends.

V: Exactly.

H: Which is what all my music major friends have done. It’s like, nice to have them in the friend group so they can play piano at your wedding.

H: This next question comes from Anonymous, who is just very ashamed of a thing that they shouldn’t be ashamed of, “Dear Hank and John, I’m 17 years old and I can’t ride a bike. Whenever I tell people this, they are understandably surprised. There’s no cool story behind this, I just never learned how. I have no idea what I’m doing.

I get the basic idea but no one has ever explained to me how to go about this. How do I learn to ride a bike? Any advice appreciated, Anonymous.”

 (10:00) to (12:00)

V: So what is a possible cool story about not being able to ride a bike? There’s no cool story behind this? Like did you grow up, on a yacht?

H: “I was raised on a yacht!”

V: Sailing around the world

H: “I lived on a boat my whole childhood.” “I was in a weird commune where we have all the normal stuff but bikes aren’t allowed.”

V: Exactly. No wheels.

H: “We got cars, but no bikes. Human powered wheels, are no-no. Unicycles are okay.”

V: So I, I have some advice.

H: Are you a bike rider?

V: I have been in the past.

H: You’re capable of riding a bike.

V: You know when I was a kid I did competitive cycling? So

H: What does that mean, what did you-

V: Like racing. I was ten years old and I had uh brightly coloured shorts and the bike vest and everything like that.

H: On like, roads?

V: In a, like a, circuit.

H: Oh in a circuit.

V: It was outdoors. It wasn’t like a velodrome. Is that what it’s called, a velodrome?

H: It wasn’t like a velodrome. I have no idea what a velodrome is.

V: A velodrome-

H: That sounds like a speed house.

V: A velodrome is in the Olympics. The indoor place where they ride bikes.

H: Oh, okay.

V: But also in french, “velo” means bikes. Anyway I was terrible at competitive cycling, I always came last.

H: But, but, you are, you are better at cycling than Anonymous!

V: Yes, I suppose. And I do have a bike, that I ride around the city, occasionally.

H: Yes, when necessary.

V: Yeah. My advice has nothing to do with my apparent proficiency in cycling. Because when I started high school, which in Australia is when you’re like 12 years old, there was a swimming pool at the high school.

H: You can’t bike in swimming pools Vanessa.

V: I -

H: Everyone knows that!

V: You know, there are some gym classes,like underwater cycling.

H: Oh nevermind.

V: Yeah

H: Well (? 11:53)

V: I didn’t wanna be that “Well, actually” person, but I’ve seen those at a gym before. And I’ve thought “Wow, they’re really weird.”

 (12:00) to (14:00)

V: “Who wants to bike underwater?”

H: Yeah. Okay so there was a swimming pool at your high school.

V: And we had to dive into the pool, and I was 12 years old I didn’t know how to dive. So the first week I made up some excuse where I could get out of it, and then I, I went home and I practised diving like so many hours a day, for the whole week. And I was terrible at it at first, I mean diving seems kind of easy but there is some kind of skill to

H: Sure

V: like getting your hands there and wiggling your body under the water rather than just doing a belly flop.

H: Uh huh.

V: So I did a lot of belly flops but eventually I figured it out.

H: I asked my mum this question last night, ‘cause she was over at my house, and she was like “well that sounds like something you can google!” and she did. And there’s this whole, like, guide to how to ride a bike as an adult. Because there's this thing about being an adult riding a bike, is that you’re far off of the ground. When you’re a kid, you fall over it was like a foot.

V: Yeah

H: When you’re an adult you’re like way up there! You’re like six feet up! That’s a long way for your head to go

V: Yeah

H: from the top to the bottom. And so the advice was take the pedals off a bike and sit on it with like the seat low, and you like scoop with your feet,and so you do that for like a couple days. It does seem to indicate that it would be nice to have a friend to help you though. And so Anonymous read this article, at whatever the thing that my mum found was.

I think also don’t be like so ashamed of this ‘cause it’s totally normal to not have some skills that other people have. We all have some gaps in our abilities that are- you know that don’t have any good stories to go along with them. That’s just how it is.

So there’s no reason to be ashamed of that and it might be, you know, something to reach out to a close friend or a family member to say like “hey, can you help me with this like thing” and it’ll bring you closer.

V: See I feel like this was good advice, my advice was just “practise for a few hours every day til you can do it”

H: Just jump into a pool over again until you can bike.

V: You know who Anonymous needs as a coach is Destin Sandlin

H: Oh yeah, learn to ride a bike with your backwards handle bars.

V: Backwards!

H: That sounds awful.

H: This next question comes from Near who asks “Dear Hank and John” I mean, “Dear Hank and Vanessa,

 (14:00) to (16:00)

V: Thank you

H: “My wife and I are travelling in the US on our honeymoon. We came across a weird situation when ordering and paying for food at a counter. When you pay with a credit card the cashier turns the screen around at you so you can approve the transaction, but then another message comes up asking you to choose the amount of tip you want to add, and this happens before any food is prepared or any other services rendered, so you kind of feel like you have to tip even though nothing has happened yet? Please clarify what you’re supposed to do in America.
I’m never too far, Near.”

V: That was, that was the best part of the question.

H: So, you’re not from America,

V: Correct.

H: How do you feel about this situation?

V: So, I think that other cultures, like perhaps European cultures, Australia, New Zealand, whatever, tip when the service or food is exceptional. But in America, I think one thing that people don’t understand is that the tip actually constitutes an essential part of that person’s wage.

H: Right

V: So, you kind of have to tip no matter what.

H: Yeah, this is like a coffee shop situation oftentimes, and coffee shop is not obligate tipping in my head. I always tip at a coffee shop

V: Yeah,

H: I don’t know, my policy is like, a dollar a person at a coffee shop situation and I don’t really know

V: No matter what you get?

H: Well no, if I get

V: Because if you just get a coffee, I will give like a quarter or two quarters, or something.

H: Okay, yeah, if I get like a drip coffee, and you’re just like pushing a button.

V: Exactly.

H: If there’s like barista-ing happening, it’s a buck from me

V: Yeah

H: Which is weird because it’s like a two dollar coffee and I’m like paying a dollar for

V: Where are you getting an espresso based drink for two dollars?

H: In Missoula, Montana, my friend. At the coffee shop I go to, nearly every day. Because - partially because the coffee is inexpensive.

V: I feel like in this situation you should give them a minimum tip

H: Right

V: Yeah. Minimum tip depending on the situation, if it’s a coffee house situation maybe like 10% I would say as a guide.

 (16:00) to (18:00)

V: If it’s something a bit fancier, 15 minimum.

H: It’s weird to read this question because I’m like “well of course! That’s what you do” But the transition from like when tips were for exceptional service in the US until now has been slow and long and so like the cultural norm of like, you know there's a bucket there to put the money in, and like you’re not gonna have another interaction with that person. I’m not gonna get up from my seat after I finish my coffee and go back to the tip jar to give a dollar. If that’s what you wanna do you can totally do that.

There’s probably a jar there as well, so you can say like no tip and then like give the tip later. I have done that, usually it's to give an extra tip, if like something happened like my child made a mess. I’ll go and be like “I don’t have time to clean this mess up right now, here’s two dollars in the extra tip.

Really I’m sorry that we’ve left you with this but we’re having a tantrum situation.

V: You know, I really feel for Near, because I find tipping in America kind of stressful

H: Yeah

V: Like the way that I have reduced my stress is just by tipping probably too much, overtipping

H: Yeah

V: Because I’m like look, I’m just gonna do this all the time and never think about it again because the first few years I was here, I was just thinking about it all the time and when you get your hair cut, when you get a manicure, like in all these situations. When I get my dog groomed, and it cost 100 bucks and I also have to give a tip, like oh my god!

H: Wow. Again, I feel like we’re killing it today. Thank you for doing this. Vanessa has a cold so she’s

V: What? Can you tell?

H: No! I don’t know if people can tell. This next question comes from Hillary who asks, “Dear Hank and Vanessa, my roommate is apparently enjoying the strategy of watching TV to a commercial, and then doing some things around the house during the commercial break. It’s a great strategy.

But I just came into the room, and I’ve been sitting in front of the TV for ten minutes in silence. At what point does she forfeit the TV? Squash and squid, Hillary”

V: So I have this vision of Hillary writing this question over email while she’s still sitting on the couch.

H: Right, that’s probably what happened

 (18:00) to (20:00)

H: because they’re having a thing and they feel like should be waiting to not take over the TV watching

V: So there’s one thing I’m confused about. Is Hillary sitting through the commercials, or has she put it on mute?

H: Well it says “in silence”. I assume what has happened is that the commercial has ended and that the TV show has restarted and Hillary is watching the TV show.

V: Gotta get that remote

H: What I have to say to Hillary is - Have you noticed, it’s that 2019! Who watches TV

V: Who watches commercials?

H: and commercials!? Where are you? What’s happening? Just take out your phone and open Netflix, with your parents’ account.

And watch on that! With no commercials

V: I don’t know if this advice is gonna make Hillary feel better about her situation

H: I think that minimising roommate conflict is an important part of like, Hillary’s life, and will be for as long as Hillary has a roommate, and one great way to do that is to just watch TV on your own personal device. Get your headphones out. The screen on my phone is better than the screen on my TV anyway

V: My ipad is killer. The screen is great.

H: My phone was more expensive than my TV, that’s a wild truth.

V: Hillary needs to just be consuming more personal entertainment

H: Right

V: That’s where we’re going with this advice

H: Unless, this is about a live sporting event, is the only reason I can think this could be an actual concern. Or if Hillary doesn’t have a phone or has like a flip phone.

V: I think maybe Hillary can kindly ask the roommate just to leave the remote by the TV because then she could just turn mute off and then she won’t be sitting there in silence. Problem solved!

H: And if the roommate comes back in you can switch back.

V: Yeah

H: Or not

V: Yeah

H: I don’t know, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a roommate, so I’ll say that. So ultimately you know your relationship better than I do, but just bust out your computer and watch Netflix. There’s a lot of good TV on Netflix

V: Yeah, I just personally got a TV about two years ago.

H: Was it your first one?

V: It was my first one, yeah.

H: Of your life?

V: Yeah

H: Wow

 (20:00) to (22:00)

H: Were you raised on a yacht?

V: I - Funny story Hank

H: “I was raised on a yacht but it had a velodrome so I was able to learn competitive cycling”

V: It was very large, yeah. Um I mean I had a TV in my parents house, but I meant since I moved out.

H: I mean who has time for this? My parents were telling me about all these great shows. They were like “You haven’t seen Derry Girls?”

V: Dairy Girls? Is that like a reality TV show, with milk maids?

H: I initially assumed that that’s what it was and then they were like “No it’s set in Northern Ireland” so I was like “Northern Irish Dairy?” but no it’s D-E-R-R-Y

V: Derry the place, yeah

H: And my parents were like “We’ve watched it through twice!”

V: Wow

H: So I don’t know that I’m going to get to catch up on Derry Girls but it sounds from their synopsis, very good.

V: I actually got a 4K TV to watch youtube.

H: You were like “I’m tired of not being able to watch all these great 4K youtube shows”?

V: Exactly

H: The future that we live in

V: Yeah

H: There’s four different Ks! Or maybe they’re the same K.

H: We’ve got another question, this one’s from Leah who asks, “Dear Hank and Vanessa, my ballet school recently gave me a lovely blanket as a graduation gift.” Sure, why not? “It’s soft and fuzzy and warm, but there’s just one problem. It’s covered in pictures of me.” Oh. “I’d love to take it to college but I can’t help but think that my roommate will get the wrong impression.” Yeah, that seems likely. “ I don’t want to look any weirder than I already am, Leah.” Whoof. Why does anybody think that’s a good idea?

V: I think a blanket is an easy thing to leave behind.

H: But it’s nice to have a fuzzy blanket.

V: Yeah, I suppose.

H: I love a fuzzy blanket. And like you know sometimes in your dorm you don’t get to control the climate, or your roommate has different preferences than you?

V: I have never lived in a dorm

H: ‘Cause that Australian education of yours.

V: You just live at home, with your parents, yeah. It’s like, it’s way worse.

H: Yeah

V: So can you flip the blanket? What’s underneath?

 (22:00) to (24:00)

H: Can you flip the blanket?

V: The pictures

H: Can you pretend that the pictures are of your twin sister and that you just want to be close to her?

V: Or a famous ballerina?

H: Some other -

V: Also named Leah

H: “That’s not me. That’s someone other ballerina. We just look very similar.”

V: Are they ballet photos, where you can’t quite make out the face, you know? Like an eisteddfod photo that's far away or something like that?

H: I assume that a fuzzy blanket has a like low, few pixels

V: It’s not 4K

H: per inch, you know? Like, it’s a fuzzy blanket, it’s gonna be a little bit like you’re not wearing your glasses.

V: Mm. So at home I have some pot holders that my Nana made for me, which are quilted. She hand quilted them. But on the material she printed out pictures of my face.

H: Okay. Wha? That’s so - So you’re familiar with this problem.

V: I am familiar with this problem

H:  You have textiles with your face on them in your home.

V: I do

H: What do people think when they see them?

V: The thing is, I feel odd using them as pot holders because they’re my - my school photos from when I’m like seven or eight years old.

H: Sure. Oh! They’re like little you.

V: Little me. Yeah, Yeah. So

H: That’s great. And you just like burn them, like hold them to the side of the hottest thing in your home!

V: Exactly! It’s just such an odd thing to make out of - out of photos of someone printed on material.

H: When did you receive these pot holders?

V: Uh, when I was 18. They were a gift from my Nana

H: Oh that’s lovely.

V: Yeah, so I have really just had them in a container ever since I’ve got them. I have never used them as pot holders, because I just didn’t understand why I would?

H: So you don’t even know if they would work. Like my concern is that whatever was printed on this would melt. It doesn’t seem like your Nana necessarily has

V: It’s thread! Like, it’s cotton. So I don’t think

H: But it’s printed somehow.

V: It is printed.

H: So whatever ink is I’m worried that it’s just gonna like hit that pot and immediately vapourise and I’m just saying I don’t know your Nana had actual use in mind when this was created.

V: What I did recently - I actually found them a few weeks ago, so this is really top of mind for me, and my partner

 (24:00) to (26:00)

H: did you fly them out to the United States of America with you?

V: They were with a box of my things, that I already had. You know actually my mum brought them

H: Oh wow

V: She had them with some of her things and was like “Vanessa, time for you to take ownership of your pot holders” But my partner has an ipad stand on his bedside table and I took the ipad out and just put the pot holder there and he really moaned when he saw it, uh, except he hasn’t moved it. So it’s actually to this day just on his bedside table, this pot holder that has a quilted photo of me when I was seven years old.

H: Yeah! Sure, why not? I can see that. So you think she should just tack it up in her room?

Display it proudly

V: I think she should use it! I mean as you said it’s warm, and functional. I

H: And you can make up a twin sister!

V: Yeah, yeah I think she should just take it.

H: It’s better than holding it against the hottest thing in your home, which reminds me that this podcast is brought to you by Holding Vanessa’s Own Face Against A Hot Boiling Hot Can of Whatever, which is what your nana wanted you to do and you haven’t done it.

V: That’s actually a special line of tupperware, what you just mentioned.

H: A boiling hot can

V: Yeah. The podcast is brought to you by Advil Cold and Sinus, which if you have any time after lunch, you will not sleep. At all.

H: Oh okay

V: At all.

H: You’re a champion.

V: Thank you

H: For doing this, thank you. This podcast is also brought to you by the Snowball Earth! A period of time, some time in the past, when the Earth was icy, and that’s all I remember.

V: This podcast is brought to you by the Velodrome. An exciting place of bicycles, cheering, and floor wax.

H: Oh, floor wax

V: They wax the floors so the- so the wheels go faster. Have you never watched the Olympics?

H: Did they have a floor waxing competition? Is that part of the thing?

 (26:00) to (28:00)

V: I think they have whatever a Zamboni for floorwax is.

H: Oh

V: They have some machine that comes around and polishes. Maybe it’s just polish.

H: We’ve got a question that is specific to our Australian friends from Tom, who asks “Dear Hank and Vanessa, What do you think of compulsory voting? In Australia, all citizens are required to vote and while there are clearly upsides to this, I feel like having the right to do something, ie. voting, also means you should have the right not to do it. Not short for Thomas, Tom.” Just Tom, it’s written like Tom on the birth certificate. We all know that about Tom now.

What do you think of your compulsory voting? Are you still an Australian?

V: Do I not sound like an Australian? Just a random faux-english

H: Are you still required to vote?

V: Yeah, I have to. So I, I work in the US but I have working visas, I don’t have a green card or anything like that. So I have to be a permanent resident somewhere, so I’m still a resident in Australia. So Australia had a federal election maybe two weeks ago now, and the thing that really annoys me about compulsory voting is that you get fined if you don’t vote.

H: Right. Otherwise it wouldn’t be compulsory.

V: Yes. So I’ve gotten fined in the past and it’s so annoying because you have to send in like a copy of your last boarding pass, or whatever, like to prove that you weren’t there, and you couldn’t vote.

H: Can you do it by absentee like you can everywhere else in the world?

V: Yeah so I live in New York so I went to the consulate in New York to vote, and there’s a three week period that it’s open for people to come, and I saved it right up until the last half an hour that it was open. Where I could go and do it.

H: You and every other Australian in New York.

V: There was a line that was like curving out the door and you had to -

H: Was there really?

V: Yes, it was so busy and I was - and then I really hated compulsory voting.

H: Yeah at that moment. It does seem like you a little bit created that problem for yourself.

 (28:00) to (30:00)

V: Wow Hank. I wasn’t asking for advice in this moment. But I mean my problems aside perhaps I could’ve been a little more organised. Um.

It does create a new set of problems where um people donkey vote. Have you heard of donkey voting?

H: Where you just vote for donkeys?

V: Yeah you-

H: You just write in donkey in every single slot like donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey and then you throw it up in the air and you say “I did it! Whoever your Prime Minister is!” I couldn’t come up with any Australian Prime Minister.

V: I mean, I don’t know if you want to get into politics in this hour but I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome.

H: I’ve heard that it didn’t go great, yeah

V: No, yeah. Anyway a donkey vote is when you just tick anything. So you barely even look at the paper. It’s like a throw-away vote.

So there’s a lot of donkey voting.

H: Mm. So could you put a little check at the top and just say donkey? And then you can check the donkey check and you're basically saying “I choose not to vote” but you’re doing it.

V: So I suppose that would be fine because the thing about voting is you need to get your name marked off on the electoral roll. And that’s how you’ve said you turned up, you don’t get fined, all that good -

H: “I exist” All that.

V: Yeah. So I suppose you could do that because no one actually looks at your paper after you submit it so if you wanted to create your own party, the donkey party

H: Right. Ooh I like it. I’m onboard.

V: You could, yeah. There’s a lot of odd parties. I don’t know about that here but because we have a party system, where you go and vote, there’s the Science Party, and the Legalisation of Weed Party, and the Fishing and Hunting Party and the Automobile Party and there’s all of these random parties

H: Sounds like a bunch of fun parties to go to.

V: That people just create.

H: I mean, if it’s - if it’s available

V: And fun fact, last election there was this guy, from, I think it was the Automobile Party, in Victoria, that won a seat in the senate or something, because everyone donkey voted him.

 (30:00) to (32:00)

H: Oh! He got donkey voted so hard he won and he was like “ I have to do stuff now?”

V: Yeah, exactly

H: “Do I get paid for this?”

V: Exactly

H: “Do I at least get healthcare?” You get healthcare I guess

V: Everyone gets healthcare

H: Everyone gets healthcare, that’s nice.

V: I don’t know if we really came to a good conclusion there.

H: Well

V: I I think like there’s no perfect system, right

H: No

V: but that I think, like generally I think compulsory voting is better

H: Mm

V: Because you get more people voting. And even though some of them aren’t legitimate votes, overall you have, like, a turnout and more people having a say.

H: And feel enfranchised, which is really like the big thing in democracy is like, feeling like you are part of the system. If you don’t feel like you’re part of the system then the system stops working.

V: Yeah. Yeah.

H: Donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey

V: Good chat

H: Alright, this next question is sent in by Brian, oh no it says Brain, I’m sorry

V: That’s so funny because I often call my channel BrianCraft by accident when I’m typing other than BrainCraft

H: Right right right. That makes sense.

V: Yeah, and then I imagine what that would be like and I just imagine some old dude in his basement just cutting things out of paper and that is BrianCraft

H: Yeah, BrianCraft - Is, is it not a channel? It very well could be.

V: I wish someone would do a parody of me and call it Briancraft.

H: Yeah. So Brain says “Dear Hank and Vanessa, When SpaceX finally sends humanity to Mars after 2028” This is a weird inside joke on the podcast, “and we reach the point that we’re colonizing it, will we create a new country in Mars? Or since SpaceX is US based” I don’t know why SpaceX is the only way that we’re gonna do this but “The US government will claim the Mars and make it their new state? We have a 51st state, Mars. Pinky, and the Bri-Brain” It, it says Brain. It’s really hard not to say Brian

V: Aren’t there 52 states already?

H: No

V: Really? Only 50?

H: Oh gosh, only 50? That’s a lot!

V: It is a lot.

H: hurt my feelings, like we don’t have a lot of states.

V: I thought there were more than 50

H: Well, there’s some talk about 51 but

 (32:00) to (34:00)

V: Puerto Rico. It deserves it.

H: Mhmm. They're US citizens! It’s very strange!

V: It’s very strange.

H: But it’s obviously very contentious thing.

V: Yeah.

H: For a lot of reasons that don’t have that much to do with anything except for elections and like political parties, wanting to win or not lose elections. Anyway, Mars feels like - what would it be? What would it be? It’s a new thing!

V: It would be something like the European Union, I feel.

H: But like at the beginning I don’t think it would be. At the beginning I think we’d say like “That’s a colony.” That’s just a bunch of Americans and other people from other countries like living, like the Space Station, almost. Like the Space Station isn’t a country, or McMurdo, like it’s just like, I guess McMurdo would be the best example.

V: I think Antarctica’s a good example for it. Because you have all these different territories, different countries there, and they have outpost there and everything like that. So maybe that?

H: Right, and it’s just sort of an outpost. But then eventually, if you get self-sustaining, those people are gonna claim independence. You know they are.

V: The Martians.

H: They’re not gonna - yeah. Those Martians are gonna be Martians! They’re not gonna wanna be subject to all of our whims! They’re not gonna wanna -

V: Vote in Australia

H: Pay all our taxes

V: While they’re on Mars. Imagine that.

H: Yeah, you gotta go to the Australian consulate

V: consulate on Mars to cast your vote

H: pay your 20 dollar fine. How much is the fine?

V: It’s about 50.

H: Oh thats, yeah

V: It’s rough

H: Well, you know I’m sure that they use it for something good. Free healthcare for everybody.

V: you can also vote online. I voted- I know. Hanks face was just bewildered right then

H: Why - Why did you go to the consulate?

V: Well not for the federal election but there was a state election maybe a month ago and you could just vote online and it was so easy.

H: Wow

V: So I like to think that they put the fines into creating better systems

H: Mm

V: That’s such a  boring thought. This is what I think of when I’m in bed at night! People creating better systems

H: Yeah, “Take my 50 dollars and make better systems, I’ll be happy to give it” We probably will deal with this with the Moon first.

V: The things is

H: And I think the Moon is close enough that it will be harder for them to be independent. But Mars is so far away.

V: I don’t think there’s going to be cooperation.

 (34:00) to (36:00)

V: Because when you think about it it’s not Australia and the UK and Canada and the US who are all colonising Mars. It’s going to be the US and China and Russia, basically.

H: Probably the US and China, would be my guess

V: yeah

H: and that’s kind of it.

V: Yeah, and they can’t even agree on trading things across the Pacific Ocean, so how are we gonna agree on Martian law?

H:  Yeah that’s a great point. The other thing that may happen is that, it probably won’t be SpaceX, but it might be sort of corporate colonies like company towns. So sort of

V: So Elon Musk is going to be some kind of monarch?

H: Are we already kind of in that situation

V: yes

H: with the internet, because like, you and I have our businesses based on Youtube and we sort of like live in that social space, it's’ important to us, it's economically important to its socially important to us, but like if that’s a town we live in, it’s not a democracy. Vanessa just blinked a long blink at me

V: I- It’s called staying awake. You said the word democracy and I just started to doze right off. Do you think we answered Brain’s question?

H: Uh I don’t think that we can answer Brains question but I think there is a great deal of science fiction about this topic

V: That’s true, yes.

H: that you can explore.

V: That’s yes. Who owns the potatoes?

H: I would not be surprised if the future colonies of other you know worlds in our solar system end up being deeply different in terms of how they are governed than the constitutions that we have right now. Like if you built it from scratch things would be different if you did it now.

H: Okay Vanessa we’re gonna do some responses to things that’ve happened on previous podcasts. Uh, this one’s from Chris who says “Hi Green brothers,” and also Vanessa,

V: Thank you

H: “I’m sure you’ve gotten a bunch of emails about this already but in case you haven’t I wanted to write you to let you know that in Korea, you do actually gift ducks when people get married. These are wooden ducks so less of a burden but the duckly sentiment is still there. Dumplings and Ducks, Chris”

 (36:00) to (38:00)

V: The duckly sentiment

H: Yeah I mean why not have wedding ducks?

V: So I had some follow up questions about the ducks. I listened to the duck episode and I wondered “Can you eat the duck?” Like do you need to -

H: Your engagement duck?

V: Yeah!

H: Can you eat your engagement duck?

V: I mean, do you have to keep the duck as a pet? Or, could it be a peking duck?

H: The - the accent got me a little confused on that one for a second.

V: How do you say it?

H: Uh, Peking

V: Peking?

H: Peeking is like if it was coming around from the corner. There’s gonna be like it can absolutely be a peeking duck, I don’t know. Is it like a voyeur? What’s happening with this duck?

V: But do you have to keep the duck alive for a long period of time? Because they seem to think that it was a burden but my view is that perhaps it could be a meal.

H: It was just food. Just immediately slaughter the duck

V: I know that this won’t be a popular view  with a lot of listeners but it was just a question.

H: There are definitely people who have pet ducks in America. It’s not uncommon, in certain parts of the US. So I think it was meant to be a pet duck.

V: Okay

H: But I don’t know. If my mother in law gives me a duck like I’m not gonna kill it! Also if it’s an engagement duck and we’ve replaced rings with ducks I would feel a little weird about murdering the duck

V: I think in that sense you should keep the duck

H: Right

V: We’re not aware of all of these scenarios

H: Or maybe you just set the duck free, like the duck is there for the moment

V: Take it to a pond

H: It’s about this moment in time. Like nothing is permanent. Eventually we will all die. And so like, diamond isn’t forever, and neither is a duck.

A duck is for this moment, where I want to know if you will spend the rest of your life with me, and so does the duck, and then, once we all have agreed

V: The duck should be freed.

H: The duck should be free

V: Let it go. Did you get any wooden ducks when you were married, Hank?

H: No, I got like a mixer.

V: Oh, like a stand mixer?

H: Yeah, for like, baking.

V: oh, that’s handy.

H: Mhmm silverware, plates, that kind of thing

V: Okay

 (38:00) to (40:00)

H: And this final response is from Francesca who asks “Dear Hank and Vanessa, I was listening to your Weird Statistics episode and you answered a question about making boxed mac and cheese. I’m from the UK and I’m very confused. Do you make the cheese sauce from a powder? Is there pasta in the box?

Is the pasta also powder? Is nothing normal in America? Confused about pasta, Francesca.” Do you have Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in Australia?

V: I think we do but I must say that I’m not confused about box mac and cheese because I watch South Park, and anyone who is a fan of Terrence and Phillip would be familiar with Kraft dinner.

H: Okay

V: Yeah, so that’s where most of my knowledge comes from.

H: It’s wild to me that someone could like, reach the age of adulthood without having consumed millions of calories of boxed macaroni and cheese.

V: Some people just choose differently

H: Or like apparently they have the choice made for them by the place where they live on the planet. Yes the cheese is a powder, and you mix it with milk and butter

V: Milk? Yeah

H: Or just water, if you’re my wild brother

V: Is he lactose intolerant?

H: No he’s just very strange

V: Interesting

H: He eats his cereal with milk Vanessa. I mean with

V: I- I was thinking that’s pretty normal actually. He eats his cereal with water.

H: He eats his cereal with water

V: We’ve all done that when we’ve run out of milk, let’s be honest

H: Have we?

V: I have

H: I have not

V: Okay. Just occasionally if you have a little drop of milk left you can put that on and top it up with water, so it’s like a milky water

H: Eugh. I don’t know why this sounds so unappealing to me.

V: Better than nothing

H: I disagree. I like to eat Frosted MiniWheats dry. Like, I’m into it.

V: Dry?

H: And then you can just drink a glass of water when you’re done. Takes a while. Like I’m a dry cereal guy myself.

V: I can’t begin to understand, like Francesca can’t begin to understand the pasta. So the pasta is actual macaroni.

H: Yeah, it’s just pasta

V: In the box, it’s just surrounded by cheese dust

H: No, no, no, there’s a packet of cheese.

V: A packet of cheese dust?

H: Yeah, inside the box there’s a bunch of macaronis and a cheese powder packet. First you boil the pasta.

 (40:00) to (42:00)

H: I can’t believe I’m explaining this. You boil the pasta, you strain it, and then you put it back in the pot, and then you put the cheese dust with some milk in, and then you mix it up.

V: People could also play this section of the podcast for like their seven year old who’s just learning how to do this

H: I like the thought that you just put the whole thing in

V: I thought you just put them in together

H: Just like cheese soup macaroni, and you just like, when you’re done with it you just drink all the cheesy water that's left in there like ramen noodles

V: Yeah I can’t say I’ve ever made it. I don’t think I’ve ever

H: No, clearly you have not

V: But I have had it before. I think they have it in Australia. I also lived in Canada for a year so I’ve definitely had it then.

H: This is making me wildly hungry

V: Should we go get lunch

H: Yes. But first we have to get to the all important news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Vanessa can you tell us what's happening in Wimbledon United Kingdom Earth?

V: Okay coming in hot is your AFC Wimbledon News. Nesta Guinness-Walker - Guinness is a wonderful middle name - 19 year old left back, who grew up in Wimbledon, signed this week, which is great I guess. He seems very nice. Did that not sound sincere?

H: I j- I wrote this, not John, just for clarity.

V: Nesta is a non-traditional player, who was signed without an agent. Wow! After playing in non-league teams. This is unusual!

H: Apparently

V: Nesta came to the attention of scouts after switching to the left back role from midfield, while playing for the Metropolitan  Police. That sounds like a band. Like a song.

H: Yeah.

V: By the Village People. Metropolitan Police. Which confusingly is a soccer team and not a police department. “I’m a local boy, he says. I only live down the road. Everyone who is a football fan knows about AFC Wimbledon and the story of this club. The sky is the limit with the talent of the squad and the experience of Wally Downes” What is Wally Downes?

 (42:00) to (44:00)

H: He’s a Man. He is a human being. The coach or something.

V: Wally Downes. Sounds like a ranch in a cartoon. Wally Downes, where all the children live. There is no limit to what can be achieved here. And that concludes the update.

H: That was the best AFC Wimbledon news we’ve ever had. I’m excited he seems like a stand up kid. 19 years old and he’s probably good at soccer.

V: He’s a disrupter, is what it sounds like.

H: Mhmm

V: Yeah

H: Yeah

V: Non-traditional background, was playing for the police, uh switched roles, I mean, it's a great story

H: I was so confused

V: It’s a great story

H: The sub-headline said “Nesta Guiness switching from Metropolitan Police after trial” and I was like “was he- what was he accused of?” But it was a trial like you go onto the pitch and kick the ball around and they decide whether they like you. That kind of trial.

V: Confusing headline. Yeah, he sounds like a lovely guy.

H: In news from Mars, we’re always looking for ways to make oxygen, in general, but also on Mars specifically, because you need it in order to exist there. There is plenty of like oxygen atoms on Mars, there is just no molecular oxygen which is a pretty unstable molecule. It reacts really easily with stuff, for example, the iron on Mars reacts with molecular oxygen to produce the iron oxide which makes it it’s beautiful rusty colour. And there’s also carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, most of Mars’ atmosphere is carbon dioxide. There’s also giant hunks of solid carbon dioxide at the poles. And so we are interested, on Mars but also on Earth, in how you can turn carbon dioxide into oxygen and get the carbon out. On Earth this would be useful because we don't want carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as much as we currently do because its concentration is increasing rapidly and heating up the planet. But a team of researchers from the California Institute of Technology, CalTech,

V: Took a long time to get to that piece of news. That was a pretty long lead in.

H: You need the context!

V: Lot of context

H: In CalTech has created a new system to use kinetic energy to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen.

 (44:00) to (46:00)

H: So basically, you speed up the carbon dioxide, you make it go really fast, and then you hit it onto a piece of gold foil, and like one out of every 20 molecules that does that, loses its carbon and becomes molecular oxygen.

V: Are we doing this in the Large Hadron Collider?

H: No not that fast

V: Not that fast

H: Fast like, not like speed of light fast, more like multiple times the speed of sound fast. But it’s another way to potentially create oxygen for people to breathe on the Red Planet, and also potentially to get rid of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, though probably not as efficient as some of the ways that we already know. So, that’s a thing that exists and that’s all I got.

V: Cool

H: Thanks

V: Yeah. You know what we could produce more of is helium. There’s a helium shortage.

H: But you - how do you produce more helium? It’s an atom.

V: I’m not really sure. But there is a helium shortage. If you go to Party City, they have signs up

H: Oh does it say that?

V: That say, yeah, that say um helium is a lot more expensive for your balloons

H: Because there's a helium shortage. Do you know where they get most helium?

V: Tell me.

H: It comes out with the natural gas.

V: Oh!

H: So that’s where

V: Do they capture it?

H: Yeah! They separate it out. It’s pretty easy to separate ‘cause it’s very light and so there is a finite amount of it on Earth.

V: Yeah

H: Because it escapes, like it’s just very light so it goes to the top of the atmosphere and it gets blown away.

V: This makes more sense because I was really aghast, let’s say, when I was at Party City and I thought, second most abundant element in the universe, and there's a shortage?

H: Yeah, well if you can go to the Sun and pick some up, or like Jupiter’s got a ton of it

V: Maybe we should be working on that as well as the carbon dioxide problem.

H: There’s a bit of a distance problem there. But it’s also because it’s used in MRI machines

V: It is. It’s used in some other science experiments

H: Yeah, lots, yeah it’s getting- Any time you need to cool stuff way down, like the biggest helium tanks in the world are at the Large Hadron Collider, I believe.

V: And that’s where we come full circle.

 (46:00) to (46:53)

H: You mean, just the fact that the collider is a circle?

V: Yeah but we mentioned it earlier

H: Oh okay, that too.

H: Well what a great podcast that’s different than what you usually get. I’m so that happy you guys get a refreshing voice!

V: It sounds like you’re reading that off your computer

H: What a great podcast

V: I am so happy this is different.

H: Thank you Vanessa for joining me and giving John a week off, and thanks for coming to Missoula, Montana. I’m gonna take you out for a two dollar americano now.

V: I can’t wait, thanks for having me

H: This podcast is edited by Josef “Tuna” Metesh. It’s produced by Rosianna Halse Rojas and Sheridan Gibson. Our head of community and communications is Victoria Bongiorno. The music you’re listening to now and at the beginning of the podcast is by the great Gunnarola and as they say in our hometown,

Both: Don’t forget to be awesome.