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Is Benjamin Harrison the exact middle president of the USA? How did you predict a pandemic? Would a younger version of me be able to open my phone? When did we start counting minutes and seconds? Why would a bathrobe have a hood? What are small things humans do that make you happy? Hank Green and John Green have answers!

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Hank: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John!

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

H: It's a 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, John?

J: Yeah

H: John, really, I hope that, because we're recording this before the inauguration, but I hope Joe Biden showed up to the inauguration as this is coming out, because otherwise that would be an un-Presidented situation.

J: I would have laughed harder at that, Hank, if it felt like a joke.

H: *laughs* So as usual, we are recording our podcast significantly in advance, um, and usually I feel very comfortable doing that. Right now, I just need everyone to know that we are in a different time than you are.

J: I haven't felt comfortable with the six day lag in at least ten months, I have to say, but I feel especially uncomfortable with it now. Hank, in general I think tha we need to focus on some evergreen questions, because the truth is, who kows when this is coming out. And that brings me to the first issue that our podcast is facing; usually we save the corrections and comments for the end of the podcast, but Elise wrote in --

H: But John has been obsessed with this for weeks.

J: I have, I have. Elise wrote in and said: "Dear John and Hank, in an episode of the pod from 2018, you said that if we had a new president it would mean that Benjamin Harrison would be the exact middle president. While this is probably the least important thing right now -- and it genuinely is, Elise, thanks for pointing that out -- is this a reason to celebrate? Thank you, Elise"

H: I don't even - i'm not even sure why John has been obsessed with this, but he's been talking about it for weeks. I still -- 

J: You know why I'm obsessed with it, Hank?

H: No, tell me.

J: Because whether Benjamin Harrison is the exact middle president right now depends on one huge factor: do you consider --

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H: I can't believe that it's- that there is one. To me it seems like that is a yes or no question and that is a very cut and dry. Tell me why this is confusing.

J: Because, if you go and look at a list of the presidents of the United States of America, you will find that in excusably, over and over and over again in our history books, on Wikipediea, in our official listings of which president -- which number president -- over and over and over again, Grover Cleveland is listed as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. It's unacceptable! He's one person, and yes, he was president and then Benjamin Harrison became president and then Grover Cleveland became president again, he's one person, he does not get to be two presidents.

H: *Laughs* I think you're right! Because, like, Ronald Reagan wasn't the, I don't know, like, 39th and 40th president of the United States, I'm guessing, which one he was.

J: Simply because he was re-elected, correct.

H: Yeah, he's just the, just the one of those.

J: And so whether or not Benjamin harrison is currently the middle president depends on whether you define Grover Cleveland as having been the 22nd president when he began being president or the 24th president when he finished being president. And I should say that -- I guess I should say when he finished being president up to the present. Because we do not know, Hank, in the future, if we're gonna be able to, like, resurrect old presidents and re-elect them. That does not seem out of the realm of possibility to me anymore, It's possible that the United States of America is gonna vote for the animatronic Grover Cleveland that plays at Disney's Hall of Presidents to be president, I don't know. All I know is that he can't be both the 22nd and the 24th president. it's unconsionable.

H: Now I want to run the numbers and be like, "Okay, we're gonna have a president-off," and all the presidents are gonna run against each other, and we're gonna decide who the best one is! And that's gonna be better than any rando we pull out these days, especially considering

J: Gestures broadly

H: The situation

 (04:00) to (06:00)

H: So, just like pit them all against each other like it's the sweet sixteen, or whatever they call it, the magic 32, what do they call it in basketball?

J: I believe that is correct, yes, the old magic 32, followed by the super 16, followed by the --

H: Great Eight!

J: It's actually, Great Eight is so much better than what it actually is, which is Elite Eight

H: Eugh!

J: I know, and then there's the Final Four, which is a very good catchy thing but they don't have anything to refer to the last two, which I've always --  while we're talking about things that I find problematic.

H: Well, isn't the last two just the final?

J: Yeah, but if you're gonna have, like, the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight and the Final Four and not have the final two, I find it confusing.

H: Cause I guess, I guess the Final Four is the semifinals, and then the finals are the finals, so if you're gonna name the semifinals, you should have a name for the --  you decide now, John, you are in charge! What is it called when the final two basketball teams face off?

J: The Sooooo Two!

H: I didn't like it.

J: The, hold on, the, uh, the Mr. Magoo Two!

H: I think you're gonna have to -- 

J: It's a new film coming out from Disney, and so they sponsor the last game of the NCAA Basketball tournament --  our international listeners are really enjoying this bit.

H: What about "pairing," can we do anything with "pairing?"

J: The Glaring Pairing?

H: The Glaring Pairing!

J: *Laughing*

H: They're so good you can't even look! Shield your eyes! They sink them all!

J: Ohh, Hank, before we get to questions from our listeners, I just want to go through one more correction-slash-comment that we got from Izzy, who wrote in to say -- 

H: Is that it? I feel like I should disagree with you on the Grover Cleveland situation, so that we can have some tension, but I just agree with you.

 (06:00) to (08:00)

J: Yeah, so, I don't have a firm conclusion about whether Grover Cleveland is the 22nd or the 24th president, all I know is that he's not the 22nd and the 24th. I just want to read one more comment that came in from Izzy, who wrote: "Okay, but the number of times that you guys talk about a global pandemic happening on Dear Hank and John in 2018 and 2019 is startling, and I'm pretty sure you didn't plan this, but it's freaky." Yeah, so, the thing to understand, Izzy, is that we did see it coming, because everyone saw it coming.

H: There are many things that we do see coming. Like if an asteroid hit Earth, there would have been a lot of people in the year beforehand who'd been being like, "Worried about that asteroid!" Cause, like, we're worried about that asteroid! This isn't like a made-up fear, like, it's an actual thing to be pretty concerned about. We've been, you know, in, like, living, ah, maybe living memory, there have been asteroids big enough, if they had hit in the right place, that it would have caused a tremendous amount of death and destruction, but like, they were in the middle of nowhere, which is, most of the Earth is. That's a good thing. And these would be like, on the scale of things, not very big rocks can do a lot of damage. And then there's of course there's the potential of a very big rock that would be, you know. We tend to think about asteroids as only dinosaur extinction-level events, but there are also chances for asteroids to hit Earth that would be very bad but like, we'd be okay as a species. That's the most likely outcome, but still lots and lots of people would die.

J: Yeah, and even that is far less common than global disease pandemics.

H: Yes! Yeah yeah! Way less likely!

J: From novel viruses that make the jump from animals to humans and starting a novel disease pandemic. Like, that is common. It's really quite common. We've had--

H: Mm hmm. Happened several times in my life.

J: Right. And it is a relatively common phenomenon.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

J: And this is what bothers me so much actually about the conspiracy theory that Bill Gates like, caused COVID, or saw COVID coming--

H: Or someone.

J: Right, because he gave a TED talk in which he said, "We are not prepared for the next devastating global disease pandemic." Which reflected not just the thinking of Bill Gates but the entire public health community was in absolute agreement that we were not-- and by the way, still are not-- anywhere close to prepared for the next devastating global disease pandemic, and now we are living the consequences of that inevitability. The next time there is a devastating global disease pandemic, and there will be a next time, we will have a choice about whether or not we became more prepared as a species.

H: Yeah.

J: Preparation as a species doesn't just mean building resilience in the healthcare system, it also means having a stronger healthcare system for everyone around the world so that we can more quickly identify these disease outbreaks and more quickly control them, especially in impoverished communities. It means having a public health infrastructure that isn't gutted by governments every four to eight years depending on who's in power, and it means lots of other things.

H: Mm hmm.

J: But we didn't see it coming except insofar as everyone saw it coming.

H: Yeah. And it's the most likely bad thing. It's just the most likely bad thing. What's your next one down, John?

J: I mean the problem is, for me, infectious disease pandemics are like my first seven. Because we just had one version of it.

H: [laughs] Right, there's a lot of different shapes, yeah. Totally.

J: Yeah, it's like saying, "What are you afraid of, other than shapes?" And I'm like, "Well I'm afraid of triangles, and rectangles, and circles, and cubes." Like for me to get past shapes takes forever. But I guess like my next level one would be a catastrophic collapse of the financial system,

 (10:00) to (12:00)

especially if a country like the United States were to default on its debt or the overall credit market in the world were to freeze in a way that central banks couldn't unfreeze, that would be very very very bad. So that's my second one. I feel like we are deeply reliant on a global financial system that even the people who run it aren't totally certain of its steadiness.

H: Mine is a power grid collapse.

J: That would also be bad. I do worry about that.

H: Either caused by cyberterrorism or physical terrorism, which could also do it, or solar flare, which could also do it.

J: Yeah.

H: And especially if that happened in a place where the grid wasn't particularly strong and the populace is really reliant on climate control of the indoors to survive. Which isn't so much the case here, like we can live for a pretty long time in most places in the US without electricity but if you're in a place where it's very hot that can sometimes not be the case.

J: Yeah, no, there are a lot of things than can go wrong and the last year has, I think, made us all more conscious of them. It's also important to remember that we can work together to minimize the cost of these big events.

H: Yeah!

J: We didn't do a good job of that in the last ten years and that's part of why we're having such a difficult time right now.

H: Yeah. It's really hard to invest in things especially if you haven't seen them in a while. Or have never seen them.

J: Yeah.

H: Just hard to get the political will (?~11:30), to get the money in the places to, I don't know, plan for an asteroid, actually. We're doing-- it's funny, we see more a lot more of these stories like, "This asteroid's going to pass close to Earth," and it's like ahh that's scary. That's such good news, because it used to be that asteroids would pass close to Earth and we'd have no idea. Now we know. We have systems that are tracking asteroids now in ways that we never had ten years ago. And so this is the first, we are now at the point where it is possible that if there is an asteroid that threatens Earth we might be able to do something about it.

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