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In which John discusses cooties, cuties, whales, Moby Dick, and fish while visiting an aquarium. He also talks about things that are both fun and hard without making a single that's what she said joke.

Hey, ARE YOU A SPORTSRACER? Ze Frank inspired us to start videoblogging, and in the best news ever, he is bringing his show back: We can't wait!


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A Bunny
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John: Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday. I'm in New Orleans.

Your video on Tuesday contained so much cute that I was worried I might get cute-overload, a syndrome that can result in the acquisition of puppies, or kittens, or even, in extreme cases, the creation of human beings, but fortunately, I have had a cuties shot in the last ten years.

Side note, Hank: this gives me no pleasure to acknowledge, but you're of course familiar with the childhood phenomenon of cooties. Cooties is a fictitious disease said to infect people who are generally, and now I'm quoting Wikipedia, perceived as being different or bearing some kind of social stigma.

*Pffsht!* It's not even a real disease.

All of this was made worse by the fact that I have these birthmarks, which people ask about in every. single. freaking. video. So yes, they are birthmarks; I am not a heroin addict; I do not have some weird kind of fetish for hickeys on the forearm; they're birthmarks.

These birthmarks were taken by my classmates as a sure sign that I had received some kind of failed cooties inoculation that resulted in permanent cooties infection. But that is not the worst part of the story, Hank. The worst part of the story is that, for the first couple of years of elementary school, due to an extremely well-meaning teacher, I believed that the kids were not saying I had 'cooties' but that I had 'cuties'. Essentially, I believed that in the eyes of my classmates I was so cute that I could not be approached without a cuties shot. Which of course inevitably lead to me sauntering up to young ladies at the monkey bars or whatever and being like, "hey there. Have you had your cuties shot? Because if so, perhaps you'd like to join me in the sandbox." And then they would scream.

But Hank, like Ahab and his great white whale, throughout my school years I refused to stop pursuing popularity, even after it became obvious that popularity, if I ever got it, which I wouldn't, would destroy me.

Hank, there is of course nothing wrong with being popular, but there is something wrong with sacrificing everything that matters to you in order to attain popularity. By the way, I think that's true whether you're talking about elementary school, or YouTube, or anything else. As Melville's preacher puts it in Moby Dick, "woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness".

By the way, Hank, in case it isn't obvious, I've been reading Moby Dick. Speaking of which, I have to go to the aquarium.

So Hank, Moby Dick is not an easy book; it contains a lot of words I don't know, it frequently runs off on tangents, the structure of the sentences is very confusing to me at times, and plus I'm not a very fast reader. Three days into my vacation, I've only read about a hundred pages. So it's not easy to read Moby Dick, but it is really fun. Like visiting the aquarium, you get to go to sea without puking.

As you know, Hank, I hate the idea that when it comes to books and learning, hard is often seen as the opposite of fun. It's strange to me that we should be so quick to give up on a book or a math problem when we are so willing to grapple, for centuries if necessary, with a single level of Angry Birds. When I was a student, why was I so willing to work hard, much, much too hard, to make people like me and so unwilling to work hard to read great novels or comprehend the edgelessness of the universe?

I don't have an answer, maybe I'll find one in comments or here at the aquarium, or maybe I'll find an answer looking at Melville's great white wall of whale, but in the meantime, the search is a pleasure and a difficult one, as most great pleasures are.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.