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In which John discusses why he won't be running for political office, his friend Daniel Biss, the unending horror of meetings, and how dependent democracies are on politicians like Daniel. And yes, Brotherhood 2.0 resident mathematician Daniel Biss is indeed running for governor in Illinois:

So, about the scavenger hunt: Each Tuesday, there is a clue that leads to a riddle (or usually a series of riddles), which when solved reveal a password at This week's riddle (the clue is self care bunny--well, rearranged) will unlock the Week 9 board. If you want help with the riddles, or want to solve previous week's clues, you can follow along at the nerdfighter discord channel. You can get an invite over at Thanks for playing.

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John Green: Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday. So remember Brotherhood 2.0 resident mathematician Daniel Biss? He was a friend of mine and a very successful math professor at the University of Chicago before deciding to leave that job and run for political office, whereupon he eventually became a very successful state senator.

Yeah, so Daniel is now running for governor of Illinois, like, complete with fancy campaign ads and everything. And I have to say this turn of events is a little surprising to me because Daniel is the smartest person I know and governor of Illinois seems like a terrible job. 

For one thing, Illinois politics are so dysfunctional that the state regularly has no budget. And for another, four of Illinois' past ten governors have been imprisoned for corruption, an incarceration rate at is y'know, somewhat higher than the ones seen among professors of mathematics.

Anyway, what interests me most is that Daniel, deep down, wants to work in government to help people and because he believes in democracy. And he's actually been very successful as a state senator. He led the passage of legislation to increase retirement savings and a ban on so-called "conversion therapy" for LGBT people. But to accomplish stuff, he's had to wade this vast, grid-locked swamp of US politics. And also he's had to attend many, many meetings. 

Hank, sometimes when we talk about politics or the news, people in comments will be like "why don't you run for office?" And the short answer is that being a politician means going to meetings all the time and I hate meetings with a white-hot passion. Like, when I'm forced to attend a meeting, by far my most common contribution is to say "So, are we done then?" I usually start saying that like twelve seconds into a meeting and then repeat it mantra-like until finally I am released. 

Slight tangent, the other day I was playing ping-pong with Stan and I was telling him how happy I am about the Crash Courses in computer science and world mythology and he was like "Yeah, do you want to do some more Crash Course literature in the fall?" And I was like, "Maybe." And he was like, "We could read 1984, some other..." And I was like, "Wait a second, Stan, did you just use the magic of ping-pong to trick me into a damn meeting?" So, anyway, more Crash Course literature coming this fall.

But to return to the point, politicians have to attend so many meetings. Like say you're running for governor here in my home state of Indiana, you have to have tons of meetings with rich people to ask them for money and then, every day you have to have meetings with strangers all around the state to hear their concerns. Many of these people will disagree with your political position and will never vote for you, and yet you have to listen to them like a grown-up and resist the urge to cover your ears and say "Nananananananana." And then you have to shake hands with these strangers, even though human hands are notoriously filthy and handshakes always remind you of that story about someone coming up to James Joyce and saying, "Can I kiss the hand that wrote Ulysses?" and Joyce saying, "No because it's done so many other things as well."

And then, if you're good enough at shaking hands, and meeting with rich people, and meeting at town halls, and meeting with other elected officials, etc. literally ad nauseam, you get to be governor. At which point you basically become a professional attender of meetings. Like, Hank, do you know what the governor of Indiana is doing right now? He is attending a public meeting of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. 

I mean, if there's a Hell and I end up there, I will spend eternity thinking, "Well, at least I'm not in a meeting of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation." So yeah, my hatred of meetings among other things would make me a terrible elected official, but that doesn't mean that elected officials are terrible. In fact, the only one I know is among the kindest, most thoughtful people I've ever met and no matter your political leanings, you'd be lucky to have him as your governor. 

Now of course, too many politicians do embody our caricatures of them, but our system of governments depends on Daniel and the many, many people like him. People who are passionate and honest public servants and are willing to attend many, many meetings so that I don't have to. 

We desperately need those people in government so Daniel: thank you, good luck, I know you're running against a few billionaires but I believe in you. 

Hank, I'll see you on Friday. 

End screen! So you know Self-Care Bunny? Rosianna's Self-Care Bunny is now available in beautiful poster form at Also a lot of you have been asking about the boxes in the background. I don't know what's in them. But in a completely unrelated story, as you might know there is a scavenger hunt happening. There's a different riddle every week and it's a little bit complicated. I'll explain more in the doobly-doo. But for those of you that like riddles, this week's clue actually is Self-Care Bunny, well... rearranged.