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In which John discusses varieties of human exploration and the strange beauty of a person picking flowers in World of Warcraft for thousands of hours.

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Video of WoW's famous pacifist panda (aka DoubleAgent aka Pacifist Panda) achieving Level 120 without participating in battle:

Season 7 of Far Lands or Buest, KurtJMac's journey to the Far Lands of Minecraft:

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Good morning Hank, it's Friday. So one of the things that interest me about our species is our inclination toward, like, discovery and exploration. Even though there were many species of humans before us, and some that coexisted with us, we were the only species to spread across the entire globe and we did that despite the fact that many of Earth's habitats are not particularly hospitable to our biology. Also, exploration comes with a high risk of, you know like, death, and yet still we did it. We engaged in this exploration across times and across cultures and we continue to do it. I expect to live to see the first person step foot on Mars. In one way getting humans to another planet will obviously be an astonishing accomplishment, but in another way, it will be the obvious continuation of what we've been up to the last 250,000 years.

 Okay this video is gonna feature two side notes and here is the first one. In the United States we have an election next Tuesday November 6th. It is a very important election and you should vote in it if you're eligible, and to get ready to vote I highly recommend It allows you to research every candidate and referendum on your ballot, it is really amazing and it's not like a sponsored thing or anything, it's just amazing. So get ready to vote, and if you're concerned that you might not vote, call or text a friend and say hey make sure that I vote on Tuesday. Please vote, it matters. Okay, back to the video.

But there is also more than one kind of exploration, right. Like there's the kind where you sail off into the ocean of the great unknown with nothing but hope. There's also the kind where you explore your existing world in ways that haven't been attempted yet, ways that might even seem counterintuitive. This is how humans have discovered all kinds of things, from important things like the counterintuitive fact that injecting yourself with a weakened form of a virus can protect you against that virus. To lovely but unimportant stuff, like the counterintuitive fact that in football you score more goals with four or three defenders than with one or two. That kind of explorative learning is so wonderful to me. I love it that humans figure stuff out, share it, and then verify the information, and then pass it on. Like that, is the human story, or the best of it anyway.

Second side note, hey, did you know that this mug, this sleep mask, this t-shirt, and many other things are available for order right now at That's right Hank, you can celebrate Pizzamas, including with this ridiculous button, right now at Side note to the side note, Hank, do you ever find yourself accidentally watching linear television only to discover that there are eight minutes of advertisements for every 22 minutes of content. If Vlogbrothers were a TV show, there would be three, 30-second commercials in every single video. Ok back to the show.

There's another kind of exploration I love that does not, like, send us to Mars or discover vaccines, which is weird exploration for no reason except that it is beautiful. Like we don't know why these paintings were created by people 25,000 years ago, or what was meant to be communicated by the artwork on this Grecian urn, but at least in part it was probably people trying to make something beautiful, and I find that so encouraging. All of which brings me at long last to the title of this video. Hank, yesterday you sent me an article about a panda person who has spent thousands of hours picking flowers in World of Warcraft and refusing to engage in battles, or even to pick a side in them. I'm not given over to hyperbole but that is the best thing I have ever heard of. It also reminds me of KurtJMac’s beautiful project “Far Lands or Bust” in which for the last 7 and a half years a Minecraft user has been walking in one direction with his dog. They’re walking toward the edge of the Minecraft universe, known as the Far Lands, but they are many years away from getting there. Links to both these projects in the doobly-doo below by the way.

So I know a lot of people think endeavors like these are just huge wastes of time, but I do not agree. I think playing within real or virtual worlds in new and strange and beautiful ways is valuable, because it inspires oneself and others to think differently about those worlds; and also because time spent trying to do or make something beautiful never feels wasted to me.

In a related story I will be back playing video games as a pacifist in the near future over at Hank Games, but before that Hank, I will see you on Monday.