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In which John talks about Nerdfighteria's Resident Mathematician Daniel Biss' campaign to become the next Comptroller for Illinois. He also announces a special fundraising event for the campaign, which will be John's last public event until VidCon 2016.

FUNDRAISER DETAILS: John and Daniel will be talking about government and politics, among other topics at a fundraiser for Daniel Biss on Saturday, November 21st, Ravinia Festival's Bennett Gordon Hall in Highland Park, IL. Main event at 7:00pm. Special reception at 6:00pm (in the Freehling Room adjacent to the hall). Tickets to the main event cost $40 including a signed copy of An Abundance of Katherines. Tickets are available here:

Contribute directly to Daniel's campaign here:

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Good morning Hank it's Tuesday. So you may remember back in the halcyon days of 2007 when I was young and clean-shaven and the state of Illinois had a budget, our YouTube channel had a resident mathematician, Daniel Biss. So Daniel and I became friends in 2003 just after he got his PhD from MIT; that's a lot of letters for a numbers guy. I'm sorry, I want to apologize to my friends, my family, I am deeply ashamed of that joke.

But anyway, when I met Daniel, he was a math professor at the University of Chicago, only he didn't have to teach any classes and he also wasn't required to publish, he just sort of had to think about math. Daniel was a good person with a good life.

So, Hank, you can imagine my surprise when Daniel told me one day that he no longer wanted to be a mathematician with a tenure track professorship at the University of Chicago and instead wanted to be a member of the Illinois State House of Representatives. I mean, Daniel is charming and funny and intelligent, but he did not strike me as a politician, least of all an Illinois politician. One ought not generalize about a class of individuals, of course, Hank, but between 1961 and 2013, most of the people who served as Governor of Illinois were later imprisoned for corruption. Not a couple, not some, most.

But Daniel seemed to genuinely believe that government service was noble and important, so back in 2008, Nerdfighteria helped raise money for his campaign, and he lost, but then in 2010, he won, and then in 2012, he was elected to the Illinois State Senate. Daniel is a Democrat, but he's widely respected. In fact, I once met a Republican member of the Illinois House who told me Daniel Biss is one of the smartest people I have ever met, only he didn't say people, he said a curse word.

Daniel is also one of the smartest curse words I've ever met, and he turns out to be a really effective politician. He passed a hugely important retirement savings bill in Illinois, he passed a law banning so-called "conversion therapy" for LGBT youth. He's also been a big advocate for privacy, especially when it comes to technology, like he passed a bill saying that police can't use surveillance drones without a search warrant, and I have to say, he's kind of made me believe in politics again, like, in an age of American ideologues, he's this practical and sensible person who genuinely wants to make peoples' lives suck less. And refreshingly, he doesn't use inflammatory rhetoric.

Meanwhile, the state of Illinois is careening toward disaster. See, I know how to use inflammatory rhetoric. Illinois has over 100 billion dollars in pension debt, which is unique in the country. It also has a poor credit rating, and it's currently operating without a budget, which has led to, if I may quote Daniel, "An insane patchwork quilt of incomprehensible nonsense." That's not inflammatory, that's factual. Like, one example of this incomprehensible nonsense, the Illinois State Museum has closed because of budget cuts, but all of its employees are still going to work and getting paid. Neither the Republican governor nor the Democratic leaders of the state legislature are at all serious about the kinds of reform that are needed to end Illinois' decades of fiscal mismanagement.

If I were Daniel, I would find all of that so annoying.

Daniel: When I find something immensely frustrating, I ask myself, "Am I frustrated because something is broken and corrupt, or am I frustrated because I don't get to be the Emperor? And every time it's option B, I remind myself that's actually a positive thing, because this way we never have a Mussolini. People of goodwill need to be willing to accept that slowness. Otherwise, the process gets taken over by people who are deliberately trying to steal from it."

John: Alright, so Daniel is now running for comptroller of Illinois. If you don't know what a comptroller is, don't worry, I didn't know either, until Daniel told me. It's basically like the chief financial officer for the state. And I want Daniel to win, not because he's my friend, but because he's a smart and independent voice, and he's also very good at math, which is a useful skill for a comptroller. But here's the thing, politics, in some ways, especially local politics, are run by money. Running for comptroller, a job I'd never heard of until my friend ran for it, costs millions of dollars. So if you wanna know what's wrong with American politics, just remember that campaigns for Illinois State Comptroller cost millions of dollars.

So I'm going to do a fundraiser for Daniel next month. In fact, it'll be my last public appearance before VidCon. The tickets are $40, which I know is a lot, I'm sorry, but everybody who goes will get a copy of An Abundance of Katherines, signed by both Daniel and me. I hope to see some of you there. You can also donate to Daniel's campaign directly at, and regardless of your political beliefs, if you're lucky enough to live in a country where your voice matters, I would encourage you to get involved in the political process. One thing I've learned from Daniel is that good, honest people in politics really can make a difference. Hank, I'll see you on Friday.