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Editorial October 2004 : Teen Talk
By Hilary Williamson

Uranium and fart gas ... I kid you not, that was a recent topic of conversation at our family dinner table - my sons' topic, that is. Their bemused parents switch back and forth from fading out entirely and letting sibling arguments rage above our heads, to weighing in on the eclectic discussion topics that attract teens' grasshopper minds.

Condensed KnowledgeHow to keep up with them? Well, you can always armor yourself with snippets of factoids, to answer a question, or when you can't, to divert a raging stream of argument in a new direction. One handy source is mental-floss presents : Condensed Knowledge, tagged by its editors, Will Pearson, Mangesh Hattikudur & Elizabeth Hunt, as 'a heaping plateful of smart(aleck)'. This 'bible for trivia addicts' has a little bit of everything from Art History to Religion, with a heavy dose of the Sciences. It's just what beleaguered adults need to help keep up. Another book that my sons and I found a lot of fun is Poplorica by Martin J. Smith & Patrick J. Kiger, who call it history 'with a small h'. Here we learn how the 'First Angry Mike Man' turned talk show hosts from nice to nasty, the origins of 'Tacky Chic', and similar amusing cultural quirks. There's lots of fodder for adolescent dinner table foraging in both of these.

Teen CodeAre you up to speed on the trivia, but need help in talking to teenagers on mainstream topics? Feel frustrated by the single syllabic answers you get? I know I do. High school senior Rhett Godfrey advises us on how to 'crack the code' of young adult impenetrability in his Teen Code. Guess what? He tells us that we we need to, not only talk honestly, in the right way, and at the right time and place, but we need to 'really listen'. That way they won't tune out so often. Worth the effort, don't you think?
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