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Bluff The Listener

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Luke Burbank, Brian Babylon and Roxanne Roberts. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

STEPHANIE SILVERMAN: Hi, it's Stephanie Silverman in New York City, New York.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in New York City, New York.

SILVERMAN: Beautiful.

SAGAL: I'm so glad to hear it. What do you do there?

SILVERMAN: I am a public speaking coach.

SAGAL: Really?


SAGAL: That's very exciting because I do public speaking and I've never had any coaching and I'm afraid I might actually suck at it.



SAGAL: Quick lesson, what is like the most important thing you tell people about public speaking?

SILVERMAN: I think the most important thing is to know why you're talking.


LUKE BURBANK: Well, it's been a good run.

SAGAL: Yeah. Stephanie, it's nice to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Stephanie's topic?

KASELL: When I was a kid...

SAGAL: Being a kid just isn't the same as it used to be. No more playing in the streets. No more factory work.


SAGAL: This week, our panelists are going to tell you about three ways in which childhood has changed for today's tiniest generation. Guess the true story; you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?


SAGAL: OK. First up, let's hear from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: In Australia, candles on birthday cakes have been banned in schools by the country's National Health and Medical Research Council. Why? Because blowing them out spreads too many germs. Quote, "We believe parents deserve peace of mind when they drop their child off," said Kate Ellis, minister for early childhood and childcare. So, no more Johnny spitting on the frosting. No more snot. Party poopers.

Interestingly enough, parents agree with this. They're outraged by the new measures, saying it takes all the fun out of childhood. Quote, "let kids be kids," one parent told Sydney's Telegraph. "Get some germs, build up immunity and get on with it."


SAGAL: Banning blowing out candles in Australia. Your next story about the decline of childhood comes from Luke Burbank.

BURBANK: Tom Tangney used to spend his summer days delighting the kids of Skokie, Illinois. That's because Tom is, or was, the local Good Humor man, but not anymore. "They used to come running," says a wistful Tangney, aged 58. "They'd chase me for blocks. But now, they've got those internets."

By those internets, Tangney means All it took was one kid, a 9-year-old named Eugene Monson to figure out that Amazon would beat any price the ice cream man could offer.


BURBANK: "What with the economy like it is, everyone's looking to save money," said Monson, annoyingly. "And who even carries cash anymore? I mean, what is this, 2009?" Now, each day around noon, plain, unmarked cardboard boxes are quietly delivered to the various porches of Skokie, allowing children the simple joy of calmly opening a reasonably priced and conveniently delivered dessert product.


SAGAL: Ice cream truck driven out of business by kids ordering their treats from Amazon. And your last story of how hard it is out there for a kid comes from Brian Babylon.

BRIAN BABYLON: Animal rights activists had a big victory last week in the town of Kinsey, Oregon. This time, they weren't fighting people who wear fur or eat exotic meats or who are Michael Vick.


BABYLON: The Red Rover Group, the so-called only public relations firm for animals, managed to get the game Duck, Duck, Goose banned from playgrounds, daycares and schools. The game comes from the days when pioneers would sit in a circle, someone would get hit in the head with a goose and then be in charge of hunting and cooking for the night.

Now, the game is played without live animals. Kids just say the word "goose," tap someone's head. It's a pretty stupid game. But Tiffany Garowin, a Red Rover spokesman, thinks even this version goes too far. Quote, "when kids play this game, they think it's OK to tap a duck or a goose on the head. We worry that if they see one in the wild, they might do the same thing. It hasn't happened yet, but it could."


BABYLON: With so much backlash, the city council is now endorsing a new and improved game called Hug, Hug, High Five.


SAGAL: So, somewhere in this world of ours, a cherished ritual of childhood has ended. Is it from Roxanne Roberts, in Australia you can't blow out the candles on your birthday cake anymore because it spreads germs?

From Luke Burbank, in Skokie, Illinois, there is no more Good Humor truck because the kids are all getting their ice cream from Amazon? Or from Brian Babylon, in a town in Oregon, Duck, Duck Goose is now Hug, Hug, High Five? Protect the notional geese.

SILVERMAN: I like the high five; I have to say. But Roxanne has such a convincing way about her.

SAGAL: Does she really?

SILVERMAN: She really does.

SAGAL: All right, your choice then is Roxanne's story about the candle blowing. Well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke to someone familiar with the story.

JASON TETRO: If you have children in your school who have a birthday, light up those candles and let those kids blow them out.

SAGAL: That was microbiologist Jason "The Germ Guy" Tetro. He's the coordinator of the Emerging Pathogen Research Center and he was in fact condemning the Australian policy of banning birthday candle blowing out in Australia. Congratulations, Stephanie, you got it right.

SILVERMAN: Thank you.


SAGAL: You earned a point for Roxanne. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your voicemail.

SILVERMAN: Thank you, I'm very excited.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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