Three stories about teen stardom, playhouses, and leeches

I’ve been puzzling over how to work interesting stories I come across into this blog. I think the easiest way is just to list them. So here are three:

First, even senior citizens like me are vaguely aware of teen star Justin Bieber, and how he was discovered at the age of 14 through his video posted on YouTube. Soon thereafter he had the number 1 single and number 1 album in the country, though I couldn’t tell you the titles. What I didn’t realize is that he is just the tip of the iceberg of tech savvy teens making themselves famous through the internet.

Ever heard of 14-year old Rebecca Black and her now famous or infamous song “Friday”, which she first released in February as a video on YouTube? I certainly hadn’t until I read the article by Alex Hawgood on teen stardom on the style page of last Sunday’s NY Times.

Rebecca Black’s video went “viral” in March and was viewed 160 million times by June, though many viewers thought it “the worst song ever”. That earned her an appearance on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, a role in a Katy Perry music video, and her song was performed recently by the cast of the popular TV show “Glee”. Even the teen “extras” in her video have fan pages on Facebook.

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Megan Parker, now age 15, began posting makeup tutorials to YouTube when she was in 8th grade. She now makes so much money from advertising that her decision to quit high school after 9th grade was supported by her parents and at least one of her teachers.

Greyson Chance, age 13, posted a video of himself performing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” on the piano, got a mention by Ellen DeGeneris, and now has a record deal. Read more about how teens use the internet to get discovered here.

Second story: Ever wonder what rich people do with all their undertaxed income these days? It turns out that some of them spend it on over-the-top backyard playhouses for their children, some with electricity and air-conditioning, costing tens of thousands up to a quarter million dollars. One parent describes these designer playhouses as, “bling for the yard”. Read the NY Times article by Kate Murphy here.

Finally, I recall in junior high school learning that George Washington and others in his time were treated for illness with live leeches attached to their skin to extract whatever was bad from their bodies. We were supposed to recoil at the ignorance and backwardness of that practice.

But it turns out that live leeches are increasingly used in medical practices today, and were approved as medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004. Read the NY Times article by Adriane Quinlan here. See, too, some of the interesting comments added by readers at the end of the story.

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