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Kristina Vragovic

Kristina Vragovic graduated from Indiana University in May 2012 with a B.A. in English. A Hoosier at heart, she cries when she thinks about the 2011-12 season and will rail on Purdue even when nobody from said school is in the immediate vicinity.

Aside from writing, Kristina enjoys correcting people’s grammar (for money, or by calling them out on Twitter) as well as collecting classic rock LPs, watching superhero movies and online shopping.

STFU Parents blogger reveals identity, responds to criticism

30-year-old Brooklynite writer Blair Koenig says STFU Parents isn’t about hating kids

 

STFU, Parents gets 1.5 million page views per month. That many hits can’t be wrong, but Blair Koenig has been dodging bullets ever since she revealed that she is the blogger behind STFU, Parents, a blog that calls out overenthusiastic parents for putting too much information about their kids on social media sites.

“Parents become targets. It’s nasty. I don’t like it,” says Lindsay Davis, a mother of two from Manhattan, to MailOnline. But Blair Koenig, a writer from Brooklyn, insists that STFU, Parents is not about making parents targets or victims. She actually insists that while her blog might be a bit scathing in the name of comedy (the tagline reads, “You used to be fun. Now you have a baby”), she personally sees parent overshare as a cultural phenomenon worth exploring. “It’s meant to be more of a cultural observation than a really hard-line criticism,” she said to the New York Post.

Blair Koenig has also been accused of being jealous or bitter of mommy oversharers, as she is 30 years old and has no children of her own. She responds, “I am absolutely not bitter. I love children,” and she says having kids is a part of her near future, just not her present. STFU, Parents is self-described as a “guide for parents on what NOT to post about their kids,” and Koenig says that when she has kids, she will be careful to avoid posting pictures of dirty diapers or publicly rejoicing every time her kid goes in the potty.

“You can post that first picture of your child’s smile. I think that’s great,” Koenig said on the Today show. But she warns parents to edit themselves and avoid sharing too much, which can get annoying for their friends and followers. She added, “There’s a difference between sharing and oversharing.”

Blair Koenig’s upcoming book (and the reason she revealed her identity to the blogosphere) is called STFU, Parents: A Guide to the Jaw-Dropping, Self-Indulgent, and Occasionally Rage-Inducing World of Parent Overshare. It will come out in April 2013.

Sam Champion engaged to longtime partner

GMA weatherman Sam Champion came out and announced wedding plans in one subtle announcement

 

Sam Champion, weatherman for ABC morning show Good Morning America, tweeted Friday that he had “never been this happy to share a bit of personal news.” He then tweeted a link to a Good Morning America blog that revealed Sam Champion was engaged — to longtime partner Rubem Robierb.

With what might be the least fanfare possible for someone in the public eye, Sam Champion came out about his sexuality and announced his wedding plans all at the same time. The 51-year-old anchor had told The New York Times on Friday that he and Robierb would get married in Miami on New Year’s Eve. Robierb clarified that the official ceremony would be in New York, with a party in Miami afterward. In the GMA blog post, Sam Champion thanked fans: “We are thrilled and so excited and thank everyone for their good wishes.”

According to the Times story, Champion was never secretive about his orientation in private, but this was his first public statement that he was gay. His fiance, Rubem Robierb, is a photographer and was born in Brazil. The news that Sam Champion is engaged comes close on the heels of other news anchors coming out, from MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, who recently married partner Patrick Abner, to CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon.

Herndon Greddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, was one of the first to congratulate Sam Champion and Rubem Robierb on their engagement. Champion “has been a good friend and longtime supporter of GLAAD,” Greddick said in his congratulatory statement.

TSA lets loaded gun onto plane

Woman forgets about loaded gun in her purse, gets it past TSA

 

A loaded gun got past TSA this week when a woman forgot about the .38-caliber Ruger handgun she had stashed in her purse. The woman, a 37-year-old firefighter from Orlando, was already in the air on her flight from Orlando to Newark when she remembered that the gun was still in her purse. She told a Port Authority officer about the loaded gun when she landed in Newark, and the pistol was confiscated.

“TSA is aware of this situation and is reviewing the circumstances,” said TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein when asked about the incident. TSA has yet to give a better explanation for how the gun got past the screening process.

This isn’t the only time a weapon has made it past TSA. It’s not even the only time this week. The day after the Ruger incident, New Orleans Hornets Vice President Joshua Richardson left a loaded gun in his luggage and made it past the TSA security checkpoint. While reports remain unclear on whether the gun was in Richardson’s carry-on or checked baggage, it doesn’t matter — TSA rules dictate that even checked weapons be unloaded. Richardson made it from New Orleans to Newark with the weapon and was finally stopped when he tried to fly back to New Orleans with the loaded gun still in his bag.

A TSA spokesman told ABC that almost 2 million people go through TSA security checkpoints every day and that four weapons are found, on average, per day. This year, that adds up to almost 1,100 attempts to carry weapons that are “thwarted by TSA officers.”

However, this week’s instances of TSA letting loaded guns onto planes have sparked concern about the effectiveness of the agency’s screening process. The Ruger .380 might be an easily concealed gun, but TSA is supposed to catch even the stealthiest of gun carriers. What do you think? Do the recent incidents worry you or diminish your trust in TSA?

Colts coach Chuck Pagano diagnosed with leukemia

Chuck Pagano to be hospitalized for several weeks; offensive coordinator to take over coaching duties

 

Chuck Pagano, coach of the Indianapolis Colts, has been diagnosed with leukemia. Amid reports that Pagano was in the throes of a “serious illness,” Colts owner Jim Irsay announced at a press conference today that the diagnosis is for a very treatable form of the disease.

“I am very optimistic that he will beat this thing,” Irsay said at the conference. Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with a form of cancer called acute promyelocytic leukemia, or APL. If a case is detected early, there is a 90 percent chance of survival with certain treatment methods, according to the National Cancer Institute. Symptoms include fatigue and abnormally easy bruising, which is what Chuck Pagano noticed over the past few weeks and the reason he decided to visit his doctor.

The coach, who is 1-2 so far in his first season with the Colts and used to be a defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, was hospitalized last Wednesday and will at the very least miss the upcoming game against the Green Bay Packers. Bruce Arians, the Colts’ offensive coordinator, will take over as head coach while Chuck Pagano is in the hospital for the next six weeks.

“He is ready to take this fight on, and he is a fighter,” Irsay said at the conference.

FreedomPop launches free Internet service

With the tagline Free Access for All, FreedomPop delivers broadband sans contracts and fees

 

FreedomPop, a telecommunications company that was founded last year, has launched a wireless Internet service that delivers 4G to the masses — for free. FreedomPop claims to guarantee a minimum of 500MG of 4G data access per month, and the service treats data like a commodity, allowing users who share the network to borrow and lend bandwidth from other users. Users can also earn more data access by adding friends to the network or taking part in “partner promotions” — which roughly translates to watching ads in exchange for more data.

Stephen Stokols, CEO of FreedomPop, said that the service allows users to “get connected on their own terms,” free of contracts and expensive bundling packages. The service is available anywhere in nationwide telecom company Clearwire’s 4G wireless network areas.

“Disruptive market entrants like FreedomPop drive growth, introduce new ideas and help expand consumers’ access to 4G products and services,” said Dan Stroberg, a senior vice president at Clearwire. He added that Clearwire is poised to enable growth of companies like FreedomPop by offering resources and coverage areas that would otherwise pose a huge cost of entry into the telecommunications market.

FreedomPop doesn’t come completely free, however. The service requires either a Photon wireless hotspot (costing a $89 deposit) or a Bolt USB modem (costing a $49 deposit). FreedomPop also offers paid plans for users who want more data. Those plans run $10 per month for 1GB of data and $35 per month for 5GB, which are still 20 to 40 percent below the rates of other carriers.

Eventually, the company plans to roll out free iPod and iPhone cases called Freedom Sleeves, which will pick up its wireless signal. FreedomPop COO Stephen Sesar says those are still a month or two away.

Bagel head trend takes off in Japan

Dermatologist weighs in on dangers of injecting saline into forehead to form bagel shape

 

Bagel head sounds like it should be some kind of playground insult among elementary schoolers, but it’s actually a cosmetic fad in Japan. The process of bagel-heading involves injecting saline solution into the skin on your forehead, then pressing down the middle with a thumb or finger. The end result? You look like you have a bagel on your head.

“Sweet, buttery bagels,” one young man said of the procedure on an episode of the National Geographic Channel’s Taboo. “I look delicious.”

The bagel head body modification has been popular since at least 2008 among young people in Tokyo who are feeling rebellious, and it came to international attention on the Sept. 23 episode of Taboo. The process itself is described on the show as “relaxing,” accompanied by a stinging, dripping feeling as well as a sensation of falling asleep. The bagel head effect only lasts about 16 hours or so, by which point the body absorbs the 13.5 ounces of saline that have been injected into the skin.

Which raises the question: Is your body OK with that much saline entering your body through your forehead?

Omar Ibrahimi, a dermatologist at the Connecticut Skin Institute, spoke to Fox News about the potential dangers of the bagel head fad. He said that saline solution is actually commonly used as a local anesthetic, but too much of it—especially if it’s a highly concentrated solution—can cause extreme dehydration. He said it’s similar to the effect of drinking saltwater.

Other dangers include the risks of infection from non-sterile saline, as well as the risk that your skin might become permanently stretched from the bagel head procedure.

Remember what your mother told you? “Someday, your face is going to stick like that.”

Apple CEO apologizes for glitch-ridden Maps

In open letter, Tim Cook apologizes to iOS6 users for errors in new Apple Maps software

 

In an open letter to customers published today on Apple’s website, CEO Tim Cook apologizes for the many glitches in Apple Maps, the new mapping app on the recently released iOS6 software that is included on the iPhone 5.

The new operating system doesn’t support Google Maps, the iPhone app of choice for earlier versions of the software. The Apple CEO went as far as to suggest that while the company works out the many kinks in its app, customers can create an icon on their home screen that takes them to Google Maps online. Tim Cook even suggested using Bing or Mapquest instead of Apple Maps, which are owned by rival Microsoft.

“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers,” Cook writes in his apology letter. “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment.” The Apple CEO added, “We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”

Customers were largely disappointed with the new map application on iOS6, which used mapping data from TomTom as a foundation. Complaints from users included Apple Maps directing them to the wrong location, even after putting in an accurate address, as well as missing information.

“There is a difference between a map and an app. We don’t develop the app,” TomTom media manager Cem Cohen said last week, when the glitches came to the public’s attention. In his apology letter, Tim Cook acknowledged that the app fell short of expectations and promised that the company was working hard to fix it.

“The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get,” wrote the Apple CEO, “and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.”

Neil Young reveals Pono music player to compete with iPod

High-resolution Pono player offers digital-to-analog conversion for studio-quality sound

 

You wouldn’t expect someone famous for protest songs like “Ohio” to name his new book, Waging Heavy Peace, not for a political statement of some kind but for a high-tech gadget called Pono. But, there you have it. Neil Young is releasing a portable music player to rival the iPod, promising out-of-control sound quality to make up for its clunky appearance.

Young has been working on his Pono digital-to-analog music player for years in order to “confront the compressed audio inferiority” of MP3s, and now Rolling Stone is reporting that he will launch a line of portable Pono players next year. Shaped like triangular prisms and sporting a slightly garish yellow-and-black color scheme, the players will support music files from a music downloading service similar to the Apple Music Store.

Waging Heavy Peace, Neil Young says, was his response to a question of whether he was waging war on iTunes by releasing the Pono technology. Young says he repeatedly contacted the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in an effort to share the high-resolution music technology with the company, but Apple has not yet commented on the exchange. Young says he hopes releasing Pono on his own “will force iTunes to be better” and improve its MP3 music quality.

Neil Young has high expectations for Pono. As well as encouraging iTunes to improves its music quality, the rocker claims that the new technology will help “save the sound of music” by unifying the quality of content that record companies release. The Pono music files will reportedly sound exactly the way they do during the recording process.

Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, has tried out the system and said that the difference in sound quality is far from subtle. Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music have all backed Pono, and Warner has already started converting files to high resolution.

Neil Young has stressed that his motivation isn’t commercial, and that he is so gung-ho about Pono because, quite simply, “MP3s suck.”   

Body of Harsha Maddula, missing Northwestern student, found in harbor

The sophomore disappeared after an on-campus party and was missing for almost a week

 

Northwestern University student Harsha Maddula was missing for almost a week before his body was found Thursday evening in Wilmette Harbor on Lake Michigan.

Harsha Maddula, an 18-year-old sophomore from Long Island, N.Y., was last seen 12:30 a.m. Saturday at an off-campus party. He made a phone call to a friend at 12:35 saying he was in his dormitory, but footage from dorm surveillance cameras reveal no sign of Maddula at that time. Around 1 a.m., a cell phone tower near Wilmette Harbor picked up a signal from Maddula’s phone. The phone, along with Maddula’s wallet and identification, were found in his pants pocket.

The Daily Northwestern reported that Harsha Maddula’s parents flew in from Long Island and offered a $25,000 reward for information about their son. A fisherman ended up finding the body Thursday among some boats in Wilmette Harbor, after divers had spent Wednesday searching with no sign of Maddula.

Harsha Maddula was described by his parents and friends as not being the “partying” type, and the cause of death is still under investigation. Maddula’s parents in particular pointed out that he was more of an “indoors person”; it remains unclear why Maddula would be at Wilmette Harbor, which is almost two miles away from the party he attended on the 2000 block of Ridge Road in Evanston, Ill.

“It’s just out of character,” Srinu Maddula, Harsha Maddula’s cousin, told reporters. “He doesn’t smoke, or drink, or do drugs because of his diabetic condition.”

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy. There were no outward signs of foul play on Maddula’s body.

LSU evacuates students following bomb threat

LSU bomb threat follows similar incidents at University of Texas, North Dakota State and Hiram College in Ohio

 

A bomb threat at Louisiana State University today prompted an evacuation of thousands of students, faculty and staff from the main campus in Baton Rouge. The threat was called in to 911 around 10:30 a.m., and Chancellor William Jenkins declared the evacuation an hour later.

LSU employs a text-message notification system that alerts students of emergencies on campus, such as bomb threats. One student alerted his class of the situation after receiving the text message, according to the Associated Press. The university also disseminated the alert via email and social media after announcing the bomb threat on its website. A follow-up alert around 1:30 p.m. told students not to return to campus for the day following the LSU bomb threat.

More than 30,000 students, faculty and staff are located at the main campus. “Monday … is a very big class day, so I think the majority of that group was probably on campus at the time,” university spokeswoman Kristine Calongne said.

Louisiana State Police Capt. Doug Cain said that state police bomb technicians were called in to address the threat, but that no explosives had yet been found. Police are investigating whether there are similarities between the LSU bomb threat and those received in Texas, North Dakota and Ohio last week. No explosives were found at the University of Texas, North Dakota State and Hiram College campuses.

Following the LSU bomb threat and evacuation, Calongne said that she couldn’t remember the last time the entire campus was evacuated, and she has been at the university since 1990.