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Quite the World, Isn't It?

Looking into the past

I don't think any outlet is doing a better, more consistent job of tracking the discoveries of science and the universe than Wired. Which could be why I keep linking to them.

Today's installment: a peek back toward the beginning of the universe, which for all intents and purposes is the beginning of time (as close as we can understand it, which isn't particularly well).

The infrared image is of the heart of the Milky Way galaxy - ours - with its thick cluster of stars. The linked article points out that usually the core of the galaxy is obscured by dust, but the infrared lights cuts through it, allowing the Spitzer Space Telescope to see what it can see.

Remarkable. Read More 
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A new web venture for a bunch of us laid-off journos

Late last night we went live with a new online site that is something of a co-op of a bunch of us former Los Angeles Times journalists. Called The Journalism Shop, the site holds resumes and work samples from some two dozen former LA Times staffers, with more to be added.

We are uncertain how well this might work. The idea is to give hiring editors and others looking for experienced journalism talent to be able to find us more readily. So we have all done little bios, then each of us is maintaining separate pages with links to our clips, places such as this blog and website, and any other thing we can think of that might help market ourselves to the folks doing the hiring and assigning.

So stop by and poke around -- we're a sociable group. Read More 
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Presidential primaries: Who should go first?

One of the persistent rubs in presidential campaigns is that two of the nation's smallest and most homogenous states - Iowa and New Hampshire - play such significant roles in the political version of "Survivor": Who gets the major party political nominations for president.

The issue came up again the other day in San Diego, as a Republican committee looked into the party's primary calendar.

There are sound demographic reasons for moving to the head of the line any of several states that more closely reflect the national makeup. But there's more at play in the early states than reflecting diversity. We can learn how different candidates appeal to different slices of the electorate through polling (nonbinding, I know).

But Iowa and New Hampshire force the candidates through trial by fire. To win or do well in Iowa, a caucus state, a candidate has to be able to build a machine to woo supporters, and then get them to attend the evening caucus meetings. It is a test of a candidate's ability to build and run an organization - or at least hire the right people to make it work. So the Iowa caucuses vet the candidates on their ability to manage.

In New Hampshire, a primary state, the candidates get an intense round of media scrutiny. The state's proximity to Boston and New York draws exponentially more media, it seems, than in Iowa - or maybe it just feels more concentrated because of the small geographic size of New Hampshire. Still, the media scrums are intense, the questions rapid-fire and the cynicism turned on high. Some have melted under the pressure - a good thing to know at the beginning of a campaign, rather than at the end.

Together, Iowa and new Hampshire force candidates through microcosms of the two main aspects of being president - the ability to lead a team, and the ability to handle the media heat.

Leave Iowa and New Hampshire to their traditions. They serve a solid purpose. Read More 
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