Heat waves kill more people in the United States than all of the other natural disasters combined, but while more than 400 Americans die from heat-related illnesses in a typical year, it almost ignored by the media, according to Slate.com.
Annual mortality from tornadoes, earthquakes and floods together is under 200 but heat-wave deaths are among the worst natural disasters but also the most avoidable. Victims of heat tend to wilt gradually, alone and at home, out of touch with family, friends. Their lives could be saved simply by treating them with water, bringing them to an air-conditioned place or by providing air conditioning for their home.
Slate says New York City (1972, 1984), St. Louis (1980), Philadelphia (1993), Dallas (1998), and Milwaukee (1995) have experienced deadly heat waves. In one week of July 1995, 739 Chicago residents, the majority of them home alone, died in one of the greatest and least-known American disasters in modern history.
However, Slate reports that once the Chicago medical examiner began to report heat-related mortality figures, political leaders, journalists, and in turn the Chicago public denied the significance and questioned whether the deaths were "really real."
-- Why aren't heat waves recognized as the killers they can be?
-- Although Chicago has a program where city workers knock on the doors of the elderly to check on them during heat waves, wouldn't it be cheaper to have air conditioners installed in their homes?
LESS ATHLETICS, MORE ACADEMICS
A maverick alumni group has won another round in its effort to get Rutgers University to focus less on athletics and more on academics, The New York Times reports.
A New Jersey appeals court ruled the university's alumni magazine was wrong to reject an advertisement from the group encouraging Rutgers to withdraw from the Big East Conference.
The ad, which the group tried to place in Rutgers Magazine in 1998, quoted economist and alum Milton Friedman as saying, "Universities exist to transmit knowledge and understanding of ideas and values to students, not to provide entertainment for spectators or employment for athletes."
The magazine said the ad violated a policy against "advocacy advertising." In its ruling, the three-judge panel said Rutgers had the right to adopt the advertising ban but that the school also had to follow the rule and was in violation because it ran an ad for Big East sports tickets.
The group wants Rutgers to move down a notch in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, from Division I to Division II, where the competition is less fierce.
-- Should Rutgers 1000 attempt to reform Division I universities instead of just lowering the level of athletics at Rutgers?
-- Can universities transmit knowledge and understanding while providing entertainment for spectators?
BRING BACK KNIGHTHOOD IDEALS?
Queen Elizabeth II has approved Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as an honorary Knight of the British Empire, but being an American citizen, he will not be addressed as "Sir Alan," Market News reports.
The announcement says the knighthood was awarded "in recognition of his outstanding contribution to global economic stability."
Greenspan will receive the honor when he next visits the United Kingdom. Although American citizens admitted to British Orders of Chivalry do not style themselves "Sir" Greenspan will be entitled to place the letters "KBE" after his name, for "Knight of the British Empire."
Americans already knighted include former President George H.W. Bush and former President Ronald Reagan, Secretary of State Colin Powell, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, comedian Bob Hope, Gulf War General Norman Schwartzkopf, composer and pianist Andre Previn and former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.
Knights initially were rewarded with land and privileges in return for fighting and governing in the early centuries of medieval Europe. A knight, after apprenticeship as a valet and squire, was compelled to be brave, courageous, honorable, true to his word and loyal to his feudal overlord. His job was to protect the weak, aid the poor, seek justice and revere pure womanhood.
-- Has knighthood in the old sense of the word gone out of style?
-- Is there anyway to bring it back?