By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
For the first time in almost 40 years, I had students who missed first semester exams and were not able to make them up on the regular make-up period on the last exam day before Christmas. That may not be the equivalent of global warming but the times they are a-changing, as Bob Dylan might say.
If you don’t know who Dylan is then that might be another sign the apocalypse is approaching (just kidding!) during this week when the killer whales trapped in Canada have finally escaped into the open ocean. Scientists who know about such things report the whales should not have been in that particular spot, anyway, but the salt seas just do not behave the way they are supposed to.
A recent report — as in earlier this week — found that the heat waves of summer 2012 were record setting in more ways than one. For example, during the years 1900-1950, it was discovered that for every heat record set, there was a corresponding cool temperature standard. From around 1950 through the end of the 20th century, the heat records began to outnumber the cool records by a 2-1 margin.
Within the past two decades, record hot settings are now pouring out at a pace nearly four times the equal of new low temperatures. That might mean there actually is something to this warming trend. The scary part is becoming more obvious, isn’t it? What we are finding out is that maybe humans aren’t as much to blame as some have previously thought. It simply might be that the cycle of warming and cooling which has been present through the eons is now on the upward cycle. If that’s true, then look out Florida and Louisiana and New York harbor, among others, because the ocean is coming.
Back to the flu, however, and these young’uns with the serious sniffles. Once I noticed that all my exams were not done, I started to check up on this illness. Some 29 states have at least “high flu-like activity” reported and more disturbing, there were 18 children reported dead because of sickness. That is nearly the equal of the Sandy Hook massacre count and when even one young person is taken away, that is one too many.
More than 2,200 persons across the country were hospitalized by the end of Christmas week. Doctors’ offices around Four Seasons Country have had their share of the flu traffic and flu shots are certainly at a premium. There are a number of places where the vaccine has run out due to the high volume of requests for the medicine. This year is definitely on pace to more than double the amount of flu cases reported a season ago, jumping from just over two percent of the population affected in 2011 to almost six percent in 2012.
One medical expert, a Dr. Gregory Poland from the famed Mayo Clinic, reminds everyone that the flu should be taken seriously and notes that only a century ago when the flu epidemic swept through the land, more than 70,000 Americans died in the aftermath. Now, remember to stay as warm and dry as possible and chicken soup still works. This winter weather is hard to deal with, and as the great songwriter Dylan penned two generations ago, the best way to deal with it has not been figured out just yet, and “the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” Thank goodness, for this weekend at least, those January breezes will be part of the amazing heat wave mentioned earlier.
As a sports fan, I was not surprised at all with the recent vote by the Baseball Writers of America to deny the so-called “steroid stars” the last 25 years entrance to the Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds won seven Most Valuable Player awards and hit 762 home runs, while Roger Clemens won seven Cy Young awards as the best pitcher in his league and struck out more than 4,000 batters. Sammy Sosa broke Babe Ruth’s and Roger Maris’s homerun records a couple of times. His contemporary, Mark McGwire, the first hitter to break the 70-homer mark, is also in that group.
Although their numbers are extraordinary, so too, are the methods used to obtain them. At least, that is the belief of the vast majority of the BBWAA, who did not give any of the aforementioned players as much as 39 percent of the vote (it takes at least 75 percent to be selected). One wonders what kind of backlash the owners will ever suffer. After all, it was their money being offered — through the vast coffers of the contract with television — that prompted the players to do whatever they could to excel in the first place.
Larry Hypes, a teacher at Tazewell High School, is a Daily Telegraph columnist.