FOR whatever consolation it brings, we are...


FOR whatever consolation it brings, we are not alone, frying in a frigid universe.

It hit 106 in Chicago. It was 108 in Riyadh, but they're more used to it there.

Trains derailed when heat buckled rails in Ohio and Nebraska.

A circus trapeze artist lost his grip and slipped in Milwaukee. Sweaty palms. Never happened to him before, anywhere.

People died in several places in un-air-conditioned abodes as hot as 130 degrees. People fainted in queues, drowned in pools and suffocated in locked cars.

The Washington Monument in D.C. closed when its air conditioning failed. Never happened before.

The ozone in Europe is awful.

Ireland has not recovered from heat in the '90s weeks ago.

After two weeks of pollution alerts, Parisians were advised not to drive cars. On Bastille Day, no less! The mayor promises to present "precise, long-term measures" to the City Council. Groups are demanding a bicycle and roller blade policy.

Arguably, a case can be made that there is no such thing as global warming, that everything is cyclical, that what mercury goes up must come down. But it's too hot to argue.

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MEMO TO THE editor of the New York Times Sunday Travel section:

You goofed. You devote the better part of a full page to "What's Doing in Baltimore" and then blow it.

Sure, it was nice to let Times readers know Baltimore is a great place to visit. You stretched the truth about civic pride linked to a local girl marrying Napoleon's brother (it ranks as historical trivia, at best). You insulted the owners of Pimlico by calling the race track "seedy" and "rundown." And your taste in restaurants is -- how can we put this charitably -- bizarre.

But the unforgiveable sin was to list the Fourth of July spectacular as the Main Event in Baltimore, with time of events and a phone number to call. Problem is, you ran this article five days after the fireworks.

Thanks for the free publicity, hon, but next time check your calendar before you cram in all the news you think is fit to print.

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THE National Basketball Association was born in 1949. It took 30 years before it decided any college sophomore was good enough to be its No. 1 draft choice. It was another 14 years before the NBA would do it again.

Now, only two years later, the NBA's first pick was Maryland sophomore Joe Smith. And to emphasize how unnecessary playing college ball is these days, the next three selections were also sophomores and the fifth a high school grad.

Colleges don't have to be farm teams for pro clubs anymore. Let the pros find and train their own athletes. Plenty of them aren't interested in getting a college education first.

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