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Apparently, Britain's Prince Louis made news by sucking his thumb as he appeared with his mum and dad -- Prince William and Kate, the duchess of Cambridge -- recently on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London. The duchess stepped in to put an end to the habit, a least momentarily.

We get it. Sometimes babies just can't resist the temptation. We all like to put our thumbs to good use, but most us outgrow that habit. We've put ours into action with today's version of Thursday's thumb, which also may or may not have earned the approval of the future queen consort.

[THUMBS UP] The official word came in recent days: Completion of Washington County's version of the state-funded pilot crisis stabilization units will be marked at 10 a.m. Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. It's going to happen at the county-owned and -renovated building at 105 N. Mill Ave. Those who have followed development of these units know they are the state's experiment in diverting mentally ill people who get into trouble with the law from jails and, instead, into places where they can receive some initial treatment. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has been instrumental in development of these important facilities is scheduled to be part of the event. If we're being honest, we don't know what to expect from the stabilization units. They won't magically cure overcrowding at the jail, nor is that their intended purpose. Rather, these units take the wise approach of treating mental illness rather than behaving as though the mentally ill are just like every other inmate. They most certainly are not, and treatment will be a far better approach than incarceration for the mentally ill. Arkansas has not always chosen the right path when it comes to the mentally ill, but these stabilization units are a major step in the right direction.

[THUMBS UP] The private Northwest Arkansas Council, a nonprofit advocacy group for projects they believe beneficial to the region, has launched a new website called FareFlightNWA.org. Its goal is to increase the number of people who fly from XNA, the three-letter federal identifier for the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. High fares have long been a barrier, especially for the leisure traveler, at XNA. This website attempts to promote strategies to find the lower-cost fares at XNA that can make sense if travelers take the entire cost of driving and parking to more distant airports into account. The website's creators say the more people who fly from XNA, the more likely it is the airport can attract more airlines and destinations, and lower-cost competition that will help drive down fares overall. The site estimates the costs of flying from XNA cost travelers about $147 million extra in 2018 because of fares that exceed the national averages. The site is a necessary effort if the region's airport expects to turn the tide of travelers who drive to Tulsa or other locations for flights, but it also suggests "it's going to take a community-wide effort to ensure that Northwest Arkansas gets every possible economic benefit from having XNA in our region." Is flying XNA a civic duty? No, it's not. But it also doesn't make sense to fly from other airports based solely on fare price alone -- travel time, parking fees and automotive gas prices add up. Making an apples to apples comparison makes sense. Here's the rub, though, from our perspective: As long as companies continue to pay expensive fares at XNA, the airlines will see no reason to lower the fares offered there.

[THUMBS DOWN] While we appreciate the positive aspect of social media, the negative aspects keep piling on to the point they might just outweigh the benefits one of these days. Case in point: In coverage of the recent Virginia attack that left a dozen people dead, the story included a description of how the shooter's social media presence was being repeatedly altered in the wake of his identification. The site listed him "as a registered Democrat and as a registered Republican, as well as variously Christian, Muslim and atheist, before the page was taken down on Sunday." Clearly, in the wake of some events, there's a cynical information war going on, using real-life tragedies for the sole purpose of enraging and dividing. It is so easy to manipulate information on social media. Remember claims of "crisis actors" crept into comments in coverage of the Parkland shooting in Florida? The saddest part is, it seems to work much of the time. People don't question the legitimacy of a claim as long as it confirms some part of their hardened ideological perspective. Beware the information wars, folks.

[THUMBS UP] It's exciting to hear the news that the old Sears store at the Northwest Arkansas Mall will find new life in the form of co-working office space and event venue. That could create a beehive of activity to meet a need for office and event space for the region while also drawing in people who will also spend money at the mall's stores, restaurants and services. That space has been empty long enough, so the experiment is welcome. Just one question: Will they sell Craftsman tools there?

Commentary on 06/13/2019

Print Headline: Thursday's thumbs

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