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By the way, let us assure you reading this editorial requires no protective gear. It's certified virus free, although if you share an iPad or computer keyboard with someone, we can't speak for their condition. Or if you're reading it someplace where you can't keep your distance, you might best be served by wearing a mask. Maybe it's better to be safe than sorry. But that pretty much applies to a lot these days, especially as it seems some people have taken the moves to reopen Arkansas' economy as a sign they can get back to "normal."

If "normal" means ignoring one's own health and endangering those around us by our choices, then, yes, some people are quickly moving back to normal. We think backing off the business closures and limits on activities is needed, but in the small steps the way the Arkansas Department of Health and Gov. Asa Hutchinson have pursued.

Let's be careful out there, folks. There's still a virus that we're all better off avoiding, even if the steps taken so far have had the intended effect of lowering the number of cases the state has experienced so far.

Now, let's get to this week's collection of covid-free digits reflecting a few thoughts about current events:

Sometimes you'll hear about someone earning an "A for effort," as if the effectiveness of what they're trying to do doesn't figure into the evaluation. It does. And so we consider wearers of masks in stores (including employees of said stores) and other crowded places who set their masks below their noses or, unbelievably, pulled down so they're essentially "hammocking" their chin. Did we miss the announcement that breathing through the nose is somehow exempted by the coronavirus as a path toward infection? Is simply strapping on a mask, no matter what it covers, enough to offer protection?

"You should absolutely not be pulling up and putting down your mask while you're out," Shan Soe-Lin, a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, was quoted in the New York Times. "If you're going to go to the trouble of using a mask, leave it on."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that masks must cover mouths and noses to have any chance to be effective.

Look at it this way: How protected would a condom with a hole in it make you feel? A real gamble, that is, and it doesn't even require an open casino.

The Fayetteville Library reopened Monday, giving its patrons at least a taste of bibliographic normalcy. Javian Walter, a 20-year-old English major, reflected our thoughts about libraries when he noted there's a certain power in browsing.

When so many people are looking for indoor, safe activities, reading is one of the better ones, so it's nice to have even modified access to the local library's volumes. The library continued to offer the ability to check out books remotely while it was closed, but we appreciate the librarians and support staff who went to work to ensure the public could get back in the building where one can find a lot of inspiration just waiting on those shelves.

Speaking of Fayetteville, it was an honor for a police officer we wish had never become eligible for it, but it was nonetheless meaningful to learn that Fayetteville Police Department Officer Stephen Carr's name had been added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., along with four other Arkansas law officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. Carr died Dec. 7, 2019, after a gunman ambushed the officer outside the police station as Carr prepared for duty. A total of 307 fallen officers were recognized during a video ceremony last week.

The massive increase in ad spending by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge -- using public dollars to promote the services of her office while, just coincidentally, prominently featuring her name and likeness -- came up for review before lawmakers recently. Total price tag? $1.7 million. Her office spent a combined $917,000 on advertising the previous four years combined, according to her office's records. Even more significant: The next highest annual amount an attorney general before Rutledge since at least 2008 was $459,200 in a year when Dustin McDaniel held the office. Rutledge is considering a run for governor in two years, so a little taxpayer-supported advertising would not hurt that effort at all.

One senator advanced a notion we consider dangerous in government, but one we've heard from a few legislative bodies: "What authority do we have to even tell the attorney general what they do with their funds that's in their hands?"

What in tarnation does a lawmaker like that think, that constitutional officers can just go buy anything they want once the money is allocated to their office?

Lawmakers need to take the role of oversight seriously, and this kind of spending, while probably legal, is an abusive and self-serving use of public money.

Give’em a thumb

Want to give some brief feedback on news? Someone who deserves a pat on the back? An idea that needs a dose of common sense? Recommend a “Thursday thumb” by calling Greg Harton at (479) 872-5026 or by email at [email protected]

Commentary on 05/21/2020

Print Headline: Thursday's thumbs

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