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[THUMBS UP] Let's not forget who decides which candidates will be elected come Nov. 3: It's the registered voters. It's not just someone who figures out on Nov. 2 that they have an opinion and want to have a voice. Anyone who waits that long will be out of luck. This Monday, Oct. 5, is the deadline for any qualified but unregistered Arkansan who wants to be eligible to cast a ballot on Nov. 3 to make it official by visiting a local county clerk's office. It doesn't take long and it's not hard. But it's a necessary step. All the griping in the world accomplishes little for someone who can't or won't vote. People who don't register basically disenfranchise themselves.

[THUMBS DOWN] This pandemic keeps delivering all sort of challenges. The well-being of Arkansas' youngsters is certainly a concern when it comes to covid-19, but unfortunately it's also affecting the sad circumstances of abuse. Reports of abuse have remained steady, but Arkansas Children's hospital physicians say the cases they've treated have tended to be more severe. They're not sure why, but they recognize the coronavirus-related stresses of life -- job losses, home-schooling, anxiety -- amps up the strains of family life. Often, signs of abuse will be recognized while the kids are physically at school or when they're suddenly absent, but the disruptions in the school year have also disrupted those kinds of observations. It falls to everyone to follow the "see something, say something" kind of advice to help protect the children of Arkansas.

[THUMBS UP] None of us are living "normal" lives right now -- whatever normal might have meant pre-covid -- but the return of sports events has certainly helped millions of fans regain some small part of normalcy. Even with no or few fans in the stands, the spirit of athletic competition is invigorating and, yes, distracting from very serious public health matters. We need such distractions. We're watching professional baseball, basketball and football. College football is reviving the thrill of Saturdays. And now the SEC has announced the late December opening of conference play for men's and women's basketball teams. Much can happen between now and then, but it's exciting to believe a basketball season may very well happen if it can be done safely. Keep wearing those masks, Razorback fans, and taking all those other precautions.

[THUMBS DOWN] We've heard a comment or two from people who suggest some Arkansans who don't feel well are avoiding any test that might confirm they are infected with the coronavirus. Why? Because they don't want to live with the restrictions on their lives a positive test dictates. We don't know if it's true or not, nor would any government statistic or measure ever be likely to confirm such attitudes. Our hope is that it's simply not true, because that would reflect a selfishness and disregard for friends and family and the population at-large. An illness as potentially serious as covid-19 must be faced and treated. Sure, some people barely have any symptoms at all; others have seen their health suddenly and seriously plummet. As with any problem, ignoring it makes it worse.

[THUMBS UP] Arkansas State Parks officials have wisely withdrawn items from the gift shop at the Historic Washington State Park in Hempstead County. Why? Because they were tourist trinkets that displayed the controversial Confederate Battle Flag. And before anyone starts claiming this is about erasing history, it's not. It's eliminating profit-making on an relic of the nation's past that in modern times has been adopted by advocates of white supremacy. Selling flag-decorated shot glasses, koozies and other items isn't about preserving or interpreting history, which is what state parks ought to be about.

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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]

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