Smart Ideas: Flying the Friendly Skies

An F-16, below, escorts two F-35 jets after arriving Sept. 2, 2015, at Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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Feb. 13, 2018, 8 p.m.

How to fix the Air Force pilot shortage

The Editors, writing for Bloomberg View

The Air Force’s 2017 push to fix a shortage of 700 pilots ended up causing 500 more vacancies, and the issue is “likely to get worse” as commercial airlines continue competing for qualified applicants. The Air Force’s main response—generous benefits and bonuses such as “retention bonuses of up to $455,000 over 13 years to eligible officers”—is “little more than a Band-Aid.” There are many ways to fix the problem. The service could “offer a new ‘pilot-only’ track for flyers who just want to fly and aren’t looking to rise to [the] very top of the service,” or give pilots with families more flexibility to avoid being relocated. Another solution is to extend the initial service commitment to 10 years for those receiving flight training, and get a “lengthened commitment from veteran pilots who receive additional training on more-modern aircraft.”

The left-right divide over capitalization

Marcus Banks, writing for The Boston Globe

On Twitter, capital letters have become the “hashtag of the Right.” According to a new study from sociolinguist Rachael Tatman at the University of Washington, Conservative users are more likely to capitalize common nouns as a “rhetorical device.” This practice, dubbed “random mid-sentence capitalization,” was initially quashed around the time that English was standardized. In a medium where bold or italics fonts are not available, it’s come roaring back, and there’s nothing “inherently wrong” with that. It just proves the political divide “now extends to capitalization as well.”

Tide Pods aren't in need of regulation

Shoshana Weissmann and Nicolas John, writing for the New York Post

The hand-wringing over America’s favorite meme, the Tide Pod, is hardly worthy of legislators’ attention, but in New York “that’s not stopping them from proposing legislation to force Tide to make these detergent pods less appetizing to children and to further childproof them.” Tide has already “gone to great lengths to prevent children from eating the pods” and “even made a viral video to stop adults from doing it.” The legislators are looking for a solution to a non-existent problem, and their desire to make the pods less alluring to children ignores the fact that adults are the ones doing the “Tide Pod Challenge.”

Make standardized tests free

Susan M. Dynarski, writing for the Brookings Institution

An overlooked hurdle to college accessibility is the SAT and ACT tests, which “are required for admission to virtually all selective colleges in the U.S. Students have to register and pay for these tests, and then travel to a testing center on a weekend to take them. This is straightforward, if you have internet access, a computer, a credit card, and a car. If you are missing any of these resources, it’s a lot more challenging.” One way to broaden accessibility is to allow students to take one of the tests for free, as is already done in a dozen states. Michigan’s example shows the benefits: 99 percent of students now take either test, and for “every 1,000 students who scored high enough to attend a selective college before testing was universal, another 230 high scorers were revealed by the new policy.”

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