The US Air Force recently authorized the use of preferred personal pronouns in email signature blocks. Here’s the actual quote from Tongue & Quill, the USAF’s style guide for written correspondence:

“The use of pronouns (he/him, she/her, or they/them) in an email signature block is authorized but not required.”

The way these things work in the military, what isn’t spelled out is proscribed, so the use of personal pronouns other than he/him, she/her, and they/them is not allowed. Sorry, zie/zims, ey/ems, and tey/ters, you should have joined the Coast Guard. Just joking. Actually the Air Force — my Air Force — is out ahead of the pack on this one (I’m okay with it, too, though you’ll never catch me using the singular they and my inner reactionary thinks we’ll look back on this era of preferred pronouns with embarrassment).

But on to a larger subject: male or female, members of my service are airmen, just as Army personnel are soldiers and Navy personnel are sailors. Airman is also an enlisted rank; airman basic, airman, airman first class, senior airman. 

I know it’s clunky, but why not aviator? As in “she’s an Air Force aviator,” “he’s an aviator first class,” “the military needs to recruit more aviators, soldiers, and sailors.” Aviator is the linguistic equivalent of soldier and sailor, a unisex term that reflects the mission and skill sets of Air Force members. Yes, when it comes to rated personnel there’s an unwritten understanding that Air Force stick actuators are pilots while our Navy brothers and sisters are aviators, but it’s not like the Navy owns the copyright to aviator. And aviator’s way less clunky than aeronaut!

And then there’s this.

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My inner reactionary says he’s right. A lot of people — and not just the poor — abuse government assistance. Always have, always will. But is that a reason to deny help to those who need it? Johnny threw a spitwad so the whole school’s on detention?

Well, shit, we all knew it was never gonna happen anyway, not in this country, not with this Senate.

Are you ready for the holidays? I’m not! Stay home if you can, stay safe if you can’t.

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