Cutting Edge / New Ideas, Sharp Opinions

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Harassed in India

Reason Foundation's Shikha Dalmia in The Wall Street Journal: "I've never met an Indian woman -- rich or poor, upper or lower caste, pretty or homely, young or middle-age -- who hasn't been harassed. Indeed, street-level harassment is like traffic for drivers, an unavoidable nuisance women confront whenever they leave the house. It fundamentally alters how they walk, talk, travel and dress in public. It impels them to assume a body language least likely to draw attention -- to cover themselves, as it were, in an invisible burqa."

Ms. Dalmia blames "the stubborn hold of India's prudish culture," which "has made many Indian men so callow."

Knowing Dick

Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy asks how much is it worth to know Dick Cheney? It once seemed as if he "owned Washington," Mr. Keating writes. He was "the consummate insider, a friend to big business, the power behind the throne -- the man to know if you wanted to get something done during the George W. Bush years."

But the B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy recently looked at Mr. Cheney's influence on behalf of 15 companies, including Halliburton, where he was CEO. If the firms were dependent on Mr. Cheney's patronage and clout, the study's authors reasoned, then their stock prices should have risen along with his influence.

The result, Mr. Keating reports: "A big fat zero. Despite widespread speculation that Halliburton and other Cheney-connected firms benefited from the Iraq war or were nefariously plotting to reconfigure America's energy future, there was no observable correlation between the powerful veep and a company's economic performance. Either Cheney didn't have as much juice as we all thought, or the markets just weren't picking up on it."

Road battles, redux

It's not just a Pittsburgh thing (see last week's letter to the editor, in which author Cheryl Szymanski of Brighton Heights claimed that "bicyclists pay not one penny to be on the roads"). At the Wall Street Journal, editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz said in an online video interview that cyclists -- and, particularly, the bikes used in New York City's new bike-share program -- have "absolutely begrimed" New York's "best neighborhoods," all "so that New Yorkers can feel that they are in Paris and London." The "dreadful" bike-share, she suggested (somewhat tongue-in-cheek?), was designed by "the totalitarians running this government."

Two weeks in, the program is proving quite popular, according to The New York Times, but software glitches are preventing the sharing system from working properly.

We're No. 1!

At reading newspapers! (Not so much at hockey, though, as it turns out.) Over at AdAge, a media news magazine and website, Michael Sebastian informs us that the U.S. city with the highest level of daily newspaper readership is, of course, Pittsburgh. (And the most read newspaper in the city is, of course, the Post-Gazette.)

In Pittsburgh, 51 percent of people surveyed claimed they read at least one daily newspaper; no other U.S. city or region exceeded 50 percent. On the low end are Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio.

Mr. Sebastian's take-away: "The percentage of daily print newspaper readers in the U.S. has fallen nearly 20 percent since 2001, according to research firm Scarborough. But that drop has not been spread evenly ... In several cities rimming the Great Lakes and Northeast, the percentage of adults who claim to read a print newspaper daily hovered around 50 percent in 2012," while down South and out West, those numbers drop.

A Farewell to Farms

If you didn't grow up in rural Pennsylvania, you probably know someone who did. Your parents and grandparents almost certainly knew of someone who was raised on a farm. But the America we once knew -- the breadbasket yang to the yin that was the industrial, urban America -- is fast disappearing. Not just the farms, of course, but the rural populace itself. "Over the past two years the total population of rural America has fallen for the first time since the Census Bureau began tracking it in the 1970s, albeit by just a fraction," The Economist magazine reports this month.


Compiled by Greg Victor and Bill Toland


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