We’re number five! Nationwide, just 3 percent of us commute to work on foot. But according to Mark Alan Hughes (Philadelphia Daily News, May 20), there are sections of cities where over half the population walks to work: 1.9 square miles in downtown Philadelphia that’s home to 38,000 people, 1.5 square miles in Boston and Cambridge (33,000 people), 0.8 square miles in San Francisco (8,000), 0.2 square miles in midtown Manhattan (3,000), and 0.2 square miles in Chicago (1,000).

I swear I’ll never throw a spitball again. According to a story in the Huntington Journal Gazette in northern Indiana (quoted in “Undernews,” May 15), U.S. representative Dan Burton “discussed tax cuts, prescription-drug costs and border patrols in a Town Hall meeting Monday. Burton spoke at Huntington North High School to a crowd of about 100, many of them students required to attend as punishment.”

Forget about the money–TIFs are just wrong. So says a report, “The Right Tool for the Job?” issued in March by the Developing Neighborhood Alternatives Project. Tax Increment Financing legislation and regulations “provide few opportunities for access and input by the public, and often invite public participation only after major decisions have been made. This means the voices, interests, and ideas of the largest part of the community are missing from the planning process. Economic development plans produced without this input cannot be as successful as those created spontaneously by markets or democratically through a truly open political process. TIF, by making it easier to use the power of eminent domain to condemn and take properties that stand in the way of someone’s vision of development, poses a threat to the owners of homes and commercial buildings. This power lifts a small group of elected and unelected officials and developers above the usual checks, balances, and limitations that discipline other agents in both the public and private sectors.”

When will “gay Muslim” cease to be an oxymoron? Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris write in Foreign Policy (foreignpolicy.com), “Among authoritarian and quasi-democratic states, rejection of homosexuality is deeply entrenched: 99 percent [of people] in both Egypt and Bangladesh [say it’s never “justifiable”], 94 percent in Iran, 92 percent in China, and 71 percent in India. By contrast, these figures are much lower among respondents in stable democracies: 32 percent in the United States, 26 percent in Canada, 25 percent in Britain, and 19 percent in Germany. Muslim societies are neither uniquely nor monolithically low on tolerance toward sexual orientation and gender equality. Many of the Soviet successor states rank as low as most Muslim societies. However, on the whole, Muslim countries not only lag behind the West but behind all other societies as well. Perhaps more significant, the figures reveal the gap between the West and Islam is even wider among younger age groups.”

Let bicyclists roll through stop signs, argues Jim Nugent in “Bike Traffic,” newsletter of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (May). Cyclists can see the intersection better, they slow down more when “rolling through,” they can’t hurt people as much as cars can, and they get too sweaty if they have to stop and start all the time. “Holding big, powerful, and deadly motor vehicles to a different standard than bicycles would be rational public policy. Cyclists shouldn’t feel guilty when they call for selective enforcement of the stop sign laws.”

Quit the damn tithing, He said. The Charisma News Service (charismanews.com) says it exists “because we believe that the secular media does not cover what God is doing.” A CNS story distributed May 21 reports that the proportion of Christian adults who tithe has dropped from 8 percent in 2001 to 3 percent in 2002.