Web Notables (March 4, 2015)

Christian repents of bomb-making guide, poor women keep their babies, the 1920s' Oprah, etc.

By The Editors Published on March 4, 2015

“Web Notables” is a daily feature that highlights articles readers may want to see but might have missed. It is compiled by senior editor David Mills.

Burn After Reading, by Gabriel Thompson in Harpers. As an angry 19-year-old, William Powell wrote The Anarchist’s Cookbook, a famous guide to bomb-making and violent acts, which terrorists and criminals have used. Five years later he became “a confirmed Anglican Christian” but has never been able to get the book out of print. It has now sold a reported two million copies.

 The Implications of Inequalities in Contraception and Abortion, by Richard V. Reeves on the Social Mobility Memos blog. Poor women don’t use contraception or get abortions at nearly the rate wealthy women do. Less than 10% of sexually active women who earned less than the federal poverty level ($11,760 for a single person) had an abortion last year, while almost one-third of those who make four times that level did.

[W]omen with higher incomes are much more successful at ensuring that sex does not lead to an accidental baby. This almost certainly reflects their brighter economic and labor market prospects: simply put, they have more to lose from an unintended birth.

The author, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, thinks the low abortion rate among poor woman a problem.

How Marriage and Divorce Impact Economic Opportunity, by Isabel V. Sawhill, also on the Social Mobility Memos blog. “There is near-consensus that the retreat from marriage has not been good for children,” notes Sawhill, another senior fellow at the Brookings Institute.

In 2012, the child poverty rate was 21 percent. If the proportion of children living in single parent families had remained at the 1970 level (and we make some adjustments for the fact that single parents have other disadvantages that explain their greater poverty), then the child poverty rate in 2012 would have been 5 percentage points (or 24 percent) lower.

 After 9 Years Ripping Off the Priesthood, Gay Priest Leaves, by Rebecca Hamilton, on her blog Public Catholic. Hamilton, a former Oklahoma state representative, discusses a former Jesuit who left the priesthood and Church and has taken to the Huffington Post to blame the Catholic Church “for what he views as the moral failing of being Catholic. He plans to go to the Episcopalians, and his essays basically condemn the Catholic Church for not becoming Episcopalian too.” She adds:

Notice that he specifically threatens [to out] celibate gay priests, not the boys who break their vows. . . . Make no mistake about it, if your parish priest gets outed in this fashion, malice is the motive: Malice toward the Church, and malice toward the priest.

A Brewing Problem, by James Hamblin on The Atlantic’s website. The inventor of the k-cup explains: “It’s like a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance.” Now he says, “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it,” because its users use up millions of non-biodegradable k-cups a year — enough to go round the world 10 1/2 times if placed end to end. The company argues that it saves water needed to grow the beans and has other environmental benefits while making sure customers can’t use biodegradable cups made by other companies.

From the Archives:

The False Prophet, by Anthony Daniels in The New Criterion. Writing about Kahlil Gibran, whose “inspirational” book The Prophet was once hugely popular — Gibran was the twenties’ Orpah — Daniels writes:

He is a feeler rather than a thinker, though even his feelings end up being bogus precisely because of his refusal to discipline them by anything resembling thought. Another of his aphorisms, for example, is “Thinking is always the stumbling stone to poetry.” . . . It is no surprise, then, that Gibran . . . wrote poetry that is halfway between greeting-card doggerel and TV evangelism. One looks in vain in these many pages for an arresting or poetic metaphor. I quote at random: “Dip your oar, my beloved, / And let me touch my strings.” It is impossible to plumb the shallows of this.

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