In an Over-Communicated, Intrusive World, Simple is Better
Ed

Yes, Virginia, There
Is a Santa Claus

 
Copyright © 2007
by Ed Bagley

(Editor’s Note: The following editorial by Francis P. Church was first published in The New York Sun in 1897 in response to an
8-year-old girl’s letter to the editor, and is arguably the most famous editorial ever written in an American newspaper. This incredible piece of writing happened when newspapers were the primary means of communication. In 1897 there was no mass communication by radio, television, computers, cell phones and the associated technical goodies we have today. Readers actually believed and trusted in newspapers. Now we do not believe and trust in newspapers anymore than we do in politicians.)

Here is how Francis P. Church responded to Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter:

“We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except (in what) they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?

Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal (supernal means “of exceptional quality or extent”) beauty and glory beyond.

Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

About the Exchange
Francis P. Church’s editorial, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was an immediate sensation, and went on to became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in The New York Sun in 1897, more than a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O’Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

“Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus,
I was filled with doubts.
I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, ‘If you see it in the The Sun, it’s so,’ and that settled the matter.

‘Well, I’m just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth,’ I said to father.

He said, ‘Go ahead, Virginia. I’m sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does’.”

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents’ favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer.

Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, “Endeavour to clear your mind of cant.” When controversial subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girl’s letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

“Is there a Santa Claus?” the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply that was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia O’Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master’s from Columbia University, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator.

Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O’Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.

Clason’s “The Richest Man in Babylon” Part 2 – The 7 Cures for a Lean Wallet and The 5 Laws of Money

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Part 1 of this 2 Part series ends the synopsis of George Clason’s book “The Richest Man in Babylon,” but Clason raises an important question: Why should
so few men be able to acquire so much gold?

The answer is because they know how.

One may not condemn a man for succeeding because he knows how. Neither may one with justice take away from a man what he has fairly earned, to give to men of less ability.

And so it was that the good king of Babylon sought out the richest man in Babylon to teach to others in his kingdom the secrets of his success.

This is a synopsis of what the richest man taught to the people
of Babylon:

The Seven Cures for a Lean Wallet

1) Start your wallet to fattening. Save one-tenth of all you earn. Remember that a part
of all I earn is mine to keep. Do this faithfully. Do not let the simplicity of this escape you.

When I ceased to pay out more than nine-tenths of my earnings,
I got along just as well.
I was not shorter than before, and, money came to me more easily than before.

2) Control your expenses. How is it that all do not earn the same yet all have lean wallets? Here is the truth: That which each of us calls our “necessary expenses” will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to
the contrary.

Confuse not necessary expenses with desires. We all have more desires than our earnings can gratify. Examine which of the accepted expenses of living can be reduced or eliminated. Let your motto be 100% of appreciated value demanded for every dollar spent.

Budget your expenses so that your actual necessities are met without spending more than nine-tenths of your earnings.

3) Make your money multiply. Protect your growing treasure by putting it to labor and increasing. Money in your wallet earns nothing. Money that we earn from our money is but a start; it is the earnings generating earnings that builds fortunes.

When the richest man in Babylon loaned money to the shield maker to buy bronze, he said this: “Each time I loaned money to the shield maker, I loaned back also the rental he had paid me. Therefore not only did my capital increase, but its earnings likewise increased.”

4) Guard your money from loss. Everyone has an idea of how to make quick money; few, however, have the evidence of making money to justify their idea, scheme or offer of quick riches. The first sound principle of investment is security for your principal.

Before you loan your money to any man assure yourself of his ability to repay your loan, and of his reputation to do so. Make no one a present of your hard-earned treasure.

Consult the wisdom of those experienced in handling money for profit. Such advice is often freely given for
the asking, and may possess more value than the amount you
are about to invest.

5) Make your home a profitable investment. When you can set aside only nine-tenths of what you earn to live, and can use a part of that nine-tenths to improve the investment in your housing, do it; owning your own home is also an investment that grows with your wealth.

Your family deserves a home they can enjoy and call their own. It builds a sense of stability and well-being.

6) Ensure a future income. Build income-producing assets that do not require you to work forever. We will all grow old and die.

You should prepare a suitable income for the days to come when you are no longer younger and cannot work as hard, and to make preparations for your family should you no longer be with them to comfort and support them. Provide in advance for the needs of your growing age, and the protection of your family.

7) Increase your
ability to earn.
Desire precedes accomplishment, and the desire must be strong and definite. When you have backed your desire for saving $1,000 with the strength and purpose to secure it, you can then save $2,000.

Desires must be simple and definite. Desires defeat their own purpose when they are too many, too confusing, or too difficult to accomplish. Cultivate your own powers to study and become wiser, more skillful, and more productive.

Here is more sage advice from Clason’s masterpiece on financial matters:

The 5 Laws of Money

If you had to choose, would you choose tons of money or wisdom? Most men would take the money, ignore the wisdom, and waste the money. Here is the wisdom:

1) Money comes gladly and in increasing quantities to any man who will put aside not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and the future of his family.

2) Money labors diligently and contently for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying unto itself in infinity if kept working diligently. Money multiplies itself in surprising fashion.

3) Money clings to
the protection of the cautious owner who invests it with the advice of men wise
in its handling.

4) Money slips away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes that he is not familiar with, or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep. The inexperienced handler of money who trusts his own judgment, and puts his money in investments which he is not familiar, always pays with his money for his experience.

5) Money flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings, or who follows the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers, or who
trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.

Here is the hard lesson of the 5 Laws of Money: You cannot measure the value of wisdom in bags of money. Without wisdom, those who have it quickly lose money, but with wisdom, money can be secured by those who have it not.

This ends the condensation.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – 4 Stars (Excellent)

What a relief! Like many of my fellow reviewers, I held my breath after “Dead Man’s Chest” hoping installment three “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” would not be left in the chest with Davy Jones’ disgusting, slimy beating heart.

Three could have gone in the dumper with the average performance of Priates two, but thankfully “At World’s End” gets an excellent rating like the first Pirates’ presentation “The Curse of the Black Pearl”.

Dead Man’s Chest got mixed reviews nationally as many reviewers could not tolerate a plot that was too convoluted to follow. Trust me when I say that At World’s End was no better in that regard, but was far and away better as important story lines returned. Here are some:

 1) The romance between Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) resumed. Just looking at Keira Knightly in her finest can take your mind off of the troublesome story line. The relationship between the two was all but destroyed in “Dead Man’s Chest”.

2) Jack is back! The Curse of the Black Pearl had Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) front and center with all action revolving around him. Dead Man’s Chest dimmed the spotlight on Captain Jack and eventually had him “killed” off at the end. At World’s End brings Captain Jack Sparrow back front and center, where he should be as the focal point of this saga.

Pirates of the Caribbean begins and ends with Jack Sparrow, and if he is given a lesser role the story suffers.

3) The over-the-top sight gags in Dead Man’s Chest (the sword fight in the giant wheel which went on far too long and the hanging baskets between the cliffs) put too much focus on production gimmicks rather than the characters. People make the story of Pirates, not gimmicks.

At World’s End has swordfights aboard ship and cannons blowing ships apart, right on, this is a pirate story for cripes sake, not some ballet production on a ferris wheel.

Give someone credit for letting writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio tell the story without marching orders. I believe these two writers were pushed into throwing anything together to satisfy the immediate demand for a sequel that would dovetail into another sequel. Gore Verbinski directed all three movies.

Given how convoluted the story line is, here is the best synopsis of At World’s End by J. Curcio (it certainly helps if you have seen the first two Pirate films):

“After Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) rescue Captain Jack Sparrow from the land of the dead (Davy Jones’ locker), they must face their foes, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander). Beckett, with control of Jones’ heart, forms a dark alliance with Davy Jones in order to rule the seas and wipe out the last of the Pirates.

“Now, Jack, Barbossa, Will, Elizabeth, Tia Delma and crew must call the Pirate Lords from the four corners of the globe to a gathering to figure out how to release the goddess Calypso, Davy Jones’ former lover, so she can come to their aid. Once Calypso is free, all of the Pirate Lords will stand together in their fight for freedom against Beckett, Jones, Norrington, the Flying Dutchman, and the entire East India Trading Company.

“During the battle, Will proposes to Elizabeth who insists that Barbossa marry them immediately. When Davy Jones mortally wounds Will aboard the Dutchman, Jack places the sabre in Will’s hand and helps him stab Davy Jones’ heart in the Dead Man’s Chest, thus killing Jones and making Will the Flying Dutchman’s captain.

The crew cuts out Will’s heart and places it in the Dead Man’s Chest. Jack and Elizabeth escape before the ship is pulled into the whirlpool, but it quickly resurfaces with Will at the helm. Will captains the Flying Dutchman and Jack Sparrow captains the Black Pearl as they destroy Lord Cutler Beckett’s ship, killing Beckett and causing his armada to retreat.

Although Will has been saved and the Dutchman crew has regained its humanity, Will must spend the next 10 years at sea ferrying souls to the next world. Will and Elizabeth spend one day together on an island to consummate their marriage, and Will entrusts Elizabeth with the Dead Man’s Chest containing his heart.

The rest is simply too good to give away here. Do not make the mistake of leaving when the credits begin to roll as there is a bonus scene at the end of the credits that is critical to understanding where the movie is headed next.

There are too many secret alliances, turncoats, double-crosses and self-centered activities going on to detail them in this review. Suffice to saw that the action happens so quickly that the plot does become convoluted.

There was in fact an actual council of pirates at one time in history. The 9 Pirate Lords portrayed in the film are:

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow: Pirate Lord of the Caribbean Sea.
Geoffrey Rush as Hector Barbossa: Pirate Lord of the Caspian Sea.
Chow Yun-Fat as Captain Sao Feng: Pirate Lord of the South China Sea.
Takayo Fischer as Mistress Ching: Pirate Lady of the Pacific Ocean.
Hakim-Kae Kazim as Gentleman Jocard: Pirate Lord of the Atlantic Ocean.
Marcel Iures as Capitaine Chevalle: Pirate Lord of the Mediterranean Sea.
Ghassan Massoud as Ammand the Corsair: Pirate Lord of the Black Sea.
Marshall Manesh as Sri Sumbhajee: Pirate Lord of the Indian Ocean.
Sergio Calderon as Captain Villanueva: Pirate Lord of the Adriatic Sea.

The scenery is really outstanding in At World’s End; some of the scenes were filmed during the filming of Dead Man’s Chest so locations would not have to be revisited.

Keith Richards, who had been courted to appear in earlier Pirate films, agreed to appear as Jack Sparrow’s father and keeper of the Pirate Code in At World’s End.

When the Pirate’s Code is brought out to settle a dispute, Barbossa refers to the code created by “Morgan and Bartholomew”.

This is a reference to famous pirates Henry Morgan and Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts. Morgan was famous for sacking several impenetrable treasure towns, including Portobello, the Fort Knox of its day.

Black Bart was simply brutal without any conscience whatsoever, he killed and pillaged at will and was one of the pirates to develop a code of honor which his crew followed upon pain of death.

These are my favorite lines in the movie:

Will Turner: No cause is lost if but one fool is left to fight for it.

Barbossa: Dying is the day worth living for.

Barbossa: All men are drawn to the sea perilous though it may be.

Will Turner (when he gives Elizabeth the Dead Man’s Chest with his beating heart in it): It was always yours . . . Will you keep it safe? (How is that for a romantic line, ladies?)

Cabin Boy: Yo ho, haul together, hoist the colors high. Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die!

Among the locations in At World’s End were the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the dunes in Guadalupe (CA), Niagara Falls in New York, ocean battle scenes were located near Palmdale (CA) and sea sequences in Rancho Palos Verdes (CA).

At World’s End runs 2 hours 47 minutes, 15 minutes longer than Dead Man’s Chest and 30 minutes longer than Spider Man 3.

Despite its length, At World’s End had the best Memorial Day Weekend opening ever, hauling in $142 million, and was second only to Spider Man 3’s best opening weekend ever at $151 million. When you add in the international numbers, At World’s End hauled in $332 million for the weekend.

At World’s End rang up the most valuable haul among any pirate booty ever.

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The First Time I Had Witnessed a Miracle

 

(Ed’s Note: This article was written in 1976, 44 years ago, on the occasion of my daughter’s birth, and was first published in The Lacey Leader, the newspaper
I owned and operated for
8 years. As a Christian,
I celebrate the Resurrection of Christ rising from the dead this Easter Sunday so that all who believe might have eternal life. It is a joy for me to recount this miracle with you, recognizing that the birth of life is both a miracle and mystery to be cherished among all of our living experiences.)

Copyright 1976
by Ed Bagley

I have lived on this Earth 31 years, but Saturday night was the first time
I had ever seen a miracle.

It started in the dead of sleep at 5 a.m. For four hours I slept on like a newborn baby. It was nothing unusual for me—
the freight train that cuts Patterson Lake in two could detour through our bedroom, and I would probably not wake up.

Inside Annette—while I cut through zees like rewrite copy—a slow stirring began. Soon it became sharp pains. Finally I woke at 9 a.m. to greet the new day and found out Annette had been up at 5 wondering if her time had come. It had.

We checked into St. Peter Hospital at 11 a.m. and began an even longer wait. Soon it was 1 p.m., then 3 and 5 and 7 and 9 and her labor continued. The baby was not in the right position, and Annette spent a good deal of time figuring out how to push when the contractions came.

It was a struggle we went through together, her frank cries of anguish and my dispassionate encouragement. I could not have become emotionally involved, or it would have been all over for me. I wanted to see everything.

Finally monitors were put on her to play out the frequency of the contractions and the frequency of the baby’s heartbeat. A steady blip, blip, blip played across the face of the machine and, to the right, numbers changed every few seconds, telling the baby’s heartbeat per minute. Eventually medicine was used to help induce the contractions.

After 17½ hours, Annette went to the delivery room and I was right behind her. Inside, as Dr. Krug exhibited a totally calm, professional demeanor, I watched as the baby’s head pushed into the new world.

Dr. Krug noted that the cord had a knot and then, with one final push, Kristin Ann came into the world and nothing could hold back Annette’s elation and tears, and Kristin’s cry for survival.

Kristin was bright and alert to the momentous occasion; she immediately opened her eyes and let us know she was here—it must have been a tremendous struggle for her too.

I sat stunned, not giving in to instant joy. I wanted to note, with the patience and calm of a craftsman, every detail of this glorious moment.

Kristin looked blue and—had it not been for her crying—you might have thought she was not alive. Her eyes, if not her voice, said otherwise. I felt like
I could have reached out and touched the Hand of God.

Later, in the nursery, I was astounded that Kristin looked a healthy pink only minutes after her arrival. Her eyes were still open and her mouth was constantly moving.

When Annette came out of the delivery room and the nurse wheeled her up to the window, I was sure I saw Kristin smile. As if to test this observation against reality, I asked the nurse if she had smiled. I could not believe it.

The nurse replied yes and then, when the nurse, Annette and I once again focused on the wonder before us, Kristin Ann smiled again.

(Ed’s Note: Family is the fundamental core unit of our culture, from the unity of many comes the strength of the family to fulfill its destiny, with each generation experiencing the life cycle, and the joys and challenges of realizing our individual and group potential. The gift of life is only our first gift, it is up to us—as individuals and as a family unit—to love and support each other as we develop our unique gifts as children of God. Regrettably, more than 62 million babies have suffered abortion and been killed in their mother’s womb because of the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973 by the United States Supreme Court. It obviously never occurred to the majority of the 7 of 9 setting Justices that they would have not been alive on Planet Earth if their mothers had aborted them. And many of us thought that those 7 Supreme Court Justices that ruled in favor of the motion were kind, thoughtful and sensible students of the United States Constitution, a document whose authors never, and I mean never, would have approved the motion. I say this because our great nation ensured us that were endowed by God with the fundamental tenet of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The majority decision by those
7 misguided Justices have resulted in the killing of 62+ million babies and counting, as more are killed every day in America. It is easy to see why liberal progressives are happy with kicking God out of our schools. These are the same Pro Choice believers who would like to kick God out of our country and kick Christianity out of our nation, then we could become a socialist nation (or Communist or a Dictatorship) without a need for God or religion. Non-believers have some other ideas about this same topic. That’s OK. I believe our universe is big enough to accommodate everyone.)

Financial Thoughts
on Investing
by Warren Buffett

 

(Ed’s Note: The following condensation is from The Tao of Warren Buffett, written by Mary Buffett and David Clark and available for sale at Amazon and bookstores nationwide. I am always impressed by what Warren Buffett has to say and am doing this condensation to help promote their book.)

On Investing: Never be afraid to ask too much when selling offer too little when buying.
(Ed’s Note: How much you get from a sale or how much you have to pay when making a purchase determines whether you make or lose money and how rich you ultimately become.)

(Ed’s Note: For more of Warren Buffett’s advice go to the menu bar above and click on Financial Thoughts.)