- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

Birth of a bear
"As a young man, [A.A.] Milne was an up-and-coming playwright in London. On a whim, he wrote a poem about his 2-year-old son, Christopher Robin, entitled 'Vespers' with the now-famous closing lines: 'Hush! Whisper who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.' He told his wife she could keep the money if she sold the poem to a magazine.
"Daphne [ Milne] promptly sold 'Vespers' to Vanity Fair, where it was published in 1923. Other magazines clamored for Milne to write more children's poems. The most popular were his whimsical verses about Christopher Robin and his teddy bear, who was soon dubbed Winnie the Pooh.
"In 1924, the poems were collected in a book called 'When We Were Very Young.' It sold so well that Milne bought a farmhouse on the edge of Ashdown Forest. The forest became the setting for 'Winnie the Pooh,' a book of stories about the unforgettable bear who lived for honey and lazy afternoons doing 'Nothing' in the Hundred Acre Wood with Christopher Robin and Piglet. 'Winnie the Pooh' was published in October 1926. In the U.S. alone, it sold 150,000 copies before the end of the year.
"Milne could see where Pooh was going and wanted to stop him. He published a second collection of tales in 1928 entitled 'The House at Pooh Corner,' but tried to kill off Pooh at the end of the book.
"Pooh wasn't so easily done away with. Milne wrote novels, antiwar essays, and more plays. But the public only cared about Pooh."
Devin Leonard, writing on "The Curse of Pooh," in the Jan. 20 issue of Fortune
Divorce danger
"Marrying later in life, rising numbers of single-parent families and increasing divorce rates are placing an unsustainable burden on natural resources, new research has shown.
"Biologists studying the Earth's biodiversity have found the increase in homes with fewer people largely a result of the breakdown of the traditional family unit damage the environment more than population growth.
"Jianguo Liu of Michigan State University, and colleagues from Stanford University in California, have reported in the latest edition of the science journal Nature that a greater number of individual households resulted in an inefficient use of fuel for lighting, heating, refrigeration and cooking.
"They found that between 1985 and 2000 in the so-called 'hot spots' [regions rich in a variety of wildlife], the annual 3.1 percent growth rate in the number of households was far higher than the population growth of 1.8 percent."
Ben Wyld, writing on "Being single is 'bad for health,'" Tuesday in the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald
Natural hero
"Charlton Heston has stayed famous for half a century without ever inspiring any real public warmth. This would be an achievement for a politician, but it's downright remarkable for an actor. Magniloquence like his somehow precludes ordinary affection, and one reason 'Planet of the Apes' was ideal for him is that he's the most Darwinian of movie stars; you can't help feeling that natural selection was at work.
"I should probably admit that I've always doted on him. He is to American grandeur what Vincent Price was to horror; from his poise, you'd never guess how silly his career has been. Yet no movie has ever been worse for Heston's presence, and quite a few have been improved by it. Thanks to his hard-charging gift for making nobility look adamant and driven, he's always excelled at playing modern men in period costume unpleasant heroes exasperated by their own superiority. Nietzsche would have known he was a crock, but Ayn Rand would have put him on a calendar."
Tom Carson, writing on "The Best Reason for Seeing 'Bowling for Columbine,'" February 2003 issue of Esquire

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