Georgia editorial roundup

Published 11-14-2018

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Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:


Nov. 13

The Augusta Chronicle on comic book legend Stan Lee and his legacy:

Comic book fans know writer and editor Stan Lee like baseball fans know slugger Babe Ruth.

Both men were mythic. Their impacts and legacies are strong fuel for fan arguments. And both men changed the way the world looked at their professions.

But Lee - who died Monday at age 95 - helped create an entire universe.

Lee's co-creations spawned what would become the Marvel Comics Universe - a fictional world where the superheroes not only had amazing powers but very human flaws. That characteristic alone turned the world of comics on its head. Until Lee came along, superheroes were more like Superman, who flew in to save the day and didn't seem to have problems like actual people.

But in 1962, Lee - then editor and head writer at Marvel Comics - saw the success of a new set of Marvel characters called the Fantastic Four, a team with super powers but ordinary faults such as jealousy and doubt. He then co-created Spider-Man, a teenage hero who wrestled not only with villains but also with typical teenage problems.

"You ask the audience to suspend disbelief and accept that some idiot can climbs on walls," Lee said in a 1992 interview. "But once that's accepted, you ask ... would he still have to worry about dandruff. About acne, about getting girlfriends, about keeping a job?"

Stan Lee led the revolution that made superheroes more human. And that helped the world of comics grow up.

With the characters now more complex and realistic, and more relatable to readers, the audience grew older and larger, as it is today. The conflicts of these new heroes were no longer just with other people in wild costumes. Often, the good guys fought conflicts within themselves. A famous Marvel story arc in 1979 unflinchingly showed Iron Man's struggle with alcoholism.

Being spawned in the turbulent 1960s, Lee's co-creations also confronted real-life social issues on its colorful comic pages. The X-Men's creation, with the bigotry they endured in their storylines, was said to have been inspired by the civil rights movement.

The characters almost immediately jumped off the pages of print and into animated cartoons - and then, after fits and starts, into television and film. When "Spider-Man" hit screens in 2002, that truly unleashed Marvel on the big screen, and many other films followed. Today, by one estimate, Marvel movies have grossed more than $24 billion worldwide.

Also, consider: Of the 10 current highest-grossing movies of all time, four of them are based on Marvel superheroes. Largely because of that, the heroes' images and influence have crept into virtually every level of modern pop culture. They seem to be everywhere.

And it all started with Stan Lee.

That's not his real name, you know.

He was born Stanley Lieber, in New York City. He aspired to become a famous writer and author of the next "Great American Novel." When he worked as an office boy for a comic-book publisher, others noticed his knack for writing and editing, and he began scripting stories. But he was embarrassed to use his real name with his comic-book work because he still held higher literary aspirations.

So, like a hero adopting a secret identity, he became Stan Lee.

And in a way, he became perhaps the mightiest comic-book hero of them all.



Nov. 12

The Savannah Morning News on control of political parties:

As one election cycle ends, another begins.

The priority for 2020 won't be to identify the candidates for president or craft strategies to swing congressional districts. The most significant - and ultimately important - tussle will be for the souls of the Democratic and Republican parties.

The two parties once set the standard for shared governing. But what were once wings or factions of ideologues inside the parties have grown in influence. By 2020, if trends hold, those zealots will have fully taken over the parties. Whatever you call them - pick your label: "progressive liberals" or "socialists" on the left and "populists" and "nationalists" on the right - they have come to dominate the only two political parties that matter in America.

As the parties drift apart during this evolution, they share several ugly commonalities. They disagree the same way - uncivilly. They refuse to search out shared interests in crafting policy and legislation. They socialize only among their own.

It's us versus them, and both sides have lost a must-have perspective: that while they were elected by a majority of their constituents, they represent the interests of all.

Meanwhile, fanatical citizens harass and accost officials in public - and make certain to record and share these exchanges on social media.

Many have long wondered why successful professionals go into public service and take on the headaches that come with the job. Never have the drawbacks been more pronounced, and the toxic environment can't help but affect even the most earnest among our leaders.

Some get angry and feed the divisiveness. Others simply quit, fed up with the rancor.

It's no coincidence that 57 senators and representatives did not seek re-election to their current seats last week, and 34 of them - including 26 Republicans - are leaving politics completely. That's the most since 1974.

Candidates who ran and won as hyper-partisans filled the void, for the most part. The divide broadens, and the rhetoric is sure to grow in intensity.

Make quiet voices heard

A correction is in order, and the early focus on the 2020 election provides opportunity.

What form that revision takes is the mystery. Will the more moderate and pragmatic among us work to take back the parties? Or will they cede the parties to the zealots and finally form a viable third party, with deep-pocketed donors and recognizable leaders more interested in governing than dominating?

Here's a better question: What's it going to take to spark such movements?

For all the fervor surrounding the elections, tens of millions of Americans remain disengaged in the political process. Their focus is on earning a living, raising families, enjoying the weekends. Pressed on the reason for such apathy, many will give you some version of the "Serenity Prayer," which starts, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change."

Such thinking is defeatist, but it is their reality. As the parties become less and less representative, more and more Americans become disillusioned. Their own party embraces ideals they find distasteful, if not repugnant. Meanwhile, they can't look to the other party for salvation, as it has become centered on similarly objectionable ideology.

The time has come to band together to make a difference, for the quiet to make their voices heard. The current politicization is reversible but requires a steadfast commitment, because now that the extremists have secured a foothold, they will fight to keep from being marginalized again.

Campaign 2020 is underway. Shape it before it shapes you.



Nov. 13

Valdosta Daily Times on the pecan industry:

Believe it or not, the pecan has its own month.

November is Georgia Pecan Month and our region is the epicenter of the pecan industry.

South Georgia boasts the best producers and processors in the world, and pecans are a major boon to our economy.

Hurricane Michael wrecked many pecan trees, which take an entire decade to mature and begin producing nuts. Georgia's pecan crop sustained an estimated $560 million loss in the storm, according to an Associated Press report.

The extent of Michael's impact remains to be seen.

Georgia is the nation*s leading pecan-producing state, by far, according to the state's department of agriculture.

In Georgia, pecans are harvested during October and November, but are available year-round.

From Albany to Valdosta, pecan orchards range in size from a few acres to several thousands of acres, producing millions of pounds of the popular nuts each year.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture offers these suggestions when purchasing pecans:

. Look for plump pecans that are uniform in color and size.

. The shell of a pecan should be smooth and light brown.

. Pecans are perishable and must be properly stored to maintain optimum quality.

Pecans are used in dips, dressings, sauces, salads and desserts, including the ever-popular pecan pie.

We think the best way to eat a pecan is simply to crack it open and enjoy.

Here are some interesting pecan facts from the Georgia Department of Agriculture:

. Early settlers exchanged pecans for trinkets and tools.

. Thomas Jefferson planted pecan trees around Monticello.

. By 1871, several large pecan groves had been planted in most of the southeastern United States, including Georgia.

. Georgia's commercial pecan production began during the late 1800s.

. By 1948, Georgia's pecan production reached 40 million pounds.

. The Southern Nut Growers Association, later known as the National Nut Growers Association, was established in Albany in 1901.

As we approach the holiday season, we remind our readers pecans make excellent - and relatively inexpensive - holiday gifts, and giving pecans supports the local economy.


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