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So I usually write about the Old Farmer's Almanac, whose 2019 edition's prediction of a warm, wet winter for this region has been overshadowed by the cold, wet late fall we've been battling.

Now I've got in my hot little hands a review copy of The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2019, a thicker, manlier-looking paperback than the Old Farmer's version. Its cover promises the latest-possible info, bearing such images as Duchess Meghan with Prince Harry of Great Britain and Chadwick Boseman as King T'Challa in the blockbuster movie Black Panther.

Well, there's one thing it has in common with that other almanac: columns upon columns of information in tiny enough type to ensure the necessity for a magnifying glass, reading glasses and/or monovision contact-lens wear among the over-50 set if they hope to ever see the information.

The World 'Nac begins with the 2018 Special Features and Year in Review, and also bears a Year in Pictures feature to allow the reader to relive all the depressing, harrowing, head-scratching-worthy and, well, some happy moments of 2018. Then the book is divided up into such sections as Economy, Business & Energy; Crime (which, surprisingly, spans only 12 pages); Military Affairs; Personalities; Arts & Media; Science & Technology; Consumer Information; U.S. Facts & History; World Maps & Flags; U.S. Government; U.S. Cities, States & Population; World History & Culture; Nations of the World; and -- wouldn't you know it'd be the biggest section at nearly 120 pages -- Sports.

Those such as myself, who have never before cracked the World Almanac, will be impressed by the attention to detail. Need a list of scientists of the past (notable ones, not Jimmy John who blew up your high school lab way back when)? Look here. Want a list of the Prime-time Emmy award-winning TV shows, 1952-2018? Check them out here -- The United States Steel Hour was a more imaginative show than its name indicates, by the way. Want a condensed version of those college History of Civilization classes you're dreading? You can pretty much get it here. Who won those hockey trophies you never heard of because you don't live in a hockey region? Find out here.

Among the notable 'Nac nuggets:

• A line graph showing the first two years of presidential approval ratings for those who held the office from 1989 through 2018 (the late George H.W. Bush to Donald Trump). The graph looks like five preschoolers tried to draw electrocardiogram readings on the same sheet of paper. Biggest spike? An upward tic, from around 50 percent to nearly 90 percent, in George W. Bush's approval rating in September of his first year in office. The biggest plunges? Looks like a tie between Bill Clinton in June of his first year and Daddy Bush around October of his second year. President Trump has the lowest, but steadiest, approval scores on the board.

• Memorable campaign-trail quotes in 2018. My favorite? "You can't pick your family." That Sept. 22 Tweet by Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar was his reaction to a television campaign ad for the other guy by six of his nine siblings. Sho' you right, Paul.

• A U.S. History Chronology of Events, from 1492 (yes, Columbus is still given some "cred") to the end of 2017, when the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 25 percent over the end of 2016 and all the stuff that went on in between ... stuff that, if it were somehow illustrated via line graph, would look like a host of drunken brawlers tried to draw electrocardiogram readings on the same sheet of paper.

• Just in time for tax-season cheer! Total U.S. Tax Collections, from 1960 ($92 billion) to 2017 (more than $3.4 trillion). Raise your hand if you feel like you had to foot the entire 2017 bill!

Standing up bravely to a world of information that a smartphone and nimble texting fingers yields in nanoseconds, The World Almanac and Book of Facts is advertised at as a "great gift." One that, in fact, might come in right handy when trying to win those family arguments at Christmas dinner.

But if you are over 50 ... well, there's a hardcover edition of the book with larger print. Larger, as in slightly more visible than a straw itch mite. The 'Nac needs an 'Max edition ... Imax, that is.

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Style on 12/16/2018

Print Headline: LET'S TALK: World Almanac promises the latest factoids at your fingertips

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