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Monday, February 19, 2018
The World Almanac Turns 150!
The World Almanac and Book of Facts: 2018 celebrates 150
years of informing us of all kinds of things, including statistics, facts, and
history as it relates to sports, politics, culture, entertainment, science,
arts, and other areas. Every year since
I was a boy I’d get the new edition to read up on things.
number of items covered relate directly to books, including stats on libraries
(p. 248), most challenged books in libraries (p. 249), best-selling books (p.
250), best-selling books (p. 250), winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature (p.
261), Pulitzer Prize winners for Fiction (p. 263), new words in English (p.
208), writers of the past (p. 209), Poets Laureate (p. 214), and foreign words
and phrases (p. 709).
The World Almanac claims it is the
best-selling U.S. reference book of all time with more than 82 million copies
sold since 1868. It actually disappeared
for a decade, from 1876-1885, when the newspaper that published it, The New York World, folded. In 1886, famed newspaper publisher Joseph
Pulitzer revived The World Almanac
and has published it annually ever since.
what happened of interest back in 1868, the year of the inaugural edition? It was a time of rebuilding a tattered
post-Civil War America -- and it was a year before professional baseball leagues
would be formed.
literature, Willkie Collins published what is considered to be the first
full-length detective novel in English, The
Moonstone. Also penned that year was
Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and
Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick.
century ago, in 1918, some of the headline stories included:
pandemic begins, killing up to 100 million worldwide, of which some 650,000 die in the U.S.
War I concludes.
Sedition Act is signed into law, forbidding “disloyal, profane, scurrilous or
abusive” speech about the U.S. government or its military.
50 years ago, in 1968, some big books were published, including:
·The Double Helix by James D.
by Paul Ehlrlich
·Couples by John Updike
·Welcome to the Monkey
by Kurt Vonnegut
·The Electric Kool-Aid
by Tom Wolfe
I leave with some predictions of the future that were made in the past. In 1968, to celebrate the book’s 100-year
mark, Professor Isaac Asimov made a number of predictions for 2068. We’re now within 50 years of those bold
insights. Here are some things that he
will become the product of gigantic laboratories and the percentage of space on
land and sea which must be devoted to food will be decreasing in 2068. More and more of the Earth’s surface can be
turned into amusement resorts, parkland, and wildlife refuges.
the declining birth rate, the rise in ectogenesis (the development of fetuses
outside the human body) the disappearance of routine housework, and the
conversion of all work into low-muscle, high-brain endeavor that can be
performed by either sex, it is clear that the woman of 2068 will be completely
equal to the man economically and socially…Sexual associations will be looser
in 2068 and more casual." SAVE THE ARTS!
“To have a National
Endowment for the Arts is to sanction creativity to provide space to support
the poetic and to give meaning to struggle, hope and life. Whether it’s transcribing Great Negro
Spirituals, protecting indigenous Native languages, attending outdoor jazz
concerts, preserving quilting b the Amish and the Gee’s Bend women, singing the
Delta blues, weaving narratives of neglected LGBTQ history, creating plays of
the immigrant experience or collaborating across state lines, we are a country
of expression. Art is the bridge when
walls of fear keep us insulated and reactive.
A society loses meaning, purpose and direction without it.”