Put your hand up if you own a dictionary. How about a thesaurus, book on grammar or an encyclopaedia? 

What do you do with them these days?

My dictionary sits beside the bed and aside from a handful of smug, self-satisfied glances at it, it’s mostly a useful prop for my bedside lamp. 

But it really wasn’t that long ago that I used it every day. Or that an encyclopaedia set was an accepted Christmas present. 

Do you remember the TV ads for the leather-bound collections of Encyclopaedia Britannica?  They’d try to justify the inflated price of the tomes by flashing ‘COLLECTORS ITEM” in gold embossed, serif typeface across the screen.

Maybe they were. Certainly buying the whole set was not only a fiscal achievement; the sheer size and weight meant everyone assumed you had an ample book shelf and a great set of biceps in order to actually read them. 

But in the age of Google the static encyclopedia is alien.  Because as we all know the facts that count on any given topic can change. Just ask Wikipedia.

Or Ask.com. 

Fifty million people visit Ask.com every month and a new report shows people in 2009 have been most preoccupied with questions concerning their finances and personal health.

If you can spare a few minutes it’s definitely worth a read of the full article but just to give you the idea, here’s some of the most asked questions of 2009:

  • How do I get pregnant?
  • How do I get a six-pack fast?
  • What is Miley Cyrus’s phone number?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What time is it?
  • How long does marijuana stay in your system?
  • How much should I be able to bench press?
  • What is a short sale in real estate?

Alarmed? Laughing your head off? Me too. But I also think Ask.com’s list is also a bit like holding a mirror to our collective mind - showing us the kinds of things we’re really thinking about.

Or perhaps more accurately, what we’re not prepared to ask anyone else about.

So how about some alternatives for the questions of the year, starting with these:

  • Did I sleep with Tiger Woods?
  • Did you sleep with Tiger Woods?
  • Where is Kevin Rudd this week?
  • What is the Liberal Party’s position on climate change?
  • Did Jarryd Hayne’s foot go into touch?
  • Which league players were not involved in sex scandals this year?
  • Is it tweeted or twitted?
  • How many sips of beer now counts as binge drinking?
  • Has Australia won a cricket Test?
  • Why was strapping a teenage girl to a lie detector and asking her about her sex life considered breakfast radio entertainment?
  • Was the black face Hey Hey skit racist?
  • Was the black face Hey Hey skit funny?
  • If I laugh at the Chk-chk Boom girl, am I a racist?

Over to you…

Most commented

23 comments

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    • Dan says:

      05:35am | 10/12/09

      Why was the Chk-chk Boom girl offered a TV deal when there are so many more talented and worthy people that could be offered a TV deal?

    • Vicki PS says:

      06:58am | 10/12/09

      Where in the world is Ella’s Pink Lady and does anyone care?

    • May says:

      08:24am | 10/12/09

      Classic. 1. Does buying an iPhone make me a sucker? 2. Who exactly are those people following me on twitter? 3. Is there going to be any acceptable fun (binge drinking, water fights, etc) by the time Rudd & co get voted out? 4. Why are moral panics the new black and why can’t we leave each other alone? 5. Is it ok to simultaneously hate Twilight but love Edward Cullen?

    • Liz says:

      09:03am | 10/12/09

      No wonder the world’s in big trouble.

    • Pete says:

      10:33am | 10/12/09

      Has Kevin Rudd slept with Tiger Woods?

    • Simmo says:

      11:25am | 10/12/09

      When will Jehovies realise people don’t want them knocking on their front door?

    • Moose says:

      11:49am | 10/12/09

      How does Paris Hilton still get press?

    • Al says:

      12:47pm | 10/12/09

      What is the obsession with people calling each other “douchebags”?

    • bec says:

      12:55pm | 10/12/09

      What ever happened to Paul Reiser’s career? I didn’t like “Mad About You”, but he was a great villain in “Aliens”!

    • Macon Paine says:

      02:46pm | 10/12/09

      What ever happened to Steve “the goot” Guttenberg? And when are they going to do a re-boot of Police Academy?

    • ange says:

      01:07am | 11/12/09

      Which league player has not slept with Tiger Woods?

    • hs says:

      07:40am | 11/12/09

      If I tell Tiger that I slept with him, and ask for a million dollars to shut up about it, will he pay me?

    • Dalma Smithy says:

      08:03am | 11/12/09

      If one is tempted to read between the lines on tryst Wood and his harem of predators call-girls, he would qualify as the World’s leading sexual addict, hands down.We’ve had countless Hollywood celebreties, who are,  and have been in rehab for their sexual proclivities, and are still venerated by their adoring fans.  More so. That $3.6 m was invested in bringing him out to Vic says heaps. Throngs of adoring women fawned over his every putt and teeoff.  Oohed and ahhed, like he was a walking Svengali, and if he hadn’t have been surrounded by his body-guards, would have physically prostrated themeslves at his feet. The gross mania was the worst ever, and even the sporting legends of AFL, NFL are never this much intimidated. Appalling, was not the word. Even the female Reporters and sports commentators were vying for his attention.
      So what’s really new ?  Sour grapes, or green-with-envy ?
      Give Tiger a break..please.

    • Tiger fan says:

      12:25pm | 11/12/09

      Based on the skin colour of Tigers mistresses, why is Elin dragging him off to Sweden instead of deepest darkest Africa?

    • 6c legs says:

      11:55pm | 11/12/09

      Whose Tiger Woods?

      Whats a Miley Cyrus?

      Who is the Liberal Partys leader this week?

      Why did they think digging up “Hey Hey” would be a good idea?

      Why doesn’t my set top box recieve the ABC signal Friday through Sunday?

      How come the scandalous use of Rollkur/Hyperflexion to ‘train’ dressage horses hasn’t hit the mainstream press? (google it if you have a spare month)

      Why is it ‘‘Statesman like” when Howard nurtured a friendship with Dubbya, but Rudd meeting Obama is “fawning”.?

      Am I the only one who doesn’t get John Safran - at all?

      Is the 7pm Project meant to be comedic? What IS that show meant to be?

      Is ‘xmas’ over yet?

      Why did it take me so long to find The Punch?

    • Jamers Hunter says:

      02:51pm | 17/12/09

      simmo: johos knock on peoples doors ‘cause they have to find someplace to sleep
      probably same thing with the seven day bike riders.

      Oh and I feel so much a failure….I haven slept with tiger woods !!

    • Matt says:

      06:14pm | 21/12/09

      Are there any serious journalists left?

    • Cameron says:

      10:48am | 22/12/09

      If Tiger Woods has really given up golf, which rugby league club will sign him up?

    • Dr Gaye Barr says:

      01:19pm | 23/12/09

      Did I sleep with Tiger Woods?
      •  Surely you’d have said so by now.

      Did you sleep with Tiger Woods?
      •  No, I don’t think so, but I was pissed in a few U.S nightspots so I could’ve. I think I might say I did and get myself a fist full of Packer dollars to kick off 2010.

      Where is Kevin Rudd this week?
      •  Copenhagen or is that done & dusted? The Where’s Wally Now people should explore a business opportunity.

      What is the Liberal Party’s position on climate change?
      •  They’re totally in support of it.

      Did Jarryd Hayne’s foot go into touch?
      •  Well, who’s to know?  Clearly there’s a need for more video referees and touch judges.

      Which league players were not involved in sex scandals this year?
      •  The dead and retired ones.

      Is it tweeted or twitted?
      •  Twattered.

      How many sips of beer now counts as binge drinking?
      •  I don’t think sips of beer should be the criteria. Post binge behavioural assessment works for me.

      Has Australia won a cricket Test?
      •  Nup.

      Why was strapping a teenage girl to a lie detector and asking her about her sex life considered breakfast radio entertainment?
      •  It wasn’t which is why Kyle’s a has-been, one of the better events of 2009.

      Was the black face Hey Hey skit racist?
      •  Nup.

      Was the black face Hey Hey skit funny?
      •  Nup.

      If I laugh at the Chk-chk Boom girl, am I a racist?
      •  No. Just fully sick.

    • Max says:

      12:03pm | 24/12/09

      -How come there’s apparently an impending housing crash on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday real estate is the best investment option and if I don’t win an auction this Saturday then I’ll be locked out of the market forever?

      -Did the delegates to Copenhagen pay to offset the carbon emmissions of their travel?

      -How come Facebook and Twitter are now considered not only worthwhile topics of journalism, but also credible references?

      -How come middle aged politicians use Twitter, but young people still think it’s cool?

      -How come the government paid Toyota $400,000,000 to put a new engine in a Camry when my brother in law would have done it for $1200 and a case of bourbon?

      -How can 4 standard drinks in 3 hours be binge drinking when I have a fridge magnet from the government telling me that if I want to stay safe on the road then I should limit myself to two drinks in the first hour and one every hour after that?

    • Pilbaracol says:

      09:02pm | 25/12/09

      No,
      No,
      Don’t know,
      What’s climate change?(Abbott supplied this one)
      nobody cares
      See above
      See above
      See above
      one too many
      Yes
      It wasn’t but people like you made it so
      no
      definitely no. if it had been, answer above would be yes
      If you laugh at that you are fool not a racist

    • Smokey says:

      11:53pm | 27/12/09

      Am I the only person who doesnt own a wii or iphone?

    • jim says:

      03:53pm | 31/12/09

      Did I sleep with Tiger Woods?
      Did you mean “Tiger’s Wood”?

      Did you sleep with Tiger Woods?
      I’m plastic surgery free… so no.

      Where is Kevin Rudd this week?
      Regretting that he learnt Mandarine ...

      What is the Liberal Party’s position on climate change?
      Waiting for the second UN conference to make a decision.


      Which league players were not involved in sex scandals this year?
      Surprisingly, Muslim league players.

      Is it tweeted or twitted?
      Tweated.

      How many sips of beer now counts as binge drinking?
      600ml

      Has Australia won a cricket Test?
      Does it matter?

      Why was strapping a teenage girl to a lie detector and asking her about her sex life considered breakfast radio entertainment?
      Yes… Politicians need to wake up to the fact that that teens are losing their virginity at 13-15yrs of age.

      Was the black face Hey Hey skit racist?
      Yes
      Was the black face Hey Hey skit funny?
      No

      If I laugh at the Chk-chk Boom girl, am I a racist?
      No, but at the same time I don’t think you’re street-smart


      Other questions:
      1. Is the iPhone unstoppable?

      2. Why are there so many tech commentators that claim their windows have never crashed and also seem to have some sort of position as the head network technician?

      3. Is Google on the decline?

      4. Is Twitter on the decline?

 

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