Zero-Based Journalism

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, May 27, 2007

It's pretty hard to find a phrase or expression that is not out there somewhere on the Web. I know. I've tried. No matter how unlikely it may seem that anyone has ever put certain words together, someone, somewhere, probably has. When I Googled the exact phrase "Santa Claus nude," I got 278 hits.

It's tricky. For example, I tried Googling "unintelligent Jew," which not only denies a ubiquitous cultural stereotype but uses an unusual adjective to do so. I figured I was safe, but this is what came right up: "I have yet to meet an unintelligent Jew."

More failures followed. After a while, I got mad and decided to do something about it.

Want a phrase that doesn't appear on Google? Try searching for the Magritte-inspired, epistemologically impossible sentence "This phrase doesn't appear on Google." You should find only one hit, and that hit is from the very paragraph you are reading. When I wrote this, before it was archived, that sentence was nowhere on the Web.

Voila. The assault begins.

When a phrase cannot be found on Google, I call it a Googlenope. Once a Googlenope is discovered and written about, it is no longer a Googlenope.

Every single exact phrase that follows could not be found on the Web before today:


Queen Elizabeth's buttocks.

Varsity pinochle.

Caviar 'n' taters.

. . . much to Paris Hilton's embarrassment . . .

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