Bill WHO? Sometimes Google mystifies me

without c

I was reading a Bret Stephens piece from over the weekend, about what he sees as lessons from the Clinton impeachment, which was accompanied by this file photo of Bill in 1998.

I was struck by how young he looked. And I was wondering how young he was, and went to Google it.

And I ran across something odd.

I typed “bill” followed by a space, and above were the results I got. Which mystified me. I wasn’t totally stunned that Bill Cosby came first. Even though he has been more thoroughly shamed and degraded by his actions in the public eye, he is someone who once enjoyed great fame and acclamation.

But I figured Clinton would surely come next. But instead, of the next four “Bills,” only one was someone I had even heard of — Bill Gates. I would have to click to learn who Bill Nunn, Bill Goldberg and Bill Burr are or were. Which I didn’t do.

Instead, I added a “c,” and sure enough there was Bill Clinton — although still second to Cosby. See below. (And no, I have no idea who the two Callahans or Cowher are.)

Usually, I can intuit why Google offers me certain results — they reflect what is in the news, or other things I’ve recently searched for.

But sometimes it stumps me. This is one of those times.

Any idea why those bills — Nunn, Goldberg and Burr — come up before “Clinton?”

with c

13 thoughts on “Bill WHO? Sometimes Google mystifies me

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, now this makes sense. I went back to my iPad to repeat the experiment (and click on those unknowns), and noticed that when I had typed “bill” but had NOT typed the space after, I got some results that made sense, as follows:


    When the musical guest on SNL last week was named as “Billie Eilish,” I looked her up. (And as usual decided I wasn’t interested, although I did watch some of the Woody Harrelson bits.) I was recently reading up on the gunfight at the OK Corral, hence Billy Clanton. And I was wondering recently what had become of Billy Beane (he’s still with the Athletics organization, it seems).

    Don’t know why the Buffalo Bills came up. I don’t recall ever being interested in them…

  2. bud

    Speaking of bills. Seems like we must be running up quite a bill with our never ending involvement in Syria. But Trump is finally doing something right by pulling our troops out of that ongoing quagmire. Of course he could change his mind tomorrow as he’s wont to do. But if he follows through this will be a rare moment when this clueless imbecile does something positive. And what do you know, many Republicans in congress are crying a river over this pragmatic change of events. Lindsey, for one, is positively apoplectic. Go figure. He’s been a lapdog for Trump even while he cages children, colludes with foreign governments to interfere in our elections, cozies up to brutal dictators, brings a lawsuit to eliminate health insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions, spoils the environment, defends neo-nazis, enacts huge tax cuts for the wealthy that pushes deficits into the stratosphere and the list goes on and on. Yet he does one correct thing and all hell breaks loose. Go figure.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      And of course, I have the exact opposite view. Finally, Lindsey is opposing one of the many wrong things Trump does.

      It’s like he suddenly woke up and remembered, “Wait! I’m Lindsey Graham!”

      Tomorrow, though, I’m afraid he’ll be back to being the chief toady.

      He should be every bit as outraged at Trump’s abuse of power with regard to Ukraine as he is his thoughtless approach to Syria, and for some of the same reasons (in both case, he’s doing things Putin would like), if not more so. But he isn’t….

      1. Mr. Smith

        US troop levels in Syria already have been significantly reduced since the start of the year. There are now fewer than 2000 US forces there (maybe as few as a thousand). That is not a significant number, certainly not enough to stop Turkey doing what it wants. The US mission was to secure the destruction of the so-called “caliphate.” That has been accomplished — almost entirely by Kurdish, not US, troops. Our alliance with the Kurds was on the basis of that mission. In other words, US and Kurdish interests coincided in defeating ISIS. US and Kurdish interests do not, however, coincide on the Kurdish desire for an autonomous region within Syria. While a token residual US force may remain, it is not the job of the US to provide a stabilization force for Syria.

  3. Norm Ivey

    I’ll play.
    When I use Google to search Bill with my personal account, I get Bill’s Pickin Parlor, Billboard Charts, Billie Eilish, Bill of Rights.

    Using my school account, I get Billie Eilish, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Billing cycle data warning, Bill Murray.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever used either account to search Billie Eilish, so she must be Queen of the Bills in Google right now. I have searched Bill of Rights, Billboard, and Bill’s Pickin Parlor recently. I also searched time travel movies, which explains Bill and Ted. Bill Murray? Sometimes Groundhog Day is categorized as time travel…? I also recently searched Zombieland, (there’s a sequel coming out) so that might account for it.

    The odd one is the billing cycle, although I did recently upgrade our mobile service to unlimited because we went over in June. I did that online, so I guess it picked up on that.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You seem to have some pretty logical explanations….

      Yeah, this Billie Eilish must be This Year’s Girl. (Why else would a 17-year-old be on SNL; must be a real phenom.) I only say that, of course, because it’s an excuse to segue to Elvis Costello…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          So… definitely “This Year’s Girl”…

          I just did the math. She was born at the end of 2001. Which means she never knew a time when the Twin Towers were standing or we weren’t at war in Afghanistan, and wouldn’t remember VHS tapes. And in her world, everyone has always had mobile phones.

          But that’s not my point.

          My point is that Elvis was recording “This Year’s Model” at the end of 1977.

          That means there’s a distinct possibility that her parents weren’t alive when he recorded the song, much less her…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Important Skinny Pete quote:

        “Hey, man, I’m slingin’ mad volume and fat stackin’ benjis, you know what I’m sayin’? I can’t be all about, like, spelling and shit!”

        … something you’ll never hear an editor say. Because, you know, editors seldom have occasion to stack Benjamins…


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