I was about to agree with you, except I realised that to access lwn I actually type "lw<down><enter>" and slashdot as "sl<down><enter>". Which I guess amounts to searching.
I wouldn't mind a search thing for applications. I indeed have the problem listed, I know the name of the app but can't find it in the menu. System > Preferences doesn't even fit on the screen. I know MacOSX has something called spotlight, that always looked cool when people used.