The Google barge reminds me of a postmodern artwork I saw once, a telephone. You picked it up, expecting to hear something. But you heard nothing. This disappointed you. That was the point of the artwork: it symbolized modern technology’s failure to live up to our expectations.
Google launched its barge project in corporate secrecy. C/Net got wind of it and leaked the company was up to something. Maintaining secrecy, Google merely refused to comment and boom! the barge became the subject of feverish speculation. In postmodern art, the point is not the artwork but the interaction with the viewer.
As for the objet d’art itself, the barge six-month lease at the port. It may not stay that long, it may stay longer. Google’s subcontractors may work on it here, and they may not (Google’s tongue-in-cheek statement says it’s here for a “rest”).
Sooner or later, the barge must end its career as an enigma and get a real job. Best guess is that it is a floating retail store. But the barges (there may ultimately be three) have reportedly cost Google $35 million so far. And they are far from open for business.
Google may end up wishing it had just built traditional stores, like Apple does.
Anyway, the Conventions and Vistors Bureau set up a Google Barge web page.
NPR did a good piece on why Google likes the Valley.
The San Jose Merc-News framed it as negatively as possible.
No blogging this morning. I got caught up in the Google barge’s arrival. Was out on a boat, then out at the port. Now writing story. Hope to blog later today.
Stockton faces tough challenges. Crime, unemployment, changing growth strategies, blight, downtown revival, to name a few. And Mayor Anthony Silva has responded – by becoming a mail-order minister.
Silva announced last night he is now ordained to marry people.
It is unclear whether Silva feels the mayor’s job is not spiritually fulfilling enough. It is clear Silva feels the need for side projects. Though he is paid six figures to fill the job of full-time mayor, he devotes hours to the former Boys and Girls Club, to meddling in Stockton Unified trustee races and now to peoples’ nuptials.
Perhaps he can offer Elvis weddings.
Another front in the war described in today’s column is density.
New plans are calling for more people to live in less space. A county plan calls for doubling the average density of new developments. Single-family homes would decline from 90 percent of housing stock to about 58 percent.
Benefits include more walkable (hence closer-knit) neighborhoods, preservation of farmland and open space, and less vehicle pollution. This last benefit is also a legal requirement, and if the city doesn’t comply, it stands to lose state and federal dollars.
But the local building industry opposes densification, too. Building rep John Beckman calls this plan “fantasy.” He believes most people still want single-family homes.
Probably that is so. But there’s growing evidence that a changing segment of the homebuying public wants alternatives. To quote a recent Record story, “The shift is being driven by changing demographics. There’s a growing population of aging seniors who will be looking for smaller, more manageable housing, as well as a younger populace who also will seek smaller housing or can’t afford larger, detached homes.”
A key question I didn’t drill down to is this: Is the local building industry looking to follow the market? Or to slice off the most lucrative part of the market, ignoring necessary housing alternatives?
Interesting story on how L.A. is gentrifying its skid row.
A risk-taking restaurateur gets federal tax credits to locate there; new ideas for housing the homeless bypass a feckless bureaucracy; the urban pioneers move in.
Surely some of this is applicable to Stockton.
These two stories say it all:
Panel to consider whether to give raises to governor, lawmakers — Three months after Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers received a 5% pay raise, a state panel is set to meet next week to begin considering whether to provide further increases, and the chairman of the group says data from counties indicates California elected officials are underpaid. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times
California lawmakers enjoyed $550,000 worth of paid travel in 2013 — They toured renewable energy projects in Scandinavia, attended panels on public safety in Maui and learned about how dentists are trained in New York City. Jeremy B. White in the Sacramento Bee
Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva showed up to the Rotary Read-in without a book. Comment is almost superfluous after that.
He then improvised badly and inappropriately… for which he blamed his staff.
Nothing new in all that. The venue changes, but the act remains the same.
What I find interesting is the top comment below the news story. For citizens that ilk, criticism of even the lamest mayoral behavior is always invalid; the fault is always ascribed to the Stockton oligarchy striving to re-assert its dominance over the grass-roots revolution that brought Silva to office.
Against all empirical evidence, citizens with this mindest equate people power with an ineffectual figurehead who has done nothing for them. Actual power does not matter; no results are necessary; only grass roots credentials. City Hall is always to blame, even when it’s not.
Citizens with this mindet argue passionately for civic illiteracy, and chafe at the mysterious forces that block them from more political power.
Kathy Johnson writes:
“Just wondering if UOP has plans to recognize the significance and history of Stagg Memorial Stadium
by placing a plaque or some type of remembrance at the site. It would be a shame to let the “Grand Old Man of Football” fade away without acknowledging his place in athletic and Stockton’s history.”
Are they going to forget about Amos? No. UOP plans to honor Stagg with a plaza in the new sports complex. You can read it toward the bottom of this story on UOP’s website. Or I can save you the trouble and quote the passage:
“Besides the tennis complex, soccer field and field hockey field, plans call for the Amos Alonzo Stagg Memorial Plaza, which will honor legendary coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, military veterans and Pacific football.”
Also, there’s already a placque near a stand of redwoods near Knoles Hall. Here it is: