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Guessing Game

I don't normally approve of speculation.

I can be seen banging my head against a wall whenever there's a news event that isn't quite fully explained and TV, radio and newspaper types insist on guessing what's going on and bringing in "experts" who know even less to explain the long-term ramifications of something that probably didn't happen.

Guessing games aren't news.

But I'm dismounting my high horse to admit that I'm enjoying the current news guessing game: What's In the Google barge?!?

The Google barge, in case you've missed the media fascination, is a floating structure in San Francisco Bay next to Treasure Island that's wrapped in cloth and shrouded in mystery.

(NOTE: This column was written before Google issued a statement: "Although it's still early days and things may change, we're exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology."

(That sounds pretty vague to me. Let the speculation continue!)

This could be a weekly game show. Get "The Nerdist" guys to host. There should be a Pulitzer Prize for the investigator who guesses right.

To get a feeling for the speculative frenzy, try Googling Google barge. I got 145 million results when I tried it.

Sample subheading from a Los Angeles Times story: "Is it a teleportation device or a time travel machine?"

Reasonable guesses.

Now excuse my self-indulgence - I need to join in the fun. Here are some of my speculations:

Nothing. That's right - there's absolutely nothing behind the barge curtains (except maybe a circus magician from Nebraska and a deflated hot air balloon).

There could be several reasons for this (yes, speculation within speculation).

The obvious one is classic misdirection.

While everyone focuses on the barge, Google is free to mass its forces on the Potomac for a surprise attack on the White House.

Or it could be a Zen palace - where pampered Google executives and interns get away from dreary lives of luxury and meditate and contemplate the absurdity of the universe in an empty space while peering out at mesmerized journalists.

It could be the coolest April Fool's joke ever.

It's a trap! As soon as Geraldo Rivera shows up, the dock explodes!

An ark. Google gathers a lot of information, and it knows about weather patterns. If animals start showing up in pairs, start to worry.

A wormhole. Those canvas covers shroud the end of a connection to a distant galaxy through which alien Google forces are massing for a surprise attack on ... the evil aliens running the NSA!

David Copperfield. On April 1, David Copperfield will show up with a phalanx of showgirls, whip the cover off the barge, and San Francisco will disappear.

One of those things is definitely going to happen.

More Speculation: While I'm in a speculative mode, let's consider another recent fascinating topic: corporate religion.

The U.S. Supreme Court may get to decide whether corporations - which are people - can have religions. (Check this out if you don't believe me.)

A more interesting question is how you figure out which religion a corporation has.

Do you ask it?

Do you look at it? ("That's funny, Apple. You don't look Jewish.")

Do you check churches to see if they're in pews?

Does everyone who works for a corporation automatically have the same religion?

This is complicated by the obvious fact that corporations aren't likely to have the same religions as humans. This is where the fun part comes in. Try to imagine religions for corporations.

A few quick examples:

Tax Dodgism (aka Tax Protestantism)

Church of the Eternal on Hold.




After you've named your corporate religion, come up with a set of beliefs and programs for services.

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