Apple's Futuristic Flying Saucer HQ Already Out of Date
In Silicon Valley where Apple is located, burglaries are up more than 30 percent, largely because police have stopped responding to them. If you are reasonably well off, particularly if you are Asian, and you like nice stuff, the chance you'll get burglarized near Apple's new headquarters is approaching 50 percent odds. If things continue, it will be virtually certain by the end of the decade.
Apple employees are solidly in this demographic and they won't be able to concentrate on work if they are constantly wondering if their stuff will be on the Internet for sale before they can get home. Nor will the rest of us living here.
Steve Jobs' home was just burglarized, probably one of the most protected homes in the valley. While his family likely still has a special relationship with the police force -- which is why his burglar was caught -- the normal Apple employees won't be so lucky.
This implies that Apple's new flying saucer headquarters is already out of date, because it doesn't provide protected living space for employees.
I think it is time to revisit the idea of an arcology. That may be the only way Apple employees and the rest of us will be safe by mid-century. It is also what I think Mountain View wanted Steve Jobs to build and perhaps what Tim Cook and other technology CEOs should now consider building.
I'll close with my product of the week: the weapon that could both protect your home and make your food taste better.
Living in a Hostile World
With the massive reduction of law enforcement, burglaries appear to be skyrocketing, particularly for those who live in expensive neighborhoods that are near freeways, and who have homes that sit back from the road surrounded by trees. They're up nearly 63 percent in some places, like Palo Alto where Jobs' home is.
In most areas, the police have stopped responding to home burglar alarms even if you have one and use it. That little sign in your yard is no longer much of a burglar shield and may increasingly be an ad that says "expensive stuff to steal here."
While corporations can afford security for their sites, it is not likely they will have the resources to provide security for even their top executives' homes let alone the rank-and-file employees. Granted, I'll bet some CEOs do get this benefit, but everyone else is pretty much screwed.
Now you can live in a cement house near the road and make sure your landscaping sucks (maybe have a few junk cars out front for color) to make sure burglars think your neighbors are where the cash is, but I doubt many of us want to live in trashy houses or be the butt of the next "you may be a redneck" joke.
But, other than installing Internet-connected cameras in every room and on every outside wall connected and providing the justification for a US$200K sports car with a rifle rack, you don't have a lot of options.
Arcology: Surviving in a Hostile World
An arcology is a self-contained living structure for humans, kind of like that thing you built for your pet hamster, only with lots more fun stuff to do. It contains where you work, where you shop, where you eat, where you go to school -- or send your kids to school, where you enjoy entertainment, and where you play. It has filtered air, security, no traffic to speak of -- you either walk or take some form of elevator or people mover to locations -- and someone else worries about keeping it all running. In today's world, your cubicle could actually be in your home and you'd still be walking distance to your boss and coworkers.
Service workers would be vetted or live in the complex as neighbors, the city would get less traffic, there would be fewer accidents, fewer violent crimes (because there would be fewer opportunities), and people could focus more on their jobs and families and less on worrying about safety, mortgages, and monthly bills -- all eventually get factored into their salaries.
Granted, getting fired or changing jobs would become a bit more problematic, but most have discovered that in today's economy a new job often comes with a move anyway if you don't want to be unemployed for a long time or take a job you don't really want to do.
Arcologies are designed to be very green, very self-sufficient, and to supply the kind of idyllic living that our ancestors thought we would have this century. Granted, there is always a good chance that some politician would screw this up -- a frighteningly good chance -- but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried.
Maybe Steve Jobs' home burglary can point the way for his successor to build a safer future for Steve's legacy.
This entire risk was brought home to me a few weeks ago when I saw a guy I didn't recognize in a hoodie in the middle of the street and called the police. Turned out he had been waiting for one of my neighbors to come home after breaking into her home and the police scared him off -- but unfortunately, didn't catch him. This means he is out there someplace likely stalking someone else.
With police coverage being sharply reduced and the likelihood of being robbed or worse on the upswing, maybe it is time companies like Apple stepped up to protect their employees -- both domestic and foreign -- and made all of them both safer and more productive, while setting an example that other firms could emulate.
Now that could be Tim Cook's legacy and the defining homage to Steve Jobs -- turning his home burglary into a seminal event.
Product of the Week: Bug-A-Salt Gun
There are just some products that make me smile, and the Bug-A-Salt gun is just such a product. Basically, it shoots salt at flies, killing them dead. It doesn't hurt people or pets, and it might even make your food taste better (if the fly doesn't die on it).
It is bright yellow, so it won't fool anyone into thinking it is a real gun, but it has pump action so you can pretend it is. I figure this is the perfect gift for that young redneck in your home who wants to put a rifle rack on his big wheel and go big, er, little game hunting.
Think of how it will impress your date, and the waiter, if you pull one of these out of your jacket and send that pesky fly that has been distracting her from your fascinating stories to the great beyond.
Ponder how impressed your potential in-laws will be if you pop a fly off the top of your potential mother-in-law's head.
Is a fly bugging the minister? No problem, you can play like Terminator: Run up, pop the fly, and utter the immortal lines "he will not be back" as you bow to the impressed congregation.
Only one thing, if you do any of this, please don't feel the need to share the credit with me. Like the guy on the Mission Impossible tape, I will disavow all knowledge of this column. Because this product put a smile on my face, the "Bug-A-Salt" fly defense weapon is my product of the week. It costs $30 -- or $40 if you want the "Lone Gunman" package, and at that it is a bargain I'm pretty sure Jeff Foxworthy would love.