Silicon Valley Year in Review 2013
Bay Area Bike Share bridged the gap between the train and the office, giving the public a chance to cycle the last mile rather than lug around their bikes on Caltrain or BART. The $11.2 million project peppered 70 stations in its first rollout from San Jose to San Francisco.
With the San Jose Police Department's morale shaken by a pension reform plan that cut into retirement and disability benefits, unions campaigned to get new recruits and active officers to defect to departments in other cities. In August, the police union hosted a job fair, giving other cities a chance to woo San Jose cadets to agencies with better compensation packages. The union said it couldn't ethically ask new recruits to work in San Jose in a post-Measure B age, but was OK, evidently, with further thinning the ranks of an understaffed police force.
Better Google a Good Divorce Lawyer
Google co-founder Sergey Brin split with wife Anne Wojcicki and Brin's romance with Google Glass marketing manager Amanda Rosenberg was reported by AllThingsD.
A peek into the Hyperloop
Tesla and SpaceX co-founder and prospective Mars colonizer Elon Musk revealed plans for the mysterious Hyperloop: a supersonic ground-based transport system. The billionaire imagines an aluminum tube in which solar-powered pods shoot 28 passengers up to 760 mph on air cushions. Think of it as a ridiculously fast air hockey puck with seat belts. Musk estimates the system could handle current airline passenger volume and compete in the same price range. He also claims construction will run about $6 billion, which is one-tenth the cost of the proposed California High Speed Rail system. Tesla and SpaceX engineers are designing the futuristic conveyor with 3D technology that allows them to manipulate objects using only hand gestures.
Transgender youth struggle disproportionately with thoughts of suicide and self-harm, largely because they grow up feeling like outliers. A landmark bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown addressed those concerns by allowing students to use school bathrooms and join sports teams of the opposite sex based on the gender they truly identify with. Critics worried that the provision would open the door for sexual predator students to slip into locker rooms where they don't belong or give transgender athletes an unfair advantage on the field. While it can't stop harassment, the law could give a vulnerable population an avenue to seek protection and make gender nonconformity less of a shock to future generations.
Bacon Fest too popular
Event company Moveable Feast is a force in the local food truck scene, but they learned the hard way that hipsters have a point: some things are just not as fun when they go mainstream. The Feast's first San Jose Bacon Festival of America was undone by the ever-sizzling popularity of its star attraction, with the allure of smoked pork products drawing 12,000 visitors—5,000 more than originally estimated. Lines ran long, food ran out and bacon-bereft guests aired their grievances on social media. (First world problems, anyone?) Moveable Feast founder Ryan Sebastian issued a mea culpa and promised to survey festival-goers on improvements for any future installments of the event.
Santa Clara County wanted to nix all but postcard correspondence to both jails for the sake of expedience. But community activists raised enough commotion that they got jail officials to change their mind. Limiting mail to tiny postcards may make it harder to smuggle in drugs and other contraband, but it also seriously restricts communication for the incarcerated. Try to wrap up a day let alone weeks and months on the back of a three-by-five card. After a series of public meetings, the jail chief scrapped the plan.
Ashton Kutcher not horrible in Jobs biopic
If this movie were a phone, it would be a Motorola Razr, and if you're into captivating tales of Silicon Valley prophets, just watch the The Social Network and enjoy Trent Reznor's music. For its part, Jobs plods along the trite tragedy-cum-redemption storyline a la an E! "True Hollywood Story" episode without the the treachery, revelry and bathroom fellatio that makes The Social Network shine. Kutcher gives it a solid effort and plays a decent asshole, but the "Punk'd" falls short of embodying the mystery and intrigue surrounding Steve Jobs. The audience never really catches a glimpse of Job's psyche or his motivation aside from a desire to simply be the best. Overall, the performance felt cursory, not the persnickety portrayal Jobs would've likely produced.
All in a Day's Twerk
Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke made "twerking" a household word—and made just about everyone with eyeballs uncomfortable. In a performance that upped the raunch factor on MTV's Video Music Awards, their medley of "We Can't Stop" and "Blurred Lines" kicked off with a chorus of twerking teddy bears and Cyrus donning the first of many uncomfortable leotards, tongue in full waggle. The duet hit its creepy-weird crescendo when Cyrus whipped out a giant foam finger and started rubbing on Thicke. "Blurred Lines" had already drawn criticism for lyrics called "rapey" and a video chock full of naked female models, but Cyrus took most of the heat for the VMA spectacle. Some celebrities did back her with the YOLO defense.