Folks in City Hall want to submit an application to Google to bring some super-fast Internet our way. What are the chances Portland will be picked for one of these new test sites?

—Cap'n Dial-up

Think about how dangerous Microsoft is already, and then imagine what it would be like if everyone didn't hate it: That's Google.

Here's the deal: Big Goo is bored, so they're planning to buy a medium-sized city to screw around with, in much the way that you or I might buy an ant farm. The Internet giant wants to replace some lucky city's existing Internet infrastructure with a super-high-speed version made out of hundred-dollar bills, just to make sure no one forgets how rich it is.

Google says the new network will operate at around one gigabit per second, which is about 300 times faster than my DSL. "We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds," officials gush, if that's the word I want to describe what appears to be an effort to find out what happens when porn is streamed into your house faster than you can masturbate.

Needless to say, the prospect of a mannalike rain of economic development worth approximately one gazillion dollars has municipal officials (not to mention lube merchants) across the country salivating. Imagine going to a sci-fi convention and announcing that you're taking applications for the job of towel boy on the USS Enterprise, and you'll have some idea of the mad scramble this news has triggered among U.S. cities.

Will Portland win? As a hotspot for Linux, wikis and open ISP access, we may be a bit ahead of the pack. But getting excited now would be like celebrating because you bought a lottery ticket: Most people wait for the actual drawing before they faint.