Topeka changes name to Google, Kansas, in bid to win new fiber cables

I’ve been to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Amy and I were driving south through NM on our way to Tuscon, Arizona, and had to pee, so why not in a town that changed its name to honor the NBC radio program in 1950. We stopped in at the local historical society or museum, and were endlessly asked if we were going to stay overnight.

No. Where’s the bathroom.

Topeka, the state capital of Kansas, has changed its name to Google, Kansas, for a month, in hopes to get some new fiber optic cables to replace the stagecoaches.

The unusual move comes as several U.S. cities elbow for a spot in Google’s new "Fiber for Communities" program. The Web giant is going to install new Internet connections in unannounced locations, giving those communities Internet speeds 100 times faster than those elsewhere, with data transfer rates faster than 1 gigabit per second.

As 79-year-old Topeka mayor, Bill Bunten, told CNN, the name change will not be permanent, adding,

"Oh, heavens no, Topeka? We are very proud of our city and Topeka is an Indian word which means ‘a good place to grow potatoes.’ We’re not going to change that."

Do people grow potatoes in Topeka these days?

"I don’t think we grow that many potatoes anymore. The crops we have out here are wheat and corn and soybeans and alfalfa. And, did I say soybeans?"

He’s the first to say outsiders probably view Topeka as "another Midwestern town with not a lot going on," but he’s been making efforts to change that. He’s trying to revitalize downtown with a bar and music scene.

Google would add to all that, making the city more attractive to youngsters, he said.

Now if Manhattan (Kansas) will officially change its name to (Little) Apple, maybe we’ll all get free iPhones.