Friday, February 26, 2010

Walmart Vocational Training

In case you haven't figured it out, I'm no longer in Detroit. So it took me a little while to hear that Detroit high schools are offering job training with Walmart.

As one blog covering the story pointed out, Detroit's unemployment rate is mind-boggling - something I got to see personally when I worked at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library downtown. And we've been hearing for years now that America's moving into a service-based economy, so learning customer service and cashier skills will actually be beneficial to the students who take part in this.

Ignoring for a second all the negative associations with Walmart, there's one thing about this that really stands out - there are no Walmarts in the city of Detroit proper. Perhaps that explains the following quote, which caught my attention:

Sean Vann, principal at Douglass, said 30 students at that school will get jobs at Walmart. He said the program will allow students an opportunity to earn money and to be exposed to people from different cultures - since all of the stores are in the suburbs.

Perhaps this was taken out of context; perhaps the principal was talking about immigrant communities or some such thing. But on its face, it explains so much about why Detroit is in the condition it's in.

Sounds like something a light rail system could fix, no?

(Yeah, I know there wasn't anything comics- or geek-related here. Sometimes it happens.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Buzz Bomb

Believe it or not, I’m actually a fairly busy guy on a normal day (to say nothing of the days I have to shovel out several feet of snow thanks to a freak double blizzard), so when I saw the screen on my Gmail account telling me about this Google Buzz thing, I skipped the page and carried on my business. Which was all well and good, but after receiving an email containing this article, I realized I should see what the Buzz is after all. And, um, yeah…

The feature unveiled Tuesday will enable Gmail users to create status updates on Google Buzz and read and comment on the updates posted by their friends. Other tools turn Gmail into a showcase for sharing video, pictures and Web links to interesting stories, just as users can on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, this all sounds well and good, except that, really, do we need another Facebook? (Well, anyone who isn’t friends with their boss/family/students/teachers, a group which grows smaller by the hour.) Except that, unlike Facebook, Google wasn’t giving its users the option to sign on. Which, understandably, caused some problems for people.

In a way, Google’s just doing what it’s always done: charging full steam ahead with their products. Just think of the debacle with Google Books, where they got so caught up with the idea of digitizing and sharing books that they forgot about pesky matters such as copyright. Then again, maybe it’s not that they forgot; maybe they’re so entrenched in this vision of an all-inclusive digital future that they see such things as 20th century concerns, to be discarded in our Brave New World. Maybe, but more likely they were simply trying to make an impressive Steve Jobs-type display of their new feature. After all, springing new developments on people with little or no feedback from users has certainly worked out well for Facebook. Er, wait…

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All snow and no play...

So, I had all kinds of ideas of things I wanted to write about this week, since I'm trying to make good my goal of keeping this blog active. But then, the snow came. And came. And came some more. And so, having been holed up in the same apartment since Friday, my girlfriend's idea to watch The Shining over the weekend didn't seem so great.

For the more disciplined folks, it's a great chance to be productive. For the rest of us, well, it's a chance to meet those we wouldn't otherwise.

Monday, February 1, 2010

You Bayonet-cha

When I first saw the ads for the Bayonetta game, I didn't think much of it. Another game featuring a kick-ass babe who shoots guns in skintight leather, uh huh. But the more I saw the ads, the more something nagged at me. There was just... something... about the character. Something naggingly familiar, but at the back of my head...

But what could it be? A brunette woman with glasses and a predilection for shooting guns. Where could I have possibly heard of that before?