Links for 2012-04-10

  • Gymkata proves that tiny gymnasts make tough heroes | Film | Films That Time Forgot | The A.V. Club

    Plot: At the height of the Reagan era, someone had the bright idea to turn diminutive, soft-voiced, mulleted gymnast Kurt Thomas into an international action star. How? By positing him as a master of “gymkata,” a discipline that combines gymnastics–a sport most commonly associated with anorexic 12-year-old girls from former Soviet-bloc countries–with karate.

  • The anti-Walmart | David Rohde

    Cashiers are barred from interacting with customers until they have completed 40 hours of training. Hundreds of staffers are sent on trips around the U.S. and world to become experts in their products. The company has no mandatory retirement age and has never laid off workers. All profits are reinvested in the company or shared with employees. A doomed Internet startup? Occupy Wall Street fantasy? Bankrupt retailer recently purchased by Walmart? No, a $6.2 billion-a-year, 79-store-supermarket chain with cult-like loyalty among its customers. Wegmans, which operates its 79 stores in New York, Pennsylvania and four other East Coast states, shows that a business can generously train its workforce and profit handsomely.

  • John Derbyshire: wrong even 176 years ago | Skulls in the Stars

    Plenty of folks are shredding Derbyshire’s idiocy: for instance, see Angry Black Lady’s post on Raw Story savaging him. But I want to take another tack here, and point out that the sort of pseudoscientific tripe that he’s peddling about black intelligence has been around, and criticized, for a long, long, long time. To demonstrate this, I want to take a look at a paper that was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London way back in eighteen-hundred-and-fucking-thirty-six, and whose author demonstrated better science, intelligence and morality than Derbyshire ever will. The paper, by Friedrich Tiedemann, is titled, “On the Brain of the Negro, Compared with That of the European and the Orang-Outang,” and argues against the prevailing view of the time that blacks are inherently unintelligent and much more kin with apes.