A PERFECT FACE | KURT COBAIN: THE MOVIE | QUIT CRYING
MARCH 17, 2013
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THE HUFFINGTON POST MAGAZINE
OFFICE OASIS When the Workplace Doubles As a Space to Unwind
03.17.13 #40 CONTENTS
Enter POINTERS: A New Pope ... Is Soda Here to Stay? JASON LINKINS: 2016 Speculators Are in Need of Some Serious Rehab DATA: A Perfect Face Q&A: Angela Bassett HEADLINES MOVING IMAGE
Voices ISABELLA HUFFINGTON: Underfed
I’M LATE FOR MY NAP Reimagining work as a place to de-stress and unwind. FROM TOP: COURTESY OF GOOGLE; GETTY IMAGES/FLICKR RM
BY MALLIKA RAO
DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO: Evil Doers, It’s Not (All) Your Fault QUOTED
Exit FOOD: The Great Onion-Crying Cure Experiment BEHIND THE SCENES: Dreamcasting Kurt Cobain: The Movie EAT THIS: Spring Greens Asparagus and Ricotta Pasta TFU
DIVISION WITHIN Buddhism’s race problem. BY JAWEED KALEEM
FROM THE EDITOR: In Pursuit of Harmony ON THE COVER:
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
In Pursuit of Harmony his week’s issue of Huffington features two stories on how the urge to lead less stressful and more mindful lives is colliding with the real world. Jaweed Kaleem shines a light on how race and efforts to diversify have affected the two-millionstrong Buddhist movement in the U.S. Reporting from Seattle, “a city both known for its liberal culture and its segregated populace,” Kaleem takes us inside the challenge of diversifying a tradition in which “the aim is to be one with the wider spiritual world in the pursuit of harmony, and ideally, that includes going beyond skin color differences.” In the U.S., Buddhists break down roughly into two groups. Asian-American Buddhists, who make up the majority, place little emphasis on meditation, unlike
the white converts, who comprise about a third of the group. “With a few exceptions, the two groups — mostly Asians and whites — do not mix,” Kaleem writes. “One of the main reasons is that while they may share a common name for their faith, their practices are often foreign to each other.” He introduces us to Tuere Sala, who grew up in public housing projects and is now a teacher at Seattle’s Insight Meditation Society. She wants to diversify the movement, but because many people of color don’t feel welcome in the largely white meditation groups, she leads entirely nonwhite sessions. “Are they separatists?” Kaleem asks. “Or are they expanding the practice?” The an-
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
swer is a little of both. “People say we’re going against Buddhism,” Sala says. “They are kind of right. Only kind of.” Her idea is to enlarge the movement by creating a space for people of color to feel comfortable, while also integrating a spiritual practice that urges us to transcend barriers. It’s a fascinating look at how the changing face of America is affecting our faith as well. Meanwhile, Mallika Rao reports on how efforts to encourage mindfulness, relaxation and stressreduction are changing the American workplace. “How might a boss compel us to trek in when the world is wired so we don’t have to?” Rao asks. “Simple: bring the world into the office.” And to do that, more and more offices are featuring what is known in the architecture and design world as “third spaces,” which once meant places to work that were neither home nor office, like coffee shops and libraries. Now, says Bob Fox, architect and publisher of the industry magazine Workspace Design, “the cafe-type third space has become commonplace.” From bowling alleys to massage
centers to the two well-used nap rooms in the HuffPost offices, the American workplace is changing to reflect the blurring of the lines between our work and non-work lives. “Happy employees, goes the reasoning, are more than simply present,” Rao writes, “they’re innovative.” The piece closes with a photoroundup of some of the most creative spaces that bring out that innovative spirit — from a hammock-hung “Treehouse Room” to a communal kitchen dressed up as an Irish pub (at Google Dublin, of course). And finally, we have a video that takes you behind the scenes of the making of our last issue’s cover about offshore wind power.
BEHIND THE SCENES Tap here for a timelapse video showing how the cover of last week’s issue unfolded.
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CARDINALS PICK 1 NEW POPE
Just over an hour after white smoke appeared at the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio addressed the world from St. Peter’s Basilica as the new pope. “It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away, but here I am,” he said. Bergoglio, 76, is the first Latin American pope to lead the Roman Catholic Church and will take the name Pope Francis. A group of 115 cardinals selected him after two days and five rounds of voting.
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JAMES HOLMES PLEADS NOT GUILTY
A judge entered an unexpected not guilty plea this week for James Holmes, who allegedly killed 12 people and injured 70 at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater in July of last year. The judge said that Holmes, 25, will still have a chance to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity — possibly the only way he could avoid life in prison or execution, the AP reports. Holmes, who allegedly opened fire during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, is charged with 166 counts, including murder, attempted murder and assault. His trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 5.
FORMER DETROIT MAYOR FOUND GUILTY
After a five-month corruption trial, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of 24 charges, including extortion, racketeering and bribery. Prosecutors argued that Kilpatrick, his father and a city contractor ran a criminal enterprise out of the mayor’s office. Kilpatrick, who was sent to jail until sentencing, is no stranger to being locked up — he previously spent about a year in jail after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice, as well as a more recent weekend behind bars for violating his parole.
DRINK UP! NYC SODA BAN REJECTED
A judge rejected a controversial ban on large-size sugary drinks on Monday, one day before it was to set to take effect. The ban, which is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to improve nutrition, would put a 16-ounce limit on sugary drinks sold at restaurants, stadiums, arenas and movie theaters. In response to the ruling, the mayor’s office tweeted, “We plan to appeal the sugary drinks decision as soon as possible, and we are confident the measure will ultimately be upheld.”
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SHERYL SANDBERG TELLS WOMEN TO ‘LEAN IN’
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is facing a storm of controversy amid the release of her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which laments the lack of women in positions of power and says it is up to them to change their approach to their careers. “While women continue to outpace men in educational achievement, we have ceased making real progress at the top of any industry,” she writes. But many are criticizing Sandberg, saying she is placing the blame on women instead of the institutional barriers they face.
6 VALERIE HARPER TALKS HEARTBREAKING DIAGNOSIS THAT’S VIRAL THE 88-YEAR-OLD DANCING GRANDMA
Valerie Harper, the Emmy-award winning actress who starred in the 1970s sitcoms The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. But the 73-year-old isn’t giving up hope. “I’m not dying until I do,” she told Today’s Savannah Guthrie in her first interview since sharing her diagnosis with the world. “More than hopeful, Savannah, I have an intention to live each ... moment fully.” Harper said her doctor told her she has anywhere from a week to several years left to live.
A selection of the week’s most talked-about stories. HEADLINES TO VIEW FULL STORIES
THIS COP APPEARS TO HAVE PUNCHED A WOMAN
DOES LIKING BIG BOOBS MAKE YOU SEXIST?
BEE VENOM’S INCREDIBLE SILVER LINING
LIKE LASSIE, BUT BETTER
LOOKING FORWARD IN ANGST
2016 PRESIDENTIAL SPECULATORS NEED SOME SERIOUS REHAB ORMER FLORIDA Gov. Jeb Bush and current Florida Sen. Marco Rubio don’t necessarily agree on everything — as we’ve learned in the past few weeks, whether or not they support the same plan for comprehensive immigration reform largely depends on which side of the bed Bush has woken up on that morning. But if there’s one thing they have in common, it’s a real, pointed dislike of
AP PHOTO/NBC, WILLIAM B. PLOWMAN
premature presidential speculation. Back in January of 2011, Rubio was a new senator still working out of a temporary office when he was confronted by reporters, who really needed to know right then and there if he had any plans to run for president in 2012. “It’s a circus. You guys are part of the circus,” Rubio eyerolled. “They’ll talk about somebody else next week.” And they totally did talk about other people in the weeks to come. This did not stop anyone from talking about Rubio, however. Still, while it seemed a little ab-
Meet the Press host David Gregory asked Jeb Bush if he would run for president. Bush’s response: “Man, you guys are crack addicts.”
Enter surd to be wondering if a guy who only got to Washington yesterday was ready to run the whole show, the press did at least wait until almost three years had passed since the 2008 election to ask about it. On the other hand, as of this past Sunday, only about four months has passed since our last presidential race. And so I understand why Jeb Bush, when asked by Meet The Press host David Gregory if he was going to run in 2016, answered with a more biting pejorative: “Man, you guys are crack addicts.” Naturally, the relative unfairness of comparing David Gregory with anyone who shows the singleminded determination of a crack addict was not lost on Bush, who immediately amended the comparison to, “OK, heroin addict, is that better?” A bit! If only because the withdrawal seems to be so painful. See, the joke used to be that as soon as the presidential election season concludes, the midterm election campaign begins. And as soon as midterms were over, everyone got to take six hours off before turning into a fountain of breathless speculation over the presidential campaign. But this year, we seem to have stumbled out of the gate looking to skip the midterms entirely.
LOOKING FORWARD IN ANGST
There is already a Wikipedia page dedicated to the 2016 presidential election, and looking at it is like staring at a sickness. Right now, the page lists the people who have publicly expressed an interest in running for the White House, along with “other potential candidates.” If there’s good news to report, it’s that the former category of politicians is still quite restrained. Bush, Chris Christie, Jon Huntsman,
[Hillary Clinton] is such a force majeure ... until she says she’s in or out … none of the other 2016 wannabes can afford to stick their toes into presidential waters.” Rand Paul and Rick Santorum are on the list for the GOP, and Joe Biden is the only Democrat. That’s okay. We can live with that. On the other hand, the list of “other potential candidates” is out of control. As of this moment, it includes 49 people, and as near as I can tell, they’re included in this list if anyone, anywhere, at any time suggested that they might or should or could run for president. And so, you get a mix of those
Enter people who we know are thinking about running but won’t say (Martin O’Malley, Bobby Jindal), partisan wish-list candidates (Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz), the “these guys ran the last time” set (Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry), a handful of “most likely nots” (Kamala Harris, Jim DeMint), and some “please please no please don’t” candidates (Evan Bayh, Sarah Palin). It’s too early to be doing this much speculating on who might run. It’s too early for an early primary state — I’m looking at you, Nevada! — to be mucking about with the 2016 primary calendar and pushing the other states to move their contests back to Thanksgiving. And why is anyone talking about doing away with the Iowa Straw Poll, as Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Gov. Terry Branstad are? It’s way too soon to be worried about it! Besides, if you get rid of the Iowa Straw Poll, how will Tim Pawlenty find out no one wants him to run for president? Right now, my favorite candidate in the 2016 race is Hillary Clinton, because — as the media tells me — she is “freezing the field.” What that means is that she’s such a force majeure as a potential candidate, that until she
LOOKING FORWARD IN ANGST
says she’s in or out either way, none of the other 2016 wannabes can afford to stick their toes into presidential waters. While Chris Cillizza suggests Clinton can’t spend too much time not telling people what she intends to do, I hope she refrains from announcing her intentions for a long while. In the meantime, everyone should stop worrying about an election that’s many years away.
This year, we seem to have stumbled out of the gate looking to skip the midterms entirely.” Besides, the midterm elections are an exciting, spontaneous, iddriven wreck of a political season — way more fun than its tweedy presidential year counterpart. So let’s allow the midterms to unfold on schedule, if only because it will inevitably identify the next young political hotshot to emerge from obscurity and come to Washington. Whereupon he or she will get barraged by a bunch of idiot reporters with questions about his or her plans for 2016, and regret ever coming here.
The Science of Beauty
Beauty isn’t just a matter of taste — it’s a science. How does that affect Hollywood’s elite, where all faces are proportionate and symmetrical? Or, simply put, who is prettier than whom? You’d be surprised. Ahead, find out how geometry ranks Lena Dunham higher than Scarlett Johansson. — Liat Kornowski
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OVERALL SIZE HORIZONTAL SYMMETRY VERTICAL PROPORTIONS
NOSE EYES EARS
SOURCE: KENDRA K. SCHMID, PHD, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF BIOSTATISTICS DIRECTOR, COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH MASTERS PROGRAMS, NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER | TAP FOR PHOTO CREDITS
WHAT DO YOU MEAN, ‘SCIENCE’? To determine attractiveness, Dr. Kendra Schmid, assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, uses a formula based on 29 different points on the face. The distances between them are calculated, along with symmetry and proportion. Each calculation configures into the total, and some measurements carry more weight than others: How full are your lips? (too thin lowers the score, but so does an overly thick pucker); how wide-set are your eyes?; is your nose as long as your ears?; etc. The final score ranges between 1 and 10 — 10 being the perfect face. Most people (non-Hollywood normals) score around 4 and 5. Celebrities rarely, if ever, score below a 6.
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Angela Bassett on Whether She Was Ever Tempted to Sell Out
“There was a time maybe ... the role was, the guy would push her head into a dog food bowl … I was like, no, I’m not going to do that. It helped that my rent was $230 a month.”
Above: Angela Bassett at the 2013 National Board Of Review Awards. Below: Bassett stars as the head of the Secret Service in Olympus Has Fallen, in theaters March 22.
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Underfed THERE ARE ONLY two types of women who are excited to get their periods: those who are afraid they’re pregnant, and those who have lost it prematurely. I lost my period the way other women lose their car keys, not once or twice, but habitually. I kept losing it, because I have spent most of my life dangerously underweight, struggling from ages 11-20 with anorexia of varying levels of intensity. Getting my period meant I was healthy. And that was the problem. I didn’t want to be healthy; I wanted to be skinny more than I wanted to be anything else. When I was 11, a friend asked me what superpower I wanted. I told her I wanted to be invisible. I was surprisingly perturbed the first time I got my period. I was at dinner with my father. We were eating steaks, mine well-done, his medium-rare. I watched the blood
drip, drip, drip, drip out of his steak like a broken faucet. I found this particularly upsetting. I was not, as one might hope, upset for the cow; no, I was upset for myself. You see, I hate blood. I hated it even more 15 minutes later when it was coming out of me. I was 12 years old, and I had gotten my first period. I was indignant. I felt like a 95-year-old man lying on his deathbed, asking God, “Why me?” I remember trying to barter with God. If he would remove my period, I would give $5 to a charity of my choice. This was a pledge I made frequently, whenever I thought the airline had lost my luggage. And it was a pledge I just as frequently forgot as soon as my luggage arrived.
Voices At 12, I knew all about the menstrual cycle, since my hippy elementary school had spent an obscene amount of time discussing it. We were given important kernels of wisdom, like the fact that we could indeed make mayonnaise while on our periods. And we were made to pack prevention kits, consisting of a pair of underwear and a pad, which we were commanded to carry with us the way a diabetic carries her insulin shot. We were all fully prepared to get our periods, except I wouldn’t get my period that year. I didn’t get my period because I was 5 feet 6 inches tall and I weighed 85 pounds. At 11, I was diagnosed with anorexia and a compulsive exercising disorder. I don’t have an answer to why I developed anorexia. All I have is a series of clichéd responses. One day I was a carefree child eating chicken nuggets and curly fries. The next, there was suddenly nothing childlike about me and I was too afraid to eat a baked apple with cinnamon on it. Some children refuse to eat any food that isn’t white, while others refuse to take off their Halloween costumes and end up dressed as Esmeralda all year
long. At 11, I had rules too. I woke up every morning at 5 so that I could jump rope. I had to jump 1,000 times, and if I messed up I had to start again. I always messed up. My hair ties had to match my socks. I would only go to bed at numbers divisible by 5. What I remember about being 11 is packing the same lunch every day: three dried apricots, eight pistachios and half of a Na-
Getting my period meant I was healthy. And that was the problem. I didn’t want to be healthy; I wanted to be skinny.” ture Valley “Oats ‘N Honey” bar. I remember my hair falling out in red, curly clumps in a London salon. On my 12th birthday, I refused to eat my birthday cake, and that is when my mother panicked, taking me to see a doctor who told me if I didn’t gain 15 pounds, I would be hospitalized. I remember going to lunch with my mother afterwards and her pushing the breadbasket towards me. I remember the bread tasted like sawdust and stuck on my tongue like a lump of flesh.
Voices I remember trying to learn how to be a kid again and failing, trying to make duck beaks out of Pringles, trying to do flips on the trampoline, trying to eat at my old favorite restaurant, an allyou-can-eat sushi buffet. But I couldn’t. All I could think about was that 14 Sour Cream and Onion Pringles had 140 calories, that jumping on the trampoline burned fat, that I hadn’t eaten all I could eat in a long time. From ages 11-20, my relationship with food vacillated between high points, when I was healthy enough to get my period but still obsessed with my weight, and low points, when I stopped getting my period all together. During these nine years, I resented my period when I got it and was indifferent about it when I didn’t. This changed last March. It may sound overly simplistic, but it finally dawned on me that I was suffocating — and that it was my own hands around my neck. I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t healthy and that I hadn’t been healthy in a long time. But realizing you want to be healthy and becoming healthy are two very different things. I had grown up with anorexia. I didn’t
quite know who I was without it. But I recognized that anorexia and I were two different things. And that was a start. I started gaining weight. It wasn’t easy. In fact, I think it was the hardest thing I ever did. People talk about looking in the mirror and not recognizing their own face. I knew my face; what I didn’t recognize was my own mind. I learned that just because
On my 12th birthday, I refused to eat my birthday cake, and that is when my mother panicked.” I think something doesn’t mean it’s true. I went from regarding the voice in my head that told me I was fat and worthless and undisciplined if I finished the salad on my plate as the voice of truth to seeing it the way I see Fox News: sometimes funny, often dangerous, but rarely true. I finally got my period again in July. And this time, I was ecstatic. Isabella Huffington is a junior at Yale majoring in art history.
DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO
COURTESY OF TED
Evil Doers, Itâ€™s Not (All) Your Fault EVIL: HOW AND why do good people turn evil? VS. Good: How can ordinary people be inspired to act heroically? These two questions have been challenging me since I was a kid, and finally after many decades,
I have discovered answers that I need to share with everyone who might care about these fundamental issues about Human Nature. Growing up in poverty in the inner city of the South Bronx, New York City, means that I, like all such kids similarly situated everywhere in the world, was surrounded by evil. There were and are
Dr. Zimbardo speaking at the 2013 TED conference.
Voices always hustlers, guys who make a living by getting good kids to do bad things for a little money, like steal, run drugs, sell their bodies, and worse. Why did some kids give in and start down that slippery slope of evil, while others resisted and stayed on the right side of that line separating good from evil? As a religious little Catholic kid, though I dutifully prayed to God to help me resist such daily temptation and deliver me from evil, it was hard to really count on God having the time to check out what was happening around 1005 E. 151 St. There were wars to attend to, Hitler to be contained, hurricane victims needing help and Communists to be converted. So I reasoned I had to be more self-reliant and band with buddies I could trust to provide strength in our numbers against those perpetrators of evil. And it worked for some of us. This concern continued for much of my life, until, as a research psychologist, I reasoned the best way to understand evil was to go beyond theological analyses, philosophical discourses and dramatic renditions, to actually “create” evil in order to understand its dynamics from the inside
DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO
out. My classmate from James Monroe High School in the Bronx, Stanley Milgram, had set a workable agenda for doing so through his pioneering investigation of Obedience to Authority back in 1963. His experimental research at Yale University quantified evil in a novel way: how many volts of electric shock would someone administer to an innocent victim when an authority figure ordered him or her to take such action that went against conscience? His findings shocked the world: The vast majority of participants, ordinary adult citizens, two of every three, went all the way down the 30 switches on the shock generator from an insignificant initial mere 15 volts, increasing incrementally by 15 more volts, until
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COURTESY OF DR. ZIMBARDO
they got to 450 volts. Danger! Potentially lethal! Although the research participants, acting as Teachers punishing their Learners for their errors — to ostensibly help improve their memory — believed their learnervictim was being shocked from the screams heard over the speakers, the learner was actually a confederate with responses automated. What is the lesson to be learned here? Bad people will inflict pain on innocent victims when given permission to do so. No. Most ordinary, even good, people are vulnerable to subtle, pervasive situational forces when
The best way to understand evil was … to actually ‘create’ evil in order to understand its dynamics from the inside out.” they are in new circumstances where usual, habitual ways of behaving are not relevant. I took that message a step or two further in my 1971 study, known as the Stanford Prison Experiment. Could a situation be created in which normal, healthy, intelligent college students inflict pain on their peers in the absence of any authority commanding their obedience? My “subjects” were two dozen students from all over the country who had just finished
Dr. Zimbardo, right, with students participating in his 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.
Voices summer school in local colleges, chosen from among 75 who had answered an ad for a psychology study of prison life to run for up to two weeks. By random assignment, half became prisoners who lived in our simulated jail 24/7, while the others were guards working each of three eight-hour shifts. The sad sack prisoner uniforms, with their new identity numbers prominently displayed on their smocks, contrasted with the military-style uniforms of the guards who also displayed their various symbols of power. The situation created was a functional simulation of American prisons in many ways; in short, it was an “Evil Barrel” into which we put a bunch of “Good Apples,” at least on day one. Would an evil place that was populated with only good people dominate and corrupt them, or would humanity win out and keep them decent and caring despite such a situation? Within 36 hours, one of the normal, healthy college students had a severe emotional breakdown and had to be released from his prisoner role. On each of the next five days and nights, other prisoners broke down in similarly disturbing ways. I was forced to terminate this experiment, to
DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO
shut down my prison after only six days; it had spun out of control. Bad news in this particular contest between good and evil: evil 1, humanity 0. My situation was a setting where institutionalized evil dominated. Rules, roles, uniforms, policies, group dynamics, arbitrary power differentials — all within a physical context that gave le-
Even good people are vulnerable to subtle, pervasive situational forces when they are in new circumstances where usual, habitual ways of behaving are not relevant.” gitimacy to the treatment of other people in dehumanizing ways. This metaphor of powerful guards dominating powerless prisoners is not limited to either my mock prison or real prisons, but can be seen in many settings: traditional marriages, mental hospitals, schools, military and business settings. So the findings of the Milgram obedience experiments (in its 19 variants), combined with those of the Stanford Prison Experiment,
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Voices reveal the extent to which human behavior can be situationally influenced, even dominated, in ways that we are reluctant to acknowledge. We all want to believe in the dignity of individual character and free will. That dignity is best served by recognizing our vulnerabilities and learning how to develop our “situational awareness,” as a kind of ghetto “Street Smarts,” in every context we enter. We can resist such powerful forces only by becoming savvy to the operation of myriad social-situational forces in our lives, on the “dark side” (as our former VP Dick Cheney reminded us, this was the way we would deal with terrorists). This allusion leads us to year 2004 and the horrific images of American soldiers, military prison guards, men and women, seen in their own photos torturing and degrading their Iraqi captives in Abu Ghraib Prison. Doing so all while smiling, with high fives all around. Who were these bad apples, disgracing not only the military, but America’s war effort to bring democracy, freedom and dignity to a people long dominated by a cruel dictator? For me, I was as shocked as anyone, but I was also hardly sur-
DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO
prised, because the visual parallels with my prison study seemed direct. I contended in many media interviews that I believed our soldiers were good apples that someone had put into a very bad barrel in that prison dungeon. I became an expert defense witness for one of those guards, in part to better understand how he and all the other MPs on his night shift on Tier 1-A could have perpetrated such terrible deeds. In that capacity, I had access to all the existing investigative reports and the full
Above: Zimbardo gives a lecture on Abu Ghraib prison at Stanford University in 2007. Below: Students assume the roles of guard and prisoner in Zimbardo’s prison experiment.
Voices collection of the condemning photos. I believe I was able to show, to demonstrate, with a variety of evidence, how Sgt. Chip Frederick, like the other MPs, fell under the spell of a situation that was created by some “Bad Barrel Makers.” This was a system of power that mismanaged the prison, combined with a narrow-minded military leadership and a war-focused presidential cabinet. All the MPs received dishonorable discharges, some with long prison sentences, while their officers were never tried. They did not even receive letters of reprimand for their “command complicity” in abuses that went on under their watch for three solid months. I summarized all that I had learned about this torture center, as well as the first full presentation of the Stanford Prison Experiment in my 2008 book, The Lucifer Effect. That same year, I was invited to present my ideas (worth spreading) at the TED Conference. It was difficult to contain all these ideas into the tight, 18-minute limit that is the TED signature, despite practicing on the main stage earlier. I am a 60-minute academic dude, but I would try my best to squeeze into that slot.
DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO
But, just as I was racing toward the end, shifting focus and asking the audience how ordinary people can act heroically, the bell sounded with no time on the clock. I swear that I felt the audience simultaneously hold a collective inhalation. Just then my deus ex machina ascended the stage to tell the audience that he had heard the rehearsal and that what was
Would an evil place that was populated with only good people dominate and corrupt them, or would humanity win out and keep them decent and caring despite such a situation?” coming was too important to stop now, so he would violate policy and allow me a few more minutes. With that temporal reprieve from Chris Anderson, TED major domo, the audience exhaled and I raced on for five more minutes with the good news ending: that it was possible to inspire people, especially our youth, to learn how to transform compassion into heroic action. Standing ovation. Having nearly fainted from hy-
perventilating for talking faster than I ever had, I was happy just to be standing. Immediately after, many TEDsters encouraged me to develop the hero project more fully, to scale it up, to develop a non-profit, to start a foundation, a business. I even got seed funds from Pam and Pierre Omidyar, eBay founders, to do so, and I did. I went on from this exhilarating experience to create a San Francisco based non-profit, The Heroic Imagination Project, HIP. We are training ordinary people on how to become everyday heroes by learning how to stand up, speak out and take wise and effective action in the challenging situations they face daily at home, school, business, community and nation. We have developed a full educational program, based entirely on proven social psychological research in six areas, as well as a corporate leader-
MORE ON TED WEEKENDS THE PRISON GUARD IN EACH OF US
DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO
EROSION OF EMPATHY
ship program designed to encourage heroic leadership. We are also doing and supporting others’ research on the nature of heroism. Finally, we are planning a mobile phone app with daily exercises for all those who want to start on the bright path of becoming Heroes-In-Training. If we succeed, then, we will reverse the score: evil 0, humanity 1. I need your help to make this mission into a national and international movement that has the potential to change the world for the better, one hero at a time. I welcome sponsors and funders who believe that by working together we can all do it — heroically. Dr. Philip Zimbardo is a past president of the American Psychological Association and a professor emeritus at Stanford University.
A selection of the week’s related blogs HEADLINES TO VIEW BLOGS ABOUT THIS WEEK’S THEME
THE MANY FACES OF EVIL
PREVENTING THE NEXT NEWTOWN
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: JOE ROBBINS/GETTY IMAGES; JEROD HARRIS/GETTY IMAGES FOR TRANS4M; JON KOPALOFF/FILMMAGIC/GETTY IMAGES; KNS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
“We have just one bigotry left. We don’t want to be around anyone who disagrees with us.”
— Bill Clinton,
“I’m better at life than you.”
at a fundraising dinner for retired Sen. Wendell H. Ford’s educational foundation
— NFL star Richard Sherman
to ESPN analyst Skip Bayless
“When we shell [the missiles], Washington ... will be engulfed in a sea of fire.” — Army Gen. Kang Pyo Yong
of North Korea, in reaction to sanctions and U.S.-South Korean military drills
“I love letting [my fans] know how bizarre this world is and that our lives are not better than theirs just because we get to be in magazines.”
—Selena Gomez, in the April issue of Harper’s Bazaar
GETTY IMAGES/CULTURA RF (POTENTIAL RECRUITS); JOE BURBANK-POOL/GETTY IMAGES (ZIMMERMAN); JOE BURBANK-POOL/GETTY IMAGES (POPE)
“Coach, did you ever work at Penn State?”
There is nothing more pornographic than parading yourself in front of a group of judges in order to be deemed worthy of their award.
— HuffPost commenter Beg4Nothing on NFL scouts asking potential recruits about their sexual orientation
— HuffPost commenter Sid_Viscuous on Miss Delaware Teen USA resigning after a porn video controversy
“He’s going to start a band! ‘The Village Papal.’”
— HuffPost commenter MarvinGardens
on Andrew Sullivan’s speculation that the Pope is gay
“He’s afraid he’s going to run into someone just like himself. Not so brave without his gun, is he?”
— HuffPost commenter DruDo, on George Zimmerman wearing a disguise for protection
COURTESY OF MICROSOFT
03.17.13 #40 FEATURES STEP INTO THE OFFICE, BABY
OFFICE OASIS *STRESS LESS
A weekly feature that highlights ways to handle the pressures around us.
When the Workplace Doubles as a Space to Unwind WHEN YAHOO CEO MARISSA MAYER issued her ban last month on employees working remotely, she cast herself as both enemy and savior of the modern working class. Critics bemoaned Mayer’s brave new world, with no place for the single working mother, while supporters noted Yahoo’s dismal finances, and the value of collaborating face-to-face. But the riddle at the heart of the debate was seemingly solved more than a decade ago, at Mayer’s old stomping grounds, Google. How might a boss compel us to trek in when the world is wired so we don’t have to? Simple: bring the world into the office. Of course, the solution isn’t nearly as easy to put in place as it is to outline, especially without money and vision, two assets it often seems the brainchild of Larry Page and Sergey Brin holds in excess of its peers. But the Google office model is still replicating in a fundamental way. Today, cafes, lounges and pubs exist inside companies large and small. The design industry knows these outposts as “third spaces,” a term that once stood for settings where work could be done outside a person’s office or home — such as a coffee shop or a public library. The concept has since inversed to mean in-office refuges, an effect of what
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Bob Fox, publisher of the industry magazine Workspace Design, calls the Google philosophy to “give its employees a city.” Fox, an architect who runs the Washington, D.C., firm Fox Architects, remembers the vastly different jobs of the early nineties. “We would basically design 10x15 boxes as offices and 6x8 workspaces for individuals,” he told The Huffington Post. “Now the cafe-type third space has become commonplace.” He links this rise to those of wireless networking and the digital cloud, breakthroughs that threaten the existence of traditional office buildings. Architects with MKDA, a New York-based corporate architecture firm, pitch a version of a third space in every consultation they have. “It doesn’t always get approved, but we’re finding that even traditional firms ask us to do more than we expected,” MKDA president Michael Kleinberg told The Huffington Post, adding that his clients tend to excuse the cost as a basic investment in productivity. Then there are the outliers sprung straight from Google’s lavish Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. These are the onsite massage centers, bowling alleys, and movie theaters where no work can be done, but that ambitious companies view as the price to pay for a happy workforce, in Kleinberg’s experience. Happy employees, goes the reasoning, are more than simply present — they’re innovative. Indeed, our own publication — an online invention, and therefore a prime target for third-space architects — represents. “At HuffPost, we have two nap rooms,” Arianna Huffington pointed out, when we asked for her thoughts on the modern workplace.“It’s a trend permeating every aspect of our culture, from the classrooms of the Harvard Business School, where students learn to better understand their emotions, to corporations around the world.” Ahead, we’ve rounded up images of some of today’s most evolved third spaces, from the hammock-hung “Treehouse Room” in the Chicago digs of Braintree, a credit card processing company, to the communal kitchen disguised as an Irish pub in Google Dublin. Step into the office, baby. — Mallika Rao
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BRAINTREE At Braintree, a company that helps online businesses process credit card payments, employees hang in the “Tree House Room” or get competitive with a game of ping pong.
Employees at Campbellâ€™s enjoy their catered kitchen facilities, and can kick back after a big lunch in the office lounge.
COURTESY OF CAMPBELL SOUP COMPANY
CAMPBELL SOUP COMPANY
COURTESY OF ETSY
Etsy is the online marketplace for all things hand-made or vintage, and their offices reflect the siteâ€™s crafty personality.
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Etsy offers their employees use of this cozy lounge, as eclectic as many of the goods for sale on their website.
COURTESY OF GOOGLE
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Above: If you just miss the descending elevator and happen to be in Google’s Zurich offices, slide on down. Below: Google Dublin’s communal kitchen is happily disguised as a pub.
JAMES JOHN JETEL /COURTESY OF GROUPON
When theyâ€™re taking a break, Groupon employees can sit by the tiki bar, a collaborative workspace and meeting area.
JAMES JOHN JETEL /COURTESY OF GROUPON
Elsewhere in the Chicago headquarters, workers relax in the “Enchanted Forest” or hang from these fun bubble chairs.
HEARST Hearst Towerâ€™s atrium is filled with the sound of falling water from its three-story sculpture called Icefall.
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The Tower’s inward-facing facade creates a “town square” within the atrium.
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At Imgur, an image-sharing website based in San Francisco, the team unwinds with a game of darts, or a visit from Chi Chi the dog, who comes in every day and wanders from desk to desk.
MAGGIE WINTERS/COURTESY OF FAB
Fab.com, an e-commerce site that offers design products and connects customers to designers, boasts colorful offices that align with the siteâ€™s persona.
MAGGIE WINTERS/COURTESY OF FAB
Fab offers their employees catered lunches and unlimited snacks, and they can relax or regroup with colleagues in one of their quirky breakrooms.
COURTESY OF MICROSOFT
In the casually titled “Commons” at Microsoft, workers can choose from a selection of restaurants, wander through an art gallery, or play a game of billiards.
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Microsoft has a handle on the industrial hang-out space. “The Garage” (above) is a place where employees can experiment and collaborate on personal projects. And if you’re going green and need a tune up, zip into the bike shop in the Commons (below).
COURTESY OF POLYVORE
Polyvore fills their space with plants in an effort to calm employees running around the online fashion site’s office. When they take a breather, workers — like editor Lacey Gattis (left), office manager Lisa March (middle) and editor Rebecca Brown (right) — hang out in this spacious, colorful lounge.
COURTESY OF SCHOLASTIC
Scholastic Publishing has a rooftop terrace overlooking downtown Manhattan that makes for a nice lunch break on a sunny day.
The news never sleeps, but sometimes our reporters do. Check out our nap pod here at the HuffPost offices in New York.
THE HUFFINGTON POST
DAVE LAURIDSEN/COURTESY OF SQUARE
Square is an electronic payment service that allows users to accept credit cards using their mobile phones. Here, workers at Square put their feet up in the little cabanas at their offices and brew themselves something warm to drink in their cozy kitchen.
COURTESY OF THELAB
At TheLab, a media arts company, employees can retreat above to dine or take in a view of the New York skyline.
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TheLab has an office dog named Lucy.
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BUDDHISM’S STRUGGLE TO FIND RACIAL HARMONY By JAWEED KALEEM Photographs by MICHAEL CLINARD
PREVIOUS PAGE: GETTY IMAGES/FLICKR OPEN
They came from near and far
for an unusual gathering in the city’s chic Capitol Hill neighborhood, a place known for its vibrant restaurants, art galleries and gay bars, not for its diversity. They were nervous, confused and a bit scared. Should they — seven women of AfricanAmerican, Native American and Asian descent — even be here? ¶ None of them would use the same words to describe their race, but they were united around the colors of their skin. They entered a small church hall, sat in a circle, closed their eyes and faced their teacher, hungry for Buddhist wisdom.
“Challenge your notions,” the 55-year-old woman with dreadlocks told them, sharing her journey as a black Christian turned Buddhist, a racial rarity among meditators. “I once thought there was something devilish and ‘woowoo’ about this, that people would find out, that they would say bad things about me. There was a cultural ‘I can’t do this’ thing. But I tell you: You can do it.” This class of Buddhist meditation was for beginners, tailor-made for minorities. Men could come, but the group happened to be women. No whites were allowed. “Being an American Indian woman, I am judged all the time. I just feel more accepted if it’s not white people telling me what to do, how to meditate,” said Teresa Powers, a 54-year-old university researcher and mother of two who was drawn to the study of meditation after losing her job. “It’s like I’m among my own.” Here in Seattle, one of the least racially diverse cities with one of the largest Buddhist communities in the country, a controversial movement in American Buddhism is forming. A handful of exclusive “people of color” Buddhist groups have started to meet each
week, far away from the longestablished — and almost entirely white — major Buddhist meditation centers that have dominated the Pacific Northwest’s wellknown Buddhist scenes. Many members, who have until now shied away from meditation and Buddhism, say practicing away
“YOU CAN SEE DIFFERENCES, I CAN SEE DIFFERENCES, BUT DOES IT HAVE TO CREATE AN ANXIETY OR STRESS?” from the white majority, among whom they say they don’t feel welcome, has spiritually empowered them — and they wouldn’t have it any other way. As the U.S. moves toward becoming a “minority majority” nation, the increasing awareness of multiculturalism has made its impact on many faiths, with churches, synagogues and mosques reaching out to recruit members of ethnic groups to broader reflect America’s growing diversity. But in meditation-oriented Buddhism, one of the most popular and fastest-growing strains of this ancient religion — now the fourth biggest spiritual practice in the U.S. —
Bonnie Duran is a Native American Buddhist teacher at the Seattle Insight Meditation Society who co-directs a beginners “people of color” meditation course.
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one of the prime focuses is on letting go of any attachment to the individual self. The aim is to be one with the wider spiritual world in the pursuit of harmony, and ideally, that includes going beyond skin color differences. Yet, the Seattle “people of color sangha (community)” is one of nearly a dozen that have been established across the U.S. in the last few years, many with support from some of the nation’s most prominent Buddhist teachers. The sanghas’ memberships vary from city to city, with black, Latino and Asian and Native American Buddhists often at the forefront. Traditionally, Buddhism didn’t make distinctions along racial lines — 2,600 years ago, the Buddha traveled across ancient India to share his teachings with everyone from the nobility to the lowest classes. But throughout its history, dozens of sects, sub-sects and cultural variations have formed among Buddhists, and they’ve become separated by language and ethnicity, including the dominance of mainly white sanghas in the U.S. People of color sanghas have met varying levels of resistance and success. Are they separatists? Or are they expanding the practice? Dur-
ing the height of the civil rights era, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said that 11 a.m. at church is the most segregated hour in the U.S. But in 21st century America, should race continue to divide the religious? “People say we’re going against Buddhism,” says Tuere Sala, the black Buddhist teacher who is one of the leaders of the movement in Seattle and taught the recent beginner’s course. “They are kind of right. Only kind of.” LOOKING TO DIVERSIFY The effort to make Buddhism more diverse and less divided is one of the biggest problems facing the religion in America today. There are at least two million Buddhists in the U.S., and each usually falls into one of two camps. On one side are Asian-American Buddhists, who have been in the U.S. since the mid-19th century and whose numbers blossomed after 1965, when immigration quotas were lifted. About two-thirds of U.S. Buddhists are Asian, while one in seven Asians in the U.S. is Buddhist. Most Asian-American Buddhists practice at home, and small numbers also observe their faith at Buddhist temples, the kind known for their ornate architecture and large Buddha statues. Studies have found that most
Asian-American Buddhists seldom or never meditate. Their practice of the faith includes venerating ancestors, spiritually observing holidays such as Lunar New Year and doing yoga, and most believe in nirvana and reincarnation. The second camp of Buddhism is made up largely of white converts, who count for about a third of U.S. Buddhists, but whose practice of the faith has arguably seen the most cultural popularity. This group, which mostly focuses on
meditation, has its origins in Tibetan, Zen and Vipassana traditions that were popularized by a handful of white Americans who traveled to South and east Asia to learn from Buddhist masters as interest in alternative spirituality peaked during the countercultural movements of the 1960s. The Vipassana (“insight”) tradition has become one of the most successful because of its secular appeal. The practice hinges on the idea of “mindfulness,” which is accomplished through meditation techniques, and is focused on centering and grounding one’s self in the current moment to see true re-
The weekly “sit” at the SIMS meeting, where people are seated in silent meditation for 40 minutes.
ality. For many non-Buddhists, it’s stress-reduction. For Buddhists, it’s on the path toward self-awakening. “Outside of these people of color sanghas, many of the Buddhists who claim to meditate are not Asian-Americans. And many EuroAmericans who are Buddhist would place meditation very high on the list. Most Asians would call it a small practice,” says Sharon Suh, a professor of specializes in Buddhism, race and Asian-American spirituality at Seattle University. “There is an assumption that the Buddhism brought over by AsianAmericans is less authentic.” With a few exceptions, the two groups — mostly Asians and whites — do not mix. One of the main reasons is that while they may share a common name for their faith, their practices are often foreign to each other. Buddhist leaders, long aware of their growing differences, have tried to unite themselves around what they share in common. One of the first efforts, a 1967 meeting of the World Buddhist Sangha Council — an international group with representatives from nearly every nation where Buddhism had blossomed — produced a statement of “basic unifying points.”
“We consider that the purpose of life is to develop compassion for all living beings without discrimination and to work for their good, happiness, and peace; and to develop wisdom (prajñā) leading to the realization of Ultimate Truth,” it said. “We admit that in different countries there are differences regarding Buddhist beliefs and practices. These external forms and expressions should not be confused with the essential teachings of the Buddha.” It’s taken time, but such conversations have begun to trickle down to on-the-ground action in places such as Seattle, a city both known for its liberal culture and its segregated populace. And though meditation-oriented Buddhists have yet to successfully integrate with more traditional Asian-American Buddhists from whom they adapted their practice, the meditators have recently tried to diversify among themselves, as Sala puts it, “at least make our practice less white, more open and more diverse.” Sala is a teacher at the Seattle Insight Meditation Society, one of the major and most well-known meditation-based Buddhist organizations in the Seattle metropolitan area, which is home to an estimated 40,000 Buddhists and dozens of Buddhist organizations and temples. With about 4,000
members, SIMS splits its classes and meditation groups between church buildings, yoga and art studios, and members’ homes. While the organization doesn’t break down its membership numbers, it’s leadership admits it’s almost entirely made up of white Seattleites who skew in age toward 50 and above. Of 10 teachers listed on the SIMS website, only one besides Sala is not white. The situation has not changed much since her first time in the meditation hall 11 years ago, but her belief in the practice has grown. Over the last two years, Sala joined together with Bonnie Duran, a Native American Buddhist, the other non-white teacher at SIMS, with a lofty goal: to bring more minorities to the wider meditation community, but to draw them in on their own first. “We need to bring the dharma beyond where it’s been. We need to be able to teach the unusual practitioner, the outcast practitioner,” Sala says. “You can’t get to those deep places without someone there to guide you, to hold your truth while you take a chance with yourself.” Born in South Seattle in a largely black neighborhood, Sala grew up in public housing projects. Her
younger years, she says, were full of violence. She was raped. She was abused by an ex-husband. As an adult, she was nearly always in financial ruin. Raised as a Missionary Baptist, she instantly turned to faith to cope with pent-up anger and emotional distress. For 15 years of her adult life living in Kan-
“W E WALKED INTO THIS ROOM AND THERE WERE 60 WHITE PEOPLE. NO BLACK PEOPLE. NO PEOPLE OF COLOR. I DID NOT WANT TO STAY.” sas City and Seattle, she hopped between Baptist, Presbyterian and Catholic churches. Sala’s Buddhist journey began with her own suffering and a resolve to improve her life, a path similar to that of many other Buddhists. She’s practiced meditation for 20 years, and credits it for freeing her from emotional turmoil. Her life’s goal, she says, is to bring Buddhist practice to those who are suffering. On weekends, she teaches Buddhism to prisoners, and has found herself spending vacation days from her day job as a criminal prosecutor to attend Buddhist retreats to be certified as a “commu-
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Rodney Smith, 66,is the founder of SIMS.
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nity dharma leader.” One day, she hopes to leave her job to be a fulltime meditation teacher. “Hopefully, to people like me,” she says. ‘THE EXPRESSION OF OURSELVES’ SIMS’ largest meetings are on Tuesday nights, when about 100 experienced meditators come to St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Capitol Hill for a weekly “sit” and dharma talk. A sit is exactly what it sounds like. In a semi-circle, members sit on cushions and in chairs in silence for 40 minutes. While most people would get lost in their own heads and daydreams in such a situation, the idea in meditation is to avoid any complex thoughts, often called “hindrances.” Instead, the meditators are supposed to become aware of their own bodies and breathing, and pay attention to how one interprets the sounds and feelings around his or herself. On a recent Thursday, Sala was one of seven non-whites in the crowd. Facing the group was Rodney Smith, a nationally known Buddhist teacher and former hospice caretaker who founded SIMS 19 years ago. After the meditation, Smith, who was trained in Thailand and Myanmar as a monk, gave
a dharma talk, a Buddhist teaching, on one of his favorite topics: the Buddhist view of the body versus the spirit. Meditators, he said, too often get caught up in comparing themselves and their own spiritual progress to other people, a negative vortex of practice. For an hour, Smith told the crowd to let go of attachment to individuality, be it self-assessment based on outward appearances, career, money, power or something else entirely. “What we are doing in our spiritual journey is we’re transforming what we thought we were, which was the expression of ourselves in form, to spirit, the expression of ourselves formless.” But where would that leave race? “You can see differences, I can see differences, but does it have to create an anxiety or stress? I would say no,” Rodney, a silverhaired, slim 66-year-old, said later. But in the people of color sanghas, that’s precisely the reason many give for joining: They feel anxiety, stress and a sense of being rejected by white Buddhists or are unable to find a connection to the established sanghas. “So the people of color, they feel they are at the stage of their development where they feel they need special groups of people leading them who are the same
ethnicity of themselves; they want to gather around that common factor of color to feel a sense of relaxation. They have had enough tension being in a broader society that is often prejudiced against them. So we give them that.” He meant it literally. Smith and the board of SIMS list Sala’s people of color introductory class in their pamphlets and pay the rent for the church room it uses each week. “The point of dharma is to add a point of consciousness to the society, it doesn’t do any
good for just a group of people in Seattle or New York to do this, the point is to make the culture as a whole more conscious,” he said. “And we began to think: Are there ways we are excluding people?” That doesn’t mean he’s entirely comfortable with the idea of separate meditations. “Buddhism goes against identity. Race is a very superficial way of looking at things,” he said. “Hopefully at some point the (people of color) will be relaxed enough within their humanity to be able to come into a greater room full of people and feel that same degree of relaxation, but that’s a stage
Shoes come off for the meditation at the Tuesday night SIMS meeting in St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral.
of development and that can’t be pushed or forced upon them. And at some point they do, like Tuere, she just naturally started to come [to the broader meditation groups]. But it may take long.” After almost a decade of meditating on her own, Sala began attending the main sangha at SIMS in 2001 at the invitation of a friend. She was immediately put off. “We walked into this room and there were 60 white people. No black people. No people of color,” she said. “I did not want to stay … We had been there only five or 10 minutes, and a woman in the group began asking a question and talking about how she had transcended her body, and was looking at herself from the outside. It was way too ‘out-there,’ for me and it just seemed to reflect a whole different outlook on meditation than what I was used to. It was what I stereotyped white sanghas as, you know, a little hippie, a little self-involved.” SPECIALIZED RETREATS The goal of “more diverse dharma,” as Smith calls it, has proliferated across the nation in recent years. Race is just one factor, though the most easily seen in many cases. In
places such as New York and the San Francisco Bay Area, though, diversity has become an ever wider effort. At the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, Calif., there are Buddhist groups for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender meditators, people with disabilities and those with allergies to perfumes.
“P EOPLE SAY WE’RE GOING AGAINST BUDDHISM. THEY ARE KIND OF RIGHT. ONLY KIND OF.” In New Mexico and Arizona, Buddhists and Native Americans have joined to launch meditation centers that combine teachings from both traditions and include traditional Native healing rituals. In western Massachusetts, meditation communities have formed “diversity councils” to recruit minority practitioners. In Atlanta, meditators thought separate meditation groups were too divisive, so they launched a broad campaign against all “the ‘isms.” “My hope and imagination would be that we would have a few years of retreats for people for color and then there would be a much more obvious period when we were
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Tuere Sala has practiced meditation for 20 years and is a teacher at SIMS.
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back together, but it seems to have been a naive thought early on,” says Jack Kornfield, who is considered to be one of the first western Buddhist teachers to bring meditation techniques to the U.S. He has supported retreats and teaching groups for what he calls “marginalized or historically traumatized” communities for more than a decade, and at his Spirit Rock retreat center in the San Francisco area, a scholarship has been established for minorities who want to become Buddhist teachers. “Some of that combining has started to happen. But there are other ways in which retreats for particular communities will be important for a long time,” Kornfield continues. A similar view is taken by some members of Salzberg’s Insight Meditation Society, which has been at the forefront of funding and supporting diversity initiatives and exclusive people of color courses and retreats. “Ultimately, I don’t think it’s anyone’s vision to have lots of specialized retreats for all these groups of people, but to provide a genuine resource for everyone,” said Salzberg, who co-founded the organization with Kornfield
and Joseph Goldstein, and another well-known Buddhist teacher. “But I don’t know when that will be the case.” ‘MEDITATE. BE PROUD’ In Seattle, a big city for Buddhism but nowhere near as popular or diverse as Los Angeles or New York when it comes to Buddhist practice, efforts to combine Buddhist communities are slowly beginning, though attempts at racial diversity are generally new. In addition to their beginner’s course, Sala and many of her students attend a group called POCAS each week. It stands for “People
“I ONCE THOUGHT THERE WAS SOMETHING DEVILISH AND ‘WOO-WOO’ ABOUT THIS.” of Color and Allies,” and is made up black, Latino, Native American, Asian and white practitioners. They meet at the home of Duran, the Native American Buddhist who co-taught the beginner’s course with Sala, and follow the same schedule as most meditation gatherings: a 40-minute sit, a dharma talk and socializing afterwards.
After a recent meditation and discussion on vedana, the Buddhist idea of the body and mind’s sense of good, bad and neutral “feeling tones” in everyday life, the conversation turned, as it often does, to race. A woman passed around flyers for a conference about race relations that was coming to the city, while others reminisced over a shared experience the weekend prior, when dozens of Buddhists from the region joined for the region’s first people of color retreat about two hours south of the city. Conversations about race are almost as much a part of some people of color sanghas as meditation, and that can be a source of conflict. At the POCAS group, which was established 11 years ago, meditation was once secondary to talking about politics and race relations. Some members say the group ceased to be Buddhist at all. But in the last five years, it has refocused itself on Buddhist teachings. At the recent meeting, the conversation alternated between discussions about Buddhist paths toward spiritual liberation and race. A few meditators began to discuss the merits of being separate from the bigger, whiter sanghas.
“I go to lots of places to meditate. I’m going to California next week (for a retreat of) Native American meditators, and the week after that, I’ll be back at SIMS, where everyone’s white. I just think there should be options,” said Duran, a professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. “You know, I just feel like we’re friendlier here. We can giggle, we don’t have to be so serious about this meditation stuff all the time,” said another woman, Barbie-Danielle DeCarlo, who frequently meditates with people of color. “I just don’t get the style in other places.” From across the living room, Sala chimed in: “Just make sure you keep doing it, wherever you go. Meditate. Be proud. And let the people of color out there know we’re not the only ones.”
A photo from the the People of Color and Allies Sangha gathering, hosted at Bonnie Duran’s home.
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The Great Onion-Crying Cure Experiment
BY JOE SATRAN
Exit Y BEST FRIEND CHLOE hates chopping onions so much, she firmly believes that if there’s a God and He has a Dantean taste for customized punishments, she will be damned to an eternity of onion chopping in the afterlife. She also doesn’t care for the taste of onions, so she never willingly chops them. I do like the taste of onions, so I chop them regularly (though not happily). Onion chopping is one of two things in the world that can consistently make me cry. (The other is Friday Night Lights.) Once, after my eyes had stung and wept with unusual viciousness, I googled the phrase “onion tears eye drops,” in the hopes that some modernday Edison had invented such a product. None had. But I quickly found that the gods of industry were shilling a host of other potential solutions, and that generations of wise, teary-eyed cooks had developed dozens of ad-hoc methods for stemming the flow of tears. So I decided to test 15 of these methods and products. I diced a relatively mild yellow organic onion using each potential cure, waiting several minutes between each test to take notes and reset my tear ducts. Then I went back and re-tested each method using red and white onions to make sure the mildness of the first ones hadn’t skewed the results. Ahead, discover what it takes to conquer an onion.
GETTY IMAGES/DORLING KINDERSLEY
MY NORMAL METHOD
(AKA “The Control”) METHOD: Hacking away at the onion using my dull Ikea chef’s knife on a standard cutting board. RESULTS: Slight pain and tearing up after a minute of chopping, but since this was my first bulb, nothing too crazy.
SHARPEN YOUR KNIFE METHOD: HuffPost Taste’s editor sharpened the dull Ikea chef’s knife using an ancient family method involving the bottom of a ceramic mug. Then I hacked the same way as before. RESULTS: It’s definitely a little easier and faster to chop the onion with a sharp blade, but only slightly less painful. I still started to tear up after a couple minutes.
NOTE: We tried this method first, and you can’t unsharpen a knife. So the knife was sharp, rather than dull, for all subsequent knife-based methods.
SOAK THE ONION METHOD: Halve and peel the onion, then soak it in water for an hour before cutting. RESULTS: This cut crying a bit, but didn’t wholly eliminate it. Plus the resulting diced onions were a little waterlogged, and you have to plan an hour ahead to prepare the onions.
CUT THE ROOT LAST METHOD: Carefully cut the onion so that you leave its root intact for as long as possible, as demonstrated in this video from the Culinary Institute of America. RESULTS: This worked well, with few tears, and required no advance preparation. But the technique was tricky; I had to wield the blade slowly and carefully to avoid slicing down through the root.
FREEZE THE ONION
CUT UNDER RUNNING WATER
METHOD: Put the onion in the freezer for about half an hour before chopping.
METHOD: Let a stream of running water wash over the onion as you cut it.
RESULTS: Totally worked: I was tear- and pain-free while chopping this onion. Then again, the onion slices were cold, which could be a problem if you’re serving them raw or cooking them with other ingredients. Also, you have to plan ahead at least a half an hour.
RESULTS: I felt like a buffoon reaching down into the sink to try this one, but it admittedly passed the tear test. No crying whatsoever. Only it introduced a whole other set of problems: my fingers got numb from the cold water, it was hard to keep my cuts precise and the diced onions ended up wet, even waterlogged, at the end.
PUT SALT ON THE BLADE METHOD: Dampen the knife, then pour a bit of salt over it before chopping.
HOLD BREAD IN YOUR MOUTH
RESULTS: Pounding all that salt into the onions made them weep a noticeable amount of water, significantly more than normal — and, strangely, seemed to help ward off tears a tiny bit. But not much.
GETTY IMAGES/STOCKFOOD (VINEGAR); GETTY IMAGES (BREAD, KNIFE, CANDLES)
METHOD: Hold a piece of bread in your mouth, with half of it sticking out, while chopping the onion. RESULTS: Shockingly, this didn’t help at all. I did look like an idiot while doing it, though!
CHEW GUM METHOD: Chew gum (in this case, Trident Spearmint gum) while chopping an onion. RESULTS: This didn’t help at all. It was also weirdly hard to concentrate on the gum chewing and the onion chopping at the same time.
PUT VINEGAR ON THE CUTTING BOARD METHOD: Pour distilled white vinegar all over the cutting board before chopping the onion. RESULTS: This didn’t seem to do anything but waste a bunch of distilled vinegar and lend a slightly acidic taste to the onions.
LIGHT A CANDLE METHOD: Light a candle near the chopping board before you chop your onion. RESULTS: Remarkably, this seemed to work well, and was relatively easy to do. The flame of the candle got larger and brighter every time I chopped, perhaps indicating that it was burning the irritating oils away.
WEAR SWIMMING GOGGLES METHOD: Thinking that maybe the Onion Goggles didn’t have a tight enough seal, I tried intense swimming goggles out for size as well. RESULTS: Pretty much the same deal as the Onion Goggles, only more so. That’s to say, if you put them on before chopping, you’ll be 100% protected from crying. But if you put them on mid-chop, you might as well be watching Terms of Endearment.
WEAR ONION GOGGLES METHOD: Wear official Onion Goggles, like these ones from RSVP, which were purchased at Sur La Table for $22.95, while chopping onions. RESULTS: Here’s the deal with Onion Goggles: You have to commit. If you start your chopping session wearing goggles, they work great. But if you start without goggles, chop a few, then put them on, they’re awful. In this latter case, they strangely made my eyes sting more, not less — perhaps they decrease the amount of air circulation in my eye socket, intensifying the tear effect of any irritants already in the air.
USE AN ONION CHOPPER METHOD: Use a mechanical chopper designed specifically for onions, like this $13.11 one from Progressive, to dice your onions with one firm press of the arm.
RESULTS: Though this has the same caveat as the other two “machines,” it’s by far the best among them. As long as you put a little elbow behind the press, you get a clean, delicate dice of onions, without any tears whatsoever. The only problem was that it was slightly hard to clean. Still, a winner.
USE A VEGETABLE CHOPPER METHOD: Use a top-pressing chrome vegetable chopper, like this Cook Pro Chrome Vegetable and Onion Chopper, $16.16 on Amazon.com, to chop your onion. RESULTS: The three machine-based methods all share one fatal flaw: you have to peel and halve the onion before using them, which puts you at risk for a few tears right away. But this one has the additional drawback that it doesn’t work properly. It just wouldn’t chop the onions properly. At all. Who cares about crying if you can’t get a proper chop?
USE AN ELECTRIC CHOPPER METHOD: Peel the onion, then pop it into a food processor or a specialty electric chopper like this Black & Decker one, which is $14 on Amazon.com.
WENDY GEORGE (ELECTRIC CHOPPER); GETTY IMAGES (WHOLE ONIONS); GETTY IMAGES/DORLING KINDERSLEY (CHOPPED ONION)
RESULTS: This chopper (which was basically a micro-food processor) was so small that I actually had to quarter, not just halve, the onion to fit it in, bringing me basically halfway to dicing. And the blades had trouble reckoning even with an object as big as a quarter onion. By the time they’d gotten through the entire thing, they’d shredded the first few slices they’d touched into a pulpy mush. That said, no tears after peeling and quartering the onion.
IN CONCLUSION ... A slim majority of these 16 methods helped fight onion tears, but some of those had other major problems. A sharp blade made a big difference, so hone your knives regularly if possible. If you have good knife skills, cutting the root last makes a big difference. If you don’t mind your diced onions being cold, go ahead and freeze them in advance. Lighting a candle was a surprisingly effective method for cutting tears during all the cutting board techniques. Finally, if you’re averse to wielding a knife, the Progressive Onion Chopper I tested worked great.
BONUS TIP I chopped nearly 20 pounds of onions for this experiment, using all the different “cures.” Midway through my test, I noticed something strange. The onions weren’t really making me cry much at all. Even when I tried a method that I’d found not to work, or no method at all. My eyes seemed to have built up resistance to the effects of the irritants in the onions. So if you find yourself needing to dice a whole bunch of onions, without recourse to any of the methods I liked, take solace in the fact that it gets better.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Kurt Cobain: The Movie. Will It Ever Happen?
FRANK MICELOTTA/GETTY IMAGES
BY CHRISTOPHER ROSEN
INCE KURT COBAIN committed suicide on April 5, 1994, Hollywood studios have released rock biopics based on the lives of Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Ian Curtis, Notorious B.I.G. and Bobby Darin — and yet not Cobain. Save for Last Days, Gus Van Sant’s 2005 film about a singer not unlike Cobain (played by
Kurt Cobain performs with Nirvana at a taping of MTV Unplugged on Nov. 18, 1993.
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BEHIND THE SCENES
WHO COULD PLAY KURT COBAIN? SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
Actors like Ryan Gosling, Robert Pattinson, Ewan McGregor and Jared Leto have been mentioned as possible onscreen incarnations of Cobain.” former Boardwalk Empire star Michael Pitt), the Nirvana frontman has been kept off the big screen. With ’90s nostalgia in bloom, however, thanks to multiple boy band reunions and addictive reminders of the decade from websites like BuzzFeed, is the time right for Kurt Cobain: The Movie? Cobain would have turned 46 on Feb. 20, 2012; he was 27 when he shot himself in his Seattle home. That means a Kurt Cobain movie could provide Hollywood’s budding leading men with the type of opportunity usually only reserved for superhero films and sci-fi blockbusters: The chance at playing the role of a lifetime. In the past, actors like Ryan Gosling, Robert Pattinson, Ewan McGregor and Jared Leto have been mentioned as possible onscreen incarnations of Cobain; Courtney Love, the singer’s former girlfriend, who had a child with Cobain, reportedly wanted Gosling for the role. The charismatic star is now 32, however, and with no Kurt Cobain movie on the horizon in the near future, he’ll be aged out of consideration by the time the project actually moves forward. Moving forward, incidentally, has been the
RYAN GOSLING, 32
Courtney Love’s choice is probably too old to play Cobain, who died when he was 27.
MICHAEL PITT, 31
Pitt played the sort-of Cobain in Gus Van Sant’s Last Days. Why not let him turn the trick for real?
EMILE HIRSCH, 28
Hirsch turned 28 this week, but he’s got the look and intensity to play Cobain onscreen. Bonus points awarded because of his relationship with Sean Penn (the pair made Into the Wild together), who could maybe get wrangled into directing this movie.
BEHIND THE SCENES
FROM TOP: JEFF VESPA/GETTY IMAGES; JON FURNISS/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES; JUDE DOMSKI/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES
They told me, ‘We cannot support [your] wildly independent and unconventional approach to this movie.’” problem with the Kurt Cobain movie. The idea of a biopic about the Nirvana singer has been floating around since 2007. At one point, Oren Moverman was attached to write and direct, but the script he turned in was apparently too offbeat for his bosses at Universal to accept. “They told me, ‘We cannot support [your] wildly independent and unconventional approach to this movie,’” Moverman, who directed the 2009 drama The Messenger, told The Playlist in 2011. According to the director, the script (titled This Is Gonna Suck) would have tracked the last seven years of Cobain’s life, but did not include his suicide. “This is a guy who thought he sucked, but occasionally thought he was brilliant too,” Moverman said of the screenplay. “The film would have been fragmented, but also examined what made him tick.” Love was apparently a big fan of Moverman’s work. As for casting, the writer-director had considered Ben Foster, who starred in The Messenger, for Cobain. “Ben was definitely on my mind for the part. He’s the actor of his generation,” he said. For her part, Love has apparently shifted away
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, 32
Like Gosling, Gordon-Levitt is perhaps too old to play Cobain, but he’s got experience playing grunge-y rock types from Hesher and would give the film an immediate stamp of hipster approval.
DOMHNALL GLEESON, 29
The former Harry Potter star is an upand-comer who deserves leading man consideration after his tortured and romantic performance in Anna Karenina.
ANTON YELCHIN, 23
Finally, a young actor under 27 with gravitas to play Cobain. Yelchin — who has experience with indies (Like Crazy) and blockbusters (Star Trek) — would almost be the ideal choice to play the late singer, if not for …
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BEHIND THE SCENES
[Courtney] Love has apparently shifted away from the idea of making a Kurt Cobain feature film, instead commissioning a documentary.” from the idea of making a Kurt Cobain feature film, instead commissioning a documentary. Brett Morgen, famous for The Kid Stays in the Picture, was hired to make a Cobain movie back in November of last year, with Love’s blessing. “Courtney is the one that brought me into this,” Morgen told the New York Post last year. “We’ve been trying to find the right time to put this film together and the time is now ... We are going to do the movie sort of like a third-person autobiography — [as] if Kurt was around and making a film about his life.” With the documentary now the focus of Love’s efforts, however, the biopic might be even further out. Which doesn’t mean it won’t happen. With the right cast and marketing, rock star biopics have been proven winners at the box office: both Ray and Walk the Line — about, respectively, Charles and Cash — earned more than $120 million worldwide and received multiple Oscar nominations and awards. Based on that track record alone, it’s hard to imagine Cobain’s story won’t be fodder for the big screen — it just might remain in utero for a little longer than fans would like.
JESSE EISENBERG, 29
Eisenberg has played controversial public figures before, and he bears more than a passing resemblance to Cobain. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Eisenberg as a rock star and not another neurotic?
EDDIE REDMAYNE, 31
Redmayne is a tad too old to play Cobain, but he looks at least 10 years younger than the number on his birth certificate.
AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON, 22
Taylor-Johnson played a young John Lennon in Nowhere Boy; would it be so crazy to watch him tackle another music icon gone too soon?
JOEL KINNAMAN, 33
The oldest actor on the list, Kinnaman is the leading man du jour for many executives. That he stars on The Killing, which takes place in Seattle, is pure coincidence. (Or is it?)
A Healthy Spring Forward BY KRISTEN AIKEN
NOW THAT SPRING’S officially here, there’s no excuse not to dial up the greens. This dish highlights asparagus, which is not only delicious but can also keep you stressfree (you can thank folic acid for that).
PHOTOGRAPHS BY HEIDI LARSEN/FOODIECRUSH.COM
Tonal and verdant, this pasta recipe is a refreshing changeup from the red-sauce spaghetti you’ve been subsisting on all winter. And the best part? You can make it in less than 30 minutes.
SPRING GREENS ASPARAGUS and RICOTTA PASTA From Foodiecrush, Serves 4 INGREDIENTS
1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to warm pan. Add asparagus, peas, spinach and mint.
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pound spinach farfalle or penne pasta pound asparagus spears, ½ blanched and cut into 1-inch pieces 1 cup peas, blanched or thawed cups fresh spinach leaves, 2 blanched and drained of all water 1 cup ricotta fresca cup parmesan cheese, grated ½ tablespoons fruity olive oil 4 juice of one lemon 1 tablespoon lemon zest cup mint leaves, shredded ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted ½ k osher salt and freshly cracked pepper
2. In a small bowl mix olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest until well blended. Add to pasta and vegetables and combine. Garnish with ricotta fresca, parmesan and almonds and top with kosher salt and cracked pepper.
AP PHOTO/EVAN VUCCI (HOLDER); GETTY IMAGES (7-YEAR-OLD, GUNS, ELEPHANT); AP PHOTO/SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT, ANDREW COOPER (TWILIGHT)
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