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When a natural disaster like the Haiti earthquake occurs, I inevitably run into one or more people who don’t seem to exhibit as much empathy for the victims as others. I used to believe this was a choice, and became curious about the motives or origins of empathy. Is it the mark of an evolved person? Or do people simply deal with tragedy differently?
This recent WSJ article explains some of the thoughts and studies behind human’s ability to care about others.

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THE theme of “About Face,” the 240-page coffee table book that features 20 dramatic makeovers and goes on sale this month ($25), is that beauty should be used for “purpose instead of for vanity’s sake,” said its author, Scott Barnes, in a recent interview.

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The new book by Scott Barnes.

Delaney & Gitte

WORKING IT The makeup artist Scott Barnes emphasizes the power of beauty in his new book.

Mr. Barnes, a makeup artist who has worked with Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow, among others, cited the Old Testament story of Queen Esther as an example of the power of beauty. Esther, an orphaned Jewish peasant, learned how to embellish her looks in the court of King Ahasuerus of Persia, also known as Xerxes. She was ultimately selected as his queen. “Her beauty saved a race of people,” he said, as he described her role in halting a planned massacre of Persia’s Jews.

The idea of using beauty for the greater good is consistent throughout the project. “Every celebrity I chose for the book has a foundation or is involved in a foundation,” said Mr. Barnes, who selected 4 celebrities and 16 women who aren’t famous to make over for the book, including Katherine Albrecht, a privacy expert and activist, and the actress Mariska Hargitay, who started the Joyful Heart Foundation, which supports survivors of sexual assault.

Looking good brings respect, Mr. Barnes said. “You show up in nice clothing at the airport and they’re nice to you,” he said. “You show up in sweats and they’re like, ‘The kiosk is over there.’ ”

Mr. Barnes, who trained as a painter at Parsons, got his start in makeup mixing raw pigments. “I started working with them just like I used to mix all my oil paints in a grinding glass,” he said. Soon, Julianne Moore was requesting a jar. Then Lucy Liu, then Jennifer Lopez. From there his makeup career soared.

Although Mr. Barnes doesn’t run a foundation himself, he is working to establish one for melanoma. Mr. Barnes, who is renowned for playing light off the skin, and whose shimmering lotion, Body Bling, is popular among celebrities, had a younger brother, John, who died of melanoma at age 30. The book is dedicated to him.

Sign in to Recommend Next Article in Fashion & Style (16 of 18) » A version of this article appeared in print on January 7, 2010, on page E3 of the New York edition.

Interesting concept. Leaves me to wonder if it is really possible to remove the personal reward of power one receives for being beautiful to the degree required to achieve an ultimate good purpose? I like the concept but not quite convinced most humans would be able to accomplish this.

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What a great post. I am guilty of at least three of these “non-strategies” for my own success at any given time. I especially love the myth of motivation.
Thanks David!

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In our many interviews with people “in love” we ask them the most revealing question of the interview – “When did you know you were in love?”  We have heard very consistent answers over our 26+ years of interviews with couples in love. There are seven key indicators to know when you are really in love:

1.  Physical:  People who say they are in love report getting “goosebumps,” “a palpating heart,” “sweaty palms,” “a tingling sensation all over my body.”  People in love have a positive physical reaction when they think about or see the one they love.

2.  Emotional:  When they think about or see the person they love most lovers report “an uncontrollable smile comes over my face whenever I see her,” and “I miss him when he leaves the room.”  People in love feel emotions for the person they love that they do not routinely feel for others.

3.  Positive worry:  Over the years, we continue to be amazed about the consistency with which people in love report to us that they “worry about their lover” when they are not around.  Thoughts about what we have come to call “positive worry” about the one they love begin to creep into their mind.

I had always been told these were the sure signs of being a co-dependent. Ha. Goes to show what most of us know about love. Or maybe I should just speak for myself. Enjoy.

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This production is coming to LA early this year and highlights the need for a sustainable future, free from dependence on and use of fossil fuels.

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Finally! A “foursquare” for people who would rather take photos. I think I like it. (I haven’t tried it yet though) via @readwritestart

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Jean Vanier – The Wisdom of Tenderness

This Canadian philosopher and Catholic social innovator founded L’Arche, a community centered around people with mental disabilities that has now become a global movement. To many, he is simply one of the wise men in our world today — an icon of lived compassion. We speak about his understanding of humanity and God that has been shaped across a fascinating lifetime by the likes of Aristotle, Mother Teresa, and people who would once have been locked away from society.

About the Image

Rodney, a core member of a L’Arche community in Portland, Oregon receives a haircut, an event he thoroughly enjoys.

+ (photo: Danny Summerlin/Flickr)

One of my favorite podcasts, “Speaking of Faith.” This episode was especially touching where Jean Vanier speaks about his experience with the “Vulnerability of God.” I hope you enjoy it.

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Sent from my iPhone. Follow me on Twitter @assignmentdesk1

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