Please enjoy the enjoy the most recent article written about Epicurus 101 on the Good Men Project website. Click on the title of the article to redirect.
Please enjoy the enjoy the most recent article written about Epicurus 101 on the Good Men Project website. Click on the title of the article to redirect.
To Golf or Not to Golf, that is the Question
I love golf. In fact, I consider myself a golf nut. I appreciate the history, the technical aspects of the game, the persistence required to achieve even mediocre proficiency and the enjoyment of hitting balls purely with tools that were first made from old apple tree branches. And as boring as it sounds, watching golf on TV is both relaxing and an opportunity to learn from better players (otherwise known as vicarious proprioception). But the sport of golf has changed dramatically over the years, which is the main focus of this article.
Misconception #1: You have to be rich to play golf.
What was once a sport reserved for privileged individuals is now available to almost anyone who’s interested in the game. Plenty of courses now offer low-cost memberships starting at $40/mo with free range balls and free early-bird golf. If you have the time, you can also volunteer at a golf course and play for FREE. Golf club sets, shoes and proper attire can be found at little to no cost through Goodwill, resale shops and Craigslist (I bought my first used set on Craigslist for $75 and sold it 3 years later for the same price).
And there are always plenty of balls and tees on the course already. I’ve personally never paid for a single golf ball or tee. It’s like trying to find ammunitions in the middle of a battlefield. They’re everywhere. As an aside, I made my first Eagle from 90 yards out with an old range ball I borrowed. The guys I played with said it didn’t count since it wasn’t a “real” ball. Haters will hate, and unfortunately they were wrong. The only non-conforming golf balls that I’m aware of are smaller and heavier than “normal” golf balls.
Online stores make purchasing golf clubs and accessories easy and inexpensive. Sites like Global Golf, Value Golf, Rock Bottom Golf and other pre-owned golf companies significantly reduce the cost to play. There’s no reason to pay full price for golf clubs at a golf store, but it’s the best place take a test drive before buying the same thing online for a fraction of the price.
As your skills improve, you may consider building your first set of golf clubs. It’s not rocket science. I recently built an awesome set for less than the price of a used set. Most importantly, the set fits like a glove. Knowing what I know now, I could never buy an off-the-rack club again. The probability of the club(s) fitting you properly is very low.
Sir, You’re a Scholar and a Gentleman
Golf should always be considered a lady’s and gentlemen’s game. But what makes the sport something to be respected? Well, first of all, recommended golf attire is pants (not jeans) a collared shirt and proper shoes. Don’t be “that guy ” who shows up to a golf course in a DIY cut-off t-shirt, sweat pants, flip-flops and a trucker’s hat (turned backwards of course).
Second, proper behavior is also a must. Be polite and compose yourself. Don’t yell after a bad shot and throw your clubs like some of the uncouth tour players do on TV. It’s disrespectful to yourself, others and to the game. Just the other day I played with a young man whom I was paired with at a local golf course. He asked to ride in the cart I rented. After watching him yell, curse and throw his clubs like a two-year-old, I politely asked him to stop. When it got worse, I gracefully removed his bag from the cart while he walked over to the gold tees (reserved for pros) with his 36+ handicap and took off. Problem solved. Oh, and by the way, enjoy your walk back to the clubhouse.
Longer Courses, Longer Drivers, Shorter Tempers
Golf equipment has made a gigantic technological leap in the past 100 years. What caused the sport to change so dramatically? The sport of golf first met capitalism during the end of the 1800’s. The business of making custom clubs evolved into mass production of golf equipment during the industrial revolution. The marketing efforts of the industry propelled the sport into what it is now. Whittled down tree branch shafts and handmade persimmon wood heads have been replaced with ultra-light graphite shafts and CNC milled titanium drivers. But have golfers gotten better as a result of the increases in technology? No they haven’t.
Back in the 1950’s, the average driving distance of a professional golfer was 240 yards. Today it’s 290. However, although new materials are helping golfers hit longer drives, less of theses shots are staying on the fairways (which results in higher scores). Golf courses, to accommodate technological advances, were then designed and redesigned to be wider and longer (some courses actually remained the same to encourage players to finish quicker). So, although the perception is that golfers are getting better because they’re hitting longer drives, the harsh reality is that improvements in technology and course design are not lowering golf scores.
Iron lofts have also changed over the years. The typical Taylormade 5 iron was 35 degrees in 1980, 26 degrees in 2007 and 22 degrees in 2015. That’s 13 degrees of difference between 1980 and 2015! Decreased lofts = Increased distances (9 degrees of loft = 20-25 yards of distance). Bottom line: although golfers are hitting balls greater distances, the accuracy and precision of these shots are getting worse.
Misconception #2: Longer is Better
Drivers used to be 42’’-43’’ long. Now they’re an average of 45.5’’. Combined with lighter materials, golfers are hitting longer, but not straighter. For example, Tiger Woods uses a 42.75’’ driver and drives the ball 295-310 yards (PGA pros averaged 44.5’’ in 2016 and averaged 280 off the tee). I built mine at 43’’. I’m no Tiger, but I can drive the ball 230-240 and hit 8 out of 10 fairways as long as I’m not swinging out of my shoes. Straighter shots keep you in play and result in lower scores. Period.
In order to benefit from the recent technological advancements that the club making industry provides, golfers need to be tall, strong and have excellent hand-eye coordination. But this is not the case for the majority of golfers. Furthermore, the unfortunate reality is that a tall athletic person with average hand-eye coordination can hit longer than 99% of people with a croquet mallet. So it’s not a good idea to compare ourselves to most professional golfers. It’s like comparing our looks to professional models and actors on TV. I may have a lot of grey hair, but I’m no George Clooney. The average person should thus be more concerned about their overall physical strength, flexibility and their short game instead of focusing on 6’3” professional golfers who use the newest drivers developed by Boeing, whatever that even means. Does it come with a half-can of soda, some honey roasted peanuts and a lost head cover?
The Future of Golf
Many people have and will continue to quit this wonderful game based on the fact that missing the ball consistently lowers self-confidence. The future of golf depends on the leaders of the industry to create equipment that helps people enjoy the game. Focusing research on shorter drivers, highly customizable single-length clubs and single-plane golf swings will create a paradigm shift in the industry. I built a single-length set to develop a more consistent swing and lower my scores. It works. And if you’d like to learn about an under-appreciated golf genius who was (and still is) the greatest ball-striker in the history of the sport, I highly recommend watching this video about Moe Norman.
Dr. John Hofmann
We are what we eat. But what if someone told you that you could find a mate (or even a good friend) based on food? If one of the most important foundations of culture is food, then it make sense that we can connect with people on authentic levels using shared culinary preferences. The video below touches on this concept. And whether it’s staged or not, it’s definitely something to think about.
Dr. John Hofmann
“Free samples today! Dairy free sorbets and gelatos with raw honey!”
I’m sure you’ve heard me say this phrase while walking past our truck. But what did I do before deciding to make gelato for a living? Well, I was a researcher. At USC I was fascinated by human values. My goal as a doctoral student was to figure out what values were and how they were used to create culture. This 5-year mission led me do discover some interesting stuff about the foundations of self-concept, attitudes, beliefs and basic human behavior. It turns out that human values serve as the foundation for linguistics: words and their meanings.
If you ever get really bored and want to understand what values are, then feel free to read this article (it’s a first draft). It’ll also make a great bedtime story and will put your kids to sleep in minutes, guaranteed! It’s a bit controversial, so be prepared. My research defied 50+ years of human values research and had a confidence level of over 95%. What this means is that the data was pretty darn accurate.
So, click on the link below to get your nerd on. Enjoy!
Dr. John Hofmann
What is leadership? What inspires people to trust leaders? What is the difference between authorities and leaders? What role do neurotransmitters play in the understanding of these questions? The powerful lecture by Simon Sinek explains the bio-psychosocial foundations of leadership and inspires others to be leaders for the greatest good.
I was more inspired and learned more about servant and transformational leadership after watching this 45 minute lecture than all of my classes combined on the topic in a doctoral program at a prestigious university.
Choose your leaders wisely.
Dr. John Hofmann
I’ve watched a number of educational documentaries over the years, but none of them have touched my heart like Racing Extinction. It’s a film about what’s happening to this planet and the need for global awareness and change. Everyone should see this film. Watch it with your family, friends and loved ones. If you’re an educator, your students (middle and high school) should see this film.
Have the courage to start a conversation that matters.
If you think the English language is difficult, try remembering 3-4 thousand Chinese characters! We’re very grateful to have found this article on the internet. A sincere thanks to WaCowLA and the Chinese community for their support! So glad everyone’s enjoying our low-sugar sorbets and gelatos with raw honey!
Epicurus 101 is seeking Pasadena locals who possess culinary talent and people skills. Send a resume, 3 letters of recommendation and a typed personal statement (1 page minimum) that discusses why you think you’d be a good fit for this company. Candidates will be asked to demonstrate their culinary skills, participate in a structured interview and submit to a drug test and/or background check. All candidates will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The post will be deleted after the positions are filled.
Update on Positions: We’ve had some inquiries about available positions. One position has already been filled (Juice Master). The others are Executive Chef and Sous Chef. We’re looking for highly-motivated culinary artists who are ready to run this business while the Head Chef prepares for expansion in multiple areas (including a physical location). We’re seeking passionate entrepreneurs who are willing to give 100% and help bring our vision into fruition. If any of this sounds interesting then send us your application ASAP. We’ll personally call each applicant who applies to touch base. And if you don’t hear back from us within a few days, just call us because we probably didn’t get your application (213-290-8436).
Please send documents to: John@Epicurus101.com
We are, as a species, master imitators. In fact, we anneal ourselves to our environment from the moment we’re born. Psychosocial influences are constantly molding our self-concepts, values, attitudes, beliefs and behavior. The most significant of these influences are educational systems, workplace structures and entertainment (movies, T.V. shows and commercials). Contrary to the opinion of many academics, conscious awareness of how these climates operate allows individuals to evolve into healthier and happier human beings.
The “P” word
In hopes of illustrating this theory, we’d like to focus on one simple word that significantly influences our psychosocial system in ways that are generally beyond conscious awareness. It’s the “P” word, Perfect. This very important word helps explain the fundamental structure of our socioeconomic system. The story begins with a crash course in perfectionism and ends with a hope for a better, more egalitarian, future for our country. So, let’s begin.
Perfectionism is defined as an inability to accept anything less than perfection; it’s rooted in fear and can result in abnormal behavior. This thinking pattern is logically flawed. Nothing’s perfect. If nothing’s perfect, then it’s illogical to think that anything can be perfect. It’s similar to telling children that “the bogeyman” will terrorize them if they behave poorly. There’s no such thing as the bogeyman. But, until children reach cognitive maturity, their fear of the bogeyman remains even though it doesn’t exist.
This leads to an important point. The probability of internalizing perfectionistic thinking patterns (or any unrealistic perceptions of reality) is dependent on social-cognitive maturation. But where do these perfectionistic ideals originate? Why are so many people obsessed with perfection and what can we do to eliminate the word from our language?
Final Exam (Fill in the Blank): Practice Makes ______________!
Practice makes perfect. How many times have we heard this aphorism growing up, and how many times have we told this to our kids without realizing the social-cognitive implications? Perfectionism is deeply inculcated into our subconscious motivations. But where do these perfectionistic ideals originate?
The K-12 Experience
Teachers and parents are excellent initiators of perfectionistic behaviors. They oftentimes live vicariously through their children to alleviate their own feelings of failure, make critical comments, and deliver toxic messages that trigger procrastination and inhibit creativity. I once heard of a high school teacher saying to his class that, “You guys are so stupid!” What he was trying to say was that he felt incapable of teaching his students. Ironically, he later became a school administrator.
What about higher education? Although there’s no correlation between graduate school grades and professional performance, graduate students are generally required to make an A or a B to pass a class. In many graduate programs, B’s are considered poor performance. This expectation inherently drives students to be perfectionists.
Fierce competition in law (and medical) school also creates a significant number of perfectionists. The amount of competition and perfection needed to succeed appears to be an inherent requirement for success. What’s rarely discussed however are the value changes that occur in law school from first to third year. Research indicates that students begin and end with egalitarian/democratic and elitist/undemocratic values, respectively. In fact, competition and individualism, when combined in large quantities, are guaranteed to generate perfectionistic tendencies.
Anyone who’s gone through a doctoral program understands the amount of psychological abuse that students endure. Papers are oftentimes graded on political correctness and grammatical perfection instead of what was most important: generating and developing ideas. So, why do 40% of doctoral students never graduate? One reason is because doctoral students are expected to perform under unreasonable conditions that are saturated with poisonous levels of unconstructive and unjustified criticism.
Ivy League Students: Perfectionists or High Achievers?
Anyone who’s ever hung out with Ivy Leaguer’s from Harvard and Yale understands that the keys to their success are extremely high levels of competition, motivation, criticism and confidence. But are these elite students perfectionists, high achievers or both? Let’s review our definition of perfectionism:
Perfectionism is defined as an inability to accept anything less than perfection; it’s rooted in fear and can result in abnormal behavior.
Do elite students strive to make perfect grades? Of course they do. Is their desire for achievement rooted in fear? Certainly. Can it result in abnormal behavior? Definitely. But, does it always result in abnormal behavior? No, it doesn’t. This leads to an interesting contradiction. Our elite ivy league universities profess that perfectionism is bad, yet only accept the best students in the country of which 39% report mental health issues as undergraduates due to academic rigor. This number jumps to 80% for doctoral students. So, is perfectionism OK as long as it results in high achievement? Is our conception of perfectionism a double standard? Should highly-motivated students who live in low-performing neighborhoods with low social capital be lead to believe that they should lower their academic expectations and accept the status quo of their environment?
Unhealthy working environments are no exception. Specifically, caustic bosses tax the mind and spirit and rarely allow for opportunities to feel empowered. They describe themselves as competitive, diligent, multi-tasker work-a-holics and are described by others as controlling micromanagers. These perfectionist “control freaks” expect employees to work in overly critical, chaotic and under-resourced environments where their efforts are exploited and made to feel worse with blame, shame and guilt. They rarely give credit when credit is due and expect their staff to work overtime without compensation. If left untreated, employees develop similar unhealthy behaviors. So, why are perfectionists oftentimes placed into leadership roles? It’s because they get the job done, albeit at the cost of company morale.
How many times do you hear the word “perfect” every day? I challenge you to keep a daily tally as you interact with coworkers and watch your favorite T.V. shows, especially the commercials. I think you’ll be surprised. It’s a powerful word that has far-reaching consequences.
Perfectionism sells. Hillary Rettig in The 7 Secrets of the Prolific writes that if someone can convince you that you’re unfashionable, ugly and depressed then someone will sell you products that will solve these so-called problems. Fierce competition between companies encourages marketing experts to practice unhealthy advertising tactics. They advertise perfectionistic clichés that depict easy living or easy success and downplay family connections, luck and incredible sacrifice. Examples include: rags to riches, no pain no gain and they all lived happily ever after. These debilitating subconscious messages instill perfectionistic tendencies that are simply unrealistic.
What’s wrong with the car that we already have? Car commercials dig into our perfectionistic tendencies that have been taught to us at an early age: bigger, better, faster, shinier and more options. If it has any problems, get rid of it. Out with the old and in with the new. Do perfectionistic messages influence our desire to buy the latest trends in fashion? How about our personal relationships?
What about cosmetic surgery? Botox, liposuction, butt implants, face lifts, tummy tucks, nose jobs, eye widening, skin bleaching, crazy fad diets, etc., etc., etc. Our culture is literally obsessed with perfection. It doesn’t help that perfect-looking people are portrayed as more successful and desirable by the media. But is this true in reality? Besides actors and models who are paid to look good, I encourage you to do a Google image search on the world’s wealthiest men and women. Trust me, they’re not super models.
Even the wealthy are lead to believe that more is better. In fact, perfectionism is the wind that keeps the sailboat moving. Billionaires are constantly buying bigger and better toys to fulfill a subconscious need for perfectionism, and to impress and/or satisfy childhood insecurities. Some are never satisfied. I’ve heard stories about wealthy individuals who accepted nothing less than perfection. Some are so supercritical of themselves (and others) that they’re offended by the smallest criticism, especially from those who appear to be lower in social class and socioeconomic status.
Bonus Round: The Big Picture
We need to stop using the word perfect if we’re truly dedicated to evolving towards a healthier ideology where individuals are more egalitarian. Luckily, research pertaining to human values clearly indicates that our country is already passing over the pinnacle of our capitalistic era and moving into a healthier ethos in which hedonistic individualism is slowly being replaced with an egalitarian, cooperative and collaborative utilitarianism that expresses the adage of “greatest good for the greatest number”. In fact, the concept of “going green” (i.e., doing more with less and a metabolic understanding of production, consumption and ecology) is helping us transition into a European-like social-capitalistic hybrid economic system.
It’s unfortunate however that many individuals are suffering economic hardships during this “great recession”, the first of many hurdles on the way to a healthier democracy. Resolving income and wealth inequalities in the United States is the biggest hurdle, without which little transformation is possible. We must embrace change and continue to rely on our European neighbors for guidance. May their humanistic approaches to human value, egalitarian advancements and high levels of reported happiness among their citizens continue to inspire us.
Dr. John Hofmann
Imagine being born into a poor family with few opportunities and resources. What would you do to raise your standard of living? Would you develop skills needed to succeed or turn to crime? Most individuals do the best they can in school and eventually find work. But what about the 2-3% of the population that doesn’t have the social and cognitive skills and resources to change themselves and their environment? Do they feel rewarded for trying to be good citizens in an culture that appears overwhelmingly unfair and disadvantageous? No, they don’t. And when they don’t, when they feel hopeless, neglected, bullied, abused and pushed-aside, they get into trouble. Many of these individuals wind-up in prison.
There are 2.26 million people in U.S. prisons. An astonishing 45-65% of prisoners are reported to have mental illness. Hallmarks of mental illness are low self-esteem and risky behavior. When individuals don’t feel good about themselves they turn to abnormal behavior as a means of punishing themselves and others for the pain they’re enduring. When they get caught, they go to prison. While in prison, inmates rarely receive the structure and services needed to transition back into society. They’re eventually released, get into trouble again and wind up back in prison. It’s an ugly cycle that’s rooted in number of variables, including an unequal distribution of wealth and resources.
Is there a correlation between the rate of mental illness in prison (45-65%) and the rate of recidivism (64%)? Do the majority of re-offenders suffer from mental illness? If so, our society needs more effective strategies to deal with this problem. More importantly, why does our country have the highest rate of mental illness in the world? Why does 27% of our country’s population suffer from mental health disorders? Why does a whopping 13% and 60% of Americans take antidepressants and prescription drugs, respectively?
What is it about our culture that seems to produce so many unhealthy individuals and maladaptive behaviors? Based on a comparison of other countries whose citizens feel productive, healthy and happy, the main cause appears to be socioeconomic structure. Is our economic system literally making people sick? If so, what can we do to change this unfortunate situation?
There are solutions. A top-down approach is to develop a hybrid economic system that proactively benchmarks with successful countries whose citizens report the highest levels of happiness in the world: Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Finland, Netherlands and Sweden. Research clearly suggests that we’re on our way to becoming a European-like system, but we have a few rivers to forge before we get there. A bottom-up approach is to develop creative ways to keep our kids in school, off the streets and out of trouble. Are we ready to think differently?
Below is a list of facts about our prison system. We apologize in advance if you weren’t aware of this information. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news. It’s our hope that these facts inspire you to become part of the solution. Get involved, be a mentor and volunteer your time to a local cause. There’s lots of people out there who need your help, and they can’t do it alone. Let’s make a difference together.
Here are the Facts about the U.S. prison system:
Food for Thought
Imagine if the United States created a rehabilitative prison with counseling, trade schools and integrated corporate outreach programs. Outdoor tents would eliminate the need to spend billions on expensive facilities. Student counselors would significantly reduce mental health costs. Healthy relationships with corporations would: (a) provide labor at a reduced price, (b) allow inmates to build careers based on interests and future economic needs, (c) significantly reduce or eliminate trade school building costs depending on estimated long-term corporate ROI, (d) allow inmates to save money for the goal of paying debt (victim reparations, supporting their families and building credit) and most importantly (e) reduce the current 64% recidivism rate and redistribute billions of dollars that should be directed towards improving our educational system. It’s not string theory; its simply about valuing people first, then money.
United States Prison Population Rate: 716 for every 100,000 citizens (with a 64% recidivism rate)
Norway Prison Population Rate: 71 for every 100,000 citizens (with a 20% recidivism rate)