You Got Gold

If you’re gonna do a thing, you might as well do it right

— Daryl Dixon

If today was not a crooked highway
If tonight was not a crooked trail
If tomorrow wasn’t such a long time
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all
Yes and only if my own true love was waitin’
And if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin’
Yes, only if she was lyin’ by me
Then I’d lie in my bed once again

Inspired by someone who’s the spirit behind “one voice became two” — I started this site in June 2020. I barely touched it again until Labor Day weekend, and that only happened because of a high compliment that came out of nowhere.

I’ve had other equally fine compliments on I Don’t Do Slogans, and I didn’t write one word on here as a result.

But I came across this one by accident a month later, and I was stunned that I had missed it.

This site was pretty low on my priority list, and the point of mentioning that is the power of inspiration and timing.

Seize the Day is at the heart of everything on this site — as well the inspiration to create it. As I approach 51, I’m at peace in ways that I’ve never been before. As I wrote in Live Out Loud and on Purpose:

I’m turning off our Crap is King culture and not letting any unworthy distractions get in the way of my goals. But every now and then something happens like George Floyd’s death, and right on cue comes the March of Folly in full battle regalia. I just feel the need to say something about it — to harness that energy in the moment. And I love the challenge of channeling my thoughts to a world that will gleefully swat them away in an instant. . . .

How can I remain calm in a sea of absurdity? I’ve been trying to navigate those waters for decades, and I finally found my way. I wrote that post with peace in my pursuit — as I will no longer waste even 60 seconds on anyone uninterested in healthy debate. . . .

I no longer have news apps, email subscriptions, no Facebook app, and no Messenger. And as an extra line of defense to steer clear of the front lines of folly, I force myself to log into Facebook on the rare occasion I go there.

All that started in 2012 when I quit watching the cable clans

But that wasn’t nearly enough, so a few years ago I deleted my CNN and Fox apps — then a year or so later, the default news app on my phone. And one of my latest tools to reinforce my serenity is incognito mode on the Google app — so no more news streams.

And then there’s this little gem that I’ve added to my arsenal to avoid the asinine

There was a time when I wished I had a switch to turn it all off — but I’m glad it wasn’t so easy. I love the challenge of continually finding ways to block things out and stay focused. I never spent much time on social media in the first place — and my efforts were mainly writing exercises anyway (something of a social experiment in the observation of human behavior).

I certainly don’t have high hopes of convincing anyone of anything in the atmosphere the former Facebook exec describes below:

Another former Facebook executive has spoken out about the harm the social network is doing to civil society around the world. Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make. “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a “hard break” from social media.

Palihapitiya’s criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said, referring to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, thumbs-up.” “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth

We get rewarded by hearts, likes, thumbs-up — and we conflate that with value, and we conflate it with truth.

Despite my inability to reach anyone in America’s armies of unreachables, my occasional commentary paid off on multiple fronts

When I look at my stories on this site, the tone and quality of my writing wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference to those involved — but it makes a difference to me. It would be easy to write off these incidents in light of the ludicrous.

I’m not interested in “easy”

So I’ve spent over 30 years finding ways to refine my thinking and hone my writing — harnessing every experience as an opportunity for growth. The author of the book below wrote something to me that was the beginning of my transformation to tranquility.

It only took 5 years to truly develop the habit that’s not listed in this book, but that’s precisely to the point of all that I advocate: That with just a few words, I adopted an idea and continued to work on it (self-aware of each instance when I didn’t live up to the standard he set).

I’m on Saint Jerome’s journey — and always have been.

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best

I asked Mr. Strong how he would handle those who use rapid-fire ridicule to defend their disdain for correction (using an example I had recently received):

Gosh, just saw all this. If I didn’t have a life, I may have read it.

To which Mr. Strong brilliantly articulated:

Apparently your conception of ‘having a life’ does not imply working together to understand each other. I am personally committed to dialogue with those who have a commitment to increasing levels of truth and mutual understanding. Let’s not waste any more time together.

In that sprit, this site will serve as my calling card of convictions. I will paste the link from time to time, and say nothing more to anyone uninterested in healthy discussion.

“Michael Strong launching a network of entrepreneurial high schools”

A couple years ago I got a mass email from Mr. Strong about his new Academy of Thought and Industry schools. I like that name — a lot!

Each Academy of Thought and Industry high school is a high-accountability, high-autonomy learning community focused on personal, academic, and professional excellence.

Michael Strong - Academy of Thought and Industry


What hardly anyone really understands about me is that I don’t want to be part of policy debates, I just want honest debate — and every effort is aimed at that target. Almost everyone in America is in hot pursuit of their political interests.

Almost . . .

In the Florida election fiasco of 2000, I just wanted the right thing to be done — whether it served my interests or not was irrelevant. That sense of fairness is so foreign that I might as well be speaking another language.

After every game in Little League we lined up to high-five our opponent with “Good game!” Back then we were told, “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game” (an honor code not to be confused with the “everybody gets a trophy” business).

I imagine coaches still preach the same thing today, but what’s the point if we’re just gonna abandon our sense of honesty and fairness for political gain?

Honest in the little things, honest in the big things

— Kit Crawford (co-owner of Clif Bar)

I didn’t get the job — but the entire pursuit was one of the finest experiences of my career. Just being in that building and meeting the people in it — so close to something so special, was worth it all. But I love how not getting what you want at the time, can lead to bigger and better things down the road.

I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of silver linings — and that attitude got me where I am today.

In my research on Clif Bar, I came across that quote from Kit Crawford — and it embodies all that I discovered about the company.

And lo and behold, “honest in the little things, honest in the big things” — is entirely about habit.

Whipping up this site has been a blast — like all the other projects that came before it. When I did my documentary, I had a vision of what I wanted — having no idea that it would evolve into what it did.

But I’ve always had a knack for finding the perfect person at just the right time for whatever I needed most. That’s when Shane Killian came along as my videographer — opening my eyes to a whole new world of possibility.

I was surprised to see that I Don’t Do Slogans got as much positive feedback as it did — since my scrutiny spares no one in the debauchery of platform politicking.

It seems that there are more people who share my concerns than I thought.

I was under the impression that Reddit was supposed to be a more serious-minded forum, but it’s just a long-form version of Twitter. When I posted my piece on Reddit, I got some karma points and it seemed exciting at first.

That high didn’t last long, and I doubt that I’ll ever post anything on there again — as it’s just more of the same certitude I’ve seen everywhere else.

But one very good thing came out of it

One person who responded reminded me of my approach to appreciating others. I’m including an excerpt from his comments below — to make a point about the praise (not to advertise it):

I want to thank you for giving these two in-depth responses – ones of immense quality and refinement. It must be draining to know that 99% of the time, people won’t read something so long – so well thought out – so in-depth. Thank you for doing it anyways. Just as writing these helps you refine your viewpoints, reading and responding to this helps me refine mine.

He’s 19 years old — and his outlook reflects the damage being done to the youth.

Sure, I dealt with some degree of that at his age — but nothing like what we are witnessing today. This “kid” shows a level of maturity and insight I rarely find, and I was nowhere near his writing ability at 19. But unrealistic or not, I had a lot more hope to build on back then.

So if I can play some small part in inspiring him (even to find good in the bad) — I’m certainly happy to do so.

I would add that I make a point of telling this “kid” to follow his own path.

We don’t talk policy and I don’t steer him in any direction other than to be intellectually honest, do right by your fellow man, and be willing to recognize when you don’t.

He’s already well on his way, as he admits to things in ways that adults almost never do.

He reads my writings and recognizes that he’s fallen into a few of the traps I’m talking about. I would never know if he didn’t tell me — but he’s tuned into what I learned long ago:

That acknowledging error is liberating and leads to enlightenment.

I continue to be amazed by this young man. He was all set to assist me by tracking down typos in Letter of the Law, but he had some things come up that thwarted his plans. Life got in the way — and yet despite his own struggles, he burdened himself with mine.

That’s all heart.

And all the more fitting — as he was the catalyst for One Voice Became Two. But that symbol is shared by others who offered kind words of encouragement. Most were short replies and others packed a punch with one line alone (including some high praise from the great Glenn Loury himself).

In the spirit of You Got Gold:

But you know a lot a little will do