“No Condemnation vs “No Judgement”

People say “No Judgement” all the time when they want you to answer a question that might illicit a response that isn’t politically correct. Get you to admit you do something out of the mainstream.

But the reality is you are going to be judged. Matter of fact you might be judged more positively if you admit you are gay, or listen to Britney Spears or Nickleback.

So let’s just say what we really mean.

No Condemnation

What the person is really saying is they won’t condemn you for that admission. You can be gay or like any music and I won’t condemn you, think badly of you, or say hurtful words to you.

Some Extra Thoughts

Why shouldn’t we judge? In American culture it is a basic value you shouldn’t judge people. Where did that come from? I’m pretty sure the admonition against judgement is related to Jesus’s command not to judge people. Only he really didn’t say that exactly.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Jesus, Matt 7:1-2

What he’s really saying is be careful when you judge others because you’ll get judged just as harshly when it is your turn.

PS. This is a slightly different kind of Word Hack. It is a poor word usage. I’ll occasionally include one of these because I don’t like the misuse of the word. “Vagina” is like that. Should I write its misuse a Word Hack? Comment below.

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It’s All Costume

Costume is used as a synonym for dress by those who work in the museum field and by many scholars who study historic dress.

Survey of Historic Costume by Phyllis G. Tortora & Keith Eubank

All fashion/style is a costume.

Thinking of what you wear as a costume is a powerful distinction. It gives it a purpose and a meaning. In Style As Linguistics, Poetry & Philosophy I discussed a number of ways of looking at style, but thinking of them as costume helps combine those aspects into a practical framework you can use day to day.

But what is a costume?

“Some scholars prefer the use of the word dress because to many people costume means dress used in the theater or in dance or for masquerade.”* But to me that is what makes the term useful.

In theater costume does all kinds of things. It tells you who a character is. It is an expression of their personality. It shows how they fit in to all the other characters they are on stage with. It changes from scene to scene as needed to communicate their changing role. It adds to the overall feel of the whole production, like the set, music, and production design. It intentionally draws your eye, or avoids drawing your eye.

That’s an important word intentionally.

Intentionally Pick Your Costume For The Day

A costume designer is very intentional about every costume. They are looking at all the things that costume has to do. All the meanings it has to accomplish. How it fits into the broader play. Nothing is left to chance. Even when they have to make compromises because of constraints, those compromises are thought about and done intentionally.

Your costume selection should also be done with intention. There are some hacks that you can do to make this easier, but you need to actually think about your costume before you put it on.

Let’s talk about a few aspects that affect daily costume.


There is a joke/troup that goes something like this, “Future Ron is going to be pissed at me now for being lazy about this.” We snort at the irony, but all of us understand there really is a difference between who we are one day to the next, and that difference gets bigger over time.

We all also understand on a daily basis we may be in different contexts that require us to be different people. You have to act differently at work than at the bar on Friday night. There are things you can say on Friday you can’t say on Monday morning. There are things you can do at a bar, you can’t do at an office.

And you wear different clothes at a bar and at the office.

One of the things you must ask yourself in the morning as you dress is “Who do I have to be today?”

In some cases your costume will be dictated by outside constraints, but even when it is you can still vary it to accomplish other goals.


What do you want to accomplish with your costume today?

If you are going to work at an office, do you want to not be noticed? Do you want to seem like the guy in charge? Or maybe you just want to be seen as competent.

If you are going out in the evening, what’s your goal? Do you want to attract a potential partner? What kind of parter? This a quick hot hook up? Then dress for sexual attraction with little worry about subtlety. Want to attract a boyfriend or girlfriend? Then while expressing your sexual qualities add some subtlety that explains you aren’t just looking for a one night stand.

What you want to accomplish in a given context and on a given day makes a big difference to your costume.

Those are a couple of things to think about when considering your costume for the day and I’ll have many other distinctions related to personal style and costume in the future, but they all fall under the idea that it is all a costume, so I’ll leave you with a quote from Rush or Shakespeare, you decide.

All the world’s indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another’s audience

Limelight Rush

*Survey of Historic Costume by Phyllis G. Tortora & Keith Eubank

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Replace Your Socks

“Throw out all your socks. Every last one. Now go buy new pairs that actually match and don’t have holes in them.”

– Neil Strauss, NYT Best Selling Author

If your socks are more than 6 months old toss them and buy new ones. Yes all of them.

6 months is a guideline. It depends on how often you wear a given pair of socks. If you are wearing them more than once a week, they won’t last long. If you have a lot of socks they might last longer.

If they have holes in them toss them.

If you don’t know when you last bought socks…then it is time to replace them.


Things wear out. The problem is we don’t notice the little, everyday things we are putting a lot of wear and tear on. So these things, like you favorite pair of shoes, or your socks, are probably way past their dead date. We’re waiting for them to fail in some dramatic fashion before we get rid of them. Truth is they’ve stopped doing their best for us long before they fail on us.

Socks are a great example to prove this point. Just do the experiment. Get rid of your old socks and get new ones. Socks don’t cost that much so your risk isn’t that high. I believe you’ll notice the difference immediately. Your feet will let you know how much they love you as soon as the new socks encase them.


Lots of other things wear out and we don’t notice. This is especially true for everyday things. Here’s a few things that you may be using that have worn out.

Shoes. According to REI “As a general rule, most running and walking shoes last up to 500 miles.”. If you are relatively sedentary you’re probably doing about a mile a day. Which means if you wear a shoe every day that’s a couple of years. If you are active doing say 2-3 miles a day, they wear out in a year.

Chairs. Speaking of sedentary. How old is your desk chair? I remember a joke at one office I worked at. When someone quit, we’d see who got to their chair first because it didn’t have the same butt print in it. That means the padding on our chairs – where we were spending 6-8 hours a day in, were so worn the foam was conformed to our derrières. This is also true of car seats.

Underwear. If your feet are ecstatic about new socks, what about the other parts of your body strapped into the same garments week after week. Guys, the boys will thank you. Ladies, the girls will be much happier in a new home.

Photo by Michael Wright on Unsplash

Photo by Cem-Marvin von Hagen on Unsplash

Aesthetically Pleasing Tools

Are you getting ready to make a persuasive piece of content? A flyer for your club? A PowerPoint presentation for a speech? A YouTube Video? A blog post that needs a featured image?

If you are here are some resources available to you that can make you look great and help you avoid ugliness.
Free high-quality photographs. Almost all of DFLs toolbox post images are from here.
For developing color schemes
Design starting points. Includes a basic Brand Book.
Adobe’s free design tool like Canva. Includes video.
More free design resources
Unique business cards where you can have multiple backs.

Photo by Cem-Marvin von Hagen on Unsplash


Constraints, A Key To Creative Expression.

I recently created a budget and it made me more stylish.

Every medium has constraints.

I once heard an interview with the TV Writer and Creator of Babylon 5 J. Michael Strasinzki. During that interview he was asked about the fact that TV programs have been getting shorter over the years as more time is dedicated to commercials. He pointed out every medium has its constraints, including television. The shortening of total program time was just a new change.

He went on to talk about the fact commercial breaks are a defining constraint of TV writing. Movies don’t have to stop in the middle at least four times. But he went on to say this constraint can be a spur to creativity. A TV writer must learn to tell a story in pieces. Four for an “hour” long show. Similar to the way plays have three acts. It is just a different way to tell a story.

He also thought it created a better writer because you had to learn how to make people stick around. Imagine I had to stop writing right now and let you read someone elses highly crafted commercial message. All it would take is a twitch of your finger to get 100 other things you could read? I’d better write something you are hooked on and want to come back to.

A constraint can make you better because you have to overcome a barrier.

A constraint also helps you focus on what could be.  Blaise Pascal is quoted as saying, “Sorry for writing such a long letter, but I don’t have time to write something short.” It is much harder to write something short than long

A constraint by its definition eliminates things you can do. Those are things you don’t have to consider. In public speaking it is often easier to do a longer speech because you include everything on the subject you can think of. A shorter speech requires you to find what is most important and focus on that. By doing so you get a stronger more concise message.

This kind of constraint is why my budget made me more stylish. Or why a diet might make you a better cook.

You’d think having a budget would be foundational for someone interested in personal development, but I’ve never had one that I followed. Instead I have used constant, threshold based monitoring to stay out of debt. That’s a subject for another post though. Recently I decided I need to have a budget so in an uncertain future I’d have a little surity.

One of the things I learned when creating this budget was how much I was spending on clothing. I didn’t want to make an unrealistic budget, so I looked as where I was spending money last year. New clothes were in my top 4 categories. Then I look at my closet and noticed how few of the things there I’m willing to wear at all, or don’t wear on a regular basis. Clearly I have a selection problem.

I was working on a philosophy of clothing selection in my head for awhile. Some distinction, question, algorithm that would tell me when I should and shouldn’t buy a new piece of clothing. I came up with a few new ideas and I’ll share those in style hacks.

But the solution to my problem was my budget.

You see once I said you can only spend $200 per month on clothes, every choice became much more important. Those awesome Thursday Boots I wanted…that’s a month’s budget. That Robert Graham shirt I need for an event? Well it ate a significant portion of February’s budget. Now I have even less.

The monetary constraint of my budget made me think about each thing I could buy. Where is it going to fit in my overall wardrobe? How often can I use this once piece? (Cost per wear).

In the same way, a diet makes you consider everything that goes into your mouth. Detailed tracking of calories makes you have to choose if that thing you want to eat on the spur of the moment is really worth not eating anything else for the rest of the day. Or is that cookie worth dropping out of ketosis for 24 hours?

Not all Constraints are Limits

When I decided to write about distinctions I put a constraint in my head. Main Distinction posts had to be over 500 words.

You see I didn’t want to write the first thing that came to mind. I wanted to dig into the idea. Also if I can explain the concept in a couple hundred words or less, then it isn’t really a Distinctions with a capital D. It’s a life hack.

Such a constraint is much harder than a limit. It doesn’t eliminate as many options. It requires diligence and discipline to not to just pad to reach the word count. But it produces a better piece of work.

So the next time you are complaining about how some limitation is a pain, reconsider and see if that constraint is actually making you better.

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