The Sheepiest People Are the People Who Say Sheeple

Whenever a young one in my life calls people weirdo, I repeat this lesson:

You know who the weirdest people are? The people who call other people weirdos.

Despite the eye-rolling I get, I keep at it. This is useful information. It’s the wisdom of “It takes one to know one” put into practice. It also works in other formats:

  • You know who acts most like Nazis? The people who call other people Nazis.
  • You know who the least moral people are? The people who talk about morals all day.
  • You know who the gayest people are? The people who deny they’re gay the loudest.

For those on the internet, this works for anyone who uses the insult, “sheeple.”

  • You know who the sheepiest people are? The people who call other people sheeple.

In case you don’t know, a sheeple is a cross-breed between a human being and a “sheep.” That is, an unthinking beast devoid of critical thought who simply follows the herd.

I’m not sure how accurate this description of sheep is. I’ve never met a sheep. I’ve never hung out with them long enough to know if they are mindless herd followers. Yapping dogs corral them, so that tells me sheep can get rowdy and unruly. Otherwise, why the need for a distant relative of their predator to check them?

The biological accuracy of the insult isn’t relevant here. Let’s focus on my format for turning it on the accuser. When you call a person a sheep, you reveal that you are the sheep.

How? Because you’ve restricted your thoughts. People either agree with you, or they are foolish automatons. There’s no possibility they thought about something and came to a different conclusion.

The sheeple insult implies that individuality is the best and only strategy. That’s incorrect. Herds aren’t always bad. Herds help prey confuse predators. Unions, teams, squads, nations, armies, etc. are all forms of herds. Vaccinations work due to “herd immunity.”

The best defense against manipulation, against being a sheeple, is to admit that it is possible for you to be manipulated. Everyone is prideful and likes to think that they cannot taken by propaganda. Everyone wants to be the mental bad-ass who can never be out-smarted or conned.

The truth is that we can all be tricked. The best way to resist propaganda is to acknowledge that it may influence you. Only then will you accept that you may need to rethink things. If other people are sheeple but you’re right all the time, then there’s no need for you to review your ideas, and you might as well be yet another religious extremist.

If you think you’re the infallible lord of free-thought, then you lack the humility to sustain free thought. Not only will you fail to avoid being a sheep, you’ll also end up being a jackass.

Weaponized Humor and The Boy Who Cried “I’m Offended!”

Let’s start with a review of The Boy Who Cried Wolf fable. It goes like this: a boy kept warning a village of a wolf, but he was lying. Then one day an actual wolf attacked and when the boy shouted his warning, everyone ignored him. So he got eaten.

Or something like that. You get the idea. Too many false alarms and people ignore all alarms and they get burnt.

A less obvious lesson? Consider checking out every alarm, even when you’ve dealt with a lot of bogus ones. As for me, I always look into what my dogs are barking at, even though they’re usually just barking to bark. Why? Because every monster movie has a scene where the dog is barking a warning and their human yells for quiet. The human ends up eaten.

So far, no monsters have eaten me. Witness my wisdom.

Remember when car alarms first came out? They were going off by accident all the time. In fact, I once volunteered as a lookout for a car thief so he could steal the car and stop the noise. (Just kidding. Or am I?)

False-alarm numbness is everywhere. To a degree, it’s necessary. Our attention economy means every idea doesn’t just fight for notice. Every idea needs a sex tape. (Surreal metaphor level: Expert.)

People who say they’re offended all the time think they’re doing good, sticking up for the little guy. Sometimes they are. But under an avalanche of “I’m offended” it’s tempting to ignore them all. The solution for complainers? Pick your battles. Don’t whine about everything that annoys you and think you’re Dr. King reborn. For the listener? Develop a filter. If someone is whining about poor word choices, jokes, or cartoons, I move on. If someone is actually injured then I listen to a complaint.

Here’s another source of false-alarm numbness: Conspiracy theorists. These folks don’t believe “shit happens.” Shit never just happens! It’s coordinated by politicians on a conference call with their alien buddies. Conspiracies exist, but for a theory to be plausible, it must be based in realism. Faced with many absurd theories, it’s easy to laugh at them all. Which is exactly what the bad guys want. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a conspiracy peddler is trying to alert you or is actually a double agent. Are they flooding the idea space with theories to wake people up or numb them?

I saved the most haunting aspect for last. Propagandists exploiting your false-alarm numbness reflex to manipulate your beliefs. The brilliant documentary Hot Coffee illustrates this. Lobbyists wanted to limit damage (tort) lawsuits against corporations. So they liked (and perhaps facilitated) misconceptions of the famous McDonald’s spilled coffee case. If people believed all lawsuits were frivolous they would support laws restricting damages. Most disturbing? The method for pushing this meme was via lame jokes. The bastards took humor and weaponized it.

All I ask is that you don’t put your brain on auto-pilot. Don’t be gullible, don’t be dismissive. Be choosy when you laugh at complaints, conspiracy theories and lawsuits. Someday you might be the one crying wolf, and the wolf would love for everyone to ignore you.

Grid Solitaire the game!

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Grid Solitaire ©2016 by Larry Nocella
Play Grid Solitaire on Facebook for free NOW! (must be logged in to Facebook) [More platforms coming soon!]

About
Grid Solitaire is a unique game that combines the strategy of dominoes! Race against the clock to fill a grid with cards. You start with a standard 52 card deck and must fill out a grid, but can only place a card next to another that matches its suit or face value. (No diagonals.) The more cards that match next to a placed card, the more points you score. You also get a huge bonus for filling the board. Fast, easy and addictive, Grid Solitaire is perfect for a few moments of fun. Play Grid Solitaire today!

Play Grid Solitaire on Facebook for free NOW! (must be logged in to Facebook) [More platforms coming soon!]

Design Notes
I’m endlessly fascinated with the traditional 52 card deck, and the infinite number of games that can come from it. With one little pack of cards you have thousands of games in your hand. It’s amazing. The art of the cards is always intriguing as well. So I set out to make my own game. The advantage of playing a game on a device is you can incorporate timers and automated scoring. Even so, Grid Solitaire can be played with a card deck free of any electronics. Just fill the nine by five grid before you run out of cards. Enjoy!

Privacy Policy
Neither the free nor premium app needs any of your private information. Neither Larry Nocella nor QECE Publishing want your private info. We just want you to have fun and hope you do! Thank you.

Feedback & Support
If you have any feedback, positive (thanks) or negative (please be constructive) I’d like to hear it. Of course, reporting any bugs you notice would be appreciated as well. Please email support(at)LarryNocella.com.

Sheep Shifter the game!

Sheep Shifter ©2015 by Larry Nocella

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Latest
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About
Sheep Shifter is a fun puzzle strategy game for all ages with 40 fun levels! If you like Angry Birds, you’ll LOVE Sheep Shifter! Links to play the game through your PC or download it to your mobile device are here:
Facebook (free) | iTunes (99c) | iTunes (free with ads) | Google Play (99c) | Google Play (free with ads)

Design Notes
In developing Sheep Shifter, I had a few goals besides the obvious of making a fun game.

First, I wanted to make a game with puzzles that could be solved in different ways. I love games that aren’t locked into one method, but as long as you solve the puzzle, you get the win.

Second, I wanted players to appreciate possessing a team with different talents. I’m a sucker for team stories and games, where each of the team members has a specific, distinct, unique talent that makes the team greater than its members. In video games this usually emerges as one strong and slow character, one weak but fast one, then a couple other characters with skills specific to the team environment (such as pilot, or magician, or mechanic, etc.)

Third, I wanted people to appreciate friends. No one gets by without the aid of others. And everyone has something to contribute. I wanted to show the value of friendship, of helping each other out, of having people apply properly for a common goal.

Maybe these goals were a little ambitious for a small game, but I like to think big. I hope you enjoy the results.

Feedback & Support
If you have any feedback, positive (thanks) or negative (please be constructive) I’d like to hear it. Of course, reporting any bugs you notice would be appreciated as well. Please email support(at)LarryNocella.com.

Playing the Game
Sheep needs your help getting to the apple, but can’t do it alone. Use the elephant, hippo, lion, and wombat to assist. Each animal has a different power that you need to use to win. Levels often provide more than one solution, allowing for creative problem-solving. The fewer animals you drop into play the better your rating. Can you get three stars on each level! Sure you can! You’re a Sheep Shifter! The game has a built-in tutorial to show you how to play, or you can experiment on your own. Once a level is unlocked you can play it again, so have fun!

Privacy Policy
Neither the free nor premium app needs any of your private information. Neither Larry Nocella nor QECE Publishing want your private info. We just want you to have fun and hope you do! Thank you.

No “Straw Man” Policy

One of the core approaches to Beanie Copter Philosophy is a “no straw man” policy. No, I’m not prejudiced against the character from the Wizard of Oz. I hate that whole damn annoying movie.

I’m referring to straw man arguments. That’s when you quote the weakest part of an opposing opinion, and attack it. You obviously win. Then you parade around like you just scored a touchdown as well as demolished the argument. It’s like a child pretending he hit the game-winning home run.

As adults this tactic is used to sell a point of view, because they assume you won’t think about it and will be impressed with the mental ass-whompin’ just put on that argument.

But if you’re genuinely interested in the truth, it’s more useful to do the opposite: Consider the strongest part of an opposing argument. Of course you can have bias, as long as you recognize it.

For example, I would be overjoyed if it were true that by following a vegan diet, you’re guaranteed to live healthier and longer. That’s just not the case. You may increase your odds, and a vegan diet is less impactful on the earth, but you’re not going to die right away if you eat meat. I can understand in urgency or zealousness to stop animal suffering you may claim that, but to me, there are far too many meat-eating human beings who have lived very long for that to ring true.

So if you’re trying to promote a point of view (and I am biased toward a vegan diet, because why not have a more compassionate world?) it’s best to stick to where your argument is a clear undisputed winner. Considering vegan vs. carnivore for longevity offers no guarantees either way as far as I know, but there’s no denying a plant-based diet uses less resources and is a softer impact on our precious planet.

The point is, if you’re only about selling stuff, straw men are your pals, but if you’re serious about finding answers, run your beliefs against the toughest arguments. That’s where you’ll learn more about yourself and your own biases and get closer to the truth.

A Different Kind of Gun Victim

When you think of someone as devoid of humanity, you lose a bit of your own. Unless of course that person is truly a monster, like say, one who eats pizza with a fork.

So to stay human I try my darnedest to understand. That’s why I sympathize with someone who buys a gun for self-defense despite disagreeing with the purchase. We live in a scary-ass world. It makes sense to want protection. The problem as I see it? The facts show that a self-defense firearm actually puts you in greater danger. If you Google it and you’re honest, you can find a lot to support that. Here’s another link to get you started.

I was once the victim of a violent mugging, and I considered getting a weapon, but decided against it. I consider folks who rush out to buy a self-defense gun as a kind of victim. They are driven by fear to make a feel-good but counter-productive decision. They are the prey of a marketing trick as old as humanity that goes like this: “Buy our product, believe what we say, or you’re going to die.”

Of course, since we’re talking about odds, once in a while, a gun WILL help you instead of harm you. Just like how every now and then, someone uses their goddamn turn signal. Most of the time, though, such events are the stuff of fantasy.

If you play the overwhelming odds, owning a gun increases your chances of dying by gunshot. Push past the fear and get to the facts. The best way to reduce your chance of dying by firearm is to keep guns out of your home. That’s why the gun lobby works so hard to block gun research data. They don’t want any facts to exist beyond the reflexive fear.

All this said, I still want to concede that private gun ownership is a personal choice, like choosing your favorite color. The key difference is chartreuse won’t ever be stolen, discovered by a child, or used accidentally to tragic ends.

Related: a while back, I went on a bender of donating to charities. My mailbox was soon filled with further requests for money. Nearly all these pleas appealed to fear. If I didn’t give, the earth would melt. The animals would suffer. People would starve. Freedom would rot. Sometimes the warning included a call to arms that also worked as a guilt-trip worthy of any elderly aunt: If you don’t, who will? Wow. You guys are sending this to me and only me? I could be a hero? All for slapping one of these suggested amounts on my credit card? What about “other?” Can I still be a hero if I donate an “other” amount?

I tossed them all out and was more judicious about my donations. I focused more on groups that spoke clearly about what they accomplished rather than scaring me. Fear is sometimes appropriate, but not all warnings are created equal. Some are real: you might get shot. Some are not: the president is not likely to dispatch special forces to surround your house, steal your guns and scare away your cat.

Ultimately, I resist the idea that my mental state is something to be manipulated for the purpose of improving sales, no matter what the cause or product. That approach has given me more peace of mind than any weapon under my pillow ever could.

So What Is Beanie Copter Philosophy?

I like to call it BCP for short. First, the whole point of the beanie copter is so I don’t take myself too seriously. The unfortunate side-effect is it makes others not take me seriously, but I suppose I have to live with that.

Emma Goldman said, if I can’t dance I don’t want to be a part of your revolution. I agree in a similar sense, but a broader scope. If I can’t have fun, then I don’t want to be a part of your world. Too much damage has been done to the world by overly serious people. Too many people get serious and forget about the beauty joy and wonder of life. Sure, some things are serious, but we don’t have to be miserable our whole lives. Over-seriousness and misery walk together.

Plus, how cool is it when some self-important jerk gets intellectually torched by a person in a beanie copter? It’s fun. But we must stay humble. That’s what it’s all about.

Generally speaking, BCP focuses on how philosophy can help our daily lives. If it isn’t useful, BCP doesn’t want to deal with it. And there’s a lot that’s called philosophy that isn’t useful. That takes us back to the overly serious aversion. So in a nutshell, BCP is about observing life, making some thoughts but overall being humble. You can’t help but be humble wearing a beanie copter! If you’d like to, go ahead and wear one yourself.

For all blog entries regarding BCP, click here.

Back In the Game!

I’ve taken a break from blogging for a while, but I feel the need to get back in it. The reasons are two-fold. First, I have adjusted my attitude. I used to push myself too hard, turning the joy of reaching out and exchanging ideas and debating into a chore. Second, we are approaching another presidential election here in the USA and there seems to be a lot of unchallenged foolish, delusional and downright cruel rhetoric. The world needs a hero again. Let’s be that hero.

Okay, maybe that’s a little… how do you say… a little MUCH. Let’s just do the best we can. Add our voices and our humor to push back against the foolishness and jerkitude. Fire up those beanie copters, team, we’re about to take off!