Tag Archives: culture

Software License Culture

28 Oct

The other day I saw a really funny quote that made me think:

To most Christians, the bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it, they just scroll through it and hit ‘I agree’.”

While I agree that the majority of religious people in this country don’t actually give their faith much critical thought, I think this type of behavior extends beyond just religion. “Software license behavior” seems to affect every walk of life. Liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, and even atheists. You see this type of behavior even in areas outside of religion and politics. How often do people just flip through cell phone contracts, or medical papers, any type of form with content that requires critical analysis, and simply sign without reading?

I feel like it’s endemic to our life style. “I’m in a hurry, I just want to get in and out, I don’t have time to sit down and read all this crap. If it’s bad I’m sure I would have heard about it; I don’t want to make the effort to think.” It’s laziness pure and simple. We’re too focused on the here and now to worry much about the future. We tell ourselves we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, and that gives us the comforting delusion that we needn’t worry. Meanwhile, the average credit card in America is $15,788.

It has consequences! Yeah the cell phone salesman, the car dealer, or the medical secretary might get impatient if you take the time to read through the paperwork before you sign, but look what’s at stake! Is not making them frustrated worth all the harsh consequences you’ll have to deal with down the road? Of course not, so tell them to suck it up. But I’ve digressed from my original reason for posting this.

So given this software license laziness in our culture, I’m really surprised that when it comes to things that matter, big picture things like politics and religion; people will go out of their way to defend a position they were too lazy to even study in the first place! (Now again, this is a human thing so it affects everybody, but it has been my experience that this type of behavior tends to disproportional affect conservative religious types)

The bible and the constitution are perfect examples. Both are seen as sacred documents, and both are idolized by the conservative movement in this country. The funny thing is, it appears the conservative movement, despite worshiping these two texts, has never bothered to actually read them.

There is a little saying within the atheist community: “The bible is the greatest tool for making atheists.” Religious groups love to gloss over the bible and cherry pick the parts that best fit their agenda. There are hundreds of disgusting and disturbing passages in the bible that you’ll never hear in church, or hear a politician spouting. (Google them) If someone actually took the time to read the bible cover to cover, they’d see that the “good book” is anything but good.

Lately there have been a rash of conservative candidates around the country attacking the separation of church and state. They cite the constitution and claim that the concept is absent. Obviously many of them haven’t even read the document. Christine O’Donnell, the lovely theocrat from Delaware, apparently had no idea what the first amendment contained. “Where in the constitution is the phrase ‘separation of church and state’?” How about this? Where in the bible is the phrase “personal relationship with Jesus?” Apparently the Texas school board, while rewriting history books to fit their conservative christian agenda, was furious that the first amendment lessons completely ignored gun rights! The damn liberal conspiracy erased gun rights from the first amendment. Psst! Hey stupid, read the second amendment! These people get all fired up over facts they have completely wrong because they didn’t bother to read the facts in the first place. Furthermore, this ignorance is seen as a virtue! The less you know, the less you’re corrupted by that reality and its liberal bias.

I weep for humanity…


Nationality doesn’t matter

20 Sep

Nationality shouldn’t matter any more than sports teams matter. I’m not saying we should dissolve all the countries in the world, I recognize that they serve a purpose, but I don’t think they’re as important as they once were. Every year as technology increases and the world shrinks, boundaries between nations mean less and less. Hopefully someday they will mean nothing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to have pride in your country, just like you might have pride in a sports team. Yet like in sports there is a problem when you want to inflict physical violence on another person solely because they are a fan of another sports team.

One of the best experiences of my life so far has been a summer long study abroad trip to the UK. It was an international school with many programmes and I was in the archaeology programme. There are two moments that really struck me. At the start of the programme we had an ice breaker night where everybody got together at a small party and we played team games. There were students from India, German, France, Spain, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Holland, United Arab Emirates, Czech Republic, Ireland, Austria, Italy, everywhere.

One of the games we played at the ice breaker game was a starring contest of sorts. The object of the game was to make the other person laugh. Everyone looked so serious. The easiest way to stay serious is to think about serious things, so I imagined everybody was thinking of things like the other person’s country’s past. Almost all of our countries had come in conflict with each other at one point or another in the past, so I assumed people were focusing on that to keep a serious face while staring straight into the eyes of their opponent. The thought made me uncomfortable.

Over the course of the following weeks we all got to know each other, we became friends. On a couple of occasions my Spanish, German, Irish, and Indian friends and I would get together for dinner. We’d meet over at someone’s place and all cook. It was amazing. The second moment I was talking about, but the one that had the greatest impact on me, came one night while we were all out at a pub.

Sitting there in a corner, nursing a drink, I looked around at all my friends. A Dutch and Spanish friend were dancing to the music near our tables; their countries had fought a brutal war centuries ago, Spain almost wiping my Dutch friend’s country off the map. My other Spanish friend was chatting with my Irish friend. Next to them was my English friend. Ireland and England have a long and bloody history, and Spain almost wiped England off the map in the 16th century. Near him was my French friend who was chatting to the Egyptian student. France had conquered and subdued Egypt, just like the British. My French and English friend, their countries had tried to kill each other for centuries. My German friends were also having a beer with me. WWI, WWII? Same goes for my Italian friend. All of our countries had dark interwoven pasts. We had all fought with each other at some point. 60-70 years ago we might have been trying to slit each other’s throats, yet here we were, in a pub, laughing and chatting together as friends. This realization hit me like a bucket of water, and I sat there for a bit just taking it all in. Despite all the hatred, horrors, and crimes of the past here we were as friends. Nationalities didn’t matter to us. All that mattered was that we were 20 somethings in another country for the summer, all experiencing the same thing, all of us friends. It was one of the greatest and happiest moments of my life.

I think it sometimes takes an experience like that, prolonged contact with people from different cultures, to realize that we’re all essentially the same. Yes we may look slightly different, wear different clothes, eat different foods, and speak different languages, but all this is superficial. We’re all people with the same needs, worries, fears, and hopes as everyone else. I think it’s easy to forget that when you’re in your own country, flooded by the fear and “us vs them” mentality of the news media.

America: Should I stay or should I go?

18 Jun

This is a very hard post for me to write. These issues have been ricocheting around in my brain for a couple of months now, I thought writing them down would help me figure it all out. I’ve tried writing this entry several times but I could never really collect all my thoughts and try to get across what it is exactly I have to say. You see, I am at a turning point in life. The number of potential paths I could go down is paralyzing huge. This post is to help me figure out which one of those paths to go down. This is not a post to figure out who I am. I think I know that already, so don’t try and tell me I don’t, or that I need to change.

My situation:

I know who I am. I know the difference between right and wrong, justice and injustice and I am passionate about those differences. I am a fighter. I also have a martyr streak. I consider myself noble. You may think this is arrogant and self-righteous, but then you can take your namby pamby do-nothing ass home and continue to leech off of the benefits given to you by the sweat and blood of others.

I find myself living everyday in a state of moral outrage. Yes, there are times when I may be fine, but that is just because I have temporarily forgotten how fucked up the world is.

This country is especially fucked up.

The top 1% of the country’s wealthiest citizens own more than the bottom 90% combined.

Our military, made up of some of the best men and women our country has to offer, is run by useless scumbag politicians who will gladly throw our soldiers in harms way like disposable pawns while they sit in fancy restaurants licking their fat little greasy fingers. The Iraq war taught me that a government will gladly lie to its people in order to accomplish a predetermined goal, the facts be damned. They will even go as far as exposing secret agents and black mailing anyone who dare blow the whistle. Meanwhile our families die to increase their bottom lines.

The whole culture of “self-reliance” in this country is just a euphemism for “Fuck you; I’m out to get mine!” Here it is all about the self. The fact that we’re the only industrialized nation in the world without universal healthcare speaks to our self-centeredness. We aren’t willing to help our neighbor when they get sick because after all, what’s in it for me?

The most important thing about life that I have learned so far is that there are people in the world who don’t care about reality. These people have made up their minds that something is true and will not tolerate any attempts to tell them otherwise. They are impervious to reason, impervious to discussion, impervious to facts. They will believe whatever the hell they want to believe, no matter what you do. These people permeate this country.

They permeate our religious institutions, our school boards, our businesses, and our government on every level. These people are idiots. They get ahead by telling other idiots what they want to hear. Every major fuckup this country has gone through can be attributed in part to these idiots. The Challenger shuttle exploding because these idiots ignored ground crew who warned about frozen O-rings on the gas tanks, the idiots who ignored the intelligence and international community when they were told Iraq did not have WMD’s, the idiots who ignored warnings about the levies in New Orleans, the idiots who allowed the deregulation of the banking industry, creating the greatest economic crash since the great depression. The idiots that felt it was a good idea to skip on safety for BP oil rigs, causing an environmental disaster of apocalyptic proportions. Idiots are EVERYWHERE. They will continue to fuck everything up as long as we tolerate people who deny reality. And we will continue to tolerate it. Why?

Because the American people as a whole are fat, stupid, superstitious, uneducated, and have the memory of a goldfish. Just turn on any major television news network. Hell, just turn on television period. Everything is dumbed down to 5th grade level in an effort to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It’s business, and it makes us all morons. When the media is not being spoon fed shit and fear from politicians trying to manipulate a gullible, scared populous, we are being fed a large helping of distractions, be it sports, decorating shows, or dancing with the stars. If you actually paid attention to everything that was going on in the country and the world, you’d want to blow your head off; and I’ve thought about doing just that on several occasions.  The rest of the population doesn’t care because they’re being entertained. It doesn’t matter what a politician says or does because oh look! American Idol is on! Yeah some might be outraged, but they will slowly be drowned out by the grinding of the corporate noise machine.

There is a war being waged on intelligence in this country by stupid. Stupid is winning and gaining ground because they have numbers on their side, and in a democracy, numbers are all that count. Apparently they think they can legislate on reality. Don’t like evolution? Well we’ll just pass a bill saying it doesn’t exist. Don’t like the idea that the earth revolves around the sun? We can fix that with a bill too! What a circus of clowns…

It is a fact of life that religion makes a country worse. All the most religious places in the world are shitholes. The US is no exception. You know why? Because religion is full of idiots. Idiots ignore reality for comfortable delusions. Don’t like sex? Ban birth control! More teen pregnancies and subsequently more abortions? You don’t say…. Religion is also antithetical to human rights. Women are cattle and gays should be stoned. It’s in your holy book, and if you’re just ignoring the bits you don’t like, why not just throw the whole religion out and just call yourself a community center? Because at that point you just have to admit you’re making shit up (not that you weren’t before) and just picking whatever feels good.

The religion in this country is unbearable for me. Driving up to DC, 700 miles, 3 states, I saw 9 religious billboards. Many of these billboards told me I was a sinner and that I was going to hell. These billboards are fine, but the moment an Atheist puts up a billboard saying “There probably is no god, so stop worrying and enjoy life”, people cry hate speech and it’s taken down. The same thing happened when Atheists ran a bus ad here saying “Just be good for goodness sake”. I can’t run for public office and be open about my Atheism, I can’t mention it in a mixed crowd without being attacked, politicians go out of their way to disown me, and the media demonizes me. If you’re not an Atheist living in America, you can’t really comprehend what it’s like. If you are and you just roll your eyes whenever another Atheist complains about being a second class citizen, what the fuck is wrong with you!

Just as there is a war by stupid on intelligence, stupid is also waging a war on history. Fact: this country was founded by a bunch of deists (non-christians) who went out of their way to escape the church/state entanglements of Europe. Despite this, stupid is determined to re-write history to paint the founders as a bunch of evangelical christians who signed the constitution on the shroud of Turin. Lets put god in our pledge, on our money, in our government meetings, and force children to pray to him! Meanwhile the country keeps going down the shitter. Stupid never bothers to take his head out of his ass and see that religion only makes things worse. He never bothers to see who Atheistic Europe is doing a hell of a lot better than the theocratic hell holes like the Middle East. Trying to emulate Saudi Arabia will not make out country any better. But there is no telling stupid that.

Everyday I read the news it’s revealed another religious leader has raped a child, swindled his flock out of millions, or somehow otherwise abused the position of blind trust given to him by a gullible community of idiots. Every time they always use the same excuse: What? You would never suspect me! I’m a man of the cloth! I’d never! An Atheist definitely, but not a man of god like me! And stupid buys into it. Everyday there are stories like this. I’ve become numb to it. Stupid keeps committing crimes and human rights atrocities while blaming Atheists, and people in America swallow it, hook, line, and sinker.

It’s another fact of life that trying to stamp out a behavior by outlawing it or the symptoms will only make it worse and lead to more problems. Prohibition and the drug wars are fine, if exhausted, examples. Outlawing abortions is not going to stop it, it’s only going to deny a woman the right to her body. Outlawing gay marriage is not going to stop gays from falling in love and fucking, it’s only going to institutionalize discrimination and hate, preventing them from getting the same legal protection as heterosexual couples. But this country doesn’t get that because we’re stupid.

Our culture is so fucked up. Look at our media for example. Sex is a no no, but violence is ok. (Hmmm, I wonder if religion and sexual repression has something to do with that). We would rather have children watch programs where people murder other people, but heaven forbid they see a woman’s breasts!!! Europe has this the other way around. They have nude beaches, we have school shootings. Being in the US also limits your cultural exposure. In Europe there are plenty of cultures crammed in right next to one another. Cross pollination if great. There is so much more you can experience. Here, Hollywood and American artists drown everything out. Foreign films? What’s that? Oh, I have to read subtitles while watching it? I don’t want to have to read…. Foreign song writers? I can’t understand what they’re saying, plus, why would I want to listen to them when I have Nickelback, Miley Cyrus, and Garth Brooks?

Even our eating habits in America are messed up! We’re the fattest nation on the planet! Yeah, bounce around with that little “We’re #1” foam finger, lets see how long till you’re out of breath and want a hot dog. Stupid: “I’ve got an idea! Lets revamp our food industry around cheap processed foods that are as healthy for you as smoking crack, and then top it off by eating the biggest meal of the day right before we go to bed!” Is it any wonder why we have so many health problems in this country? It would be one thing if everyone could get help, but fuck my neighbo…oh wait, sorry, I mean “Go rugged individualism!”

I despise the party system in this country. A parliamentary system is much better at representing the will of the people as a whole, but no, we get stuck with two choices: shit and shit. What if you don’t fit neatly into the party line? What if you agree with a party on some issues, but disagree with a party on another? Well unless you can get enough people to back you and change the party line, you’re fucked. And getting enough people to change the entrenched parties is extremely unlikely.

So for the most part I guess you could say that I hate America, but this is not entirely true. There are two things I love about this country: Our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Constitution established a secular government, free of religious entanglements, and the Bill or Rights is supposed to protect the human rights of all citizens. It’s stupid that I hate, and stupid’s war on everything that is right and good in this country. Over the past two centuries stupid, and its vast numbers, have managed to make this country shit despite the Constitution and Bill of Rights trying to prevent them.

So I guess my question is this: Do I stay and fight for what this country was founded upon, or do I leave and let natural selection kill stupid off? Do I have a duty to fight? It seems like impossible odds! I feel that rational people were asleep at the wheel and stupid moved in to monopolize. I don’t know if fighting is worth it. I could just as easily move to a less fucked up country like Canada and just watch the US implode under the weight of stupid. (Something I am very seriously considering) I feel like staying is just an exercise in futility and masochism.

And that’s just America! The rest of the world can be even worse.  Stupid is  more dangerous and more powerful in countries not protected by constitutions and bill of rights like documents. I really makes me wonder if humanity is worth saving from itself. Is it? I don’t know.

On one hand we have an aptitude for killing one another, raping our planet, and making existence as shitty as possible. On the other hand there are some of us who have the capacity for great kindness. There is art. There is love.

Do the good qualities out weigh the bad? Life in the universe is so few and far between, would it be a shame if life on this planet was extinguished by our own stupidity? Is life here worth fighting for given our nature and the horrific things we do to one another?

Islam is in the dark ages.

31 May

Before you read this any further, ask yourself: Will I change my views if the evidence suggests otherwise? If no, then you might as well leave.

I am going to present some facts about Islam, then give you my conclusion at the end.

Islam. The very name means “submission”. Unlike in Judaism or Christianity, the relationship between god and worshiper is master/slave. You submit to Allah’s will.

Women are inferior to men in Islam:

2:223 Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye willQur’an (4:11) – (Inheritance) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females” (see also verse 4:176).

Qur’an (2:282) – (Court testimony) “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.”

Bukhari (6:301)“[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’  They replied in the affirmative.  He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence.’

Bukhari (6:301) – continued – “[Muhammad said] ‘Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religion.'” Allah has made women deficient in the practice of their religion as well, by giving them menstrual cycles.

Tabari Vol 9, Number 1754“Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals with you and do not possess anything for themselves.” From Muhammad’s ‘Farewell Sermon’.

(More verses here)

Women do not need to be present at their marriage for their fathers or brothers to marry them away.

Women often do not get to choose who and when they will be married.

They must submit to their husband’s sexual desires whenever he wills. (See 2: 223)

In Saudi Arabia, where Islam is applied to the letter, women are not allowed to leave the house without a male relative escorting them. They are not allowed to drive cars. They are not allowed to be anywhere unless they are being supervised by a man.

An-Nisa verse 34: “Men are the maintainers of women because God has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as God has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely God is High, Great”

Two words: Honor Killings

This is such an important issue in Islam today. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that around 5,000 women are brutally murdered each year by male relatives in an attempt to wash away some shame, usually the shame of the woman being raped. I cannot overstress the importance of this issue. I could write several blog posts on it, but the Middle East Forum did an interesting study here, with statistics and explanations. Some would argue that this has nothing to do with Islam, the evidence says otherwise.

Attacks on Free speech

Islam has a long history of threats, violence, and murder perpetrated against anyone who dare criticize it.  Salman Rushdie, Theo van Gogh, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, just to name a few resent people. Why is it only Islam seems to threaten and kill people over free speech? Why did the Vatican not issue a death warrant on Dan Brown? Why were there not riots in the streets by angry Catholics over The DaVinci Code? Why do Muslims en masse feel they need to riot, destroy buildings, burn books, and kill people over words or cartoons?

Fact: Pakistan shut down Facebook, youtube, and other internet sites over “Draw Muhammad Day”, an exercise in free speech created as a response to death threats for drawing a cartoon.

Fact: 9/11 was carried out expressly for religions reasons. Not for political reasons, not for economic reasons, religious reasons. It was a one way ticket to heaven.

Fact: Islamic countries score very poorly, as a whole, on the Human Development Index.

Fact: Muhammad was a pedophile.

In Islam, Muhammad is infallible. He sets up exact proscriptions on how to live, how to treat women, and what is permissible and what is forbidden. By doing this Islam has sealed itself in the world view of the 7th century Arabian desert.

My conclusion: All this considered, I see Islam as backwards and disgusting. It subjugates women, and violates human rights. Without undergoing its own enlightenment, as the West did, Islam truly is stuck in the dark ages. Unfortunately, people with this medieval mentality now have access to 21st century technology and weapons, developed by the West, with which they  use to wage holy war.

Am I saying Western culture is far superior? Yes and no. My culture has plenty of problems. It is far from perfect and there are many different ways to do things, which is fine. However, Islam has far more serious problems concerning basic human rights.

“Oh but GP, who are you to say that their culture is inferior?” The idea of basic human rights was developed in the West as a product of our combined experiences. We had gone through an enlightenment, where we freed our society from the absolutist shackles of religion, and began to experiment with how to create a better, more just world. The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights were one of the first great answers to that question. Even by the 18th century people in the West began to see that some practices were more conducive to human flourishing than others.  The violation of these practices and the horrendous slaughter of the 20th century only further compounded the importance of these rights. Thus the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was  developed. Human rights, if respected and adhered to, improve the lives of everyone, regardless of nationality, race, or religion.

To argue against human rights is to condemn generations of people in Islamic countries to lives of suffering, poverty, disease, and war. Don’t misunderstand me. The goal is not to eliminate Islam, merely to accelerate it’s enlightenment. Christianity and Judaism were not eliminated by the European enlightenment, and nor will Islam be. What matters is that they be lifted up out of the dark ages in order to free their men and women, and end the violence.

How do we do this? Violence is not the answer. We will not speed up an enlightenment through bombs or guns. This will only harden their ignorance and hatred towards us. We must speed it up through education. Where does education pay the most returns? Women. Educated women will be better able to stand up for their rights. Educated women will educate their children, who will then educate their children in return. It’s exponential. It will take some time, but it is the only way. If we do nothing, we can only expect to see more suicide bombers, more honor killings, more misery.

Christian Privilege

4 Feb

First let me define privilege.

Privilege is: About how society accommodates you. It’s about advantages you have that you think are normal. It’s about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It’s about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf. (Source)

This is usually (and rightly so) used when talking about Male Privilege or White Privilege.  These types of privilege are everywhere, but most evident in the media. My white male readers, stop and think about how many movie/books/video games are told either through the perspective of white male like yourself, or made with you in mind as the target audience? For many things in life, white male is the default.

I would like to argue that there is another type of privilege, at least in the United States; Christian Privilege.

America is an extremely religious country. 78.5% of the country alone is Christian. (source)  (The country’s constitution is secular, it’s people are not) Christian is the default. This is most evident at Christmas, the old pagan holiday adopted by early Christians and lately turned into a shopping orgy by corporations. Christmas Christmas Christmas! It’s EVERYWHERE! Everyone says “Merry Christmas!” as if everyone celebrated it. Nobody goes around on other holy days of the year saying “Merry _____”, just Christmas, because everyone assumes everyone else is Christian.

It’s common to just ask people if they go to church, assuming they’re Christian. Church is the norm. Our government starts meetings of congress with an opening prayer. The White House puts up a Christmas tree every year. People want to put religious monuments on public property. (What’s the problem? Everybody’s Christian right?) Anti-government tea-party conservatives want to force Christian music on children in California. The Christian god is on our money, in our pledge! Bibles are put in every hotel room and doctor’s office! Walk into a grocery store or Walmart, all the “Choice books” displayed are Christian books!

Atheists can’t get elected to office in this country. (One was, but he came out afterwards) 7 states have specific legislation banning Atheists from holding office. Political candidates where their religion like it’s a ticket to an exclusive event, or a flag. They always have to go on and on about their religious credentials. (If they don’t they won’t get elected) The US military is very Christian. Fundamentalists have been proselytizing for ages in the military. Just recently they were forced to remove bible inscriptions from sniper scopes being used to shoot Muslims in Iraq. Christian ministers are always the president’s “spiritual adviser”, they also give opening prayers at elections.

There are at least 335,000 churches in America. America is 3.79 Million square miles. That’s about 1 church every 11 square miles. (And this doesn’t count newly opening churches)

All these facts make Christians feel they are normal, and anyone who is not a Christian is not normal. I remember when I was a Christian I didn’t even learn that there was such a thing as “not Christian” until 5th grade. Even then I was only dimly aware of Jews and Muslims, but that was it. There was the Christian god and nothing else. Everybody knew that. I remember reading about Atheists in the news in highschool and thinking “Those people don’t believe in god? What the? How can you NOT believe in god!?!? Everybody knows there’s a god. They’re just crazy and luckily small in number…” For the longest time, I cringed when people said “I’m not Christian.” That was like the worst thing you could say. It shocked me when my college professor came out and said it. “That’s awful, you should keep it to yourself” I thought in my head.

Now that I’m one of those “crazy and few in number” people, I feel distinctly not normal. When you’re not a believer in an extremely religious country, you start to feel like it isn’t your country, like you’re a second class citizen. I put signs in my car window to try and remind Christians that they’re not the only ones here, but Christian Privilege is just so massive I don’t know how to fight it. Women have feminism to fight male privilege. Blacks have the NAACP to fight white privilege, what about Atheists? Trying to get us to work together is like herding cats. We have nothing in common except a lack of a belief in magical beings.