Q&A: “Is Mankind Inherently Good Or Evil?”

Q: Is Mankind’s basic nature to be good, or evil?

A: If those are the only two choices, then “good,” definitely.

I sense a disturbance in the Force which corresponds to thousands of voices crying out with information…information that they can barely recall, from a single college Philosophy course that they barely passed. Blah blah blah Hegel blah blah blah Kant, etc.

Philosophers! Morons. All of them. Except of course for the once who have tenured positions with prestigious universities. Now that’s a sweet, sweet scam worthy of a Corleone.

And save your “But are you a good person because that’s Man’s nature, or merely because you fear the repercussions that come from breaking the law?” This comment only demeans you. Plus, it doesn’t address the question. The question isn’t “Am I, Andy Ihnatko, good or evil?” — I suppose I shouldn’t comment publicly on that one, due to pending litigation — but “Is Mankind?

Here it is: as a species, we have consistently voted for Good over the course of the last, what, 40,000 years or so. Witness the bulk of human society today. Overwhelmingly, communities (call them governments, call them tribes, call them nations) are based on observance of the basic principle of acknowledging other people’s rights and freedoms.

So yes, if someone sees me fiddling with a 160 gigabyte iPod Classic on the subway, thinks “This treasure can be mine with a simple investment of a little bit of pushing and a little bit of running away very fast,” but notes the presence of a police officer nearby and does nothing, that’s a point in favor of an evil nature held in check only by threat of punishment. But the fact that there are laws against theft and multiple bureaucracies to prosecute and incarcerate those who aren’t on board with that means that Society, as a whole, trends towards basic goodness.

I mean, we take this sort of thing for granted. If Humanity were evil, we’d take for granted that any property of any kind was simply up for grabs, and if you like your wealth or possessions, you’d better be prepared to defend them with force.

Notable exceptions abound — viz civil warfare in the Congo and banks that charge its own customers a fee for withdrawing their own money — but clearly, all empirical evidence proves that regardless of the generation or the locality, humanity’s basic nature is Good, not Evil.

That’s completely settled. Let’s hear no more of this.

Finish Him!!!

Had a brilliant idea today: a “Mortal Combat”-style fighting game in which all of the combatants are not particularly noted for being physically intimidating, to the point of downright milquetoastery.

Playable characters include:

  • Eddie Deezen
  • Mr. Bean
  • George Costanza
  • Pee-Wee Herman
  • Paul Lynde
  • Rick Moranis (as Louis Tully from “Ghostbusters”)
  • Larry David
  • Woody Allen
  • Dr. Smith from “Lost In Space”
  • Milhouse Van Houten
  • Don Knotts (as Barney Fife)
  • Don Knotts (as Ralph Furley) (Unlockable player)
  • Niles Crane
  • John Waters
  • Arnold Horshack
  • Clark Kent (in the presence of Lois Lane) (before she learned that he’s Superman)
  • Charles Nelson-Reilly
  • The black guy from “Designing Women”
  • Moby
  • Arnold Stang
  • The middle guy from “Blue Man Group”
  • Mel Cooley (from “The Dick Van Dyke Show”)
  • Matthew Broderick
  • David Spade
  • Dick Cavett
  • Patton Oswalt (as Spence on “The King Of Queens”)
  • Patton Oswalt (as himself)

Most common fighting style: lots of slapping, not many shots landing because combatant has his other arm wrapped around his head, eyes clamped shut, most of upper body twisted as far away from fight as possible. AKA Boku Nerd Floating Monkey-Style.

Typical fatalities: Curling up in defensive fetal position and accidentally tumbling off of fighting platform; crying so hard that combatant passes out from dehydration; dropped asthma inhaler.

My Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Uncle Godefroy

I was only in New York for about 36 hours but I still found time to head up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see how they were taking care of a family heirloom:

Me In Armor (400)

Honest to God, I can’t tell you how many times I had to haul that thing to the other side of the rec room just so me and my sisters could play bumper pool.

We got more than a $2000 writeoff when we donated it to the museum, which was great but honestly Mom and Dad were happy enough just to get it out of the house. They offered them the bumper pool table, too, but I guess the Met just doesn’t know real quality when they see it.

I don’t know much about Uncle Godefroy. One story says that he did extremely well as an officer in the French cavalry. Another says that he just rented the suit for the day so he’d look like a big deal in the painting.

Well, whichever…my hat’s off.

Soya Lechthinin (an emulsifier)

Well, let’s just break in this new WordPress blog. Observe as I make blogging history by writing this sort of thing without invoking one of the (hang on, let me count ’em up) seven different phrases that normally must be invoked under such circumstances.

First off, you’re to be commended for reading this post. It shows a very unusual level of intelligence and problem-solving skills. If there were more people like you, it would be safe to walk the streets at night. My theory here is that statistically-speaking there’d be more people like you on the writing staff of “Family Guy” and thus fewer people would be crushed to death by defenestrated TV sets while taking the dog out for a wee.

No, no, I mean it. I’m not publicising this new site at all, which means that if you’re here and reading this, then either (a) it’s about a year from today and you decided to go back and read this entire blog all the way back to the very beginning, or (b) it’s about thirty seconds after I’ve clicked the “Publish” button and you just up and decided to see what would happen if you plugged “ihnatko” into your browser’s address field.

And even then, you wouldn’t have found this place unless you’d actually typed it correctly. I was twelve before I could do that, and I had the benefit of parents who refused to feed me for days if I ever got it wrong. So seriously, dude: kudos.

So why the secrecy? Because as I write this, the blog is still in its “skunk works” stage. This is my first WordPress blog and I frankly know little of what I’m doing. Metaphorically speaking, I want to go public when I start clinical trials on a miraculous new pill that prevents nine forms of cancer while rendering ladies’ legs self-shaving. I will “accidentally” allow people to discover it when all I have are computer models that look extremely promising.

But right now, my lab is a warehouse filled with nothing but hundreds upon hundreds of cages filled with baby ducks, suffering all kinds of inhumane and sickening horrors. This is not a time in the project when you want kids with video cameras sticking their noses in, you know?

It’s an interesting moment, really. I am among the most knowledgeable and experienced bloggers in the country. But I am also among the very least knowledgeable and experienced. I’ve been blogging since 1995, long before the word “blog” had even been coined and lonnnng before there were any tools for building and editing the things. So I had to write my own app from the ground up…and every time a new resource or technology or standard came down the pike — like RSS syndication — I had to learn about how the thing worked and then write new functions to support it.

Excellent. Spiffy. Damned impressive, right?

Be impressed, dammit. You kids today! Do you realize that when I was your age, my computer was made from twigs and dried animal skins? I’ve been alive forever, and I wrote the very first blog! I put the words and the HTML togeth…

Okay. Now you’ve got me quoting Barry (f***ing) Manilow lyrics, dammit.

(Manilow. “I Write The Songs.” “Copacabana”? Christ almighty. Forget I brought it up.)

The point is that when most people learned how to blog, they learned using awesome and mature tools, like MovableType and WordPress. Six months after building my blog, I had figured out how to convert text into HTML and upload it to a server. When an average high-schooler has accrued six months of stick time with WordPress, he or she is pretty much capable of designing and deploying the online edition of a regional newspaper.

My total hands-on experience in building a WordPress blog? Er, I’m nearly done writing my first post. Impressed?

No, me neither. But I’m excited to be learning.

In a future post I’ll discuss the grand history of YellowText, my first (and to date, only other) blog. As you can see, there’s really nothing about that blog that would make you think that it there’s anything unique about it. It does its job rather well; so well that I’ll probably open-source it at some point.

But my jealousy of WordPress blogs has transitioned from cartoon-like insincerity to wistful sadness to its current state, in which I realize that I must now either move to WordPress or set fire to every blog that uses it. If I went with the latter option, I’d be yet another 3 to 5 years behind state-of-the-art blogging technology by the time I was released from prison. Transitioning to WordPress is admittedly a more conservative play, but in my defense there’s also a lot less driving involved.

Anyway. I won’t do anything to prevent people from discovering and reading (and even commenting in) this blog. I intend to keep posting about my newbie WordPress experiences, both to keep my own head straight and maybe be a lamp unto the feet of future pilgrims.

But do me a favor? Don’t you go publicising this thing. I haven’t decided on a final template or layout, the masthead is only a rough draft, and once again if PeTA ever finds out what I did to that poor pig while trying to figure out if a static front page could be used to heal second-degree sunburn, man alive, that’ll be quite a setback for this project.

For now — and this is a moment of great ceremony, for I shall surely be writing this often in the coming days until I get bored and forget about this entire project forever — push the button, Frank.