Let's begin with social engineering. It's usually seen as one of the dark arts. For example, Wikipedia describes it as, one, "the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information." It also describes it as something specific to socialist societies: "In the 1920s the government of the Soviet Union embarked on a campaign to fundamentally alter the behavior and ideals of Soviet citizens..." With the latter, the implication is that Western liberal polities encourage the freest thinking possible. You get to vote for your leaders, the market offers you more choices than your heart desires, you are free to decide which God created you and the entire universe, and so on and so on.

But of course, one has always already been socially engineered—this inescapable condition is also called interpellation. You were not born with the certainty that free markets produce the best social results. You were not born with a Christian soul. All of these feelings and ideas (feelings as concepts) are the result of social engineering. And so it is not a question if it's bad or not. What matters is if it's empowering or disempowering, if it presents feelings that correspond with the real state of affairs or does not. Social engineering's material is human feeling. And what it does with this psycho/physical material, to use the language of the great British cultural theorist Raymond Williams, is structure it. A civil engineer builds bridges. A social engineer builds feelings.

With that in mind, let's turn to this weekend's unusually warm weather. How did Seattle feel about it?

As much as I admire Seattle Weather Blog, the last line in their March 17 tweet is alarming, if not horrifying, and certainly bad social engineering. To make matters worse, the weekend's feel-good directive was universally expressed by the local news and social media. Even today, March 18, which is warm and breezy, KIRO 7 encouraged its audience to just "enjoy the sunshine." But how on earth is this possible when the brightness of the sun and the warmth of the air are freaks of nature? It should be cool and dark during this time of the year. Instead, we are breaking records all over the place. 


Saturday brought record-breaking heat across western Washington, just days before the official start of spring. According to the National Weather Service, Washington broke daily temperature records at all of its climate sites on March 15. 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport recorded 74 degrees, breaking the previous daily record of 72 degrees. Meanwhile, the city of Seattle clocked 71 degrees, which passes the previous daily record of 70 degrees. 

Bellingham broke records. Everett broke records. Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia broke records. Sunday also did not close without lots of broken records. 

We should be horrified by this weather, not enjoying it, not in the least bit. But what you found all around Greenlake, or going up and down Lake Washington Boulevard, or basking on Alki Beach, or filling the platforms of Pike Place Market were lots of people enjoying what is in fact a living nightmare. But this serious disconnection between reality (anthropogenic global warming and its year-by-year destruction of the world, brief as it was, we only know) is a failure of empowering social engineering. We only know how to enjoy sunny days, no matter what caused them. And unless social engineering intervenes (which is not likely at this point), we will be biking, hiking, and wearing tight shorts or no shirts when "perfect" arrives early in 2025. It's only going to get worse. This is just fact.

Our city should have been depressed, disconsolate, deeply disturbed this weekend. A rainy and cold weekend, on the other hand, should have caused us some joy or, at least, a thin sense of hope. This structure of feeling (not enjoying these record-breaking sunny days) is consistent with the current state of things. Never expect anything political from shiny happy people.