What People Think About Your School
It doesn't really matter what people think about your school because you are who you are and you're attending your school for your own intensely personal reasons and etc., but to preempt any unpleasant surprises:
If you attend the University of Washington, people will think you're dumb, unless you're studying science, in which case people will think you're smart but dorky. If you're attending the University of Puget Sound, people will assume you're smart, but not smart enough for a fancy East Coast school. If you're attending Seattle Central Community College, people will assume you have drug and/or achievement issues. If you're attending Seattle Pacific University, people will assume you're either celibate or a closet case or both. If you're attending Seattle University, people will think you're relatively intelligent and maybe Catholic but nothing special. If you're attending Cornish College of the Arts, people who know their local art history will associate you with John Cage and Merce Cunningham. People who don't will think you couldn't—or wouldn't—hack it at a normal college. If you're attending Pacific Lutheran University, nobody will know what to think of it because nobody's ever met anybody from Pacific Lutheran University. Best to not admit you're from a college at all. Say you're an arborist and make up some shit about elms or cedars or something.
How to Vote
Washington State votes by mail, so you have no excuse not to participate in democracy. (Do you not believe in democracy? Do you have a problem with America? Don't make us call Homeland Security, because we will.) If you're still registered at your parents' house in Bumfuck, Wyoming, get your ass to a computer and sign up to vote at www.kingcounty.gov/ elections. If you've got a Washington State ID, you can register online. Otherwise, you'll need a stamp and a pen. Oh, and make sure you're 18 and not a felon. The registration form takes five minutes, and when you're all signed up, mail that shit in, and you can participate in the electoral process like you've always dreamed. Those port commissioners and county assessors are not going to elect themselves, bitchez!
How to Have an Opinion on Important City Issues
The first term of school coincides with election season, when every newspaper, blog, and radio show yammers incessantly about the same crap for two months. But if you know what they're talking about—and can translate it—people will want to sleep with you. The results of this general election will have an impact on the rights of gay partners, the mobility of everyone without a car, and the option to replace Pike Place Market with racks and racks of Lunchables.
• All You Need to Know About the Mayor's Race: Seattle had an efficient but tone-deaf mayor for eight years, Greg Nickels. But he lost in the primary election, so you can forget about him—even though he will remain king till January. Two guys are now fighting for his job. One is Joe Mallahan, a T-Mobile executive who skipped voting in 10 elections and thinks Seattle should be run like a corporation. His selling point: He's not Greg Nickels. In contrast, Mike McGinn is an environmental progressive who has run successful campaigns to invest in transit solutions instead of roads. His selling point: If he's the mayor, he will block plans to build a freeway tunnel under downtown (see below).
• All You Need to Know About the Deep-Bore Tunnel: Between our glorious city and our glorious waterfront is a dilapidated double-decker freeway that threatens to collapse if anyone sneezes. It is called the Alaskan Way Viaduct and we must demolish it before it flattens humans in a tremor, but where will the cars go? That's the multibillion-dollar question. Rebuilding the viaduct, fortunately, is mostly off the table. State and city officials decided they would replace it with a tunnel that would cost roughly $4.2 billion, with $930 million coming from Seattle taxpayers. They argue it's a worthy investment to keep traffic moving and truck-reliant industries in the city. But others, including mayoral hopeful McGinn, call that a canard, insisting that if we're going to spend billions in taxes, we shouldn't be wasting it on an underground freeway—which promotes earth-destroying, traffic-jamming car ridership—but on improving surface routes by beefing up transit in the urban core.
• All You Need to Know About Referendum 71: A vote to "approve" Referendum 71 will uphold the expanded domestic- partnership bill passed this year. It is simple: It gives registered gay couples all the state-granted rights of marriage that hetero married couples have. But two Christian extremists worked to put the referendum on the ballot—otherwise the bill would have become law in July—and they are fear-mongering, homophobic bigots who lied to gather enough signatures. They ironically call their group Protect Marriage Washington, even though one member of the duo has been married three times (he's evidently not that into protecting marriages) and the other is from Oregon (having no stake in Washington). Again, vote to approve R-71.
How to Be a Biker
Biking is the best way—the only way—to travel a city. You notice more than if you're in a car, you're moving faster than pedestrians, you see the world at slightly-higher-than-eye level, you don't pay for gas money, and finding parking is a cinch. Plus you get exercise, can travel up one-way roads on sidewalks, ride through parks, etc. The rules are simple: Stay far away enough from cars that you don't get doored. (The cars coming behind you might honk occasionally, but at least they see you and hate you instead of miss you and kill you.) Be considerate to cars and even more considerate to pedestrians. Remember: You are traffic. Err on the side of the law: As stifling as it sometimes feels, it exists to protect you, and many bikers in this town have been hospitalized by their hubris at red lights. And wear a helmet, for crissakes. That pretty little head of yours looks much cuter in a hard hat than smeared like strawberry jam on pavement.
How to Be a Pedestrian
As a pedestrian, you must never forget your moral superiority. You are way above the motorist and just above the cyclist. The pedestrian is the king of the ruling ethical system of the city, which, by the way, is not God (sorry to tell you this, young Christians, but Seattle is pretty much a Godless place) but green. Because you are a morally superior form of transportation (even a bicycle requires materials from mines and biochemical corporations), you must strut your stuff like it ain't no thing. Always raise your nose to those in cars, and when you cross a street, do not wait for the light to go green: Cross it when all is clear. And make sure the street is clear—though you are morally superior, you are physically inferior. Cars kill pedestrians, the kings and queens of green morality. Yes, jaywalking is illegal in this city, but it is a law you can break with pride. The pedestrian is untouchable.
How to Be a Driver
First of all, where are all the bicycles at?! Pay attention to those little wheelie dudes, because if you hit one and kill it, not only will you want to then kill yourself out of remorse—having needlessly ended an environmentally responsible and probably physically attractive human life for no other reason than failing to turn your head ever-so- slightly—you will become a social pariah forever menaced by the bike locks and lawsuits and icy, icy scorn of the Critically Massed (a gang of bike people that exists). Do not do this. Next of all, note the following: Learn how to parallel park. It is not scary. Practice until you can do it successfully, because if you can't do it successfully, you fail at life. Learn how four-way stops and uncontrolled intersections work. Whoever gets there first goes first; if simultaneousness happens, defer to the person to your right. Note who is there when you pull up, even if you're behind someone else. Important: BEING TOO NICE IS THE OPPOSITE OF BEING NICE; IT IS BEING HOMICIDAL. Look around. Use your eyeballs and memoryballs. Do not text while driving. Rules are there for a reason. Just follow the fucking rules.
A Primer on the History of Civilization
Civilization begins with intensive agriculture. Associated with agriculture is poly-gamy. Pastoral societies are also associated with polygamy. Monogamy is usually found in early hunter-gatherer tribes. Why? Because they are egalitarian; meaning, the female and male inputs are about equal. The females input care in the upbringing of children and the males input protein from hunting. (Humans need lots of protein because of the high caloric costs of maintaining their big brains.) But once pastoralism and intensive agriculture dominate food production, protein is accessible without hunting. This new type of access to meat causes a shift in the social and power structure that results in even more polygamy. Harems begin to appear. This kind of social organization (dominated by males) leads directly to the great civilizations of the ancient Near East. From those civilizations emerges the Hellenic civilization, which in turn leads to the Roman civilization. The rise of Christianity in the Roman world marks the beginning of that civilization's decline. Monogamy makes its return. Next is the rise of Mohammedism in the Arabian Peninsula. Its rapid expansion covers and dominates the Mediterranean world during what Europeans will call "the Dark Ages." Islamic expansion, combined with events in the Chinese world and the decline of the Mayan empire in Central America, marks the beginning of the civilization we are in today.
How to Know What a College Is
If you want to understand what college means in our age of late capitalism and globalization, then you must understand the meaning of the word "excellence." You will hear and see it everywhere you go: "Our professors strive for excellence." "We reward excellence." "Excellence is our goal." But what is excellence exactly? It is the word that universities used to replace the problematic word "culture." Back in the 19th century, universities were all about culture. In Great Britain, this understanding or function of the university was pushed by Matthew Arnold; in Germany, by Johann Gottfried Herder. The essential idea was that the university must produce ideal subjects for the state and that the ideal subject would be "cultured." But, as you know, a culture is not universal. A culture always belongs to a specific group of people. In the 1960s, universities in the West were under attack because the culture that they celebrated was mostly represented by "dead white males." So to solve this problem, they switched from "culture" to "excellence." Excellence, of course, can apply to anyone of any color or gender. What do we do at university? We strive for excellence.
How to Pick Your Political Cause
People who care about the world and actually put their visions into action are the most attractive people on the planet. The Kennedys, the Obamas, half of the Gates family, etc. But you can't do everything. You need to pick a cause.
There are four kinds of political causes: big issues like elections and health-care reform, midsize issues like protecting polar bears and improving local transportation, fringe issues like legalizing pot and gay marriage, and lastly, issues that only insane people work on, like 9/11 conspiracy theories or electing Lyndon LaRouche. About the last type of issues: Don't work on those. Of the other three types, you choose your cause by knowing what's going on.
Read the news for at least 15 minutes a day until you find an issue that makes you want to punch someone in the face. Does this issue have some local movement—some organization—that is run by people who are sane? If so, join them. Go to official functions; have sex with the hot volunteers (that's part of the reason you join organizations). A few words of advice: The smaller the cause, such as stopping the city from building a new jail, the more impact you can make. However, those are more likely to include the lunatic fringe. Figure out who's sensible and work with those people.
How to Know Where You Stand
Do not be spineless. You must declare that you are something, that you believe in this or that idea or cultural movement. Also, it must be a cool idea/movement. For example, if a person says, "I'm born-again," you will yawn. But if a person says, "I'm a Maoist," your attention is caught. Also, you must be radical about this thing you purport to believe in—meaning, always have a book about it on your person. You want people to see this in your red purse: Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. If people see that, they will know you are for real and respect you.