Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Thursday, 14 February 2002

# 5 AM

Emergency laundry is done. Now to take a shower and run off to the NTL meeting. I hope we're having edible food this week.

# 1:15 AM

existential infinitely recursive guilt

What do you do when you want clean sheets but you don't have time to go to the laundromat and wash your sheets? (The washing machine downstairs cannot handle sheets.)

Well, one obvious thing is to go buy a new set of sheets, so that you have two sets and can just swap the dirty set out. However, when I went to do just that, I discovered that Ross carries no sheets which (a) contain no synthetic fibers, (b) are properly sized for my bed, and (c) are not made in Pakistan.

I'm not sure how much I should care about that last. My knee jerk reaction is, I don't want to be supporting Pakistani industry when a fair chunk of the horrible things that have happened in that part of the world in the last fifty years are directly the fault of their government. My slightly more considered reaction is, it probably wouldn't be a country run by dangerous reactionary extremists if it had a twentieth-century economy (never mind twenty-first), and therefore buying legitimate goods (i.e. not drugs) from them is probably a Good Thing, since it will inject hard currency. My reaction on zooming out a bit is, of the $15.99 that the sheets cost, probably only about $5 is going to wind up in Pakistan, and most of that is going to make some plutocrat type richer, which doesn't help any. And my reaction to that thought is, it's basically impossible to buy anything made of cloth without supporting some plutocrat or other.

One could go on in this vein forever, and that's not the way to live. However, take a look at this rant from Transmetropolitan: I Hate It Here:

We live in a monoculture.

What does that mean? Well, go out to your street corner. You'll probably see a Long Pig stand, SPKF on a screen somewhere, an Angry Boy Dylan's Gun Store...

Go out onto a street corner in London and you'll see the same thing. Same in Prague. Same in São Paulo...

This is the future. This is what we built. This is what we wanted. It must have been. Because we all had the fucking choice, didn't we? It is only our money that allows commercial culture to flower. If we didn't want to live like this, we could have changed it any time, by not fucking paying for it.

Is what Spider's saying true? Here we are, living in his past...do we have a choice? And if we don't, what does it say about the world we live in?

I bought the Pakistani sheets.

today's cooking lesson

I have fettucine, I have green onions. I think, hmm, fettucine alfredo would be nice. But I don't have butter or milk; and alfredo sauce is basically heavy cream. What to do? I do have a whole lot of cheese. Hmm, maybe I can just melt the cheese over the pasta? Well, if you've ever done anything much with cheese you know you can't "just melt" it, it turns into a sticky mess, then it becomes glued to the bottom of the pan and burns.

The solution, at least in broad outline, is obvious once you think of it: Dump a cupful of water into the pan first. Then the cheese does not melt so much as dissolve, giving a thin broth that doesn't stick to the pan. Unfortunately, if you render it down to the point where it is suitable for use as pasta sauce, it starts sticking again.

I'm not sure what the right thing to do at that point is. I did manage to get most of the sauce out by pouring all the cooked pasta into the pan with the sauce and letting it soak it up. Unfortunately the cheese would rather stick to the pan than the pasta. Further experimentation is needed. (Or I could just read a cookbook... nah.)