Threat Level: Bat Guano

Dear Reader (Including the ancient Japanese haruspexes, who were quite literally “Deer Readers”),

The inestimable Matt Ridley wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week:

“In Shitou Cave, south of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, they found viruses in the bats’ droppings and anal swabs that were more similar to human SARS than anything found in palm civets, the small mammals that until then were presumed to be the source of human infection.”

There are a lot of observations about the weirdness of these times that have become era-defining clichés. I use—or have used—many myself. “We live in a reality TV show.” “I wonder what’s happening on Earth 2?” “This isn’t the timeline I chose. “Let’s touch the orb; what could go wrong?” And, of course, “If you wrote this in a novel, people would reject it for being too unbelievable.”

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