Spent last week thrashing in the grip of a nasty bug, my fever dreams enhanced by the American government, which, after fifteen votes for speaker of the House, has been reduced to an endless screech. Here in Las Vegas, we’re catching the faintest edge of the atmospheric river, a weather event that sounds like something from a fantasy novel.

In The Peripheral, William Gibson describes “the jackpot,” a cascade of crises that wipe out most of humanity ten or twenty years from now. His vision of the apocalypse is “multicausal, with no particular beginning and no end. More a climate than an event, so not the way apocalypse stories liked to have a big event, after which everybody ran around with guns . . .” And ten pages later: “Conspiracy theory’s got to be simple. Sense doesn’t come into it. People are more scared of how complicated shit actually is than they are about whatever’s supposed to be behind the conspiracy.”

Shopping at Walmart in Vegas sounds bleak, but it was remarkably pleasant. Phil Collins sang about how he could feel it coming in the air tonight while I collected the materials for a shepherd’s pie. But the secret ingredient must be found elsewhere: Sichuan peppercorns.

There’s a bird in the desert that sounds like a buzzy little synthesizer, maybe a 303, and I’d like to know its name.