Maybe it was a bum pork dumpling or a vicious stomach bug, but I’ll leave the mystery alone and simply savor my return to consciousness after thirty-six hours of being reduced to a sweaty, heaving mess. Not a very auspicious start to the new year, although it made me grateful for the things I take for granted, such as speech, digestion, and regulated body temperature.

In the grip of my delirium, I half-watched a lousy Netflix series that can be viewed in any order, which seems like a trial balloon for AI-generated entertainment. But algorithms cannot compete with the messy spectacle of humans. This afternoon I tuned in to watch some jackass repeatedly lose the vote for House Speaker, three times as of this writing. It was a testament to the glorious stupidity of American politics and, relatedly, an extraordinarily entertaining reminder that repetition amplifies humor and pleasure. Sort of like Donald Barthelme’s very short story, The School, which I recently revisited via George Saunders’s Story Club.