I’m listening to The Roches, singing the title track of their 1995 album Can We Go Home Now. It has just popped up on my iPhone, which is playing a selection of things from my Apple Music library that it thinks I will like, based on algorithmic logic.
The Roches were three sisters from New Jersey who sang wry, insightful, folk-derived songs in close harmony, often with minimal or no accompaniment. I remember when I bought this album, their 10th, I was surprised and slightly underwhelmed. There were synthesisers, and the lyrics were plainer, less tricksy.
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It’s hard to think of a good word for something that has the potential to ruin the lives of millions of people as it multiplies and spreads around the planet. Fortunately we already have a good word: it’s “virus”.
“Virus” is good, because it has a shared meaning. There is no need to define our terms before we discuss it to death. In medicine, a “virus” is a parcel of genetic material that invades our cells, starts to multiply, and then either gives us a bit of a sniffle or kills us. On the one hand, it might be “justavirus”, the last resort of the hard-pressed GP: on the other, Ebola.
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