Yesterday night, Roberto Speranza, the Italian Health Minister, said to TG4 (the news programme of a National broadcaster) that the Coronavirus spreading in Italy is – or it has been -? “exponential”. As a matter of fact, this is not correct, as “exponential” has a specific mathematical meaning that does not match with the data provided by the Italian Government itself. Moreover, talking about “exponential growth” without indicating the exponent and specifying whether it is whole or fractional, does not allow the listener to understand what is the real “steepness” of the curve to which we are referring. Finally, at most, we can speak of an exponential trend in relation to a stretch of the curve, certainly not in relation to the curve itself. Unlike a mathematical function, in fact, the data on contagion are conditioned by variables? that vary (how many probes I did yesterday, how many I do today and how many I will do tomorrow, on which population I perform the analysis etc. etc.). In other words, the trend of the contagion curves (net of all the questions about the composition of the sample) has a (limited) descriptive capacity of the past, but it can hardly give indications about the future.
Raising this issue with a fellow journalist I got this answer: “stop being a semantic prick! People are not read in mathematics and they know that when we use “exponential” we do it as a synonym for “very quick and fast grow”.
Well, maybe I am a “semantic prick” – aren’t we, lawyers? – but when hard decisions such as putting the whole Italy in quarantine have to be taken, I would expect the decision-makers to ground their assessment on solid basis rather than on a sloppy use (and understanding?) of data and information.
This is not to say that the decision to quarantine Italy is wrong (I neither have the knowledge nor the competence to judge it.) I only point out that there might not be a cause-effect relationship with a (good) decision and the reasons that backed it.
This article published by Il Fatto Quotidiano is illustrated by a photo that portrays a policeman from the mobile team of Rome and an arrested man whose image is blurred. Not, as you might think without seeing it, on the face that also has a winking expression towards the photographer, but on the hand that is shaped in the pose (the thumb raised) universally become synonymous with “I like it”.
The expression of the arrested subject is disturbing because it is no different from that of a star crossing the red carpet of a film festival or a sports champion celebrating a victory. And it reinforces the mistaken perception – further distorted by television series such as Narcos and Gomorrah – that there is an aesthetic of evil in the name of which, by committing atrocious acts, one can become famous.
This “right thumb” attached to the hand of an ordinary person accused of a crime obviously means that from the desire for a “moment of glory” experienced in film/television fiction we have moved on to the lust of a celebrity at all costs, including that of becoming a protagonist of a crime story.
I don’t know who (whether the photographer or the newspaper) has made the choice to blur the anatomical detail of the arrested, but in both cases I can’t find a reasonable explanation, except for the one that, by now, even the thumbs have a right to their privacy.
Retouching ? 8 years old ? school photography as a service?
There is nothing wrong in having a spot on the chin, a pale look or other somatic peculiarities. We are how we are. Full stop.
Of course, everybody has the right to self-retouch his appearance (what does aesthetic-surgery is for?) but that should be a personal (and non-questionable) choice.
In contrast, supporting the idea that a kid’s photo should be photoshopped to have him look better is just plain wrong. It inculcates into kids’ minds that they have something “wrong” and, therefore, that they ARE “wrong”.
Leave kids shine for the beauty of their age, and leave photoretouching, make up and surgery to “growth” adults who forgot what really matter.
The title of the Italian newspaper Repubblica.it about the alleged end of the sentimental engagement between Cooper and Shayk (…Social Network users to dream about a liaison with Gaga) is a microscopic but interesting sign of how, in the blurred head of gossipers, the conviction of being able to direct the life choices of the victims of their peepingtomish attitude makes its way.
In the show business, many artists are involved in fake scandals and media combine, and it is not a bad thing if for once it is not they who organise the “scam”.
It is interesting to note, however, the tendency according to which a group of (reciprocal) strangers who gather through a social network pretend to heterodirect the choices of someone else, transforming themselves into a “collective” that writes the texts of their very personal reality show.
Maybe Gaga and Cooper will be involved in the same wedding without the “help” of gossipers. But if this happens, no one will take from their mind the conviction of having played a role in the story (with the “s” in the subscript).
A short list of the hypocrisy disguised as “human right protection” that floods the Internet:
- Privacy is a fundamental right,
- Weapons are evil,
- Web giants too are evil,
- We must fight to stop climate change,
- I work for the “enemy” not because of the fees, but because I will make him a better self,
- I don’t do it for money, but for “the Principle”,
- Trust me, even if it is gratis,
- China is dangerous,
- Exchange ideas is better than being paid with money