11th May 2020


The whispers of change themselves can bring about such change. “Stay home” will be dropped and, without the rumour being addressed, it effectively was. For days it was allowed to hang in the air. And VE was used as an excuse to selfishly indulge in empty-calorie gratification with jingoistic pomp. Then, our baited breath was released when we were given “Stay Alert” …to what? Milhouse saw the whole thing happen. But the kicker, for me, was that wonderful example of Fashionable Nonsense was used to demonstrate how the “Alert Level” (which is either 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) :


While some have tried to argue that this is straightforward and intuitive, if you regard the relationship described as that in a complex plane, it is quite clear that a) this would need to be defined (which it isn’t); b) this would not be useful for a public-awareness infographic; and c) the formula was used to try to impress rather than inform. Yet, even considering popular interpretation, the relationship described by “+” is pretty analogically descriptive of the response to crisis so far: make irrelevant additions to turn incoherence into novelty.

Nevertheless, it has spurred me to start collecting, with greater energy, other examples of such mathematical representations of the current pandemic that abound in the media. Should we be fortunate to have the time and space to culturally analyse them, it would, I’m sure, make interesting reading.

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