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lifestyle, people

Fertility day. About a disastrous health campaign and motherhood in Italy

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My thougts about “fertility day”, an initiative of Italian health ministry showing how motherhood in Italy is still permeated by old stereotypes.

A disastrous communication campaign to launch the so-called fertility day on 22nd of September made Italian women mad.

Fertility day was meant to inform women and men on how to protect their procreative health. Of course there’s the low birthrate of Italy behind it. This might cause in the future problems of sustainability of our healthcare and welfare system. Everybody knows that. It not scandalous at all: it’s a real problem many other EU countries are trying to address.

The problem was that the fertility day campaign was completely wrong. Do you think they gave information on how to avoid infections? About access to in vitro fertilization techniques? Not at all.

It has been mostly addressed towards women and based on the message: tick tock, tick tock, hey your getting older, hurry up to get pregnant or you’ll miss your chance.

It featured an image of a woman brandishing a hourglass, with the claim “beauty is ageless, fertility isn’t”.

fartility day

not a joke: the real image of the campaign

A wave of rage raised among women who reminded on social networks the best way to boost fertility: permanent jobs, options to rent or buy a house with acceptable costs, more public kidergartens, no fear to be fired after maternity leave.

You can read more in this article in Quartz magazine, but also CBS, NYpost and Huffington Post talked about it.

The only effect was to make everyone mad. They bothered women who are delaying pregnancy for external private or economic reasons: precarious job, no stable relationship, lack of external help. They made angry infertile couple for to health problems, gays and lesbians, women who are not willing to have children. For those the campaign was not only ridiculous, but frankly offensive. Even women with children got mad, reminding that after you gave birth you are left alone with the only help of family and private baby-sitters. (Yes in Italy grandparents are the real welfare: without them most of the families will simply not exists).

I know really a few women in their thirties delaying pregnancy if they have a job, avhouse and a stable relationship because they go clubbing every night or they got workaholic trying to become the next Marissa Mayers (oops I forgot she is a CEO and also a mother).

I think it’s the worst health communication campaign ever. The claim “fertility is a common good” was particularly annoying for it’s reminding a sad page of our history, when fascists asked to do more children for a stronger nation.

When I saw it I couldn’t believe it. How could they be so stupid? But I have to say it did not completely surprised me. You know why?

It’s nothing different from the usual idea of motherhood in Italian society.

Motherhood in Italy in seen in a contradictory way. Superficially, we idealize it. But if you go deeper, I believe that Italian society misleads the complexity of motherhood with the simple act of taking care.

lifestyle, people

Are Italian scientists breaking bad?

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Virologist Ilaria Capua has just left Italy after being acquitted from the charge of illegal virus trafficking. Why do Italian people distrust Italian scientists?

Today I’m going to tell you a sad story. It’s sad even though it has an happy ending. On July 5th one of the top Italian scientists, virologist Ilaria Capua, has been acquitted after a judicial investigation longer than a decade.

(First, three books about science, politics and justice).

Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science

Contro la modernità.Le radici della cultura antiscientifica in Italia.

Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left

This is the good news. What should make Italians sad is just before the end of this interminable story, Dr. Capua decided to left Italy. She resigned as president of the veterinary institute she led and from the Italian parliament to accept the role of director at the One Health Centre of Excellence for Research and Training in Florida.

Italian scientists

Ilaria Capua

What was the investigation about? The story began in 2005, after a U.S. inquiry. An Italian manager of a pharma company was suspected to have illegally shipped a virus strand to Italy. Italian investigators mainly used tap recordings of telephone calls.

Nobody knew it until 2014. Some information leaked to the magazine l’Espresso, which titled its issue “virus traffickers”. Ilaria Capua was accused of illegal trafficking of virus and even attempted epidemic.

The whole story is summarized in an article (here the English version) by the journalist Paolo Mieli, on national newspaper Corriere della Sera. One of the few artcles on this topic in Italy written before the sentence.

books, people

Why you should read Elena Ferrante books

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Five reasons why you should read the whole series of Elena Ferrante books (My Brilliant Friendthe Story of a New Namethose Who Leave and Those Who Staythe Story of the Lost Child) and why you will enjoy it.

Elena Ferrante books

My brilliant friend, “L’amica geniale” in the Italian version

Elena Ferrante books are probably the most explosive Italian literature phenomenon of the last years.

The four books of the so called Neapolitan novels fascinated people worldwide. Here’s five reasons why you should read it (if you have not done it yet).

I guess it’s unnecessary to spend too many words about the plot of these four books, which actually form one story of nearly 1.700 pages (or an infinite soap-opera, from detractors’ point of view). I will only say it’s about two main female characters, Elena and Lila, born postwar in a poor neighbourhood of Naples. The books are about their life from childhood to elderly years and about their precarious friendship.

I will also say that I agree with the most widespread readers’ opinion I’ve seen on the web : “My brilliant friend” is incredible. Not that the sequels are disappointing, but they are not as strong as the first one.

So why should you read the whole saga? In my opinion to read the four books you must want to read them. I did it and I’m not disappointed.

Here’s five reasons why you should dive without hesitation into Elena and Lila’s lives.

lifestyle, people

Italian lifestyle and mobile phones

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Italian lifestyle is changing because of technology, as everywhere. A survey found that Italians are using smartphones more than their European fellows.

I have the feeling that Italians are especially obsessed by their mobile phones.

A few days ago I was on a local train and when I looked around here’s what I saw. I could see fourteen people around me. One lady was reading a book, one guy was doing a business call and another one was writing on laptop. All the others were staring at the screen of their smartphone. I have to include a twelfth one: myself. I had been focussed most of the time on my twitter feed.

My mini-survey might be done on a small sample, but I have a more comprehensive set of data to rely on.

According to Deloitte’s Global Mobile Survey 2015 Italians are really using their smartphone more than their European fellows.

language, people

Learn Italian to be a genius. Albert Einstein spoke Italian, as well.

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einstein a padovaDid you know Albert Einstein spoke Italian?

During one of my random surfing on the internet, I bumped into this note appeared on the newspaper “Corriere della Sera” on October 28th, 1921. It shortly reports about a lecture given the day before by Albert Einstein in Padua University.

Here’s what the article says (my translation).

“In the lecture hall of our University Albert Einstein gave today the announced conference. The hall is very crowded. Professor Ricci-Curbastro of physics and mathematics department introduces Professor Einstein with eminent words also reminding that three centuries ago, in the same hall, Galileo Galilei taught a new subject: mechanics. Professor Einstein, who speaks in Italian, expressed his pleasure to talk in the city where works Professor Ricci, to whom is due absolute differential calculus, the mathematical tool necessary to convey the general relativity.
Afterwords he presented in summary, as in the conferences in Bologna, the essential features of this theory. Professor Einstein was very much applauded.”

Albert_Einstein_1921_by_F_SchmutzerEinstein spoke English with a very strong German accent. There are many recordings of his speeches in English. He also spoke Italian and French: it’s well known Einstein had a job at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property in Bern, Switzerland. To get a job like that people must be proficient in the three national Swiss languages German, French and Italian.

And Einstein spoke Italian well enough to give conferences.

On October 22nd, 24th and 26th 1921, the year he was awarded by Nobel prize, he held some conferences on general relativity at Bologna University. Papers reported that he was acclaimed like a star by the students.