Help the World by Healing Your NGINX Configuration

Help the World by Healing Your NGINX Configuration

https://meson.in/2XWhmDu

In his famous speech at the University of Texas in 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven said that if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. Sometimes small things can have a big impact – whether it’s making your bed in the morning or making few changes to your website’s HTTP server configuration.

Does that seem like an overstatement? The first months of 2020 have flushed down the drain all definitions of what’s normal and reasonable in our world. With almost half of the Earth’s population locked down in their homes due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, the Internet has become their only mode of communication, entertainment, buying food, working, and education. And each week the Internet is seeing higher network traffic and server load than ever before. According to a report published by BroadbandNow on March 25, “Eighty eight (44%) of the 200 cities we analyzed have experienced some degree of network degradation over the past week compared to the 10 weeks prior”.

Major media platforms like Netflix and YouTube are limiting the quality of their transmissions in order to protect network links, making more bandwidth available for people to work, communicate with their families, or attend virtual lessons at their school. But still this is not enough, as network quality gradually worsens and many servers become overloaded.

You Can Help by Optimizing Your Website

If you own a website and can manage its HTTP server configuration, you can help. A few small changes can reduce the network bandwidth generated by your users and the load on servers. It’s a win‑win situation: if your site is currently under heavy load, you can reduce it, enabling you to serve more users and possibly lowering your costs. If it’s not under high load, faster loading improves your users’ experience (and sometimes positively affects your position in Google search results).

It doesn’t really matter if you have an application with millions of users each month or a small blog with baking recipes – every kilobyte of network traffic you eliminate frees capacity for someone who desperately needs to check medical testing results online or create a parcel label to send something important to relatives.

In this blog we present a few simple but powerful changes you can make to your NGINX configuration. As a real‑world example, we use the e‑commerce site of our friends at Rogalove, an ecological cosmetics manufacturer here in Poland where I live. The site is a fairly standard WooCommerce installation running NGINX 1.15.9 as its web server. For the sake of our calculations, we assume the site gets 100 unique users per day, 30% of users are recurring visitors, and each user accesses an average of 4 pages during a session.

These tips are simple steps you can take right away to improve performance and reduce network bandwidth. If you’re handling large volumes of traffic, you probably need to implement more complex changes to make a significant impact, for example tuning the operating system and NGINX, provisioning the right hardware capacity, and – most importantly – enabling and tuning caching. Check out these blog posts for details:

Enabling Gzip Compression for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Files

As you may know, the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files used to build pages on modern websites can be really huge. In most situations, web servers can compress these and other text files on the fly to conserve network bandwidth.

One way to see if a web server is compressing files is with the browser’s developer tools. For many browsers, you access the tools with the F12 key and the relevant information is on the Network tab. Here’s an example:

As you see at the bottom left, there is no compression: the text files are 1.15 MB in size and that much data was transferred.

By default, compression is disabled in NGINX but depending on your installation or Linux distribution, some settings might be enabled in the default nginx.conf file. Here we enable gzip compression in the NGINX configuration file:

gzip on;
 gzip_types application/xml application/json text/css text/javascript application/javascript;
 gzip_vary on;
 gzip_comp_level 6;
 gzip_min_length 500;

As you see in the following screenshot, with compression the data transfer goes down to only 260 KB – a reduction of about 80%! For each new user on your page, you save about 917 KB of data transfer. For our WooCommerce installation that’s 62 MB a day, or 1860 MB a month.

Setting Cache Headers

When a browser retrieves a file for a web page, it keeps a copy in a local on‑disk cache so that it doesn’t have to refetch the file from the server when you visit the page again. Each browser uses its own logic to decide when to use a local copy of a file and when to fetch it again in case it has changed on the server. But as the website owner, you can set cache control and expiration headers in the HTTP responses you send, to make the browser’s caching behavior more efficient. In the long term you get many fewer unnecessary HTTP requests.

For a good start, you can set a long cache expiration time for fonts and images, which probably do not change often (and even if they change, they usually get a new file name). In the following example we instruct the client browser to keep fonts and images in the local cache for a month:

location ~* \.(?:jpg|jpeg|gif|png|ico|woff2)$ {
 expires 1M;
 add_header Cache-Control "public";
 }

Enabling HTTP/2 Protocol Support

HTTP/2 is a next‑generation protocol for serving web pages, designed for better network and host‑server utilization. According to the Google documentation, it enables much faster page loading:

The resulting protocol is more friendly to the network, because fewer TCP connections are used in comparison to HTTP/1.x. This means less competition with other flows, and longer‑lived connections, which in turn leads to better utilization of available network capacity.

NGINX 1.9.5 and later (and NGINX Plus R7 and later) supports the HTTP/2 protocol, and all you need to do is to enable it 😀. To do so, include the http2 parameter on the listen directives in your NGINX configuration files:

listen 443 ssl http2;

Note that in most cases, you also need to enable TLS to use HTTP/2.

You can verify that your (or any) site supports HTTP/2 with the HTTP2.Pro service:

Optimizing Logging

Make yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, sit comfortably, and think: when was the last time you looked at your access log file? Last week, last month, never? Even if you use it for day-to-day monitoring of your site, you probably focus only on errors (400 and 500 status codes, and so on), not successful requests.

By reducing or eliminating unnecessary logging, you save disk storage, CPU, and I/O operations on your server. This not only makes your server a little faster – if you’re deployed in a cloud environment, the freed‑up I/O throughput and CPU cycles might be a life saver for another virtual machine or application residing on the same physical machine.

There are several different ways to reduce and optimize logging. Here we highlight three.

Method 1: Disable Logging of Requests for Page Resources

This is a quick and easy solution if you don’t need to log requests that retrieve ordinary page resources such as images, JavaScript files, and CSS files. All you need to do is to create a new location block that matches those file types, and disable logging inside it. (You can also add this access_log directive to the location block above where we set the Cache-Control header .)

location ~* \.(?:jpg|jpeg|gif|png|ico|woff2|js|css)$ {
 access_log off;
 }

Method 2: Disable Logging of Successful Requests

This is a more powerful method because it discards queries with a 2xx or 3xx response code, logging only errors. It is slightly more complicated than Method 1 because it depends on how your NGINX logging is configured. In our example we use the standard nginx.conf included in Ubuntu Server distributions, so that regardless of the virtual host all requests are logged to /var/log/nginx/access.log.

Using an example from the official NGINX documentation let’s turn on conditional logging. Create a variable $loggable and set it to 0 for requests with 2xx and 3xx response codes, and otherwise to 1. Then reference this variable as a condition in the access_log directive.

Here’s the original directive in the http context in /etc/nginx/nginx.conf:

access_log /var/log/nginx/access.log;

Add a map block and reference it from the access_log directive:

map $status $loggable {
 ~^[23] 0;
 default 1;
 }
 
 access_log /var/log/nginx/access.log combined if=$loggable;

Note that although combined is the default log format, you need to specify it explicitly when including the if parameter.

Method 3: Minimizing I/O Operations with Buffering

Even if you want to log all requests you can minimize I/O operations by turning on access log buffering. With this directive NGINX waits to write log data to disk until a 512-KB buffer is filled or 1 minute has passed since the last flush, whichever occurs first.

access_log /var/log/nginx/access.log combined buffer=512k flush=1m;

Limiting Bandwidth for Particular URLs

If your server provides larger files (or smaller but extremely popular files, like forms or reports), it can be useful to set the maximum speed at which clients can download them. If your site is already experiencing a high network load, limiting download speed leaves more bandwidth to keep critical parts of your application responsive. This is a very popular solution used by hardware manufacturers – you may wait longer to download a 3-GB driver for your printer, but with thousands of other people downloading at the same time you’ll still able to get your download. 😉

Use the limit_rate directive to limit bandwidth for a particular URL. Here we’re limiting the transfer rate for each file under /download to 50 KB per second.

location /download/ {
 limit_rate 50k;
 }

You might also want to rate‑limit only larger files, which you can do with the limit_rate_after directive. In this example the first 500 KB of every file (from any directory) is transferred without speed restrictions, with everything after that capped at 50 KB/s. This enables faster delivery of critical parts of the website while slowing down others.

location / {
 limit_rate_after 500k;
 limit_rate 50k;
 }

Note that rate limits apply to individual HTTP connections between a browser and NGINX, and so don’t prevent users from getting around rate limits by using download managers.

Lastly, you can also limit the number of concurrent connections to your server or the rate of request. For details, see our documentation.

Summary

We hope that those five tips help optimize your site’s performance. Speed and bandwidth gains vary by website. Even if tuning your NGINX configuration doesn’t seem to significantly free up bandwidth or improve speed, the overall impact of thousands of websites individually tweaking their NGINX configuration adds up. Our global network is used more efficiently, meaning that the most critical services are delivered when needed.

If you’re having any issues with NGINX at your site, we’re here to help! During the COVID‑19 pandemic, NGINX employees and the community are monitoring the NGINX channel on Stack Overflow1 and responding to questions and requests as quickly as possible.

If you work for an organization on the frontlines of the pandemic and have advanced needs, you may qualify for up to five free NGINX Plus licenses as well as a higher tier of F5 DNS Load Balancer Cloud Service. See Free Resources for Websites Impacted by COVID‑19 for details.

Also check out that blog for a rundown of other easy ways to improve website performance with free resources from NGINX and F5.


1Stack Overflow is a third‑party website and is not affiliated with F5. Inc. F5 and its affiliates disclaim any liability for content (including general information and proposed solutions to questions) posted on Stack Overflow or any other third‑party website.

Product.platform

via NGINX https://meson.in/2It0R7u

April 22, 2020 at 04:34AM

Missing deaths

Missing deaths

https://meson.in/34Tmytk

The daily counts for coronavirus deaths rely on reporting, testing, and available estimates, which means the numbers we see are probably lower than the real counts. So, for The New York Times, Jin Wu and Allison McCann plotted overall deaths against historical averages for a better sense of what’s really happening.

The contrasting red lines provide an obvious figure against the “would have died anyways” argument.

Tags: , ,

Data.visualization

via Flowing Data https://meson.in/2KKaTGs

April 22, 2020 at 01:54AM

It was the virus that did it

It was the virus that did it

https://meson.in/2xKqxMp

I’m sure when this disaster is over, mainstream economics and the authorities will claim that it was an exogenous crisis nothing to do with any inherent flaws in the capitalist mode of production and the social structure of society.  It was the virus that did it.  This was the argument of the mainstream after the Great Recession of 2008-9 and it will be repeated in 2020.

As I write the coronavirus pandemic (as it is now officially defined) has still not reached a peak.  Apparently starting in China (although there is some evidence that it may have started in other places too), it has now spread across the globe.  The number of infections is now larger outside China than inside.  China’s cases have trickled to a halt; elsewhere there is still an exponential increase.

This biological crisis has created panic in financial markets. Stock markets have plunged as much 30% in the space of weeks.  The fantasy world of every rising financial assets funded by ever lower borrowing costs is over.

COVID-19 appears to be an ‘unknown unknown’, like the ‘black swan’-type global financial crash that triggered the Great Recession over ten years ago.  But COVID-19, just like that financial crash, is not really a bolt out of the blue – a so-called ‘shock’ to an otherwise harmoniously growing capitalist economy.  Even before the pandemic struck, in most major capitalist economies, whether in the so-called developed world or in the ‘developing’ economies of the ‘Global South’, economic activity was slowing to a stop, with some economies already contracting in national output and investment, and many others on the brink.

COVID-19 was the tipping point.  One analogy is to imagine a sandpile building up to a peak; then grains of sand start to slip off; and then comes a certain point with one more sand particle added, the whole sandpile falls over. If you are a post-Keynesian you might prefer calling this a ‘Minsky moment’, after Hyman Minsky, who argued that capitalism appears to be stable until it isn’t, because stability breeds instability.  A Marxist would say, yes there is instability but that instability turns into an avalanche periodically because of the underlying contradictions in the capitalist mode of production for profit.

Also, in another way, COVID-19 was not an ‘unknown unknown’.  In early 2018, during a meeting at the World Health Organization in Geneva, a group of experts (the R&D Blueprint) coined the term “Disease X”: They predicted that the next pandemic would be caused by an unknown, novel pathogen that hadn’t yet entered the human population. Disease X would likely result from a virus originating in animals and would emerge somewhere on the planet where economic development drives people and wildlife together.

Disease X would probably be confused with other diseases early in the outbreak and would spread quickly and silently; exploiting networks of human travel and trade, it would reach multiple countries and thwart containment. Disease X would have a mortality rate higher than a seasonal flu but would spread as easily as the flu. It would shake financial markets even before it achieved pandemic status. In a nutshell, Covid-19 is Disease X.

As socialist biologist, Rob Wallace, has argued, plagues are not only part of our culture; they are caused by it. The Black Death spread into Europe in the mid-14th century with the growth of trade along the Silk Road. New strains of influenza have emerged from livestock farming. EbolaSARSMERS and now Covid-19 has been linked to wildlife. Pandemics usually begin as viruses in animals that jump to people when we make contact with them. These spillovers are increasing exponentially as our ecological footprint brings us closer to wildlife in remote areas and the wildlife trade brings these animals into urban centers. Unprecedented road-building, deforestation, land clearing and agricultural development, as well as globalized travel and trade, make us supremely susceptible to pathogens like corona viruses.

There is a silly argument among mainstream economists about whether the economic impact of COVID-19 is a ‘supply shock’ or a ‘demand shock’.  The neoclassical school says it is a shock to supply because it stops production; the Keynesians want to argue it is really a shock to demand because people and businesses won’t spend on travel, services etc.

But first, as argued above, it is not really a ‘shock’ at all, but the inevitable outcome of capital’s drive for profit in agriculture and nature and from the already weak state of capitalist production in 2020.

And second, it starts with supply, not demand as the Keynesians want to claim.  As Marx said: “Every child knows a nation which ceased to work, I will not say for a year, but even for a few weeks, would perish.” (K Marx to Kugelmann, London, July 11, 1868).  It is production, trade and investment that is first stopped when shops, schools, businesses are locked down in order to contain the pandemic.  Of course, then if people cannot work and businesses cannot sell, then incomes drop and spending collapses and that produces a ‘demand shock’.  Indeed, it is the way with all capitalist crises: they start with a contraction of supply and end up with a fall in consumption – not vice versa.

Here is one mainstream (and accurate) view of the anatomy of crises.

Some optimists in the financial world are arguing that the COVID-19 shock to stock markets will end up like 19 October 1987.  On that Black Monday the stock market plunged very quickly, even more than now, but within months it was back up and went on up.  Current US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is sure that the financial panic will end up like 1987. “You know, I look back at people who bought stocks after the crash in 1987, people who bought stocks after the financial crisis,” he continued. “For long-term investors, this will be a great investment opportunity.”  This is a short-term issue. It may be a couple of months, but we’re going to get through this, and the economy will be stronger than ever,” the Treasury secretary said.

Mnuchin’s remarks were echoed by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who urged investors to capitalize on the faltering stock market amid coronavirus fears. “Long-term investors should think seriously about buying these dips,” describing the state of the U.S. economy as “sound.”  Kudlow really repeated what he said just two weeks before the September 2008 global financial crash: “for those of us who prefer to look ahead, through the windshield, the outlook for stocks is getting better and better.”

The 1987 crash was blamed on heightened hostilities in the Persian Gulf leading to a hike in oil prices, fear of higher interest rates, a five-year bull market without a significant correction, and the introduction of computerized trading.  As the economy was fundamentally ‘healthy’ so it did not last.  Indeed, the profitability of capital in the major economies was rising and did not peak until the late 1990s (although there was a slump in 1991).  So 1987 was what Marx called a pure ‘financial crash’ due to the instability inherent in speculative capital markets.

But that is not the case in 2020.  This time the collapse in the stock market will be followed by an economic recession as in 2008.  That’s because, as I have argued in previous posts, now the profitability of capital is low and global profits are static at best, even before COVID-19 erupted.  Global trade and investment have been falling, not rising.  Oil prices have collapsed, not risen.  And the economic impact of COVID-19 is found first in the supply chain, not in unstable financial markets.

What will be the magnitude of the slump to come?  There is an excellent paper by Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas that models the likely impact.  He shows the usual pandemic health diagram doing the rounds. Without any action, the pandemic takes the form of the red line curve, leading to a huge number of cases and deaths.  With action on lockdowns and social isolation, the peak of the (blue) curve can be delayed and moderated, even if the pandemic gets spun out for longer.  This supposedly reduces the pace of the infection and the number of deaths.

Public health policy should aim to “flatten the curve” by imposing drastic social distancing measures and promoting health practices to reduce the transmission rate. Currently Italy is following the Chinese approach of total lockdown, even if it may be closing the stable doors after the virus has bolted.  The UK is attempting a very risky approach of self-isolation for the vulnerable and allowing the young and healthy to get infected in order to build up so-called ‘herd immunity’ and avoid the health system being overwhelmed.  What this approach means is basically writing off the old and vulnerable because they are going to die anyway if infected and avoiding a total lockdown that would damage the economy (and profits).  The US approach is basically to do nothing at all: no mass testing, no self-isolation, no closure of public events; just wait until people get ill and then deal with the severe cases.

We could call this latter approach the Malthusian answer. The most reactionary of the classical economists in the early 19th century was the Reverend Thomas Malthus, who argued that there were too many ‘unproductive’ poor people in the world, so regular plagues and disease were necessary and inevitable to make economies more productive.

British Conservative journalist Jeremy Warner argued this for the Covid-19 pandemic which ‘primarily kills the elderly’. “Not to put too fine a point on it, from an entirely disinterested economic perspective, the COVID-19 might even prove mildly beneficial in the long term by disproportionately culling elderly dependents.” Responding to criticism ‘Obviously, for those affected it is a human tragedy whatever the age, but this is a piece about economics, not the sum of human misery.’ Indeed, that’s why Marx called economics in the early 19th century – the philosophy of misery.

The reason that the US and British governments won’t impose (yet) draconian measures, as in China eventually and now in Italy (belatedly) and elsewhere, is because it will inevitably steepen the macroeconomic recession curve. Consider China or Italy: increasing social distances has required closing schools, universities, most non-essential businesses, and asking most of the working-age population to stay at home. While some people may be able to work from home, this remains a small fraction of the overall labour force. Even if working from home is an option, the short-term disruption to work and family routines is major and likely to affect productivity. In short, the best public health policy plunges the economy into a sudden stop.  The supply shock.

The economic damage would be considerable. Gourinchas attempts to model the impact. He assumes that relative to a baseline, containment measures reduce economic activity by 50% for one month and 25% for another month, after which the economy returns to the baseline. “That scenario would still deliver a massive blow to headline GDP numbers, with a decline in annual output growth of the order of 6.5% relative to the previous year. Extend the 25% shutdown for just another month and the decline in annual output growth (relative to the previous year) reaches almost 10%!”  As a point of comparison, the decline in output growth in the U.S. during the 2008-09 `Great Recession’ was around 4.5%. Gourinchas concludes that “we are about to witness a downturn that could dwarf the Great Recession.”

At the peak of the Great Recession, the US economy was shedding jobs at the rate of 800,000 workers per month, but the vast majority of people were still employed and working. The unemployment rate peaked at `just’ 10%. By contrast, the coronavirus is creating a situation where – for a brief amount of time – 50% or more of people may not be able to work. The impact on economic activity is comparatively that much larger.

The upshot is that the economy, like the health system, faces a ‘flatten the curve’ problem. The red curve plots output lost during a sharp an intense downturn, amplified by the economic decisions of millions of economic agents trying to protect themselves by cutting spending, shelving investment, cutting down credit and generally hunkering down.

What to do to flatten the curve?  Well, central banks can and are providing emergency liquidity to the financial sector. Governments can deploy discretionary targeted fiscal measures or broader programs to support economic activity. These measures could help `flatten the economic curve’, i.e. limit the economic loss, as in the blue curve, by keeping workers paid and employed so they can meet bills or have bills delayed or written off for a period.  Small businesses could be funded to ride out the storm and banks bailed out, as in the Great Recession.

But a financial crisis is still a high risk.  In the US, corporate debt has risen and is concentrated in bonds issued by the weaker companies (BBB or lower).

And the energy sector is being hit with a double whammy as oil prices have plunged. Bond risk premia (the cost of borrrowing) have rocketed in the energy and transport sectors.

Monetary easing certainly won’t be enough to flatten the curve.  Central bank interest rates are already near, at or below zero.  And the huge injections of credit or money into the banking system will be like ‘pushing on a string’ in its effect on production and investment. Cheap financing won’t speed up the supply chain or make people want to travel again. Nor will it help corporate earnings if customers aren’t spending.

The main economic mitigation will have to come from fiscal policy. The international agencies like the IMF and World Bank have offered $50bn. National governments are now launching various fiscal stimulus programmes.  The UK government announced a big spend in its latest budget and the US Congress has agreed an emergency spend.

But is it enough to flatten the curve if two months of lockdown knock back most economies by a staggering 10%?  None of the current fiscal packages come anywhere near 10% of GDP.  Indeed, in the Great Recession, only China delivered such an amount.  The UK government’s proposals amount to just 1.5% of GDP maximum, while Italy’s is 1.4% and the US at less than 1%.

There is a chance that by the end of April we will have seen the global total number of cases peak and begin to decline.  That is what governments are hoping and planning for.  If that optimistic scenario happens, the coronavirus will not disappear.  It become yet another flu-like pathogen (which we know little about) that will hit us each year like its predecessors.  But even two months lockdown will incur huge economic damage. And the monetary and fiscal stimulus packages planned are not going to avoid a deep slump, even if they reduce the ‘curve’ to some extent.  The worst is yet to come.

Econo.Progressive

via Michael Roberts Blog https://meson.in/2ErIaA0

March 15, 2020 at 07:24PM

블로그 | 라즈베리 파이, 새로운 프라이빗 클라우드

블로그 | 라즈베리 파이, 새로운 프라이빗 클라우드

https://meson.in/39Ydwx1

라즈베리 파이는 작고 다재다능하고 저렴한 컴퓨터로 어디에나 쓸 수 있다. 이제는 프라이빗 클라우드로도 사용할 수 있다.
라즈베리 파이는 진짜 라즈베리 파이보다 더 싸다는 농담이 있다. 물론 파이 하나 먹는데 50달러나 100달러를 낼 사람은 없겠지만, 라즈베리 파이는 작은 크기에 네트워킹 기능을 갖추고 오픈소스 소프트웨어를 구동하는 매우 능력 있는 컴퓨터…

Science.computing

via CIO Korea https://meson.in/33pCSBx

March 17, 2020 at 09:24AM

딥러닝에 대한 10가지 질문

딥러닝에 대한 10가지 질문

https://meson.in/2WjfyDR

데이터 과학 문제, 더 구체적으로는 인공지능(AI) 영역에서 성공적으로 딥러닝(Deep Learning)을 사용하기 위한 전략을 설명하는 기사는 흔히 볼 수 있다. 그러나 딥러닝 자체와 딥러닝이 그렇게 강력한 이유, 그리고 실제 사용 환경에서 딥러닝이 취하는 다양한 형태에 대한 명확한 설명은 찾기가 쉽지 않다.
딥러닝, 신경망, 중요한 혁신, 가장 널리 …

Science.computing

via CIO Korea https://meson.in/33pCSBx

March 17, 2020 at 09:31AM

In the Wake of the Coronavirus, Here’s Why Americans Are Hoarding Toilet Paper

In the Wake of the Coronavirus, Here’s Why Americans Are Hoarding Toilet Paper

https://meson.in/3b3l0yZ

There’s nothing quite like the behavior of panicky humans—especially when it comes to hoarding. Let a blizzard approach or a hurricane churn toward shore, and we descend on stores, buying up more batteries, bottled water and canned foods than we could use in a lifetime. We’re seeing the same thing again as America hunkers down against the novel coronavirus, and of all of the products that are being snatched up the fastest, there’s one that’s in special demand: toilet paper.

The Washington Post reports a run on the rolls, with both Costco and the Giant supermarket chain stripped all but clean. Even Amazon’s physical stores “appeared to be down to single rolls of novelty toilet paper in some places Friday,” the Post said. The New York Times similarly reports from a Whole Foods supermarket in Somerville, Mass., where shoppers had to be limited to two packages of toilet paper each, lest they strip the store bare.

But why? What is it about toilet paper—specifically the prospect of an inadequate supply of it—that makes us so anxious? Some of the answer is obvious. Toilet paper has primal—even infantile—associations, connected with what is arguably the body’s least agreeable function in a way we’ve been taught from toddlerhood. Few, if any of us, remember a time when we weren’t acquainted with the product.

“There is comfort in knowing that it’s there,” says psychologist Mary Alvord, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the George Washington University School of Medicine. “We all eat and we all sleep and we all poop. It’s a basic need to take care of ourselves.”

We are also exceedingly social creatures, and we count on the community for our survival. People seen as unclean or unwell are at risk of being shunned—which in the state of nature could mean death. “We’ve gone beyond using leaves,” says Alvord. “It’s about being clean and presentable and social and not smelling bad.”

The coronavirus panic has only made things worse. We know exactly when hurricane or blizzard season is approaching, and stores and supply chains can prepare. No one foresaw the season of corona.

“We, as a country, responded slowly,” says psychologist Baruch Fischhoff, professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “Until very recently, many people heard assurance that this was not a major problem. Then, suddenly, they were told to stock up, for an indeterminate period.”

When it comes to stocking up, different basics offer differing options. “If people did not find the food that they wanted, they could buy other food,” says Fischhoff. “For toilet paper, there are no substitutes.”

The need to hoard the one product for which there is no alternative is only exacerbated, he adds, by the fact that it is not clear when the possible shortages will end. America’s late-to-the-party response to the COVID-19 pandemic means shoppers have not been “given assurances that the supply chain issues would be managed in due course.”

They likely will be, just as the virus will be brought under control—eventually. Until then, humans will be humans and our eccentricities will be our eccentricities. Our panic buying, Alvord says, represents one thing we can control. In an exceedingly uncertain moment, it’s at least something.

Bio.medical

via Healthland https://meson.in/2U5ujaJ

March 15, 2020 at 05:00AM