Monday, May 15, 2023

Gradually, then suddenly

An interesting piece came out a few weeks ago on the Sovereign Man website entitled "We're done with 'gradually.' We've now reached the 'suddenly' part."

The article opens by discussing the mathematical concept of logarithms.

He also reviews "logarithmic decay": "The idea behind logarithmic decay is that something declines very, very slowly at first. But, over a long period of time, the rate of decline becomes faster… and faster… and faster. If you look at it on a graph, logarithmic decay basically looks like a horizontal line that almost imperceptibly arcs gently downwards. But eventually the arc downward becomes steeper and steeper until it’s practically a vertical line down."

Think of a river right before a waterfall.

The article states: "In fact logarithmic decay is great way to describe social and financial decline. Even the rise and fall of superpowers are often logarithmic in scale. The Kingdom of France in the 1700s infamously fell gradually… then suddenly. We can see the same logarithmic decay in the West today, and specifically the United States. The deterioration of government finances has been gradual, then sudden. Social conflict, censorship, and the decline in basic civility has been gradual, then sudden. Even the loss of confidence in the U.S. dollar has been gradual… and is poised to be sudden."

This mathematical concept is summarized in "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway (a book I've never read) on going bankrupt: "Gradually, then suddenly."

Right now, on the surface, everything seems fine. We just traveled to California to see my parents and spent days on the road without an issue. All of us are working our regular jobs without a problem.

But underneath, there are odd and uneasy undercurrents. There's a lot of stuff swirling around in the air: financially, politically, and legally. The Rule of Law has been suspended in many areas, and a lot of cities are descending into unlivable chaos. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the future.

The Sovereign Man's thesis is we can't tell where we are on the logarithmic curve. We could have a long slow slope ahead of us, or we could be teetering on the precipice. However, his conclusion is we are at the "suddenly" part.

What I get from this piece is the need to become independent, as much as possible, for all our needs. This isn't always easy or even possible (just ask my very elderly parents), but it should be the goal of everyone. The more independent we are of these swirling currents of unease, the better.

Just some random thoughts as I work on multiple writing deadlines.


  1. Also know as the hockey stick.
    Yes, time to prepare.

  2. Yes, we are definitely on the “suddenly “… All monetary, social, political, religious and spirituality concerns moving at the same rate. Precipice? Yes, and it may be a rocky ride ahead! Check the stock, readjust the supply, and gather now, the items needed for self preservation.

  3. Independence in any small way is a good thing.

    My sense is the same - everything appears reasonably okay on the surface, but there are odd economic undercurrents that seem to stir the water in odd ways.

  4. I work in a public facing job. Let me tell you, I see things every day that make me shudder. The undercurrents seem to be an undertow from my view.

  5. I came across an allegory/riddle that illustrates this: if a pond algae doubles in size over the surface of a pond, and can completely cover a pond in 30 days, at what day will the pond be half-covered? The answer being day 29. This helped illustrate to me the idea of how much distance we may perceive to disaster vs. how fast we approach said disaster.