Chris Ryan’s Take on the Present Situation

Chris Ryan is not only a highly respected podcaster (Tangentially Speaking), but the author of two great books: Sex at Dawn (NYTimes best-seller) and Civilized to Death, which is one of the most relevant-to-the-times (and to-my-life) books I’ve ever read. He just sent out this email:

Hey you –

So here we are. I won’t say I predicted this, but I was kind of nervous about getting Civilized to Death published before the end of the world as we know it. Looks like I just made it!

Seriously though, we’re living through increasingly interesting days. I often wonder whether my rapidly shifting sense of things is due to my getting older (rapidly) or if it’s an accurate assessment of an accelerating reality. I’m gonna say 25% the former and 75% the latter. I mean, I remember watching the mess unfolding over the deadlocked election in 2000, thinking, “The United States is falling apart.” Then I watched the U.S. stumble into inane wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I thought, “This is how a dying empire behaves.” Then I woke up one day a few years ago to the realization that Donald Trump — a shithead who’s been on my radar since I lived in Manhattan in the mid-’80s — was president. President! Of the country!

And now this.

I don’t need to review the bad news for you. I’m sure you’re getting plenty of that. But here’s some good news: Things can change dramatically and quickly. Who could have predicted two months ago that the entire world economy would be shut down, passenger air traffic basically frozen, air quality vastly improved, and the price of oil cut in half?

In a world where these things are possible, what else is possible? UBI (Universal Basic Income)? Respect (and much higher pay) for nurses, grocery store workers, home health workers, and other people who are essential to our lives, but taken for granted? Universal health care for Americans?

There will always be great resistance to anything that pulls money and power away from the rich and powerful, but they’re off balance right now and common people are feeling desperate and afraid. There’s power in that desperation. It can be harnessed for bad (blame it on foreigners, Democrats, hippies, blacks, etc.), or for good. Let’s pull toward the good. Maybe, together, we can make something better than what we had a few weeks ago.

Now go wash your hands.

–Christopher Ryan

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

One Response to Chris Ryan’s Take on the Present Situation

  1. Hey Lloyd, this communication from Ryan jumped out because I appreciate his sentiment that maybe something good could come of this pandemic combined with the economic collapse but I’ve got all these obstacles lodged in my head.

    First: there is “merica” to contend with. Two days ago the trumpsters in Michigan showed up at the doors of the governor’s office, defying the stay at home requirements, the hand washing requirements, the mask wearing requirements and so on. They are aroused and angry. Men and women with their red hats and American flag motifs. This civil polarity is hardening and how in hell are we going to put them all back in the box, if in fact there is some sort of box?
    He’s got 43% approval right now in a Gallop poll and it is dropping but it is still 3% higher than his average. AND his 3+ year average is 40 freaking percent! That’s millions of people balking at what we all might consider a modest request to honor the social contract. My governor Cuomo, is doing a bang up job communicating and stealing trump’s thunder but he wondered yesterday if we might learn something and change our ways.

    Second: Ever read the book American Nations by Collin Woodward? The premise is that our country is not an organization of 50 states but a looser conglomerate of 11 cultural regions like the Deep South, Yankeedom, the Left Coast and so on. I always quote the Preamble (In Order To Form A More Perfect Government…) and think that was an impossible task we were given. An admirable ideal but that ain’t happening.

    Third: Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones…They’re not going away and they are succeeding. How do we rid ourselves of that right wing?

    Fourth: The economy. Capitalism. Greed. How’s all that going to get fixed?

    Fifth: This relates a little to the third point, Ryan speaks about it a little. Since reagan, the right wing has been encroaching into our society and it has a substantial grip on our population. They have stolen elections, stolen a political party, they are good at chasing their goals and the lefties in our country have become a feckless minority. The progressive paradigm in our 20th century got thrown overboard back when Clinton was president.

    I built a forty-five foot dome in 1972-73. It was based on your squashed dome calculations at the back of the Dome book. The roof would have been a Fero-cement coated affair. It collapsed in ’74. I built an A-frame in ’76. Sold it in ’77 and moved to Florida. I helped build a Cordwood house (actually two cordwood houses) in 1980. I built a shed roof style rectangular house in ’82. 20′ X 32′. Raised three kids to adulthood and I still live there. It’s about two and a half times the size of the original building and eventually I gave it all the amenities like running water, sewerage, electricity…you know, a real house.
    I’m just letting you know how you influenced my life and I have only touched on a few of the details. Anyway, thanks.
    And yes, I am washing my hands, and wiping everything down.

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