Sad News

By Kevin Ryan

Posted on August 14th, 2018

Well, so often tragic news strikes like a bolt out of a clear blue sky. Takes your breath away under a huge weight of sadness.

It is a good thing to treat everyone with love and charity.

We were at UCSF for one of Aidan’s shorter stays. I was watching kids play in the very tiny 6th floor outside area just across from the PICU. Willa had been on the phone for over 1/2 hour. I was getting annoyed. Willa finished the phone conversation, came up to me and simply said, “Kevin’s dead.” Annoyance went away – lesson eternally learned. She could have talked to Kevin’s mom for hours/days and it’d be fine.

Kevin had been going into liver failure and he needed a liver transplant to survive. He was did not live in our area. We lucked out so much by having Dr. Rosenthal as Aidan’s doctor who really went to bat for him. Kevin was what is described as mentally delayed. His doctors did not want to do transplant because of this. He died. Kevin was 8 years old.

It bothers me to this day that so much of our society values people by what they can accomplish rather than what they are. The more powerless a person is the more they deserve to be defended.

Ryan Barrett

I’m thinking about this today because it was 9 years ago on this date that Ryan Barrett died. It doesn’t seem that long ago. The memory and hurt returns again every year.

He was a sweet boy who was autistic. I remember the call for urgent prayers when he went missing. I remember that sad update when he was found. He had had a seizure near water when alone. I can picture it. Here comes those tears again….

Lindenhurst family mourns autistic teen’s drowning




In the midst of heartbreak

Great Great Courses

By Kevin Ryan

Posted on August 13th, 2018

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I said I was going to write a blog post about my five favorite Great Courses lectures. So away we go… in no particular order…


Classical Archaeology of Ancient Greece and Rome

Fun to hear about all the different sites and think about the people that lived then. Wish I had got the video version of this lecture.


Philosophy of Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines

Wonderful overview of computers and Artificial Intelligence. Searle’s Chinese Room Argument is brilliant. On a similar tack, I want to read Penrose’s The Emperor’s New Mind again.


Great Masters: Shostakovich – His Life and Music

The story of a composer who survived Stalin’s terror and lived into the early 197os. Think about some of your colleagues in whatever your vocation/job/craft is. Now imagine a sizable portion of them being executed by the state. I ended up getting a collection of his 15 Symphonies. The 10th Symphony is about Stalin – written right after he died. The 2nd movement “is a musical portrait of Stalin” – Shostakovich.  You can hear the menace in the 2nd movement:


Shakespeare’s Tragedies

Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus. Each of these plays had three or four lectures. Enjoyed these because they filled in a knowledge gap for me. Listened to the Macbeth lecture just before seeing play at Willamette University in Salem.


History of Ancient Egypt

Forty eight lectures starting from prehistoric Egypt and ending at Cleopatra. Sweeping overview. It is amazing to see how many years this covers. Cleopatra was roughly 2,000 years before today. The pyramids were built over 2,500 before her!