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CMU professor gives his last lesson on life (post-gazette.com)
121 points by amichail 3715 days ago | hide | past | web | 33 comments | favorite



This guy is very inspiring. Such a great attitude!

I recently found a red mole on my wife's skin. It was just a fluke that I noticed it. I once designed pattern recognition software to help recognize skin cancer, so I knew what to watch out for. Anyway, she had it biopsied and it came back as malignant melanoma - the worst form of skin cancer. She had surgery to remove it and several of her lymph nodes two days after the diagnosis. She is cancer free now (PET scan), but it was quite a scare. She is young and had never had much sun exposure, so we were initially surprised with the diagnosis. It turns out that some skin cancers are predominantly genetic. And skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, especially among young people.

//PSA Portion of post//

Check your skin monthly to see if you have any unusual changes. As with most cancers, early detection is the key to higher survival rates. If you notice something unusual, go to a DERMATOLOGIST (not a GP.) Dermatologists have much better detection rates than regular docs. My wife had a GP and a surgeon tell her the red mole was nothing, and she only had it removed because I kept nagging her. Dermatologists measure size/penetration etc. with skin cancer to determine survival rates. My wife's survival rate was 85%, but .02mm deeper and it would have dropped significantly. My doctor had a patient with the same type of melanoma, for example, and she died within three weeks of noticing a new mole. She took a "wait and see" approach and it killed her. So don't wait!

A mnemonic for things to watch out for: ABCDE.

A=Asymmetry (Uneven Surface); B=Borders (Irregular mole borders); C=Color (Varied colors are bad. Reds and blacks are bad); D=Diameter (Larger than your pupil/a pencil eraser = bad); E=Evolving (Any changes, such as bleeding, crusting, etc.)

//End PSA//

Wow. My posts are too long.


"My posts are too long."

In this case, no.


I think Steve Jobs said it best:

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Now I just need some courage.


We're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz!


Oh man, that was extremely painful to read yet it was so inspirational! Cancer in family is so hard to get over and as someone who has experienced it first hand, I can tell you that it impacts the whole family, not just the person affected by it. He's a fascinating man and we'll all be at loss if he passes away.

I wish him and his family all the best.


I knew lots of folks that loved this guy's class. Building Virtual Worlds is the kind of class where you may as well not take any others that semester because you will have neither the time nor the inclination to work on anything else.


I knew Randy when he was a rising star at UVa and doing work with us on neurosurgical planning using VR. When we played recreational football, Randy was one of the guys to watch. Great guy who cares about his students. I'm really sad this happened to him. People that know him wouldn't be surprised of his attitude. And we owe it to people like Randy to not waste the time we've been given.


A few weeks ago, I was out to dinner with my parents and my grandparents. My grandfather is 90 years old and in relatively good health but he's slowed down a lot recently. My family has gotten much less religious over the years (we're Jewish) as it has come out that no one really believes in the religion, from my grandparents on down. The thought of my grandfather facing his own death with no faith really depressed me.

Have any secular individuals here come to terms with their own mortality? I haven't yet, but I sure hope I have a while to figure it out. Right now all I've got is a hope that a singularity will grant immortality. Or that this reality is a computer simulation and we wake up in a bigger computer simulation where we get bored sometimes and choose to spend lifetimes during interesting periods of time.

Either of these are much more likely than the eternal afterlife of a theistic god, but not nearly likely enough to give me any comfort. Dr Roth's lesson on mortality seems to be that death is inevitable, but that doesn't give me any satisfaction, for now.


Think of it this way: you don't have nearly as much to lose as you once thought. On the other hand, you'd better start living a good life now, because while you're alive is all you've got.


"The Wall" by Jean-Paul Sartre deals with these issues. I read it in some BS French Lit class, but "The Wall" was one that stuck with me. I'd recommend reading it (no long at all) as it gives a good depiction of what it's like facing death secularly.


Any happy living being will not find satisfaction in death. You just have to take the existential outlook that you may die or be immortal, in either case you have to define and strive for happiness. I remember as a child thinking "death will never happen to me." I also used to find refuge in belief, until I realized it was just a delusion.

I found that liberating, though. If life is here for a moment or forever, it is best not to let death define it. Just live.

Richard Carrier has a few essays on secular valuation of life; you might want to check those out. Keep striving...


My guess is that all people -- religious or not -- are completely terrified towards the end. But maybe religion can bring comfort to some, so that they are terrified to a lesser degree.


I think many people are not terrified, or even particularly afraid. I certainly don't want to die (like, ever), but I can understand those who "are ready" to die, now. Ten years ago, I couldn't even understand that. It was incomprehensible to me.

Generalizing improperly from my own experience and that of people I know, it seems to me that it gets easier to accept the idea of death for many people as they age. Hopefully we'll crack the aging thing ASAP, but I wonder how many will die of old age even after aging is more-or-less optional.


I don't think I would be terrified, nor you.

While I'm too young to say, I think at the time you are old, your brain would have changed (or degraded) sufficiently enough to handle it with relative ease. That's the only way it makes sense to me when I read about ailing people talking about seeing the exit, the final candle, or whatever.

That aside, I also consider "what happens after you die" to be the ultimate question. Because nobody alive, dumb or smart, knows the answer, and nobody has come back to tell us. It just depends on when you think you are ready to find the answer. Perhaps after you solve the unified field theory everything will converge.


While I'm too young to say, I think at the time you are old, your brain would have changed (or degraded) sufficiently enough to handle it with relative ease. That's the only way it makes sense to me when I read about ailing people talking about seeing the exit, the final candle, or whatever.

Even if true, not everyone would die after their brain has degraded in this way.

Sleep disorders are quite common in the elderly and I would guess that this is mostly due to a fear of death while asleep.


Having "happy" children is the best afterlife. Or, as people such as Alan Kay and Seymour Papert (who I believe are childless) have done, do something for everybody's children.


"Or that this reality is a computer simulation and we wake up in a bigger computer simulation where we get bored sometimes and choose to spend lifetimes during interesting periods of time."

"Either of these are much more likely than the eternal afterlife of a theistic god..."

What's the difference between these two?


someone tried to give you an answer here

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14926


It's sad that we have to be reminded of it, but this just reaffirms that the little bubble world of YC, TechCrunch, and Web 2.Oh really don't mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of life. This guy wouldn't trade some extra time with his family for all the startups and VC cash in the world. It just puts things into perspective.


As I see it, the YC & startup world is consistent with the philosophy of that article. At least to me, the whole idea is that if you're a highly competent person and willing to tolerate some risk, you have a reasonable chance of being able to spend more time doing the things that you love in life in the long-run -- seeing your family, traveling, and having the freedom to hack on whatever you want -- if you can do a successful startup while you're relatively young.


Better to live a day as a lion... you know the rest.

Maybe I'm not old enough, maybe it's because I don't have a family, but I'd rather do something few others have done than just lay around with my family until they send me off to the retirement home.

So, I disagree with your position 100%.

Anyone have a link to video of the guy who rides on top of the high speed train shortly before he dies of cancer?



He wouldn't trade fulfilling his dreams for anything either.


You can find a streaming video of the talk here:

mms://wms.andrew.cmu.edu/001/pausch.wmv


Aw shit. 'Twas getting pretty misty here by the 'second head fake' moment.


I just watched the whole thing on youtube. He's amazing. A great speaker, a great teacher, and I've heard nothing but good things about him as a person. The moment near the end where he brings out a cake for his wife is incredible.

We have a lot in common... same advisor, similar dreams. He's just older and a whole lot smarter. It just brought his whole message home for me. Brick walls are there to make you want it.


Wow. I'm sitting here in class not doing my work (Intro to Computers. Feh.) with near-misty eyes. if I'm ever hit with the cancer dart, I only hope I can be so strong.

Awesome read, indeed.


Seems like a good guy. I don't think I'm nearly as strong. Good luck Randy Pausch.

"Somewhere during my treatment, somebody asked me if having cancer had made me believe less, or more, in God. I replied that I didn't know, but it sure had made me believe more in people." -- http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/news/index.html


I scanned the whole of reddit and this is the one article that I clicked and read. And in the next few minutes this is hitting the top in news.yc. News.yc feels like a reddit that finally understood me. :'(


tried to read this all day but it's been down...google cache version:

http://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:http://www.post-gazette....


indeed great speech & life lesson


WOW


great read.




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