Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch captured the imagination of the country with his last lecture, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” This was an inspiring talk, and the book will preserve it for generations to come. One observation I quite liked was that, “becoming an Eagle Scout is the only thing you can put on your resume at age fifty that you did at age fourteen—and it still impresses.” While I don’t agree with all BSA membership policies, achieving Eagle is still impressive and I regret not following through to this day. Another section that resonated with me was Pausch’s rant on the growing sense of entitlement of this country, the idea of rights without responsibility. This has long been an annoyance to me and I fear that as a country we are lurching more towards socialism and governmental parenting which only exacerbates the problem.

While in places overly saccharine, this book was a worthy read. Pausch clearly met his terminal diagnosis head on, avoiding the more normal (but understandable) wallowing in self-pity. Not everyone has the fortitude to face unpleasant situations with a positive outlook; if for nothing else this attitude is worthy of admiration and emulation. However, I couldn’t help but think the text was self-serving in places. His attempt at literary immortality doesn’t bother me, but wrapping in altruism feels false a bit false. Anybody that echoes Darrell K. Royal in saying “dance with the one who brung you” can’t be all bad, though!

First Sentence:
A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.”

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