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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 22, 2008 / 17 Iyar 5768

Two very different sides of the Internet

By Michael Smerconish


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Two individuals are currently creating an Internet buzz by choosing to share tremendous private suffering with the public. But while one is using the Web to teach and heal, the other seeks to take vengeance and humiliate.

Perhaps you've already heard of Randy Pausch. If not, I'd love to be the one to introduce you. He's a 47-year-old computer science professor who holds a doctorate and has tenure at Carnegie Mellon University. In September 2006, he was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas, one the deadliest forms of the disease.

He's married with three young and beautiful children. The Pausch family pictures are straight out of a lifestyle catalog. In August 2007, he was told he had only three to six months of "good health" remaining. And so, one month later, he delivered a lecture - The Last Lecture - to 400 friends and colleagues.

I'd never heard of "last lectures." Normally robust members of academia are invited to deliver an address as if it were their last. Uncommon is that a professor such as Pausch, at the top of his mental game, would give it literal meaning. And while his students have now multiplied, he is very clear that the intended audience totaled only three: the children he shares with his wife, Jai, who were only 4, 2 and 3 months old respectively when he was first diagnosed.

The lecture, titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," instantly became an Internet sensation. By now more than 15 million people have viewed it online. A recently released book version, titled "The Last Lecture" and co-authored by Jeffrey Zaslow, just debuted at No. 1 in Publishers Weekly, a bible for the print trade.

In the lecture, professor Pausch ruminates about his life. Self-deprecating and insightful, his remarks present a non-preachy lesson plan. But be forewarned. You won't turn off the lecture once you begin, and watching Pausch requires an instant and emotional commitment, not because he demands it, but because his words and circumstances do. After I viewed the lecture, I ordered the book, and then perused his blog.

Typical is what he posted on a recent Sunday:

"I'm in the process of slowly getting my strength back. Once we have demonstrated we can keep the blood pressure down, then we can dial back on the blood pressure meds, which are causing a good part of the fatigue.

Several people have expressed concern about the tumor marker. True, it's going up. But by the time this is over, it'll probably be over 5,000, so don't worry too much just yet!

Today's box score:

Creatanine (kidney function): 3.1

CA19-9 (tumor marker): 404

Blood Pressure: 130/82

Tough stuff, but reading Pausch is not entirely a downer. To the contrary, as he told the attendees at the outset of the lecture that started it all: "If I don't seem as depressed or as morose as I should be - sorry to disappoint you!" That was just before he told them he was then in better physical health than they were - and proceeded to prove it by doing one-handed push-ups.

"Five years ago, I wouldn't have known about Randy Pausch, let alone seen his last lecture. I've watched the complete 76-minute lecture three times now. YouTube has made it is so easy for me to do this. ... But for every Randy Pausch, there's a hundred Tricia Walsh-Smiths," said Jenkins Law Internet Librarian Dan Giancaterino.

Walsh-Smith, a playwright and former actress, could use a dose of Pausch's grounding and humility. She's the other person now causing an Internet sensation, in her case, by using YouTube, and its penchant for instant viewership, to get back at a husband who is dumping her. Like Pausch, she, too, has quickly become a media figure. But there's nothing redeeming about her 15 minutes of fame because her only goal appears to be throwing mud in all directions.

Taken together, Pausch and Walsh-Smith show that the difference between "good" and "bad" use of media to air private woes boils down to one thing: motive. While he seeks to be a beneficial influence on his children, she attempts to tar and feather her soon to be ex.

In her first video, Walsh-Smith revealed that even though she and her husband never had sex, she found his stashes of Viagra and porn. She then called his assistant at work and asked what to do with the offending material.

Now it's reported that more than 3 million people know all about Tricia Walsh-Smith's bad pre-nup and the emotional distress it has caused her. And in a sequel, she asked for donations so she can buy a tent once she's forced to move out of her husband's apartment. I'm thinking Ringling Bros.

A salient difference is that while both Pausch and Walsh-Smith invite us to examine their lives, there's no appeal to voyeurism in "The Last Lecture." Pausch has said his goal is to preserve a piece of himself so his children can remember him as they continue to grow up. But Walsh-Smith seeks to offer only a 1-900-variety guilty pleasure.

Pausch also illustrates that there are circumstances where mass media afford appropriate opportunities for the airing of private matters. But it all depends on content. The mass media, especially new media such as the Internet, can and often do help millions of us learn something new, see something in a new way, or build up lives, friendships and communities. It's all out there if you know where to find it, which often requires guidance. That suggests a way in which the Internet is still incomplete: Who will guide us to the good stuff and warn us away from the bad?

There is a place for Walsh-Smith, too. It's the same place as it was pre-Internet: the dustbin.

Some things make claims on our attention because they are truly important. Then there are thousands of claims throughout the Internet and e-mail world, claims that seldom hold. But Randy Pausch just reset the bar.

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Previously:

02/12/07 Sublimely ridiculous suits
11/28/07 Cell phones cut out secondary circle of kinship
09/26/07 What do we owe those who have died in Iraq?
08/30/07 A Navy SEAL's gut-wrenching tale of survival
07/30/07 First it was a faux pas, now it's a new word


© 2008, The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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