Monday, May 30, 2011

History Channel presents a shorter "Gettysburg" (compare to Turner's 1993 missive)

The History Channel’s two-hour documentary Memorial Day “Gettysburg” was pretty much a conventional documentary, often looking spooky with the night scenes of the highland areas of the Union encampment. 

That is a big contrast to the four-hour Turner Film in 1993, directed by Robert Maxwell, where actors give long speeches (that was really made for television although it had a limited theatrical release from New Line.) In two hours, you don't have time for personal philosophical ruminations about sacrifice.

The new film states that at the start of the War Between the States, slaves were the country’s largest economic “asset”.

The Battle of Gettysburg had the armies in reverse; the Confederates approached from the NW. The battle was so large because of the particular geography of the area, with the many roads arranged like spokes of a wheel.

This was a culture in which young men were fungible. One third of Lee’s troops were lost in the battle, the largest ever in North America. Almost one quarter of battlefield amputations were fatal.

The second half of the film documents Pickett’s Charge, which, despite the slaughter of the attacking Confederates, came closer to succeeding at one point than most people realize.  The film gives a lot of technical description of how the Union artillery worked.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

CNN Presents: A Twister's Fury: In the Path of Destruction: A sobering meteorological report on why so many large tornadoes this season, and the danger is not over

“CNN Presents: A Twister’s Fury: In the Path of Destruction” aired Saturday May 28 at 8 PM EDT.

Curiously, I could not find a definite CNN link for this show (about the Joplin MO. Tornado May 22) yet, but there is another blogger report  already (url) here

The documentary opened with a pharmacist’s account of being caught in the eye of the twister. Later there was a walkthrough of the destruction of St. Johns Hospital. There was a comparison with Tuscaloosa, which had fewer deaths from a tornado that tracked longer.

Chad Myers explained the sudden deadliness of this tornado. It grew suddenly from F0 size just six miles outside of Joplin, into F5, giving little time for warning.

There have been four F5 tornadoes in the US this spring, an unprecedented concentration. Is this the result of global warming? Not necessarily.

The La Nina winter produced a huge snow pack in the Rockies, which caused the cold fronts coming down from the west to be even colder than normal. The drought in Texas prevented the thunderstorms from forming farther west, where tornadoes are frequent but usually smaller. The floods in the Mississippi River basin added to the humidity in the air, meaning that the cold air, when driven by upper level low pressure along the dip in the jet stream, would slam into very unstable air farther East than usual. The result is much larger than usual storms. The risk is still there now, along with the fact that the Gulf of Mexico is warmer than usual (which is probably the result of global warming), and which could add to the severity of the hurricane season, which starts June 1.

Could large tornadoes move still farther East this season? The North Carolina Piedmont, including the Raleigh area, had a long-tracking tornado in early April, and in 2002 southern Maryland had one. But it is true that on the East Coast, the most dangerous situations occur after long periods of warm moist southerly winds that didn't have to cross the mountains, which probably means more risk to Tidewater and Coastal Plain areas. I live close to Washington DC in the Virginia burbs. 

Ashley Fantz of CNN provides this report:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lady Gaga gives us a wakeup call on ABC GMA; Piers Morgan conducts sobering interviews with Gordon Brown, Musharraf; AC360: more tragedy from Joplin

Last night, CNN finally  began to lighten up on the Joplin tragedy to cover other things, as Piers Morgan interviewed Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the UK. Brown warned Americans, Brits, and westerners that there is a lot that matters besides just individual self-interest.  He did mention climate change and terror,and hinted that he thought that the sustainability of our whole civilization could be tested.

Pervez Musharraf, former president of Pakistan followed, and talked about the theoretical illegality of president Obama’s secret raid to get Osama bin Laden. He called our president “arrogant”, and suggested that such a unilateral action could have consequences.

Last night Anderson Cooper reported that several of the missing teenagers from the Joplin tornado had indeed died in the event and been identified.  He hasn't announced when he will resume his normal interviewing, including the report on the "Sissy Boy" experiment. 

Friday morning, May 27, would start on a much lighter note as I turned on ABC Good Morning America. It seemed as though Lady Gaga  (“Born this Way”) was filling the streets of Manhattan from the Sheep Meadow to Times Square.  Sorry, I’m in Virginia.

Lady Gaga said something like “I live between reality and performance at all times.”  Stephanopoulos was there, and they had a brief discussion about bullying.

ABC's "free" videos took a long time to load this morning and had 1-minute commercials, but here goes:

My picture: from the Poisson Rogue last October, not Lady Gaga, but similar. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Suzie Orman goes onto Nate Berkus show, makes fun of his socklessness, then of his financial non-smarts

On the very last day of the life of the Oprah Winfrey show, Nate Berkus (collaborator) had one of his funniest episodes on his own show, by inviting “Financial Expert of the World” Suzie Orman (latest book, “The Money Class”).

Nate opened on stage in coat and tie, like a businessman; but he sat down, and after Suzie joined him, she noticed he couldn’t afford to buy socks.  Why would a man not wear socks when in business dress, after all?  She inspected his ankles and found the hairs; at 39, he is still holding his own.  (Sorry to say, the old gay rag “Christopher Street” back in 1985 noted that Ronald Reagan had shown all in “John Loves Mary” and that he had gone down quickly; the magazine had stated that the 1949 movie had proved the existence of heterosexuality, since gay directors would have wanted to know what they were getting before agreeing to a script where he showed all.)

Soon, Suzie got on to more serious stuff, with her multiple choice quiz for Nate’s studio audience. The results were, first, you should buy a home today only if it is a steal, and never go for an FHA loan.  (Nate said he had just bought a house without Suzie’s advice, which is OK if he is rich.)  Then there was a question about the wisdom of bathroom remodeling.  Suzy brought a clean port-a-potty onto Nate’s stage to make her point. (She also said to Nate, "There are a lot of people smarter than you, Nate.") She also warned that student loan debt is never waived in bankruptcy, so it should always be paid off first, even before IRS liens.  (See also movie review blog today.)  She also said that parent should charge adult children rent when they have to move back in. 

She said the financial world will never go back to the artificial good times before 2008.

It looks like Suze beat Nate in his own ballpark. 

Here's Nate on "It gets better". 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Anderson Cooper covers Joplin live as more storms bear down; he postpones controversial report on gender identity

Anderson Cooper 360 tonight continued CNN’s breaking news for the day of more violent tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma and approaching Joplin.

Anderson had previously announced that on Tuesday May 24 he would report on a “sissy boy” experiment gone horribly wrong, certainly a controversial report, and has not mentioned when he will air it, given the emergency circumstances this evening, as Anderson hunkers down in an underground bunker in Joplin as the line of today’s violent storms moves through the area during the 10PM-12 midnight period EDT.  

The expected report on a right-wing attempt to “prevent” homosexuality will certainly be “interesting” and controversial when it airs. I expected Anderson’s interview to be searing (as his coverage of bullying incidents has been).

Anderson, definitely a road pitcher, likes to cover disasters from ground zero. On September 13, 2008, he was wading in the remains of Hurricane Rita in northeast Texas, and missed “Black Sunday” and the folding of Lehman Brothers the next day in his home field New York City.  Anderson, remember, whatever his family’s wealth, paid his dues as a reporter by living, working and reporting in Southeast Asia or other third world areas for a few years as a young man.

CNN has been airing pictures of several teenagers missing in Joplin, lost suddenly when driving vehicles during the storm Sunday.  I can’t find a credible website coordinating this; the best bet right now is to follow Anderson on Twitter and maybe he’ll mention one soon (link).   

At 10:24 PM CDT, CNN reported a rotating thunderstorm SW of Joplin, with warning sirens blaring.

Many homes in this part of the country do not have basements.  I visited the area once, in October 1983, when I lived in Dallas.

CNN has another story (HLN) by “Dr. Drew” related to the story Anderson had intended to air tonight, that of a couple in Toronto raising a “gender free child”. The interview follows (with Cherly Kilodavis, author of “My Princess Boy”).

On a happier note, on the the next-to-last-day for Oprah, she had an all-star cast, including Simon Cowell. What more is left?  I look forward to her specials in the future. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

NBC's "The Event": The "Arrival" is a planet like Venus; The "Event" makes the chosen people into gods

Wow, the Earth gets a brother planet at the end of “The Event”. It’s all burnt up, looking like Venus, or maybe an inner planet of Gliese 581.  The season finale was called “Arrival”.  

Sophia, after being arrested at the airport when Sean talks her out of mayhem, tells the president that the virus was an act of mercy, to spare the Earth’s population “The Event”.  It sounds like the aliens were going to become a Type II civilization.

Finally, Sophia has told us everything. The Event would make the extraterrestrials, who look like us but live longer, into gods, or angels, immortals. Mere earthlings (of which Sean Walker is not) would not survive; they would be contracted out of existence. It's an idea I've thought of myself. 

Sean finds out he will be a father. Could he have become such with Leila would being “one of them” himself? Ohm Leila is a hybrid, but Sean could be a mere mortal; but Lelia tells Sean he will be OK;   Sean would have survived The Event.  Was Sean a hybrid himself?  Why as he the Sentinel?  I guess the aliens already had Facebook set up on their world. I still think the best scene in the whole series occurs in the Pilot, when Sean's ship hotel key doesn't work. The next time that happens to me on a road trip, I'll know that The Event is for real. 

It looks like the sequel (to "The Event") will be on another cable channel, to compete with Dreamworks’s "Falling Skies", soon. Writers have to get this kind of story out of the "V" territory. But Sophia is a better "villain" than Anna.

Attribution link for Wikipedia illustration of Gliese 581 system

Sunday, May 22, 2011

PBS Nature: Chris Morgan shows bears on the Alaskan north slope

Sunday, May 22, PBS aired the last segment of “Bears of the Last Frontier” on its Nature series, with Chris Morgan. The film appears to be shot between the Brooks Range and north coast in Alaska. There is one shot of the arctic winter sunset in late November.  The link is (website url) here

Morgan shows his ease with handling lightweight camping equipment and carries a shotgun for protection from grizzlies, but has never had to use it. (Timothy Treadwell, as documented in the 2005 film “Grizzly Man”, did not fare so well.)

The program covered grizzly, polar and brown bears.  The plight of polar bears because of global warming was mentioned, but not highlighted as much as in some recent films.  Morgan camps on the ice, and climbs a small ridge to look for them. In one scene, they are playing with baleen.

Then he turns attention to several grizzly bears, who feed on salmon, which gasp for life out of reflex while in bears’ mouths.

He covers the tundra plants that provide highly caloric foods for both grazing animals and bears, in a film with scenery that is stunning in high definition.  As in the film “Into the Wild”, bears and other wild animals (including a snowy owl) know what kinds of plants they can eat, which humans may not.

WETA link is here

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"The Ride: 7 Days to End AIDS", miniseries from LOGO, on Netflix

Netflix and Red Envelope offer a documentary, “The Ride: Seven Days to End AIDS”, comprising 5 21-minute episodes on LOGO Cable Channel aired in March 2006. It’s also spelled as “The Ride: 7 Days to End AIDS” on the actual film segments.

The effect is a reality-docudrama of the 585-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  Rider span all segments of society, including conventional families as well as gay men.  But much of the narrative is seen through the eyes of a well-build 24 year old man from a small town in Ohio who says he is HIV+ (he resembles a star from “I Am Number 4”, shot in central Ohio).

A variety of other people are presented, including an expectant mother.

There is a “security check” of the riders at one point.

I visited the send-off to a Tanqueray ride from St. Paul MN in July 2002, in the early morning. The music was quite stirring.

The people, especially the men, are dressed in tights, but since it’s not a competition, there’s not much concern about wind resistance or leg shaving. Of course, the scrapes and bandaids will come into play. So will ultraviolet sunburn (most of the ride is smog-free). The scenery looks like coastal California, complete with eucalyptus. 

LOGO’s link for the miniseries is here

Monday, May 16, 2011

NBC cancels second season of "The Event": but what is the point after the alien landing in the finale?; Lady Gaga shines, has us looking for more ET's

Okay, next week is the Finale of “The Event”, and we all know the Aliens land. But it looks like Sean is going to stop Sofia, and that President Martinez is coming back.

On Facebook, the buzz is that Sean is an alien sleeper, but he really seems bent on saving humankind.
And we’re going to find out that Sophia’s people  were here first, and then left. We’ll learn how the Pyramids got built.

This week, it was announced that NBC would cancel “The Event” after Season 1, as in this story. There’s a question as to what a second season would comprise. Another “V” with Sophia like Anna? Something like Spielberg’s “Falling Skies”?  (I see I have been spelling Laura Innes’s chilling character as “Sofia”.  Tonight, Sophia has a conscience again, and doesn’t want to eliminate more people than necessary; she tells her people to moan the loss of life.)

I checked out some of Lady Gaga’s “The Monster’s Ball Tour” at Madison Square Garden, on HBO. (I had the wrong TV Guide and thought "Too Big to Fail" would have a preview.)  I never realized so much of the “dirty dancing” music at TownDC and Cobalt-DC comes from Lady Gaga. The performers were hetero-funky; the crowd’s dancing was the “Childhood’s End” dancing that you see at Club 930 (at least, chests don't get cracked open like lobsters).  The end credits of the show on HBO were curiously shown in black and white (Mermaid Films).

Maybe Sean Walker is an alien, maybe Jason Ritter is one too, maybe Lady Gaga also; what about Mark Zuckerberg?

Second picture: Many astronomers think that most planets with our kind of life appear around stars smaller than our Sun, maybe M stars, and for reasons of physics photosynthetic plants are likely to be blue and violet or even ultraviolet, rather than green.  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

CNN: "Don't Fail Me: Education in America"

Sunday night CNN aired Soledad O’Brien’s one hour documentary “Don’t Fail Me: Education in America”.

The heart of the film concerns the robotics competition, from schools all over the country, with tournaments in Pennsylvania and Arizona and teams from New Jersey and Tennessee followed closely. The kids wrote the software code (in C++?) but had to practice running the robots for the competitions.  It also traces some specific kids, some of whom had to overcome family obstacles, such as loss of parents to cancer.

The film covers AP (advanced placement) in high school, with its cousin IB programs. Only 16% of students take calculus in high school.

The program also examines why many AP programs are populated  heavily by Asian students (where India is counted).

When I went to school, Algebra I normally was introduced in ninth grade (1957 for me).  Math took some maturity: to deal with the word problems, the factoring.  But over time it has been introduced earlier.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Smallville" ends ten year reign with Series Finale: How Clark becomes a man of steel

The ten year Smallville series on CWTV (originally WB) concluded Friday May 13 with a two hour “Series Finale”, two hours, in two parts, but still rather like a feature film, looking good in HD but it really could have used 3D.

The “film” (from Tollin Robins and perhaps “Warner Independent Pictures” if ever resurrected), chronicles the “The Event” (pun intended) that provides a 24 year old Clark Kent with his final rite of passage, into wearing the cape of Superman.  It may seem pretty silly. A Mars-sized asteroid, hot and boiling, approaches Earth.  (Here we enter the province of bad SyFy channel movies.) The government wants to blow it up with nuclear weapons, with fallout destroying a third of the Earth’s population (familiar?) but the Man of Steel can go to the Fortress of Solitude for his final inspiration and just push it out of the way.

The Finale begins with hesitating references to a wedding between Clark and Lois Lane, applicable in the post William-Catherine days. 

With an apocalypse approaching, I wondered if “Sofia” from the Event could join a resurrected Lex Luthor for a cameo, of it Clark could use any help from “Sean” (Jason Ritter), who is, after all, “one of them” too.

Lex returns, and the epilogue of the film says that he becomes "President of the World" in 2020 (Lex, not Bill Clinton or Mark Zuckerberg).

Clark, however (maybe like Sean) became totally human in his upbringing. The best seasons of Smallville were the first two, where Clark (who would be a very mature 14 in Earth years and a high school freshman when the meteors hit) is still a teen just trying to find out who he really is and why he has these powers. He can slip (with red kryptonite around) but usually he rises to every occasion, blows off temptation, and gradually turns into a Savior. 

I like the concept that Clark becomes a journalist in his public adult life, rather like an Anderson Cooper (with those "Timo" glasses).  He'd rather "keep 'em honets" than set up a front and sell insurance and trade leads.

Note: Orange Kryptonite:

A Comic Book Cast 2  review of the final season:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Piers Morgan interviews Chaz Bono, explores transgender issues on CNN

Piers Morgan, on Thursday May 12, on CNN, interviewed Jennifer Elia and Chaz Bono, discussing Chaz’s transgender transformation to a man, and their wedding engagement. Piers actually questioned her on the nature of the relationship (no longer lesbian, maybe), but the overwhelming message was “this is family.”

Chaz’s step-mother Rep. Mary Bono-Mack talked about how Sonny Bono would have felt. Sonny had died some years back in a skiing accident.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"The Event": Sean could have been on that Navy Seals team

Okay, “The Event” is following a chillingly logical course, given current events.  Tonight’s episode is called “One Will Live, One Will Die.”  Not sure who’s who.

But Sean continues to act like a Navy Seal  (I suspect a young man like him could pass all the Seals’s PT tests, even with no formal military training), a figure everything out on the dime. In a critical scene in the air vents above King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania, he says he’s a computer hacker, not a strike force man, but he is everything.  The shoppers, of course, are safe because he intervenes.

Sofia is going to use Leila to develop the right strain of the virus, because she is a “half-breed” in whom the virus will develop the right characteristics. Sofia mentioned H1N1, but she is a little late for that. H5N1 sounds more like it.  And I don’t know why in real life we haven’t bothered to develop an H5N1 vaccine by now, and start using it.  It really could break loose, by accident.

I guess we’ll find out soon that Sean is also a hybrid.  Sofia knows exactly who and what he is.
VP Jarvis’s plot, however, is falling apart. He orders a drone strike against the national security director, and no one is there.  And the First Lady, in a show of the right loyalty, gives her husband a contraband shot of the antidote.

I think there are two more episodes. NBC still says, “If you think you’ve figured out the Event, think again.”

Monday, May 09, 2011

CNN Presents: a new look at the Amanda Knox case and the record of the Italian prosecutor

On Sunday May 8, “CNN Presents” aired: “Foxy Knoxy: Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story”, and updated the efforts to have her conviction overturned on appeal in Italian courts. This appears to be a new update of earlier CNN reports on the case. 

The most interesting portion of the documentary was the account of author Douglas Preston (site), who moved to Italy to write a mystery and then became involved in researching a serial case in Italy and wrote “The Monster of Florence.” He researched the activities of Italian prosecutor Giulisno Mignini, and was actually called in and interrogated by Mignini as to whether he could be the culprint. Fearing false prosecution, he left Italy.

The CNN documentary certainly puts the record of Mignini, and his conduct in cases where evidence is weak and where political pressure for a conviction is strong, in a questionable light. The report also suggested that Mignini was trying to bully journalists and bloggers, at least in Italy, into not writing about him. (Sound familiar?  Look at my post Sunday on the main blog about Righthaven.)

The documentary discusses tactics of Italian police, getting “suspects” to fantasize about how a crime might have been committed, even when there is no actual evidence that it was.  The DNA evidence in the Amanda Knox case is said to be very weak by US standards.

I have Dateline story on the case reviewed here Dec. 5, 2009.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

"Anyone and Everyone" documents the stories of parents of LGBT children

Anyone and Everyone” is a documentary about the reactions of parents whose teenage or adult children come out as gay to them. It aired on PBS Howard University Television Sunday night May 8.

Here is the website for the film. The film is directed by Susan Polis Schutz and runs 57 minutes.  The film production company is Ironzeal (website link). 

Of course, many of the reactions seem to be, on the surface, bounded on drummed-in religious beliefs (of various faiths, including Mormon and evangelical Christianity). Any many of the rebuttals consist mainly of immutability.  Much of the “reasoning” sounds circular. But one mother wisely expresses the thought that the authoritarian nature of her church has a huge effect on the lives of people that stays with them all the time.  And a conservative father (Mormon and Republican) says, “a boy asks, why should I live a good life if I’m immoral by definition?” and starts to realize how important equal rights really is.  As the film progresses, some of the parents become more understanding.

Many people perceive their family life and the permanence of their marriages as tied to a common, community experience, where people share certain goals and risks in common, and are expected to be ready to provide for others in family environments (created by parents) regardless of their own individual choices; they may then feel  that homosexuality denies the commonality and continuity of generations in which their parents invest so much emotional energy (including providing a reason for their longlasting relationships).  Yet it seems odd that parents would believe (and religions would indirectly teach) that parents get to set the goals and  responsibilities that others must accept when they have families.  It’s as if parents have a right to a certain “reward” for bringing children into the world.

Yet, the talk is always in terms of “sin” and follow the teachings of a church or scripture.

CNN's Gupta covers the details of Gabby Giffords's care

Sunday, May 8, at 7 PM EDT, CNN aired “Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: Saving Gabby Giffords”, as he traced the details of her (Garbielle Giffords, Democratic Representative in Congress from Tucson, AZ) emergency care, a ground ambulance rude instead of helicopter, and then demonstrated the neurosurgery necessary to save her Jan. 8.  The emergency surgeon at the hospital said he was amazed that such an incident could happen at a grocery store.  

The highlight of the film was Gupta’s demonstration of removing part of the skull with a plaster model. That is to relieve swelling on the brain. What is amazing is that it can be replaced and covered with original hair with little evidence of the severity of the injury to the casual observer.

The program also traced her rehabilitation at the Herrmann center in Houston.  The doctors say she will also have some impairment, but she is very determined to return to office in Congress.   Would James Brady (from the Reagan assassination attempt) have made a more full recovery from the modern rebav available today at centers like Herrmann?

The role of her husband’s support, as a commander of a space voyage for NASA, is also presented.

A sharp eye might have noticed some anomalies in Gupta and some of the emergency personnel.  Infection control procedures will only get stricter in the future. 

Friday, May 06, 2011

NBCWashington features Luke Russert (Tim's son); also, to augment a vague NBC4 story on Facebook's TOS

On Friday, at least by my viewing, Luke Russert, 26, son of the famous NBC news analyst Tim Russert, who had passed away of a heart attack at work in 2008, appeared on NBCWashington (Channel 4) discussing bipartisanship in Congress, with respect now to the debt issue, now that the president has made himself more popular with the success of the “raid.”

Luke had joined NBC News as a correspondent during the 2008 elections.

Also, NBCWashington today (in the 5 PM news hour) covered a brief story about people losing Facebook accounts by not reading “the fine print”; for example, adding too many Friends in one day.

The NBC4 story wasn’t very specific as to other violations, but one of them seems to be creating a fake profile for advertising. This story at Ezine explains what Facebook doesn’t consider kosher.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Nate shows us Orpah's "Tara"; NBC's "Event" turns to tribalism; Obama makes his own version of the "show"

First, rather than just write the usual Monday posting on “The Event”, let me start by mentioning that Oprah Winfrey gave Nate Berkus the tour of her estate in California today on the Nate Berkus Show, complete with the lavender patch, meditation tree and guest house without a bathroom.  But it’s wonderful. She used to call it “Tara II”.  She could have called it “Drohega”. It’s where she always goes to recollect herself.

The Event” last night, “Us or Them” gets it right – it’s about survival of your tribe after all. Sofia is already telling her “president” what to do. In the meantime, Sean gets away with stuff on airplanes that the TSA will warn against with “Do Not Attempt”.  It seems as though, if you release the virus inside the cabin, the plane would go down and the pandemic in the population would never occur.

The irony would occur, however, if a few people, even “sentinels”, were immune enough to recover or even never have symptoms, but could become carriers and give it to others.

Of course, late Sunday night, President Obama had announced his own Event. Had we not been able to guess pretty easily what it had to be (either Gadhafi or Osama bin Laden), there really would have been some suspense.  If a president finally wanted to announce the existence of contact with extraterrestrials to the public (maybe on their terms), would he (or she) handle it the way Obama did Sunday night?

It does seem that he cemented winning re-election in the 2012 election Sunday night. But we have to get through "The Event" on Dec. 21, 2012. 

Sunday, May 01, 2011

CNN: Larry King returns with the special "Unthinkable: The Alzheimer's Epidemic"

On Sunday, May 1, CNN aired the first Larry Kin Special, “Unthinkable: The Alzheimer’s Epidemic”.
Seth Rogen, Maria Shriver, and Ronald Reagan Jr. appear.  At one point,  after travel to the new, futuristic-looking Alzheimer’s center in Las Vegas (the Lou Rovo Center for Brain health, of the Cleveland Clinic), Larry King takes a long MRI to look for the early warning plaques of the disease, but Ronald Reagan Jr. declines. (The building reminds me of the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain.

A doctor from the LRCBH is interviewed, as well as Sanjay Gupta. The most important clinical symptom is the inability to make any new memories or retain new information.

The toll on caregivers is explored. One family splits the hands-on caregiving of Mom and Dad among three adult children, around the clock, 24 x 7. The other family members give up their own lives. And this is not a matter of choice, like having or not having children.

The idea that caregivers need to take care of themselves is also explored.  Sometimes caregivers become ill and die before their loved ones. The CDC is calling Alzheimer’s the biggest public health problem of the 21st Century.

Alzheimers is increasing rapidly partly because people are living longer and not dying of other things first, however.  The show said that by age 85, half of all adults have significant dementia.

My own mother died at 97 in December 2010 after severe decline for about 18 months, but most of this may have been vascular, related to strokes.  However, MRI’s had shown some of the plaques associated with true Alzheimer’s. 

I am 67, but have no desire to take a “test”.  

Wikipedia attribution link for Las Vegas center for Brain Health.