Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lego Antikythera Mechanism

New data supports the hypothesis that the Antikythera device dates back to 250 BC, the time of Archimedes!

I'm going with this, if anyone could have built it, Archimedes could.

The ancients were so much smarter than we understand.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Warm out Today - 2014 Skyway Nominee

Below the hill and around with Dale

Walking the main drag, staring at cracks in ‘crete and tar of black

Eyes of the white and gray old guard, glare, while rocking on ancient wood

They sway to the rhythm of the wind, aside their cardboard kingdoms

Pawns and knights lay dead beside bishops and queens, who serve power drunken kings

The mirage of heat before our eyes, squinting at the blazing fireball hovering above

Locusts hum in our ears, with the sway of tall brown grass

No engines or sounds of the modern world will be heard till the train comes

Only thirst changes our course

Clap, clap, clap go the planks before the glass of the old grocery, as they meet our sneakers

The old Orange Crush soda machine welcomes us with a happy hum

Sparkling coins dance in our sweaty hands before diving into the crevasse of the old machine

Clank, clank go the frosty glass bottles as they fall out of bed

We pry off their hats, exposing their bubbly insides for our delight

Sweat drips down the creases of our smiling faces as the bottles spit

Sounds of two throats chugging icy, carbonated, orange flavored, sugar water

“Aah” we said, “warm out today.”


The Limestone Bricks - 2014 Skyway Nominee and 2013 Prairie Voices Pick

The Limestone Bricks was selected for College of Lake County's Prairie Voices in 2013, and was nominated for non-fiction at the 2014 Skyway Collegiate Competition.

At Skyway it was knocked out by kidney failure, respiratory distress, suicide and cancer.

Shit happens.

The Limestone Bricks

      There is a moment from my past that has always fascinated me because I was the main character, responsible for my own actions, yet could not explain them.

      I was a small boy, no more than 8, if that. On our property, running along the side of our garage was a very nicely laid out limestone brick sidewalk, accented by a thick row of little white bell flowers that filled in the space between the walk and the garage.

      One day, I dug up a few of the big white bricks and left them out. My dad saw them, painstakingly replaced them and let me know in no uncertain terms that if I did it again, I was going to get a beating.

      My father was six four, two hundred and sixty five pounds and chronically angry. I was perpetually terrified of him and absolutely believed him when he said I was going to get a beating if I dug up the bricks again. I never doubted it for second.

      Some time past that day, I climbed the big horse chestnut tree in the yard. I jumped off the garage a few times pretending to be the bionic man, grabbed a trawl and dug up several bricks.

      As six o'clock approached I decided that putting the bricks back was a really good idea. Mud had slid into the empty caverns where the bricks had been, and to my horror, putting all those carefully laid, different shaped bricks, back was a lot harder than it looked.

      Feeling the hour of my doom approaching, I burst into tears. My mother, hearing them from the kitchen window, rushed out to help me put the bricks back into the walk. She barely got the last brick in as my father pulled up.

      My father stepped out of the car and knew instantly what was going on. I watched him turn beet red as I prepared to evacuate my bowels and run for the fence. There was a horrific look of disappointment on his face as he peered around my mother who had stepped in front of him to protect me.

      I saw the strain on my mother’s face, the disappointment on my fathers, and the tears on mine, and had no idea why I dug up those damn bricks. They were there. They needed digging.

      "Cam, I told you not to dig up those bricks!" "Why did you?"

      "I don't know." Sob sob, gulp, evacuate bowels, run, no, stay, or he'll get really mad. I didn't! I had no idea why I dug up the damn bricks.

      Now, I think I know. It was about the experience. My brain wanted to solve the problem of how to take out the bricks and put them back. It wanted to learn it so bad that it over rode my survival instinct to figure it out.

     Unconscious of the reasons at the time, I would dedicate the rest of my childhood to doing things that pissed off my parents and trying to figure out ways to fix it before I got caught.

      It never worked out like I'd hoped.


Blowback - An Original Screenplay by Cam Flanagan - 2014 Skyway Second Place Winner


an original screenplay


Cam Flanagan

Cam Flanagan

18930 West Rose Avenue, Mundelein, IL 60060





SARAH is sitting up in bed, her LAPTOP warming her bare legs; her robe warms the rest of her.  She bites her lip, swallows hard, scowls, types franticly and stops - twice; hitting delete both times.

(to herself)
Don’t do it.   

She views the profile of a handsome man, smiles, then closes out the page and pushes her laptop away in disgust.
(from a distant room)
Honey, come downstairs,
I finished that song I
was working on.

I’ll be right there.  

As Sarah drags herself off the bed, her THREE KIDS run into the room and swarm around her like paparazzi.

(all three at once)

Sarah walks in a daze through the shrieking, jumping kids with all of them pulling on her robe.

She stops at the door, pulls her CELL PHONE from her pocket and begins typing.

The words show she’s texting her friend MAGGIE.  The text rolls out: This is killing me.



RICK plays the GUITAR and sings a melodious love song to SARAH, pouring his heart out.  His strumming and singing drowns out the muffled DIN OF CHILDREN PLAYING two rooms away.

Sarah smiles sheepishly, sipping a glass of bourbon.  On the table there are FIVE DIRTY PLATES and the remnants of a dinner that included SWEET POTATO FRIES.  As Sarah drifts away, lost somewhere, a TEXT NOTIFICATION from her phone jolts her, causing Rick to stop playing.

She frantically grabs the PHONE from her pocket to see who it is.  The joy and then disappointment on her face at what she reads are both profound.

Rick’s has a crushed look and sad eyes.

(making eye contact with Sarah)
I want a divorce.       

The DIN OF CHILDREN PLAYING STOPS, Rick gets up and walks away.  Sarah, in shock, stares blankly at her husband leaving the room.  She watches him grab his jacket off the coat rack, open the front door and walk out.

Looking down at her phone Sarah blurts a sickly laugh with tears.

The text message from Maggie reads: You love your husband Sarah.

Monday, November 24, 2014

We Should Do Better

Since this video was made, Yucca mountain was closed, 80% finished, and Fukushima surpassed Chernobyl as the worlds most devastating and ongoing nuclear disaster.

A learned friend of mine disagrees that Fukushima surpassed Chernobyl.  Of course I could be wrong.  I base this conclusion on my understanding that water will have to be pumped onto all four damaged cores for, well, ever.  And that, radioactive buildup is cumulative, so the water surrounding Fukushima is most likely getting worse, and there is no solution to that problem.

I don't have any problem with environmentalists bitching about the Light Water Reactor.  It's an asinine design that operates under extreme pressure and produces a lot of waste.

But even the worst 60 year old Light Water Reactor is 1000 times cleaner than the most modern coal powered plant, and I would rather see more Light Water Reactors being built than conventional power plants.

There is however, no cleaner, safer design then the Molten Salt Reactor.

Halting nuclear promotes fracking an dirty oil.

Of course, I don't know what the big deal is about fracking?

What possible harm could frack-blasting chemicals and methane into America's water table do?  I'm sure we know what we're doing?  At any rate, we'll find out, won't we?

Just look at Canada's oil from sand venture, where America gets half its oil from now.

An area the size of Florida in the once virgin Boreal forest in Alberta Canada has been poisoned forever, for the purpose of extracting oil from sand.  The size and scope of this destruction makes Fukushima and Chernobyl combined, look like nothing.

In Alberta, fish are swimming sideways because of tumors, birds are flying into death-ponds and whole families of people are dying of rare cancers; all for oil, and it's not an accident.

The human race has raised the acidity of the worlds oceans by .02%, from pumping megatons of carbon into the atmosphere.

If ocean acidity continues to rise, everything with calcium will dissolve and the food chain will die at its base.

Zero carbon emissions requires nuclear.

Post Industrial Demographic Transition, where the world is civilized and people stop having to many kids, requires power.

I don't have anything against solar and wind, they're just not capable of producing enough power.

The LFT-MSR is safe, runs clean and eats waste.  We need the no nuke Lukes of the world to understand this.

Of course, getting the greenies on board may be irrelevant, because America has its head so far up its own ass, we have to cough to see daylight.

The House just passed a bill prohibiting the EPA from consulting with scientists and HR4883 is still stalled. 


Let's hope China can save the world with the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Molten Salt Reactor.

Is War, Dirty Oil, CAFO's and Tyranny who we are?

Shouldn't we do better, especialy since we know we can?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference - 2014

For 2014, I was nominated for Non-Fiction, Drama and Poetry in the 2014 Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference, and took home second place in drama for a short screenplay I wrote called Blowback.

College of Lake County did very well, winning 5 awards, including mine.

It was a good experience and I am grateful to have been a part of it.

Last Friday the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference held their annual Literary Festival and Writing Competition at Waubonsee Community College. We are pleased to announce that in competition with the eight colleges in the Conference, the College of Lake County took home five awards out of twelve possible in the categories of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and screenplay/drama.

The judging was done by professionals in the four genres. This was a blind contest—all identifiers were taken off of the manuscripts and the judges did not know who the authors were. Here is a list of the Skyway Literary Festival winners. When you run into them in the hallway, please congratulate them on their writing achievements! It takes a lot of courage and determination to submit their work for review. The writing programs here at CLC offer a welcoming, encouraging space for writers to explore their potential.

1st Place: Leaving Port by Anthony Low (Waubonsee Community College)
2nd Place: Blowback by Cam Flanagan (College of Lake County)
3rd Place: At the Movies With Jesus by Richelle Brinkley (College of Lake County)

1st place: "The Archetype" by Sarah Perrote (McHenry County College)
2nd place: "A Nobleman of Grande Orcade" by Rodney Johnson (College of Lake County)
3rd place: "Shadowland" by Ian Brockman (Prairie State College)

1st place: "Rain Must Fall." Tomoko Funahashi (College of Lake County)
2nd place: "Memento Mori." Elizabeth Dickenson (Elgin Community College)
3rd place: "Bad Drug." Wendy Finger (College of Lake County)

Michael Latza

Friday, November 7, 2014

China-America Nuclear Cooperation with Thorium? 我们起子!

If you've read any of my articles or viewed the videos posted here on The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor and Rare Earths, you know how passionate I am about the subject.  If you haven't, just search "Thorium" at the top of my page.

Allowing America to process its Stockpile of Rare Earths and pursue the development of a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor gives America a Place of Relevance for the next 100 years and allows for the possibility of Star Trek like future, where Post Industrial Demographic Transition is possible for all.

The first step in making this happen is to pass HR4883 and S2006 in Congress.

Rare Earth Lanthanides are the metals needed to make everything that is High Tech and Green and America has all it needs laying around on top of mines, already dug from the earth.  Right now they can't be processed because they are attached to Thorium.  Thorium was wrongly re-classified from a resource material to a waste material in the 1970's.

The Molten Salt Reactor, which today would use Thorium, was developed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee in the 1960's.  Its design is Walk-Away Safe, because it's not under pressure.  It provides 100% Carbon Free Energy, and can be used to Burn Up America's Stock Piles of Nuclear Waste.  The world has so much Thorium that We Will Never Run Out of It.  The temperature the reactor runs at is perfect for Cleanly Extracting Oil from Coal for the Petroleum we need and for De-Salinating Water.

What the Molten Salt Reactor Isn't Good For is making bombs.

Richard Nixon killed the Molten Salt Reactor because he was Ignorant of its Significance.  Thorium was classified as a waste material because our Congress was Ignorant of its Importance.  Ignorant is not stupid, it means you didn't know.


If America does not Unchain Itself from Decades-Old Laws which were Passed in Ignorance, then we become Irrelevant to the Future, because We Acted Stupidly.

China is not the bad guy here, they are simply doing what must be done.

What are we doing?

Below is an article written by a lawyer explaining Rare Earths and Thorium from a different perspective. 

My opinion of his work is that winning a World Trade dispute isn't as important as unchaining ourselves from our own laws.

Thanks for reading.

--- Cam Flanagan

In the world’s never-ending quest for energy resources, the radioactive chemical element thorium has become more than a curiosity. Following calls from the nuclear science community for renewed investigation into thorium’s potential as a source of nuclear energy, a number of states, China foremost among them, have begun funding thorium research in earnest. Thorium’s theoretical prospects for providing relatively low-cost and considerably safer nuclear energy are bright indeed, and significantly, both the United States and China are believed to possess substantial quantities of this element. Although not a rare earth itself, thorium is often refined as a by-product of rare earths extraction following the mining of the mineral monazite, and given the friction between the U.S. and China relating to rare earths (culminating, for now at least, in litigation at the World Trade Organization), one might expect that thorium would be another arena in the ongoing competition between the world’s greatest power and its rising competitor. In fact, something very different has happened: a remarkable degree of cooperation has arisen between the two nations, with the U.S. actively supporting Chinese research and development.   

BULLSHIT, We're Impotent  -- Cam

Beijing recently tasked the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a state entity, with developing a workable design for a thorium-powered nuclear power plant within the next ten years (an acceleration of a previous 25-year schedule), and researchers involved on the project have reported facing “war-like” pressure to meet this goal. The project, dubbed “the world’s largest national effort on thorium,” currently employs 430 scientists and engineers, has plans to expand to 750 by next year, sports a budget of $350 million, and is headed by Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin (perhaps underlining the political implications of the project). Although the Chinese effort is officially said to be aimed at curbing pollution through the use of a new, cleaner energy source, thorium “could be used to power Chinese navy surface warships, including a planned fleet of aircraft carriers,” and provide the reactor reliability and safety necessary to improve China’s nuclear submarine fleet.

Were Fucked!  --Cam

For its part, the U.S. abandoned thorium research in the 1970s in favor of a laser-like focus on uranium as a nuclear energy source. American efforts up to that point had actually been successful in creating the first thorium-powered reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, but the world’s newfound interest in thorium does not, at first glance, seem to have spurred Washington to dust off its previous research and retake its commanding lead in this burgeoning field of nuclear science. Attempts to push thorium onto the agenda at the federal level have fallen flat: an effort in 2009 by then-Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) to push the U.S. Department of Defense towards thorium research went nowhere, as did 2010 a bipartisan Senate bill to direct the U.S. Department of Energy to fund thorium research. 

Here's your sign.  --Cam

Washington’s reluctance to invest in thorium research and development has been chalked up to satisfaction with the uranium-based status quo, but perhaps the federal government’s budgetary problems play a role: the sequester, for instance, reduced the budgets of agencies that fund research and development by anywhere from 5.1% to 7.3%. Whatever the reason for its domestic difficulties, American thorium research has found a surprising new home in China. Specifically, as part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to share thorium research, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has been given the plans to the reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


This level of collaboration is particularly surprising given the commodity involved and the nature of the enterprise. Although the protocol governing the agreement has provisions for sharing important breakthroughs with the international scientific community and prohibiting military or weapons-related research, information used for commercial purposes is excluded from any required sharing and is free of any restrictive conditions. And, frankly, it is highly doubtful that any mechanism for enforcing the prohibition on military research is realistic. Thus, China will have the opportunity to achieve a commercially dominant position in thorium development and investigate thorium’s potential to upgrade its military capabilities without the U.S. deriving a benefit from either, leading some commentators to wonder exactly what is in it for Washington. 

Washington SOLD OUT, ...surprise!  --Cam

While this agreement seems like a no-strings-attached gift to Beijing, what are the U.S.’s motives for participating in this venture?  What might it expect to gain?  There are possible answers, but they require some assumptions. First, we must suppose that American decision-makers have determined that thorium is not, as some have argued, a quick and easy path to American energy independence, and that it would not be cost-effective, at least in the short term, for American nuclear efforts to transition to thorium research. Given federal budget limitations, then, the benefits of using federal dollars to pursue thorium as an energy source appear to be limited at this time. We must also suppose that those same decision-makers may see significant long-term promise in thorium as a source of nuclear energy. A reasonable case could therefore be made that research in this potentially important but non-priority field should be shared with those who are willing to expend the resources to advance the field.

Maybe, but there is No Argument for Not Allowing America to Process it's own Rare Earths.  --Cam

With these suppositions in place, rational (though speculative) motivations and possible benefits become clearer. Although the U.S. might have been expected to share its thorium research with privately-owned American corporations and perhaps allied states rather than with a strategic competitor (and maybe it has), the significant scientific and engineering obstacles and the resulting high cost of developing thorium-powered reactors may require the sort of long-term commitment and resources that only another world power, like China, can provide. Since the U.S. is believed to possess one of the world’s largest deposits of thorium, it may want China to assume the short-term risk and attendant expenditure of resources with the intention of cashing in on its large reserves when (or if) China’s research turns thorium into a commercially viable energy resource.

Concerns about China’s state-owned enterprises holding a significant head start once commercial viability is reached are perhaps assuaged by a thoroughgoing belief in the dynamism of the American private sector to quickly catch up. Additionally, as noted above, China’s interest in thorium is, officially speaking, driven by environmental concerns. China’s difficulties with greenhouse gases and other forms of air pollution are well known, and the thorium cooperation agreement could be seen, from an American perspective, as dovetailing with the U.S.’s own efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

True, but UNCHAIN US!  --Cam

While successful development of thorium into a practical large-scale energy source remains far off, China has sprinted to the front of the pack, and it has done so with American assistance. Washington policymakers may recognize thorium’s promise and could be waiting for a more politically opportune time for the U.S. itself to seize upon it, but by facilitating China’s thorium research efforts, the U.S. appears to be betting that it can capitalize on Chinese breakthroughs down the road. In so doing, the U.S. risks missing the boat, or worse, seeing Chinese research go in unfavorable directions. Thorium could prove to be an incredible, world-changing upgrade over existing energy sources, or it could prove to be a dead end; either way, the U.S. has handed over its research regarding this poorly-understood radioactive chemical element to a strategic competitor with very little idea about what that competitor may discover. How this plays out may color the global energy marketplace for years to come.

Matthew J. Strabone is an attorney.

Dear Mr. Strabone, you are a very wise man, thank you for writing this article.

There is precedent for allowing someone else to come up with an innovation first.  Sometimes second is better place to be in, but for God's sake, at least let us participate. --Cam