Reagan Charles Cook


I'm a graduate student and creative consultant currently based in Los Angeles, California. I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada and studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Waterloo. While earning my undergraduate degree I also served as an infantry officer in the Canadian Army. My international work experience includes positions in corporate law in China, public affairs in Washington D.C. and environmental conservation in Australia.

I am currently working for a public relations firm in Los Angeles as well as for the University of Southern California. My academic research focuses on public diplomacy, international relations, social psychology and human behaviour. I am also interested in technology, politics, economics, security studies, literature, film, fine art, mathematics, physics, biology, history, design, agriculture, linguistics and education.



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Turns Out Chicago’s Not That Windy.

Despite holding the title of ‘The Windy City’ Chicago is not particularly windy. Among major American cities, Boston, New York, Dallas, and San Francisco all experience stronger winds.

In fact, Chicago can’t even claim to have the strongest winds in the state; Springfield, Illinois, experiences annual winds that are, on average, half a mile per hour stronger than those in Chicago.


So why is Chicago the windy city? One reason, of course, is that in the 19th century, when the nickname was first used, Americans did not have lots of data on weather patterns that they could consult to crown Boston or San Francisco as the country’s windiest city.

The other, however, is that the name “windy city” seems to have been meant as much as an insult as an actual description of the weather. 

According to many guidebooks and local institutions, the nickname reflects the long-windedness of Chicago politicians and the attendees of its many political conventions, as well as locals’ and politicians’ tendency to overstate the merits of their fair city. “During the mid-1800s nearly any city could (and did) proclaim itself the ascendant ‘Metropolis of the West,’”writes the Encyclopedia of Chicago.

Boosters of Chicago touted the city as they “sought to secure investment, workers, and participation in projects of national scope such as the building of railroads.” The Chicago Public Library adds, “Detractors claimed they were full of wind.”

Excerpt from a Priceonomics article by Alex Mayyasi

If you want a workout, go with soccer over baseball.

Players in soccer’s World Cup will run an estimated 7 miles per game.

Here’s how that compares to athletes in other sports.

Baseball: .046 miles

This is a rather generous estimate that translates into approximately 242 feet per game, taken from the statistics of the current Major League Baseball batting leader Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies. The distance between each base is 90 feet. Adding all of the singles, doubles, triples, stolen bases, and home runs that Tulowitzki has logged during the 49 regular season games played since press time, the total distance run comes to just more than 2 miles. Those not as successful at the plate log even less mileage—or more accurately, feet.

Football: 1.25 miles for receivers and cornerbacks

Football players don’t have a lot of time to travel very far, the average NFL game includes only 11 minutes of actual playing time. Receivers and cornerbacks run the most at just over one mile a game. That’s still an impressive feat considering 11 massive and highly trained athletes would prefer they run as little as possible.

Basketball: 2.9 miles

Cutting-edge tracking technology called SportVU has allowed coaches and statisticians to track NBA player performance in real time, including the distance traveled per game. This is another generous estimate, averaging SportVU’s distance traveled from the top ten hardwood pounders. Running the most during the 2014 season was Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls at 3.1 miles per game.

Tennis: 3 miles

Distance traveled depends heavily on playing style and the duration of a match, but competitive players can expect to shuffle  nearly a 5 kilometers while chasing down balls. During the longest recorded tennis match, at Wimbledon in 2010, it’s estimated that John Isner and Nicholas Mahut each ran about 6 miles during 11 hours and five minutes of play.

Soccer: 7 miles

A large field, a fast moving ball, and rare substitutions mean soccer players can expect to log some heavy mileage over 90-plus minutes. Midfielders tend to run the most, sometimes reaching nearly 9.5 miles.

From a Running World article by Kit Fox


The U.S. Military in Africa

President Obama’s announcement that the United States has deployed 80 troops to Chad came as a surprise to many. But the United States already has boots on the ground in a surprising number of African countries.

This map shows what sub-Saharan nations currently have a U.S. military presence engaged in actual military operations.

It should be noted that in most of these countries, there is a pretty small number of troops. But it is a clear sign of the U.S. Africa Command’s increasingly broad position on the continent in what could be described as a growing shadow war against al-Qaeda affiliates and other militant groups. It also shows an increasingly blurred line between U.S. military operations and the CIA in Africa.

More details of the troops deployed are below.

Burkina Faso

The United States has a base in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, since 2007. The base acts as a hub of a U.S spying network in the region, with spy planes departing form the base to fly over Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara, where they search for fighters from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.


The United States has troops in Congo assisting the nation in the search for Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

Central African Republic

In April 2013, the United States had around 40 troops in Central African Republic assisting the search for the LRA.


On Wednesday, Washington announced that it would be sending 80 troops to Chad to help with the search for Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by militant Islamist group Boko Haram.


The U.S. military has a major base in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier. There are around 4,000 troops there, including lots of aircraft and drones.


The United States has had a military drone base at Arba Minch since 2011. The base is used to fly Reaper drones over East Africa.


Camp Simba, near the border with Somalia, had around 60 military personnel stationed as of November 2013.


In April 2013, 10 U.S. troops were deployed to war-torn Mali to provide “liaison support” to French and African troops. The Pentagon insisted they would not be engaging in combat.


The U.S. Air Force set up a drone base in Niamey, Niger, in 2013. The White House says it has around 100 military personnel in the country on an “intelligence collection” mission.


At the beginning of May, a small team of U.S. troops and civilian advisers was deployed to Nigeria to join the search for the abducted schoolgirls. According to the Associated Press, these troops joined around 70 military personnel in Nigeria, with 50 regularly assigned to the U.S. Embassy, and 20 Marines there for training.


In early 2014, the United States deployed fewer than two dozen regular troops to Somalia for training and advising purposes.

South Sudan

In December 2013, the United States deployed 45 military personnel to South Sudan to protect U.S. citizens and property in the country.


The United States has a base in Entebbe that it uses to fly PC-12 surveillance aircraft in search of Kony’s LRA. The total number of U.S. troops in Uganda is said to be around 300, and they are officially in the country to “provide information, advice and assistance” to an African Union force searching for Kony.

By Adam Taylor for the Washington Post

Riding Shotgun

The expression “riding shotgun” is derived from the days of stagecoach travel when a special armed employee of stage would sit beside the driver, carrying a shotgun to provide an armed response in case of a threat to the cargo, which was usually a strongbox.

Absence of an armed person in that position often signaled that the stage was not carrying a strongbox, but only passengers. However, apparently the phrase “riding shotgun” was not coined until 1919.  It was later used in print and especially film depictions of stagecoaches and wagons in the Old West in danger of being robbed or attacked by bandits

The madman theory was a primary characteristic of the foreign policy conducted by U.S. President Richard Nixon. His administration, attempted to make the leaders of other countries think Nixon was mad, and that his behavior was irrational and volatile. Fearing an unpredictable American response, leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations would avoid provoking the United States.

Nixon explained the strategy to his White House Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman:

I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll just slip the word to them that, “for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry—and he has his hand on the nuclear button” and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.

In October 1969, the Nixon administration indicated to the Soviet Union that “the madman was loose” when the United States military was ordered to full global war readiness alert (unbeknownst to the majority of the American population), and bombers armed with thermonuclear weapons flew patterns near the Soviet border for three consecutive days.

The administration employed the “madman strategy” to force the North Vietnamese government to negotiate a peace to end the Vietnam War. Along the same lines, American diplomats (Henry Kissinger in particular) portrayed the 1970 incursion into Cambodia as a symptom of Nixon’s supposed instability.

Nixon’s use of the strategy during the Vietnam War was problematic. The theory makes the assumption that the opponent will surrender, fearing that he will be attacked with extreme force regardless of potentially suicidal consequences. In Vietnam, this would imply that Nixon would be willing to use nuclear weapons to ‘win’ the war heedless of nuclear retaliation from the USSR or China. Nixon hoped this perception would allow for a resolution without need of force, but he never managed to truly create that image. As historian Michael Sherry put it: “First, while he would pretend to be willing to pay any price to achieve his goals, his opponents actually were willing to pay any price to achieve theirs. Second, Nixon had the misfortune to preside over a democracy growing weary and increasingly critical of the struggle.”

The madman strategy can be related to Niccolò Machiavelli, who, in his Discourses on Livy (book 3, chapter 2) discusses how it is at times “a very wise thing to simulate madness.” Kimball, in Nixon’s Vietnam War, argues that Nixon arrived at the strategy independently, as a result of practical experience and observation of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s handling of the Korean War.

From Wikipedia

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