Reagan Charles Cook

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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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America + Israel = Forever

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The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy is a book by John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, Professor of International Relations at Harvard University, published in August 2007. A New York Times Best Seller, it remains one of the most controversial academic publications of the past decade.  Despite garnering significant praise and admiration, it was also sharply criticized for blatant inaccuracy and implicit anti-semitism.

Contributing to the controversy was a positive recommendation of the book by Osama Bin Laden in one of his audiotapes, saying that “after you read the suggested book, you will know the truth, and you will be greatly shocked by the scale of concealment that has been exercised on you.”

Having read the book, the basic argument is as follows:

For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history.

Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.

Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.

Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War Two, to the tune of well over $140 billion (in 2004 dollars). Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of the foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. This largesse is especially striking since Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to that of South Korea or Spain.

Other recipients get their money in quarterly installments, but Israel receives its entire appropriation at the beginning of each fiscal year and can thus earn interest on it. Most recipients of aid given for military purposes are required to spend all of it in the US, but Israel is allowed to use roughly 25 per cent of its allocation to subsidize its own defence industry. It is the only recipient that does not have to account for how the aid is spent, which makes it virtually impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the US opposes, such as building settlements on the West Bank. 

McDonalds Chic

Jeremy Scott, already known for his love of incorporating mass culture into high fashion, has certainly made a memorable debut to the Italian fashion world. Although he has been somewhat divisive among the fashion industry, the outlandish, often controversial designer seems a suitable choice for Moschino, whose founder was not averse to provoking the fashion world, using his designs to mock and make a self conscious comment on the industry itself. 

Models wore glorified employee’s uniforms, carrying red and yellow bags on trays, and red jumpers with a yellow Moschino ‘M’ emblazoned on the front left nobody guessing as to what he was referencing. 

 Included in its new fall-winter collection is a $935 baggy red sweater dress with a design that looks like the Golden Arches logo bent into an almost-heart (it’s M for Moschino) over the phrase, “Over 20 Billion Served.”  

Some might howl about the absurdity of incorporating fast food into runway fashion—the socially conscious accuse the high-end fashion house of mocking low-wage fast-food workers who could never afford these clothes. (For those earning an average $7.72 an hour, that dress is worth about 120 hours of work.) But the runway show was “a crowd-pleaser,” according to Style.com. Designer Jeremy Scott’s “embrace of consumer culture in the name of Moschino was bright, brash, and ingenious.” And it has attracted a lot of positive attention for the brand.

In this MRI scan, you can really notice the difference between a healthy (120 pound) and obese (250 pound) woman .  

You can literally see where the strain is put on an obese body. Excess fat not only encases the woman’s waistline but also wraps around her heart, liver, lungs and tissues.  

It is disturbing to think that this is what 1 out of 3 Americans look like on the inside.

What is Juice ‘From Concentrate’?

Most of a juice is water. Water is a heavy, bulky substance that is expensive to ship. So most juices are concentrated by evaporating most of the water and leaving behind a thick liquid. Then the concentrate is shipped to wherever it needs to go, and a local bottling plant adds the right amount of water to the concentrate to produce juice again. Juices not from concentrate are more expensive (all that water was shipped the entire distance), but they’re usually said to taste a little better and the concentrating process risks losing very fragile components.

The Origins of American Military Chocolate

The first emergency chocolate ration bar commissioned by the United States Army was the Ration D, commonly known as the D ration. Army Colonel Paul Logan approached Hershey’s Chocolate in April 1937, and met with William Murrie, the company president, and Sam Hinkle, the chief chemist

Colonel Logan had four requirements for the D ration Bar. The bar must:

1. Weigh 4 ounces (112 g)

2. Be high in food energy value

3. Be able to withstand high temperatures

4. Taste “a little better than a boiled potato

Chief chemist Hinkle was forced to develop entirely new production methods to produce the bars. Each four-ounce portion was an extremely hard block of dark brown chocolate that would crumble with some effort and was heat-resistant to 120 °F (49 °C). Three bars sealed in a parchment packet made up a daily ration and was intended to furnish the individual combat soldier with the 1,800 calories, the minimum sustenance recommended each day.

Despite Hinkle’s reservations, the U.S. Army insisted the chocolate have a bad taste in order to keep soldiers from snacking on their emergency rations in non-emergency situations. As a result, the D ration was almost universally detested for its bitter taste by U.S. troops, and was often discarded instead of consumed when issued. Troops called the D ration “Hitler’s Secret Weapon" for its effect on soldiers’ intestinal tracts.  It could not be eaten at all by soldiers with poor teeth, and even those with good dental work often found it necessary to first shave slices off the bar with a knife before consuming.

During the war years, the bulk of the Hershey Food Corporation’s chocolate production was for the military. Between 1940 and 1945, an estimated 3 billion of the specially formulated candy bars were distributed to both American and non-American soldiers around the world.

From Wikipedia

Why does a tennis ball go flat?

A tennis ball is essentially a pressurized rubber ball covered with cloth. The rubber is not completely impermeable, however, and slowly leaks over time, just like a latex balloon eventually loses its air. 

In a game, when the ball hits the court surface, the outside of the ball caves towards the center to make an indent on the side. That force pushes the air inside in the opposite direction (towards the other side). The outward force of the indent pushes the ball away from the court surface, which means the ball bounces up. More and more air keeps on getting out over time until there is not enough pressure inside a ball to help bounce it back up.

Also, the rubber loses some of its elasticity, although that effect is probably negligible, inasmuch as even unused tennis balls that have been removed from their pressure pack become “dead.”

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