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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California Grey 1, Reagan Charles Cook

This is my first new painting in over a year, and the first since thing I’ve painted in Los Angeles. It’s the first panel in a triptych, and features an innovative application method involving liquid plastic cured at 1350 degrees by a heat gun. 

The man who is credited with the ‘invention’ of the numbering sequence of the modern standard dartboard is Brian Gamlin. Gamlin was a carpenter and showman from the County of Lancashire, England and came up with the  sequence at the age of 44.

He introduced the numbering variation at a county fair in 1896. Though darts were already a popular fairground activity, Gamlin built the board for a new game he called ‘round the clock’ in which players have to score with darts in numerical order. 

Gamlin designed the numbering  in such a way as to cut down the incidence of ‘lucky shots’ and reduce the element of chance. The numbers are placed in such a way as to encourage accuracy - the placing of small numbers either side of large numbers. 

There are 2,432,902,008,176,640,000 different possible arrangements of the 20 segments on a standard dartboard so its impressive that Gamlin’s arrangement of the numbers is almost perfect.

The maximum possible total of the difference between adjacent numbers is 200 (the sum of the numbers between 1 and 19) and Gamlin’s arrangement comes close at 196.

However, it could be improved most simply by moving the 14 and placing it between the 6 and the 10. 

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.

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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.

DRC

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.

Chad

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.

Djibouti

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.

Ethiopia

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.

Kenya

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

Mali

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.

Niger

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.

Nigeria

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.

Somalia

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.

Uganda

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

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