Learning Under Fire: the 112th Cavalry Regiment in World War II (ebook)

by James Scott Powell

Thrown into the heart of war with little training–and even less that would apply to the battles in which they were engaged–the units of the 112th Cavalry Regiment faced not only the Japanese enemy, but a rugged environment for which they were ill-prepared. They also grappled with the continuing challenge of learning new military skills and tactics across ever-shifting battlefields.

The 112th Cavalry Regiment entered federal service in November 1940 as war clouds gathered thick on the horizon. By July 1942, the 112th was headed for the Pacific theater.

As the war neared its end, the regiment again had to shift its focus quickly from an anticipated offensive on the Japanese home islands to becoming part of the occupation force in the land of a conquered enemy.

James S. Powell thoroughly mines primary documents and buttresses his story with pertinent secondary accounts as he explores in detail the ways in which this military unit adapted to the changing demands of its tactical and strategic environment. He demonstrates that this learning was not simply a matter of steadily building on experience and honing relevant skills. It also required discovering shortcomings and promptly taking action to improve—often while in direct contact with the enemy.


The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems

by Henry Petroski

Science is by its very nature global. In fact, it is galactic, even universal. This is because science deals with universal laws, like the law of gravity. No matter where on earth I jump, gravity will pull me down according to the single law of universal gravitation. And no matter where an apple falls, it falls toward the ground. We believe that it has always been so, regardless of culture.

But this is not to say that practicing science is independent of culture. It is proper to speak of American science, as distinct from, say, Japanese science. Indeed, at least one Japanese scientist has taken note of the fact that his culture has yielded a paucity of Nobel laureates. This has been attributed to the deference that the Japanese culture expects of the young toward the elderly. Prize-winning scientific breakthroughs often depend on rebellion against the prevailing paradigm, not deference to it.

At the same time, the Japanese excel in technological endeavors. Their automobiles and consumer electronics are admired and bought around the world. The disciplined Japanese culture is well suited to the mass manufacturing of excellently engineered and highly reliable products. Those products that are exported fit nicely into the target culture; those that are for home consumption are distinctly Japanese.

So there appears to be a significant difference between science and engineering and how they relate to culture. A commonly cited difference between the two endeavors is that science seeks to understand what is, whereas engineering seeks to create what never was. It is wrong to describe engineering as mere applied science. There is some extra-scientific component to engineering, something often referred to as the creative or artistic component. The engineer designing a bridge does not deduce its form from scientific laws and mathematical equations. Rather, like a poem or a painting, the bridge is formed first in the engineer’s mind’s eye. It is only then that the hypothesized structure can be given a scientific or mathematical litmus test. In engineering, analysis follows synthesis–not the other way around.

It is essential that the similarities and differences between science and engineering be kept in mind when identifying and attacking global problems. Scientists and engineers come from different technical cultures as surely as Americans and Japanese do from different social ones


Theatre & Interculturalism

by Richard Paul Knowles

How are hybrid and diasporic identities performed in increasingly diverse societies? How can we begin to think differently about theatrical flow across cultures?

Interculturalism is an increasingly urgent topic in the 21st century. As human traffic between nations increases, it becomes imperative to critically re-examine the way cultural exchange is performed. Theatre and Interculturalism surveys established approaches and asks what it would mean to reconsider intercultural performance, not from the points of view of the colonizing cultures, but ‘from below’- from the viewpoints of the historically colonized and marginalized.


Health, Luck, and Justice

by Shlomi Segall

“Luck egalitarianism”–the idea that justice requires correcting disadvantages resulting from brute luck–has gained ground in recent years and is now the main rival to John Rawls’s theory of distributive justice. Health, Luck, and Justice is the first attempt to systematically apply luck egalitarianism to the just distribution of health and health care. Challenging Rawlsian approaches to health policy, Shlomi Segall develops an account of just health that is sensitive to considerations of luck and personal responsibility, arguing that people’s health and the health care they receive are just only when society works to neutralize the effects of bad luck.

Combining philosophical analysis with a discussion of real-life public health issues, Health, Luck, and Justice addresses key questions: What is owed to patients who are in some way responsible for their own medical conditions? Could inequalities in health and life expectancy be just even when they are solely determined by the “natural lottery” of genes and other such factors? And is it just to allow political borders to affect the quality of health care and the distribution of health? Is it right, on the one hand, to break up national health care systems in multicultural societies? And, on the other hand, should our obligation to curb disparities in health extend beyond the nation-state?

By focusing on the ways health is affected by the moral arbitrariness of luck, Health, Luck, and Justice provides an important new perspective on the ethics of national and international health policy


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