Looking Back: Work that mattered

Today in 1921, Carmen Romero Phillips was born. She fulfilled her dream of becoming a nurse, but war gave her work more significance than she ever imagined.

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Today in 1921, Carmen Romero Phillips was born. She fulfilled her dream of becoming a nurse, but war gave her work more significance than she ever imagined.

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LOOKING BACK
A special series

During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series highlights a few of these fascinating lives.

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Carmen Romero Phillips, born on Jan. 19, 1921, was recruited as a military nurse even before she graduated from nursing school in 1943, and she was so good that her boss, an Air Force surgeon at her posting in California, requested her by name.

She served through 1945, caring mostly for wounded troops from the Pacific Theater. She also joined the Red Cross. In 1946, she moved to Corpus Christi to start a new nursing job, met her future husband, and settled in the Texas coastal city, eventually marrying and raising four children.

She never lost her determination to help wherever she could. On Sept. 11, 2001, when she was 83, she called the local Red Cross chapter and volunteered to help one more time.

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Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Air Force cuts / What big donors want / Mom’s secret bank balance / Supporting snail mail / Aroused by armpits

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. Air Force plans to cut 10,000 airmen
By Samantha Stainburn | GlobalPost | Feb. 3
“The Air Force also expects to save $8.7 billion over five years by retiring 123 fighters, 133 transport planes and 30 aircraft used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”

2. Big donors and what they want
By Stephen Braun, Jack Gillum and Richard Lardner | Associated Press | Feb. 3
“The Associated Press reviewed financial reports, regulatory filings, court records, public statements and more to identify favors that the biggest donors so far in the presidential campaign might want in return for their contributions worth $100,000 or more.”

3. Domnica Cemortan, ‘I Am In Love With Captain Francesco Schettino’
By Sara C. Nelson | The Huffington Post UK | Feb. 3
“The 25-year-old initially denied any romantic involvement with the married captain, but last night reportedly admitted her feelings after divers found her lingerie in his cabin.”

4. Only in Austin: a legal argument about whether it’s the state capital
By Mike Ward | Austin American-Statesman | Feb. 2
“Could Austin not be the capital of Texas? That’s the assertion that Railroad Commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Ames Jones makes in a newly filed request for Attorney General Greg Abbott to resolve a nagging issue in her campaign for the Texas Senate.”

5. Parents’ finances: When the family secret is Mom’s bank balance
By Rosemary McClure | The Los Angeles Times | Feb. 3
“Conversations we loathe: Telling a spouse that it’s over. Explaining sex to our kids. Asking our elderly parents about their finances. How do you broach that last subject without sounding greedy? It’s an important conversation to initiate, experts say.”

6. In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-Blower
By Scott Shane | The New York Times | Feb. 5
“Since enlisting in the Army in 1985, he said, he had repeatedly seen top commanders falsely dress up a dismal situation. But this time, he would not let it rest.”

7. Will America’s Solar Civil War Destroy The Industry?
By Carl Franzen | Talking Points Memo | Feb. 6
“Behind the headlines of a looming solar trade war between the U.S. and China is a messy fight between two major sectors of the American solar industry — manufacturers against ‘downstream’ companies.”

8. Notable Authors Give Snail Mail a Boost
By John Williams | ArtsBeat :: The New York Times | Feb. 3
“For $5 a month, readers of the Web site The Rumpus can receive a new letter every week or so from writers including Dave Eggers, Jonathan Ames, Aimee Bender and The Rumpus’s editor in chief Stephen Elliott, who came up with the idea.”

9. It’s the pits
By Tracy Clark-Flory | Salon | Feb. 2
“A middle-aged man says he ‘can be sexually aroused’ by women’s shaved underarms. Our experts sniff at his kink”

10. Funeral of Winston Churchill
Witness :: BBC News | Jan. 24
“With the death of Sir Winston Churchill Britain went into mourning for its great wartime leader.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Occupy Wall Street’s defeat … Another Obama Doctrine … MRIs and depression … Narcissistic jerk-wads … Tweeting WWII

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism. Read past recommendations from this series here.

1. US fugitive’s 41-year life on lam
By Alan Clendenning and Barry Hatton | Associated Press | Nov. 20
“The tale of Wright’s life on the run spans 41 years and three continents. It starts in New Jersey with a prison break, moves to Algeria on the hijacked plane, to Paris where he lived underground, to Lisbon where he fell in love, to the tiny West African nation of Guinea-Bissau — and finally to an idyllic Portuguese seaside village, where he built a life as a respected family man.”

2. Longest serving Airman calls it a career
By Tech. Sgt. Richard Williams | U.S. Air Force | Nov. 21
“As the sun sets on the career of Maj. Gen. Alfred K. Flowers, he looks back with a sense of accomplishment.”

3. The World Isn’t Flat: The Well-Intentioned Lie That Led to Occupy Wall Street’s Downfall
By Alex Klein | The New Republic | Nov. 28
“Wall Street’s occupiers — and the mainstream left that supports them — have unintentionally propped up the arguments of their fiercest critics and helped hasten their own eviction.”

4. Civil War app takes on Virginia’s Chancellorsville
Associated Press | Nov. 21
“The application uses GPS technology and Apple’s iPhone platform to help visitors locate and learn more about the Chancellorsville battlefield.”

5. Obama’s Foreign Policy Doctrine Finally Emerges With ‘Offshore Balancing’
By Peter Beinart | The Daily Beast | Nov. 28
“The deadly NATO strike in Pakistan reveals that the president has decided to contain U.S. adversaries with an affordable strategy of maintaining our naval and air power while strengthening smaller nations.”

6. Using Search Engines for Higher Math
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | June 17
“The ability of search engines to calculate basic arithmetic right in the search box is well known, but some can handle higher math as well.”

7. Scan’t Evidence: Do MRIs Relieve Symptoms of Depression?
By Ferris Jabr | Scientific American | Nov. 28
“Researchers continue to explore whether magnetic fields produced by magnetic resonance imagers and other devices improve mood in those who suffer from depressive disorders.”

8. Narcissistic Jerk-Wads Make the Best Leaders, Study Says
By Nick Greene | The Village Voice | Nov. 19
“Frederick Allen, leadership editor of Forbes, writes that the study found ‘narcissism and hunger for attention lead to innovation and daring decision-making.’ In addition, 80% of narcissistic leaders believe that Carly Simon has written a song about them.”

9. The Tweets of War: What’s Past Is Postable
By Jennifer Schuessler | The New York Times | Nov. 27
“Volunteers have started translating the RealTimeWWII feed into Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Turkish, with talks under way for versions in French, Dutch and German.”

10. About Those Maps …
By Ross Ramsey | Inside Intelligence :: The Texas Tribune | Nov. 28
“Our insiders don’t have much desire to see lawmakers redo the maps after the elections, but there’s a contingent — 40 percent — who think the Legislature and not the courts should have the final say.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Texas congressional district maps … Less retirements … Airpower diplomacy … Iran’s drug problem … Hoover myths.

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism. Read past recommendations from this series here.

1. Whales in the desert: Fossil bonanza poses mystery
By Eva Vergara and Ian James | Associated Press | Nov. 20
“Experts say other groups of prehistoric whales have been found together in Peru and Egypt, but the Chilean fossils stand out for their staggering number and beautifully preserved bones. More than 75 whales have been discovered so far – including more than 20 perfectly intact skeletons.”

2. Goodbye, Golden Years
By Edward L. Glaeser | The New York Times | Nov. 19
“But lately, labor patterns haven’t conformed to historical precedent: recent increases in unemployment haven’t encouraged many older Americans into retirement. Why not?”

3. Why U.S. Needs Airpower Diplomacy
By Adam B. Lowther | The Diplomat | Nov. 22
“Better use of the U.S. Air Force is the most cost-effective and flexible approach to boosting the American presence in the Asia-Pacific.”

4. Chasing the Dragon in Tehran
By Roland Elliott Brown | Foreign Policy | Nov. 18
“Behind its façade of Muslim piety, Iran is one of the most drug-addled countries in the world.”

5. Court ends Doggett-Castro fight
By Tim Eaton | Postcards :: Austin American Statesman | Nov. 23
“When a panel of three federal judges in San Antonio released its redrawn congressional map today, it put an end to the anticipated race between U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and state Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who have been battling each other in an acrimonious fight for a proposed congressional district that would have extended from Austin to San Antonio.”

6. World’s Lightest Material Takes Hits Like a Champ
By Kevin Lee | GeekTech :: PC World | Nov. 21
“The material’s lightness comes from its extremely low density of 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter (mg/cc), which makes carbon nanotubes seem heavyset at 1.3-mg/cc.”

7. How to Decide When to Turn Down a Job Offer
Lifehacker | Nov. 21
“Even if you’ve been interested enough in a company to apply and go on an interview, when it comes time to sign on the dotted line, you should take time to consider whether or not this job is actually right for you. Here are some warning signs to look out for.”

8. American Zoetrope: In a galaxy not from Hollywood …
By John Patterson | The Guardian | Nov. 17
“If there had been no Zoetrope, the film studio founded by Francis Coppola and George Lucas in San Francisco in 1969, there would be no Star Wars, argues John Patterson”

9. Five myths about J. Edgar Hoover
By Kenneth D. Ackerman | Five Myths :: The Washington Post | Nov. 7
“Hoover served as director of the FBI for 48 years, holding the job under eight presidents from Calvin Coolidge to Richard M. Nixon. But ask most people about J. Edgar Hoover, and the subject turns to sex.”

10. Civil War women: Lucy Webb Hayes
Civil War Women Blog | Oct. 6
“Among her children, relatives and friends, Lucy Hayes was known as a warm, charitable woman of humility. She played the piano and the guitar, and also used the newly installed telephone in the mansion. On numerous occasions, the First Lady invited African American musical groups to perform in the White House.”