Author: Ray Ball

Field Guide to Distinguishing Red Objects

Issue 5 | Winter 2020 |

    1. I prepare to teach my students about cochineal, about the red beetle Dactylopius coccus that lives in symbiosis with the prickly pear. The Spanish closely guarded its trade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and kept the truth about the source of their carmine dye a secret. Scientists debated and peered through …

A Nocturne’s Value

Issue 5 | Winter 2020 |

  I informed the officer of the Intelligence Department for whom I worked that I found the work too great a strain and would prefer to . . . return to ordinary life. — Olga, MI5 agent during World War II   War uniforms are ill-fitting and moth-eaten— hanging like beckoning ghosts from the cramped …