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The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles: One Woman's Fight to Save Two Orphans of War
An award-winning journalist on a quest to save two orphans of war.83% (9)
Hala Jaber and her husband had spent ten years trying to conceive, only to resign themselves, finally, to a childless future. Instead of being consumed by grief, they threw themselves into their work as journalists, making the decision to go to Baghdad to report on the coming war.
Jaber's search for stories led her to two orphans at a children's hospital: Zahra and Hawra. She fought passionately to help them- ultimately even trying to adopt them-before discovering that there is more than one way to love and raise a child, and more than one way to be a mother.
ZERO-G REVIEWS - MOVIES (MOON) "AEROSPACE"
"ONE SMALL STEP FOR SAM, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR SAMKIND" What (you ask) has this magazine cover to do with the Science Fiction movie "Moon"? Well, it's one that I just happen to have in my collection, a copy of which I spotted in the film.... Here's my review: MOON Feature Film Directed by Duncan Jones Screenplay by Duncan Jones and Nathan Parker 97 minutes United Kingdom Zowie! Let’s get that out of the way. Yes, Duncan Jones, co-writer and director of the British Science Fiction movie “Moon” is David Bowie’s son and if you want to think of the film’s plot as revealing the ultimate fate of Major Tom, go right ahead I won’t stop you. Budgeted at five million dollars, “Moon” cost a lot less than a NASA lunar mission, or indeed a NASA moon shot toothbrush but, as with the slightly more pricey genre hit, “District 9”, provides an astonishingly big bang for its paltry space-credits. Well, perhaps not so much literal pyrotechnics, as this is more cerebral Science Fiction, rather than space war, super hero slugfest or giant robot rampage. (Which is not to say that they can’t be brainbusters as well.) Rather, “Moon” is set on the title satellite within futuristic spitting distance of today. We’re mining dear old Selene naked (Down lads! Naught to do with the star of "Underworld"!) essentially raking through the moon dust for Helium 3, celebrity isotope of the century because of its potential use in nuclear fusion reactors. Here splendidly realised (in a tidy montage at least) and providing 70 percent of Earth’s energy needs. Korean based Lunar Industries Ltd. is a big mining concern that maintains a semi-automated one-man station on the moon station. Why they don’t shift over to total mechanisation given the high level of sophisticated robotics otherwise on display is one of the film’s few sticking points. Never mind, perhaps there’s a property rights derived legal necessity that requires the base have an actual human living and working on site. If so, you’d think that Occupational Health And Safety wouldn’t let them get away with a lone operator! With good reason too, as solo Astronaut Sam Bell, very near the end of a gruelling three year contractual tour of duty, is looking and acting increasingly seedy. Taking his character on what turns out to be an existential quest to find himself is actor Sam Rockwell, who's shaping up into a rather noteworthy genre star. Rockwell was Crewman Number Six from “Galaxy Quest”, Zaphod Beeblebrox in the “Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” movie, and even played Batman in the short film “Robin’s BIg Date”. He’s also rogue industrialist Justin Hammer in “Iron Man 2”. The “Moon” role is an actor’s challenge that results in one small step for Sam, one giant leap for Samkind. Rockwell quirkily paints a ‘Dorian Gray’ portrait of an off world working stiff coming messily unglued at the space suit seams. As who wouldn’t, with nothing to do but service dust harvesters, build intricate scale model buildings and watch reruns of “Bewitched” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. Even his technical reading mater is dustily dated, I spotted a copy of the old weekly aviation encyclopaedia “Take Off” on his space bunk. What sad ubergeek would still have that? It’s issue # 15 and came out in 1988. Very interesting article on carpet bombing Germany with B-17s, as well as a spiffing reference guide to business jets, including (Tee hee) the “Rockwell” Sabreliner Series. (Sometimes, I even let Arnold J. Rimmer borrow my copy.) There aren’t many other faces to take the focus off Rockwell’s cleverly star-crossed performance, though I did notice that Matthew Berry has a minor, as opposed to a miner, role. Berry is well known to surreal genre buffs for being in “The IT Crowd”, “Garth Marenghi's Darkplace” and “The Mighty Boosh”. Blink, and you’ll miss him here! Poor Garth is well upstaged by the voice of Kevin Spacey, whose genre credits include: “Superman Returns”, “Seven”, “Outbreak”, “K-Pax”, “Austin Powers In Goldmember”, “Fred Claus” and the upcoming “The Men Who Stare At Goats”. It’s just as well he’s a voice actor too, (in “A Bug’s Life” at least) because he’s the calmly spoken GERTY, the base’s built-in HAL -9000 like computer/robot assistant. Actually Kubrick’s “2001” and its implacable Right Stuffy Space Rangers has a little less to do with the gritty tone of “Moon” than films like “Silent Running”, “Outland”, “Dark Star” and, at an existential stretch, “Solaris”. So, regarding rogue robots, you won’t find too many echoes of Duncan Jones’ bachelor degree in philosophy thesis: “How to Kill Your Computer Friend: An Investigation of the Mind/Body Problem and How It Relates to the Hypothetical Creation of a Thinking Machine.” No, it’s not robot revolution that’s at the heart of Lunar Station Sarang’s (the Korean word for ‘love’) increasingly over pressurised troubles. Still, that entirely unflappable, too reasonable voice is one more reason to go over the edg
This red had no boundary /Derek Jarman, Chroma A PERFECT RED (Reviewed in the Washington Post:) Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield HarperCollins. One day, Amy Butler Greenfield was sitting in a library in Seville, Spain, perusing the cargo manifests of ships of the colonial era, when she noticed how often cochineal was mentioned. Why were the Spanish shipping so much of this special red dyestuff from Mexico? Intrigued by its apparent value, she decided to unearth its history. That Greenfield also comes from a family of dyers made the scholarly detective work all the more appealing to her. The result, A Perfect Red , is a fascinating history of dyeing, as craft and culture, focusing on the social and economic importance of shades of red, the most vibrant of which were reserved for royalty. In the days before synthetic colors, some red dye came from plant sources such as henna or madder and some from insects such as Laccifer lacca (the latter was ideal for lacquering or shellacking wood). But competitive dyers sought "a perfect red," by which they meant a profitable one -- a dye that was stable, easily absorbed by fabric and resistant to fading. When Hernan Cortes invaded Mexico, he found a society besotted with strong sensations, from blood sports to drug-level chocolate, which the Aztecs sometimes stirred with the powdered bones of their enemies. The emperor, Montezuma, claimed the right to wear the most brilliant red and imposed on his subjects a special tax to be paid in cochineal insects, from which the vibrant dye came. The Spanish quickly monopolized the world's supply of cochineal; in 1587 alone, they shipped 65 tons of it home. Other countries soon coveted it, and the equivalent of corporate espionage ensued. People tried like the dickens to fathom cochineal's essence. For the longest time they couldn't even agree if it came from a plant or an animal. In an era of primitive microscopes, cochineal's secrets simply defied scrutiny, spawning recklessly high bets on what it was and lots of controversy, which Greenfield chronicles. As it happens, cochineal comes from a fragile little insect that lives on prickly pear cactus. The female produces carminic acid to annoy ants and other predators, and she is the red dye. "Pinch a female cochineal insect," Greenfield writes, "and blood-red dye pours out. Apply the dye to mordant cloth, and the fabric will remain red for centuries." Male and female differ wildly in this species. The wingless females crawl around on their cactus, waiting for a "flying husband" to descend. It's the female's bad luck to be engorged with a red fluid precious to European hominids greedier than any cadre of ants. The males don't have it any easier, though -- they die young, after their mouthparts wither. You'd think dyers would have bred their own cochineal insects in Europe, but the bugs are notoriously hard to ranch. For centuries, Mexicans enjoyed success by hand-rearing small numbers, which they were able to breed for size and color, eventually producing a robust new species. Even so, cochineal insects were finicky about climate, and it took 70,000 dried insects to produce one pound of red dye. The more European monarchs and gentry wore the succulent hue, the more prominently cochineal figured in society and fed or bled the economy. Why the royal obsession with red? Red lassos the eye. When a man sees bright red (a battle uniform, say, or a red dress), he pays real attention, and his adrenal gland secretes more adrenaline to tune his body for trouble. No one can stay calm long in an eye-jolting red room. Red flames and poisonous red frogs both signal danger. Sometimes red tells tales of pleasure. In the animal world, red often indicates ripe fruit or ripe females. Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup, and many other companies flash red in their packaging to entice customers. At heart, we're fragile sacks of red fluid. Spill a little in a timely way, through menstruation, and women can produce life; spill too much and we die. It's small wonder the word red sashays through the language, as Greenfield reminds us. Anger us, and we see red. An unfaithful woman is branded with a scarlet letter. In red-light districts, people buy carnal pleasures. We like to celebrate red-letter days and roll out the red carpet, while trying to avoid red tape, red herrings and going into the red. /
Flora knows better than to take shortcuts in her family home, Crackpot Hall--the house has eleven thousand rooms, and ever since her mother banished the magickal butler, those rooms move around at random. But Flora is late for school, so she takes the unpredictable elevator anyway. Huge mistake. Lost in her own house, she stumbles upon the long-banished butler--and into a mind-blowing muddle of intrigue and betrayal that changes her world forever.See also:
Includes an interview with the author.
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