by Henry on February 6, 2008

There are some books that mankind was never supposed to read. From a review by Pete Rawlik in the most recent issue of the _New York Review of Science-Fiction._

Over the years, H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos has been melded with a multitude of other genres by a bevy [sic, even though the article then goes on to list eight writers] of authors … Marion Zimmer Bradley and Esther Friesner have adeptly created Cthulhu romances …

The mind squirbles. But not as much as it does at the revelation (which I saw somewhere on the Internets in the last few weeks, meant to blog, and forgot about) that Henry James and H.G. Wells once seriously discussed collaborating on a novel set on the Red Planet. “A Princess Casamassima of Mars” or somesuch. There is that famous James story about the popular author and the literary one who swap places, which I’ve always presumed (without ever bothering to look it up) is based on the James-Wells relationship. Finally, changing the subject back to Lovecraft, “Ross Douthat”:http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/01/hope_for_the_hobbit.php argues that it’s a good thing that Guillermo del Toro is being signed up to do _The Hobbit_, as he, like Peter Jackson, understands how to make digital special effects seem tactile and organic. I’m not entirely sure that this is true of Jackson – while Gollum was awesome, some other bits of digital wizardry in the LOTR trilogy seemed pretty lame; the movie’s Balrog was yer standard roaring demon, instead of Tolkien’s own evocative if difficult-to-film shadow among flames, and the skeleton-ghosts in the Paths of the Dead looked as though they had staggered off the leftovers shelf of Pirates of the Caribbean. However, it’s certainly true of del Toro – _Hellboy_, in addition to being a criminally underrated popcorn movie has the best pastiche-Lovecraft sfx that I’ve seen to date – the squamousness of the tentacle-things is _sans-pareil._

Maternity nurses in the UK?

by Ingrid Robeyns on February 6, 2008

A kind reader alerted me to “an article”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/feb/03/health.nhs1 in last Sunday’s Guardian, on the proposal by the Conservative Party to introduce the Dutch system of Kraamzorg in the UK. As I briefly mentioned in “an earlier post”:https://crookedtimber.org/2008/01/03/2-weeks-of-birthleave-for-fathers/, under this system a qualified maternity nurse cares for mother and the newborn child at home in the first week after the birth.

The article gives a fair account of what these nurses do, and of the advantages of this system. Yet I’m surprised by the claim that the system would be too expensive to be introduced. Of course the question is ‘expensive in comparison with what’. In the Netherlands, one reason why mothers who give birth leave the hospital so quickly after the delivery (if they go to the hospital at all, that is), is the cost; a maternity nurse at home is much cheaper than the cost of keeping mother and child in hospital (as is the case in Belgium, for example). I don’t know what the kind of care is that is currently provided to newborns and their mothers in the UK – yet it is self-evident that if the comparison is made with no care for the newborn and mother at all, then the system is relatively expensive. But how under a system of no care at all the mothers can take the rest that they need is a mystery to me. The days that this could be provided by family members are, for most of us, long gone. Hence not a bad plan from the Tories, if you ask me.

Open election thread

by Henry on February 6, 2008

I’ve got nothing much in the way of predictions (as I’ve noted before, I’m not that kind of political scientist) but feel free to chat in comments as results come in from Super Tuesday …