A Merry Christmas Forum

A Merry Christmas from OTB to you!

Photo by SLT
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. de stijl says:

    Merry Christmas, everybody!

    My Christmas may not be just like yours, but enjoy yours fully and completely.

    My Christmas Day routine involves song choices not routine.

    I think AJJ’s Big Bird is a Xmas song. Alt Xmas.

    Gives me warm and fuzzies.

  2. CSK says:

    Merry Christmas everyone! My plans for the weekend (the Portland Harbor Hotel in Maine) got canceled by an ice storm, but it’ll be fine.

  3. de stijl says:


    Do they have a manger? You might find shelter there.

  4. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    Well, I couldn’t travel to the manger through an ice storm, could I? 😀 Anyway, it’s warm and comfy right here. And we have a tree and gifts. And lobster-stuffed baked jumbo shrimp for dinner.

  5. sam says:

    If anyone is interested, the James Webb telescope launch is at 7:20 AM ET today. You can watch the launch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nT7JGZMbtM.

  6. sam says:

    You know, if you look at a picture of the universe as we see it now, and a picture of snot under a microscope, they look pretty similar. So, maybe the big bang was just God sneezing.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    Merry Christmas all!!!

  8. Kathy says:


    I can’t remember the last time I saw a launch where the word “falcon” was not used.

    Also, this scene from B5 came to mind:

    Michael Garibaldi : [Last lines] No boom?

    Commander Jeffrey David Sinclair : No Boom.

    Susan Ivanova : No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow. What? Look, somebody’s got to have some damn perspective around here! Boom. Sooner or later. BOOM!

  9. Jen says:

    @CSK: We are apparently still making our trek, despite the bad weather and slick roads. So in addition to wondering if I’ll be exposed to covid, I *also* get to worry about travel. Bleh.

    Merry Christmas all!

  10. de stijl says:


    I have ham in the fridge. Yummy.

    But I also have Totino’s Pizza Rolls. Also yummy.

    A huge upside to being single is you can eat whatever you want whenever you want.

    Nothing says Christmas like a patty melt and fries. I could it right now. I have all the ingredients ready to go.

    But I’ll be trad today though. Some hamsteak sounds good – I bought it special for today. Some taters. A salad.

    I know Phil Specter is a murderer and an asshole, but I have an old album called A Christmas Gift For You with The Ronettes and Darlene Love and The Crystals doing Xmas songs under that wall of sound Spector brought to the table.

    Love it. It is tradition.

    Darlene Love’s Baby Please Come Home is my fave. Odd, I am usually a Ronettes guy, but she kills it.

  11. de stijl says:


    Drive safe. Try to not get infected.

  12. CSK says:

    Fingers crossed for your safe journey. At least try to have a Merry Christmas.

    @de stijl:
    Love that album.

  13. CSK says:

    I think we should raise a glass of Christmas cheer to toast our genial (and long-suffering) hosts, James Joyner and Steven L. Taylor and thank them for putting up with us on a daily basis.

  14. Jax says:

    Merry Christmas, OTB friends! May your day be merry and bright! Cozy day around here, we got about 3 inches of snow overnight, and it’s just my kids and I and my parents, no added stress of hosting visitors. 🙂

  15. de stijl says:


    Hear, hear! They put up with a load of our crap daily. And, basically, on their own dime.

    To our hosts! Cheers to you and a huge THANK YOU!

  16. de stijl says:

    I interrupted my Xmas jam because two of my favorite reactor dudes – Smokey and Hollywood – from Trash Talkers were doing a Slipknot reaction vid. Spit It Out. I love Slipknot.

    TT + Slipknot = Gold

    Santa and Jesus would totally approve. There is a carve out.

  17. Tony W says:

    Merry Christmas to all, with a special toast to Teve and Doug who will always be missed on these pages.

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    I wouldn’t have thought that the day before Christmas Eve would have been the best day for this announcement, but Merry Christmas to Us and a slightly diminished Merry Christmas to the MAGAots everywhere else.

    Have a good holiday season and a prosperous new year. @ Jen and CSK–Alberta Clipper storm coming our way in NW Oregon/SW Washington later today. Hopefully it won’t interfere with my travel to visit Luddite. Merry Winter Storms to all! Stay safe!

  19. Jen says:

    Walking the dog this morning was challenging. The sheet of ice covering the path and driveway, along with news reports of multi-car pileups and roads closed due to crashes have convinced my husband that it’s inadvisable to try and drive in this muck. Thank goodness!

  20. CSK says:

    @Tony W:
    They will indeed, Tony. They will indeed.

  21. CSK says:

    Well, that’s good. What can you whip up for dinner, since you probably weren’t planning on having to cook?

  22. liberal capitalist says:

    This Christmas, we plan to take the Seadoo jet boat out to the Gulf Islands National Seashore to get that great deserted beach feeling, as it is 72 degrees in the Florida panhandle.

    No, that’s not normal weather.



  23. de stijl says:


    Good for you! Don’t go being foolish. Stay home and be safe.

    Home Xmas is best Xmas! Make it your own.

  24. Michael Cain says:


    I can’t remember the last time I saw a launch where the word “falcon” was not used.

    Really amazing how quickly SpaceX has come to dominate US commercial launches. This Ariane launch got into the news because of the very expensive NASA cargo it was carrying. The Space Launch System will get a bunch of coverage in February for its first flight. An Atlas V flight in May with Boeing’s second attempt to get their capsule (unmanned again) to the ISS will get coverage. And ULA is still saying they’ll do the first flight of the new Vulcan in mid-year, even though they have not received the flight-rated engines. Bezos says the New Glenn — dependent on the same engines as the Vulcan — will fly late in 2022.

    SpaceX has 36 Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches booked for 2022, plus however many Starlink launches they slip in.

  25. CSK says:

    I don’t know what your travel route would have been, but there was a 15-car crash on the Everett Turnpike in Nashua this morning; the road had to be closed for a while. Vehicles were sliding off the road.

    Stay home; stay safe.

  26. de stijl says:

    @liberal capitalist:

    Yesterday in Iowa it was 60F. I got hot and sweaty on my walk on on Christmas Eve. I carried my two outer layers for three miles out of the four. Was kinda sweaty when I got home.

    No, not normal. At all. Maybe there is something to this global warming thing folks keep talking about.

    It was a good walk, nevertheless.p

  27. becca says:

    Merry Christmas to everyone! 70 degrees and climbing here in Memphis. It’s gonna stay near or above 70 all week. It’s beautiful here on the lake, the tiny diving ducks and mergansers are loving it, but not very Christmasy. Still enjoying the season,tho.

  28. Joe says:

    Rainy and warm here in the Midwest. Had a family feast with all of my kids and some of my fiancé’s last night. Another feast today with the other of hers. Dogs everywhere. One quiet moment for me between seas of activity. It’s all pretty great.

    Merry Christmas to everyone here!

  29. Jen says:

    @CSK: We would have been heading north, toward the Lakes region. The 15-car pileup on the Everett and the I-89 closure in Tilton were on the radio this morning, along with a bunch of other spin-outs and accidents. I’m glad we’re staying home.

    As far as the evening meal’s concerned, I have ransacked the freezer and pantry and will be doing a “tasting menu” dinner. I found some frozen shrimp, a chicken breast, and a boneless pork chop. All small enough to be thawed by dinnertime, and enough there that by doing multiple small plates, it will add up to enough for dinner and feel special enough for a holiday meal.

    It’s sort of fun to challenge one’s self like this on occasion! Like a home-bound episode of “Chopped.”

  30. CSK says:

    That will be fun. You know, you could make the shrimp, chicken, and pork into a paella if you have rice, frozen peas, tomatoes and the necessary seasonings.

  31. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..shrimp, chicken, and pork
    Damn! Reminds me of the Gumbo at the Show Me’s here in Sleepytown. Too bad they shut down. Not to mention that they were open on Christmas!

  32. Jen says:

    @CSK: That was actually my first instinct, but I was surprised to discover we have no frozen peas. Not sure exactly how that happened, it’s typically a staple. I probably could forego the peas, but the tasting menu seems both fancier and less likely to generate leftovers. Also, it gives me a project for the day, so there’s that… 🙂

  33. Michael Cain says:

    Even farther back, Door Knock Dinners. Gordon Elliot showed up at the door with a (usually) local chef, they ransack the freezer and pantry, and the chef whips up a fancy meal. I admit that I was occasionally suspicious of the less-than-usual things in those freezers…

  34. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I wouldn’t have thought that the day before Christmas Eve would have been the best day for this announcement,

    Agreed. It’s Xmas Eve when Santa hands out lumps of coal to naughty children.

  35. liberal capitalist says:

    @de stijl:

    By the way, my musically enamored friend… My guess is that you may just know how to download a torrent. If so, you may enjoy “Jingle Bell Rocks” (2013). It’s a documentary of a subculture of folks that are just crazy about Christmas music.


    It’s a niche, but one that’ll bring a smile to your face.

  36. Michael Reynolds says:

    OMG, Katherine and I stayed there some months ago (nice hotel) on our ‘places where we used to be poor and desperate’ nostalgia tour. We had an apartment in Old Port on Fox Court (an alley essentially). I waited and managed at a restaurant called Blue Moon (RIP) where the parking lot on Fore Street is, while I was reviewing restaurants for the Maine Sunday Telegram under a pseudonym. I really like Portland a lot.

  37. de stijl says:

    @liberal capitalist:

    Thanks for the thought but no to torrent. I don’t use torrent on purpose.

    I am not into Christmas music, I am into music I play at Christmas. My playlist would strike any other person as bizarre. I like weird shit.

    I used to live like a block away from a Walgreens. Block and a half. They sold cigs (back when I smoked), decent booze, and light groceries.

    A dude I knew worked there as check-out.

    They played “Christmas” music from November 1 on. Two hour loop. He gradually went insane. It would take one shift to break me. I could not have stood it. I am super-susceptible to earworms. I would have gone crazy.

    Btw, Big Bird is absolutely a Xmas song. Why? No idea. It just is. Not traditionally so to most, but is for me.

  38. Stormy Dragon says:

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone

  39. Monala says:

    Spending my Christmas mostly in bed. My daughter and I both have breakthrough Covid.

  40. Monala says:

    Very cute Twitter thread that begins thus:

    my boyfriend and i met in a new york city publishing office a few years ago, and this christmas, he’s taking me to his hometown to meet the family, where i will for sure find out that, as a brunette who is dedicated to her job, i’m actually the villain of this movie

    Be sure to read the comments that follow!

  41. de stijl says:

    When I was teen I worked at an indie convenience store (not the last). Owner guy’s pref was the pop station on the speakers. Least potentially offensive.

    I heard Bette Davis’ Eyes 80 seventy bazillion times that summer. It broke me. I love Kim Carnes’ vocals, it is a righteous song, but the 13th time hearing it in a shift just broke me.

    Store owner was a really good dude. A super boss type. He was really a good person. Bette Davis ruined it. Her eyes anyway.

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @Monala: so sorry to hear! Hope the both of you are feeling better soon

  43. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    What an interesting coincidence. It’s disappointing to miss the place, especially since we had booked the Christmas dinner at Blue Fin, which sounds fabulous, but I assume there will be other occasions. I really enjoy Portland, too. Good French restaurant there: Petit Jacqueline.

    Now that’s the definition of bummer. So sorry to hear this. Be well.

  44. de stijl says:


    Someone watched too many Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.

    It is totally okay. These play out on the basic bones of A Christmas Carol, brunette will be hated at first by the locals, but third act everyone, all the townies, love her and she is giving turkeys to the homeless. Movie done.

    What the eff is a homeless person going to do with a raw turkey, btw? She needs a job and a roof and running water and electricity and institutional social support and likely some therapy. She might backslide a few times.

    A raw turkey is just an insult.

  45. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I’m still uncertain about SpaceX’s costs, but it’s undeniable they can launch rockets reliably. They average around one every two weeks.

    NASA’s new telescope, BTW, will take a month to reach it’s position, which is the Moon’s Lagrange 2 point. I wonder if it too, like Hubble, was designed to be serviced.

  46. CSK says:

    Good God. About 15 minutes ago, there was a 50-car pile-up on Route 95 just north of Seabrook, New Hampshire. They’re shutting down the highway.

  47. Mu Yixiao says:


    NASA’s new telescope, BTW, will take a month to reach it’s position, which is the Moon’s Lagrange 2 point.

    They’re parking at a Lagrange point?! Way cool! I’ve been saying for years that we need to get away from LEO and start looking at the L points (solar, terran, and lunar). L2 is the perfect place for a telescope.

  48. Jen says:

    @Monala: I am really sorry to hear about the covid and hope you heal quickly.

    That twitter thread is hilarious and awesome, the comments are priceless!

  49. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Most satellites are at LEO because they look at the Earth. The ISS is there because that’s where the Shuttle and Soyuz could fly to (If the lunar gateway will be just an ISS type station in Lunar orbit, it will merely be more expensive).

    Science probes have ranged farther afield. Keppler is in orbit around the Sun, for instance, several million kilometers from Earth. Musk’s old Tesla and the Starman are even farther away, nearly grazing Mars’ orbit.

    But, yeah, it’s pretty cool to put a telescope at the L2 point of the Earth-Moon system.

  50. Mu Yixiao says:

    I just posted the “closing letter” for my newspaper.

    A few weeks ago, I posted a request for help. I have, from the beginning, promised that the news would be posted free for anyone to read. The monetary costs to keep it up and running are small (~$15/mo), but I needed help–volunteer hours–in order to be able to find, investigate, write, edit, and publish the news.

    20 people (out of a pool of at least 6,000) giving 1 hour a month could have not only kept the paper going, but doubled or tripled its weekly content.

    I have a pool of occasional columnists–and one woman who has faithfully written 83 weekly columns without a gap (and without any pay)–but that’s not enough. Everyone wants to know what’s going on in all the municipal committee and council meetings–but nobody’s willing to sit in and report on one.

    I quit.

    The windmills can stay where they are.

  51. liberal capitalist says:

    @de stijl:

    That’s my point: it’s NOT the classic Xmas tunes. These are songs you never have heard, and would resonate with your particular musical interests.

    I mean, if John Waters is talking about his interracial Christmas experiences in Baltimore, and his specifically bad Christmas karma… it might be an interesting flick.

    But I won’t be offended if you don’t like it. My wife hates documentaries, so it’s not for her either.

    Here’s a review:

  52. dazedandconfused says:

    Probably not, as getting something with anything like the crane the space shuttle had built and sent to the L2 with crew and back would be more expensive than building another one.

    As they say…

  53. gVOR08 says:

    @Mu Yixiao: @Kathy: A couple of articles I’ve seen say there is some basic maintenance that could be done by robot vehicles, but no real chance for manned repair. WIKI has a page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrange_point?wprov=sfti1 with a list of several vehicles already at, planned, or enroute to L2. Apparently a Lagrange point is stable in that all forces are balanced, but not stable in a “self centering” sense. Webb will require small burns to stay at L2 and has thrusters and fuel for IIRC ten years. Which also allows for a little traffic control.

    Merry Christmas to all. And to all a goodnight.

  54. Michael Cain says:

    The Webb was designed to be non-serviceable. NASA priced out a manned mission to L2 in 1999 specifically for the purpose of a telescope repair. More expensive than a one-off manned lunar mission, less than a one-way manned trip to Mars. 50+ days duration, probably a special single-purpose vehicle. SpaceX or ULA might bid it as cost-plus using a one-off Starship or SLS/Artemis variant in the mid-2030s :^)

    Proposition: new fundamental physics experiments at the tiny end — particles — and the humongous end — astronomy — have become more expensive than nation-states are going to continue funding.

  55. Michael Cain says:

    Point of clarification to multiple comments people have made: Webb will take station at the Earth-Sun L2 point, not the Earth-Moon point.

  56. Kathy says:

    Ok, the Earth-Sun system L2 makes more sense. I thought it odd to take a month to get just past the Moon.


    Hubble was designed to be serviced, but there were parts not meant to receive maintenance. Mike Massimino goes into a great deal of detail about servicing a part not meant to be serviced, in his book Spaceman (great read BTW). One thing was a large number of tiny screws, which doubled as a radiator to cool that component. The big issue, though, turned out to be a large screw Massimino inadvertently stripped.

    I digressed. the point is the new telescope can be serviced even if not designed to be, as long as someone can get there cheap enough to do it, or someone is willing to pay a lot for it. Robotic maintenance probably means something simpler, like refueling.

  57. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Proposition: new fundamental physics experiments at the tiny end — particles — and the humongous end — astronomy — have become more expensive than nation-states are going to continue funding.

    I wrote something like that years ago at the time of the Higgs Boson discovery. It went more or less like: the smaller the thing you want to measure is, the bigger the equipment to do it. It takes a gigantic particle accelerator and detectors to even find the Higgs boson, but you can measure the Earth’s circumference with a stick and a protractor.

    Witty remarks aside, there’s a reason for this. One is that to get at fundamental particles you need to break open larger particles, or groups of particles, which are very strongly bound together. This requires a very large amount of energy, ergo the Large Hadron Collider.

    In astronomy, the light you want comes from billions of light years away and it’s very faint. So you need a large mirror to concentrate it. Large and very precisely shaped mirrors cost a small fortune.

    Nations will sometimes balk at the money needed to fund these things, see the late, lamented Superconducting Supercollider But maybe Jeff or Elon will nee a tax write off someday.

  58. Gustopher says:

    @Monala: A breakthrough infection is not the Christmas miracle you needed this year. I hope it stays mild and you’re fine soon with no lasting harm.

  59. Michael Cain says:


    I digressed. the point is the new telescope can be serviced even if not designed to be, as long as someone can get there cheap enough to do it, or someone is willing to pay a lot for it. Robotic maintenance probably means something simpler, like refueling.

    Many of the components may not be accessible without irreparably damaging other components. For example, spaceships and space walkers could approach the Hubble, since everything important was down inside a protective metal tube. The Webb’s mirror is out in the open, and no repair vessel or space walker can ever, ever point an engine nozzle or thruster at them. Out of fear of erosion/deposits ruining them.

    I, at least, am in the camp of guessing that if you have solved the problems of repairing the Webb, it will almost certainly be cheaper to take and deploy a simplified replacement.

  60. Monala says:

    @Mu Yixiao: sorry it had to end this way

  61. Jax says:

    @Monala: How are you and your daughter this evening? My youngest started coughing with a scratchy throat this morning. She’s the only one of us not boosted, besides my ol’ Dad who will never take the shot anyways.

  62. Monala says:

    @Jax: thanks for asking. I just posted this on today’s forum:

    Covid update: it’s good that I’m vaxxed and boosted, and my daughter is vaxxed (she had been scheduled for her booster tomorrow). All we have so far is cold symptoms.* I read recently that really bad COVID symptoms show up 7-10 after onset. It’s been seven days for me and 8 for her, so we’ll know soon if it will get any worse. And fingers crossed, hopefully we won’t end up with long COVID.

    * The really bad part of having only cold symptoms is that we had them for a few days before we realized that we should test ourselves for COVID. In the meantime, we both were out and about among people, albeit in masks.