Merry Christmas

to our readers, our authors, their families, and everyone any of you care about.  It is a wonderful holiday, whether you have snow or palm trees, accreting everything worth working for – generosity, family reconnection, lights, peace, music, good food – and marvellously resistant to competition, commercialization, and small-minded whining of every kind, even to Christians unclear on the concept trying to build a fence around it and deny it to everyone else.  OK, “holiday season” if you like, but the holiday that makes it is Christmas.  New Year’s, at least in the northern hemisphere, is functionally and affectively just after US Labor day, when everything starts up again (the Jews have this right) and Chanukah is not really a big deal in Jewish tradition.  Christmas isn’t a Christian monopoly, and why should it be? It’s big enough now to comfortably embrace the secondary Christian celebration, just another thing that makes it better for its richness and diversity, but Christmas is syncretic and no less an ancient winter festival for that, and no less a northern celebration with snow and a conifer because we also dress it up with a semitropical holly and eat a lot of chocolate. And it’s spreading steadily from European cultures around the world, so you’re all having Christmas if you went to the store or don’t go to work Monday or get invited to someone’s Christmas dinner or listen to the radio. And I hope yours is warm and hopeful, and you’ve noticed the days getting a tidge longer again along with all the other good things afoot.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

6 thoughts on “Merry Christmas”

  1. Merry Christmas, my good friend. In a similarly inclusive spirit, allow this atheist to wish you a blessed new year.

  2. Bah, humbug!

    (Michael is right about Xmas, but its a bit too closely linked to crazed consumerism. If Xmas were more like Xgiving, I’d be happier with it.)

  3. I couldn’t find any holly here in Rio to stick on the Christmas pudding kindly sent by my daughter from an English supermarket shelf, so it must be some other tropics.

    The local Lubavitchers have put up a marquee on Copacabana celebrating and explaining Chanukah. Good for them, and eminently Christmassy.

  4. and marvellously resistant to competition, commercialization, and small-minded whining of every kind, even to Christians unclear on the concept trying to build a fence around it and deny it to everyone else.

    How do you stay sane when the stores trot out their Christmas cr*p the day after Halloween?!?!?!?!?!?!?

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