Tomorrow marks a significant day in American politics, not to mention an important transition for those of us in neighboring countries with ties to the USA. Ending are 8 years of confused, elitist, right-wing and authoritarian politics of puppet-president George Bush (who probably still can’t lift a pencil without being directed by one of his underlings), and beginning are (hopefully) 8 years of charismatic, distinguished, undaunted, and idea-based politics of Barack Obama.
I certainly admire Obama and applaud the US in general for providing him an opportunity to govern the greatest office in the world, especially in such trying times. His first days in office will quickly be judged by peers and critics throughout the world and in the United States. We will see, I believe, the true nature of his character – that of near limitless possibility; his ability to lead by example and with a gentle hand, his assuredness and persuasiveness, and his wit to manage and direct an extraordinary supporting cast. His talents and preparation are going to meet a stiff test right out of the gate, what with unimaginable financial duress collapsing the foundations of capitalism and the entire global economy.
I have communicated with a number of Americans, each who, when I’ve dreamed aloud regarding Obama, have dismissively remarked not to expect greatness without caution. To them, and to those like them, I respond by saying that I am not holding him in higher regard than he is capable of fulfilling. Charismatic leaders like Obama assume important corporate and charitable positions throughout the world; you just don’t often see them take the highest seat in politics, never mind with such ingrained and steadfast ideology. What is truly incredible is that he has ascended to become President before his youthful exuberance has been stained or his policies stunted by the rigor of American politics. Certainly, the miracle is that he has become President long before his ideas have fractured and his character stifled. Every young politician dreams aloud, but the path through the dark woods of politics is a tumultuous one, and as has been proven before, the best way to navigate a path of public office is to stay quiet, walk down the middle and to play each situation safe. As many bright politicians can likely attest, great ideas are left behind in the early days of a political career in place of security to better assure reelection. The only plausible reasons that Obama’s ideas have remained intact are because he’s seen success so quickly (his early 40’s) or because of the interminable strength of his character. Perhaps both.
When I was thinking last night about what to blog about the day before Obama takes office, I decided that I would document a few current events, so that I can compare what is taking place now with what will have taken place sometime in the future, in case I can bridge any impacts his presidency has made on our quality of life.
January 19, 2009
– the price of gas in Calgary is $0.839 per litre
– the price of oil is $34.19 per barrel
– the price of gas in Calgary is $0.839 per litre (sorry, had to say it again in reference to the price of oil, for dramatic effect)
– the price of milk is roughly $6 per 4 litres
– the price of a new, loaded 2009 Toyota Prius is $33,720
– the price of a new, loaded 2009 Ford F150 Lariat Supercrew (insert other testosterone-driven nouns here) is $55,199
– Canada is embroiled in its 7th year in Afghanistan; a total of 107 soldiers have died so far
– Canada’s current Prime Minister is Stephen Harper (Conservative), and the leader of the opposition is (newly elected) Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff
– Canada is scheduled to pull out of Afghanistan by 2011
– under Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Canada is purported to be budgeting a $20 billion deficit for 2009, ending no fewer than 10 consecutive balanced budgets under Conservative (two) and Liberal (eight) rule (each included between $3 and $9 billion in debt reduction)
– Canada lost 35,000 jobs in December 2008, and unemployment rose to 6.6% (figures courtesy Business 2.0 Press)
– the Canadian Dollar is trading at $0.7964 to the US Dollar
– Canada’s manufacturing industry, mainly automotive, is slowing to a halt as the “Big 3” North American automakers attempt to stay in business by enforcing a mandatory January holiday on most of their workforce, while their American headquarters are concurrently asking for between $17 and $35 billion in immediate rescue funding
– my job, while secure, has become more challenging due to unease in the wine industry around the world, but particularly in the USA
and on other notes…
– the Calgary Flames lead the Northwest division by 8 points with a record of 27-14-4, after dropping their last two games to Colorado and Phoenix, ending an 11-1-1 string in their previous 13 games
– Pittsburgh will play Arizona in the SuperBowl in two weeks – I call Arizona in an upset, 21-13
New photos adorn my SmugMug site (cdubphoto.smugmug.com), however I am considering a change once my trial account expires. I am not finding SmugMug to be particularly user-friendly. Some operations take place under a “tools” header, others below the pictures, others only when a picture is scrolled over. Their operational wizards, while often getting back to me within an hour of my inquiries, admit that SmugMug isn’t best friends with the latest version of Safari, but sorry, I don’t do Firefox. I’m going to give PBase a whirl to see if it’s a better fit for me. And finally, I bought Aperture 2 this weekend, and now have the task of importing about 20 gigs of photos. Just need to find the time…