THE DAILY BLADE: Is This One Of Those Jobs That “Americans Won’t Do?”: Part II
Kelly Brott, 36, started a Pet Butler franchise from his home in Winter Garden, FL, in April 2006. Using a 3-foot-long aluminum spade and a large dustpan, Brott removes doggie doo from the lawns of clients too busy to tend to this chore themselves for $10.75 a week ($13.75, for two dogs).
Pet-waste management is an up-and-coming business in the U.S., reports The Associated Press. The Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (aPaws) started with 12 dues-paying members in 2002 to 175 today.
The nation's first Pet Butler franchise opened in the FL Panhandle in January 2006. There are now nine franchises in the state and 70 nationwide, according to Matt Boswell, the Dallas-based company's "chief excrement officer."
Brott is really cleaning up:
[He] ran his scooping business solo for a year but hired another "technician" a few months ago because he couldn't keep up with the growing number of clients. He and the other poop scooper now make 130 scoop stops a week. And just last month, he was able to expand his franchise rights in greater Orlando. …
[A]dvertising costs him as much as $3,000 a month, and gas about $500, his 75 steady customers pay on average $900 a year.
"There's a lot more potential to surpass anything I would have made in retail," he said. He now services two homeowners' associations and an apartment complex in east Orlando and hopes to expand the commercial side of his business.
Folks like Boswell and Brott are proof that that there’s no job an American won’t do – and find a way to make a good living doing.
The Running Man
New elected French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been a jogger for years. But for some reason, his fitness regimen - not to mention the NYPD T-shirt he often sports - has got people’s shorts in a knot on both sides of the English Channel, reports The Washington Post.
Left-wing newspaper Libération calls Sarkozy’s choice of exercise "an un-French, right-wing conspiracy." For his part, Sarko says, "Of course it is right-wing … The very act of forcing yourself to go for a run, every morning, is a highly conservative business. There is the mental effort needed to overcome your laziness."
But jogging is also regarded as an "American thing":
Sarkozy has fueled a French suspicion that running is for self-centered individualists like Americans, reports Charles Bremner, Paris correspondent for the Times of London. "Patrick Mignon, a sports sociologist, noted that French intellectuals had always held sport in contempt, while totalitarian regimes cultivated physical fitness," Bremner writes.
"Jogging is of course about performance and individualism, values that are traditionally ascribed to the right," Odile Baudrier, editor of V02 magazine, a sports publication, told Libération. …
"The Sarkozy jog, say his critics, is a sad imitation of the habits of American presidents, and a capitulation to 'le défi Américain' (a phrase that was the title of a book published here as 'The American Challenge') as bad as the influx of Hollywood movies," writes Boris Johnson, a British member of Parliament and confirmed jogger, in the Telegraph.
Sarko’s point about conservatives being disciplined and goal-oriented is well-taken – just compare Bill Clinton’s diet and exercise regimen to Bush 43’s. And it just so happens that physical fitness is an American thing – our Founding Fathers were great believers in healthy eating and exercise habits, according to The Virginia Pilot:
Thomas Jefferson suggested a body undertake "two hours of exercise" a day for good health" [but not] "games played with the ball" Jefferson famously claimed, "are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind."
The Pilot also notes that "there was no greater advocate … for strenuous activity and bodily upkeep than Ben Franklin":
In a day when swimming was largely reserved for saving one's skin after falling overboard, Franklin thought nothing of splashing into the River Thames as a young man and dashing off a few miles.
He did that at least once, "performing on the way many feats of activity, both upon and under water, that surprised and pleased those to whom they were novelties."
And Sarko was certainly channeling Franklin ("He that is good for making excuses, is seldom good for anything else.") when he embraced the idea that jogging is a "right wing" activity.
Free Speech On Trial
Independence Day found Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson reflecting on the rise of speech regulation, which he calls " one of the great underreported stories of our time":
It's absurd to treat "issue speech" (broadly: trying to influence a governmental outcome) as different from "election speech" (broadly: trying to influence a campaign outcome). In democracies, people and groups express their views on issues by trying to elect leaders who agree. …
By and large, the media regard campaign finance "reform" as a worthy crusade. Money in politics is bad; big money, however defined, is worse. It's corrupt - or might be. Curb it. Overlook or minimize the attendant restrictions on political speech. The media jealously guard their own free speech. They are more casual about everyone else's. …
Although it's common to think that politicians sell their votes to big contributors, the overwhelming conclusion of academic research is that in roll call votes, members of Congress follow their philosophical views and constituents' interests, says Michael Malbin, executive director of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute. …
Try to purge politics of money and politics is crippled. Free speech's value is not only a diversity of views; it is also the ability of people to contest those views. The only desirable controls are contribution disclosures. Let people see who's giving to whom. Free speech involves no right to secret speech. … [C]ampaign finance "reform" is a dagger in the First Amendment.
The Stiletto agrees that any encroachment on the First Amendment will lead down a slippery slope toward criminalization of speech. The U.S. is unique amongst the nations of the world - even other Western democracies – in the expansiveness of the definition of "freedom of speech," as stated in our constitution and protected in our courts.
In his opinion explaining the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that the McCain-Feingold law banning ads paid for directly by corporations and unions that mention candidates by name during the 30 days before a primary and the 60 days before a general election is unconstitutional, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote: "Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor."
But what if we lived in a schizoid "democracy" with a constitution that guaranteed free speech and a penal code that criminalized free speech? This is the case in Turkey
The Turkish judiciary has never challenged the constitutionality of Article 301 (which makes it a crime to "insult Turkishness" or to "insult Islam") or Article 305 (which makes it a crime to "promote" the Armenian Genocide as settled history). These Articles of the Turkish Penal Code directly contradict Articles 26 (which establishes freedom of expression), 27 and 28 (which guarantee freedom of the press) of the Turkish Constitution.
Several dozen journalists, novelists and playwrights who have run afoul of Article 301 and/or Article 305 have been charged and, in some cases, prosecuted.
Journalist Hrant Dink, a Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, was repeatedly charged under Article 301 for writing about the Armenian Genocide and for taking issue with Turkey’s official government policy of denial in media interviews. One of these Article 301 trials resulted in a conviction. "Proven" in court to have insulted Turkishness, Dink was assassinated by teenager Ogun Samast, who was allegedly put up to the crime by a cabal of Turkish nationalists and law enforcement authorities.
Eighteen young men charged in Dink's murder went on trial July 2nd. But the criminal proceeding has ramifications beyond settling the question of the guilt or innocence of these defendants – and those yet to be charged. Article 301 is also on trial.
The New York Times reports:
Ultranationalist Turks have used an article of the country’s criminal code that forbids "insulting Turkishness" to push the government to bring charges against Turkish writers, including Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist. Mr. Dink received a suspended sentence under the statute. His supporters argue that a limp prosecution of his killing will embolden nationalists. …
Mr. Samast previously confessed to the killing, according to Turkish authorities, saying he had been angered by Mr. Dink’s columns on Armenian history and had come to Istanbul from the Black Sea town of Trabzon to kill him. …
His lawyers’ main concern is that the trial will not get to the heart of the hate crime they say was highly organized by a network of ultranationalist Turks in collaboration with Turkish authorities. …
Liberal Turks are skeptical that the trial will result in justice for Mr. Dink. The country’s establishment, which encourages nationalism, was deeply suspicious of him. …
After hearing testimony "well into the evening," the court adjourned until October 1st. Only eight of the 18 defendants are being kept in custody until the conclusion of the trial.
[Editorial Note: Hrant Dink’s son, Arat, took the reigns of Agos, the newspaper his father founded. Now, Arat is also facing charges under Article 301.]
The Prius Rocks (No, Really)
Now that The Stiletto has let the cat out of the bag, The Los Angeles Times goes into great detail (low coefficient of drag, etc.) about why the Prius is "such a screaming hot rod" in an article that notes, "Al Gore III’s alleged 100-mph jaunt alters perceptions of 'wimpy' hybrid cars." Opines the Times: "The Prius, not Gore, was the news" in that messy incident involving possession of illegal and controlled substances. The scion of the Gore family is in rehab.