Diversity Writing

The perfect woman

Ladies! Ladies! Please stop your housekeeping for one moment and pay attention to some absolutely vital information. A wonderful new treat is heading to the bookshelves in February, ladies. I know that you’re all shivery in anticipation just from my introduction, but be sure to fold your towels and take the curlers out of your hair before you rush past your 5.3 children on the way to the store to buy it.

What is this new treat? Why, dear hearts, it’s none other than Phyllis Schlafly’s newest book, Feminist Fantasies! Isn’t this just the biggest thrill!

Now, now, don’t swoon. I know that we couldn’t ask for a better valentine’s present, and you’re all agog in anticipation.

Don’t pee your panties, ladies, but there’s more — none other than Ann Coulter has written the forward to it! Yes! I would not josh you, ladies! Ann Coulter, herself! I am beside myself. Just beside myself.

Now you can tell that big, strong man in your life what to get you for Valentine’s Day instead of a silly box of chocolates (not to mention that you’ve gained a few pounds anyway, darling, and nothing turns that handsome man of yours off more than bulky thighs). Just make sure you re-assure him that you won’t take time out from your wifely duties to read it. You tell Charlie that Charlene, Charlie Joe, Billy Chuck, Cherrie Charlie, and Bob are more important than a book, even one as important as “Feminist Fantasies”.

However, since I am such a tease I thought I would re-print some of the advanced review of the book. Just for you, my darlings.

Just for you.


So, this feminist writer in her thirties started interviewing smart young women in their twenties and she learned quite a lot. She discovered that, among women in their twenties, “feminism has become a dirty word.” She discovered that young women in their twenties have concluded that feminists are “unhappy,” “bitter,” “angry,” “tired,” and “bored,” and that the happy, enthusiastic, relaxed women are not feminists. The writer found that young women are especially turned off by feminism because of its “incredible bitterness.” She admitted that “feminism had come to be strongly identified with lesbianism.”

The Wall Street Journal ran a series of news stories about the disruption in corporations and law firms caused by the wave of pregnancies at the managerial and professional levels. Since more women hold high-level jobs, their time off for pregnancy has caused serious company disruptions. In the past eight years, the number of women over thirty having a child has almost doubled

A study by the advertising firm of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborne discovered that “the professional homemaker is a happy woman who feels good about herself and her ability to stick to her decision to remain at home, even under strong societal pressure to find an outside job.” She is feminine and traditional; she is not feminist.


I’m so excited about this book, my dears, that I’ve decided to celebrate it’s publication with a series of weblog postings focusing on Phyllis Schlafly and her impact on culture, titled The Perfect Woman in the inaugural launch of the new Evil Woman weblog.

Coming to a browser near you, February 5th.


Who is Ray and why is he on my book?

I’ve always been partial to Amazon, but as an author I have to say that the company’s data systems suck.

For instance, if you search on my name, “Shelley Powers”, you’ll find several of my books, such as Essential Blogging, Unix Power Tools 3rd edition, and so on. However, you’ll also find me on a few other computer books I’ve either never been involved with, or only peripherally involved with.

For instance, you’ll find Sybex’s Mastering Visual C# in my authored list, but you won’t see my name on the book. The reason why is because I pulled out of the C# book when I found out how Sybex handles its authors — poorly. I then high tailed it back to O’Reilly just in time to be a pain in the butt to Simon St. Laurent, my current editor.

However, once your name has been linked to a book in the vaults of Amazon’s data jungle (was that a mixed metaphor?), it’s linked for life. No matter how many times you write them, they won’t fix the problem.

My name is also linked with the Webmaster’s Guide to the Wireless Internet, and all I did for Syngress is create the outline for them. That’s it.

A few of the books in the list are Spanish and Portuguese language versions of some of my books. They’ve always liked me in Brazil for some reason. I’m a big hit there. I’m also a hit in Russia, and have Russian language books for Developing ASP Components and Dynamic HTML. What’s odd is my name looks different on both.

There’s another Spanish-language book with the title “Curso Completo de Cata de Vinos”. I’m not completely sure of the title, but I’m sure I never wrote a book on wine, or have ever been approached to write a book on wine. Now, if I was ever approached to write a book on margaritas…

What was a shocker for me, though, was when I discovered that Amazon has put another author’s name, a Ray Lischner, on my baby, my “Practical RDF”. Who the hell is Ray Lischner, and why is he on my book? That’s my book. Mine! Mine! Mine! Well, and O’Reilly’s, too.

What’s worse is that now that he’s been linked with the book in the Amazon vaults, he’s there for life. Grrr.



Grand idea #102

Thanks to Sean McGrath I found out about this discussion thread over at the Tag Soup discussion forum.

It starts off with Tim Berners-Lee basically asserting that a URI represents a web page, or at least a physical resource:

We know. Your “resource” is a vague thing which can be
a robot or a web page. That vagueness makes a system
which is less useful than a system in which the URI
identifies specifically the web page.

Luckily Tim Bray came along and hollered “Hold on Partner!”:


Once again, no matter how hard I try, it’s easy to believe that XML
Namespaces are resources, but really hard to believe that they’re web pages.

Concluding notes:
(a) In both of my examples, the resources identified by the URI map
fairly nicely onto the actual meaning of the English word “resource” –
one of Antarctica’s maps is a resource in human-speak (that’s why
people pay for the software), and if an XML Namespace (typically a
pre-coooked XML vocabulary with pre-cooked semantics) isn’t a resource
as the word is normally used, I don’t know what is. My point is not
only is the Fielding formalism useful to programmers and
self-consistent, the terminology is useful to ordinary people.

(b) In my vision of the semantic web, it makes all sorts of sense to
package up RDF assertions about Antarctica’s maps or XML namespaces and
these could be really useful without pretending, against the evidence,
that either kind of URI actually points at a “web page”.

In RDF/XML, URIs are used to identify a specific resource, but there is no assumption that this resource is actually accessible on the web as a hard and stable entity.

After reading a bit of this discussion thread, my head is bleeding, too, primarily because of my work with RDF, the darling daughter of the W3C. Seems to me that Tim BL’s interpretation just kicked dearest in the butt.

I really respect the W3C people, but this is frustrating. There does seem to be more and more of a disconnect between the W3C folks and us out here in the world trying to use the W3C products. I respect the W3C because without this organization, you wouldn’t reading this. But at the same, I kind of wish they would give their brains a rest every once in a while. I imagine Mark Pilgrim feels that way, too, because of XHTML 2.0 (which isn’t open source, BTW, Mark).

What’s needed at the W3C is someone to come in and keep these white-coat people in line. Someone experienced, practical, down to earth, and very easy going. I think I fit this description, ahem, and it just so happens that I’m looking for a job. Fancy that.

Yes, that’s my grand idea for today. I think the W3C should hire me as the Enforcer — the person who goes around and whacks a white coat in the head everytime they start to get a Grand Idea.

What think?


Becoming one with the MT pod people

Second Update:I didn’t choose the Hubble article as a test case for my conversion because it’s particularly good writing. I wrote this years ago and I know it needs severe editing and updating. I picked it as an example primarily because it fit all the test cases for XHTML compliance.


Thanks to Jay Allen’s helpful notes in my comments, I found a simple way to generate an RDF/XML file for each of my postings, all using the PostCon vocabulary. You can see an example for this entry, in fact. Which means I can automatically feed these into my PostCon system for management. Which means…


(I really do need to take to time to read the MT documentation a bit more carefully than I have done.)

Additionally, as Jay pointed out, with the template/archive management, you can split category pages by directory (and rename the files to something other than the number system if you want), but I still prefer separate weblogs for major type of document, and to reserve the category for the specific domain. This gives me hierarchical categorization — type/domain (or domain/type if I had reversed it). Unless you can do this with Movable Type, too, and I didn’t see this functionality in the documentation, either.

I think a Movable Type book is in order, but I’m sure the Trotts are already writing it.

When taking a break from working on the book, I’m slowly moving my content over to Movable Type management. While doing so, I’m taking the opportunity to update everything to XHTML 1.0 strict, as well as being CSS2 compliant.

I’ve already made the transition to XHTML 1.0 strict in the main Burningbird Network page. This page lists out excerpts from new entries across all of the web sites, including this weblog. At this time, only the Practical RDF, Photo Gallery, Articles, and weblog links show in the page, but I’ll add the other sites as I bring them inline.

I pull the excerpt information from the MySql database (oh, how nice it is, too), using PHP. In addition, I created a Perl program that takes the RDF/RSS from all of my websites/weblogs and merges them into one RDF/RSS file. You can see the code for this in Chapter 14 of the Practical RDF book, which I uploaded last night. The application is scheduled as a cron job (scheduled re-occurring job) running every hour.

An advantage to pulling excerpt information for each posting for the main Burningbird Network page is this forces me to write an excerpt for each posting, article, tutorial, etc. Even if the excerpt is no more than the first few sentences of the posting copied over to the MT excerpt field, it’s better than the chopped up text that shows in the RSS feeds now. And it only takes a minute at most.

(BTW: If you’re subscribed to any of my RSS feeds, I would ask that you switch your subscription to the new file. However, you can also continue to subscribe to a specific entity, such as this weblog, or Practical RDF, or Articles, or whatever.)

I’m in the process now of setting up Burningbird Articles. In my past life, at each of my web sites I used to have a sub-directory of articles off of the main site containing more in-depth writings. I still do, but in addition to accessing the articles using or whatever was used, readers can now access articles at I’ll be doing the same to a all my other sub-directories — each one becomes a separate weblog.

I used a separate weblog specifically to control the location of the files — that’s the main determiner. Ultimately this becomes a content type category — such as article, tutorial, weblog, etc. Following this scheme, became and is managed through Burningbird Articles; became and is managed through Burningbird InterActZone and so on. I’ll convert all the older material I want to keep into weblog entries, and since the file names will differ — MT does use a numbered system and my old entries had regular names — my post-content management system (PostCon) handles the re-directs to the new locations.

All main pages are PHP and full of PHP goodness. All secondary pages (individual articles, posts, etc.) are HTML pages — no server-side coding. Peripheral pages such as Backtrack are also PHP or based on some other functionality such as CGI.

Another significant change is my domain management: I used to have several sites, each with their own domain: YASD ( for computer technology; P2P Smoke ( for distributed and P2P technologies; Dynamic Earth ( for science and environment; Solar Lily ( for art; and NetJetter ( for travel, hiking, outdoor recreation, and adventure. I still have the domains, but all of the sites are now merged into Burningbird, and all point to They’re joined by a couple of new ones: MirrorSelf, which will become my photo blog in addition to my static photo gallery; and EvilWoman, which is going to become something….else. My online book, which I’ve been working on quietly offline, is called Marbles, and it will be at, when I set it up.

To maintain the distinctive flavor of each item as it moves over to the new system, I’ve created MT categories in each of my site weblogs (such as Burningbird Articles) and labeled then ‘yasd’, ‘dynamicearth’, ‘solarlily’ and so on. When an individual page is opened (such as my Hubble story I just ported) I’m using the category to change the style sheet as well as logo, using the MT tag <$MTEntryCategory> tag. You can see it in action now — all main pages willl eventually open with the Burningbird deep burgandy color (the bittersweet chocolate brown color is going away) but anything associated with Dynamic Earth, such as the Hubble story, opens with a deep pine green. P2P smoke is gray, NetJetter is a deep blue and so on.

As for layout, all main pages have the three column layout shown in the Burningbird Network web page and the primary Burningbird Articles page; all secondary pages have the two column layout, as shown in the Hubble article page.

The only exceptions to this rule will be this weblog, the Practical RDF weblog, and Marbles.

The layouts not only validate as XHTML 1.0 strict, they also conform to Mark Pilgrim’s Accessibility guidelines, as you’ll be able to test for yourself if you use a voice browser (just the main page for now).

The clean up for each article is enormous, especially considering my use of graphics. I had replace the IMG vspace and hspace attributes with CSS margin attributes, and the align attribute with the CSS float. The result is better, just a lot of work. Not to mention closing all of those open break tags. And why did I use caps so much for so many of my tags?

Another change I had to make was to remove the ‘&’ from all CGI references int he MT template code (such as with trackback and setting the view mode). I had to replace them with the encoded value, which I’m not sure how to show you.

However, in spite of all the care, I am still having problems with IE. No version of IE will take follow the CSS height attribute when used in a TD element. Based on this IE oversized some of the rows, and the looks are off. No problem with the writing, just the overall look. But I’m not going to change the design because of a flaw in Microsoft’s IE browser.

(If someone has a workaround, I’d be glad to hear it.)

One other change I’m making isn’t ready to view yet. I’ll post when the application to support it is finished.

If I had one wish for Movable Type, it would be the ability to create a separate template that’s anchored to an individual entry so that I can create a separate XML page associated with my individual archive entries (other than the XHTML ones). However, MySql comes to the rescue again — what I can’t do within Moveable Type directly, I can do within the Movable Type database.