Critters Political

Election, undone

So much for the importance of the vote. So much for the will of the people.

Other stories have popped up about Missouri state representatives deciding to undo Proposition B in the state legislature. Not a lot of representatives, and none from the urban areas:

That Missouri lawmakers would even consider overriding the will of the people is disturbing, but to do so in support of animal cruelty is astonishing.

This year, one of the most important movies is “Winter’s Bone”, a movie about a family in the Ozarks caught up in the Meth trade. Due to the critical acclaim and popularity of the movie, this is how many people will “see” Missouri.

We do not need to add to this story that Missouri also condones puppy mills, and disregards the vote of the people. We need to re-write the tale that is Missouri into something better.

As for some state representatives thinking that they can overturn Proposition B, I am going to borrow from history and promise that I have not yet begun to fight.

update The Humane Society of the United States responds to the recent discussions.

Critters Political

Election, please be done

Election 2010 is one of the most exciting mid-terms I’ve been through, and the one I want finished more than any other in the past. That the election has been ugly is the mother of all understatements. Add to this the anxiousness of seeing people I would expect to find living behind barbed wire with signs saying “Trezpassers will be shot”, amid hills filled with buried food and real metal coins, as candidates for national office, and I find myself wishing for an alien invasion from space.

Except the aliens wouldn’t be welcome in Arizona, and no matter their appearance, Sharron Angle would say they look vaguely Asian. It is that kind of fruitcake year.

The effect the Tea Party has had on the election is evident, and not just on the chosen candidates. The Tea Party folks said they were angry and that anger continued and solidified until we now have this sullen ember of burning, querulous discontent that is the antithesis of hope that marked 2008. That a campaign worker would stomp on a woman after she was knocked to the ground just doesn’t surprise us. That he would then ask for an apology from the women is no more than a head shaking moment. Worse, in all the foot stomping media coverage, no one asked the question, “Why was she knocked down in the first place?” She was neither armed nor a threat, and the only crime she seemed to be guilty of is that she wasn’t one of the people around her. But she was knocked down, and the police actually called and no one has said, “Wait? What’s up with that?”

Of course, this doesn’t surprise us either, as we’ve watched candidates literally fleeing from buildings and handcuffing journalists, rather than answer questions that should be asked, to get answers we need.

What’s most frightening though is knowing that there will be people who vote for candidates with staff members that stomp on a woman as she is held helpless on the ground or handcuff a journalist asking questions; candidates who refuse to answer questions and then display an unseemly pride in the fact. “We don’t answer questions from the liberal media”, they shout. When you look around, though, you quickly realize that all but a few are deemed liberal media.

What’s a little humorous, in a sad, shadowy way, is that here in Missouri, one of the birthplaces of the Tea Party movement, not one Tea Party candidate for national office made it to the polls. I’m not sure what that says about Missouri, other than it can be an exhausting place to live sometimes.

We do have our share of contentiousness, though. The Blunt/Carnahan race has been deemed one of the ugliest in the nation, and that tells you a lot when you consider how ugly the campaigns have been. We also have controversial issues up for a vote including Propositions A and B: The Earnings Tax Initiative and the Puppy Mill Cruelty Act. You would expect an issue related to taxes to be acrimonious…but puppies?

Early on, thanks to a rant from Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, it was thought that the Tea Party movement would move, as one monolithic body, against the puppies, but no such event happened. It would seem that the Angry Ones draw the line when it comes to their dogs. However, there is still plenty of hostility remaining, as the agricultural interests worked hard to ensure that they would be allowed to treat their animals however they wanted. It is none of our business, they tell us, if dogs live their lives on wire floors, in small cages that barely allow the dog to turn around, without a chance to run on the grass, sniff the air, or even chew a dog bone. One pet shop owner said in an interview that the dogs’ needs are met, and that we should be so lucky to live so well.

Unemployment is high, too high. Companies are actually doing well, but we’re faced with a new phenomena where companies having money no longer translate into jobs, as employees are expected to do more for less pay, or jobs are outsourced to other countries. Some say all we need do is lower taxes, but taxes are not the problem, nor are they the solution.

And yet, among all the anger and evasiveness, and cruelty and greed, the hope does still remain.

This last weekend, as a closed down factory farm breeder auctioned off 800 dogs, rescuers came from all over the country to try to save some of them. They managed to save 200, probably the ones that needed help the most. The other 600 went to commercial dog breeders, primarily the Amish who have taken to large scale dog breeding like ducks to water, but there’s hope for the dogs. There’s a change in the wind, and a growing awareness of what lies behind that cute little doggy in the window, and the days of these large, inhumane facilities are coming to a close.

Today, we also have a national health care plan. If all goes as planned, the majority of those currently uninsured will be covered in three years. In three years, no one need fear having to go bankrupt when they become ill; people will no longer be dying solely because they don’t have insurance. A need for a national health care plan has been one of the top concerns of every president since Harry Truman, and now that we have one, I’ll be damned if I’ll let someone tell me it’s a failure.

Unemployment is high, yes, but we have stopped that out-of-control upward spiral that began in 2008. We are spending a little more—not a lot, but we spending. There is no longer a threat of financial collapse, and people’s pension funds now look a lot safer than they were a few years back. People seemingly hate the stimulus fund, but it has provided jobs. They hate TARP, but it actually succeeded, and may even make the country money someday. We should actually be more hopeful today, if it weren’t for the incessant messages of doom and gloom— messages that reflect political and corporate motivation more than reality.

After years of watching consumer rights eroded, they’re back and even stronger with new consumer protection laws. The practices that triggered our financial meltdown have now been blocked and hopefully blasted into enough pieces so they can never surface again. The FCC came out with a report condemning the debt collection practices and urging states to crack down on abusive debt collectors. A state attorney general managed to convince the largest and most notorious arbitration firm to no longer take consumer cases—people’s constitutional rights to the courts have been restored.

Thanks to the new health care act, health care clinics in our state and others have received enough money to expand their operations; sick kids can’t be denied coverage; the ill can continue needed treatments; college students can remain on their parent’s policies, rather than trust to youth to keep them from financial disaster.

We’re gaining private sector jobs, not losing them. The Osage Bridge opened recently, and our beloved Eades bridge is getting a safety upgrade—just a few of the many stimulus-funded projects that dot the land and provide signs that something is working.

Considering how bad things were two years ago—how hopeless and terrifying the times—the fact that people now have the luxury to be angry is nothing short of a miracle. I have never been more proud of being a Democrat.

And this morning, 200 dogs now have a chance for a better life.


Missouri’s puppy mills and Proposition B: An act in many parts

Proposition B is about dogs, nothing more, nothing less.

Though Proposition B has been covered on hundreds of sites and in countless discussions—on TV and radio, in print, and in person—the Columbia Missourian, a student run publication managed by the School of Journalism of the University of Missouri, has remained the ground zero of all debate. In the threads to the many Proposition B articles and letters at this publication you’ll see representatives from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), members from both HumaneWatch and Stop HumaneWatch, rescue and shelter volunteers and workers, veterinarians, commercial dog breeders, hobby and show breeders, agricultural representatives, as well as just plain folk like myself from both sides of the issue.

I invite you all to the new town hall in politics, and the debate on Proposition B:

All too frequently in the article comments, the discussion focused on HSUS, and the ongoing debate between it and agricultural interests. This was unfortunate because Proposition B is important enough to be discussed on its own merits.

My support for Proposition B remains strong and unwavering. I have come to develop a sense of empathy, though, for those who will be impacted by Proposition B. Oh, not the bad breeders; they I could gleefully shut down with nary a backward glance. But there will be people impacted who have followed the existing rules and feel they are being treated unfairly. I do feel sympathy for their concerns.

However, Proposition B is not only the right thing to do for the dogs, in the end it is the right thing to do for Missouri. We cannot continue with the dubious titles of “Puppy Mill capital of the US” or “Dog Auction capital of the US”. And we can’t continue to pretend that dogs are nothing more than livestock; that as long as they get enough to eat, drink, room to stretch, and protection from elements, this is sufficient for them to be “happy”. You can’t breed an animal for 15,000 years to be our companions, helpers, and friends, and then suddenly isolate them in cages in big factory farms and say they’re “happy”.

Agriculture is about food, fiber, and by-product, and in the US, dogs don’t fit into any of these categories.

Of all the movies that have been linked for Proposition —of horrid breeders where dogs are starved, left unprotected in freezing conditions, untreated when ill, and bred until they drop—the one movie that impacted on me the most shows none of this. In fact, it is a movie of a Missouri Blue Ribbon kennel, considered the best of the large scale commercial dog breeders.

[no longer available]

Dogs are not livestock.

Large scale commercial dog breeding is an industry that has no future. When you have millions of dogs euthanized every year, factory farms that attempt to produce thousands of puppies a year are wasteful and inhumane. Several states have enacted stricter commercial dog breeding laws, while other states are focusing on closing down pet stores that sell dogs and cats. This is in addition to an increasing legal challenge to industries that push sick puppies out to the public, and consumers own growing awareness of the dangers of buying puppies over the internet or at a puppy store. While legitimate breeders should continue to flourish, the end of the large scale dog farm is inevitable.

If you live in Missouri, please vote for Proposition B. Regardless of whether you do or don’t, please support your local shelters and dog rescue organizations. And a reminder: Proposition B is as much about hope, as it is about correction.


For those eligible to vote in this week’s election: Wherever you are, however you believe, please vote on Tuesday. The government you get, is the government you make.

Burningbird Technology Weblogging

My first attempt at Drupal 7 upgrade fails

I made my first attempt to use the new Drupal 7 beta to upgrade my existing module experiment site. Unfortunately, I quickly ran into a fatal error:

DatabaseSchemaObjectExistsException: Table cache_path already exists. in DatabaseSchema->createTable() (line 621 of /home/myname/public_html/books/includes/database/

I submitted a bug for the error at the time it happened. Checking back later, though, I couldn’t find the bug. I assumed I had mucked it up somehow when submitting, so re-submitted it. However, when I checked a couple of minutes later, I couldn’t find the second bug. I noticed then that when you access My Issues, it only shows open bugs. When I adjusted to show all bugs, I found that my bugs had been quickly closed out by someone saying they were duplicates of another.

I can understand the enthusiasm the developers have with wanting to close out bugs quickly, but unfortunately, my bug was not a duplicate of the bug so noted. What caused the problem, though, is known, but the error message I received was inaccurate.

Drupal 7 is dependent on the PHP Data Objects (PDO) extension that is now in PHP core. Previously, we could add PDO via PECL—the PHP Extension Community Library. However, the PECL PDO is out of date and Drupal 7 now only supports the core PDO.

One problem with this, though, is that cPanel, the site management tool popular with many Shared Hosting companies, disabled PHP core PDO because of compatibility issues. It’s only been recently that the application has stopped disabling PDO, but hosting companies like mine are still in the process of upgrading to the PHP core PDO. Until these companies make this upgrade, we can’t upgrade to Drupal 7.

The problem is further compounded by the fact that the Drupal 7 upgrade doesn’t test for the appropriate version of PDO, and we get bizarre errors such as the one I described earlier. Luckily, there is now a patch, which I ended up testing yesterday and that should give people the appropriate error. The problem with it, though, is that it recommends people check out the requirements page for Drupal, which, among other things, informs people that they can install PDO with PECL.

screenshot of Drupal requirements page with PECL PDO instruction highlighted

Hopefully, the disconnects will soon be corrected, and most folks are in environments where the PDO is from PHP core, rather than PECL. I was impressed at how fast everyone did jump on this after the initial duplicate bug mistake was discovered. Once the patch is in place, and the documentation updated, people will at least now know why they can’t upgrade and can chat with their hosting provider about the necessary upgrade.

Until my own shared environment is upgraded, though, I’ll have to stay in 6.x land. Many thanks to Everett Zufelt for his help in pulling all the Drupal pieces together for me.

HTML5 Specs W3C

Correction to the HTML5 review procedure

In my earlier writing, I suggested that after October 1st, people with comments should send emails to the public-html-comment email list, as I thought this would be where Last Call comments would be addressed. Evidently, I was incorrect.

According to a clarification I received, all comments should be submitted to the Bugzilla database. In addition, any arguments should be presented in the Bugzilla database. The HTML WG will be tracking using the Bugzilla database, unless the resolution makes people unhappy, in which case the item will become an issue. When an item does become an issue, then the only way you can continue to participate is basically become a member of the group. Oh, any comment in the public email list is supposedly addressed, but discussion will most likely happen in the members-only email list.

I’m not sure how comments from other W3C groups will be handled—perhaps by Ouija board; maybe strips of paper tacked against a wall, and thrown darts.

If you get from my comments that I don’t like this process, I don’t. A bugzilla database is not the place to handle concerns or suggestions that aren’t editorial or corrective in nature. It’s difficult to follow the discussion, and most of the discussion takes place out of the public eye. In addition, you can’t thread the replies, which means everything gets smooshed together linearly, with a lot of message copying, and references to “Comment Number 14”. Bugzilla is also not the most accessible software in the world.

Relying on Bugzilla to manage Last Call comments sucks. It’s also demonstrative of a group that has not effectively dealt with conflict. Instead of dealing with the major issues—such as the continuing split of the document across W3C and WhatWG, or the disquieting trends reflected in accessibility bugs—the HTML WG has, instead, tried to get technology to take care of the problem. And you know something? Relying on technology in this way never works.

You can track Bugzilla Tracking, or you can subscribe to the email list, but I’d do so warily—it is going to get busy.