House Meeting on Proposition B

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The major local story today is the Missouri House of Representatives Agricultural committee on the anti-Proposition B votes.

The meeting was so popular the Fired Up Missouri folks couldn’t even get close to the door.

I was disappointed to hear the same myths and misunderstandings about Proposition B that I fact-checked for the Columbia Missourian.

The main one that was repeated was that Proposition B wasn’t really about dogs, it was about agriculture and eliminating all animal ownership and forcing people into vegetarianism. Absolutely absurd, of course, and insulting to the people of this state. Not only do they want to disallow our vote, they assume we’re dumb as bricks, too.

KSDK coverage

Fox news coverage of meeting

KY3 news coverage

I appreciate the news coverage, but I sure wish at least one of them would do a more in-depth story on the issue. Most seem to just grab talking points.


Letter to Eric Schmitt

An email to my state senator, Eric Schmitt.

Hello Senator Schmitt,

As I’m sure you’re aware, several bills have been introduced in both the Missouri House, as well as the Senate, to repeal or modify Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.

As a proponent for Proposition B, as well as a member of your district, I hope I can count on you to work against such efforts. Your district voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition B, and we did so not because we’re uninformed, and not because “HSUS bought the election”. We voted for Proposition B because this bill can have a real impact on the too many dismal, miserable puppy mills that have made Missouri the “puppy mill capital of the US”.

Proposition B isn’t partisan, and has support from both Republicans and Democrats. Proposition B isn’t a “St. Louis and Kansas City” bill, either–it has support from most areas with larger urban concentrations. The reason why Proposition B has such urban support is because we in the towns and cities know that Proposition B isn’t really about harming farmers or agriculture. Agriculture is about food, fuel, and by-product, and dogs in this country do not fit into of these categories.

More importantly in regards to the current Proposition B legislative activity, a rural vote does not count more than an urban vote. Not only is the effort to repeal Proposition B harmful for the dogs and the state’s image, it also sends a message that we in the towns and cities somehow don’t count. Senator Schmitt, you believe we count, don’t you? The people who voted for Proposition B also voted for you.

Large scale commercial dog breeding is a non-growth industry; it has no real future. Our state representatives should be focused on long term employment needs for this state, not placating special interest groups. Aren’t there enough challenges facing this state that we can’t afford to spend precious legislation time on not one, not two, but over ten bills–all focused on disregarding the will of the people, and in preserving what has become an embarrassment for this state?

Senator Schmitt, I hope we can count on you to defend our vote. I hope you’ll stand up and tell your fellow state senators that our vote counts, too–that we do matter in this state. I also hope that you’ll join with us in taking this first important step to finally eliminate our dubious distinction of being the puppy mill capital of the US. Missouri should be looking forward to the future, not preserving the disreputable practices of the past.

Thank you, very much, for your time. Best of luck to you this session.


Shelley Powers


Yet more anti-puppy legislation

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The state representatives are still busy, trying to ensure that no laws regarding animals, including the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, are dared asked for, or passed, by the citizens of this fair state.

Another bill has been submitted to modify Proposition B, HB 281, introduced by Mike Kelly (126). HB 281 is another bill that pretends to be a “compromise”, but is anything but. It modifies the Proposition B Puppy Mills Cruelty Prevention Act in the following ways:

  • Modifies the breeding restriction from 18 months to 12 months. Considering that the average reproductive cycle of dogs is six months, big of the representatives to allow breeders to breed the dogs every single cycle.
  • Removes the requirement that a veterinarian examine each dog at least once a year. Considering that vets tell pet owners to have their dogs examined annually, why would dogs in a more demanding physical environment be allowed less veterinarian care?
  • Redefines the definition of pet to be anything related to a dog. Guess what folks–that cat, gerbil, bunny, fish, bird, or hamster of yours is no longer a “pet”. You heard it here, first, in *Missouri legislation.
  • Removes the requirement that a veterinarian treat an injured or sick animal, or euthanize the dog. Yup, Billy Bob wants to continue thwapping the dogs on the head to kill them. What Billy Bob wants, Billy Bob gets.
  • Removes the unfettered access to an outdoor area. Now, exercise is whatever the Department of Agriculture “deems fit”, which means Fido can kiss off having any form of exercise at all. After all, dogs don’t like to romp, play, or even stretch their legs and have a little bit of fresh air now and again. Silly city people for thinking dogs need this.
  • Removes requirement for an indoor shelter for the dogs. All that’s required now is that dogs have “shelter” from the elements. In this state this means a plastic igloo with a ratty old blanket when the weather gets as cold as it is this week (-10 below). Or whatever the Missouri Department of Agriculture deems “appropriate” according to “species”, which still means a plastic igloo and a ratty old blanket..
  • Feeding is required according to species needs. Water is required according to species needs. The problem with these types of statements is that it is difficult, if not impossible, for the inspector to verify if the animal has received what it really needs. Particularly with water, all the breeder has to say is, “Oh, well, she got water four hours ago”, when an inspector points out an empty water receptacle. Even though that “four hours” may have been closer to four days.
  • The space requirement is removed, to be replaced by whatever the Department of Agriculture “deems fit”. And since the Department of Agriculture has been faulted in three different Missouri audits and in a BBB report for being too cozy with the breeders, perhaps even the “six inches longer than the dog” cage requirement will be cut. After all, a dog doesn’t need to stand up; a dog doesn’t need to stretch; a dog doesn’t need anything but what the breeder decides it needs.
  • Of course, the cage can be all wire with this new “modification”, too. Since the dogs can’t move about anyway, what does it matter if the wire hurts their legs and paws.
  • The class A and C misdemeanors still exists, except that they don’t really enforce anything, and they’ve been modified to maybe, possibly, the person might be charged.
  • And we’re not surprised that the 50 dog upper limit requirement has been removed.

These so-called “compromises” are nothing more than a deliberate deception on the part of the state representatives. The representatives are not only ignoring the citizen votes, but they’re basically lying to the people, too. They’re pretending that they’re only “modifying” the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, when in actuality, they are gutting every last aspect of what’s important in the bill.

The proposed bill is particularly disingenuous when you consider that it defers to the Department of Agriculture for all requirements. Why? Because the Department of Agriculture is the organization that originated the first set of laws that have proven, time and again, to be wholly and completely inadequate. In other words, the wording of this bill was engineered to revoke every last bit of Proposition B, while seeming to offer a compromise.

A bill to repeal the whole damn thing would be better than these so-called “compromise modifications”. At least the repeal bills are honest rather than duplicitous.

But wait…there’s more.

Two separate bills have also been submitted: HB 100 and HJR 3. Both these bills would make sure that the state legislators and the agribusiness community need never worry about pesky citizen initiatives again. How can they possibly do this? Because they would prohibit any citizen initiative having to do with livestock.

Yes, we can have a say in every type of business in Missouri…except agribusiness.

Of course, this is bad legislation for two reasons: one, it limits the types of citizen initiatives we can bring, and does so specifically to benefit one particular industry; two, there’s no way in hell it can survive a Constitutional challenge.

Don’t our state representatives have anything better to do?

*And they say that citizen initiatives shouldn’t be allowed because we don’t have a clue how to draft the legislation.


Hearings on anti-Proposition B Legislation

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There is a public hearing on three of the anti-Proposition B bills next Tuesday, January 25th, at noon (12 pm). The meeting will be held in House Hearing Room 6.

The following bills will be discussed:

HB 99: Exempts all existing breeders from Proposition B legislation

HB 94: Outright repeal of Proposition B

HB 131: Extreme modifications to Proposition B

The committee is the Agricultural Committee, and the meeting will be chaired by Tom Loehner, vice chaired by Bill Reibolt.

Again, the public is invited to attend, and participate.

Specs Technology Web

Why read about it when you can play?

Earlier today I got into a friendly discussion and debate on Twitter about a new web site called W3Fools. The site bills itself as a “W3Schools intervention”, and the purpose is to wake developers up to the fact that W3School tutorials can, and do, have errors.

The problem with a site like W3Fools, I said (using shorter words, or course, since this was Twitter), is that it focuses too much on the negative aspects of W3Schools, without providing a viable alternative.

But, they said, W3Fools does provide links to other sites that provide information on HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. And, I was also told, the reason W3Schools shows up first in search results is because of uncanny use of SEO optimization.


It may be true that W3Schools makes excellent use of SEO, and it may be equally true that W3Schools commits egregious and painful errors. However, neither of these account for what W3Schools is doing right. If you don’t acknowledge what the site does well, you’re not going to make much headway into turning people off the site—no matter how many cleverly named sites you create.

For instance, one of the superior information sites recommended by W3Fools is the Mozilla Doc Center, or MDC as it is affectionately known. Now, I’m a big fan of MDC. I use it all the time, especially when I want to get a better idea of what Firefox supports. But look at the work you have to put in to learn about a new HTML5 element, such as the new HTML5 hgroup element:

  1. Go to main page
  2. Click on HTML5 link
  3. Search through the topics until you see one that’s titled “Sections and outlines in HTML5”, which you know you want because it mentions hgroup
  4. Have a neuron fire and realize that you can just click directly on hgroup
  5. Go to the hgroup page, past the disclaimer about what version of Firefox supports the element, looking for an example of usage
  6. Realize there is no example of how to use hgroup
  7. Go to the original Sections and Outlines in HTML5 link
  8. Go past some stuff about elephants, looking for example
  9. Go past some bullets about why all this new sectioning stuff is cool, looking for an example
  10. Break down and use your in-page search to find hgroup
  11. Finally find an example of how to use hgroup

As compared to W3Schools:

  1. Go to main page
  2. Click on Learn HTML5 link
  3. Click on New Elements link
  4. Start to scroll down when you realize the new elements are listed along the left side
  5. Click on hgroup
  6. Look at example

One thing W3Schools does well is provide a clean, simple to navigate interface that makes it very easy to find exactly what you need with a minimum of scrolling or searching.

Returning to our comparison between W3Schools and MDC, we then search for information on SQL. Oh, wait a sec: there isn’t anything on SQL at the Mozilla site. That’s because Mozilla is primarily a browser company and is only interested in documenting browser stuff.

So then our intrepid explorer must find another site, this one providing information on SQL. And if they want to learn more about PHP, they have to find yet another site. To learn about ASP? Another site, and so on.

What W3Schools also provides is one stop shopping for the web developer. Once you’ve become familiar with the interface, and once the site has proved helpful, you’re more likely to return when you need additional information. Let’s face it: wouldn’t you rather use one site than dozens?

Screenshot of W3Schools page showing many of the topics

Let’s say, though, that you need information on CSS3. Well, you know that MDC covers CSS, so you return to the MDC site, and you click on the link that’s labeled “CSS”, and you look for something that says CSS3.

What do you mean there isn’t anything that says CSS3? What do you mean that transitions are CSS3—how am I, a CSS3 neophyte, supposed to know this?

Returning to W3Schools, I click the link in the main page that is labeled CSS3. Oh look, in the page that opens, there’s a sidebar link that’s labeled “CSS3 transitions”. And when I click that link, a page opens that provides an immediate example of using CSS3 transitions that I can try, as well as an easy to read table of browser support.

Screenshot of W3Schools CSS3 transitions page

W3Schools doesn’t throw a lot of text before the examples, primarily because we learn web material best by example. Remember that entire generations of web developers grew up with “View Source” as our primary learning tool.

But so far, I’ve only compared W3Schools to MDC. There are other useful sites that the W3Fools site approves. So I try the “Google: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript from the ground up” web page. When it opens, I click the link labeled CSS…

And I get a video about using CSS.

A video.

Remember in junior high or high school, when your science teacher would bring out the projector and you knew you were going to get a video? Do you remember that feeling that came over you? How you kind of relaxed, because you know the teacher wasn’t going to ask you any questions, and you didn’t have to write any notes, or even really pay attention?

I bet some of you even fell asleep during the video.

Videos are good for specific types of demonstrations—when something is complex, with many different steps, and the order of the steps and other factors have to be just so.

When it comes to CSS, HTML, and so many other web technologies, though, video is about the most passive and non-interactive learning experience there is. More importantly, if the video doesn’t have captioning, and most don’t, you’re also leaving part of your audience behind.

Now let’s return to the W3Schools site, this time looking at one of the CSS selector tutorials. The first thing you notice is that right below the example there’s a button, labeled “Try it Yourself”.

W3Schools screenshot showing the Try It button

Why read about it, when you can play?

One of the more annoying aspects of trying to learn about a specific HTML element, or a bit of CSS, is that you have to create an entire web page just to try it out. What W3Schools provides is that all important, absolutely essential, one button click to Try it out.

I’m not defending W3Schools. The site has played off the W3C title, though that doesn’t have a lot of meaning nowadays. More importantly, some of the material has errors and the site is resistant to correcting any of these errors, and this is unconscionable.

But you aren’t going to dent the popularity of the site without at least understanding why it is so popular. The W3Schools’ site is not popular because of SEO, and it’s not popular because of the W3 part of the name.

The W3Schools web site is so popular because it is so usable.