On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


Bend it Like L. Ron

This hit the wires yesterday, but I was too busy ranting about work to comment.

Can Beckham sell the U.S. on soccer?

Basically the story goes like this: David Beckham, one of the word's biggest soccer players, is losing his touch by European standards, and appears to be looking for a graceful exit from that stage. Even though Major League Soccer in the U.S. has managed to stay afloat for 11 years, despite the U.S. men's team performance two world cups ago, despite the fact that the U.S. women's team dominates, despite the fact that Brandy Chastain flashed the world, and despite the fact that Mia Hamm was properly hot and seemed to be everywhere for awhile, soccer struggles to gain mindshare in America. A lot of people think soccer is for pansies.

So, why would Beckham ditch his stardom for the land where soccer is for little boys and football is for men? I'm sure his $250 million salary is a big reason. I question the rationale of spending that kind of cash on one player in a league where many players make a very average, middle-American salary.

Here's what Beckham has to say about the move:

"Beckham said in a statement Thursday that the move had stemmed in part from his desire to help raise the profile of soccer in the United States.

'There are so many great sports in America,' he said. 'There are so many kids that play baseball, American football, basketball. But soccer is huge all around the world apart from America, so that's where I want to make a difference with the kids.'"

Why would a foreigner want to help raise the profile of soccer in the U.S.? I know we're the third world of soccer, but c'mon. This is lame and surely a statement his publicist concocted.

My money is on Tom Cruise and Scientology. Somewhere along the way, Becks and his wife Posh Spice befriended Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes even making it on their wedding guest list. I'm sure they've spent enough time with each other for Tom Cruise to convert both Becks and Posh to Scientologists. They may also need a U.S. visa, not sure how that works for famous people who just want to hang around Hollywood. He was conveniently recruited to play for the L.A. team.

It'll be interesting to see if he even has much celebrity status in the U.S. I venture to say that learned sports fans may know who he is, even those that hate soccer. A few more people have a vague idea who he is since the movie, "Bend it like Beckham," was a big success in the U.S, though few people will know what he looks like. However, I guarantee that folks like my dad have no clue who he is. Beckham may be super huge everywhere else in the world, but I bet he could freely walk around any Wal-Mart and the only thing anyone would notice is his moussed hair.

I do know one thing: he really must stop calling our football "American Football" promptly upon arrival.

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Happy New Year and BTW CSS is a Major Letdown

I know. I know. I'm very lame. I haven't posted for ages. I've been working for about ten days straight, including 12 hour days last weekend. We finally put away the mountain of clean laundry, but what's left of the Christmas tree still lurks in the corner.

Oh, Happy New Year, btw!

B- and I had a lovely, mellow Christmas and New Year and I promise to post photos of our trips to Vienna and France soon, hopefully this weekend.

Keep reading only if you have at least a marginal interest in Web design, otherwise the rest of this post will bore you. It still may bore you.

One of the things that's keeping me so busy is what was supposed to be a cheap and quickie Web site. The client's current site was built with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which are supposed to give designers *more* control over page design. Sounds good to me, and after a few years in "management" I was eager to get my hands dirty, especially with technology that was a mere promise a few years ago.

CSS is still more dream than reality. Some browser makers (eh-hem Microsoft) don't interpret the CSS standards the same way, leaving us with a limited set of the full technology at our disposal. After what I've been through, and lost money on, these past few weeks, I'm convinced, and disappointed, that the CSS is still a step backwards.

If you want to do anything besides style text, designing a CSS site is an exercise in frustration and often futility. I think the spec is fundamentally unintuitive and lends itself to the interpretation problems we see across browsers. The result is often fruitless trial and error coding. Even the most basic layouts in CSS are time consuming and headache causing. I submit into evidence the "float" property. A lot of good elaborate text styling is if you can't put your copy where you want it to go.

Don't get me wrong. There are some wonderful things about CSS. Indeed, I still swoon over the truly beautiful layouts in the CSS Zen Garden. Too bad support for some of the of the best tricks is spotty at best.

The mere notion that the W3C standards are "official" puts developers in a lose-lose situation. CSS is not ready for businesses (or anyone who's Web site reflects on their credibility). CSS layouts are unpredictable at best and when they break, it's quite ugly. On the other hand, some clients have heard about the standards and think they "should be adhered to." Who am I to explain that an international body of developers, including the guy who invented the Web, can't be trusted because other giants bigger than me, don't know what they're doing?

Now gather around kiddies while I tell you the tale about how my first Web site couldn't even display jpegs. While you were worrying about that cute girl in your algebra class, I was pondering the ergonomics of different shades of white backgrounds because that was the extent of "Web design." Then one day Netscape appeared with its proprietary tags, and we all moved to San Francisco and lived happily ever after.

I'm not saying we should throw standards out the window , but next time someone hops up on his high horse about HTML and CSS validators tell him this: we'd be no where today, and I mean no where, without the <table> tag. I thank Marc Andreessen nearly every day.

Now who do I punch for the float property?