“The problem with plain CSS is that it was built in an era where the web consisted of documents. In 1993 the web was created to exchange mostly scientific documents, and CSS was introduced as a solution to style those documents.”
You didn’t disagree with that strongly enough. It’s just plain flat wrong. By 1993, the web had been around over a year, and it was completely clear at that time that what people wanted to do with it was only rarely “scientific documents”. And CSS didn’t come until years later (1998, but even longer until people cared).
The larger issue here, and the reason everyone keeps bickering about a long list of issures related to the HTML/CSS/JS interface, is that we have created something absolutely horrible.
Seriously, if I said “design a language for creating graphically powerful documents and applications with a rich structured-text backbone”, nobody in their right mind would ever in a million years create HTML/CSS/JS.
I mean, PostScript predates the web by years, and yet it is FAR more powerful in both text and graphics, and is a fully-functioning programming language, albeit RPN which would probably freak out modern programmers. (Full disclosure — in 1992 I was arguing that postscript should be a core web technology to avoid letting HTML grow into an ugly three-headed monster.)
But more pragmatically I wonder why people aren’t turning to SVG for some of their base document creation and dumping HTML all together. In many ways it’s more powerful than HTML, and it lets you do graphical layout (and interactions) in a far more direct and sane fashion.