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Great article Jason.
I’m using a similar approach in my site. I have “nudgers” classes (.nudge-bottom, .nudge-left), “borderers” classes (.bordered) and a image container class for widescreen images that I place inside a post. Each class is applied to a certain element when desired, and the power resides in combining them.
Re: semantics: I understand that using a combination of classes and divs could not lead to a good semantic result. However this is really useful to set a base wireframe to work on, and to commmit quick changes in the layout. If the client approves the mocks, you can proceed to rename the DIVs and use proper elements, such as DL (mileage may vary), moving the CSS rules to the proper file.