Once upon a time I ran a news site, now I just have opinions on the news. 

Good morning, RVA: Holiday break, scooter update, and little trains

Good morning, RVA! It's 35 °F, and, weatherwise, we’ve got more of the same on tap: highs in the mid 50s and sunshine. Over the holiday break, you can expect temperatures to drop a bit and some rain to move into the area on Saturday.

Water cooler

Speaking of the holiday break, government office have weird hours (the City shuts down at 12:00 PM today), so keep that in mind if you’re planning any municipal errands. I’m also going to take some weird hours to celebrate my most favorite holiday of the year and will speak to you again in this space on Monday!

C. Suarez Rojas at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says that Henrico’s Housing Families First has won a $2.5 million grant from Jeff Bezos’s philanthropy fund. You may know Housing Families First by its previous name, Hilliard House, or its work providing transitional housing for folks experiencing homelessness. I get excited when I see organizations that work regionally—HFF’s facility is off Nine Mile Road just over the City line—really thrive.

Richmond BizSense’s Mike Platania was at the Land Use, Housing and Transportation Committee meeting yesterday and has the word on ORD. 2018-288, the new scooter ordinance: Forwarded to Council with no recommendation. Theoretically, this means we could have a scooter ordinance as soon as December. Of note, a representative for Uber was on hand to support the ordinance; Uber-owned JUMP just launched a fleet of dockless, electric-assist bikes in Seattle. In other LUHT news, Platania says the anti-bike lane ordinance was continued yet again. So I will say, yet again, that forever continuing an ordinance as political leverage is not a good way to legislate. Side note: I am excited to listen to the audio for this committee meeting once it goes live, because I heard there was a killer public comment pointing out some of the scooter ordinance’s deficiencies.

Michelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury says that state lawmakers “are getting closer to finalizing proposed legislation to change Virginia’s alcohol-control laws, including the mixed-drink ratio rule that limits liquor sales and essentially prevents full-fledged bars from operating.” I feel like every year, around the time we start hearing about the bills headed for the next General Assembly session, I always write this exact same blurb about this exact same stupid law, and yet here we are, still with no true bars in the entire Commonwealth. In fact, if you read past the headline and first paragraph of Hankerson’s piece, you’ll see that the specific legislation doesn’t get us any closer to actual bars and continues to make life difficult for small, neighborhood joints. Dumb.

The 41st Model Railroad Show is this weekend, Friday through Sunday, at the Science Museum. The show is included with museum admission, so if you’re a member, get out there and check out some small, tiny trains!

The Weekly Sift is one of my favorite national political commentary blogs. I want to put it on your radar not only because it’s reliably thoughtful, awesome, and low-frequency (just two posts each week) but because he’s adjusted how he talks about Trump in an interesting way.: “I will try to stay focused on the underlying issues. At places where Trump made headlines with a crap statement, I’ll mention that this happened, characterize it with a single adjective (like “Trump said something stupid about this”), and provide a link in case you feel that you must know what it was. We can’t lose sight of the fact that Trump says ignorant and offensive things on an almost daily basis. But that’s not really news any more.” I love this strategy!

This morning's patron longread

Targeted Advertising Is Ruining the Internet and Breaking the World

From Patron Sam, here’s an article that confirms what you probably already think about online advertising, and then makes you feel about ten times worse. A lot of the things listed here are why I will almost certainly never be involved in another ad-supported project.

This all fell apart with targeted advertising, which stole journalism's lunch money and used it to sustain platforms whose driving logic isn't to educate, to inform, or to hold the powerful to account, but to keep people "engaged." This logic of "engagement" is motivated by the twin needs to collect more data and show more ads, and manifests itself in algorithms that value popularity over quality. In less than 20 years, Silicon Valley has replaced editorial judgment with mathematical measures of popularity, destabilized the democratic systems of checks and balances by hobbling the Fourth Estate, and hammered nail after nail into the coffin of privacy.

If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.

Good morning, RVA: Housing, crime, and transportation

Good morning, RVA: A packed committee agenda, an open City Council race, and InLight photos