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

Good morning, RVA: Snow day!

Good morning, RVA! It's 30 °F, and basically everything’s closed. Highs today will reach the upper 30s, but with a pretty cloud sky will it be enough to work through all of this snow? I dunno!

The National Weather Service at Wakefield says we got 11.5 inches of snow yesterday, that’s good for the second highest snowfall amount in December. December 2nd, 1908 holds the record at 15 inches.

Water cooler

On this cold and snow-filled day, Catherine Komp at WCVE has a story about the limited capacity of shelter for folks who are homeless. Housing Families First, which I’ve mentioned in this space before, gets a mention, too, and they explain what happens if you find yourself suddenly without a place to stay. Komp also talks to Councilmember Robertson about her ordinance to create a strategic plan to address homelessness (ORD. 2018-241, which was on tonight’s Council agenda, but will be pushed back to next Monday due to snow). One thought: The Director of the Department of Social Services is concerned about coming up with the funds for a strategic plan, which is legit. I’d hope the City, State, or philanthropic community provides the necessary funding should this ordinance pass.

Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says Dick Harman, City Council’s long-serving host extraordinaire, will retire next week! Dang, that makes me feel some kind of way! Harman provides an agenda rundown and recap each and every meeting and has done so for three decades.

I didn’t realize that the presidents of both Virginia Union University and Virginia State University were part of the Navy Hill group. Those are two important voices to have fall in line with the Mayor’s plan to redevelop the Coliseum, and here’s a column in the paper they wrote supportive of said plan. It’s whatever, but I do take issue with how they’re framing the TIF which will pay for the public portions of the project. The proposed BigTIF encompasses nearly all of downtown, thus nearly all of downtown—not just the new private construction that’s part of the project—will pay for the new arena, the armory, and needed infrastructure improvements. I’d be a lot less skeptical of this whole thing if we were taking a bunch of parking lots, turning them into spaces for people, and using the new tax revenue from just that to pay for everything. Taking any and all new tax revenue from places as far away as Monroe Ward gives me the shivers.

After a full week in Boston, it’s hard for me to remember what I’ve written about and what I’ve just complained about on Twitter. We talked about how the editor of the RTD editorial pages resigned, right? Here’s the official job posting should you want to pass it around. This job desperately needs someone with an interesting, intelligent, and, above all, empathetic point of view, but, to be frank, it’ll be a heckuva uphill battle should the paper decide to hire someone like that. Additionally, newly hired editorial contributor Jim Bacon also resigned, just one week after a terrible, terrible editorial about kids with autism. Now with two spots open and the potential to bring some real diversity to the Editorial Board, what will the paper’s leadership do? Could be a big turning point, or could be two more conservative white dudes.

Can’t beat this picture of the Big Huge Rings covered in snow, via /r/rva.

This morning's longread

Are Pop Lyrics Getting More Repetitive?

Finally, data analysis put to good use.

You may not have heard of the Lempel-Ziv algorithm, but you probably use it every day. It's a lossless compression algorithm that powers gifs, pngs, and most archive formats (zip, gzip, rar...). What does this have to do with pop music? The Lempel-Ziv algorithm works by exploiting repeated sequences. How efficiently LZ can compress a text is directly related to the number and length of the repeated sections in that text. Here's how it works.

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Good morning, RVA: Snow Day 2, Secret of the Ooze

Good morning, RVA: The March for More, DSS, and Pickleball