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

Good morning, RVA: Courthouse phones, police violence, and a packed weekend

Good morning, RVA! It's 68 °F, and temperatures today will stay in the upper 70s. The chance for thunderstorms continues throughout most of the day and into tomorrow. In fact, there’s at least a chance of rain every day between now and Monday.

Water cooler

Ned Oliver at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the excellent news that the John Marshall Courts Building will no longer turn people away with cellphones, leaving folks to stash their electronics in the bushes, or, as one ingenious person on Twitter said, in the stacks at the Library of Virginia. This much-needed change wouldn’t have happened without Emily Badger’s NYT story about evictions (journalism!). It is the lowest hanging fruit for reforming Richmond’s eviction system, but it’s also welcome news for anyone that walks, bikes, or transits to the courthouse for any reason.

Michael Paul Williams recaps what happened leading up to and after Marcus-Davis Peters, naked and unarmed, was shot and killed by a Richmond police officer this week. I agree with MPW and the legal director of the Civil Rights and Racial Justice Program: The Richmond Police Department should release the body cam footage and name of the officer involved. The change-making Black Lives Matter protests/movements across the nation have been fueled by indisputable video evidence of unacceptable police violence, and a victim’s family—in the midst of grieving—can’t be the only ones who have a clear picture of what happened outside of the RPD.

Logistical note: I’m headed to Pittsburgh for a wedding, so no Good Morning, RVA tomorrow. That said, there’s a bunch of stuff going on that I am bummed to miss but want to make sure y’all remember so you can go in my stead.

Friday is Bike to Work Day! Join Mayor Stoney and a bunch of other people on bikes behind Carytown Bicycle Company (3122 W. Cary Street) at 7:00 AM for coffee and breakfast-type snacks. Then, at 8:00 AM, the ride begins to roll, presumably down the bicycle-focused Floyd Avenue, to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the shiny new Franklin Street Bike Lane. This bike lane is protected—with posts!—and I’m incredibly excited about it. The ride wraps up at City Hall around 8:30 AM, leaving you plenty of time to pedal off to your day job.

On Saturday, you’ve got dueling opportunities to help scrape the gross Confederate film off of our City with meetings of both the Monument Avenue Commission and the group working on renaming J.E.B. Stuart Elementary. The former will meet 10:00 AM at MLK Middle to receive public comment and then again at 8:30 PM in Council Chambers at City Hall for a work session. The latter will gather at J.E.B Stuart Elementary, also at 10:00 AM, to hear feedback and suggestions from the public.

Riverrock is “the nation’s premier outdoor sports and music festival” according to their website. According to me, it’s a bunch of highly entertaining stuff to watch down by the river. Keep your eye on the weather and carve out some time this weekend to stop by and watch slackline, bouldering, or dogs jumping into pools—that’s a real thing that they do!


  • Squirrels will attempt to host Harrisburg tonight at 6:35 PM. Tickets are available online should the weather hold.
  • Kickers beat Reading United AC, 4-3 on penalty kicks, and advance to the next round of the Open Cup.
  • Nats hook up with the Dodgers tonight at 7:05 PM.
  • Caps take on the Lightning in the fourth game of the conference finals tonight at 8:00 PM.

This morning's longread

Duplex shows Google failing at ethical and creative AI design

Did you see the Google Duplex demo? From Patron Caitlyn comes this piece that thinks through the ethics of AI. I had no idea there was an IEEE standard (PDF) for “ethically aligned design” in artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.

While trickster AIs might bring to mind the iconic Turing Test — where chatbot developers compete to develop conversational software capable of convincing human judges it’s not artificial — it should not. Because the application of the Duplex technology does not sit within the context of a high profile and well understood competition. Nor was there a set of rules that everyone was shown and agreed to beforehand (at least so far as we know — if there were any rules Google wasn’t publicizing them). Rather it seems to have unleashed the AI onto unsuspecting business staff who were just going about their day jobs. Can you see the ethical disconnect?

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Good morning, RVA: Rain totals, body cam footage, and voter registration

Good morning, RVA: State budget futzing, a bagel reckoning, and yanny