Good morning, RVA! It's 74 °F, and you should probably expect some rain later today.
Here’s last night’s Florence update from the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s John Boyer. The storm has slowed way down and shifted south, leaving Richmond’s weekend wet but without having “to worry about hurricane conditions.” Of course there’s plenty of uncertainty when predicting what a massive rotating wall of wind and water will do with it’s time and energy, so keep an eye on things.
Ned Oliver at the Virginia Mercury has the update on the Virginia General Assembly’s attempts at redistricting. To summarize: 🙄 and 🤷♂️. It’s hard to be optimistic about this story, a story about people’s right to fair elections, when the central plot-line focuses on sketchy tactics and partisan bickering. I mean, it certainly is not lost on anyone that a letter Republicans wrote complaining about Democrats writing a letter and giving that letter to the press was itself given to the press. Come on! Remember, the GA is required to have a new map in place by October 30th, or federal courts will go ahead and draw the map for them. At this point, that seems likely to happen.
The school bus situation at Chesterfield County public schools does...not sound great, Vanessa Remmers at the RTD reports. Running a mini transportation system is hard, school bus operator jobs are notoriously hard to keep filled, and you can see how quickly failures and delays can cascade. It sure doesn’t help that Chesterfield is such a huge—and at times really dang rural—county, which makes running efficient bus routes a challenge. This stat seems particularly bad (but I need to know how many total school bus routes the County has): “All but nine of the routes were covered by substitute or retired drivers by the first day of school.” Yikes.
Justin Mattingly, also at the RTD, says that the Richmond Public Schools School Board knows they need to redistrict but are unsure (terrified? (those are my words, not Justin’s)) of when to begin that process. Hot, unpopular, and poorly-thoughtout take: It’s dumb that if you have the means to buy an expensive house you get a “good” school and maybe we should just randomly assign students to schools? I’m sure there are 601 problems with this, and I’d love to hear them all!
I haven’t listened to it yet, but RVA Dirt had Max Hepp-Buchanan on the latest episode of their Municipal Mania podcast to talk about the Brook Road bike lanes. Always room for more bike lanes—both in your life and on your favorite street, right?
Dara Lind at Vox has a big update on the Trump Administration’s family separation policy. Here’s one of the important bits: “Parents in the US who’d been ordered deported would get another chance to pass an interview demonstrating a “credible fear” of persecution — the first step in the asylum process. If either the parent or the child passes the screening interview, families will be allowed to apply for asylum together. Some parents who don’t pass will be allowed to remain with their children in the US while the children’s cases are adjudicated.“
This morning's longread
I’m extremely skeptical about the future of any AI sufficiently skilled to replace humans in cognitive work, but I read this piece anyway and enjoyed it—in a dystopian future fiction kind of way.
More practically, and more immediately, if we want to prevent the concentration of all wealth and power in the hands of a small elite, we must regulate the ownership of data. In ancient times, land was the most important asset, so politics was a struggle to control land. In the modern era, machines and factories became more important than land, so political struggles focused on controlling these vital means of production. In the 21st century, data will eclipse both land and machinery as the most important asset, so politics will be a struggle to control data’s flow. Unfortunately, we don’t have much experience in regulating the ownership of data, which is inherently a far more difficult task than regulating land or machines. Data are everywhere and nowhere at the same time, they can move at the speed of light, and you can create as many copies of them as you want. Do the data collected about my DNA, my brain, and my life belong to me, or to the government, or to a corporation, or to the human collective?
If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.