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

Good morning, RVA: Weekend snow?, the Governor’s speech, and 2019 goals

Good morning, RVA! It's 31 °F, and highs today will probably sneak into the 40s. Expect lots of sunshine and some wind, so not entirely pleasant out there.

NBC12’s Andrew Freiden has put up his first snow map for the weekend which has us in the 4–6 inches band. The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s John Boyer digs into the details but isn’t ready to say a snow total out loud yet.

Water cooler

The East End Cemetery—one of Richmond’s historic, Black cemeteries with a more recent history of decades of disinvestment—now has a new website that you need to check out. Put together in part by journalist Brian Palmer, who you may remember from that excellent piece in the Smithsonian about public support of Confederate ideology, the website has a visual catalogue of the gravesites in the cemetery. Not only that, but they’ve attempted to unearth information about the people buried at those gravesites. It’s a thoughtful, ambitious, and surprisingly beautiful project.

To celebrate the opening of the 400th session of the General Assembly, in addition to these dudes wearing weird suits of armor, the Governor gave his State of the Commonwealth Address. You can read it in full if you didn’t listen live last night. Graham Moomaw at the RTD has a summary and some reactions.

Over on the Virginia Mercury, we’ve got a Ned Oliver hat-trick now that the Gov has spoken and then GA has begun their lightning-quick session. First, some background on the Governor’s proposal to decriminalized possession of marijuana. Don’t expect the General Assembly to make too much progress on that one—at least until we have new elections and more progressives. But, still, shifting the Overton Window on this topic is worth doing. Second, Oliver debunks some of the dumb opposition to Virginia ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. Third, he touches on the Governor’s proposal for tolls on I-81. These tolls would fund “improvements” to the interstate, which, as you probably could guess, mostly mean widening the road in various ways. You can read the full I-81 report here (PDF), which is surprisingly interesting (to a certain, small set of people).

Over on the /r/RVA, WVTF reporter Mallory Noe-Payne is looking for a family to interview about income taxes. Is that you? Send her a message!

I love New Year’s Day. It’s one of my favorite holidays. I usually spend it throwing away things that don’t spark joy and working on my list of goals for the year, a process that I find incredibly helpful for keeping me focused and on track. If you haven’t set out your 2019 goals, I really encourage you to do so. And, if you feel uninspired, maybe check out Richmond Magazine’s stories on 16 people doing new things with their lives.

P.S. Maybe 2019 goals is something we can talk about over on the GMRVA Slack, a space that’s open to all GMRVA patrons. If you’re a patron and don’t have access, just shoot me an email and I’ll get you set up.

This morning's longread

How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually.

I mean, ad-supported publishing seems...not great. This is one of my continual (and probably boring) refrains, I know.

Hucksters infected 1.7 million computers with malware that remotely directed traffic to “spoofed” websites — “empty websites designed for bot traffic” that served up a video ad purchased from one of the internet’s vast programmatic ad-exchanges, but that were designed, according to the indictments, “to fool advertisers into thinking that an impression of their ad was served on a premium publisher site,” like that of Vogue or The Economist. Views, meanwhile, were faked by malware-infected computers with marvelously sophisticated techniques to imitate humans: bots “faked clicks, mouse movements, and social network login information to masquerade as engaged human consumers.” Some were sent to browse the internet to gather tracking cookies from other websites, just as a human visitor would have done through regular behavior. Fake people with fake cookies and fake social-media accounts, fake-moving their fake cursors, fake-clicking on fake websites — the fraudsters had essentially created a simulacrum of the internet, where the only real things were the ads.

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Good morning, RVA: Snow!, the land trust, and editorial progress?

Good morning, RVA: Overtime pay, the SCOTUS weighs in, and more pipeline news