Good morning, RVA! It's 23 °F, and we escaped yesterday without any slush or snow or slushy-snow. Today, expect highs in mid 30s and some gusty wind. Bundle up, but definitely don’t tell your friends in the Midwest that you’re bundled at all in any way whatsoever.
Yesterday, I shrug-emoji’d about whether or not the plan proposed by Virginia’s Republicans for redistricting reform was a step forward or not. A reader sent me this thread on Twitter from Ben Williams, a legal analyst at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, who says, no, no this is not progress. In fact, Williams says “this is the opposite of reform.” So that certainly doesn’t sound great.
I continue to not understand the Commonwealth’s state-level politics. Michael Martz at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says that the Virginia Senate has voted 32-8 to raise the legal age for tobacco products to 21 (SB 1727)? That’s not even a fake/threat committee vote like we saw with the minimum wage—it’s the full Senate! Not only that, a Republican will carry the equivalent bill in the House of Delegates (HB 2748).
Speaking of state-level politics, /r/virginia will host the executive director of the Virginia Public Access Project for an AMA today at 2:00 PM. Do you have a question—any question—about politics, redistricting, elections, campaign finance, or, I dunno chicken wings? You can ask him anything!
Here’s a piece in Style Weekly by Laura Ingles about how teenagers are out there lobbying our local legislators down at the General Assembly for better gun-violence laws. It’s inspiring, and I’m grateful for the Richmond Peace Education Center for training up these young Richmonders. Maybe the next generation of citizens can get done what we’re unwilling to even consider?
Style Weekly also reports that the Black History Museum has hired their interim director, Adele Johnson, as their real-deal executive director. This is a good reminder to take a trip down there if you haven’t recently.
Tonight, from 5:30–7:30 PM, the Scott’s Addition Boulevard Association will host a Scott’s Addition Multi-Use Path & Green Space Planning Meeting at Dominion Payroll (3200 Rockbridge Street). I’m still trying to find some planning documents for this project, but the proposal would stick a couple trails along and over the mess of rails in that part of town, safely connecting the neighborhood to points as far east as Allen Avenue. I’m not sure I grok some of the alignments in the aforelinked map, but getting from the Science Museum into Scott’s Addition today, on foot or by bike, is dangerous and challenging.
Oh, by the way, if you wanted to watch the video from this past Monday’s Big and Interesting City Council meeting, you can now do so.
This morning's longread
Dang there is a lot going on in this article, but, basically, impression-based digital advertising creates powerfully strange incentives for news organizations. Also, what does it mean that the world’s best maker of online quizzes just hopes to find some job, any job after college?
Rachel McMahon is a teen from Michigan you almost certainly haven’t heard of before this week. Her name appeared in a blog post from BuzzFeed’s former head of quizzes and games, Matthew Perpetua, where he noted that McMahon was the “second highest traffic driver worldwide” for the site’s quizzes. (Perpetua was one of several hundred people — 15 percent of the company — laid off from BuzzFeed this month.) McMahon has contributed hundreds of quizzes for free — BuzzFeed has for years allowed and encouraged so-called community users to submit quizzes without paying them — and says she never really had any idea how much traffic, and by extension revenue, she was bringing the company. Intelligencer caught up with McMahon to talk about her quiz prowess, her guilt over BuzzFeed staffers losing their jobs, and why Pop-Tarts plus Disney princes is a recipe for success on the internet.
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