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

Good morning, RVA: The Blues Armory, dog whistles, and scooter disappointment

Good morning, RVA! It's 63 °F, and today looks a lot like yesterday. Expect highs in the mid 80s and not really much of a chance of rain—plenty of sun today and, most likely, through the rest of the week.

Water cooler

Y’all, how cool is this? An employee at the Science Museum who doesn’t drive was named Employee of the Month, and so the Employee of the Month parking space became this rad parklet. I love this! What a great example of how easy and cheap it is to reclaim space from cars for actual humans. If you stop by and spend some time in the parklet, make sure you let the Museum know—maybe we can get them to upgrade the space permanently!

The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Graham Moomaw and Daniel Sangjib went on a tour of the Blues Armory, which sits on Marshall near 5th Street and is a big part of the proposed North of Broad project. The pictures are neat, and the inside of that spot isn’t a place folks normally get to see. As currently proposed, NoBro would have private money refurbish the city-owned Armory into a urban grocery store, a jazz club, and a ballroom. I also remember reading, although I cannot find where within the thousands of pages of NoBro documents, that the Convention Center folks would get first dibs on the ballroom. As for the other uses of the space, the grocery store is interesting—with the nearest alternatives being the new East End grocery store, the Farm Fresh down in Shockoe Bottom, or the Lombardy Street Kroger. Each of these is about a 15-minute transit trip from the area but a pretty inconvenient walk. I don’t know if “jazz club” is a need in the neighborhood, but I’d ask folks at The National and the Hippodrome to see what they thought. Anyway, regardless of this project, no one can argue that the Blues Armory isn’t in desperate needs some TLC. It sits vacant, ruining a big portion of the pedestrian connection (that’s not already ruined by the Convention Center itself) between 3rd Street and City Hall. Again, my constant refrain continues to be: Do we need a downtown arena to re-envision and reopen the Blues Armory?

If you were a Republican state senator that ran dog-whistley ads about your opponent’s religion with the intention of riling up your Stafford County base, you couldn’t hope for better media coverage than this headline in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Not only does the headline repeat the bigotry-adjacent claims made by Sen. Richard Stuart’s ads, but it reframes them to make them even more “effective”—no longer a whistle, but a dog horn or maybe a dog siren. Instead, how about something like “Stafford’s state senator attacks opponent on religion instead of issues,” or, I dunno, maybe this isn’t even a story worth covering at all?

David Streever, writing for Style Weekly, has a really disappointing piece about Bolt Scooters restricting the neighborhoods in which you can use one of their electric scooters. Apparently the company has cordoned off Gilpin Court? First, this is garbage, and I’d love to see the equity plan that Bolt was required to submit as part of the process to get an operating permit in the city. Second, Bolt claims that the restricted area should show up in red on the in-app map (which, oh great, we’re coloring lower-income areas red on maps again). This simply isn’t true. I’ve taken a screenshot of the Bolt app almost every day since the end of June. There’s never been a red section anywhere on the map. Third, I have to wonder how Richmond’s scooter situation would look if we had a legal, fee, and permit structure that other operators found acceptable. I mean, Streever says “the city charges Bolt $45,000 operate here, making it the highest annual fee for such a company in the country.” It’s great we have Bolt Scooters, but there’s no denying that they are a second- or third-tier provider. Companies like Lime and Jump just have more experience operating a dockless vehicle system in cities.

Robert Zullo at the Virginia Mercury asked the state police what you’re required to do—paperwork, registrations, fees, whatever—when you, a private citizen, sell a gun to another private citizen. Turns out, almost nothing at all! Terrifying.

This morning's longread

Global 5G wireless networks threaten weather forecasts

Well, this seems bad.

They include the 23.8-gigahertz frequency, at which water vapour in the atmosphere emits a faint signal. Satellites, such as the European MetOp probes, monitor energy radiating from Earth at this frequency to assess humidity in the atmosphere below — measurements that can be taken during the day or at night, even if clouds are present. Forecasters feed these data into models to predict how storms and other weather systems will develop in the coming hours and days. But a 5G station transmitting at nearly the same frequency will produce a signal that looks much like that of water vapour. “We wouldn’t know that that signal is not completely natural,” says Gerth. Forecasts would become less accurate if meteorologists incorporated those bad data into their models.

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Good morning, RVA: Bond fraud scheme, a scooter gif, and cozy bars

Good morning, RVA: NoBro advisory meeting, Dallas Dance, and lots of innovation