The Morning Grumpy – 5/9/13

9 May

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.


1. Is Western New York interested in stimulating business? Increasing government transparency? Utilizing the power of the private sector and our universities to make the city a better place to live? If so, we could follow the lead of municipalities across the country that are taking part in the Open Data movement.

What is open data? It’s the idea that municipal data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other control. The data created, collected, and stored by city government should be made available to the public for analysis, manipulation, and development. It’s data about us and the city we pay for with our tax dollars.

Many cities have pursued open data platforms around the United States, including San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boston and New York City. NYC has set up a wiki to help implement its landmark open data legislation, an example that Western New York leaders might draw inspiration from, with respect to forming more collaborative and transparent processes online.

It’s important that data not just be released, but also subsequently updated. Information released usually covers the gamut of municipal data, including; crime statistics, emergency services response times, payroll, utility consumption, public transportation information, school attendance/enrollment stats, parking regulations, etc. This data can then be manipulated and analyzed by the community for greater accountability. It also provides a rich dataset for startup entrepreneurs to use as they develop technologies and applications for the market.

Here’s an awesome talk by Tim O’Reilly from 2009 that is still incredibly relevant today and explains some of the benefits of an Open Data program. Government as a platform, rather than as a finished product or service.

I think we all know that Mayor Brown wouldn’t be interested in this kind of idea, but Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz (noted technocrat and general numbers nerd) might be inclined to consider this sort of program.

2. Mike Puma of Preservation Studios would like to show you how to buy a house in Buffalo for $1.

The Urban Homestead Program that is offered by the City of Buffalo enables qualified buyers to purchase a home that has been deemed “homestead eligible” for $1.00 and there are plenty of properties left. There are three main requirements when purchasing a homestead property; the owner must fix all code violations within 18 months, have immediate access to at least $5000, and live there for at least three years. You also have to cover the closing costs of the purchase.

Check out his list and follow his links to learn more about the program and about the people who are already involved.

3. While reading a story about Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the struggle to find him a final resting place, I came across this fun fact: Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who assassinated William McKinley in Buffalo, was dissolved in sulfuric acid, Breaking Bad-style. We were some medieval motherfuckers back then, eh?

4. Teaching the fine art of cursing to your children.

First, you must obliterate any notion that words can be divided into good and bad. Any words can be used to good or bad effect. Curse words are strong words, not bad words, but they are susceptible to being made weak and dumb through overuse. To teach this is far more challenging than it might seem, because every other part of the world in which we seek to raise our children into decent adults is working against you here. And if your children inhabit that world without obedient awareness of the line between good and bad words, they will encounter constant friction.

The second thing you must do is to teach your children to recognize the nuanced differences between public and private, at least insofar as it relates to cursing. They have to understand that while public and private may be mere constructs, they are indispensably meaningful in that deft navigation of them marks a person as well-adjusted whereas flaunting them will inevitably land you in jail.

As a frequent and enthusiastic practitioner of the cursing dark arts, I want my kids to understand the power of their words and when to best use them.

5. Just wanted to share a site I enjoy reading, The Art of Manliness. I know it sounds stupid, but it’s not. It’s filled with a lot of good advice for men on how to be, ya know, men. How to buy a suit, how to find a classic shave, etc. all without taking an overtly macho and/or misogynist approach. Learn to be a gentleman.

6. If this piece of data, visualized, doesn’t stop you in your tracks, I don’t know what to say.

Fact Of The Day: The term “jaywalking” was coined by the auto industry in the 1920s in an effort to “redefine streets as places where pedestrians do not belong”

Quote Of The Day: “Complacency + Mediocrity ÷ Nostalgia = Buffalo” – Chris Smith

Video Of The Day: 38 Common Spelling and Grammar Errors

Song Of The Day: “Pigs In Zen” – Jane’s Addiction

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

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6 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – 5/9/13”

  1. Jennifer Wozniak May 9, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    About Leon Czolgosz, wow, we were hard-core then man.

  2. LC Scotty May 9, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    But was he still alive at the time of his…dissolution?

  3. Jesse Griffis May 9, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    You can’t quote yourself! There’s some kinda law about that.

    Push for open data in your own way, quietly. Full frontal assault makes people nervous. Follow the same tack Linux geeks did in injecting our favorite OS into orgs that would never have let it in the front door.

  4. buck May 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Czolgosz had a brutal burial, but his execution was no walk in the park. The electric chair was invented in Buffalo, and never used in any other country on earth. That’s saying something.

  5. jimd54 May 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    My Father was kind of a dick in many ways but one thing he got right was the use of profanity. I worked with him in construction from about age 14 and he could care less what I said, or he said for that matter. But in front of my Mom, or at the dinner table, forget it.
    This is no minor topic. I think kids need to be able to cross a line once in awhile and profanity is such a harmless line to cross. I was pretty liberal in what music our son was allowed to have, much to the chagrin of his friends parents. Meanwhile their little cherubs sat around playing violent disgusting video games that my son was not allowed to play. Give me vulgarity over violence any day.

  6. Artvoice Webmaster May 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    If anyone is interested in point #1 and doesn’t already know, see

    NY state has an “Open Data” site that’s been growing. Could always use more, but it’s laid out OK, and for us geeks the API access exposed to programmatically select and retrieve data is decent as well.

    It already covers a lot of the topics you mentioned “crime statistics, emergency services response times, payroll, utility consumption, public transportation information, school attendance/enrollment stats, parking regulations, etc” – including quite a bit of data from Buffalo and greater WNY.

    I think it’s smarter to feed data up to larger central repositories rather than duplicate the efforts in each city or region, so I like that it’s at the State level for now (and perhaps even eventually up to a Federal repository.) I’d rather see us focus on feeding more, more accurate, and more up to date data to the State level system than try and come up with our own. Data is useful, often it’s more useful when you can compare it to other data, and it’s easier to work with when it’s format is standardized and centrally located – rather than have to interface with bunches of re-invented wheels every time, if you wanted to say compare several cities by pulling data from a bunch of disparate unique systems…

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