No. 265: Santa snickers, the Manufacturing Task Force Awakens and the Golden Globes go to…

Madoff for television: Robert De Niro (as Bernie) and Michelle Pfeiffer (as Ruth) both earned Golden Globe nominations for their work in the made-on-Long Island HBO biopic "The Wizard of Lies."

Gut Yontiff: “Good holiday,” for our non-Yiddish speaking readers, and a Happy Hanukkah to all. Adam Sandler’s “eight crazy nights” – the Jewish Festival of Lights commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem during the circa-160 B.C. Maccabean Revolt – commenced Tuesday evening.

A big date for breakthroughs: The dry dock (1816), the ice cream cone (1903), the first fully automated photographic film developer (1928) and the fathometer (also 1928), which measures underwater depth, were all patented on Dec. 13.

See, that’s the kind of stuff we love to hear about at editor@innovateli.com.

Gold standard: A round of applause for the 12 New York State-based productions – including major motion pictures and made-for-television programming – earning a combined 29 Golden Globe nominations this year, while creating innovative revenue streams across the state.

All told, the productions generated more than $398 million in statewide spending and created more than 17,000 jobs, according to Empire State Development Corp. President and CEO Howard Zemsky, who shined a spotlight on the NYS Film Tax Credit Program.

The 29 New York-based nominations for the 75th annual Golden Globe awards include a best actor nod for Robert De Niro and a best supporting actress endorsement for Michelle Pfeiffer for their turns in “The Wizard of Lies,” the HBO Films Bernie Madoff biopic produced in part at Bethpage’s Gold Coast Studios.

BUT FIRST, THIS

Scrooged: With U.S. consumers hurtling ever closer to $1 trillion in outstanding credit card balances, forecasters are predicting a 99 percent chance of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike, possibly as early as today.

The hypothetical hike – which would make three this calendar year and could generate an extra $7.4 billion in credit card interest charges in 2018 – couldn’t come at a worse time for holiday-shopping consumers, notes WalletHub’s December Rate Hike Report and Q3 2017 Credit Card Debt Study, both released this week.

City folk: An international scientific consortium gathered in New York City this week for a New York Institute of Technology-hosted workshop exploring the latest advances in “interconnected critical infrastructure.”

Researchers from numerous U.S. national laboratories, consultancies and universities joined representatives of Canadian, Austrian and German research institutes for the Urban Infrastructure Workshop, sponsored by NYIT, the U.S. National Science Foundation, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research and Hochschule für Technik-Stuttgart, a technical university located in Germany’s sixth-largest city.

With urban centers around the globe facing multifaceted challenges regarding the construction, sustainability and resiliency of food, energy and water systems, the engineers, urban planners, data scientists and policymakers attended sessions organized by NYIT’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and School of Architecture and Design, among others, reviewing the latest infrastructure tools and techniques.

Hold onto your potatoes: Albany’s annual Regional Economic Development Council awards are announced today.

TOP OF THE SITE

The task force is with us: The Debrief sits down with William Lindsay III, the Suffolk County legislator behind a new Island-wide pro-manufacturing task force.

Pod people: The drama is real in a new Hofstra/Northwell podcast following students during their first days at the Zucker School of Medicine.

Dress rehearsal: Donated dummies and a gift of vintage dresses will help LIU Post’s innovative Fashion Merchandising Program put on a show.

War of the robots: It’s robodialers vs. roboresponders as call-blocking king Nomorobo and a California techno-trickster team up for some good-hearted holiday mischief.

Lyme twist: Researchers gathered under the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory banner are proposing a radical change to current Lyme disease detection methods.

Earnings it: Quarterly reports from Verint Systems (liking that “top-line growth”) and Comtech Communications (set up for a “very strong year”).

From our sponsor: Cerini & Associates LLP is a full-service accounting firm built on a foundation of value-added ideas and integrity. We serve many industries, including healthcare, nonprofit, technology, special education, startups, school districts and construction. Our services include assurance, tax compliance and audit defense, merger and acquisition support, operational and internal control reviews, labor union defense and cost report consulting and preparation.

STUFF WE’RE READING

Skull candy: Not Alessi, as in Marc, founder of 2012 next-gen scanning-tech startup SynchroPET, but Alesi, as in the fossilized infant ape skull unearthed in Northern Kenya – key to the discovery of a new ancient species, and one of the Top 5 Human Evolution Discoveries of 2017.

Forward-looking statement: The New York Power Authority has flipped the switch on its new “digitized power asset monitoring and diagnostic center” in White Plains, stocked with GE Digital predictive-analytics software designed to detect and prevent equipment failures before they happen.

Worth a thousand words: For decades, we’ve searched online by typing into the search bar. But “computer vision” and other advances in machine-learning technology will soon let us search by simply snapping photos.

It’s true, Google it: Two decades ago, the U.S. intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley on efforts to track citizens in cyberspace – and Google was born. Former NSF Legislative Director Jeff Nesbit dives deep into your No. 1 search engine’s surprisingly cloak-and-dagger origin story.

Northern darks: The Economist explains how wintry weather and fewer daylight hours affect holiday-music listening habits – and why Swedes, Norwegians and New Hampshiremen (and Hampshirewomen) are the keenest lovers of Yuletide classics.

RECENT FUNDINGS

+ Capital Partners, a Norwalk-based private equity firm making control equity investments in the manufacturing, distribution and service industries, closed its third fund at $600 million.

+ XOi Technologies, a Nashville-based provider of field service communication solutions, raised $4.5 million in funding led by Vocap Investment Partners with participation from Nashville Capital Network.

+ Fuzzy Pet Health, a San Francisco-based subscription-based pet healthcare company, closed a $4.5 million seed financing round led by Eniac Ventures and Crosscut Ventures with participation from Precursor Ventures, SV Angel, Accelerator and FJ Labs.

+ OncoTartis, a Buffalo-based biotechnology company developing a  novel category of anti-cancer drugs, closed a $6 million financing round with backers that included NormaInvestments (representing businessman Roman Abramovich) and Pharmstandard International S.A.

+ Asilomar Bio, a San Francisco-based developer of technologies that improve harvest yields for growers, closed a $12 million Series B funding round.

+ Menlo Security, a California-based provider of malware isolation software, closed a $40 million Series C funding round.

+ Beyond Meat, a Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes, raised $55 million in funding with backers that included Jack and Suzy Welch, Thomas Middleditch, Honest Tea founder Seth Goldman and Candice Bergen.

BELOW THE FOLD

Good bets: Here’s why Scale Ventures partner Alex Niehenke says the most heavily regulated industries – including insurance, real estate and financial tech – produce some of the best startup prospects.

Sizing it up: Can it really be both a “small gym (that) gives the big guys a run for their money” and a “massive new facility?” Momentum Fitness and MICCASS Physical Therapy, partners in a new independent Upper West Side studio, think so.

Pit stop: Behold, the seedless avocado.

Chew on this: There are 64 million Tootsie Roll candies produced daily (that’s twenty-three billion three hundred sixty million candies per year, and when you’re getting into mathematical formulas, you know that’s a lot of friggin’ Tootsie Rolls). Learn even more amazing facts about the circa-1896, Brooklyn-born stalwart.

Not your average chapeau: On the occasion of the creation of the Bronx Bombers’ latest Murderer’s Row, let us recall a simpler time when the iconic Yankees baseball cap came only in traditional navy blue. Thanks, Spike Lee.

Might we say: There’s really no such thing as “free” news. Please support great firms like Cerini & Associates.