No. 396: Inventing spam, honoring McCall and challenging Hofstra’s entrepreneurs (plus Modern Monetary Theory, in color)

Host with the most: Award-winning comedian, writer and producer David Letterman -- the longest-serving late-night talk show host in American television history -- turns 72 today.


It’s Friday the 12th: And there’s nothing to fear, dear readers, as we reach the end of this latest springtime workweek and welcome another well-earned weekend.

Rocket man: Today is Cosmonautics Day in Russia, the International Day of Human Space Flight and, in many countries, Yuri’s Night – all commemorating Vostok 1, the first manned spaceflight in human history, which blasted off April 12, 1961.

The short spaceshot carried Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin through a single, 108-minute orbit.

It’s an herb: And other things you didn’t know about licorice (but you should know, since April 12 is also National Licorice Day).

The man behind the mask: Repurposing a fencing helmet, Harvard inventor Fred Thayer introduced the catcher’s mask on April 12, 1877. (He’d patent the protective device almost a year later.)

Just our type: Speaking of interesting patents, Connecticut inventor George Blickensderfer patented his “portable typewriting machine” on April 12, 1892.

The (first) world’s most famous arena: The New York Hippodrome – a 5,300-seat arena that was, at the time, the world’s largest and most advanced theater – opened in New York City on this date in 1905.

Famous for circuses and silent movies, the Hippodrome was demolished in 1939 and later replaced by an office building.

American gothic: “Interview With The Vampire,” the first of Anne Rice’s popular Vampire Chronicles, was published by Knopf on April 12, 1976.

You’ve got junk mail: And it was this date in 1994 when more than 6,000 members of Usenet discussion groups were overrun with Perl-script advertisements from husband-and-wife attorneys Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel – the first known case of commercial Internet spam.

The latest tallies say spam comprises about 40 percent of all global email – way off its estimated high (about 85 percent) from a decade ago.

He spy: Tom Clancy (1947-2013), mission-critical author of “The Hunt for Red October” and other espionage thrillers, would have been 72 today.

Also born on April 12 were English chemist William Cookworthy (1705-1780), who trailblazed porcelain manufacturing; Austrian cardiopulmonary resuscitation pioneer Peter Safar (1924-2003); famed entrepreneur and computer designer Evelyn Berezin (1925-2018, credited with airline reservation systems and word processors); and semiretired late-night host David Letterman (born 1947).

The real Ramona: And (gently) take a bow, Beverly Cleary … the beloved and award-winning author of children’s and young-adult fiction – who’s sold some 91 million books since 1950, making her one of America’s all-time bestselling scribes – turns 103 today.

Hey, Clancy was no slouch, either, with more than 50 million books sold. Wish both prolific authors well at … and maybe write up a story tip or calendar suggestion, too. A must-read!


About our sponsor: The Law Offices of Andrew Presberg is Long Island’s premier “IDA attorney” for businesses relocating, expanding and growing on Long Island. Founded in 1984, the practice also focuses on the purchase, sale, leasing and financing of commercial and industrial property, SBA loan transactions, construction, commercial banking and real estate litigation.



Something Ventured: The final round of the 2019 Hofstra-Digital Remedy Challenge is today, with 10 student teams pitching their hearts out for more than $21,000 in prize money and another $50,000 in business-building services from contest co-sponsor Digital Remedy.

Now in its seventh year, the annual entrepreneurship challenge provides students (both solopreneurs and teams) with business-building mentorship through a one-day bootcamp and weeks of pitch prep with the Hofstra University Center for Entrepreneurship’s entrepreneurs-in-residence. The contest is funded by a donation from Digital Remedy CEO Mike Seiman, a Hofstra alumnus and member of the university’s Board of Trustees.

Three of the 10 finalists – a substance-abuse resource hub created by biology student Michael Lai, an organic brow gel by business student Tania Speaks and a startup ice creamery by three Hofstra classmates – are scheduled to represent Hofstra later this month in the final round of the annual New York State Business Plan Competition. All of the action from today’s Hofstra-Digital Remedy finale will be livestreamed here beginning at noon.

Decisions, decisions: A Feinstein Institute for Medical Research professor has snagged a three-year, $1.14 million U.S. Department of Health & Human Services grant to bolster his work on “clinical decision support.”

Clinical decision support systems – IT systems designed specifically to help healthcare providers make tough clinical calls – have been around for years, but haven’t been widely adopted because of their time-consuming inefficiencies (a particular nuisance when real-time decision-making is required). Enter Thomas McGinn, Northwell Health senior vice president and deputy physician-in-chief, who’s already spent a decade-plus studying and testing CDS in electronic health records.

The professor is now developing a system at Feinstein’s Center for Health Innovations and Outcomes Research that incorporates widely validated clinical-prediction rules for detecting blood clots and bleeding risks in hospitalized patients. “We can design a system that targets and triggers the appropriate clinical prediction rules for the right people, at the right moment,” McGinn said Wednesday.



All good things: Former state comptroller, UN ambassador and gubernatorial candidate H. Carl McCall is ending his tenure as SUNY Board of Trustees chairman – but he’s not done leading just yet.

Lab partners: A state-of-the-art, $59 million diagnostic facility in Lake Success will bolster laboratory operations for Northwell Health and its New York City counterpart.

Pardon our appearance: Sales are up at Melville’s MSC Industrial Supply Co., but with a new business model still coming together, the second quarter dragged.



Watson is elementary for EisnerAmper, CERAWeek is huge for ThermoLift and Downstate Medical is a healthy addition for SUNY Old Westbury.



Innovate LI’s inbox overrunneth with inspirational ideas from all North American corners. This week’s brightest out-of-town innovations:

From New York City: Open-source database Altibase lands Korea Airports Corp. with its IoT-enabled big-data platform, ideal for managing operations at KAC’s 14 airports.

From Texas: Huntsville-based Mitcham Industries looks to redefine ocean imaging with its patent-pending sonar technology.

From Tennessee: From subatomic particles to distant cosmic corners, Nashville-based Intelligent Education explores the Observable Universe in a free visual encyclopedia.



+ John Christopher, a partner at Uniondale-based Sahn Ward Coschignano practicing in the areas of zoning and land-use planning, real property, municipal and legislative law, has been appointed to the New York State Bar Association Executive Committee and has joined the Board of Directors of the New York Bar Foundation.

+ Kevin Jordan has been promoted to chief diversity officer at Farmingdale State College. He previously served as director of FSC’s educational opportunity program.

+ Brittni Svanberg has been hired as an account coordinator at East Hampton-based WordHampton Public Relations. She’s a recent graduate of Boston University.

+ Jamie Austin has been hired as a sales director working in Dix Hills and Manhattan for Virginia-based Omega World Travel. He previously served as chief operating officer at The Long Islander in Huntington.

+ William Leonelli has been hired as chief financial officer at Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares Inc.-The Harry Chapin Food Bank. He previously served as vice president of finance at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health in Manhattan.

+ Ray Donnelly has been hired as senior manager for business development at Hauppauge-based ASR International Corp. He previously served as senior economic developer at the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery in Manhattan.

+ Melville-based BankUnited has made three promotions: Charles Cacciabaudo, formerly a vice president and business banker, is now senior vice president and senior relationship manager for the business banking division; Peter Dumelle, formerly a vice president, is now senior vice president of commercial banking; and George Manchenko, formerly a vice president, is now senior vice president for corporate and commercial banking.



Hanky: Keep the Kleenex handy – allergy season is getting worse (thank you, global warming).

Panky: When tech goes bad, Oregon police are on the case (thank you, iRobot Corp.).

Cranky? Don’t be! The slightly insane Modern Monetary Theory – coming soon to a presidential campaign near you – is now a coloring book (thank you, Stony Brook University).

Swanky: Actually, there’s nothing fancy about the Law Offices of Andrew Presberg – just rock-solid commercial litigation and topflight business, corporate and real estate law. Please support them and all the great firms that support Innovate LI.