No. 429: Classic cartoons, downtown dreams and the nitrogen nuisance – plus, it curves!

Game-changer: The one-and-only official Whiffle Ball, as invented on this date in 1953 by Connecticut innovator David Mullany Sr.


Middle ground: It’s Wednesday, dear readers, and you’re halfway through this latest summery week of socioeconomic innovation. Keep it up.

Game of thrones: The Bard’s “Macbeth” was based (loosely) on a true story.

Today is Aug. 14, and if you had the real-life, rebellious Macbeth killing his cousin, King Duncan I (in battle, not in bed), and assuming the Scottish throne on this date in 1040, glè mhath! Here’s a voucher for 100 silver sceats, redeemable in the casino.

Best laid plans: To our many readers in the Dominican Republic, a sturdy and well-designed Engineer’s Day.

Here in the States, your left and right brains can duke it out – Aug. 14 is National Financial Awareness Day and National Creamsicle Day.

Sphere of influence: Today is also National Whiffle Ball Day, marking the curving contraption’s 1953 creation by Connecticut craftsman David Mullany Sr.

Meter reader: Speaking of influential inventions, Pennsylvania innovator Oliver Shallenberger patented the first electric meter on this date in 1888.

And on the subject of prized protections, the very first Japanese patent was issued on this date in 1885, to inventor Zuisho Hotta and his formulation for a rust-proof maritime paint.

Social media: Happy birthday Social Security, which became law when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on Aug. 14, 1935.

Happy trails: Covering more than 2,000 miles across 14 states, the original Appalachian Trail was completed on this date in 1937.

Dark matter: A tree fell in Ohio on Aug. 14, 2003, and the rest is history.

Fade to black: And it was 16 years ago today when falling tree branches, faulty software and boneheaded human decision-making sparked the Northeast Blackout of 2003 – the most widespread power outage in U.S. history, with Long Island, New York City and other East Coast environs plunged into hours (in some cases, days) of darkness.

Current event: Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted (1777-1851), who discovered that an electric current in a wire could move a magnetized compass needle and became “the father of electromagnetism,” would be 242 years old today.

Also born on Aug. 14 were gunslinging Wild West dentist Doc Holliday (1851-1887); American electrical engineer, mass-transit expert and “father of the third rail” Bion Arnold (1861-1942); American poet Ernest Thayer (1863-1940), who told of “Casey at the Bat”; John Logie Bard (1888-1946), a Scottish engineer remembered as a pioneer of television mechanics; Ethel Payne (1911-1991), an American civil rights journalist and “First Lady of the Black Press”; and prolific American author Danielle Steel (born 1947).

Far out: And take a bow, Gary Larson – the now-retired creator of the internationally syndicated, utterly irreplaceable “The Far Side” cartoon series turns 69 today.

Wish the wry cartoonist, the romance novelist, the crusading journalist and the rest a happy birthday at While you’re at it, story tips, calendar suggestions and general howdy-do’s always appreciated, please and thank you.


About our sponsor: Sahn Ward Coschignano is one of the region’s most highly regarded and recognized law firms. Our attorneys are thought leaders, dedicated to achieving success through excellence. With our broad experience in land-use, development, litigation, real estate, corporate and environmental law, we have the vision and knowledge to serve our clients and our communities. Please visit



Stroke of genius: Add another potential vertical to the rapidly expanding field of bioelectronic medicine, where nerve-stimulation techniques have shown promise for patients suffering muscle spasticity after a stroke.

That’s the gist of clinical-trial results published by Feinstein Institute for Medical Research scientists in Bioelectronic Medicine, a Springer Nature open-access journal focused on the emerging bioelectronics field. According to a research team captained by lead author and Feinstein Institute Professor Bruce Volpe, “trans-spinal direct-current stimulation” and “peripheral nerve direct-current stimulation” – with tiny electric shocks delivered to key nerves – both significantly reduced upper-limb spasticity in stroke patients.

Feinstein Institute CEO and globally recognized bioelectronics/nerve-stimulation pioneer Kevin Tracey called Volpe “a leader in robotic-rehabilitative medicine,” and said his team’s findings would help “improve mobility” via bioelectronic medicine, which has already proven beneficial in a wide range of medical applications.

Allison Reiss: Genetic detective.

Teaching moment: The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is backing an NYU Winthrop Hospital internist on her quest to uncover the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researcher Allison Reiss and her team at the Mineola medical center will leverage a $100,000 AFA grant into their cutting-edge efforts to reengineer human cells collected through standard blood tests, essentially teaching them to behave like brain neurons and report on the genetic differences between Alzheimer’s patients and non-patients – potentially, a giant leap toward telling Alzheimer’s-affected neurons what to go do with themselves.

“With the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease expected to nearly triple by 2060, the need for a disease-modifying treatment is critical,” noted AFA President and CEO Charles Fuschillo Jr. “NYU Winthrop Hospital’s cutting-edge research project has great potential to increase understanding of the causes of Alzheimer’s and lead to a treatment that millions of families are hoping for every single day.”



Baldwin for the win: The Hempstead hamlet took the regional crown, and the $10 million prize, in Albany’s annual DRI competition.

Starting LINAP: Regional Planning Council Chairman John Cameron Jr. shares his view from the trenches of the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan.

Howdy, Vitatex: Another cutting-edge technology acquisition and a key Medicare/Medicaid approval have Applied DNA Sciences out for blood.

Mixed bag: Lifetime Brands languishes, Broadridge Financial booms in their latest quarterly financials.



Put your hands together for Innovate LI’s new expert on franchising and healthcare innovation, Robert Glazer, the CEO of multispecialty practice group ENT and Allergy Associates, who joins our Voices rotation with a deep dive into high-end healthcare recruiting.



 Good bet: Forbes breaks down everyday business functions in need of innovation.

 Good life: Newsday suggests strategies for living the good life, for less, on cost-crazy Long Island.

Good gravy: Industry Journal wings it with an “all-embracing assessment” of the 2019 Global Chicken Gravy Market.



Waste not: Fresher, longer, with Hazel Technologies.

+ Hazel Technologies, an Illinois-based, USDA-supported agricultural technology company targeting food waste, raised $13 million in Series B funding led by Pangaea Ventures and S2G Ventures, with participation from The Grantham Foundation, Asahi Kasei Ventures, Rhapsody Venture Partners and others.

+ Landos Biopharma, a Virginia-based clinical-stage biopharma focused on the discovery and development of first-in-class oral therapeutics, closed a $60 million Series B financing round co-led by RTW Investments and Perceptive Advisors, with participation from new investors Osage University Partners and PBM Capital.

+ Joust Labs, a Texas-based financial services platform for freelancers and entrepreneurs, raised $2.6 million in seed funding led by PTB Ventures, with participation from Accion Venture Lab, Financial Venture Studio and Techstars.

+ FinMkt, a New York City-based B2B fintech solutions provider, closed a $5 million Series B funding round led by FINTOP Capital, with participation from existing investors ManchesterStory Group and West Loop Ventures.

+ Cambridge Crops, a Massachusetts-based developer of silk-powered technology designed to slow food decay, raised $4 million in seed funding led by The Engine, with participation from Refactor Capital, Closed Loop Ventures, Bluestein & Associates, SOSV and Supply Chain Ventures.

+ Novosteo, an Indiana-based Purdue University spinoff developing a novel, injectable, targeted drug to accelerate and improve the healing of broken or compromised bones, received a $500,000 seed investment from Research Bridge Partners.



Nike: If the trend fits…

Out of the box: Trying on Nike’s first recurring online shoe-subscription service.

On the vine: Trying out a “limited edition” addition to the $3 billion strawberry industry.

In the flow: Trying to find your specific place in a progressive innovation economy.

Off the charts: Please continue supporting the amazing firms that support Innovate LI, including Sahn Ward Coschignano, where the Environment, Energy and Resources Practice Group continuously sets new standards.