No. 454: Making Whoopi, seating Parks and (kinda) quoting Franklin – plus, the winds of cyberwar blow

What a ride: Rosa Parks wouldn't give up her bus seat to a white passenger -- and 63 years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided she was right, changing civil rights in this country forever.


Half full: You’ve made it this far, dear reader – it’s Wednesday, Nov. 13, and you’re already halfway through this busy workweek. Well done!

Tell everyone how you did it – it’s National Start a Rumor Day.

Sadie truth: An ugly origin story.

You don’t Sadie: Empowering to some, infuriating to others, life imitates art this and every Nov. 13 – Sadie Hawkins Day, as first celebrated in the satirical “Li’l Abner” comic strips of the 1930s.

Here’s one we can all get behind: It’s also World Kindness Day.

Well, he wasn’t wrong: In a Nov. 13, 1789, letter to a French scientist, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin famously noted that “nothing is certain except death and taxes.”

Less certain is whether Franklin actually said it first.

Take a seat, Mrs. Parks: What started in December 1955 with Rosa’s famous refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger ended on Nov. 13, 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation in Alabama was illegal.

Between here and there: The Holland Tunnel, traveling under the Hudson River between New York City and New Jersey, opened to vehicular traffic on this date in 1927.

For the record, the Holland – named for the engineer who designed it – was the world’s first mechanically ventilated underwater tunnel.

Let it snow: Artificial snow fell from a natural cloud on Nov. 13, 1946, when an airborne General Electric scientist bombed a Massachusetts mountaintop with frozen carbon dioxide pellets.

The snow actually evaporated before it reached the ground, but the experiment nonetheless created an overnight sensation – and a new industry.

Eye of the beholder: “Inca City” on Mars, as seen by Mariner 9.

Nine lives: And picking up where the failed Mariner 8 mission left off, NASA’s Mariner 9 spacecraft became the first manmade object to enter orbit of another planet on this date in 1971, taking a spin around Mars.

Before its mission ended in October 1972, the probe – packing cameras and a host of infrared and ultraviolet sensors – would transmit 7,000 images and map about 85 percent of the Martian surface.

They had an angle: British Rear-Admiral Dennis Campbell (died 2000), a naval aviator and test pilot, and British aerospace engineer Lewis Boddington (died 1994) worked together to invent the angled flight deck, an aircraft carrier innovation that gave pilots a second chance on aborted landings – and both were born on Nov. 13, 1907.

Also born on this date were Dorothea Erxleben (1715-1762), Germany’s first female doctor; Scottish treasure Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), who wrote “Treasure Island”; German engineer and industrialist Georg Knorr (1859-1911), who put a stop to runaway trains; and iconic American TV and film director Garry Marshall (1934-2016).

Good company: Only 15 performers have completed the EGOT, winning Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar and Tony awards.

The Goldberg: And take a bow, Whoopi Goldberg – the Emmy-, Grammy-, Tony- and Oscar-winning American actress, comedian, singer and talk-show host (born Caryn Johnson) turns 64 today.

Here’s an interesting View: It only takes a Jumpin’ Jack Flash to wish Whoopi and all the other Nov. 13 innovators well at And you can give us a Ghost of a chance with a story tip or calendar suggestion, in The Color Purple (or whatever color you choose). So, Sister Act now. Thanks, you’re a real nice Guinan.


About our sponsor: Hofstra University is an engine for research and innovation, combining a Center for Entrepreneurship, a Center for Innovation, the expertise of its faculty, the energy of its students and the state-of-the-art resources of its schools of engineering and applied science, business, law and medicine to drive and transform the region’s economy. Visit us.



Tick, tick…: National Grid must figure out how to pipe natural gas to 1,100 deprived Long Island and NYC customers, and that right soon.

Put that in your pipe: It’s put-up-or-shut-down for National Grid, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo giving the utility two weeks to end its self-imposed “moratorium” and turn on the gas for 1,100 customers in the outer boroughs and on Long Island – or lose its license.

The governor noted Tuesday, in a letter to National Grid CEO John Pettigrew and President John Bruckner, that a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity is granted only if a corporation provides “adequate and reliable service” – and said the utility had failed to meet that criteria by “mishandling the gas supply system on Long Island and New York City.”

National Grid, which confirmed receipt of the governor’s letter, has said it cannot meet gas demand if the Williams Co.’s Northeast Supply Enhancement proposal – a 23-mile pipeline extension running from New Jersey to the Rockaways, twice blocked by Albany regulators – isn’t approved. But “the very lack of supply you now point to as the reason for your denial of service to thousands of customers exhibits your failure to plan for supply needs,” Cuomo wrote. “It was incumbent upon a competent and professional utility to explore and provide contingency plans and short-term and long-term options.”

Bottoms up: A new study says alcohol consumption among Long Island adults is slightly higher than consumption by adults in other state and national regions.

An analysis by the Long Island Health Collaborative – a partnership of regional hospitals, health departments, private healthcare providers, human-service organizations, governments and businesses – shows adult Islanders were more likely to take a drink than adults elsewhere during the six-year study period, covering 2011 to 2017.

While the study also showed that self-reported incidents of binge drinking – defined by the New York State Health Department as five or more drinks for men, and four or more for women, on one occasion – were at a six-year low, “alcohol misuse continues to concern healthcare providers, as well as many Long Islanders themselves,” according to the LIHC. Read the full study here.



Security blanket: Hofstra University, and the world, can feel a little safer with the opening of the next-level Cybersecurity Innovation and Research Center.

Beast mode: It may have shed its Animal Health business, but Melville-based Henry Schein still went wild in a ferocious third quarter.

We’re in this together: So forward this engaging and entertaining newsletter to your fellow innovators – and make sure they subscribe for free, in case you’re busy next time.



On the jobs: Entrepreneurism and workforce development go hand-in-hand, according to insider Rosalie Drago, who sees “talent development” as key to both. Her latest expert Voices column awaits.



What’s in your wallet? The Atlantic explores government seizures, unclaimed property laws and the billion-dollar business of unused gift cards.

Experience preferred: Forbes explains how the B2B world is innovating its customer-experience protocols – and why it has to.

Tune in, turn on: Bloomberg (the service, not the candidate) offers a primer on how to watch the presidential impeachment hearings.



+, a New York City-based provider of technology-enabled health insurance solutions, secured $18 million in Series B funding led by Second Alpha Partners, with participation from Axis Capital and CNO Financial Group.

+ A2 Biotherapeutics, a California-based biotech developing innovative cell therapies for cancer patients, raised $57 million in Series A funding. Backers included The Column Group, Vida Ventures, Samsara BioCapital and Nextech Invest.

+ Dev, the NYC-based creator of a social network for software developers, raised $11.5 million in Series A funding led by Mayfield, with participation from OSS Capital and Charge VC.

+ Voiq, a California-based startup building human-sounding and customizable “conversational AI voicebots,” raised $2 million in funding led by Leap Global Ventures, with participation from 10XCapital, Brian Finn, Tom Chavez and David Shreni.

+ Anonos, an NYC-based data-privacy technology platform that enables organizations to lawfully use personal data and still comply with privacy laws, raised $12 million in growth funding led by Edison Partners.

+ Varentec, a California-based provider of grid-edge intelligence and control solutions that augment standard grid-modernization systems and enhance energy/demand savings, raised $5 million in funding led by WindSail Capital Group.



Scout’s honor: The Scout Elite, Cobra’s combo radar detector/dashcam, is an early CES 2020 winner.

Win: The Consumer Technology Association has already revealed many winners of its CES 2020 Awards, to be presented in January.

Lose: Science uncovers the long-term benefits of coming up short.

Draw: Nothing sketchy about these how-to handbooks for inexperienced illustrators.

Can’t miss: Please continue supporting the amazing institutions that support Innovate LI, including Hofstra University, where the Center for Entrepreneurship is a bona fide winner for the regional innovation economy.