No. 459: In which science, magic and fish prevail – and Long Island’s minimum wage approaches its max

Mixed message: It's National Bartender Day, a neat holiday that blends tradition and taste -- and recalls some of the great fictional mixologists of page and screen. (Photo: Derek Springsteen/Thrillist)


Getting good at this: Another successful workweek in the books, another hard-earned weekend in the offing – well done, intrepid innovators, you’ve done it again.

It’s Dec. 6 out there, a date that stands out regardless of your color or creed or birthplace or borders, a day for family and friends and peace in our time. We speak, of course, of the Day of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan. Please celebrate responsibly.

We buy gold: Everyone enjoys a little pawn now and then.

Wouldn’t trade it: It’s also National Pawnbrokers Day, which is most Fridays around here, but it turns out there’s a whole special day.

And raise a glass to your favorite mixologist this National Bartender Day, always celebrated on December’s first Friday.

Book mark: Let’s also raise a toast to knowledge – and specifically to the Encyclopedia Britannica, which was first published in Scotland on Dec. 6, 1768.

The grand encyclopedia, which finally went out of print in 2012, is now thriving in digital form.

Post mark: Speaking of publishing firsts, the Washington Post cranked out its first edition 142 years ago today.

Water mark: And happy anniversary to the U.S. Naval Observatory, one of the country’s oldest scientific institutions, established by the U.S. Navy (as the Depot of Charts and Instruments) on Dec. 6, 1830.

Dirty Harriet: Thinker, leader, soldier, spy Tubman, as portrayed by actress Cynthia Erivo.

Outta here: Abolitionist, spy and military leader Harriett Tubman escaped from slavery – for the second and final time – on this date in 1849.

In unrelated related news, the slavery-abolishing 13th Amendment was ratified by the U.S. Congress on Dec. 6, 1865.

But it’s been re-dubbed by Benedict Cumberbatch: And it was this date in 1877 when Thomas Edison made what is arguably the first sound recording of a human voice, reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Neat trick: French prestidigitator Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin (1805-1871), the “father of modern magic” and a namesake (of sorts) for American devotee Erich “Harry Houdini” Weisz, would be 214 years old today.

Also born on Dec. 6 were Swiss mechanic Johann Bodmer (1786-1864), a prolific inventor of tools and textile-making machinery; Austrian astronomer/ace asteroid archiver Johann Palisa (1848-1925); beloved U.S. poet Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918); U.S. zoologist Libbie Henrietta Hyman (1888-1969), who wrote lab manuals and six comprehensive volumes on invertebrates still referenced today; and toe-tapping American lyricist Ira Gershwin (1896-1983).

Making his Newmark: Happy 67th to the Craigslist creator.

Making a list: And take a bow, Craig Newmark – the American Internet entrepreneur and billionaire philanthropist known best as the founder of Craigslist turns 67 today.

Wish these and all the other Dec. 6 innovators well at – feel free to scratch some story tips and calendar items off your list, too.


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In the swim: Among those tipping the scales in the Hudson River.

Fin-tastic: There’s something fishy about Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, which has been gifted a rare scientific collection of archived fish and water-quality data.

Started a half-century ago, the Hudson River Collection is an historically ambitious environmental-research program hailed as an unequaled study of the long-term evolution of a single estuary system. Its database includes some 170 marine-life species found in the roughly 134-nautical-mile Hudson, which flows from the Troy Federal Lock and Dam in upstate Rensselaer County to the Battery in downtown Manhattan.

Also part of the gift from Louisiana-based energy company Entergy Corp. is an archive of about 50 million preserved Hudson River fish specimens, a Smithsonian-esque collection ranking among the largest held by a U.S. museum or university. That massive influx of material and data, along with a substantial “seed capital” donation from Entergy, “positions Stony Brook as a leader in developing innovative forms of multidisciplinary science endeavors,” according to Interim SBU President Michael Bernstein. “I am confident that our unparalleled access to the Hudson River Collection will result in extraordinary research opportunities.”

Basic training: Hofstra University wants to send military veterans back to bootcamp – only this time, it’s to learn how to build a business.

In partnership with the Hesselbirg Family and the U.S. Veterans Chamber of Commerce, the Garden City university’s Center for Entrepreneurship has launched the Hofstra Veterans Venture Challenge, a $100,000 business-plan competition targeting U.S. armed services veterans embarking on their first entrepreneurial missions. Competitors will work with experienced mentors, including Center for Entrepreneurship Entrepreneur-in-Residence Kevin Hesselbirg, and attend an “entrepreneurship bootcamp” with a shot at winning substantial seed funding.

The contest is open to veterans, spouses of veterans and members of Gold Star families, with applications accepted through Feb. 29. Following online coursework and “virtual mentoring sessions” in April and May, finalists will gather at Hofstra in June for the bootcamp, with the final pitch contest slated for June 19. More information here.



Raise of glory: Albany touts its staggered minimum-wage increases as “social justice,” but some analysts and industrialists aren’t so sure.

In the second degree: The New York Institute of Technology is rolling out its second-ever PhD program, this one focused on computer science.

Innovation invitation: If you love reading this informative and entertaining newsletter as much as we love writing it, please invite your fellow innovators to subscribe for free.



A new hope in organoids; the manufacturers strike back.



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

What a dive: The Diveroid “under” performs.

From California: Irvine-based SCUBA innovator Artisan & Ocean introduces DIVEROID, a smartphone-synched dive computer/camera/compass/logbook.

From Canada, eh: Toronto-based video producer Underknown enriches minds – and social media – with an “epic journey through hypothetical worlds.”

From Washington State: Redmond-based digital player Gamacy launches next-gen videogame database packing 50 years (and 100,000 titles) of fun.



Heidi Distante

+ Heidi Distante has been promoted to CEO of Woodbury-based Vanderbilt Financial Group. She previously served as the company’s chief of staff.

+ Michelle Espey has joined Uniondale-based Farrell Fritz P.C. as a tax partner. She previously served as counsel at Garden City-based Moritt Hock & Hamroff LLP.

+ Joshua Brookstein has been promoted to partner at Uniondale-based Sahn Ward Coschignano PLLC, concentrating in zoning, land-use planning, municipal law, litigation and appeals and real estate law and transactions.

+ Jared Dunkin has been hired as a radiologist at New York Imaging Specialists in Port Jefferson. The board-certified radiologist previously served as program director of diagnostic radiology at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson.

+ Marian Campi-Conde has been hired as a director at Coldwell Banker Commercial Island Corporate Services in Islandia. She previously served as a licensed real estate salesperson in the Melville office of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT.

+ Steven Pinsky has been hired as a principal at Melville-based UHY Advisors. He previously served as a managing director at Plainview-based Sutton Advisory Group.

+ John Goncalves has been hired as chief of adult cardiac surgery and director of endovascular cardiovascular surgery at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore. He previously served as director of cardiothoracic surgery at The Valley Hospital in New Jersey.

+ Alexandre deMoura has been hired as co-director of orthopedics at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre. He is the founder and medical director of the New York Spine Institute in Westbury.



Slow start: Just five more minutes.

Morning: Why everyone else is more productive than you to start the day.

Noon and night: A self-heating lunchbox and a “lucid dreaming machine” pace Dutch innovation.

Day off: We all lose in the war against paid vacation.

Always on: Please continue supporting the amazing institutions that support Innovate LI, including the Town of Islip Office of Economic Development, where it’s always a good day to improve your corporate environment. Check them out.