No. 490: Fine points, Maiman methods and homebound haircuts – plus, Albany tips the scales

This Buddha's for you: Siddhartha Gautama, legendary founder of Buddhism, is 2,583 years old today (or thereabouts).


Well bread: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers … and yes, it’s Wednesday out there, April 8 to be precise, as we muscle through this latest week of quasi-quarantines and other pandemic protocols.

Shell right: It’s what’s inside that counts.

Not easy to tell these days, but today is very different from yesterday or tomorrow. For one thing, April 8 is National Empanada Day, a sweet celebration of stuffed dough (or savory, depending).

As the Romani do: Today is also International Romani Day, celebrating Romani culture and raising awareness of the Romani people.

The who? Well, that’s why there’s a day.

Venus if you will: The Venus de Milo, disarmed masterwork of Ancient Greece, was discovered (by a local peasant, maybe) on April 8, 1820, on the Island of Milos.

Speaking of great works of art and history, according to the story, the charter for New York City’s American Museum of Natural History was drafted – in the home of Theodore Roosevelt Sr., father of the future president – on this date in 1869.

Glass sipper: Marking quantum leaps in hygiene and shelf life, milk was first sold in glass bottles on April 8, 1879, by New York City innovator Echo Farm Dairy.

Price is right: Real wax job.

Coming at you: Three-dimensional movies jumped off the screen on this date in 1953 with the release of Columbia Pictures’ “Man in the Dark,” the first 3D motion picture released by a major studio.

The flick, starring Edmond O’Brien, beat the Vincent Price vehicle “The House of Wax” – Warner Bros.’ first 3D movie, and the first released in color – by two days.

Reuse, recycle: And it was April 8, 2016, when Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company SpaceX soft-landed a Falcon 9 rocket booster on a robotic drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, the first time a reusable booster was successfully landed and recovered.

Although it took SpaceX five tries to stick the reusable-booster landing, this mission was a total success: The NASA payload carried into space by the recovered Falcon 9 made it safely to the International Space Station.

Like Buddha: Local times (and entire calendar systems) may vary, but legend has it Siddhartha Gautama – who arrived somewhere between 563 B.C. and 483 B.C. and is known best as the Buddha – was born on what would have been April 8.

Annan among men: Nobel Prize-winner Kofi Annan, seventh U.N. Secretary-General.

Also born on this date were Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León (1460-1521); pioneering American neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing (1869-1939); American biochemist Melvin Calvin (1911-1997), Nobel Prize-winning photosynthesis expert; First Lady Betty (née Bloomer) Ford (1918-2011), founder of the Betty Ford Center; former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan (1938-2018); and New York Mets great Gary Carter (1954-2012).

Writing royalty: And take a bow, Barbara Kingsolver – the prolific American author, essayist and poet, among Writer’s Digest’s Top 100 Writers of the 20th Century and founder of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction, turns 65 today.

Send birthday wishes for Kingsolver, “The Kid” and all the other April 8 innovators to We’ll hold onto the gifts – story tips, calendar items, all shapes and sizes, please and thank you.


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Epic scale: Noting “it’s going to come down to how good we are with testing,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced Albany would invest directly in private companies working to bring rapid COVID-19 tests to the masses.

With an additional 8,100 confirmed cases on Monday pushing New York’s total past 138,000, Cuomo said the state would offer working capital to private companies with the capacity to bring rapid COVID-19 testing “to scale” – that is, mass-produce tests with fast turnaround times, and that right quick, thereby accelerating statewide testing capacities.

Biotechs, additive-manufacturing enterprises and other interested businesses should contact the Empire State Development Corp. at (212) 803-3100 or for more information on the funding opportunities. “You have to have that testing and you have to have that testing on a scale,” the governor noted. “You have 19 million people in the State of New York. Just think of how many people you would need to be able to test, and test quickly.”

Dig it: Anagnostis Agelarakis (left) and friends, boning up.

It’s not brain surgery: Actually, it is … and it turns out they were cracking skulls, in a surgical sense, way back in Ancient Greece, according to new evidence discovered by Adelphi University scientists.

Researchers led by Adelphi anthropologist Anagnostis Agelarakis have unearthed the first forensically assessed remains of “domineering, mounted archer-lancers and their kin” from the Eastern Roman Empire’s turbulent ProtoByzantine period, which spanned the fourth to seventh centuries A.D. The skeletal remains of four women and six men, “likely of high social standing,” were discovered on Greek island Thasos in the North Aegean Sea, intact enough to reveal physical activities, injuries and “even a complex form of brain surgery,” according to the university.

It appears the group, despite its high standards, led a rough life. Agelarakis noted “very serious trauma cases … treated surgically or orthopedically by a very experienced physician/surgeon,” including an “extraordinary head and neck surgery” and other evidence of “extensive” brain surgery on one of the males, possibly “a very important individual to the population at Paliokastro.” More on Agelarakis’ team and their remarkable findings right here.



Remote control: Constant communication and strict attention to human factors must inform every company’s pandemic response, says master innovator Mitch Maiman.

A Fine mess: And big opportunity, too, as Mazars USA logistics ace Craig Fine dissects current manufacturer/distributor woes – and predicts a post-lockdown innovation boom.

Charter, a new course: A $58 million bond sale, via the Hempstead Local Development Corp., may fuel an impressive expansion of the Academy Charter School.



A New York Tech PPE pipeline, Brookhaven National Laboratory’s multifaceted maneuvering and young doctors in business, slightly sooner than expected – all that and more overstuffing Innovate LI’s ever-evolving, Island-centric Pandemic Primer.



Enough to make you sick: Cybercriminals are all over the coronavirus, hacking videoconferences, phishing for victims and worse. VentureBeat is on the case.

Death do them part: COVID-19’s fatality rate differs dramatically from country to country. Vox explains why.

Big screen, big comeback: Studios may be skipping ahead to home releases during the pandemic, but don’t count out movie theaters just yet. BBC News in the front row.



+ Tyto Care, a New York City-based modular device and telehealth platform for remote medical examinations, raised $50 million in funding co-led by Insight Partners, Olive Tree Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures, with participation from previous investors.

+ Lessonly, an Indiana-based online training platform, raised $15 million in Series C funding led by AXA Venture Partners, with participation from Zendesk, Allos Ventures, Atlas Peak Capital, Rethink Education and The Yard Ventures.

+ JennyLife, a Washington State-based provider of life insurance for parents, secured $3.5 million in Series A funding. Backers included CMFG Ventures and undisclosed insurance industry investors.

+ Calviri Inc., an Arizona-based, cancer-focused biotech spun out of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, closed a $2.25 million seed funding round. Backers included private investors Jacque Sokolov and Mitzi Krockover.

+ RoadSync, a Georgia-based digital payment platform for the transportation industry, raised $5.7 million in Series A funding led by Base10 Partners, with participation from Companyon Ventures and return investor Hyde Park Venture Partners.

+ Aspen Neuroscience, a California-based biotech developing novel Parkinson’s disease treatments, closed a $70 million Series A funding round led by OrbiMed, with participation from ARCH Venture Partners, Frazier Healthcare Partners, Domain Associates, Section 32 and Sam Altman.


BELOW THE FOLD (Personal Hygiene in the Pandemic Edition)

A cut below: Beware the quarantine quaff.

Lather, rinse, repeat: A lockdown lowdown for the neurotic bather.

Close shaves: Historically, beards and pandemics don’t mix well.

Measure twice, cut once: The art of the quarantine haircut.

(Bonus content: Simply Google “bad haircut” for the best three minutes of the whole pandemic.)

Groomed for success: Please keep supporting the amazing firms that support Innovate Long Island, including Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, where that fresh scent comes from dozens of sparkling practice areas.