No. 498: On crepes, mosques and tough love – and Long Island, home of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Miracle mile: Englishman Roger Bannister became the first runner to break the four-minute mile 66 years ago today.


Schastlivaya pandemiya: Over the homebound hump we go, dear comrades, as we brave another week of the great 2020 pandemic – and, even scarier, another week locked up with those we love most.

To that end, these sanity-maintenance tips from the Russian Health Ministry. You’re welcome.

Crepes of wrath: Arguably, history’s most delicious mistake.

Crepes us out: Now here’s a dangerous combo – May 6 is both National Crepe Suzette Day, celebrating the caramelized dessert, and National No Diet Day, which, let’s face it, is every day in lockdown.

Bolt from the blue: Speaking of lockdowns, American inventor Linus Yale Jr. locked up his “Self-Detaching and Attaching Key-Lock” with a U.S. patent issued 169 years ago today.

On that same day – May 6, 1851 – inventor John Gorrie patented America’s first refrigerator.

Ruthian: The Babe, just a babe.

Babe who? Some Red Sox rookie, George Herman Something, hit his first Major League home run on this date in 1915 (he’d hit 713 more, a record that would stand 39 years).

Also in sports, English leg man Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute mile on May 6, 1954.

Oh, the humanity: Less a nod to innovation then a cautionary tale of innovation gone wrong, the Hindenburg – the largest dirigible ever built and the pride of Nazi Germany – went down in flames on May 6, 1937, in New Jersey.

Pumped up: On a more positive beat, the first successful open-heart surgery was completed on this date in 1953 in Philadelphia.

The surgery incorporated a heart-lung machine designed by physician John Heysham Gibbon, proving that an artificial device could temporarily mimic heart functions.

Who was that mosqued man? And it was May 6, 2001, when John Paul II become the first pope to enter a mosque, during a controversial visit to Syria.

Calling Orson: Welles, who wore many hats.

Citizen Welles: Remembered as a true innovator of radio, theater and film, writer/director Orson Welles (1915-1985) – who did some acting, too, including narration of the infamous 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast – would be 105 years old today.

Also born on May 6 were American Society of Dental Surgeons founder Chapin Harris (1806-1860); Austrian “father of psychoanalysis” Sigmund Freud (1856-1939); U.S. Navy officer Robert Peary (1856-1920), who liked it over ice; Czech archeologist Bedrich Hrozný (1879-1952), who used cuneiform tablets to decipher the Hittite language; and eponymous baby food manufacturer Daniel Gerber (1898-1974).

Five tools: And take a bow, Willie Howard Mays Jr. – the longtime New York/San Francisco Giants star (and ex-Met, too), one of MLB’s all-time greats and forever “The Say Hey Kid,” turns 89 today.

Wish the Hall of Famer, the Hollywood trailblazer and all the other May 6 innovators a happy birthday at, where story tips, calendar items and deep-seated thoughts about your mother are always welcome.


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Life force: Reopening the economy is important — but not as important as human lives, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Hard choices: Some leaders are hell-bent to reopen the economy at any cost, but the ethics of easing lockdowns while COVID-19 rages on are weighing heavily on others.

That includes Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s not sure if enough attention is being paid to the less-economic, more-human factors of restarting the local and national markets. Speaking Tuesday at his daily coronavirus briefing, the governor waded into philosophical waters, acknowledging that “there’s a cost of staying closed (and) there’s also a cost of reopening quickly,” and suggesting “the fundamental question which we’re not articulating is, ‘how much is a human life worth?’”

Cuomo – who champions a phased approach to reopening the New York economy and welcomes “hard conversation, painful conversation, controversial conversation” about this delicate balance – left little doubt as to his feelings. “To me … a human life is priceless, period,” the governor said. “Our reopening plan doesn’t have a tradeoff. Our reopening plan says you monitor the data, you monitor the transmission rate, you monitor the hospitalization rate, you monitor the death rate. If it goes up … you close the valve on reopening.”

Bank it: The controversial Paycheck Protection Program – savior to some small-business owners, a frustrating boondoggle to others – takes center stage in the latest episode of “Ask a CEO.”

The web series, a production of Edgewood-based Lorraine Gregory Communications, places host Greg Demetriou, LGC’s president and chief executive, in one-on-one conversations with regional rainmakers representing a variety of Long Island industries and perspectives. The latest installment features BNB Bank President and CEO Kevin O’Connor, who’s helmed the Bridgehampton-based bank through almost $1 billion in small-business PPP loans.

“Funding close to a billion dollars in PPP loans takes brute strength,” notes Demetriou, who promises the O’Connor interview – roughly 18 eye-opening minutes, available here – won’t be the last “Ask a CEO” dissecting the pandemic and its subsequent rebound. “I have a major nonprofit on the schedule,” the host told Innovate LI. “I will be exploring the business landscape under the crisis, and what CEOs are thinking and saying about the future and recovery.”



Part of their DNA: Long Island’s busiest biotech has worked up a fast and reliable coronavirus test – and maybe the first viable COVID-19 vaccine.

Emergency situation: As the pandemic persists, healthcare professionals detect a worrisome drop in non-coronavirus ER activity.

Contactless delivery: Keep your team on Long Island’s leading edge, during the pandemic and always – Innovate LI newsletter subscriptions right here, always free.



Albany’s tough love, Mnuchin’s PPP praise, Brian Dennehy’s final screen performance and more – a star-studded, info-rich week for the Pandemic Primer.



Keep it real: You didn’t hear this from us, but innovation can’t fix everything. Forbes explains.

Watch it go: The small-business die-off has begun, and American commerce as we know it won’t survive. The Atlantic eulogizes.

Make it stick: Nine new hobbies that can outlast the lockdown. Mental Floss counts them down.



+ Fat Snax, a New York City-based low-carb and keto snack brand, closed a $5 million Series A funding round led by BFG Partners and Boulder Investment Group Reprise Ventures.

+ Strella Biotechnology, a Pennsylvania-based early stage agriculture-technology company, raised $3.3 million in seed funding led by Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley and Catapult Ventures, with participation from Union Labs, Mark Cuban Red & Blue Ventures and Art Mesher.

+ Alume Biosciences, a California-based biotech developing nerve-targeted pharmaceuticals for surgical and therapeutic use, completed a $5.5 million Series A funding round. Backers included co-founder Chrysa Mineo and Dan Bradbury.

+ ZAF Energy Systems, a Missouri–based developer of sustainable, nontoxic battery technologies, raised $22 million in Series A funding backed by Élevage Capital Management, Catalus Capital, Holt Ventures and Coventry Asset Management.

+ Immunomic Therapeutics, a Maryland-based clinical-stage biotech pioneering the study of nucleic acid immunotherapy platforms, closed a $61.3 million financing round led by HLB Co.

+ Rome Therapeutics, a Massachusetts-based biotech leveraging repeatome for drug development, launched with $50 million in Series A funding, backed by GV, Arch Venture Partners and Partners Innovation Fund.


BELOW THE FOLD (Pandemic Essentials Edition)

Ding: You’ve come a long way, baby.

The microwave: How magnetrons, Faraday cages and the world’s saddest cookbook sparked a kitchen revolution.

The Internet: Shelter-in-place orders are emphasizing rural Internet-access limitations.

Amazon: The online giant is soaring – but e-retailers relying on Amazon affiliate programs, not so much.

The law: Nobody understands corporate law – before, during and after the pandemic – better than Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, where the COVID-19 Resource Center keeps businesses updated on health and employment law, cybersecurity and other evolving issues. Check them out.