No. 549: On Truth, justice for Susan B. and the state of American bridges (not good)

No lie: Sojourner Truth (born Isabella Baumfree), an escaped slave who became one of America's great abolitionists and women's-rights activists, was born Nov. 18, 1797.


Let freedom ring: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, as we muscle through this latest busy workweek in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Real deal: Princess Martha Louise, only daughter of King Harald V and Queen Sonja and currently fourth in line to the Norwegian throne.

On that note, happy Independence Day this Nov. 18 to our many readers in Morocco (marking independence from Spain in 1956), Oman (technically National Day, marking independence from Portugal in 1650), Haiti (technically Battle of Vertières Day, marking independence from France in 1803) and Latvia (technically Republic of Latvia Proclamation Day, marking independence from Russia in 1918).

Royalties: Here in the States, we mark National Princess Day, celebrating royal daughters both factual and fanciful, and National Vichyssoise Day, celebrating a thick, cold potato soup that’s all too real.

And of course, we welcome another opportunity to vote in Bethpage Federal Credit Union’s 2021 Best of Long Island contest, where Innovate LI is up for Best Long Island Blog and you can pull the lever once per day through Dec. 15. Please do.

The scofflaw: Speaking of voting and women and royalty, New York suffragette Susan B. Anthony was arrested at her home on this date in 1872 and charged with the heinous crime of voting for president.

What time you got: Four flavors to choose from.

About time: Replacing sun-based, town-by-town local times, the United States’ Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones officially went on the clock on Nov. 18, 1883.

Dear Catholics: Broadly defining the principles upon which Catholics should interpret the Bible, Pope Leo XIII shared the encyclical letter “Providentissimus Deus” (“The Most Provident God”) on this date in 1893.

The now-outdated letter reviews the history of Biblical studies, speaks against “higher critics” and outlines rules for teaching scripture in seminary – alternately welcoming what was then “new evidence” and condemning its use.

Not even a mouse: Before Nov. 18, 1929, there was no iconic Mikey Mouse – but on that day, Walt Disney’s all-time creation officially debuted in the animated classic “Steamboat Willie.”

True story: Mickey actually starred in two earlier Disney-animated shorts, neither of which was picked up for distribution.

Buttoned up: And it was this date in 1963 when pushbuttons put a new spin on telephones, replacing dialers on handsets throughout Pennsylvania.

The Truth was out there: African-American abolitionist, author and early feminist Sojourner Truth (born Isabella Baumfree, 1787-1883) – who escaped slavery, found God, sat down with Abraham Lincoln and reigns as one of history’s great human-rights crusaders – would be 233 years old today.

Follow the Shepard: Alan, heading for history.

Also born on Nov. 18 were groundbreaking American botanist Asa Gray (1810-1888); Nobel Prize-winning English physicist Patrick Blackett (1897-1974), who shined with cosmic rays; Ukrainian-American physicist George Kistiakosky (1900-1982), who worked on the Manhattan Project, scientifically advised President Eisenhower and became an ardent peace activist; American survey pioneer George Gallup (1901-1984), who had all the answers; and Astronaut Alan Shepard (1923-1998), America’s first man in space.

Blessed be the fruit: And take a bow, Margaret Eleanor Atwood – the Canadian novelist, poet, essayist, teacher, inventor (!) and environmental activist, responsible for “The Handmaid’s Tale” and other award-winning works of social importance, turns 81 today.

Wish the influential author and all the other Nov. 18 innovators well at, where we’re eager to tell your tale – story tips and calendar events always gratefully accepted.


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Crossed off: The reopening of School Street in the Village of Westbury and the Hamlet of New Cassel – now an underpass beneath the Long Island Rail Road Main Line – marks the latest railroad crossing eliminated in the past 14 months through the LIRR Expansion Project.

Coordinating with municipal, county and state partners, MTA Construction & Development – the capital programs wing of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – rebuilt the formerly grade-level LIRR crossing at School Street as a grade-separated, two-lane underpass with a sidewalk on its east side. The underpass, including LIRR signal-modification work in April, took 14 months to complete, and follows the transformation of former grade-level crossings at Covert Avenue and New Hyde Park Road in New Hyde Park and Urban Avenue in New Cassel, with more coming soon.

“Not only was this project completed on time and on budget, but this new underpass will improve safety and bring a higher quality of life to this community by reducing noise, air and traffic pollution,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week. “New York continues to lead the nation in modernizing and strengthening our transportation infrastructure.”

Growth mode: EmPower Solar is spreading it around.

More EmPower to ’em: With solar-energy installations surging across commercial and residential markets, one white-hot Nassau-based installer has opened a new mid-Island operations center.

Island Park’s EmPower Solar already reaches clients across Long Island and beyond, covering “all of PSEG Long Island’s and ConEdison’s utility territories, as well as select work in upstate New York and Connecticut,” according to the company. But the new operations center, while still in Nassau, expands the business’ physical footprint from its extreme Southwest Long Island headquarters to a more “centralized” location in Farmingdale, rich with new warehousing and distribution capabilities.

EmPower, which recently completed large-scale installation projects for the Long Beach School District and Melville’s Estee Lauder department store, anticipates rapid job growth at the new site. “There is great momentum underway within the solar industry, particularly as we continue to recover from the impact of COVID-19,” noted EmPower Solar CEO David Schieren. “Through this expansion, we are better able to serve the demand for solar in our communities and help bring clean energy to more New Yorkers.”



Spanning the globe: From Israel to Germany to Suffolk County, an ambitious multinational is using AI-powered innovation to monitor aging bridges.

Wide word of shorts: Innovate LI’s news briefs, feature profiles and spot-on op-eds say so much in so little time. Keep your innovation team in our quick-reading loop with individual newsletter subscriptions – always easy, always free.

Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus: How fast are Long Island’s infection rates rising? Find out in the Island’s one-and-only pandemic primer, with you all the way.



Election 2020 is over – and as vaccine candidates emerge, it’s time for elected leaders on all sides to put aside political differences and come together on COVID-19. Healthcare anchor Terry Lynam has a plan.



Be honest: True innovation starts with a frank internal dialogue. Forbes digs deep.

Be afraid: Solar geoengineering might save the world – or destroy us all. Inverse shines a spotlight.

Be seeing you: After Sunday’s historic launch, the SpaceX Crew (and Baby Yoda) will spend six months in space. NPR boldly goes.



+ Kate Farms, a California-based organic tube-feeding company producing plant-based formulas for people with chronic illnesses, closed a $51 million Series B funding round led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from Kaiser Permanente Ventures and existing individual investors.

+ Yotta Energy, a Texas-based energy-tech company with a patented thermal-management system for batteries, closed a $5 million seed-funding round. Backers included Fiftysix Investments, EDP Ventures and Skyview Ventures, among others.

+ Adagio Therapeutics, a Massachusetts-based biopharma developing antibodies that broadly neutralize SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1 and other potentially emergent coronaviruses, closed an $80 million Series B financing led by GV, Polaris Partners, Mithril Capital, Fidelity Management & Research Co. and OrbiMed, plus new investors Population Health Partners and Omega Funds.

+ Massive Bio, a New York City-based tech company leveraging AI and precision medicine to connect cancer patients and community oncologists with biopharma clinical trials, raised $2.6 million in funding led by Revo Capital, with participation from Cavendish Impact Foundation.

+ Truebill, a Maryland-based personal finance and savings app, raised $17 million in Series C funding led by Bessemer Ventures, with participation from Day One Ventures, Eldridge Industries, Cota Capital and Firebolt Ventures.

+ Adaptilens, a Massachusetts-based med-tech developing an accommodating intraocular lens that eliminates the need for eyeglasses and contact lenses, raised $1.6 million in seed funding led by Pillar VC, with participation from Accanto Partners.



Take your pick: Nothing says Thanksgiving like…

Historical: Eighty-eight percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Here’s why.

Hysterical: Stay calm – here are some featherless alternatives (except the chicken).

Virtual: With unlimited free chats, here’s how to keep your Zoom Thanksgiving lively.

Venerable: Please continue supporting the amazing institutions that support Innovate LI, including the New York Institute of Technology, where they’re shaping the next generation of engineers, entrepreneurs and industrial leaders. Check them out.




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