No. 84: Baby, it was dark outside

The Great Northeast Blackout occurred 50 years ago today, plunging 30 million people into darkness and trapping 800,000 New Yorkers in the subway.

The outage, which began at 5:16 p.m. – it lasted 13 hours and covered 80,000 square miles – was blamed on Ontario grid workers who set a default switch too low, eh.

One book, however, later blamed UFOs.

Television and radio stations went off the air, and the New York Times struggled to produce a 10-pager for the next day using borrowed presses in Newark. A full moon helped keep looting in NYC to just five break-ins. In fact, it was the lowest night of crime in the city’s history.

Not true: News reports that NYC’s birthrate soared nine months after the outage.

It did spawn the 1968 comedy Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? starring Doris Day and Robert Morse.

(He was better in Mad Men.)

It’s Monday: A great start to the week everybody, and a special welcome to new readers, including Brian, Judy, Fred, Paloma, Eric, Janine and 8660708. Glad to have you aboard. Don’t forget to send tips, story ideas, complaints and corrections to us via

Getting the vibe: MyVibz, a bootstrapping NYC startup that wants to be a quicker, easier Yelp – a review takes six taps and under 20 seconds, they tell us – plans to launch Wednesday, giving customers the means to grade every part of the customer experience, right down to the sincerity of the barista’s smile. Beta here.

Honor thyself: The SBA is taking nominations for its annual (since 1963) small business week awards. Includes students and vets among others.

No deals: NYC digital food delivery services that schlepp restaurant items for a fee have a new way to deal with eateries that don’t want to play: Add their menu anyway and jack up prices to cover transport. Which is why there’s a $21.95 burrito panini out there.

Clicked-in: Top click-throughs from last week’s blasts include Bettr’s move from basement to Mineola, the FEC’s beta site, loose thoughts on the toast of San Francisco and entrepreneur Fred Dunwoody.

Final frontier open again: NASA is looking for astronauts. You need a bachelor’s degree in a field like engineering, math, biology or physics, three or more years of related experience, and the ability to pass the official astronaut physical.

Bad news: In the last open call, in 2011, NASA chose eight of 6,000 applicants.

From Xconomy: Four strategies for startups to finish the year with a bang.

Good question: Will Hudson Yards become Silicon Alley West?

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Stuff we’re going to: Technology Cares For Long Island, benefiting Island Harvest, tonight, the Refuge on 110, $15 donation requested, register here.

LI Tech Day, Nov. 10, free for spectators.

The LI STEAM Conference, Nov. 17, LaunchPad Huntington, free for all. (And in more ways than one.)

They have lots to do: There are 4.5 million cars in NYC. Which is why Beepi, the San Fran used-car platform, has arrived. (Lots. Get it?)

Circling: TechJect, a robotic dragonfly that was one of the first campaigns to hit $1 million on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, has crashed. No, wait – development has been halted “until funds are replenished through sources (any source)” the firm has announced. Barring that, the startup plans to release its IP to the public and call it a day.

The week ahead: Earnings coming from Lynbrook drugmaker BioSpecifics Technologies (today) ADT (Wednesday) and Chembio Diagnostics (Thursday). NFIB’s small-biz optimism report is due tomorrow and, on Friday, the Labor Department drops its producer prices report, the nation’s best gauge on inflation.

Perfect pitch

Molloy College brings in student entrepreneurs from other schools for a night of competitive business plan presentations with celebrity (so to speak) judges Mark Lesko, Andrew Hazen, Harvey Brofman and others, plus cash prizes.

Cha-cha-cha changes

If pivoting is a sure sign of entrepreneurial success, Varun Mehta’s Disqovery app is going to the moon.

Big thinker

Stony Brook University landed a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to build a super-computer cluster that will have 50X the power of anything else on campus. (Except Sam Stanley, of course.)


Stony Brook student Ruchi Shah is creating a buzz with her all-natural mosquito repellent.

Some very loose thoughts on Long Island’s septic situation.

Finally: For those worried about feeding Earth’s 9 billion inhabitants in 2050, don’t – researchers have some ideas. They include bugs, schmeat, seagoo and soylent. Tuck in, future Earthlings.

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Compiled by John Kominicki. Thanks for reading.