NYC’s Sixth-and-a-Half Avenue

News about a potential new pedestrian passageway in the Midtown area of Manhattan.

Shonna Lewis recently walked through the passage on her way to the gym when a taxi almost hit her. ‘He clearly saw me coming and was going faster. I slammed on the hood — New York style.’”  (

Cabs speeding up when pedestrians are in their path? Also incredibly NY.



“Birthday” – Banish from Tests

The Dept. of Education in NYC has released its list of “too sensitive” and “controversial” words that may be banned from standardized tests in NYC schools. If a word evokes a controversial topic or “appears biased” against some people, it could be put on the list. (What a slippery slope; any word can evoke an unpleasant association and cause tension for someone out there.) Among the more surprising words and phrases deemed too problematic: birthday, dinosaur, and pepperoni.


Creativity from the WSJ

“But creativity is not magic, and there’s no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It’s a skill. … Until the Enlightenment, acts of imagination were always equated with higher powers. Being creative meant channeling the muses, giving voice to the gods. (“Inspiration” literally means “breathed upon.”) Even in modern times, scientists have paid little attention to the sources of creativity. But over the past decade, that has begun to change.” –WSJ article


Space Missions

A space tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, won its 500th customer: Ashton Kutcher. The celebrity joins hundreds of others awaiting a trip into the final frontier. As noted in this article, it’s a bit ironic that William Shatner has declined a trip into space; after all, he’s primarily famous for his portrayal of a spaceship captain.

According to a report last fall, the company is finalizing its rocket tests and hopes to finish powered test flights of the spacecraft by the end of 2012; once those are completed, commercial suborbital flights could begin.

“Childhood Alzheimer’s”

Parents of young twins with Niemann-Pick Disease Type C, a rare and fatal genetic disease, are crusading to get a treatment for the disease approved by the FDA.

Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) is sometimes called childhood Alzheimer’s disease. Patients cannot metabolize cholesterol and other lipids, resulting in too much cholesterol and lipids in the liver, spleen, and brain. Symptoms include progressive dementia, epilepsy, uncoordinated limb movements, slurred speech, and tremors. Most children die before they reach age 20. Only around 500 people worldwide are estimated to have the disease.

Hugh and Chris Hempel found that researchers were using cyclodextrin to treat NPC in mice; they then filed applications with the FDA to get permission to administer the drug to their daughters. Used on the girls since 2009, cyclodextrin has slowed the progression of the disease. Currently, the Hempels are busy sharing their story with national agencies and pharmaceutical companies in order to get the drug further tested, approved, and manufactured. Their biotech company, Solution Therapeutics, is seeking funding to start clinical trials of cyclodextrin.

The Addi & Cassi Fund is here.