The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 12, 2022

A purple sky over a barn in a snow-covered fieldThere is absolutely nothing we can add. Just, enjoy.  (John Bulmer)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

To the sports gambling world, tomorrow is Christmas, Mardi Gras and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one. As many as 31.5 million Americans are expected to bet on the Super Bowl, and if the activity since online betting became legal in New York is any indication, an awful lot of the bettors will live in the Empire State.

In January, the first month of legal online gambling in the state, New Yorkers shattered the previous monthly record for any state by wagering $1.6 billion.

We don’t know how all the bets will line up, but we do know someone already has put $4.5 million on the Cincinnati Bengals to beat the Los Angeles Rams. The wager is the biggest online bet of all-time, and a win would result in a $7.7 million profit for the bettor, a Houston furniture store owner who last year won his $3.46 million bet on Tampa Bay to beat Kansas City.

The Super Bowl is expected to draw 117 million viewers. These three will not be among those watching on TV because they’ll all be at the game for the 56th year in a row, a streak they expect will come to an end after this year.

A man and two boys in front of a billboard of Olympic speedskatersPat Gormley and his sons at the Lake Placid speedskating oval (provided photo)

TEN TIMES more people will watch the Super Bowl Sunday than have been watching the Beijing Olympics. (subscription required) NBC reports an average of 12 million viewers nightly on the network and its streaming platforms. Not unexpected: The Summer Games in Tokyo also were a ratings disappointment. And yet around the world, in the uncynical hearts of children and young people, the Olympics still kindle dreams that they might one day compete at the top of their games (as ski racers did at Gore Mountain this week) or at least get outside on an Adirondack pond and knock the puck around with Dad, as writer Patrick Gormley recounts.

WOMEN OF THE OLYMPICS: Three Adirondack women of Olympian achievement were in the news this week: Lyndsay Strange grew up in a skiing family. She spent much of her childhood at Gore and West Mountain, where her mother Kelly Dempsey worked on the mountains, and went on to compete as a downhill racer at Glens Falls High and Skidmore College. The 34-year-old is in Beijing now as coach of the Mexican Olympic alpine ski team, her second Olympics as a coach. Emily Sweeney, a native of Saranac Lake, N.Y., was nearly killed when her luge crashed during the 2018 Olympics. She not only survived a broken neck and back but came all the way back to qualify for the Beijing Games. And speedskater Amy Peterson Peck, who participated in five Olympic games, was twice named speedskating athlete of the year, won a silver and two bronze medals, and carried the flag for the United States in Salt Lake City, now passes the Olympic spirit on to young skaters in Saratoga Springs.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL: Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, and a best-selling author, wrote on LinkedIn that the U.S. “appears to be on a classic path toward some form of civil war.” He writes that high inflation, large deficits and high taxes, combined with wide gaps in wealth and values and unwillingness to compromise in accordance with rules, have set the stage. He’s not alone, of course, in expressing grave concerns; recent public opinion surveys reflect loss of confidence in the integrity of elections, and a poll of Americans 18 to 29 found more than half believe democracy is either “in trouble” or “failing.”

THE WEAKEST LINK: Computer chips have been in the news a lot over the past year or so, largely because of a supply shortage that has severely disrupted the auto industry, among others. That's not the only concern. As more of the economy becomes reliant on the performance of these tiny chips, there is, writes veteran New York Times technology reporter and author John Markoff, “growing anxiety that as cloud-computing networks have become larger and more complex, they are still dependent, at the most basic level, on computer chips that are now less reliable and, in some cases, less predictable.”

EXTRA TIME FOR AN EXTRA DAY: A survey of more than 1,500 adults found that (subscription required) 82% of full-time workers in the U.S. would trade the traditional five-day work week for four 10-hour days, and for the same pay. High-wage earners were most likely to support the idea, and women liked it more than men. A different survey earlier found three-quarters of Americans would leave their current job for one that offered a four-day workweek.

RADIO HISTORY: The scratchy signal first emanated from a tower atop a building at GE’s main plant in Schenectady at 7:47 p.m. on February 20, 1922. Though at the time its signal was the most powerful in the country, hardly anyone heard WGY or the local musical talent whose performance it broadcast for the first time. Radio was still an experimental product, the military’s baby, and few American households had radios. But that changed quickly. Commercial radio brought a world of entertainment and information to local homes. Jack Benny. Bob Hope. Jimmy Dorsey. “War of the Worlds.” It was universal and inexpensive, ideal for advertising, local and global in its reach, and it spread quickly. Now, one of the first stations in America, an original member of the NBC network, WGY – W for Wireless, G for General Electric, Y for the last letter in Schenectady – is celebrating 100 years of broadcasting, at 50,000 watts, with a signal that stretches from northern New York City suburbs to the North Country and parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

THE POWER OF RADIO: Radio has many fathers, and surely as many unsung mothers, but the story of Ernst Alexanderson stands out. Alexanderson was the Swedish-born GE engineer who developed the Alexanderson alternator, a continuous wave radio transmitter that made it possible to transmit sound over radio waves. He also was a father of television, and the first television broadcast in the United States was received in 1927 at his home at 1132 Adams Road, Schenectady. Over the course of his career, Dr. Alexanderson was awarded 322 patents. Though his scientific contributions were monumental, it’s what happened on April 30, 1923, that gave Dr. Alexanderson the opportunity to demonstrate the true power of radio. His six-year-old son was kidnapped from Schenectady. Dr. Alexanderson, using equipment he designed, took to WGY to appeal for the safe return of Verner. A caretaker at a resort in the Thousand Islands in northern New York, more than 200 miles away, heard the broadcast, recognized the child from the descriptions, and Verner was rescued.

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GREAT LAKE STORIES: Rosemary Pusateri wasn’t happy that boats were launching on Lake George when the invasive species inspection stations were closed, so she led the charge for extended station hours. Scooter and Jennifer Jacobs did their part to protect the lake by installing a new septic system … inside their house. Debbi Fishner rallied her neighbors to support a host of stormwater protection projects. These are just a few of the stories Behan Communications has been proud to tell over the past two years on behalf of the lake’s preeminent protector, the Lake George Association, in an online series called “Leading By Example.” If you’d like to create a compelling Content Library like this for sharing with your organization’s most important audiences, we’d like to help. Let’s talk.

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ASTRONOMICAL PRICE: To follow-up on an item we ran few weeks ago: A 555.55-carat black diamond thought to have originated in outer space sold at auction this week for $4.28 million. It’s the largest cut diamond in the world, according to Guinness World Records.

A LEG UP: As If America needed another reason to love Dolly Parton, now comes word that all employees of Dollywood, the eponymous resort in Tennessee, will be eligible for full tuition plus the cost of books and fees for select college programs including business administration, finance, technology and marketing. In all, 11,000 employees of Dollywood and other subsidiaries of Herschend Enterprises are eligible.

A BITE ON BUSINESS: Lake Placid, N.Y., built its reputation as an alpine winter playland, though in truth it’s much more than that, attracting tourists year-round who come to hike, ski and enjoy the gorgeous natural surroundings. The tourists haven’t stopped showing up, but a lot of workers have, and customers are noticing. The national labor shortage is affecting more than just Main Street, and the challenges go beyond simply raising wages.

CHIVALRY LIVES: Anthony Harris is a safety for the Philadelphia Eagles and 11-year-old Audrey Soape’s favorite player. Audrey has had an awful year, having lost both her father and her grandfather, and with her school’s Daddy-Daughter Dance upcoming, her mom, Holly, took her shot, sending Harris a message on social media explaining the situation and asking if Harris might be willing to stand in. His reply: “Not only will I come, I want to make sure she feels like a princess.” And that’s exactly what he did.

THE COURAGE TO FIGHT ON: As he lay for months in a hospital bed, lungs ravaged by tuberculosis, the former minister in training to become a psychologist, Rollo May, began to develop a view on life that ultimately reshaped psychology. “I saw that no one can directly and successfully combat his destiny, but each of us, by virtue of the small margin of freedom that prevails even in the sanitorium bed, can choose his attitude toward that destiny. Shall it be servile abdication or some form of courage?” The question that formed in his mind as he recovered in the fresh Adirondack air in 1942 resonates in our COVID-19 world and is considered in a new book, “Psyche and Soul in America.”

DOG LOVERS: It seems that everyone adopted a pandemic puppy in the past year, including the adorable little one seen here, who arrived in NewA brown dog with mottled white spots lying on a rug. York after a two-day journey with a vanload of other rescue dogs and cats from Texas. Such relocations, usually involving volunteers, have become far more frequent in recent years, with just one organization, the ASPCA, preparing to celebrate its 200,000th animal moved. Most are moving from southern states to the north, resulting in dramatic reductions in the number of pets euthanized in shelters over the past decade. Of course, there’s more than one way to rescue a dog.

DEER DISTRIBUTORS: Add to the litany of head-turning coronavirus news this bit of reporting from The New York Times, positing that whitetail deer, which have become practically ubiquitous in much of the continental U.S., could be living laboratories for new variants to mutate and spread to other animals or even back to people. Scientists are alarmed by research in Iowa that found more than 60% of the deer sampled after harvesting by hunters or a fatal encounter on the road in 2020 were infected. “I wouldn’t be surprised if more sampling uncovers the fact that these are not necessarily sporadic events,” Dr. Samira Mubareka, a virologist at Sunnybrook Research Institute and the University of Toronto, told The Times.

SWING AND AMISS: Someone posted a video on Twitter the other day of a baseball hitter — smallish in the frame because the camera is behind the pitcher — asking if anyone had any advice. A youth baseball coach from Indiana responded, in part, “That swing gives you one point of contact,” and that he’d much rather have line-drive hitters than guys who hit .150 with an occasional home run. The player in the video was Mike Trout, on his way to becoming one of the game’s all-time greats. Trout lived up to his reputation as a class act, too.

LIVES

YALE KAMISAR was new to the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1950 when he began digging into issues of criminal procedure, a then-obscure facet of the law that would become his passion and life’s work. His work coincided with an awakening to the rights of the accused, and the Supreme Court first cited him in a 1963 case establishing the right to legal counsel in criminal proceedings. His scholarship was the foundation of the 1966 Miranda ruling, which gave criminal defendants the right to remain silent. He was 92.

GERALD WILLIAMS was a journeyman major league outfielder whose minor league career included time with the former Albany-Colonie Yankees. He was traded in midseason by the Yankees in 1996, a team that would go on to win the championship. He would play with six teams during his 14-year career, but enjoyed an enduring friendship with his former teammate and Yankees legend Derek Jeter, who announced his death at 55 of cancer.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“I have long understood that losing always comes with the territory when you wander into the gambling business, just as getting crippled for life is an acceptable risk in the linebacker business. They both are extremely violent sports, and pain is part of the bargain. Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
— Hunter S. Thompson

THE SIGNOFF

JUST CALL HIM DEUCE: Linkyn James Kidd made his entrance to the world in Canandaigua, N.Y., a few weeks early and ended up with an unforgettable combination — born at 2:22 p.m. 2/2/22.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Pat Gormley, John Bulmer, Bob Heunemann, Tara Hutchins, Claire P. Tuttle, Kelly Donahue, and Katie Alessi.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback.  

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

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