Ethel Gabriel, a Rare Woman in the Record World, Dies at 99

Ethel Gabriel, who in more than 40 years at RCA Victor is thought to have produced thousands of records, many at a time when almost no women were doing that work at major labels, died on March 23 in Rochester, N.Y. She was 99.

Her nephew, Ed Mauro, her closest living relative, confirmed her death.

Ms. Gabriel began working at RCA’s plant in Camden, N.J., in 1940 while a student at Temple University in Philadelphia. One of her early jobs was as a record tester — she would pull one in every 500 records and listen to it for manufacturing imperfections.

“If it was a hit,” she told The Pocono Record of Pennsylvania in 2007, “I got to know every note because I had to play it over and over and over.”

She also had a music background — she played trombone and had her own dance band in the 1930s and early ’40s — and her skill set earned her more and more responsibility, as well as the occasional role in shaping music history. She said she was on hand at the 1955 meeting in which the RCA executive Stephen Sholes signed Elvis Presley, who had been with Sun Records. She had a hand in “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” the 1955 instrumental hit by Pérez Prado that helped ignite a mambo craze in the United States.

Caroline Losneck and Christoph Gelfand, documentary filmmakers, were at work on “Living Sound,” a film about her.

Ms. Losneck, in a phone interview, said they had been hoping to complete the documentary by Ms. Gabriel’s 100th birthday this November.

Ms. Losneck said Ms. Gabriel had survived in a tough business through productivity and competence.

“She knew who to call when she needed an organist,” she said. “She knew how to manage the budget. All that gave her a measure of control.”

Many of the records Ms. Gabriel made fit into a category often marginalized as elevator music.

“It’s easy to look back on that music now and say it was kind of cheesy,” Ms. Losneck said, “but back then it was part of the cultural landscape.”

Toward the end of her career, as more women began entering the field, Ms. Gabriel was both an example and a mentor. Nancy Jeffries, who went to work in RCA’s artists-and-repertoire department in 1974 and had earlier sung with the band the Insect Trust, was one of those who learned from her.

who persuaded her to turn over to him her retirement package — more than $250,000 — so that he could invest it in the hope that the proceeds would finance future music ventures. The money disappeared, and Mr. Anderson, who died in 1989, was later convicted of tax evasion.

Ms. Gabriel lived in the Poconos for a number of years before moving to a care center in Rochester to be near Mr. Mauro and his family. As she died at a hospital there, Mr. Mauro said, the staff had Sinatra songs playing in her room.

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Turing Award Goes to Creators of Computer Programming Building Blocks

When Alfred Aho and Jeffrey Ullman met while waiting in the registration line on their first day of graduate school at Princeton University in 1963, computer science was still a strange new world.

Using a computer required a set of esoteric skills typically reserved for trained engineers and mathematicians. But today, thanks in part to the work of Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman, practically anyone can use a computer and program it to perform new tasks.

On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest society of computing professionals, said Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman would receive this year’s Turing Award for their work on the fundamental concepts that underpin computer programming languages. Given since 1966 and often called the Nobel Prize of computing, the Turing Award comes with a $1 million prize, which the two academics and longtime friends will split.

Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman helped refine one of the key components of a computer: the “compiler” that takes in software programs written by humans and turns them into something computers can understand.

rely on the strange behavior exhibited by things like electrons or exotic metals cooled to several hundred degrees below zero.

Quantum computers rely on a completely different kind of physical behavior from traditional computers. But as they create programming languages for these machines, Dr. Svore and her colleagues are still drawing on the work of the latest Turing winners.

“We are building on the same techniques,” she said.

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Another Class of Covid Faces Curtailed Commencements

Yale plans to hold a version of in-person graduation for the class of 2021 in May — with no guests allowed. Harvard is not even calling its commencement a “commencement.” It plans to hold virtual degree-granting ceremonies and, for the second year in a row, will postpone traditional festivities.

The universities of South Florida, Southern California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt, Rochester and Kentucky, among others, are holding in-person commencements, but with differing rules about guests.

So it goes in this second graduation season of the pandemic. Day by day, another university announces commencement plans, and given the uncertainty created by the coronavirus, the decisions are breaking in opposite ways.

Prairie View A&M in Texas plans to hold live commencements, even as, somewhat surreally, the president of the college, Ruth Simmons, will be delivering the principal address at Harvard’s virtual commencement.

New York Times database. Vaccinations have also picked up, averaging about 2.5 million shots a day, as eligibility expands in several states.

Experts warn, however, that dangerous variants could lead to a spike in cases and states that lift restrictions could be acting prematurely.

Many universities are stipulating that in order to participate in graduation, students must have tested negative for the coronavirus before the ceremony and have a good record of adhering to campus policies created to guard against infection.

Peter Salovey, the president of Yale, said in a statement last week that the university would be recognizing graduation by holding in-person gatherings “on or around May 24, if public health conditions permit.” Students studying both on campus and remotely are invited, but not their guests. Mr. Salovey said Yale was excluding families because it seemed unlikely that everybody would be vaccinated by graduation day.

Harvard was one of the first universities to evacuate its campus in mid-March last year, and it is still in caution mode. In an email to students on Feb. 26, its president, Lawrence Bacow, said that postponing live commencement for two years running was “deeply disappointing, but public health and safety must continue to take precedence.”

80,000 people. The university will hold two ceremonies on May 8, but graduates cannot bring guests.

Princeton plans to hold an outdoor commencement at its stadium for students who have taken part in the testing program and who live on or near campus. It is also considering extending the invitation to students learning virtually.

New York University and Stanford University have also announced plans to hold virtual celebrations.

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