Studs Terkel dies

The author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol has died. “My epitaph? My epitaph will be ‘Curiosity did not kill this cat,'” he once said.

Louis Terkel arrived here as a child from New York City and in Chicago found not only a new name but a place that perfectly matched–in its energy, its swagger, its charms, its heart–his own personality. They made a perfect and enduring pair.

Author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol Louis “Studs” Terkel died today at his Chicago home at age 96.

At his bedside was a copy of his latest book, “P.S. Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening,” scheduled for a November release.

Beset in recent years by a variety of ailments and the woes of age, which included being virtually deaf, Terkel’s health took a turn for the worse when he suffered a fall in his home two weeks ago.

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Mathematician Cracks Mystery Beatles Chord

ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2008) — It’s the most famous chord in rock ‘n’ roll, an instantly recognizable twang rolling through the open strings on George Harrison’s 12-string Rickenbacker. It evokes a Pavlovian response from music fans as they sing along to the refrain that follows:It’s been a hard day’s night
And I’ve been working like a dog

The opening chord to A Hard Day’s Night is also famous because for 40 years, no one quite knew exactly what chord Harrison was playing. Musicians, scholars and amateur guitar players alike had all come up with their own theories, but it took a Dalhousie mathematician to figure out the exact formula.

“I started playing guitar because I heard a Beatles record—that was it for my piano lessons,” says Jason Brown of Dalhousie’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics with a good laugh. “I had tried to play the first chord of the song many takes over the years. It sounds outlandish that someone could create a mystery around a chord from a time where artists used such simple recording techniques. It’s quite remarkable.”

Four years ago, inspired by reading news coverage about the song’s 40th anniversary, Dr. Brown decided to try and see if he could apply a mathematical calculation known as Fourier transform to solve the Beatles’ riddle. The process allowed him to decompose the sound into its original frequencies using computer software and parse out which notes were on the record.


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Calif. to cut water deliveries to cities, farms

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California said Thursday that it plans to cut water deliveries to their second-lowest level ever next year, raising the prospect of rationing for cities and less planting by farmers.

The Department of Water Resources projects that it will deliver just 15 percent of the amount that local water agencies throughout California request every year.

Since the first State Water Project deliveries were made in 1962, the only time less water was promised was in 1993, but heavy precipitation that year ultimately allowed agencies to receive their full requests.

The reservoirs that are most crucial to the state’s water delivery system are at their lowest levels since 1977, after two years of dry weather and court-ordered restrictions on water pumping out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This year, water agencies received just 35 percent of the water they requested.

Farmers in the Central Valley say they’ll be forced to fallow fields, while cities from the San Francisco Bay area to San Diego might have to require residents to ration water.

Mike Young, a fourth-generation farmer in Kern County, called the projections disastrous.

“For the amount of acres we’ve got, we’re not going to have enough water to farm,” he said.

Young said he will be forced to fallow a fifth of his 5,000 acres. Water will go to his permanent crops — pistachio, almond and cherry trees — but most of his tomatoes and alfalfa will not get planted.

“We’ve got to start spending money on next year’s crop now,” Young said.

Jim Beck, general manager of the Kern County Water Agency, noted that fewer plantings would yield fewer crops and a decrease in the number of farm hands hired.

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