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TexasTowelie's Journal
TexasTowelie's Journal
March 3, 2013

Finding new uses for IBM’s famed Watson computer

Statesman: The highlight of Project Watson’s career so far seems to be winning Jeopardy. What has IBM done since “Jeopardy” to find useful work for Watson to do?

We looked at a variety of information-intensive markets such as insurance, health care, telecom and banking when deciding where next to apply Watson technology. It became clear that the most pressing need, and where we thought we could make the biggest impact, was in the health-care field – specifically, applying Watson-based technology to improving cancer care. On “Jeopardy,” we were able to demonstrate how quickly Watson processes, weighs and evaluates information and it sparked our imagination to think of what sort of effect access to that breadth of knowledge, coupled with speed and accuracy, could have on medical practitioners, researchers and patients worldwide.

Within roughly a year of Watson’s “Jeopardy” debut, IBM partnered with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and one of the largest insurers in America, WellPoint, to develop solutions based on Watson technology that would help improve cancer treatments and also increase efficiency and accuracy in medical pre-authorizations. We have since deployed a Watson Healthcare solution in production and early results reinforce the promise that Watson holds of a better quality of life for patients as they receive better, more personalized care that is based on the best available medical knowledge.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/business/finding-new-uses-for-ibms-famed-watson-computer/nWcsr/ .
March 2, 2013

Texas Senate Bill would raise smoking age to 21


Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti is sponsoring a bill that would raise the legal smoking age, from 18 to 21. Senate Bill 313 would prohibit anyone under the age of 21 who is caught purchasing or possessing tobacco, with a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $500 fine.

"If we are serious about stemming the epidemic of tobacco-related diseases and the misery they cause, we must steer people away from the potentially devastating choice of addiction," Uresti said. "This bill recognizes and takes advantage of a simple fact. The later one tries that first cigarette, the less likely they are to become a lifetime user."

State lawmakers, however, have disagreed the past several years, as Uresti has unsuccessfully tried to raise the smoking age in his previous attempts in the legislature.

If tobacco became illegal for those between the ages of 18 and 20, the State’s Legislative Budget Board estimates that the law would decrease sales at a rate of 33%, and cost the state more than $100 million in lost tax revenue over the next five years.

More at http://www.ksat.com/news/politics/Texas-Senate-Bill-would-raise-smoking-age-to-21/-/2567674/19147620/-/uq23aoz/-/index.html .

March 2, 2013

SpaceX rocket launched but problem with thrusters

Source: AP

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A commercial vessel carrying a ton of supplies for the International Space Station ran into trouble shortly after liftoff Friday.

SpaceX's billionaire founder Elon Musk reported a problem with the thrusters on the unmanned spacecraft, named Dragon. Three of the four sets of thrusters did not kick in, he said via Twitter, and flight controllers for the company were trying to override the system.

Musk said from SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne, Calif., that he wants at least two thruster pods active before the twin solar panels that provide power are deployed.

NASA flight controllers in Houston offered help as they monitored space station operations.

Read more: http://www.wfaa.com/news/technology/SpaceX-rocket-launched-but-problem-with-thrusters-194315161.html

More at link.
March 2, 2013

Black cougar sightings have neighborhood on alert

[font color=green]If you thought that this story would be about wealthy, older African-American women looking for love, then you clicked the wrong thread.

I know--bad TexasTowelie. [/font]

Waco police and animal control officers have set traps in northwest Waco following reports of black mountain lions roaming the Landon Branch neighborhood.

Two women — Julie and her daughter, Sarah — are among those who have kept Waco police and animal control officers aware of their sightings since claiming they first saw the family of four black mountain lions near Park Lake and Mac-Arthur drives around September.

The mother and daughter say city officials told them not to reveal their last names or addresses, for fear that hunters with high-powered rifles or animal rights groups trying to protect the cats may encroach on their property.

Animal control officers set out traps for the reclusive, elusive animals a few months ago but did not catch them or confirm their presence in the area, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said. A few residents also installed motion-sensing cameras on their properties but did not snap an image of a black mountain lion, Swanton said.

More at http://www.wacotrib.com/news/city_of_waco/waco_police/black-cougar-sightings-have-waco-neighborhood-on-alert/article_8af461b0-6ee7-5428-9135-a7053f267d86.html .

March 2, 2013

87,000 Texans facing cut in jobless benefits

Approximately 87,000 Texans will see their unemployment compensation benefits drop as much as $44 a week beginning at the end of March as a result of federal sequestration, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

Unemployed Texans who have exhausted their original 26 weeks of unemployment benefits and now are receiving federal extended benefits will see their weekly pay cut by 10 percent, according to the commission.

The cut will not affect the initial 26 weeks of benefits, which are funded by a state payroll tax on employers.

However, because of the high rate of unemployment, the federal government provides eligible unemployed workers with additional benefits depending on a state's jobless rate. In Texas, job seekers are eligible to receive an additional 37 weeks of federally funded jobless benefits.

More at http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/article/87-000-Texans-facing-cut-in-jobless-benefits-4321931.php .

[font color=green]The maximum unemployment benefit in Texas is $415 per week.[/font]

March 2, 2013

Legislature likely to debate statewide property tax to fund public schools

AUSTIN — A debate whether the state should have a statewide property tax to fund the public school system should soon take place in the Legislature.

In a repeat of 2011, on or before Friday — the deadline to fill bills in the 83rd Texas Legislature — Sen. Robert Duncan plans to file a measure that would replace local property taxes with a statewide tax. Local property taxes have largely funded the public school system since Texas became a state in the mid-19th century.

But unlike two years ago, or in previous sessions when the proposal was just floated, Duncan, R-Lubbock, expects more than a debate on the merits of his proposed legislation.

“The bill we filed last time was based on current law at that time,” he said in reference to what was in place two years ago, before the Legislature approved a $5.4 billion funding cut to public education to offset a $27 billion shortfall.

More at http://lubbockonline.com/local-news/2013-03-01/legislature-likely-debate-statewide-property-tax-fund-public-schools .

March 2, 2013

Newtown tragedy inspires Texas mental health bill

Texas Sen. Dr. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, has filed a bill to fund free, voluntary mental health first aid training for teachers.

Schwertner, whose district includes Bryan and College Station, filed the bill on Thursday, which was Mental Illness Awareness Day.

"I, and the Legislature, understand that the issue of mental health needs to be addressed, and that awareness and the stigma and the resources dedicated to mental health illnesses need to all be a part of that discussion," Schwertner said.


Schwertner stressed that teacher participation was voluntary and that the training would satisfy 12 hours of continuing professional education required of teachers by the Texas Education Agency.

More at http://www.theeagle.com/news/local/article_f50f31ea-fbf0-5574-900f-1497b412a039.html .

March 2, 2013

Former Boy Scouts seeking $15 million in sex abuse case (Austin)

Three men are seeking $15 million in damages from the regional council of the Boy Scouts of America, alleging that the organization failed to investigate a longtime troop leader who sexually abused them as children — even after a parent reported his behavior.

Martin E. Turner, the volunteer who abused the victims, and his wife, Elizabeth Turner, also are defendants in the civil trial, which began this week in Travis County district court and is expected to last through next week. A jury of nine women and three men will determine the verdict.

Turner, a registered Scout leader from 1980 until the time of his arrest in 2006, pleaded guilty in 2008 to two counts of indecency with a child and one count of attempted indecency with a child, according to court and Boy Scout records. Travis County District Judge Wilford Flowers sentenced him to five years in prison and 10 years’ deferred adjudication, a type of probation.

On the witness stand Friday, one of the plaintiffs — all of whom are in their 20s — testified that the punishment was a slap in the face and a direct insult to his family. He said Turner molested him multiple times from when he was 11 until he went off to college. Turner also molested his two brothers, said the young man, whose name is being withheld because the American-Statesman does not publish the names of sexual abuse victims.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/former-boy-scouts-seeking-15-million-in-sex-abuse-/nWfDh/ .

March 2, 2013

Show off your independent streak today, Texans!

Today is the day to celebrate Texas.

Put out your flag. Grill a steak and wash it down with Shiner Bock. Listen to some Robert Earl Keen or Elida Reyna. See that new opera (yes, opera) called “The Hotel Casablanca.” It’s set in Texas.

Or the new look at Frontier Texas! where there is an all-day celebration and grand re-opening, so to speak, with a new exhibit and "twirling" buffalo high in the sky.

Do whatever it is that makes you proud to be a Texan, whether you’re a native or a Johnny Bob-come-lately.

More at http://www.reporternews.com/news/2013/mar/01/show-our-your-independent-streak-saturday-texans/ .

March 2, 2013

Brennan High Schooler says pulled pic is discrimination

Lialani Hernandez (left) and Felicia Rivera cuddle in a photo deemed too racy for the Brennan High School yearbook. Photo: Courtesy Photo

A Brennan High School student is gathering signatures for a petition in response to what she believes is a case of discrimination.

Felicia Rivera, 16, was incensed when a fellow classmate told her last Friday that the school's yearbook supervisor, Amey Graybeal, pulled a photo depicting Felicia and her girlfriend, Lialani Hernandez, 17, cuddling at school.

The photo had been included on a page featuring six couples for Valentine's Day. Felicia believes Graybeal pulled the photo because the girls are a gay couple.

“On Friday, February 22, 2013, the yearbook staff refused to put a gay couple on the couple's page in the yearbook,” reads the petition. “They claimed that they have nothing against gay rights, but are scared of how much criticism the school would get and how parents of straight people would refuse to buy the yearbooks.”

More at http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Brennan-High-Schooler-says-pulled-pic-is-4321787.php .

Cross-posted in Texas (Group) at http://www.democraticunderground.com/10786638 .

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 113,562

About TexasTowelie

Retired/disabled middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!
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