Archive for November 18th, 2011

New Neurological Test By a Pakistani

By Suhail Yusuf for Dawn.com

A Pakistani scholar has devised a non-invasive way to sense brain pressure which could significantly change the current paradigm of neurological care of those suffering from brain injury or disease.

Monitoring intracranial pressure (ICP) is the most important thing to assess brain injury, hemorrhage (internal blood flow), tumors and other neurological problems. But current methods to measure this pressure are highly invasive – requiring a neurosurgeon to drill a hole in the skull to place a pressure sensor or catheter inside the brain – and are thus restricted to the very severe cases.

Pakistani scientist, Faisal Kashif has devised a non-invasive technology for ICP monitoring in his PhD thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US. The method is based on processing available clinical signals using a mathematical model of relevant physiology. It provides real time estimates of ICP and cerebrovascular impedance, the latter is an indicator of brain’s ability to maintain its blood supply.

“ICP is a key neurological vital sign and is affected in several brain pathologies – even in concussions and migranes – and this non-invasive method could help in monitoring a vastly larger pool of patients,” said Kashif. He further added that unlike the invasive approaches which require a neurosurgical facility, the non-invasive method can also be applied in emergency-care settings where most trauma patients are first brought. Having access to ICP in a timely manner can guide doctors to provide life-saving interventions.

The initial validation studies show that the new method is equally precise as compared to other painful surgery based procedures. Now Kashif and his colleagues are setting up their prototype device for real time monitoring by the doctors, and to run relevant clinical trials. He is also hopeful that the device could be easily developed in Pakistan as well.

The Helen Carr Peake research prize

In April this year, Dr. Faisal Kashif won MIT’s Helen Carr Peake research prize for his doctoral thesis contributions to the field of bioengineering. He has also presented his findings at two major international conferences, American Heart Association’s Stroke 2010 in US, and ICP 2010 in Germany.

His research work was also declared as “Most Innovative Research” at the Innovation Congress 2009, Boston, US. In 2000, he was awarded two Gold Medals at Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Technology (GIKI) and won four years HEC’s overseas scholarships as he was accepted for the doctorate program at MIT, though he only partially used these funds as support became available from MIT’s research, teaching and a medical engineering fellowship, which he was awarded for his proposed research.

A Thesis dedicated to Pakistan

His doctoral thesis entitled “Modeling and estimation for non-invasive monitoring of intracranial pressure and cerebrovascular autoregulation” was a milestone in Kashif’s career. Four years ago, in his Masters thesis, he developed a method for efficient communication through a nonlinear channel, such as the one encountered in satellite and optical fiber links. He dedicated this thesis to his parents and to all the martyrs of independence, which shows his dedication to Pakistan.

“I am proud to be a Pakistani because I know the reasons for its creation. I am very happy to associate my honours to the ideology behind it. I want to do a lot more Insha-Allah, and contribute in all ways I can,” he told to Dawn.com.

Pak Bans Dirty Texting: Just Say No To Monkey Crotch

By Shivam Vij for FirstPost

You cannot SMS ullu chod in Pakistan anymore. Nor can you SMS monkey crotch if you had any reason to do so.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has banned 1,795 expletives on SMS, ordering telecom companies to filter out SMS-es containing these offending words with effect from 21 November 2011. The letter includes a list of 1,109 English words, more pornographic terms than expletives, and another 586 Urdu words which are more colourful sexual expletives of the standard South Asian kind rather than the plain garden variety pornography.

A letter from the PTA, dated 14 November and signed by its Director General (Services), Muhammed Talib Doger invokes the “Protection from Spam, Unsolicited, Fraudulent and Obnoxious Communication Regulations, 2009″ to pass the order.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has banned 1,795 expletives on SMS, ordering telecom companies to filter out SMS-es containing these offending words with effect from 21 November 2011. Vivek Prakash/Reuters
The Pakistani Twitterverse was on fire last night as the two lists make for hilarious reading. The English list begins with A.S.S. and ends with yellowman. Some words sound harmless (crap and crappy), others bizarre (Jesus Christ, flatulence, murder, monkey crotch). Many are commonly used obscene words (“FUCK YOU”) and care has been taken to account for alternative spellings (biatch, muthafucka). While many spelling variations of ‘masturbation’ are on it, the correct spelling is not. Most words seem to be designed to prevent ‘sexting’ or sending sexually explicit texts (sexy, lick me, do me, S&M, lotion and porn). The list comes down on anal sex as much as vaginal sex. But it isn’t just sex. By banning drunken they perhaps hope to reduce alcoholism.

The Express Tribune points out, “While much of the list contains expletives, a number of words to be banned include medical terms, terms used by particular minority groups, common words from the English language and rap group, Wu Tang Clan.” The ‘medical terms’ include athelete’s foot, breast, intercourse, condom and period. The ‘daily use’ terms include hole, hostage and harder. Words like gay and homosexual don’t surprise but it’s curious why wuutang raised the censor’s hackles.

In fact, thanks to this helpful compendium many Pakistanis are finding their expletive vocabulary enhanced. @UroojZia asked what bumblefuck and ladyboog meant.

@Zakoota said the lists should be required reading in schools to give children the vocabulary to describe politicians and cricketers. With the amount of phrases that include the word “BUTT”, @KhaLeak wondered if Aijaz Butt was banned as well.

The Urdu list has standard gaalis also popular in north India, but many of them may not be familiar to Indians (such as “dani mani fudi chus“). Some are unfamiliar even to Pakistanis. @FurhanHussain said the presence of Punjabi gaalis in the Urdu list amounted to cheating, but others noted that there is no list of Sindhi and Punjabi language expletives, a grievous omission given that the Punjabi language is particularly full of colourful expletives.

“Padosi ki aulaad” doesn’t sound very obscene. There are some 15 spelling and gender variations of ‘kanjar’, a popular Pakistani expletive meaning dancing girls, often also used to describe cross-dressing or men dancing like women. Some of the Urdu ones are quite creative. There are four variations of “Chipkali ke gaand ke pasine” and some are inexplicable (“Nimbu sharbat“, “carrom board”) and some are zoologically bizarre (“ullu chod” or owl fucker). Some are rather vanilla everyday terms like “Buckwaas” (nonsense) and “Bewakoof” (foolish).

There were so many oddball terms in there at first people though it was a spoof. However, Shahzad Ahmad, an internet rights activist who tweets as @bytesforall, said he confirmed with a source at the PTA that the list was real. The Express Tribune story referred to above has been updated to quote a PTA spokesperson who denied knowledge of any letter and said that the PTA “does not take such decisions and only passes on the instructions to licensees once a decision is taken by a ministerial committee.” The PTA, which is also in the news for directing ISPs to block access to 1,71,261 pornographic sites, is said to have convened a meeting this morning to discuss the uproar.

It’s unclear how telecom companies who cannot even filter out commercial spam will be able to handle this new morality burden. But Pakistanis, used to growing online censorship administered by the PTA, took little time to come up with the obvious workaround to the SMS censorship. The offending words are numbered on the blacklist. Many including @SamadK came up with the idea, “Now instead of typing the whole gaali you just need to send the number. Thank you PTA for making is even lazier.”

Many have already started testing it: @KhanDanish tweeted “I hope Imran Farhat 143 doesn’t do 471 in Friday’s match. #Urdu.”

The Urdu list is here and the English list here.

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