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Newsletter. Issue 2009-14. July 04, 2009

 
 
 
Newsline Canada
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People Places and Things
 

New appointments to the Order of Canada
http://www.gg.ca/media/doc.asp?lang=e&DocID=5815

Mahmood Naqvi, C.M., O.N.S.
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Member of the Order of Canada

For introducing major improvements to health care services for the people of Cape Breton as a surgeon and administrator for over 40 years.

Krishna Kumar, C.M., S.O.M.
Regina, Saskatchewan
Member of the Order of Canada

For his contributions as a clinical professor and researcher in neurosurgery, and for the development of innovative brain and spinal implants used for the treatment of chronic pain. Dr. Krishna Kumar looks over X-Rays in his Regina office.
Photograph by : Don Healy, Leader-Post

See also below

Indian neurosurgeon gets top Canadian award
http://www.sindhtoday.net/news/1/26049.htm
July 2nd, 2009 SindhToday


Toronto, July 2 (IANS) An internationally recognised Indian Canadian neurosurgeon is among 60 people honoured with the Order of Canada this year.

The top civilian awards were announced Wednesday to mark Canada Day, which celebrates the birth of the country as a confederation in 1867. Regina-based neurosurgeon Krishna Kumar, who is internationally known for his research in treating chronic pain, was given the honour for his pioneering work in medical sciences.

A statement from Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean said Kumar is being honoured “for his contributions as a clinical professor and researcher in neurosurgery, and for the development of innovative brain and spinal implants used for the treatment of chronic pain”. Based in Saskatchewan province of Canada, 78-year-old Kumar has practised neurosurgery in Canada for almost five decades.

Apart from receiving almost two dozen national and international awards, he has also been honoured with two lecturerships named after him. Last year, he was named the provincial Saskatchewan Physician of the Year for his medical services.

Bestowing the honour on Kumar, Milo Fink, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, had summed up his contribution, saying, “He (Kumar) has been a pioneer in the management of pain with neurosurgical procedures and the bulk of his international reputation is based upon such procedures as spinal stimulation and deep brain implants.”

The Indian neurosurgeon is famous for treating chronic pain with spinal implant therapy rather than conventional therapies. To avoid the need for pain medication, he has also developed a programmable and implantable pump for patients. Further, he has also pioneered a deep brain stimulation technique in which an electrode delivers low-voltage stimulation to the brain to reduce the feeling of chronic pain.

Kumar’s pioneering work has been featured in a documentary called “Living with Pain”.

Started in 1967 during Canada’s 100th anniversary, the Order of Canada recognises Canadians for their accomplishments in various walks of life. Many Indian Canadians have received this award which is presented at a grand ceremony in the nation’s capital Ottawa.

 

TEGSA's Trip to Fallsview Casino
Sal Rocha

A busload of TEGSA members left Agincourt Mall on Saturday 20th June for a fun filled day of wine tasting and gambling at Fallsview Casino, Niagara Falls. The event was put together by our Trips Coordinator Flavia de Souza and ably helped by Austin Viegas, our assistant treasurer, who kept a keen eye on the flow of money going too and fro, mainly fro. After prayers were said for a safe trip, sandwiches and water were handed out and a game of horseracing began. Toy horses numbered 1 to 6 were propelled by means of two dice rolled and the resulting numbers moved the horse. There were some tense moments when horse #4 was accused of making an unscheduled move and the same horse of being on steroids. Eventually #4 was declared the winner. Phil D'Silva, Lou Fernandes, Theresa D'souza, Ophelia Gonsalves and Guilhermine Pereira were awarded $8.00 each. Winner of another quiz was Meera Mathias who collected $5.00

The visit to Kittling Ridge Winnery was informative and intoxicating. On the information side we were told that they produced 72 different wines and two Canadian Whiskies one of which won an award. An interesting piece of information was how the Winnery got its name. Apparently this particular piece of land faces a mountain which rebounds the warm air and gives the area 6 weeks of extra growth. Also migratory birds like the perrigrine falcon, eagles and hawks use this area to rest and then catch the warm air current to travel across Lake Ontario. This is known as "Kittling."

The gambling at the Casino did not produce any windfall winners (or if there were they did not tell us about it). Anyway the five hours of gambling, including lunch was enjoyable if not profitable. On the way back a quiz question was won by Nilda Viegas and another by Lawrence Dias. Both collected a bottle of wine each. The trip concluded with the showing of a movie "Bend it like Beckham" featuring an Indian female football player in England.

 

Study Unlocks Genetic Diversity in Africa
http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2009-05/2009-05-03-voa1.cfm 
By Jessica Berman | Washington


A group of scientists has unveiled what they say is the most comprehensive study ever of African genes which they say gives new insight into the origins of humans. The genetic study, a compilation of two big studies, confirms theories that modern humans evolved in Africa and then migrated through Europe and Asia to reach the Pacific and Americas. The study also shows that Africans have the most diverse DNA, and the fewest potentially harmful genetic mutations.

Published in the US journal Science, researchers examined genetic material from 121 African populations, as well as four African-American populations and 60 non-African populations. The study aims to teach Africans on population history and aid research into why diseases hit particular groups.

The researchers found that after a population of humans migrated off the African continent, the group shrank for some unknown reason. Later populations grew and spread from this smaller genetic pool of ancestors. Populations that remained in Africa kept their genetic diversity.

Sarah Tishkoff, a geneticist from the University of Pennsylvania, says the results provided insights about levels and patterns of genetic diversity in Africa. "That population had the highest levels of mixed ancestry on a global level. So, they had almost equal proportions of ancestry from Europeans. They also showed ancestry from East Asia, probably reflecting Southeast Asian ancestry, a little bit of Oceanic ancestry as well as south Indian ancestry," she said.

 

Book Review - Stranger to History

A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands
Written by Aatish Taseer

Category: Biography & Autobiography - Personal Memoirs

Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
ISBN: 978-0-7710-8425-6 (0-7710-8425-0)

Pub Date: February 17, 2009
Price: $32.99

Read Review from Asian Age
A personalised study of Muslim identity

About this Book

As a child, all Aatish Taseer ever had of his father was his photograph in a browning silver frame. Raised by his Sikh mother in Delhi, his Pakistani father remained a distant figure, almost a figment of his imagination, until Aatish crossed the border when he was twenty-one to finally meet him. In the years that followed, the relationship between father and son revived, then fell apart. For Aatish, their tension had not just to do with the tensions of a son rediscovering his absent father — they were intensified by the fact that Aatish was Indian, his father Pakistani and Muslim. It had complicated his parents’ relationship; now it complicated his.

The relationship forced Aatish to ask larger questions: Why did being Muslim mean that your allegiances went out to other Muslims before the citizens of your own country? Why did his father, despite claiming to be irreligious, describe himself as a ‘cultural Muslim’? Why did Muslims see modernity as a threat? What made Islam a trump identity?

Read Review from Asian Age
A personalised study of Muslim identity
By Shobha Sengupta

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/asian-age-plus/books-plus

In Stranger to History, 28-year-old Aatish Taseer has written a remarkable memoir that combines history, travelogue, and an objective analysis of the Islamic faith and its followers in Britain, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Uniquely placed as he is — being half-Sikh, half-Muslim; his mother an Indian, his estranged father a Pakistani — Taseer has transcended personal pain, and used it as a tool and medium to achieve a personalised study of Muslim identity.

Having grown up in secular, pluralist India, his early influences were his elite Sikh cousins and grandparents, a Christian boarding school, and He-man cartoons. What gives the book a sharp poignancy and focus is the absence of his father, a Pakistani politician who is currently the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Stranger to History is a book straight from the heart, the search of a son for his father and a faith that is so entwined with politics that it became reason enough for a politician to abandon a son. His mother is senior Delhi journalist Tavleen Singh, who had a shortlived relationship in 1980 with Salman Taseer, a Pakistani who had come to India to promote his biography of his hero and political mentor, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. This biography was his entry vehicle into politics, which, however, propelled him to abandon mother and child in London within two years of his birth. In 2005, Aatish Taseer, then a journalist in London, wrote the cover story for an international magazine on the radicalisation of second-generation British Pakistanis. He sent it to his father, who sent him a furious reply, accusing him of spreading "invidious anti-Muslim propaganda" and destroying the family name. The son’s attitude, in contrast, is contained in the nutshell of this small conversation: "My mother’s Sikh and my father’s Muslim." "Yes, yes, so you’re Muslim."

"I’m nothing.. Don’t you have to believe certain things to be a Muslim?"

In Turkey, Taseer talks to a student at the Islamic Cultural Centre who explains the Western worldview as "anthrocentric" and "putting man at the centre", whereas the Muslim "system is theocentric". For the non-Muslim, it is man who is prominent instead of "God, progress instead of the afterlife, reason instead of faith". Syria is a country closed for decades and its people had received only propaganda. Here, ironically, the mosque becomes the only place for people to congregate and discuss politics. What happens in Damascus, Taseer explains in miniature by a story, whose "small domesticity hides the hysteria in the background".

It is the story of a man who asks the mullah if his wife can apply nail polish and is surprised to learn that she can. Then comes the catch: every time she prays, she has to wash it off — five times a day."And so, the faith deals with the nail polish in its own way but never confronts the real offence: the triumph of the other society, the "world system", of which the appeal of its nail polish is so soft yet potent a symbol."

In Iran, "at a time when people might have needed religion most, a hybrid of the world’s two most pernicious varieties, the bureaucrat and the cleric, was in charge of it." The most powerful section of the book however, lies in the writer’s analysis of the Pakistani state. "Pakistan’s assertion of Islamic identity was not the theocracy of Iran. It was through purifying its population of non-Muslims, conducting the transfers of people... that the new state realised its aims."

Yet, at birth, Pakistan was not an Islamic republic, but "a secular state for Indian Muslims". Over time, it became "Islamic" and a land which allowed a more homogenous, all-consuming faith to make inroads into the imagination of the populace. And so, the Sufism of Sindh and the Punjab was in retreat and Wahhabi Islam on the rise.

Stranger to History is an engaging political travelogue, and the political analysis of Islamic faith and its bearing on the social lives of people fuses powerfully in the last part of the book, which finds Aatish Taseer at home in Pakistan, and witnessing the assassination of Benazir Bhutto alongside his father, whose political allegiance has by now shifted to Pervez Musharraf. A sense of personal disappointment and intellectual outrage gives the edge to an easy-flowing narrative, though it is balanced by the view: "I felt lucky to have both countries; I felt that I’d been given what Partition had denied many." Sir Vidia Naipaul has justly called Aatish Taseer a writer to watch. Taseer’s translation of Manto have already received much critical acclaim; and he is now writing a much-awaited debut novel, The Temple-Goers, which is set in contemporary Delhi.

Shobha Sengupta is the owner of Quill and Canvas, a bookstore-cum-art gallery in Gurgaon

 

China Reins in Wilder Impulses in Treatment of ‘Internet Addiction’
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/324/5935/1630 
Richard Stone


No one doubts that logging long hours on the Internet can erode quality of life and on occasion can lead to ruinous consequences. In China alone, it's estimated that 5 million of the country's 300 million Internet users are "Internet addicts." Adolescents are especially vulnerable. But there is no meeting of the minds on whether Internet addiction is a genuine disorder. An American Psychiatric Association panel is now weighing whether to include Internet addiction in the fifth edition of the field's practices bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, planned for release in 2012. In China, the official view appears to be that Internet addiction is a genuine disorder, but attitudes are shifting about how aggressively it should be treated.

 

A Billion-Year Hard Drive
http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/529/1
By Phil Berardelli | ScienceNOW Daily News | 29 May 2009


That embarrassing home movie of you naked in the tub could still be around millions of years from now, along with your less-than-eloquent posts on Facebook and Twitter. Researchers have developed a new technology based on carbon nanotubes that promises to permanently preserve individual bits of data, such as those found on computer hard drives and DVDs. If so, the technology could lead to data archives holding the entirety of human thought and communications potentially forever.

As our technological society has progressed, storing and retrieving data has actually grown more difficult. One notable example is the Domesday Book, a record of English settlements compiled by William the Conqueror in 1085. The document survives in a secure, environmentally controlled facility, but a digitized version produced in 1986 lasted only 20 years: Magnetic patterns embedded in the computer disk degraded steadily over time. Likewise, home movies shot on Kodachrome film have preserved family memories for more than 60 years, whereas videotapes can deteriorate in less than a decade. And some DVDs have shown signs of image loss even more quickly, because their plastic and glue layers have turned out to be relatively fragile and are vulnerable to sunlight exposure and mishandling--a phenomenon called DVD rot.


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