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Increased calls for stricter gun control measures have followed the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in which Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School and gunned down 20 children and six women, including the principal, school psychologist and teachers, before turning a gun on himself.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to investigate legislative measures that could be taken to help stem the growing number of mass shootings and other gun crime. Biden has until the end of January to provide some recommendations and appears set to look at not just gun control but violence in U.S. pop culture and how the country treats its mentally ill.

NRA speaks

Apparently, the NRA’s definition of meaningful includes this revelation: “And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people,” LaPierre said in the televised news conference.”Through vicious, violent video games with names like ‘Bulletstorm,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Mortal Kombat’, and ‘Splatterhouse.’ ”

He then turned to two large flat-screen monitors and played scenes from a crude 2002 Flash game, “Kindergarten Killer,” which isn’t something most Internet users would ever come across, but is easy to find once you know the name. It involves playing the role of a school janitor and shooting young children who themselves have guns.

“It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?” he said, addressing the reporters in the room, from whom he refused to take questions.

LaPierre also criticized violent movies and music videos.

“And then [the media] have the nerve to call it ‘entertainment.’ But is that what it really is? Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?” he said.

Blame game

The “Kindergartner Killer” game, shocking as its premise is, appears to be a game of minor popularity, simply programmed, that few have probably heard about.

The much more famous titles, like those mentioned by LaPierre, are likely to get more attention.

One of the most popular franchises, Activision’s “Call of Duty,” outsells most Hollywood movies. The most recent installment of the game, which typically puts the player as a soldier fighting other soldiers, racked up sales of $1 billion in its first 16 days on the market.

LaPierre’s statement was framed around a call for more guns at schools to protect children from gunmen. That brought quick criticism from several groups, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“NRA officials today blamed everyone but themselves for the conditions that permitted the monstrous attack on the children and teachers in Sandy Hook Elementary School. They said that gun laws don’t work and that pursuing legislation is a waste of time. They proposed instead the equivalent of an arms race,” the group said in a statement.

Entire story updated 12/21/2012 at 3:15 p.m. PDT

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Audi’s Car Parks Itself, Takes Baby Steps Toward Vehicle Automation (Video)

Wouldn’t it be nice if your car could valet itself? That’s right—imagine driving up to a hotel or restaurant, getting out of your car, and pressing a button. Your car would roll up its windows and drive off to find an available parking spot and park itself. Then, when you needed your car again, you could just press another button and it would leave its parking space and drive to where you are.

Automakers are already working on this type of less-intense automated driving. Audi’s proof-of-concept car isn’t quite Google’s self-driving vehicle—there’s no LIDAR laser on the roof, and it can’t drive hundreds of thousands of miles without human interaction (yet). But this car can drive itself into a parking lot, park itself, and drive back out to meet you with the press of a smartphone button.

How it works

Car to owner: “Don’t worry; I’ve got this.”

The Audi proof-of-concept connected car uses multiple built-in sensors to determine whether a spot is open (and large enough for the car to park in) and whether—and how far away—obstacles are from the car. It also uses some “infrastructure-based” sensors to help guide it to the parking garage (sensors built into the road, the walls of the garage, and so on).

In the demonstration we saw, the car worked in tandem with a smartphone app. A rushed “businessman” jumped out of the car, held up his smartphone, and tapped a button in the app. The car, which had been turned off and put into park, restarted itself, rolled up its windows, and drove (slowly) off to the parking garage.

Once inside the parking garage, the car found an empty parking spot (between two cars) and backed itself into the spot. In this particular demonstration, the car used both sensors built into the car and infrastructure-based laser sensors, which were placed along the curb to help guide the car into the parking lot.

Audi’s piloted parking car: not coming soon

Audi’s piloted parking car is an impressive display of technology—especially since it actually uses sensors that are currently built into Audi vehicles: Audi didn’t introduce any new technology for its parking demonstration. However, because of the complications surrounding the self-driving car phenomenon, this particular technology, though not brand new, still isn’t quite ready to come to market.

Audi expects the piloted parking car will be a reality within the next decade, but they can’t be any more specific than that. Also, the company prefers the use of “piloted” rather than “self-driving” or “self-parking,” to describe this technology since part of its philosophy is that the driver is still ultimately responsible for the car’s actions.

Although Audi’s proof-of-concept uses sensor technology already in use on the company’s vehicles, the car did need the guidance of laser sensors built into the parking structure itself, and we couldn’t walk near it while it was parking (or even walk within several feet of it) for it to work.

Future piloted cars will still need the laser sensors, which means that both vehicles and infrastructure will need to . So even when these cars do come to market, garages and parking lots will have to support the feature for it to work. (I imagine you’ll pull up to a restaurant and see a sign that says “Audi piloted parking works here,” or something to that extent.)

Not just another self-driving car

Audi’s proof-of-concept has a couple of things that make it stand out from other autonomous vehicles, such as Google’s self-driving Prius and even Toyota’s automated Lexus research car. First, it only uses technology that already exists and that has been implemented in cars that are on the road today.

Second, it doesn’t need unsightly exposed lasers and sensors—the proof-of-concept car we saw looked like any regular Audi. Audi may not be ready to bring its piloted parking concept to market just yet, but, when it does, it will probably do so in style.

For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation’s largest consumer electronics show, check out complete coverage of CES 2013 from PCWorld and TechHive.

Here Are All The Games Microsoft Showed Off At Its Xbox Games Showcase

Microsoft showed off some of the games for the Xbox Series X back in May including the likes of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. However, games from Xbox Games Studios were missing in action at that event. The Redmond giant finally held a special event today, and showcased a whole bunch of games that it’s first-party studios have been working on. Here are all the games shown off at the showcase.

1. Halo Infinite

Obviously, things were kicked off by Halo Infinite. The company showed off an 8-minute trailer of the game’s campaign, complete with gunfights and vehicles. The game looks impressive, and it’s one of the few games I really want to play. Halo Infinite releases Holiday 2023, and will likely be a launch title for the Series X.

2. State of Decay 3

Undead Labs showed off a trailer for its next major title, State of Decay 3. The story is unknown as of now, but the trailer does look exciting and intriguing. A pretty solid mix for a title such as this one. There was no release date or timeline mentioned for the game either.

3. Forza Motorsport 8 4. Everwild

Rare studios unveiled its brand new game, Everwild at the showcase as well. The game looks very unique to say the least, but there’s not much to talk about it as of now. We don’t know when the game will be coming out, but hopefully we will get more details soon.

5. Tell Me Why

6. The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon

Private Division showcased The Outer Worlds: Perils of Gorgon. In the game, you will find yourself on an asteroid called Gorgon, hoping to find more about Dr. Olivia Ambrose, whose daughter, Minnie Ambrose has hired you and the rest of your crew for this task. Peril on Gorgon will release on September 29, 2023.

7. Grounded

Grounded took a witty jab at Cyberpunk 2077 in its trailer, but the game looks like the kind of thing that’s insanely fun. It’s also releasing really soon — July 28, 2023.

8. Avowed

Obsidian Entertainment also showed off its brand new RPG, Avowed. The game is set in the fantasy world of Eora, but that’s about everything we know about the game right now. The trailer does look nice though.

9. As Dusk Falls

Interior/Night’s new interactive drama, As Dusk Falls explores the lives of two families over three decades of sacrifice, betrayal, and resilience.

10. Psychonauts 2

11. Destiny 2: Beyond Light

Fans of Destiny, Beyond Light is coming your way with a new threat, this November. The trailer for this game looks really fast paced and full of new powers to experience and use. Bungie says that the game will run at 60FPS on the Series X, so we can look forward to a smooth experience with Destiny 2, that’s for sure.

12. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2

Stalker 2 is making its next-gen console debut, and it will be a launch exclusive for Xbox consoles. So, if you’re a fan of this franchise, I guess you’re gonna have to get an Xbox after all. The game comes out in 2023, by the way, but you can check out the trailer right now.

13. Warhammer 4000: Darktide

Warhammer 4000: Darktide is a four player co-op game set in the city of Tertium. Faced with what seems like an endless horde of monsters, you’re gonna have to work together (and fast) to make it out of this place alive.

14. The Medium

I’m not a fan of psychological horror games, and as such The Medium doesn’t excite me. However, the game makes use of Dual-Reality gameplay, which shows two worlds across the screen at the same time. That looks interesting, and it’s apparently a patented idea as well. The game comes out in December 2023.

15. Fable

There were other games showcased as well, including CrossfireX, Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis, The Gunk, and others. Clearly, the Xbox Series X will have an absolute ton of games for you to play.

Establishing A Culture Of Questioning

When students are provided consistent opportunities to develop and discuss complex questions, they’re empowered with knowledge, curiosity, and intellectual courage. We can make our classrooms places that encourage students to keep asking questions—which are the foundation of learning.

Creating a Climate for Questioning

Modeling questioning strategies that get all students involved allows students to develop confidence in their own ability to craft meaningful questions and share their responses. We also need to establish classroom procedures for respectful dialogue so that students feel safe in sharing their thinking with their peers.

I indirectly model questioning strategies by carefully considering the questions I ask. I set up the year with a few questions that are then discussed throughout the year. Through seminar discussions and reflective writing in the spring, for example, I use questions such as “How does where you live impact how you live?,” “How do humans continue to progress in a diverse world?,” and “How does constructive conversation cultivate empathy and promote participation in local and global communities?” to discuss content as well as to make connections to the world.

Students consider these questions as they participate in the Spotlight Challenge, a design thinking project I created to facilitate opportunities for students to conduct research, craft speeches, and call their peers to action. Consistently making these connections helps create a climate in which students become accustomed to questioning everything. 

I also directly model strategies by sharing my metacognitive thinking as I read literature, analyze ideas, and discuss current events. I allow time to stop and share my thinking and my questions, and then invite students to share their thinking and questions as well.

I facilitate questioning by providing a low-stakes environment in which students are reassured that they don’t need to know all the answers and their participation is only used to help me determine what they need help with. They’re welcome to ask questions about questions, and are encouraged to develop questions that challenge them to consider various perspectives.

Daily Questioning

Providing daily opportunities for questioning builds confidence in students’ ability to craft their own questions. During question breaks in our literature and history units, for example, students can write down questions they have, and can also do so during verbal or digital discussions with peers.

These daily opportunities to practice questioning (and disagreeing) with each other respectfully allow students to develop the skills they need to engage in civil discourse before diving into conversations about more personal beliefs.

Core Values

There are four core values that we use from the beginning of the year. They help set up conversations to be respectful and productive.

1. Lead with facts: Use facts to back up your ideas, and hold others accountable for doing the same.

2. Disagree with compassion: When disagreeing with someone, take time to consider their point of view before responding. Use facts to explain why you disagree, and never attack anyone personally. 

3. Take your time: It is always OK to pause and think about what you want to say. Don’t be uncomfortable in the silence—embrace it as an opportunity to formulate your thoughts.

4. Strive for growth: After creating, asking, and answering questions, take time to reflect on what new ideas you heard, whether anything changed your mind, what you’re curious about, etc.

Questions to Consider

Throughout each unit, students anchor their ideas with facts, practice speaking and listening skills, engage in complex conversations, and dig into subjects that interest them. I start this process by asking questions such as the ones below about literature and history. Students use these questions as examples—and also as a starting point to think about what is important when considering a situation in fiction, history, or their own lives.

How does this situation make me feel?

What are the various perspectives in in the situation/event/story?

What facts support the different sides?

What side do you agree with? Why? (Use facts to support your opinion.)

Why might someone have a different viewpoint than you?

How can progress be made toward improving this issue? How can you be part of the progress?

Recently my sixth-grade students studied Hammurabi’s Code. I asked them to consider whether his laws were just. When given an opportunity to ask and answer each other’s questions about this topic, they were able to see both sides of the argument and then discuss where they see injustice in the world today.

They brought up topics such as police brutality, the pay gap for women, separating immigrant children from their parents, kneeling during the national anthem, and Confederate statues in public places. Students held various viewpoints about those topics, but it was inspiring to see them honor the feelings of their classmates and ask questions to better understand the ideas of others.

Through consistent practice and opportunities to contribute meaningful questions in the classroom, all students begin to naturally and independently generate questions about what they read, hear, and encounter. As students learn to generate questions, they also discover that they have the power to inspire progress in their world.

Company Culture Matters To Workers

Employees say company culture is a top priority for potential jobs, which means a positive workplace culture is more crucial than ever. 

To create a positive work culture, offer attractive benefits and perks to entice new talent and provide the right environment to keep them long term. 

While fair and competitive compensation is critical, keeping employees happy requires more than just a paycheck. 

This article is for employers looking to improve hiring and retention rates for top talent. 

Business success requires myriad elements supporting and executing a company’s mission and vision. Employees are perhaps the most vital element of a company’s operations and growth, providing a face to customers and an essential backbone supporting all its endeavors. 

Attracting and retaining top talent is a top priority for most businesses, but not every company can compete in a salary-driven contest. Fortunately, every organization can shore up its workplace culture to create a positive, supportive atmosphere that can mean as much – or more than – money. 

We’ll look at the importance of company culture in hiring and retaining excellent employees and share tips on creating a positive culture where your team will thrive. 

Did You Know?

It’s crucial to consider how job candidates will fit into your company culture. When hiring for a cultural fit, ensure your hiring materials emphasize your mission and values.

Why company culture matters

There’s been a shift away from employees accepting a less-than-stellar workplace culture even if compensation is adequate. If you want to attract and keep excellent employees, you must create and maintain a positive company culture.

Here’s why company culture matters:

Potential employees strongly consider workplace culture. A landmark 2023 Glassdoor survey that polled over 5,000 workers from the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany found that 77 percent would “consider a company’s culture” before seeking a job there. Another 56 percent said a good workplace culture was “more important than salary” for job satisfaction. Additionally, 73 percent of respondents from four countries said they “would not apply to a company unless its values align with [their] own personal values.” 

Toxic work environments drive overall turnover. Today’s employees won’t stand for a toxic work environment. Amid the pandemic-induced Great Resignation – which saw record employment turnover – workers seemed to reevaluate their priorities. MIT Sloan research revealed that toxic work environment complaints are the No. 1 reason driving turnover in various industries, drastically overshadowing other issues. 

Younger employees are more likely to switch jobs. Lever’s 2023 Great Resignation report revealed that 65 percent of Gen Z employees are likely to stay at their jobs for less than a year and are more than twice as likely to leave their jobs in the next month. They leave jobs in droves because they’re seeking a professional fit that aligns with their desires – and they’ll take a pay cut if a job is worthwhile.

Employee retention is more challenging than ever. In the aftermath of the Great Resignation, it’s been crucial for companies to find ways to retain employees and bring in new talent. Companies view employees as investments – but employees also view their employers as an investment. Companies that prioritize flexibility and employee happiness in their cultures seem to improve retention rates and can draw new prospects. 

Did You Know?

A positive workplace culture must also have a culture of inclusion that provides a safe space for all employees and creates and encourages a sense of belonging.

How to create a positive company culture

A positive company culture is a vital element of growing your business and team. If you create a culture that offers personal and professional growth, that will attract employees that want to be challenged and invested in their jobs. 

Here’s how to build a better, more positive work culture:

Hold performance assessments to improve company culture. Performance reviews can be a chore, but they can significantly impact your team’s growth when done thoughtfully and with care. Reviewing employees’ progress and welcoming their feedback can improve relationships and boost productivity. Regular reviews can foster a company culture of support and improvement.

Conduct employee surveys to improve company culture. Proactively seeking feedback via employee surveys can help a company grow and improve while demonstrating to employees how valuable they are. Soliciting employee input gives management and owners a chance to view their organization from different perspectives. When they implement employee suggestions, everyone wins.

Flexible work schedules improve company culture. Flexible schedule options are a creative way for businesses to show employees they’re valued, even if they can’t provide a salary increase. Company cultures that accept various work schedules are more likely to appeal to new candidates. Businesses with strong post-pandemic “return to office” mandates have been met with resistance from people accustomed to working from home and benefiting from flexible work policies. 

Career development opportunities improve company culture. Organizations that encourage professional growth and offer a career trajectory tend to retain employees. When companies offer new hire training programs, mentorship programs and promotion paths, they foster a workplace culture of support and ensure better long-term employment rates.

Stress-reduction measures improve company culture. Work is often a source of stress for many employees, whether or not they love their job. Deadlines, pressure and multitasking can lead to employee burnout. If you find ways to create a stress-free work environment, you can help keep top-tier talent and appeal to excellent candidates.

Emphasizing your mission improves company culture. People want to work for companies they believe in, so it’s crucial to have a clear and defined mission statement and vision statement that jive with current employees’ and potential applicants’ views. The Glassdoor survey revealed that 66 percent of respondents said a clear mission is important for staying engaged at work. Clearly communicating your mission sets a company direction employees are happy to follow. 

Did You Know?

Workplace positivity begins with leadership. Managers can create a culture that works with honesty, transparency and unwavering support.

Tip

To improve employee well-being, help them feel energized by giving them assignments they want, foster teams with team-building exercises, and support employees’ long-term career goals.

A good company culture reaps rewards

In today’s employment climate, companies face the challenge of finding the right candidates as they expand. To attract the best talent, businesses must consider various structures, including on-site, hybrid and remote, as well as attractive employee perks like flexible schedules and paid time off. 

While everyone wants high pay, there’s a limit on what employees are willing to sacrifice to get it. A strong company culture can safeguard your business by fostering employee happiness and long-term goodwill.

Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory? What Are The Lab Requirements For Plant Tissue Culture?

Introduction

Plant tissue culture is a valuable tool for plant propagation, conservation, and genetic improvement. It involves the cultivation of plant cells, tissues, and organs in vitro under sterile conditions.

The technique was first developed in the 1950s and has since then revolutionized the field of plant biology. The ability to manipulate plants at the cellular level has paved the way for genetic engineering, plant breeding, and the production of high-value plant-based products.

Plant tissue culture laboratories are specialized facilities designed to provide a controlled environment for the growth of plant tissue cultures.

The content below lists the lab requirements for plant tissue culture and the equipment needed to set up a plant tissue culture laboratory.

Plant Tissue Culture Lab Requirements

The success of plant tissue culture experiments depends largely on the quality of the lab environment. The following are the essential requirements for a plant tissue culture laboratory:

Location

The location of the plant tissue culture laboratory is critical. The laboratory should be located in an area with minimal traffic, dust, and pollutants. The laboratory should be situated away from sources of electromagnetic interference and vibrations that could affect the growth of plant tissue cultures.

Size and Design

The size of the plant tissue culture laboratory should be proportional to the volume of tissue cultures produced. The laboratory should be designed to ensure efficient workflow and minimal contamination. The laboratory should have separate rooms for different activities such as preparation, sterilization, and culture growth. The laboratory should have proper ventilation, lighting, and temperature control.

Sterilization

Sterilization is a critical requirement for plant tissue culture laboratories. The laboratory should be equipped with an autoclave for the sterilization of culture media, equipment, and supplies. The laboratory should have a laminar flow hood or a biosafety cabinet for the handling of plant tissue cultures.

Culture Media

Plant tissue culture requires specific culture media to support the growth and development of plant tissues. The laboratory should be equipped with a variety of culture media, including basal media, vitamins, and plant growth regulators.

Equipment

The following are the essential equipment required for a plant tissue culture laboratory:

Laminar Flow Hood/Biosafety Cabinet

Microscopes

Microscopes are essential for the examination of plant tissue cultures. The laboratory should have both stereo and compound microscopes for the examination of cultures at different magnifications.

Autoclave

An autoclave is essential for the sterilization of culture media, equipment, and supplies. The laboratory should have a large-capacity autoclave to meet the demand for sterilization.

Incubators

Incubators are used to maintain the temperature and humidity required for the growth of plant tissue cultures. The laboratory should have several incubators with different temperature and humidity settings to accommodate different plant species and tissue types

Water Purification System

Water is an essential component of culture media and should be of high quality. The laboratory should have a water purification system to ensure that the water used for culture media preparation is free from contaminants.

Plant Growth Chambers

Plant growth chambers are used to provide a controlled environment for the growth of plant tissue cultures. The laboratory should have several growth chambers with different temperature, light, and humidity settings to accommodate different plant species and tissue types.

Growth Chamber Isle

pH Meter

The pH of culture media is critical for the growth and development of plant tissue cultures. The laboratory should have a pH meter to measure the pH of the culture media accurately.

Weighing Scale

A weighing scale is essential for the accurate measurement of culture media and chemicals used in plant tissue culture

Pipettes and Pipette Tips

Pipettes and pipette tips are used for the precise measurement and transfer of liquids. The laboratory should have a variety of pipettes and pipette tips of different sizes to accommodate different volumes.

Forceps and Scalpels

Forceps and scalpels are used for the manipulation of plant tissue cultures. The laboratory should have a variety of forceps and scalpels of different sizes to accommodate different tissue types.

Vials and Flasks

Forceps and scalpels are used for the manipulation of plant tissue cultures. The laboratory should have a variety of forceps and scalpels of different sizes to accommodate different tissue types.

Agarose Gel Electrophoresis System

An agarose gel electrophoresis system is used for the separation and analysis of DNA and RNA molecules. The laboratory should have an agarose gel electrophoresis system to analyze genetic material in plant tissue cultures.

Spectrophotometer

A spectrophotometer is used for the quantification of DNA, RNA, and proteins in plant tissue cultures. The laboratory should have a spectrophotometer to quantify genetic material and protein in plant tissue cultures accurately.

Centrifuges

Centrifuges are used for the separation of plant tissue cultures into different fractions. The laboratory should have a variety of centrifuges of different sizes and speeds to accommodate different tissue types and growth stages.

Freeze Dryer

A freeze dryer is used for the preservation of plant tissue cultures for long-term storage. The laboratory should have a freeze dryer to store plant tissue cultures for future use.

Safety Equipment

Safety equipment such as gloves, lab coats, and goggles are essential for the safe handling of chemicals and equipment in the laboratory. The laboratory should have an eyewash station, a fire extinguisher, and a first-aid kit in case of emergencies.

Conclusion

Plant tissue culture is a valuable technique for the propagation, conservation, and genetic improvement of plants. A plant tissue culture laboratory is a specialized facility designed to provide a controlled environment for the growth of plant tissue cultures. The success of plant tissue culture experiments depends largely on the quality of the lab environment and the equipment used.

The essential requirements for a plant tissue culture laboratory include a proper location, size and design, sterilization, culture media, and equipment such as a laminar flow hood, microscopes, autoclave, incubators, water purification system, plant growth chambers, pH meter, weighing scale, forceps, scalpels, vials, flasks, agarose gel electrophoresis system, spectrophotometer, centrifuges, freeze dryer, and safety equipment.

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