Pinch yourself. Much that could have gone wrong in the euro zone suddenly seems to be going right. Germany’s constitutional court in Karlsruhe has given the go-ahead for a new rescue fund. A banking union is taking shape…this builds on a recent pledge from the European Central Bank (ECB) to act to stop the break-up of the currency. Even angry talk of expelling the Greeks from the euro has died down.
And Europe is moving to becoming a federalist nation, at least for monetary purposes. With many more leaders calling for political federalism too.
Should we break out the Federalist Papers from John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton in 1787?
Back in 2010 we added biking directions for users of Google Maps in the US and Canada. Helping cyclists navigate the bike trails throughout those countries proved hugely popular, so we’re wheelie excited to announce that starting today, we’ve also added extensive biking data to Google Maps for Austria, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In many of these countries we are also enabling biking directions in beta mode.
We know how popular cycling is in many parts of the world, so we wanted to include as much bike trail data as possible to provide efficient routes, allow riders to customize their trips, make use of bike lanes, calculate rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills and busy roads and to customize the look of the cycling map to encourage people to hop on their bikes. So that’s exactly what we’ve done.
If you’re keen to start riding into work, or maybe just do your bit for the environment by swapping your car for a bike a couple of days a week, biking directions can help you find a convenient route that makes use of dedicated bike lanes and avoids hills whenever possible.
From a distance, Christopher Nolan’s Gotham City sure doesn’t look like much. The “skyline” begins to emerge over the horizon in the rolling green farmlands about 50 miles north of London, but there are no gothic spires or granite citadels, just the slanted, pocked roofs of two boxy metal buildings.
But nearing the complex on a winding two-lane road, the immensity of the filmmaker’s make-believe metropolis comes into focus: The structures that looked squat from afar are actually 15 stories tall — and as long as 81-story skyscrapers lying on their sides. Constructed more than 85 years ago to house Britain’s Royal Airship Works, the giant coffin-shaped sheds sat unused or ignored for years, and waiting for some great undertaking, after the nation’s flagship dirigible went down in flames in a horrific 1930 crash in France.
The field mice had the run of the buildings but after the southern shed was renovated in 1994 it was used by occasional rock stars preparing for tours (U2 and Paul McCartney among them) or Hollywood production. The 525-ton door opened for Nolan in 2004. Cardington has since become a special home base, which is fitting given the fact that illusion, extreme architecture, old-school craft and colossal scale are screen trademarks for the London-born filmmaker best known for his three Batman films and “Inception.”
For 2005′s “Batman Begins” they put in the faux masonry of the Narrows and Arkham Asylum. Nolan’s team added to the indoor cityscape for 2008′s billion-dollar hit sequel “The Dark Knight” and then, for the topsy-turvy fights of “Inception,” special-effect guru Chris Corbould built a spinning corridor that made actors like hamsters in a wheel. More recently, Nolan and production designer Nathan Crowley added a cruel and exotic underground prison for “The Dark Knight Rises,” which opens July 20.
A $25 million federal grant will speed the construction of a solar manufacturing plant in San Diego, in an effort to boost U.S. competitiveness.
Semiconductor maker Soitec Solar, recipient of the Department of Energy grant, will pour the funds into equipment at its Rancho Bernando-area plant. Production is set to start before the end of the year on concentrated photovoltaic modules that use optical lenses to focus sunlight on tiny, highly efficient solar cells.
A publicly traded company based in Bernin, France, Soitec entered the concentrated photovoltaics business in 2009 with the purchase of Concentrix Solar, a spinoff of the Fraunhofer Institutes, a network of publicly funded research centers in Germany.
Soitec received the largest share of $37 million in Energy Department grants designed to accelerate high-volume solar manufacturing over the next two years.
More about Soitec’s CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) modules:
Soitec’s CPV modules are built on Concentrix technology. They use Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times and focus it onto small, highly efficient multi-junction solar cells. This technology has helped us achieve world-leading AC system efficiency increases of 25% in actual operating conditions. This is almost twice as high as the efficiency increases achieved using conventional silicon systems.
Surfline has added/upgraded 34 cams in the last five months with many more to come.
Make sure you check back because there’s a good chance there will be a new or upgraded cam near you.
NEW HD CAMS
Beacons, CA (Feb 2012)
Oceanside Pier SS, CA (April 2012)
Salt Creek, CA (Jan 2012)
Ponce Inlet, FL (April 2012)
UPGRADED HD CAMS
Mission Beach, CA (May 2012)
Cardiff, CA (Jan 2012)
Grandview, CA (Feb 2012)
The Wedge, CA (June 2012)
Goldenwest, CA (March 2012)
Casino Pier, NJ (April 2012)
North End, VA (March 2012)
Rodanthe, NC (May 2012)
Philadelphia, the city that gave us Poor Richard, cheese-steak sandwiches and the American Constitution, just opened a new treasure: the Barnes Foundation, one of the premier privately assembled collections of painting in the U.S. with more dreamy Renoirs and searching Cézannes than in the whole of France.
Its arrival in May halfway between the landmark City Hall and Museum of Art on Benjamin Franklin Parkway — Philly’s Champs Élysées — gives visitors a chance to see what was once an almost secret stash of great art.
The catalog is astounding, even apart from Renoirs and Cézannes.
…all previously hard to access, thanks in part to the collection’s former home in Merion, PA, a 45-minute bus ride from downtown. The foundation rarely lent works to other museums, prohibited reproductions and restricted visitation.
Curmudgeonly founder Albert C. Barnes, a medical doctor, chemist and self-made millionaire with a boulder-size chip on his shoulder, once called Philadelphia “a depressing intellectual slum.” He started buying art in the early part of the 20th century and conceived of his collection as an educational institution, not a gathering place for high-society “Sunday” dabblers in art.
It took more than 50 years to give the collection a new home that is open to the public. Not everyone loves it.
Interesting to note that both France and Spain receive more visitors than their entire population:
France – population 65 million – with 77 million annual visitors
Spain – population 46 million – with 53 million visitors.
That’s quite a tourism business for them.
Not to worry as the world seems ready to travel more than ever. Sometime this year we will set a record with 1 billion international tourists, and the graph below shows that at least half of them are heading to Europe!
Among the usual questions about attitudes to the euro and the European Union, people in eight nations (Britain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Poland and Spain) were asked which country in the European Union is the hardest-working.
The Greeks ignored the obvious answer (Germany) and instead nominated themselves. (The other seven nations all plumped for Germany, as the table shows.) Yet Greek perception is not quite as misaligned with reality as it seems. Greece does actually work the longest hours in Europe…However, as any economist will tell you, working longer does not equate with higher productivity, and Greece’s productivity is relatively low.