Mar
31
2010
0

Which UK charities recycle inkjet cartridges?

inkjet cartridge recyclingCompanies and households use millions of inkjet and toner cartridges each year, and the vast majority of them end up being thrown away and disposed of in landfill sites across the country. In an effort to stop this waste, many recycling companies and charities have joined in partnerships to encourage consumers to send them the [&hel[more...]

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Mar
30
2010
2

Who invented gimbals?

gimbals-lampNo one knows who first came up with the idea of a gimbal (often used on the plural).  Gerolamo Cardano in the 16th century described the principle, but didn't claim to have invented gimbals, although the expression “cardon suspension” seems to give him credit for doing so. If you don't immediately know what a gimbal [&hel[more...]

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Mar
29
2010
1

Could I be a descendent of Charlemagne?

charlemagneYou could indeed be a descendent of Charlemagne, but if so, then probably so is everyone else you know (but you don't have to tell them). Charlemagne was crowned on Christmas Day in the year 800, which endears him to people who have trouble remembering dates. He married Hildegard in 772, and they had at [&hel[more...]

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Mar
26
2010
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In Austria, what is the difference between a university professor and mere professor?

austrian-flagIn Austria, a university professor teaches and does research at a university, of course, just like everywhere else in the world. So why do these Austrian professors need “university” added to their title? You guessed it: there are professors in Austria who are not related to a university in any professional way. A couple of [&hel[more...]

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Mar
26
2010
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What is Direct Digital Democracy?

votingDirect Digital Democracy is a type of Direct Democracy, where citizens directly make the laws and govern themselves. It contrasts with Representative Democracy, where a country is run by a small number of people who may or may not be elected. Direct Digital Democracy uses digital technology to enable universal participation. In practice, this means [&hel[more...]

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Mar
25
2010
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Who cannot be a candidate in the UK General Election?

ballot-boxIn the United Kingdom, the General Election is held at least every five years. The successful candidates take their place in parliament, in the House of Commons (the lower house). The House of Lords (the upper house) is unelected; its members are a combination of political appointees who sit for life, and Church of England [&hel[more...]

Mar
24
2010
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Who owns a Roman Catholic church?

catholic-church-richmondThe ownership of Catholic churches has received attention in recent years, but it is not new. Very early in Church history it was a question. As long as local rulers respected the Church, there was no dispute of ownership. But there were always problems of definition. The Church defined itself as a spiritual entity, but [&hel[more...]

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Mar
24
2010
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How much does hot water cost?

hot-water-cascadeFew people know how much the water from their cold tap costs, and even fewer realise how much the water from their hot tap costs. The cost of cold water in the UK is around a quarter of a penny per liter, so that's our starting point. How much more does it cost to heat [&hel[more...]

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Mar
23
2010
2

Is the Pirate Party a joke party, or does it have real policies?

legalise-happy-birthdayIf judged only by its name, the Pirate Party might seem as wacky as the UK‘s long-established Monster Raving Loony Party. Actually, there are lots of Pirate Parties around the world, affiliated under the banner of Pirate Parties International, a Belgium-registered NGO. Although a relatively new party, the Pirate Party has representatives serving in elected [&hel[more...]

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Mar
23
2010
3

What is a savory, or better, a savoury, since you will be more likely to have one in England?

scotch-woodcockA savoury is the last course of a formal British dinner, served after dessert. You haven't been invited to a formal British dinner? I haven't been, either, but once at a seminar in a hotel in Marlow, savoury was on the table d'hôte menu, so I asked for it, to the surprise of the waiter. [&hel[more...]

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Mar
22
2010
4

What is a Jacobite drinking glass?

jacobite wine glassesImagine your social club has to meet in secret because it's affiliated with a banned political party. This was roughly the situation facing the 18th century Jacobites: supporters of the Stuart royal dynasty whose ancestors had sat on the throne in London before falling out of favour. Despite the risk of being arrested for treason,  [&hel[more...]

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Mar
22
2010
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Who was the last king of England to be canonized?

charles-i-van-dyckWas the last king of England to be canonized Edward the Martyr or Edward the Confessor? No, it was Charles I, the king whom Cromwell and others had beheaded. The Anglican Church canonized Charles in 1660 after the Restoration, when his son was crowned as Charles II.  He is known as Charles the Martyr or [&hel[more...]

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Mar
21
2010
2

Why do you find plastic basins in British kitchen sinks?

kitchen-sinkNewcomers to the UK may be puzzled to see that many kitchen sinks have a plastic basin placed inside them. There are several useful reasons for this habit, but they stem from two primary causes: the small size of a typical British kitchen, and the poor state of UK plumbing in years gone by. Many [&hel[more...]

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Mar
20
2010
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What are trade dollars and pieces of eight?

trade-dollarsTrade dollar is a general term for many similar sized coins once used in China and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Originally, the trade dollar was the Spanish or Mexican silver eight reales coin (also called a peso), familiar in Pacific trade through the Spanish colonies since the 17th century. The term dollar comes from the [&hel[more...]

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Mar
19
2010
2

What did Sadie’s “Sam” turn out to be?

banksy-sadieAustralian pop superstar Johnny Farnham rose to fame in 1967-68 with a massively-successful song Sadie, the Cleaning Lady (video). No other song by an Australian artist had done so well on the Australian charts during the 1960s. Although the song is musically unadventurous, it launched Farnham’s career. The video is in black and white, because [&hel[more...]

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Mar
19
2010
1

If I dug a hole through the center of the earth, where would I come out?

digging-a-hole-through-the-earthMany parents have convinced their youngster that the earth is not flat, but rather a sphere, only to be asked “So what’s on the other side of the earth?” American parents are likely to answer “China”. Maybe British parents reply “Australia” or “New Zealand”, and parents “down under” reply “England” or “Europe”. Then the youngster [&hel[more...]

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Mar
19
2010
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What is a vomitorium?

vomitoriumWell, yes, a vomitorium may also refer to what comes to mind, but originally it was an exit from a Roman theater to allow the crowd to spew out. Many people like to believe that the Romans also had a room or basin called a vomitorium for people to relieve themselves after overindulgence, but this [&hel[more...]

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Mar
18
2010
3

What are the problems with "Top Ten" lists?

top-ten-digitsTop Ten lists have become popular on the web, and also in magazines and newspapers. This popularity is undeserved for many reasons, the top ten of which are: A “top 10″ list trivializes the subject matter. The list is easy to write, but fails to provide a coherent coverage of the topic, or any background [&hel[more...]

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Mar
18
2010
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What is the Vogalonga?

vogalongaThe Vogalonga is non-competitive 30 km (19 mile) amateur event in which virtually any kind of boat powered by oars or paddles may compete. It is held each year in Venice on Whitsun (Pentecost). Any kind of man-powered—sorry, also woman-powered—boat may compete. Yes indeed, 1550 boats and 5800 participants in 2007! That includes the several [&hel[more...]

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Mar
17
2010
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What do people eat for supper Monday evening?

farmhouse-hashWhere Sunday dinner is the special meal of the week, people often eat leftovers on Monday. Of course, if a ham or roast was served on Sunday, there could be enough meat left to reheat and serve as such, but often and in many countries there are very loose recipes for using leftovers, and they [&hel[more...]

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