Jan
01
2012
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Are there any good beaches in the UK?

Damming the stream at Portheras Cove Beach (photo by Roger Browne - CC-BYAfter a news report about UK beaches whose water quality failed to meet regulatory standards, I heard someone say that they didn’t know there were any good beaches in the United Kingdom. There certainly are some fabulous beaches, but you need to know where to look. If you choose a beach to visit at random, [more...]

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Apr
30
2011
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Why is "Alternative Vote" superior to the "First past the post" system?

preferential-votingVoters in the United Kingdom were given the opportunity on 5 May 2011 to choose between keeping the current First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system, or switching to the Alternative Vote (AV) system. They chose to retain FPTP. In the First Past The Post system, the elector marks their preferred candidate on the ballot [more...]

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Oct
21
2010
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Where the ### is the hash key on a UK Apple Mac keyboard?

hash-key-macIf you want to type the hash character (‘#’, also called ‘pound’ in some parts of the world) on a UK Apple Mac, you can look everywhere on your keyboard and you won’t find the hash symbol. If you have a PC keyboard plugged into your Mac, you can type ‘#’ but it will show [more...]

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Mar
05
2010
4

How can I figure out the geographical center of my country, state, province?

centroid-of-the-united-statesIf you live in Wyoming or Colorado, the answer is quite simple, since these two states are virtually rectangular, but how does one find the geographical center of an irregularly shaped area? In geometrical terms, that is the “centroid”. The centroid of a straight-edged polygon can be calculated by breaking it into smaller objects and [more...]

Feb
14
2010
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What is Hansard?

The British Parliament (photo by Maurice - CC-BY)Hansard is the name of the record of debates in the British Houses of Parliament, equivalent to the US Congressional Record. The name goes back to Thomas Curson Hansard, a printer who in 1809 started printing William Cobbett's Parliamentary Debates, published since 1802. These were pieced together from newspaper reports, since at that time Parliament [more...]

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Dec
14
2009
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What is the difference between a city, a town and a village?

Leeds, a city in Yorkshire (photo-painting by digitalrob70 - CC-BY)There are many definitions of what constitutes a “city”. The distinction between a city, a town and a village varies from country to country, and throughout history. Here are just a few of those definitions. In the United Kingdom, the monarch declares that a town has become a city. However, a few cities were grandfathered [more...]

Jun
20
2009
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What is the National Anthem of the United Kingdom?

United Kingdom flag - courtesy micora - CC-BY“God Save the Queen”, or “God Save the King”, is the National Anthem of the United Kingdom. It is also the National Anthem of Norfolk Island, one of the two National Anthems of the Cayman Islands and New Zealand (since 1977) and the Royal Anthem of Canada (since 1980), Australia (since 1984), the Isle of [more...]

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Jun
17
2009
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What is Cardiff city profile?

Cardiff Castle - courtesy Mooganic - CC-BYCardiff is the capital of Wales and its largest city. The area of Cardiff settled by at least 6,000 BC, about 1500 years earlier than either Stonehenge or the The pyramids of Egypt. Cardiff was also the site of a Roman fort. King Edward VII granted Cardiff city status in October 1905. Cardiff has only [more...]

Jun
17
2009
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What are the key facts about the United Kingdom?

London, England, United Kingdom (photo by René Ehrhardt - CC-BY, flag by Zscout370 - PD)The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“the UK”) lies to the west of continental Europe. It comprises England, Wales and Scotland (“Great Britain“), plus Northern Ireland. As the source of the industrial revolution, the UK became the dominant world power of the 1800s and is now a wealthy and powerful member of the [more...]

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May
07
2009
16

Where Can I Find Free Newspaper Archives Online in the UK?

George III (portrait by Allan Ramsay - PD-EXP)There are literally billions of pages of newspaper archives available online.  Only a small portion of them are from the UK, and a still smaller portion can be viewed for free.  Nonetheless, the few free archives that are available from England, Scotland and Ireland are a rich source of history writ large and small. Here [more...]

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