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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2527 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Crack Army pilot to be first PROPER British astronaut IN SPAAAACE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

I do not care whether he is first or second: there is going to be (another) British astronaut. Cheers to him

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The iWatch is coming! The iWatch is coming!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Why not a BOFH watch?

which runs linux, allows you to log into your servers. A full keyboard would perhaps be a bit much, bt a small set of function keys with the following functions could be enough:

F1: rm -rf *

F2: kill -9

F3: shutdown -h now

F4: reboot

like this one

Suggestions for other keys welcome

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Nine-year-old Opportunity Mars rover sets NASA distance record

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: So...

Put like that, maybe NASA could get sponsoring from Ferrari to up the ante on that front

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Acorn founder: SIXTH WAVE of tech will wash away Apple, Intel

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Oh S*&t!

Share and enjoy!!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

Re: Oh S*&t!

More correctly:

"We'll tell you:' Go stick your head in a pig'"

As sung by a choir of robots with their voice boxes exactly one flattened fifth out of tune.

And remember:

Don't Panic!

No large, friendly letters available I am afraid

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Larry Page acknowledges creeping vocal paralysis

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: That sux

It might have been a scary (or more accurately, very, very sad) person who is responsible for the down vote, or alternatively, it might have been a very clumsy person.

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Bing uncloaks Klingon translator

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

What next?

Sindarin? Quenya?

Brindisian? Klatchian?

Mine is the one with Jingo! in the pocket

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Drone to deliver beer-as-a-service

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Black Helicopters

I am torn

between a beer icon and a helicopter icon.

OK, let's go for the tinfoil-hat brigade:

The government laces drone-supplied beer with truth serum so they can spy on you

In truth of course, beer in sufficient quantities can always let you divulge inconvenient truths

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield's Space Oddity ends in Kazakhstan

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Cheers to him

Every time I see the ISS fly over (happens quite often whilst stargazing, I could even spot its overall shape with big binoculars), I just have to give quiet praise to the people up there, and the people who helped put them there. However we bemoan not doing enough space exploration, some people are dedicating and even risking their lives in the name of space exploration.

People like Cmdr Hadfield set a shining example in my book. Cheers to him and all like him

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ScaleMP: Use RAM plus vSMP, not flash, to boost server performance

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Latency, it's all about latency

CSP is powerful. The main problem I find is in keeping communication down, especially in terms of how often processes need to communicate. It is much cheaper to have a few large chunks shuttled from on process to another, than it is to have a whole lot of little messages. It is not just the latency in that case (it also plays a role), but it is also the synchronization that costs time (barriers are particularly costly).

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Latency, it's all about latency

I have some rather memory-intensive code, that I did once run (or rather walk) on a ScaleMP machine (8 boards with 8 cores each (older incarnation)). Performance was dismal. Why? Each core thread may need access to each part of memory, because the outcome for each pixel in these huge images may depend on any pixel in the image, and you do not know beforehand which ones matter. Everything works hunky-dory as long as each processor only accesses the memory on its board, but the moment it needs large amounts of data from another board, latency kills performance. Getting a speed-up of 0.5 at 2 threads (if they weren't explicitly pinned to cores on the same board) is rather discouraging.

What they are doing is putting a software layer over a distributed memory or NUMA machine, so as to hide the complexities and allow shared memory algorithms to run (or rather walk) without the need to rewrite the code. ScaleMP does hide the actual NUMA architecture very well. Curiously, this leads to problems when optimizing the parallel code for that particular hardware. Because details are too well hidden. You really need to understand the memory architecture and the latencies of the machine to design the appropriate algorithm. Parallel programming on shared-memory machines and distributed-memory/NUMA machines are two very different ball-games, often requiring a careful rethink of the algorithms, in order to get the processors spend their time working, not talking (just like an old-fashioned classroom), or waiting for data.

A ScaleMP-like approach could work if the latencies are kept very low (like the QPI approach). On run-of-the-mill network connections (or even Infiniband), you need to rethink shared memory code, not so much because of bandwidth, but because of latency. For Cell/GPU type systems similar rethinks are needed, for much the same reason

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Your Flying Car? Delayed again, but you WILL get it, says Terrafugia

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Eeeek!

Or: OOOK! as the librarian warns you not to land on the dome of the library.

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PayPal security boss: OBLITERATE passwords from THE PLANET

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Heel, FIDO! Heel!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

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Builder-in-a-hole outrage sparks Special Projects Bureau safety probe

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

But, But, But...

Was he wearing suitable sun-block protection on his bare arms?

We must know!!!!!

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Coke? Windows 8 is Microsoft's 'Vista moment'. Again

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

A statement with "Balmer" and "overly aggressive" only needs

"is" in between

More seriously, it looks like my decision to postpone the acquisition of a laptop until such time as MS backtracked was a good one

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Don't bake your Raspberry Pi - now you can WATER COOL it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Obviously

The coolant of choice is raspberry juice

I'll get me coat

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We've done it - we've gone and made LONG-LIFE BEER

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

I'll drink to that!

Who says all researchers live in an ivory tower?

Cheers

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So long, Hotmail: Remaining users migrated to Outlook.com

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Seen from the other side, Hotmail is a pain too

When people subscribe to a forum I help moderate, our software sends an authentication e-mail, with a link to let the user authenticate himself. Hotmail, and hotmail alone, corrupts the url we send, so an administrator has had to programme a workaround. Let's hope and pray that Outlook.com does mess up in the same way.

Standards? MS has heard of them, I recall.

I know, I am an eternal optimist.

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Thousands rally behind teen girl cuffed, expelled in harmless 'explosion'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Terrorist

Yep, noticed the same. Even the most measured posts are receiving thumbs down from somebody. Not necessarily an American though, there are plenty of idiots on either side of the big pond. Idiocy is very democratic in that sense

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Common Sense...

There is still a lot of common sense about, I see it all around me every day. I see morons too, of course, but they are in somewhat shorter supply. Modern communication technology just means you hear about the morons much quicker. Do not forget, people being sensible is not something that sells papers, or generates clicks on adds.

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Why next iPhone screen could be made of SAPPHIRE - and a steal...

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Silica <> glass

Silica or quartz is not (often) a true glass. Fused silica is used in optics, but due to the high temperatures needed for glass transition it is limited in its use. Typical glass combines silica (about 75%) with sodium and calcium oxides. So silica is the main constituent in many cases, but not the whole story. Most silica typically has a proper crystalline structure, and is not glass-like in many properties (e.g. thermal conductivity of glass is typically closer to that of certain liquids than that of crystalline silica or carborundum (alumina)).

</pedantry>

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COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO: NASA rovers scrawl giant willy on Mars

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

It needn't be intentional, it could just be a cock-up

Sorry, couldn't resist. Sounds like it's time to go already

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Nvidia Tesla bigwig: Why you REALLY won't need x86 chips soon

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Not all parallel programs have the same demands

There are many tasks that run like the clappers under CUDA. These are all those tasks that are of a more-or-less SIMD nature, like large matrix multiplications, Fourier transforms, and any other method that has a predefined processing order, preferably with a lot of micro-parallelism in there. Subtasks also need to be fairly isolated, to minimize communication load. For those tasks Kepler and Tesla-like processors are great (we have a couple).

However, there are also tasks in which the processing order is data driven, and where each processor might need to access arbitrary parts of the (large) data set here. I am currently doing multi-scale analysis of 3.9 Gpixel images, and doing that on a Kepler or Tesla board is a nightmare. Our 64-core Opteron machine gets between 32-50 times speed-up, because this algorithm is best using coarse-grained parallelism. X86-64 machines are not going away soon, and GP-GPU-processing is not a panacea (great though it is).

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BlackBerry OS 10.1 leaks its secret goo over all the web

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Mrs F....

I cannot say that the fact that one particular missus cannot understand a phone is the best measure for usability. My missus moans about her android phone endlessly (which my kids understand in the blink of an eye), but at the same time refuses to listen to any advice (like what different buttons/apps do, what gestures are available, etc). In quite a few cases I find that moaning is not about getting help or advice, it is purely about getting attention. If you truly solve the problem, you deny them the chance to moan about that again.

BTW, this is not a female thing: we have several excellent and technically very competent female PhD students here. It is much more of an anti-tech mindset that some people develop.

Sorry, end of rant, it has been that kind of morning. Beer, because I feel I am in need of that.

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And they're off: Hubble, Herschel race for hot pics of space filly

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: That is so, so beautiful

To see the Horse-head nebula you need very dark sites, a big scope, and for preference an H-beta filter. Even with my 8" in the Alps I failed to spot it (did not have the filter though, next winter might be better).

We are lucky to live in a time when we have instruments like Hubble and Herschel to capture such beauty.

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Dark matter researchers think they've got a signal

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

So

even at the subatomic level, being hit by a wimp does have much effect

Yeah, right. I should have gone home long ago

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Ready for the car 2.0? Nvidia preps UPGRADABLE car system

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Can you install two dashboards using SLI?

Just to keep back-seat drivers occupied

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Ants have careers; you don't want them

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Maybe the queen just likes having all the hot-looking young ants to herself?

And the young'uns like to be near the queen of course. To paraphrase Loudon Wainwright III

"The cutest ant that I have ever seen

is our own big fat sexy queen!

True she hasn't got such great legs,

but you should see the girl lay eggs!"

Mine's the one with the dead skunk print on the back.

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Malwarebytes declares Windows 'malicious', nukes 1,000s of PCs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

I patiently await

A virus scanner that identifies itself as malware

At least it will remove itself, or at least file harakiri.dll

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Review: Asus PadFone 2 phone-tablet combo

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Interesting concept. From the same company that produces the transformer stuff that seems like the most interesting tablet to fulfil my needs. Next up, a padphone transformer?

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Boffins: Tireless star spurted deadly jets for half an hour at a time

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

That is why they talk about the edge of the observable universe. One could also call this "edge" our event horizon. Just because crayons work in 2D does not mean 3-D (or for that matter n-D, for any positive integer n) objects cannot have an edge (or boundary if you like).

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Are biofuels Europe's sh*ttiest idea ever?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Biofuels do have a long history

T34 Tanks are said to have run on vodka or bootleg drink on occasion.

A waste of good drink, perhaps, but it may have prevented blindness.

(it cannot have been scumble, as that would have eaten its way through the metal of the engine)

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Raspberry Pi space jaunt ends in dramatic mountain rescue

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Locals bearing flaming torches and pitchforks

But, but, but,..... was one member of the team called Igor?

Please let somebody say "Yeth, Marthter!!"

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Microsoft brings back Windows watch after Apple seeks 'flexible' bod

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

@Danny 14

"but the battery life will suck. Even with induction charging it will be a pain."

I have this mental image of an induction charger based on a cattle prod

It's withdrawal symptoms from too few BOFH episodes

Really time to go; hat, coat, outahere!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: meh....

".... a computer on their wrist and a computer on their face?(smart specs)"

I thought face-installed computers were quite old technology, generally available whenever someone ticks off the the BOFH

OK, time to go

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Mozilla devs plotting to put a stake in <blink> tag – at last

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

DARN!!

And I had almost got my special toner to get laser printed web-pages to blink where required perfected!

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NASA-backed fusion engine could cut Mars trip down to 30 days

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Vaporware

Of course there are hurdles, that is why research is needed (hence the phrase "if we knew what we were doing it would not be research" ;-) ). There are many ways this can go pear-shaped, but I applaud the aim, and the proposal is plausible enough to investigate further. It is an audacious and exciting proposal.

This scheme will need a rethink when going to the outer planets such as Jupiter, or its moon Europa, given the much lower intensity of solar radiation. Some other source of electric power will be needed.

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Hard luck lads, todger size DOES matter: Official

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Ig Nobel prize nominee

if ever there was one. Also suitable for the "Scientists now know" and "Boys will be boys" sections of Annals of Improbable Research

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MISSING LINK between HUMANS and MONKEYS FOUND

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: ObJoke

Millennium hand and shrimp, I told em I told em, they'd only run out, buggrit, buggrem, doorsteps, I told em, I told em, don't try the blarney gobble on me, juggins, buggrit, buggrit, millennium hand and shrimp

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US Navy blasts drones with ship-mounted LASER CANNON

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Are they serious?

So the full name of the ship is not USS Ponce da Quirm?

Mine is the one with "Eric" in the pocket

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The ten SEXIEST computers of ALL TIME

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Thinking Machines

Oh yes! We had a CM-5 in our computer centre. That was seriously cool. The Cray J-932 right next to it mainly had an ultra-cool power led (rectangular, 1 x 10 cm or so affair), but the CM-5 looked like it would fit in in the higher budget class of SF movie.

The Elan Enterprise brings back memories, I used to have an Enterprise 128 as a kid. These had a nifty expansion slot at the side which allowed all sorts of people (students too) to build their own extensions (I once saw a working (!!) home-brew 4MB hard drive attached to one). It was a lot easier to get on with than the CDC-6600 (aka Cyber 74) on which I did my first computer practicals.

Is there no nostalgia icon?

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Website which 'could have prevented Rwandan genocide' goes live

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Back in the days . . .

The BOFH had a field day having his boss shout all the forbidden words "to build up a database" of forbidden words for their newfangled speech recognition software, as I recall.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Hate speech not the best indicator

Very true, I do not doubt. You often see people of different ethnicity living side by side harmoniously during good times. It is when the economy goes down the toilet that people like to point the finger of blame to anyone who looks different (god forbid I am to blame, after all). Sad but very human, I am afraid. Much the same happened in former Yugoslavia.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Cue a random word generator.

Like swut, joojooflop, and turlingdrome?

So long as they don't start saying Belgium (whoops)

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Pyongyang to unleash NUKULAR horsemen of the Norkocalypse?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Seriously Dave?

I somehow doubt you could do that unnoticed by any satellite. If anything elongated an of the right size is loaded onto a ship or barge, rest assured something up there will read the serial numbers (OK not quite perhaps, but close enough).

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Hold on! Degrees for all doesn't mean great jobs for all, say profs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: It's whether the degree is *hard* or *soft*

If we want to be scientific about it, we should have a hardness measure for degrees. Before embarking into a formal definition of this hardness, we could at least devise an informal scale similar to Mohs scale in mineralogy: Hardness scale 10 might be a PhD in quantum physics or cosmology, whereas hardness 1 would be a bachelor in underwater basket weaving.

Furthermore, I propose that very hard degrees must come with a diploma or certificate that is hard enough to be used to whack potential employers around the head. The softest degrees should come with a fluffy pink certificate.

Note that hardness has no repercussion for usefulness in a particular trade or profession. A quantum physicist might be of limited use in a nursing home.

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NASA rules out leading new human lunar expedition

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: It's not the same without Neil anyway

Is it me, or are managers (and politicians of course, always hard to keep vermin out) in charge at NASA, rather than engineers, kick-arse test pilots, and people with vision?

Pity, NASA gave me some of my fondest childhood memories.

Having said that, there are still some awesome projects they do carry off. You have to just love those Mars rovers, to name just one example (OK, three). They show there are still star engineers at NASA.

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How I nearly sold rocket windows to the crazy North Koreans

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

The story I heard was that the Russians bought one Nene engine (legally) and said, thank you very much, we will copy them, without bothering about licences, but I might well be wrong. Both stories are equally believable: A government cynically copying stuff developed elsewhere or an arms manufacturer cynically selling military gear to anybody with enough cash.

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Hubble boffins: Incredibly old supernova could explain EVERYTHING

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Ever wondered if...

The nearest supernova remnant to you is you, but it goes a bit far to point to a distant (actually, close by on a cosmological scale) supernova in Messier 101 a year or two back and say (in a high pitched voice) MUMMY!!!, as I heard one amateur astronomer do at a star party.

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Pyongyang Photoshop tomfoolery shows wet Norks, skirts blown up

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: That's a lot of eels!

Stealthiest Monty Python link of the decade, methinks.

My nipples explode with delight!

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