* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

3127 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

NASA's stadium-sized sandwich bag overflies Oz

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: spiffy!

Yummy, I'll have one with smoked salmon

Darn, I'm hungry now

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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And what about the kangaroos?

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Boffins achieve 'breakthrough' in random number generation

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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The reason we often do not want truly random numbers is that we want to be able to generate the same sequence again with the same seed (or set of seeds). If we have truly random bits, and want to use that for encryption, we must pass the whole sequence to the receiver through a secure channel (i.e. we are using a one-time pad). Very secure if we can pass the pad safely to the receiver.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Not new at all...

In the past linear congruential RNGs (shudder) were often combined (it's even Numerical Recipes) by taking the "better" higher order bytes of two different ones and concatenating them, because the lower order bits were not very random at all (the least significant goes 0,1,0,1,0,1,0,1,0,1,0,1,0,1,.... if you have got it right, otherwise it goes 0,0,0,0,0,... or 1,1,1,1,1,...). This shows that the basic idea is certainly not new, and for certain (toy) problems it may well suffice. What apparently is new is a proof of method to combine two reliably (still have to read the paper properly). Proof is a thing that carries rather more weight in science than just a nice (and plausible, or even obvious) idea.

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Vostochny cosmodrome caught on Soyuz rocketcam

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Hey, they got it up

Well done those engineers. Of course we knew they could do it, they have done it many times before, but an inaugural launch must mean lots more than usual can go wrong. I do not doubt some glasses of vodka were raised afterwards, and justly so!

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5% of drivers want Nigel Farage to be their in-car robo butler

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Megaphone

I gather John Cleese was an option at one stage:

"Right! Now turn left!"

I bet he could handle swearing back at the driver as well. Battery sergeant major 'Shut up' Williams could do that nicely too:

"I'll make you turn left so fast YOUR FEET WON'T TOUCH THE GROUND!!!"

Megaphone not really needed, I suppose

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The Windows 10 future: Imagine a boot stamping on an upgrade treadmill forever

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: "Makes Windows 10 seem like an infection. Quite apt"

I didn't get that pop-up. Looks like GWX control panel is working.

Win 10 may be better on various fronts, but I resent the way they are trying to force feed us the OS, as much as I resent the data slurping and forced upgrades embedded in it. I have several data capture applications that work under Win 7 and 8.X. When capturing a long sequence of data (like the 176 GB from the Mercury transit), I do not want this interrupted by some upgrade MS foists upon me. I do tend to keep my system updated, but I also do want some degree of control.

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NASA 'Kilo-Kitty' Super Pressure Balloon goes aloft at last

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

In the interest of the environment

Couldn't we make an even bigger balloon by filling it with all the hot gases produced by politicians of all nations?

On the other hand, maybe it wouldn't get off the ground, just as most ideas vented by said politicians.

More seriously: good work from NASA getting the balloon launched after all.

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'Knucklehead' Kansas bloke shoots self in foot

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: 1,2 , few?

No, no, no!

It's "One, two, many, LOTS"

Didn't you listen to sgt. Detritus?

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Boffins flip the unflippable: Meet the latest storage extender contender

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

If you have a PhD in spintronics...

does that make you a spin doctor?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

OK, time to go. My hat (genuine Panama) and coat please

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Laser-zapping scientists will save the Earth from meteorite destruction

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Ah! Frickin' lasers!

All we need now is sharks to mount them

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Skygazers: Brace yourselves for a kick in the Aquarids

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Miraculously

the forecast is clear over here in the north of the Netherlands! What next, flying pigs?

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Ex-HP boss Carly Fiorina sacked one week into new job

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Good news !

Of, course, the more Ecksian approach is to send anyone who gets elected straight to jail, on the practical basis that this saves time

Doffs hat (panama today) to the memory of the late, great Terry Pratchett

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Good news !

Staying with the HHG theme: this just proves that those people who most want to rule people are ipso facto those least suited for the job. So maybe the president's job is to distract people from where the actual power is. Donald Trump could be as successful as Zaphod Beeblebrox in that case.

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I am Craig Wright, inventor of Craig Wright

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Kilroy was here

Or wasn't he?

I know, I know, I know my hair's on fire.

Your face is melting....

Did you know that?

(Doffs hat (Tilley today) to Loudon Wainwright III, and is outahere)

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F-35s failed 'scramble test' because of buggy software

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: five nines...

Unless it's "Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein!!!"

I think they have reached that point

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Quad-core coffee table trumped by dual-Mac garden furniture

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Trump

Is this Turing complete?

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It's 2016 and now your internet-connected bathroom scales can be hacked

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed

Here's another of those self-satisfied doors. I can tell it's going to open by the intolerable air of smugness it suddenly generates

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Or simply: "Ook!"

Darn, no UU librarian icon

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Must listen: We've found the real Bastard Operator From Hell

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

That is bloody brilliant! It has thoroughly cheered me up. It is almost as bad as the "Share and Enjoy" song sung by robots with their voice boxes exactly one flattened fifth out of tune. I'll certainly raise a glass to this

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Europe's Earth-watching sat beams back icy first pic

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Stunning images

Well done those engineers!

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SpaceX is go for US military GPS sat launch, smashes ULA monopoly

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Hey, market forces alive and kicking in the USA, and in government procurement, no less!

Big thumbs up to the SpaceX guys for making it happen

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Black Helicopters

Re: Well not quite pork

Pork pies feature in there somewhere, I am sure

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Your mother has a smooth forehead, Klingon language lovers roar at Paramount

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Initially?

"In fact, at least one child was initially raised as a native speaker of Klingon."

Does the "initially" mean that some child-care agency stepped in, or did the parents come to their senses? I am quite a Lord of the Rings (the books), and Discworld fan, but I didn't name my kids Frodo, Galadriel, Havelock, Carrot, or Glod, nor did I teach them Quenya, Sindarin or Adunaic. I certainly wouldn't dream of teaching those as their first language.

I prefer to just stick a fish in their ear. Works for me and my friend Ford Prefect

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CERN publishes massive data set

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Nice!

We are currently working on new fast particle tracking and track reconstruction software for a different detector, but I might well check out these data to see if we can apply our algorithms to this work as well.Should keep a couple of students out of mischief

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Europe's Earth-watching sat rides Soyuz to orbit

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Every time I see a rocket lauch

it reminds me of the Apollo era of my youth, and puts a smile on my face. Wonderful really to see a Soyuz lift off a western satellite. It shows that despite the troubles we still have, differences can be overcome.

You could of course argue that free market forces simply made the Soyuz the best bang (or actually, "not bang", the last thing they want to see is a rocket go bang) for your buck. However, in 1969, as I sat watching the moon landing WAY past my normal bedtime, these free market forces weren't allowed to work.

So, I'll raise a pint to the successful launch, and further collaboration (there are worse causes).

À votre santé!

and

Поехали!

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Planning to throw capacity at an IT problem? Read this first

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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ONLY throwing capacity at any problem might not be optimal, but with the sheer volume of data processed in many applications, capacity is certainly needed. At the risk of winning a prize for pointing out the bleedin' obvious: you need to find the right tools first, and then assess how much compute power you need, given the optimal tools. Big data really requires you to think hard about tooling. I have seen people throw weeks of compute power of a large section of a Blue Gene machine at a problem that the right algorithm could solve in a couple of hours on a desktop PC. This wasn't even a big data problem, but it really demonstrated the difference in performance between O(N2) and O(N) algorithms.

Of course, in many cases you must also wonder whether you really need all that big data. Bigger isn't necessarily better

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Romania suffers Eurovision premature ejection

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Eurovision is way more than a cheesy competition

It is indeed no worse than the X-factor or The Voice of <Insert Name Here>, and those DO drag on for months. I am fine with people watching those programmes as long as they do not expect me to.

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NASA saves Kepler space 'scope by turning it off and on again

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Well done those engineers

You certainly earned your pint!

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Dutch students serve up world's first 'drone café'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

"Oh dear.

I work in IT end even I'm not that sad. Anyway, it can't lift a pint, so is disqualified straight out the gate."

My thoughts exactly. These students may be too young to remember Sirius Cybernetics "Your plastic pall who's fun to be with" definition of a robot, i.e. they do not know their classics, and will probably be the first against the wall when the revolution comes, as a consequence.

The drone might be able to lift the miserly little glasses they sell beer in here in the Netherlands, however. Fortunately I have found a pub where they sell good beer in proper glasses (see icon).

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How IT are you? Find out now in our HILARIOUS quiz!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: How IT are you?

Maybe he mean 443 Hurts (SI unit for cattle prods and tazers) rather than Hertz

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: I went to university down in Brighton...

I once had a scientologist wanting to inflict a questionnaire on me, so, being a good sport, I went along with it. Answering all the loaded questions in slowly increasing psychopath mode wasn't the only thing that got to him. I think it was the combination of my slightly too bright smile, the way I kept staring fixedly at his right ear, and developing a slight twitch in my left eye that really did it. I was careful not to overdo it, I just subtly built it up. He bolted at the end.

I had just been rehearsing a part as an insane Columbian taxi driver in a student play, so I could keep the act up all day, if needed

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BOFH: Thermo-electric funeral

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Lovely episode. I must say the line:

"Well the only way we can cool it down quickly will be to bring it into contact with something cool with a dense thermal mass I guess,"

had me expecting the boss ending up with burn marks on his forehead. The word "dense" must have triggered that mental image, but I suppose the world "cool" would argue against it.

I do like the notion of a cooling hammer, and my 2.7 lb lump hammer I have lying around the office for demonstration purposes during certain computer vision lectures might be assigned a new role

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Antique? I have still got an 8" floppy disk lying around, with a whole 128 kB of storage (CP/M 2.0 from Digital Research is on it, according to the label).

128MB USB stick antique! Youth these days

Erm, .... has anybody got an 8" floppy drive with USB interface lying around?

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Storage with the speed of memory? XPoint, XPoint, that's our plan

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: NVDIMM

If 3D XPOINT is a lot cheaper than the DRAM + NAND backup solution it does become interesting, even if its speed isn't quite as high. Not sure it is, however.

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Kent Police handed domestic abuse victim's data to alleged abuser – a Kent cop

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Sir

"...

What were they thinking?"

There are two option:

a) Not a lot. This assumes no malice in the perpetrator

b) They thought they could get away with it. That implies malice

In the first case the person may not be suitable for working at the police.

In the second place the person is certainly not suitable for working at the police

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FBI's PRISM slurping is 'unconstitutional' – and America's secret spy court is OK with that

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

"US govt was required to retain any data that may be evidence of a crime"?

Well, anything could be evidence of a crime, couldn't it? Every humorous video of a kitten might have hidden information concerning some heinous terrorist plot. Storing only part of the information on the interwebs is really not enough! We should demand that the US government retain ALL data generated anywhere. There might be a slight storage problem, of course ......

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HTC 10: Is this the Droid you're looking for?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Meh

Hmm

Not sure I will upgrade my M8 just yet. I rather like its 2 day battery life (even after 2 years) under my usage conditions, and more importantly, using it in the kitchen to blare out Rammstein, Blue Oyster Cult, System of a Down, Rory Gallagher, or Rush. Clears the kitchen in no time, so I can cook in peace. Very soothing ....

Should it give up the ghost any time soon, I will turn elsewhere, it would seem. Pity, I always liked my HTCs (starting from the old Desire)

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Utah declares 'war on smut'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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FAIL

"Public health emergency"???

And here I was thinking that it was less likely to contract an STD from watching porn than from actually having sex (especially if you haven't educated kids properly).

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Re: War on Drink

Have you seen liquor stores in Utah? I have seen a couple that look like prisons from the outside. $DEITY forbid you would want to go in there.

Doesn't work of course. People still like to raise a glass

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EU: We're splashing out €6.7bn on a giant scientific cloud

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Certainly not novel, there are similar efforts in the US (also amongst scientists). It's just that we do not necessarily want to have our scientific data on US-owned clouds. Commercial clouds are geared to particular classes of (business) problems, which are very suitable for distributed computing (often embarrassingly parallel). Scientists often have different requirements for which commercial clouds are not that suitable (I have a couple), so scientists may come up with different technical solutions. These solutions may well be of use to industry. My data? Less so, I would say

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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This could be very useful. I collaborate with many fellow researchers, mainly in the EU, on various projects increasingly involving massive data sets. A platform that would allow more efficient sharing and processing of data could certainly help in many such projects. We will see how this pans out

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Academic network Janet clobbered with DDoS attacks – again

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Valid excuse?

That, or they weren't invited to join in. Alternatively, the MUDs were hogging too much CPU time and that got in the way of the sysadmin's MUDs

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US anti-encryption law is so 'braindead' it will outlaw file compression

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Maths v the Law

Following on from the spirit of this Bill, I think they should declare Pi=3. It would save all the hassle of trying to work out all the other digits.

(Yes I know it's been tried once, but the technology wasn't as advanced back then.)

Just call in Bergholt Stutley Johnson!

Might even get the mail sorted before it was sent

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Just a point of clarification...

I think you are all being unfair to congressmen: They can think, for a given value of "think". The problem is they appear to be thinking about themselves mostly, rather than the real world out there

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Chilling evidence emerges of Kilocat weapon

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Very nice indeed!

Have you ever considered sending this stuff to a scientific journal? Like Annals of Improbable Research? Fits right in with classics like "Feline Reactions to Bearded Men"

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Canny Canadian PM schools snarky hack on quantum computing

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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That pleasantness makes the political debate sound so much more grown-up than the childish bickering so many other politicians go in for, in particular when they disagree with someone, purely because he is member of another party, even when that person is proposing the very same policy the other said he were backing. I find that such puerile behaviour (not limited to a single country, alas).

Well done to these Canadians for showing politicians can be polite.

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Linux command line mistake 'nukes web boss'S biz'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

I thought everybody knew

that "rm" stands for "remark".

Our sysadmin told us so

His name is Simon, I think

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Flying Spaghetti Monster is not God, rules mortal judge

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Too slow -- again

Just playing the Devil's advocate: People might argue that parody implies humour. Scientology might be funny, but I don't see any humorous side to it.

Still worth a shot, of course. Anything to trip up Scientologists has my blessing

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

HERESY!!!!

May the Flying Spagheti Monster strike Judge Gerard down with long thin strands of pasta!

Well, that would prove the judge wrong, wouldn't it

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