* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

3240 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

NASA spunks $127m on SSL-powered robot to refuel satellites in space

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting idea if they can pull it off

It is going to be quite a challenge (but hey, they are rocket scientists, after all)

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$17k win for man falsely accused of a terrible crime: Downloading an Adam Sandler movie

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Kudos

to anyone who can make lawyers pay. I hear it is as hard as extracting blood from a stone

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The UK's Investigatory Powers Act allows the State to tell lies in court

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Somehow

"V for Vendetta" seems less and less like a work of fiction

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DDN claims burst buffer bashes 'past 1TB/sec bandwidth'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

"..., it's doing a reverse Niagara with aggregated fire hoses."

Nearly had a forward Niagara of tea over the keyboard (narrowly missed it).

Brilliant!

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Really weird quantum phenomenon spied lurking near neutron star

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Not quite

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: The abstract says 10^13G field strength. I presume this is Gauss

"... That or on the passenger seat of the car".

In the latter case the C90s would still all be transformed into "Best of Queen" compilations

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Half-ton handbuilt CPU heads to Centre for Computing History

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Brilliant! Absolutely Brilliant!

I will add this to the list of interesting links for my Introduction to Computing Science course.

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Pluto has massive underground oceans, say astro-boffins

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Past and present

Sputnik Planitia looks very much like a young feature, given the lack of craters, so I doubt its formation took place billions of years ago

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UK warships to have less firepower than 19th century equivalents as missiles withdrawn

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Right decision

Scharnhorst was killed by surface vessels. One of them is still available: HMS Belfast. Maybe it could be recommissioned to add its twelve 6" guns to the Royal Navy's firepower

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Boffins of the future gear up to build their own beastmode rigs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Proud to say

GROMACS was first developed at the University of Groningen (my university). Not that I had anything to do with its development. The closest I got was teaching "Introduction to Computational Science" together with my esteemed colleague Henk Bekker, who did actually contribute, in particular in the development of the LINCS (LINear Constraints Solver) used in GROMACS. Very neat piece of code.

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Bong: Let me talk to Trump

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Brilliant!

Just brilliant. Puts it all into perspective

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The sharks of AI will attack expensive and scarce workers faster than they eat drivers

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Learning to live

The article more-or-less states that we need to earn our keep by joining an impossible rat-race with AI, but maybe by that time we must learn to use the free time we will have gained. We must unlearn treadmill habits, and indeed learn to live. Ultimately, we may have to learn to actually pay attention to our fellow humans, to care for one another, to be good companions, and no, "your plastic pall who's fun to be with" is no replacement

Utopian? Perhaps, but a man may dream

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Boffins find Galaxy making killer radiation, rule out Samsung phone as source

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Aliens!

Quagaaaars!!

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Pythons Idle and Cleese pen anti-selfie screed

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Shouting at clouds

WITH FRIKKIN' LASERS!!!!

of course

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Top of the bots: This AI isn't a cold, cruel killing machine – it's a pop music hit machine

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Elevator Music

A Sirius Cybernetics elevator? The type with defocused temporal perception? It is indeed better to take the stairs, but at least the voicebox of this wasn't exactly one flattened fifth out of tune with itself

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Call that music?

I would certainly not call it Music With Rocks In. As Glod would say: that AI hasn't got "hole"

Doffs hat (black Fedora, once more) to the late, great Terry Pratchett.

Joking aside: some of the best music moves you to tears, because you feel the pain, loss, or loneliness expressed by the singer. I am not sure an AI imitation of those feelings will work any day soon, unless of course it is given a pain in all the diodes down its left side

Doffs hat (same one) to the late, great Douglas Adams

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Red squirrels! Adorable, right? Wrong – they're riddled with leprosy

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Never underestimate a rodent

It might be a killer rabbit, after all

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Mark Zuckerberg is dead – Facebook confirmed

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Bring out your dead!

"I'm not dead yet!"

.....

"I don't want to go on that cart"

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Brace yourselves! Blighty is turning to AI for help

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Maybe they need artificial intelligence to make up for the lack of the natural type (in government in particular)

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Look out, SpaceX et al – China's Long March-5 rocket blasts off

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Well done to those engineers!

I'll raise a pint to this success. I have always loved space exploration, as I grew up in the Apollo era. After that programme ended, some of the excitement went out of it (although the Shuttle brought back some of that). The current competitive climate in space flight is great. May the best engineering team win

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Refactoring Brexit: The Great Digital Repeal

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Nice one just before beer o'clock

That actually made more sense than many other posts (on the Reg or elsewhere) on the vote (whether on Brexit or on who gets their fingers on the big red button). Not sure if that was intentional ;-)

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We're great, you don't understand competition law, Google tells Europe

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

New keyboard please

Google, thy name is Hubris

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Dark matter? More like diet matter: Super-light axions may solve universe's mass riddle

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

No mention of MACHOs either

MAssive Cold Halo Objects were also once a contender for dark matter. MACHOs vs WIMPs was such a nice name for a scientific controversy.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Would those be

Euclid's axions? Never took those lightly myself.

OK, OK, I'll get me coat. The one with the book on geometry in the pocket please

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Stiff upper lips and sun glasses: the Chancellor bets on Brexit feeling

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: What is the purpose of this article?

It is hard to overestimate the importance of EU funding. The UK are not the only country where national funding has been squeezed, and researchers (like myself, here in the Netherlands) increasingly have to turn to EU funding. The UK has been exceptionally successful at obtaining EU grants (like the highly prestigious ERC grants), and rightly so, I should add. The UK still has a lot of first class research going on. I have colleagues in the UK who are understandably worried about what will happen after brexit. Unless some way is found to compensate UK researchers (like e.g. the Swiss model), many scientists may consider moving elsewhere. Really sad.

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What should the Red Arrows' new aircraft be?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Hawker Harrier

would be a top choice for me. It can pull stunts few others can. Dearly love that plane

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Hypersonic cruise missile scores US$175m DARPA cash

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Come again?

"affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile"

This is clearly some strange new usage of the word "affordable" I was not previously aware of

Doffs hat (black fedora again) to the late, great Douglas Adams

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America has one month to stop the FBI getting its global license to hack

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: FBI / KGB

One major difference: One of them changed its name; it's FSB nowadays. KGB sounds so last century

But then a spook bureau by any other name would smell as fishy

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Extradition Treaties

At least if you sentence someone to 12x life you can deduct a life or two for good behaviour and still not let him out

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NASA's asteroid orbit calculator spots a hot rock zipping past

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Not sure blowing an asteroid into smithereens is going to be a solution. Nudging them to a safer orbit takes rather a lot of time, and five days is almost certainly not enough. Assuming bigger, planet-killer asteroids will be spotted long before these much smaller, 25m objects, we might still be able to calculate where the latter are going to land, and see if we can evacuate people. A 25m object is going to cause huge damage (especially if it lands in the see, causing a tsunami), but I do not think it is a planet killer.

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AMD will sell server CPUs at Happy Meal prices so you can supersize servers

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Sounds interesting

I might have to replace our ageing 64-core Opteron compute server (still running smoothly though) at some point in the near future. Will certainly give these Zen chips a look. Regarding the 1024-core chips, these are certainly interesting too, but my impression is they might be less suitable for the kind of workloads I have. One worry would be getting enough data from memory to each of the cores. Still worth a look see. We do indeed live in interesting times.

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Spoiler alert: We'll bet boffins still haven't spotted aliens

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

Re: why are they all pointing their lasers at us?

They are pointing laser at us because of cricket. Bad form, that game, very bad form. Brings back some very bad memories for most alien races out there

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Possible reprieve for the venerable A-10 Warthog

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I have always had a soft spot for the A-10. I managed to make some pretty decent snaps of one doing mock runs on a castle ruin I was visiting in England when I was a student (must have been early '80s). Really impressive aircraft. Bit like the Il-2 Sturmovik, not pretty, but terribly tough, and lethal to tanks.

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Do AI chat bots need a personality bypass – or will we only trust gabber 'droids with character?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Anybody remember Sirius Cybernetics?

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

Doffs hat (black fedora again) to the late, great Douglas Adams

Of course he also gave insights into how to deal with annoying GPP features, as Ford Prefect said to Eddy's emergency back-up personality: "If you don't open that hatch this minute I am going to your main memory banks with a big axe and give you a reprogramming you will never forget"

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Drone exercise will transform future naval warfare, says Navy

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Inconvenience them into surrendering

I thought inflicting Polka music on your enemy was banned by the Geneva Convention? Or was that the infinite loop of Eurovision Song Contest Winners?

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ExoMars arrives at the Red Planet on Sunday

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Looking forward to the results. Nice to see these collaboration between scientists originally (i.e. when I was a teenager) in rival programmes.

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My Nest smoke alarm was great … right up to the point it went nuts

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: What is 'Smart'?

I fear that if I am ever forced to live in a smart house I will end up with a load of self-satisfied and chatty doors, an elevator sulking in the basement, and a nutrimatic machine insisting I want a cup filled with a liquid, which is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

Doffs hat (black fedora today) to the late, great Douglas Adams

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Stripped of its galaxy, this black hole is wandering naked in the cosmos

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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A gravitaional slingshot perhaps?

The smaller black hole may have been catapulted out of its galaxy by a gravitational slingshot effect, perhaps. There are hints of double super-massive black holes in certain blazars (OJ-287 being one, the most distant object I have been able to see in my humble 8" scope, at 3.5 billion ly). The heavier one might catapult the lighter right out of the galaxy, possibly during a merger of galaxies

Cool stuff, anyway (actually, rather hot)

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UK will build new nuclear bomb subs, says Defence Secretary

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance

"Jackie Fisher's weirder intellectual offspring met with a similar reception from the Fleet when they were commissioned during WW1. HMS Courageous and HMS Glorious were immediately and universally known as "HMS Outrageous" and "HMS Uproarious"."

And the similar "light battle cruiser" HMS Furious became HMS Spurious in the same way

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Re: Shouldn't the new names all start with a "W"?

To take a page out of Douglas Adams' book:

HMS Suicidal Insanity

sound like a suitable name for an "S" class boat

after all, there's a "Daring", and an "Audacious"

Another "S" class boat might be named HMS Suppository (for obvious reasons)

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SpaceX searches for its 'grassy knoll' of possible Falcon rocket sabotage

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Que?

"... conspiracy theorists going nuts on this one for a while" ???

Conspiracy theorists are nuts, and they never, ever stop, in my experience

Just look at all "the moon-landing hoax" theorists. I mean, it was nearly 5 decades ago, and still these idiots go on. Love Buzz Aldrin's response seen here

</rant>

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Simulation shows how space junk spreads after a satellite breaks up

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting, but adding perturbations from other orbiting stuff might make it more realistic. I might set this (extended) problem as a project in the course Modelling and Simulation next year

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Curiosity sniffs Mars' odd atmosphere wafting out of its soil

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Alternative title

Curiosity Catches Curious Noble Gas Curios

Sorry, couldn't resist, it's definitely Friday

Perhaps I should get me coat already

More seriously: awesome stuff from the rover

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Oracle loses (again) in battle to get Google Java case retried (again)

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Some lawsuits are like vampires

You think they have finally crumbled into dust, and then some idiot spills a drop of blood (or spends some cash in this case), and

LOOK WHO'S BACK!!

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'Geek gene' denied: If you find computer science hard, it's your fault (or your teacher's)

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: They're claiming a lot less than you guys seem to think...

Odd belief indeed. I have inspected the grades of several courses I teach (as part of the evaluation), and I rarely see any bimodality. In my computer vision course I sometimes do see bimodality, but this often relates to the students background (those with a BSc in CS vs others)

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Interest

Interest (even enthusiasm), aptitude, and a lot of hard work all go into making a good student at anything, I would say (is there an Ig Nobel prize for stating the bleeding obvious?). Which of these factors is most important is almost impossible to determine because they are interlinked. Did I become good at maths because I worked hard? Perhaps, but it didn't feel like work at the time, I just enjoyed playing around with mathematics. On the other hand, maybe I enjoyed playing around with mathematics because I was getting good results. Being good at something can really stimulate you to do more of it, and doing more really makes you better.

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Redback sinks fangs into Aussie's todger AGAIN... second time in five months

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Not all creatures down there are dangerous

some of the sheep are safe

OK, time to go. Mine is the one with "The Last Continent" in the pocket

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Unlucky Luckey: Oculus developers invoke anti-douchebag clause, halt games for VR goggles

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: "Palmer acted independently in a personal capacity"

Or then again, maybe someone seriously ripped you off for your Scotch.

I like the odd classy single malt (simply love Talisker Port Ruighe, or some of the Ardbeg offerings), and I have seen some eyewateringly high prices on bottles (always wonder if they could possibly be worth it), but if you pay more per tot than the cost of flying a jet for a minute, I feel you may well have been ripped off, and bought the bottle for some false prestige, rather than having superior taste buds. Might be wrong of course, but I suspect not

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Pretending to be a badger wins Oxford Don 10 TRILLION DOLLARS

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

You have got to love the Igs!

That prize for chemistry is well deserved

I actually gave a lecture on the topic of improbable research for PhD students last week (entitled "And Now For Something Completely Different, or, On The Importance of Not (Always) Being Earnest"), including my own work on a quantum-mechanical interpretation of homeopathy (it might work if you don't look), zero-tolerance maths, and the Craske-Trumpe theorem. I also discussed various Ig winner, including the team from our university who investigated what goes on during sex with an MRI scanner. Iwould have loved to have been able to include some of the latest crop of Igs!

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Moron is late for flight, calls in bomb threat

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Facepalm

ID10T error, most definitely

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