I've turned off quick links for everybody, as I'm more and more certain that it's strategic combinations of old-time, non-forum-marking-read people hitting the index page that's causing our mysql to end up stacking up.
FYI/FWIW, I haven't seen any of the oddities since you made that change. Seems like a reasonable theory to me! Thanks.
Odd, you should be able to see the avatars and sig pics. Are you logged in? If you are not, you might be seeing the default "guest" options, which are to not include the pictures. I am in Opera 6.0, unregistered version.