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Andrew Oplinger
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go, before I sleep, and miles to go, before I sleep.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go, before I sleep, and miles to go, before I sleep.

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Here's a team I've been working with for a while:

The team who built this built it on my infra, I'm super proud of them! 

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This demands your attention. 

And this is how we rise - by taking a fall
Survive another winter on straight to the thaw
One day you'll learn to strain the tea through your teeth
And maybe find the strength to proceed to the peak
You press on into the thin again and cannot breathe
Swallow so much of my damn pride that it chokes me
The real risk is not a slipped grip at the edge of the peak
The real danger is just to linger at the base of the thing
-- Contrails

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I've reached the next stage in the bleeding heart liberal's stages of grief, the Think Piece on medium.

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Fascinating, I didn't know that each department has different rules for how classified info is treated. As usual, the real story is much more nuanced and complicated than the headline. 
There's a very real sense in which the Clinton email issue is just a giant shit-fight between DOJ/DOD and State coming to a head. Both have reasonable points: State's computer security practices are abysmal, but State couldn't do any diplomatic work whatsoever if it ran its classification practices the way DOD/DOJ wants it to.

Here's what's going on:

Every executive agency has the right to set its own classification practices, and the classification chain for every executive agency ends with either the civilian head of that agency or some other agency. But because classification policies vary so widely between different executive agencies, there's often internecine disagreement when information classified by one agency (say, Defense) is later handled by another agency (say, State). And these disputes tend to center very heavily on State, as opposed to every other agency.

Fights about classification between Energy, which has a very eccentric classification regime, and Defense, which has pretty much the center case, tend to flare up around delayed publication of apepers about, for instance, nuclear policy or secrets. Fights between Defense and DOJ tend to center around the disclosure of classified information in civilian trials.

State, on the other hand, regularly discloses information classified by other branches of government without first consulting the agencies which classified it for a formal classification review. This is because when a drone strike goes FUBAR and kills a dozen Pakistani soldiers, the government doesn't have the time to fiddle around for six months deciding whether to declassify the reason for the strike. Either the Secretary of State or the Pakistani head of mission is going to need to be on the phone in fifteen minutes, apologizing profusely to the senior diplomats of a nuclear power,, or heads will roll. This being Pakistan, this is only barely a metaphor.

Other executive agencies, historically, have not liked this very much. DOJ generally wants to go beyond the constitutional bounds of classification law, if only to persecute government employees who leak or otherwise embarrass them. DOD would like to micromanage State's classification process, if only to bring it in line with DOD's fussy, siloed, and hierarchical classification practices.

Viewed in that context, Comey's conclusion about Clinton's emails is part of a broader, standing conclusion by the US national defense community that State's classification practices are unacceptable. But this is not new, and there are perfectly valid reasons to take State's side over American security services: too much is classified, American classification law is barely constitutional as it stands, and the steep penalties are entirely out of line with the vagueness of the underlying legal regime.

Had a dream last night that woke me up and I couldnt sleep till I wrote it down.

I will tell you a tale of ancient times, of the wars waged and battles joined. 

They were games, if truth be told, the Courts of Summer and Winter fought for territory over the Endless Lands. Banners streaming in the breeze as each side pushed forward its claims. If the Black Banners stood for a night and day, the land was claimed and twisted under its new master. If the Golden Banners held for a day and a night, the land gentled and grew lush and verdant.

Knights of each side would push the banners forward. Should they fall in battle they would simply reincarnate in the halls of their Queens, and stride forth again to join the fray.

In this way, the battles raged unceasing. Filled with such lofty concepts as honor, and chivalry, and heroism. Death never truly touched the Courts, and memories were long, so on and on they reveled and fought. Each side taking and retaking territory from each other in endless spats. 

It was by the sea that day, the balanced forces clashed. It was by the sea that day, that it all changed. 

For on that day the Black Banners were standing, inky and proud over the crumbling walls of a destroyed castle that long overlooked the Lonely Sea. It had tumbled down as the land beneath changed hands over and over.

Some believe it was the constant changing hands that brought it forth, birthed it anew. I believe it was something older, something born in the Before, and the blood of the sides simply drew it up to us. 

It matters not. 

The gleaming heroes of Summer were desperate, pressing forward in a last ditch effort to topple enough banners to break the spell in the waning light of evening. The forces of Winter held fast, and the spilled blood of both sides drained down the cliffs to the sea below. Where it mixed in the waves, until a loam of gold and ichor foamed. 

From these waters it rose. 

None noticed it at first, for it was small. In the beginning, it resembled a Knight, arms, legs, head and chest, standing in the sea. But with every surge of loam, its limbs and chest grew, swelling till it towered over even the tallest. Its arms were as thick as oak trees, its legs were pillars of stone. Its head had the hair of a drowned soldier, its skin as grey as a storm. But its face, oh it's face. It had the face of a babe, or simpleton; slack jawed, its open mouth drooled and chewed. Black orbs of midnight served as its vacant darting eyes. 

All heads turned towards it, as it took its first waddling, crushing, thunderous step onland. The mouth opened and it blubbered "Futter?" and began to lurch up the path from the sea. 

The Summer Knights were the first to feel it wade into them, caught as they were between the sea and Winter's Forces. Blades slid off the thick hide, or where they pierced, the green weeping wounds quickly closed. 

The cheer from the Winter Knights were soon quieted when a comely Summer Knight known well by both sides was snatched up by the giant's hands. 

"Futter!" squeeled the thing, as it picked up the Knight like a doll. With a seemingly gentle touch of a giant thumb and finger, the monster rolled the forearm of the screaming knight, careful not to break the skin, as it pulverized the bone beneath. 

Stunned silence, met only by the crying, pleading sobs of the Knight, another limb, and another, and another. And then the monsters true nature was revealed. it pressed the foot of one leg through the sagging flesh till foot met knee. Then cupping its hands on the now shortened limb, it blew. A sickly green light streamed from its gaping mouth, and the foot fused to the knee. Another foot, and a cry of triumph from the beast.

"Futter!" as it placed the Knight on the ground, voice filled with a child's glee, it clapped its hands. The struggling knight, with hands flopping on the end of shattered forearms, legs shortened, struggled to stand and flee, but managed nothing more than a rictus dance. 

Its fell work done, the monster turned its dread gaze to the rest of the armies and strode forth 


On that day, in the early evening, the Knights of Summer and Winter learned something new. They learned a new pain, one that didn't end in the sweet release of reincarnation. For in the shadow of the Futter, none die. Wounds that should have cleft spirit from body, simply do not take the souls. Hearts pump endless blood, nerves continue relentless, and the screams continue unabated. 

At dusk, the Black Banners held. The land dutifully twisted, taking the shape of Winter. None observed it save those twisted wrecks left twitching and screaming. Those left able had fled, hearts filled with a new kind of fear, fear of living.

The ruins stand to this day, empty, haunted by the screams, the pain, and the fear. Summer never pushed to reclaim the land, and none of Winter ever go near. 

The only sound, the Black Banners, still standing, still flapping in the breeze, claiming land that all know belong instead to Futter.

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