Not From the Onion-NROL 39

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) launched a new spy-satellite, NROL-39, on Dec. 5.  When I first saw this I felt sure it couldn’t be real, it must be from The Onion but no, this is the official logo for the satellite which you can see on the rocket and in this NRO press release.



When the history of how the United States became a dystopian, surveillance state is written no one will be able to say that we were not warned.


I'm sorry, I used to love this site, but at what point are we posting interesting tidbits of econ news, and at what point is Alex just rambling about insane predictions of the future? This is more fitting for HLN than MR.

If you want to actually present arguments as to why you think we're heading this way, I might disagree with your opinion, but I wouldn't have a particular problem with it. This site is worthy of more than just bumper-sticker-level discussion.

Don't be such a drama queen. My goodness.

I nearly spit out my coffee at the hypocrisy of such a statement coming from your mouth/fingers, Captain Hive and other Fox talking points.

P.S. - still nobody reading your blog

"I nearly spit out my coffee at the hypocrisy of such a statement coming from your mouth/fingers "

Ditto to you.

How much self-absorption does it take to reason from

premise: I enjoy blog A at certain moments


conclusion: Blog A is written for me! Me! They must be really interested in what I like! So I am entitled to whine at length the moment it deviates from my tastes!

Dystopia - an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives. How can people ride around in big cars, own or rent warm comfortable homes, watch big screen TV, play endlessly on the internet, and do the 1001 daily things of an advanced culture and believe that it is dystopian?

A dystopia is not created overnight.

I don't know man. I got dystopia down in Mexico once. it was more than dehumanizing and fearful. It is no laughing matter.

Sometimes less is more and in this case we believe that this short phrase and image are sufficient to make the point. The expansion of the security state and the out of control ego of the ruling establishment have economic consequences for our nation. Therefore, this is an apt topic/posting for this blog.


It's called humor.


I've looked through Alex's recent posts on this issue, and I'm still comfortable with my comment.

John, I believe you might be comfortable sitting on a cactus as well. Your comfort is not what we are objecting to.

It's called satire. As if anyone with any interest in the subject (or having paid attention to the news for the past couple of decades) honestly believes the U.S. isn't a surveillance state. The dystopian is a bit more open to discussion, of course.

'When the history of how the United States became a dystopian, surveillance state is written no one will be able to say that we were not warned.'

That warning was during the reign of what most Americans consider the worst president in modern history.

But why would we care to listen to a USNA graduate or any of the congressional committees of that era, especially when there was a B-movie actor ready to play the role with panache? The U.S. has long been a dystopian, surveillance state - drug testing is routine, fingerprinting those wishing a driver license before the age of 18 is normal, credit records are maintained on all possible financial transactions. All routine before 2001. And now, according to the Supreme Court, DNA can be collected by police at the time of arrest, without any need that the person arrested be guilty of any crime for the state to use that DNA.

What makes the U.S. unique is how the dystopian surveillance state is run at a profit, for those in charge.

Wilson, that's kind of a stretch but I can see it?

I think Carter has recently been displaced.

"What makes the U.S. unique is how the dystopian surveillance state is run at a profit, for those in charge"

Do you honestly believe the european surveillance state isn't run at a profit for those in charge? And does being profitable somehow make it more wrong?

I have looked at Alex's recent posts and they seem thoughtful. The judgment seems harsh.

It's a radar satellite and the mission crew has a good sense of humor =)

Remote sensing is a just a tool, not a bad thing per se. It can help to track vegetation, water, crops and many useful things. Anyway, satellite remote sensing can not be used to track individuals.....unless you have a 1/2 pound tracking device and you're not aware of it ( )

These kind of surveillance is to look for big things like military facilities, ships, trucks, missile launching platforms, etc.

Anyone can know more about your life by reading your credit report and your CV than from satellite remote sensing.

The mission motto appears to come from Descartes' Discourse on Method, Part 2:

"The long chains of simple and easy reasonings by means of which geometers are accustomed to reach the conclusions of their most difficult demonstrations, had led me to imagine that all things, to the knowledge of which man is competent, are mutually connected in the same way, and that there is nothing so far removed from us as to be beyond our reach, or so hidden that we cannot discover it, provided only we abstain from accepting the false for the true, and always preserve in our thoughts the order necessary for the deduction of one truth from another."

Great quote! I had never seen that before. Beautiful.

It is, but in the context of the NSA it is slightly worrisome, no?

I think they were trying to have some humor there. I think we should worry about our surveillance state regardless of the (in this case, pretty awesome) mission patches they use.

So should we disappointed or grateful the didn't just use Cthulhu?

I think they just used a subtle version.

Silly. No one will be stupid enough to write a history of how the U.S. becomes a dystopia.

We have a winner.

here's an interesting, apt logo comparison:

Why has nobody referred to Goldman Sachs?

OK, time to do the link thing for anyone actually interested in 'secret' patches -

At least it's not Cthulu!

I'm pretty sure that posts like this will prevent Alex from ever getting gigs with the have to be a little more of a state worshipping apologists to get the hush money Alex.

Those octo-tentacles would be very useful for alien-like anal probes. Just sayin'...

Dystopia - an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful live.

Dystopia - a Foxconn factory.

Dystopia - a fabric factory in Bangladesh.

Utopia - cheap electronics and clothing.

The last item in that list requires a certain ability to declare something imaginary.

Larger dystopia - Bangladesh before the factory

Allowing for the agency's attempt at humor; still, I can't help but think this logo demonstrates an appalling measure of tone deafness to the real concerns raised by the recent revaluations of the massive and potentially insidious information gathering this government is conducting.

I agree with you. NRO has escaped the fate of NSA so far. But joking about how you own the world is hubris, and is a reliable indicator that nemesis is not far away.

There's a simple reason NRO has escaped the fate of NSA. NRO designs, builds, launches and maintains the satellites. They have no analytical capability whatsoever. NSA and NGA are the agencies with the analytical cadres (and mission) to work with the data collected by NRO satellites and turn that into finished intelligence.

" no one will be able to say that we were not warned "

Sure they will! They will have to lie, but lying about it will be mandatory. :)

When I think of the US these days, I am always reminded of this guy:

Rather than an octopus/squid, the mascot should be a colossal slime mold.

Well they've gone from creepy eyes in the sky watching over you, to a giant damned octopus who is apparently going to grab the whole world just to prove nothing out of it's reach.

So, is it a bad sign that this patch makes me vaguely want to send them a resume?

Some of their previous logos are pretty good too:

They have a few nice variants on the Illuminatus!-style eye in the pyramid. My favourite, though, is the 'Elwood' launch ("on a mission from DoD")

Maybe it just me, but I could not help but wonder if mightly Cthulhu has awakened from his deep sleep and has emerged from the sea to take back his world.

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