"The secret origin of the patch is initially from [redacted] where the problem during the test stage in the thermal vacuum was traced to a large piece of cabling called an octopus harness. The running joke for the crew was that the octopus harness had taken over the world."
I have the solution: "si non primus es novissimi". It is Latin and roughly translates to "If you ain't first, you're last" according to Google Translator. Someone can check this translation, but it should solve the copyright issue since Ricky Bobby doesn't speak latin. It will also be more mysterious for the average, non-latin literate observer.
This Latin approach has worked before and allowed one of my previous organizations to have the slogan "Doing God's
work with other people's money" fly right through the approval process.
Google translate is not up to the task of translating more than an isolated word without serious errors. I can't actually check your translation, but I can point out some issues:
- The verb, es, and the word "first", primus, are both singular. They match! And they're supposed to. But novissimi is plural. In the sentence as given, novissimi plays no role, much like the "cabbage" in the sentence "this sentence contains cabbage six words".
- Novissimi means, literally, "newest". (Heck, it doesn't just mean "newest", the two words are etymologically identical.) It does metaphorically refer to the rear of something, since the back of the army is where the least experienced (newest) troops get placed. A better word for "last" would probably be postremus, meaning literally "last" and metaphorically "worst".
- There's only one verb. (Compare "if you're not first, you're last".) That isn't the problem in Latin that it would be in English, but I flag it because the final two issues require careful thinking about what verb to use where...
- This is a conditional statement using a present indicative verb. The strong implication is present that, as described, you really aren't first. If the statement was meant to be hypothetical or counterfactual, you'd probably use subjunctive mood.
- I cannot guarantee that the concept "to be first" is best expressed by combining the verb "to be" with the adjective "first", as you've done here. It's quite possible that there's a verb that describes winning a race or a competition or whatever, and that verb would be a more idiomatic way of expressing this meaning. I have no knowledge of whether that's actually true, but it's the kind of thing that comes up a lot when you're trying to translate between languages. (This sort of thing is why it's much safer to translate things into your native language than out of your native language, even if you have near-perfect command of the other language.) English is very free with "be + adjective" constructions; many languages are more prone to specialized verbs. (Compare the Latin verb rubere, "to be red". Expressing the concept as ruber esse, "to be" + "red (adj.)" is an error.)
si non prius, postremo te
"[redacted] said after the octopus logo, the White House threatened to require presidential approval if the NRO approved any more menacing logos."
NROL-10 launched in 2000 with an almost Miyazaki-esque logo designed by school children. Most of the mission logos seem to be in jest, or more recently Marvel Avengers-based.
Wonder what other cool logos / unit patches / etc I am not aware of.
Death wears bunny slippers:
It's always a bit reassuring to know that dark humor is allowed to exist somewhere within these faceless organizations. They're still allowed to be human. Being a secret agency and protected from the Twitter brigades always helps!
Are they, and are they, by extension, allowed to see "the enemy" as humans, too, or are these stickers part of the rituals of compensation?
> [Hobbes] foresaw the necessary idolatry of power itself by this new human type, that he would be flattered at being called a power-thirsty animal, although actually society would force him to surrender all his natural forces, his virtues and his vices, and would make him the poor meek little fellow who has not even the right to rise against tyranny, and who, far from striving for power, submits to any existing government and does not stir even when his best friend falls an innocent victim to an incomprehensible raison d'etat.
-- Hannah Arendt
In light of that, "tough and mischievous", variations of which 99% of these patches seem to be, doesn't have quite the luster. On the extreme end we have stuff like calling children "fun-sized terrorists", which is clearly not dark humor that expresses humanity, but cartoonish dehumanization.
> protected from the Twitter brigades
Covering one's ears further removes any semblance of luster.
Clay Shirky said something really smart about teenager's usage of public social media: They're talking to each other, not you. So stop listening. You wouldn't eavesdrop on teenager's at the local food court, would you?
I'd only start worrying once the inside jokes become agitprop, bumper stickers, or campaign slogans.
False dichotomies are a sophistry mechanism.
I'm noting what Hannah Arendt said also applies to a lot of people with money, or people in the military, plenty of positions of supposed power.
> So stop listening. You wouldn't eavesdrop on teenager's at the local food court, would you?
Did you seriously compare talking in a less than fawning way about insignia of soldiers in a military conducting wars of aggression, that were posted here as "cool and interesting", with snooping on minors? Wow.
We're both "snooping" in that sense, I just am not fawning over their conversation, that is all. Why can't the people who disagree with, but neither want to refute nore expand on my comment, simply ignore it? They are not the target audience, after all.
> I'd only start worrying once the inside jokes become agitprop, bumper stickers, or campaign slogans.
I'm not "worrying", I'm simply totally unimpressed, have been for ages, by anything in that bucket, and the Arendt quote is a good summary of why. I would guess that the worst things are regularly perpetrated by the utterly bland, not by those who call themselves deathlords of hellfire or whatever, but nonetheless, I think it's the opposite of "cool", it's unintentionally derpy.
I'm just trying to avoid immediately judging any group by their inside jokes. Also, my inner ethnographer is fascinated by how group culture is formed. Probably because, like Groucho Marx, I've never been part of a group.
yes, i suppose when you bring up something totally unrelated to the subject at hand spoken in a different context by unconnected people, it does seem pretty bad
Are weird-looking caricatures of dangerous animals "rituals of compensation" for US sports teams?
No. In both cases, they're about threatening the enemy and bonding the group. A lot of things in militaries, both modern and historic, were about that. If you look at the patches of various military units across time and nations, you'll see plenty of things that are meant to signal dominance.
And that's why I pointed out that it's usually done by meek little fellows in the larger scheme of things. Asserting dominance over others is coupled with being dominated in turn, the dichotomy isn't so much "dominant vs dominated", but rather "dominated and dominating vs. free".
Seeing plenty of that all throughout history is a great reason to call it out for what it is, so we can have something worthwile.
i'm particularly partial to this one:
i emailed him to ask about buying a print but never heard back
> The listening station, which forms part of the global ECHELON system, was designed in part to take advantage of a phenomenon called “moonbounce.” Moonbounce involves capturing communications and telemetry signals from around the world as they escape into space, hit the moon, and are reflected back towards Earth.
> The photograph is a long exposure under the full moon light.
Here's one for space flight missions , but the military books are much more interesting imo.
Also, if you're just into patch/military design, check out the art books for the Ace Combat, Armored Core, and Metal Gear franchise video games.
I am stopping by to mention Trevor Paglen's work who helps uncover and popularize some of this junk. You can watch his full presentation "Seeing The Secret State: Six Landscapes" for background on this unclassified unit patch as well as surprising photos and TLEs and much, much more.
What a time we live in!
The good news is that repeated public records requests can eventually push an agency to come up with a streamlined process that prioritizes making records available by default. Or at least, a bulk dump, in the case of the FBI and celebrity death files 
edit: Check out the wikipedia list of NROL launches https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NRO_launches
Love the logo, but damn if that isn't ominous and intimidating.
Apart from that, thanks for this FOIA request! It's great that the original vector graphics are now available.
It's understandable that a German class on Nazi propaganda would focus on the anti-semitic element, and I sympathise with those that are going to have a stronger emotional reaction to such images, but it's important to remember that it's minority of anti-semitic examples compared to numerous examples without such connotations. Perhaps especially so when it's an org depicting itself as the octopus.