A few weeks ago, some shitheel glued up signs in my building's lobby reading "THIS BUILDING IS MONITORED BY CLOSED-CIRCUIT CAMERAS". Presumably this was a shitheel from the building management company that my homeowner's association hired, but who can tell.

These signs irk me. They irk me good.

First, what a waste of effort. Does anyone think that these signs will actually change anyones' behavior? Is there anyone in the world who might have reason to be concerned about whether they are being recorded who would not understand what the big black dome indicated?

Second, these signs are both on the outside and inside of the door. That's right, they're not facing only at the street, but also inward to the lobby, to which only people with a key have access. Someone might generously assume that the shitheel who put up this sign did so in some misguided hope that it might prevent the homeless from sleeping in our alcove -- as if that would work -- it's not like they're trying to hide the fact that they're sleeping there. "We have video of you sleeping." "Ok..." But no, they're pointing the sign at me too. They think that I need to be reminded that I'm being recorded.

Third, the purpose of signs like this is merely to instill unease. They are fnords. You are to see them and have a little twinge. As if Jesus Christ Himself leaned down from his home on Mount Olympus and flicked your ear while saying BE GOOD. Some shitheel spent my HOA money to insult me.

Fourth, I've lived in this building for a long-assed time, and I'm like 99% sure that those cameras are not actually hooked up to anything, so it's a lie from start to finish.

Fifth, ubiquitous surveillance sucks, and asymmetric surveillance sucks even more. If these cameras are actually being monitored, by whom? Because as a condo owner in this building, I'm a not-insigificant-percentage owner of these cameras, so why can't I watch the feed too? If you're looking at me, I should be able to look right back. (I've asked these questions of the HOA, years ago. I never got any answers.)

Sixth, if there was some triggering incident for these signs going up, I think it's safe to say that, without knowing any details, we can summarize it as, "Something must be done, this is something, therefore it must be done."

Anyway, yeah, I hate these signs a lot. But instead of just tearing them down, as was my first instinct, I made some alterations instead. For the outward-facing sign, I added


and for the inward-facing sign, I added


After a couple of days, someone peeled them off. Hey, that's cool, my label printer has a lot of tape left in it, and I had already printed a few others in anticipation of this:







(Feel free to add your suggestions below.)

Anyway, someone has been peeling these off every day or two, and I keep putting them back. I'm really curious who is doing it, though, and why. I suppose it's possible that it's some other condo owner who is both not offended by the original sign, and doesn't think I'm funny, but, I don't even know how to process that. Can there be such a person?

I think that a much more likely explanation is that it's one of the despicable real estate agents who darken our doorway on an almost-daily basis. I'll bet one of these shitbags looks at that surveillance sign and thinks that this is going to be a selling point to whatever new-Twitter-hire South Bay dudebro he's trying to foist off an overpriced condo on, and dammit he has a hard enough time already convincing this manchild that this hideous, filthy neighborhood isn't dangerous, and he doesn't need my sarcasm costing him the sale.

At least, I hope so. I hope a little vein pops out on his forehead every time he's scraping one of these labels off with fingernails bitten to the quick.

Update: This story continues in "Exercise Vague Spartacus" and concludes in "Exercise Vague Joy".

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Today I made some pretty sweet flyers for our Hackers party.

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Gimme some sugar, baby

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Albini on Punk and Capitalism

"If you start from the premise of refusing to be an asshole, then a lot of other decisions kind of make themselves."

"There are kind of two perspectives on business. One of them is that a business exists to make money for the investor class that has a stake in that business. That's one perspective. So, from a stock-market perspective, from a shareholder perspective, from an investor perspective, that from any publicly held company's perspective, the company's reason to exist is to make money for those people," he explained. "And if you're not making money, you're a failing company. If its share price doesn't go up, then the company's failing, whether you're making a profit or not. The idea is that the fundamental reason for that company to be there is to make money."

Albini contrasts this approach to how he runs his business. "From an entrepreneurial standpoint, from someone like me -- someone who builds a business for a reason -- the reason my company exists is to make recordings of music. And in so doing, every now and again we'll turn a profit. But that's not why we're in business. We're not in business so that we can make money. And there's a pretty strong argument that most businesses that are not part of the public sphere, not part of the investment transaction or equity management or whatever, most businesses operate on that level," he said.

"Like a bakery opens because a guy wants to make bread. A tavern opens because a guy wants to serve beer to people. That's why people start businesses. It's because they want to do something with their time. They want that enterprise to be how they spend their days. But from an academic standpoint or from an analytical standpoint or from the standpoint of publicly held companies and investment class and everything, the reason the company started is meaningless. All they want to know is the share price going up. And for people like me that seems insane."

"It's like defining a marriage by the size of the house it occupies as opposed to defining the marriage by the love between two people and the life they build for themselves and the experience they share as part of the marriage. [...]

"If I see a competitor studio that's having trouble with something that's a problem that we've solved here at Electrical Audio, I'm not going to keep that information to myself and watch them flounder. I'm going to share that information with them. And that from a 'business' standpoint is a mistake -- from a corporate thinking Art of War, Sun Tzu bullshit kind of scenario -- that's a mistake."

"But from being a decent person seeing someone else in trouble and helping them out standpoint, that's just being a decent person. And that's where I feel like if your basic principles are based in these business precepts, you're prevented from being the best possible person. You're prevented from being a good guy."

"I think that it's an ethical way to conduct myself; otherwise, I wouldn't do it. I do think it's ethically sound to treat everyone fair and to be open and equal in your treatment of everybody and to be inclusive of everybody. I think that is an ethical thing to do," he said. "And I have less respect for the profit motive. In fact, I kind of feel like the profit motive is a pathology, because it engenders sociopathic behavior, and on a corporate scale, the profit motive is extraordinarily destructive. So I don't have respect for it. But because of the way capitalism has been portrayed in this country, I don't expect other people to think that way."

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