I recently acquired a decommissioned microfilm reader. My university bought
the reader for $16,000 in 1998, but its value has depreciated to $0 in
their official bookkeeping records. Machines like it played a central role
in both research and secret-agent tasks of the last century. But this one
had become an embarrassment.
The bureaucrats wouldn’t let me store the reader in a laboratory that also
houses a multimillion-dollar information-display system. They made me
promise to “make sure no VIPs ever see it there.” After lots of paperwork
and negotiation, I finally had to transport the machine myself. Unlike a
computer—even an old one—it was heavy and ungainly.


Dallas, Tx
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how I should live my life, since I’m so obviously incapable of deciding for
myself.” M. Hashimoto

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