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There's more from Dale Connelly at The Morning Show


with Wendy Vapors, 6/23/00

Dc: This is DCR, news meant for amusement. The strange disappearance and reappearance of highly classified hard drives at the Los Alamos laboratory has so far defied rational explanation. Which hasn't stopped the experts from trying to explain it. Wendy Vapors has been following the story, and she's in the studio now. Wendy?

Wendy: Yes?

Dc: Do we have any idea what really happened?

Wendy: Well, yes and no! That's why I had to do this story.

Dc: But there's no hard evidence yet. Of anything.

Wendy: No, actually, I do have something new and surprising, but they told me to save it for the end of the story.

Dc: They did?

Wendy: Do you want me to tell you now?

Dc: Well, why don't you start at the beginning.

Wendy: It all started when I found out there's a medical researcher who thinks the whole thing is the fault of MALLARDS!

Dc: Ducks broke into the lab?

Wendy: No! MALLARDS is a syndrome-thingy. Bud Buck did a report on it months ago, remember?

Dc: Uh.

Wendy: Of course you don't. It's called "Male Attention, Learning, Listening And Retention Deficit Syndrome." And I talked to Dr. Arnold Hoover has been studying MALLARDS as part of his work as an internist at Stoic Guy's Hospital.

Hoover: When I read the details of what happened at Los Alamos, about the lost items, no one remembering where anything was or even how long it was missing … I realized this could be a case of MALLARDS.
It has very definite indicators.
One, the victims are male.
Two, they don't remember anything anyone says to them, particularly their wives.
Three, they rarely remember what they've said or done themselves.
And four, they're male.

Wendy: But could the Los Alamos incident really be a simple case of someone having MALLARDS? No one in an official capacity would comment for this story on tape, but I was able to talk with former lab employee Lotta Rems, who confirmed for me that most employees in the secure documents office are candidates for the malady.

Lotta: (phone) Yes, sure, they're men, all men. You get into a highly technical field like that and it's men men men everywhere. "Hire more women!" I said, but their eyes kinda glazed over.
They were forgetting what I said as soon as I said it.

Wendy: (awestruck) So their memories were already gone?

Lotta: Kinda, except the guys I knew could name every character who's ever appeared in any episode of Star Trek, from the first time William Shatner took off his shirt, all the way through Voyager. So … they had memories. Full of junk, but they had 'em.

Hoover: Yes, yes. This sounds like a classic MALLARDS profile.

Wendy: Once again, Dr. Hoover of Stoic Guys' Hospital.

Hoover: A gentleman hears well, he is certainly able to process information, he may even be brilliant in one or more areas.
But there are inexplicable gaps in retention.
I'm sure this had something to do with the security problem.

Dc: But Wendy … real evidence does Dr. Hoover have?

Wendy: I'm getting to that. Do you want me to tell you now?
I'm still supposed to save it for the end.

Dc: I thought this WAS the end.

Wendy: Nope! I still have a few more minutes and we're supposed to make people listen as long as possible.

Dc: I don't want to rush you.

Wendy: Then ask me something else … like … "why is this so important to Dr. Hoover …"

Dc: Why is this so important to Dr. Hoover ..

Wendy: … to connect MALLARDS to the near loss of nuclear secrets.

Dc: … to connect MALLARDS to the near loss of nuclear secrets?

Wendy: Good question! It turns out, if MALLARDS is thought to be responsible, the federal government could channel billions of dollars into Dr. Hoover's research. But first he has to convince congress, and that could be a tough sell with lawmakers like Loomis Beechly, who represents Minnesota's 9th district.

Beechly: (phone) A memory thing that affects only men? (laughs)
I suppose I could launch a congressional inquiry into that, but … we're mostly men here … so who would remember it? Ha! I'd could save the government a lot of money if I told them we already did it … who's gonna challenge me on that? Maybe we HAVE done it already.

Dc: Gee, Wendy. It seems like in the absence of some kind of smoking gun, there can never be a sure connection between these security lapses and Male Attention, Learning, Listening And Retention Deficit Syndrome.

Wendy: Did someone say "smoking gun?" NOW it's time for my big scoop!

Dc: Finally!

Wendy: Last week we were contacted by an amateur ham radio operator, Sparks Mackenzie, who had tape that … well, you have to hear him explain it.

Sparks: I'm always sampling around the audio bands, listening and sometimes recording.
The day they evacuated the labs for the wild fires, I picked up a cell phone conversation between an engineer in the building, and his wife at her office.

Bob: (phone) They're telling me we've got to get out of the building. The fire's getting closer.

Beth: (phone) Do you have your briefcase?

Bob: My what?

Beth: Your briefcase? With the papers?

Bob: Yeah, yeah, sure. I've got a bunch of stuff. I've got some security stuff out of the safe, too. We can't let this stuff be lost.

Beth: You've got your briefcase?

Bob: My what?

Beth: Your briefcase? With the medical claims form for your dad's colonoscopy? Remember, you were gonna copy them?

Bob: Yeah, sure. I gotta go here.

Beth: I'll talk to you on your way out, so you'll remember to bring the cell phone.

Bob: The cell phone! My gosh! I left it!

Beth: No, Bob, you're holding the cell phone. You're using it to talk to me, right?

Bob: (relieved) Oh, right! Sure.

Beth: Is the building on fire yet?

Bob: No, no. Not yet.

Beth: Are you going by a copy machine?

Bob: Sure. Yeah.

Beth: Did you run a copy of that claims form?

Bob: I'm not supposed to …

Beth: Bob!

Bob: But the flames!

Beth: How long can it take? I just need one copy for our files at home.

Bob: My arms are kinda full.

Beth: There's no place to put anything down on the copier? Come on, Bob. You said you'd DO this. It's not my fault you waited.

Bob: Well … OK. Where's the form?

Beth: (sigh) In your briefcase. You remembered it, right?

Bob: Briefcase?

Beth: BOB!

Dc: Wow … so you think this tape …

Wendy: Explains it all! Actually, Dr. Hoover figured it out.

Hoover: The fellow put the hard drives on top of the copier, MALLARDS kicked in, he forgot what he was doing, so he lifted the lid to duplicate his medical insurance form, and down the hard drives went behind the machine just like that!
And then of course MALLARDS led him to forget he had ever had the hard drives in the first place. Simple. Shocking. All too human. All too common. And certainly justification for millions of dollars in new medical research.

Dc: Wendy, that's just incredible. Finally a story about espionage that turns out to be just an ordinary thing we all are familiar with … dumb old forgetfulness. It's not a Tom Clancy novel at all.

Wendy: No, but it's about as long as one!

Dc: Yes, a thin story, told slowly.

Wendy: Thanks!

Dc: Wendy Vapor, reporting.

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