VAST 2006 Contest - A tale of Alderwood

Answer information from the originators of the dataset

Mark A. Whiting, PNNL
Carrie Varley, PNNL

Tool(s):

Brute Force, bizarre imaginations, sharpened pencils. A little Visio, Word, and TextPad.  

(250 words MAX).  And of course we were part of the team that imagined the plot itself…

1. Who

 

Conspirators

Most relevant source files (5 MAX)  

Rex Luthor, mayor

Oh, so many… the Backgrounder, the Excel phone calls, 1101243338500, Starbucks pictures (showing his Laurel at work),

Augustus “Bruce” Rinz, city attorney

1101243338500, 1101162452451, 1101163452222

Laurel Sulfate

1101243338500, the Pictures, 1101163356001

Alejandro Von Ryker

The pictures with the city folk, and then their Word docs

Delwin Sanderson

The pictures with the city folk, and then their Word docs.  1101163018599 (to Argentina), 1101163595600

Unnamed FDA Official

1101163356500, 1101163977242

 

 

 

Bystanders and Dupes

 

Dr. Boynton

Just look at the poor fellow’s pictures -- he is practically comatose!

Councilman Torch

And just look at his pictures too…this time, the one with Laurel in Starbucks….

 

2. Important events

 

Scenario Time

Events

Format

Elements Revealed

Subtlety

High 1>2>3

Article Key

 

 

 

 

 

 

<Jan 2002

Alderwood Baseline Conditions; Mayor's plot to "Restore Alderwood" begins

Word

Foundation for scenario

3

Background(Word)

<Jan 2002

City Atty Rinz agrees to finance Lab

Text

Link between Rinz and overall scheme

1

1101243338500

<Jan 2002

Luthor and Laurel ("Laurie") Sulfate history is tipped off

Text

Link between Luthor and Laurel

2

1101243338500

Jan-May 2002

Mayor's Overseas Phone Calls: Mayor Luthor makes several overseas phone calls from City Hall

Excel entries

Link to Switzerland

3

Excel (Phone)

Feb 2002

Rinz link to questionable scientists

Text

Link to Switzerland

1

1101162452451

May-Oct 2002

Boynton Laboratory Construction

Text

Rinz linkage

2

1101243338500

May-Oct 2002

Boynton Laboratory Construction

Text

Introduce Boynton; Laurel

3

1101240332919

May-Oct 2002

Boynton Laboratory Construction

Text

Puts laboratory under suspicion

2

1101163840166; pictures

May-Oct 2002

Boynton Laboratory Construction

Word

Scientists suspicious

3

Word(Scientists)

 

Boynton Laboratory Construction

Word

Scientists work on synthetic prion research

3

Word(Scientists)

Aug 2002

John Torch becomes active in politics

Text

Challenge to Luthor

3

1101631275108

Sep 02- May 03

Influx of new Voters for Luthor

Word

Link to Mayor on influx

3

Background(Word)

 

Influx of new Voters for Luthor

Excel

Amount of new voters

2

Excel (Registry)

Feb 2003

Apartments reach 100% occupancy rate

Text

Amount of new voters

1

1101163661840

Mar-Jul 2003

Foreign land buy up

Text

Another foreign link via Rinz

1

1101163452222

Jul 2003

Torch announces bid for mayor

Text

Torch challenge

3

1101631275108

Aug 2003

Torch becomes liability to Luthor

Text

Torch Challenge

2

1101163019147

Sept 2003

Sanderson out of town (he's causing the "fake" mad cow)

Text

Oddly, he's out of town just before the outbreak

1

1101163018599

Sep 2003

Boynton Labs to help w/ mad cow

Text

Oddly, the labs ready to cure the new mad cow

2

1101163018612

Oct 2003

New Voting machines procured

Text

? Coincidence with other political elements?

3

1101163017765

Jan 2004

Prion breakthru at Boynton Labs

Text

Oddly, the labs ready to cure the new mad cow

2

1101163840166

Feb 2004

Torch seen as viable contender

Text

Torch challenge

2

1101163727099

Feb 2004

New voting machines installed

Text

More voting concerns

2

1101163726024

Mar 2004

Boynton Labs cure mad cow

Text

Oddly, the lab is able to cure the mad cow

2

1101163595600

Apr 2004

FDA investigation of Boynton

Text

Is there scandal at the lab?

2

1101163356500

Apr 2004

Torch scandalous rendezvous

Text

Laurel goes to Switzerland

3

1101163356001

 

Torch scandalous rendezvous

Images

Torch is caught in scandal

3

Pictures

File Photo 2

Jun 2004

Boynton Labs vindicated

Text

Oddly, nothing wrong is at the lab

2

1101163977242

Jun 2004-Nov 2004

Torch campaign goes silent

Text

Torch Challenge Gone

2

Lack of text!

Aug 2004

Luthor campaign seen going well

Text

Flying high

2

1101162945890

Nov 2004

FDA investigation ends

Text

FDA investigation may be tainted

2

1101163977242

Nov 2004

Voting machine difficulties

Text

More voting concerns

2

1101162413930

3. Locations

 

 

LOCATION

EVIDENCE

1

Alderwood

Clearly…

2

Switzerland

VonRyker and Sanderson are from there, the City Hall calls are made to there, Rinz comes from there…

3

South America

Sanderson ensures Argentina has a prion problem Boynton Labs can solve (1101163018599…), the schnook!

 

4. Debriefing

 

The City of Alderwood

 

 

Mayor Rex Luthor

 

Mayor Luthor was sorely distressed at the sad state of the wonderful town of Alderwood, Washington.  Despite his best efforts to revitalize the community, nothing was working.  The decline began when the dot-com bust virtually destroyed the tourism economy.  Then, the mad cow outbreak wreaked havoc with the local agriculture industry.  People were out of work.  Banks were reporting defaults on loans.  Voters were moving away to the larger cities of Seattle and Portland.  Luthor realized if something drastic were not done, both the town and his mayorship would be lost.  After all, he still had several years active service planned before his retirement.   

 

Mad Cow look-alike

 

As luck would have it, Luthor taken several biology classes during his football glory days at the university.  Being mayor of an agricultural community, Luthor was passing familiar with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as Mad Cow disease.  So much so, that he concocted a brilliant, albeit nefarious, scheme:  If a look-alike disease to Mad Cow could be engineered, along with a miraculous cure, his problems would melt away.  He could infect a few bovines at choice locations around the world, and sell cures for a magnificent profit.  With the proceeds, he could finance the renewal of Alderwood, his political career, and ensure a comfortable retirement in his dream house along the banks of the lazy Alderwood River.  Perhaps, a statue in the center of Swiss Park would be in order.

 

With a little more research, Rex found that few laboratories specialized in prion research (“prions” being the proteins responsible for the brain damage caused by mad cow disease), but perhaps if he worked the fringes of that community, he could find what he needed.  He realized he would need a laboratory in Alderwood to achieve his ends, but laboratories were expensive and the town was broke.  Luthor decided to turn to the independently wealthy Alderwood City Attorney Augustus “Bruce” Rinz.  Rinz agreed to provide initial financing for the lab--for the good of the city, of course--in exchange for certain considerations in the future.  Coincidentally, Rinz had a link to the world of hi-tech biology.  His wife’s uncle, Alejandro von Ryker, was one of the leading academics in the area of international prion research.   Rinz suggested that von Ryker would be an excellent collaborator in the efforts to build a successful laboratory, as he had recently decided to leave his laboratory in Switzerland to pursue research opportunities elsewhere.  Luthor happened to came across an article that described the work of VonRyker and his associate Delwin Sanderson in the Swiss lab “Von Ryker Institute of Research AG”.  It appeared that von Ryker and Sanderson had been conducting research considered questionable by some.  Although demonstrating notable progress in Prion Research, it seems that their methods were inconsistent with national standards according to the Swiss National Surveillance and Research Board.  In short, unethical and unscientific.  This resulted in their summary dismissal from the Swiss National Surveillance and Research Council, thus ending their research opportunities in Switzerland.

 

Rinz facilitated contact between his Uncle Alejandro and von Ryker, initiating a mutually beneficial business relationship for all concerned.  Von Ryker brought Sanderson to assist in the enterprise.

 

Work began on the Laboratory in May 2002.  An elderly, but respected biologist, Dr Boynton, was lured to lead the facility, as well as be an unwitting puppet for Luthor. A Luthor-handpicked executive assistant, Laurel Sulfate, was hired as Boynton’s personal executive assistant, guiding the respected scientist and leader with decisions and public statements.  Luthor also realized he needs highly technical people able to support the two rogue researchers, capable of working in the highly specialized biotechnology field, but would also be willing to keep quiet.  Word leaked out about the high-tech jobs to be had in low-cost Alderwood, Washington, as long as one played by the rules.

 

Torch, a political liability

 

Just prior to the influx of the new biotech workers, one of the farm communities’ leaders and city councilmen, John Torch, began to campaign against the Luthor administration in August 2002, claiming that insufficient attention had been paid to the plight of the farm communities, and that Luthor had lost touch with the common people.  Initially, there was not much support for his campaign, as the economy appeared to be doing better.  Armed with a alarming issues such as the problems with the overly-high occupancy rate of rental housing news and about European investors purchasing large tracts of river front property at bargain prices from the city, Torch pushed on for the common folk and declared his candidacy for Mayor in July 2003. 

 

The Plot Thickens

 

At the beginning of September 2003, Sanderson was dispatched to South America to unleash the synthetic prion, under the guise of attending a technical conference and consultation with South American colleagues.  Shortly after his return, a rare form of BSE is discovered in Argentina.  Fortunately, Sanderson had just met with the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing and Foods in Argentina, who remembered Dr. Sanderson and requested immediate assistance from Boynton Laboratory.  Quick action by Boynton Staff Scientists using an experimental drug prevented the catastrophic outbreak of BSE, saving the Argentine cattle industry from a certain depression.

 

In January 2004, Laurel Sulfate, speaking for Dr. Boynton, announces a major breakthrough in prion research by Boynton Laboratory.  In March 2004, based on research and studies done on the Argentine Incident, a cure for a rare form of BSE is announced.

 

Alerted by Pure Food for Our World community watchdogs, in April 2004, the FDA becomes suspicious of the Lab’s activities and sends a team to investigate.  Two months later, the Lab is given glowing ratings from the FDA representative. 

 

Torch Flares, Then Sputters Out

 

Meanwhile, John Torch has been reaching out to the common people of Alderwood, pointing out that while the hi-tech workers are a significant boost to Alderwood’s economy, the farm community hasn’t equally benefited.  Seeing Torch’s growing popularity by Feb 2004, Luthor knew it was time to do something drastic.   The employees of Boynton Laboratory were subtly reminded who had taken care of them with their new jobs, new offices, new laptops, and comfy life at the lab; and that it was their turn to show the appropriate appreciation at the ballot box.  Additionally, the lovely Laurel Sulfate was asked to ensure Torch’s campaign was permanently doused.  Thanks to a rendezvous at the local coffee shop, the unsuspecting and happily married Torch was set up for a hard fall by a seductive Miss Sulfate.  Scandalous photographs were taken and widely circulated.  Acknowledging defeat, Torch exited the political scene and returned to the farm by June 2004.  Although a cursory investigation was done by the Alderwood Chief of Police (coincidentally Mayor Luthor’s golfing buddy), the main witness (Miss Sulfate) was unavailable for questioning, having left the country for urgent business in Switzerland. 

 

Sealing the Deal

 

To comply with recent voting method changes by the state government, Luthor had the voting machines replaced with new electronic voting machines in October 2003.  While he was at it, Luthor called in a favor from some of the computer technicians from the Lab to reprogram the machines to ensure himself a decisive victory.

 

However, just after the Nov 4 elections, voting machine irregularities were found in another city.  Unfortunately for Luthor, his new machines were of the same model and were included in a state-wide review.  The investigation is still pending.

 

Another bit of news

 

The FDA official who had led the investigation of Boynton Labs was indicted on bribery charges in Washington D.C.   He is being investigated for accepting bribes from a popcorn company in Georgia for allowing them to pass an inspection despite several violations of critical industry safety standards.

 

 

Diagrams

 

NOTES: These diagrams were used to help the judges identify the important pieces of information, and serve as a baseline for representing that information. We hope that teams will submit better representations of the data and explain how these were used to perform the analyses.

 




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