What Is This Creepy Site Advertising?
October 2, 2006 6:20 PM   Subscribe

What the heck is "the purification dot org" all about? (I'm not linking to it directly because I have a hunch it's just a particularly enigmatic viral marketing ploy.)

(This came to me via a friend via IM. I haven't been able to ask him where he got it.)

The page is just a single flash movie with a countdown. I didn't work out the math exactly, but I think it's a countdown to November 15, 2006. There's five sub-countdowns that appear if you mouse over them. Going clockwise from the lower left-hand side, they appear to be pointing to Nov.9, Oct.19, Nov.6, Oct.23 and Oct.31.

The domain's registered to a guy named Wayne in Arkansas, using an AOL email address. Looks to be legit -- the address checks out in Google's phone listings, and an AOL user with his screenname posted a review of a restaurant in the town listed in the whois info. So if it's faked, someone's done their homework.

Just wondering if anyone knows anything about this. A game? A movie? Hopi prophecy? If it turns out to be some doomsday religious cult I'll be a little creeped out.
posted by sportbucket to Grab Bag (747 answers total) 176 users marked this as a favorite
 
Axe?
posted by onalark at 6:25 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


At first I went to purification dot org, but that's a Scientology website. Yikes!
posted by evariste at 6:44 PM on October 2, 2006


UPDATE: The dude who sent me the link got it from The Ultimate Insult.
posted by sportbucket at 6:45 PM on October 2, 2006


I used a Flash decompiler on it hoping to find clues. The actionscript source code is pretty mundane and doesn't reveal much. You can have a look here.
posted by evariste at 7:13 PM on October 2, 2006


Two variable names puzzle me, but I'm unable to make sense of them:

"countertaos", and "fuso". "fuso" is equal to 25200000, but that doesn't divide evenly into 60*60*24.
posted by evariste at 7:20 PM on October 2, 2006


What is '__reg2' ?
posted by SirStan at 7:25 PM on October 2, 2006


This is a bizarre mystery.

Here's the registrant's MySpace, not much info.

He also posted to a website about the best pizza in Northwest Arkansas (search for ARNOLDW768). Odd thing to do over a year in advance if this was for a major movie.

I'm still digging and will reply back if I find more.
posted by saraswati at 7:26 PM on October 2, 2006


__reg2 equals server.time (obtained from a php script on the initial pageload) + getTimer(), a built-in Flash function that gets the number of seconds elapsed since the movie started.
posted by evariste at 7:27 PM on October 2, 2006


He's using a Spanish-speaking 3rd-party DNS provider (who also offer name registration services). Weird eh?
posted by evariste at 7:42 PM on October 2, 2006


This is even though he's registered the actual domain with GoDaddy.
posted by evariste at 7:42 PM on October 2, 2006


He's hosting the website with the DNS provider, too.
posted by evariste at 7:44 PM on October 2, 2006


Oops shoul've read the more inside on the restaurant thing. Sorry
posted by saraswati at 7:50 PM on October 2, 2006


Odd thing to do over a year in advance if this was for a major movie.

Not if whoever is running the show got some random employee with a common name to use an old email account.
posted by advil at 7:52 PM on October 2, 2006


Complete list of websites on the same IP address:

1. nonsleep.com
2. concellodesandias.com
3. absfilmcompany.com
4. aciertaservicios.com
5. aedocdigital.org
6. afinpa.com
7. ainesjoyas.com
8. albadelayos.com
9. aloeverareal.com
10. alvarodiaz.com
11. anadesanbartolome.org
12. andrewmcconochie.com
13. aradriel.com
14. asesoria-ramos.com
15. autobusespontevedra.com
16. baloncestomaristasalicante.com
17. canarivan.com
18. chakrasdisco.com
19. climafyg.com
20. coprodecyl.com
21. cusinets.com
22. dajuna.com
23. disparando.com
24. edutours.info
25. evaguasch.com
26. extrujado.com
27. fakiedesign.com
28. fernandezmiron.com
29. fernandoromeroterrel.com
30. festivaldecinedesevilla.com
31. giroves.org
32. golnord.com
33. guiaterapeutica.net
34. hcmolinsderei.com
35. icatseguretatinformatica.com
36. ilsoes.com
37. infodespieces.com
38. insomniapublimedia.com
39. irming.net
40. ist-sl.com
41. javierpardina.com
42. jlnavarropintor.com
43. juanshows.com
44. keramarmol.com
45. kinessan.com
46. kmb-elche.com
47. lamestarestaurante.com
48. leoplant-josemanuel.com
49. litosdistribuciones.com
50. manolinlao.com
51. marabbla.com
52. mentacontomate.com
53. michobranco.net
54. miguelinarivera.com
55. modacreativa.com
56. modaitalianaoutlet.com
57. murciac.com
58. museodelnaipe.com
59. musicasinplomo.com
60. musiclocated.com
61. n-foque.com
62. navarrocruz.com
63. nordicwalkingpucela.com
64. norticmotors.com
65. novhidro.com
66. ontxa.com
67. pedroferrera.net
68. pk2x.net
69. planetepi.com
70. primeguis.org
71. recambiosgalvez.com
72. restauranteelvalle.com
73. rmsystemmusic.com
74. santpacia.com
75. serbecat.com
76. sinergialab.org
77. soluciongrafika.com
78. spinsis.com
79. sport-class.com
80. stigmatoinc.com
81. successband.com
82. thepurification.org
83. tintatau.com
84. tofersports.com
85. toxicosmos.com
86. twelvetonecollective.com
87. unacajadecerillas.com
88. unionsurfera.com
89. untopic.com
90. vidalsaez.com
91. vigometropolitano.com
92. aguaparagilberto.com
93. xpresionfilms.com

Several film companies on there.
posted by evariste at 7:55 PM on October 2, 2006


25200000 is the number of seconds from the beginning of a year to Oct 19, 4pm, on that year. But it doesn't seem to be used anywhere other than being assignd to the variable 'fuso'.

It looks like on Nov. 15 at 5:20AM GMT, it'll go to frame 2 of the flash movie, but I don't know what's in frame 2.
posted by hattifattener at 7:59 PM on October 2, 2006


It looks like on Nov. 15 at 5:20AM GMT, it'll go to frame 2 of the flash movie, but I don't know what's in frame 2.

It's just the same graphic in frame 2.
posted by evariste at 8:02 PM on October 2, 2006


Because of the colors he's chosen, you can't actually read it, but there's a bunch of text it's trying to display.

All of the following is quotes from the source:
WHY

There are things worth saving. Worth treasuring simply because they are real, pure and true. The proliferations of glitz will not overcome those who believe. The purification will be our triumph.

Bitter Springs, AZ

WHEN

The clock ticks. The purification will bring the world the truth of purity. Watch the clock. Time is running out for that which is impure to control the lives of so many.

Woodward, OK

Lookout, WY

WHO

All who have forgotten what is true to the earth, the sky, and to heaven. You may be restored to the innocence you once possessed. You have but to believe it is possible.

WHAT

Earth. Sky. Heaven. They will all see a people renewed. Redeemed from the corruption of what was once held as sacred. This is the time of restoration for the many who once stood, immovable from truth.

Fort Hancock, TX
Take that for what it's worth. Two possibilities suggest themselves to me: some rather bizarre Christian group (or some other religion) is doing revival meetings on the road, or this actually is for some damned movie.

Bitter Springs, AZ (36.6266N, 111.6691W), is in the middle of the Navajo Indian Reservation. Woodward, OK (36.4385N, 99.3912W), Lookout, WY (41.6649N, 105.8069W) , and Ft. Hancock, TX (31.2998N, 103.8377), all just seem to be undistinguished spots on the map.

I would have included links to Google Maps for all those except that I can't figure out how to include the Lat/Long in a URL. But you can go there and "search" for those lat/long strings (which are approximate) and it will show you the locations. Not much to see in any of them.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:03 PM on October 2, 2006


Because of the colors he's chosen, you can't actually read it, but there's a bunch of text it's trying to display.

Where are you getting this? I don't see this in the HTML...
posted by sportbucket at 8:09 PM on October 2, 2006


Steven, out of curiosity, what program are you using to decompile?
posted by evariste at 8:15 PM on October 2, 2006


sportbucket, it's in the SWF file, not the HTML.
posted by evariste at 8:15 PM on October 2, 2006


Steven, if you connect the dots between the four cities do you get a nice diamond or square?
posted by evariste at 8:18 PM on October 2, 2006


Thanks evariste.

I had run the SWF through Flasm and Flare, but didn't see anything especially interesting. It's been quite a while since I've done any Flash development, so I'm not sure I'd know what to look for in a disassembly, but I definitely didn't notice any paragraphs or text. :)

Also, the text Stephen quotes sounds more pagan than Christian. I'm going to start plugging those SIPs into Google and see what I can come up with.
posted by sportbucket at 8:24 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Google Earth image of the four locations. Doesn't look like there's anything interesting in the middle of them, but they do make somewhat of a diamond.
posted by Pimonkey at 8:38 PM on October 2, 2006


I connected the dots in Google Map...If you use town names rather than the coordinates (exception being Bitter Springs, you get this:

posted by zerokey at 8:41 PM on October 2, 2006


Sorry..screwed up again (tiiired)
here!?
posted by zerokey at 8:45 PM on October 2, 2006


I don't know what the heck I'm talking about, but maybe it's something like (or even a part of) that Gold Rush thing on AOL?
posted by Durin's Bane at 8:47 PM on October 2, 2006


zerokey-cool! That's the same shape as the graphic in the swf. Now I wonder what the hell it all means...
posted by evariste at 8:49 PM on October 2, 2006


what's really odd is that Google (earth and maps)
has no knowledge of Bitter Springs, AZ
posted by zerokey at 8:55 PM on October 2, 2006


Another indirect Scientology reference -- this is roughly in the center of the diamond -- allegedly a Church of Scientology Sacred Vault Airfield.
posted by sportbucket at 8:56 PM on October 2, 2006


Is it possible this is part of some kind of ARG? It sounds a lot like tactics those players use -- embedding stuff in the source, bizarre front page stuff. Could it be a countdown to a launch date?
posted by theantikitty at 8:59 PM on October 2, 2006


ARG
posted by theantikitty at 9:00 PM on October 2, 2006


It means your chain is being yanked.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:00 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


According to wikipedia, Bitter Springs is a census-designated place, not a proper municipality, so that's probably why Google doesn't think it exists.
posted by sportbucket at 9:01 PM on October 2, 2006


Ahh..thanks, sportbucket

I found another reference stating that Bitter Springs lies at the terminus of Rt. 89...I adjusted for that and it squares up the diamond a bit
posted by zerokey at 9:03 PM on October 2, 2006


If it's for a movie, take a look at the imdb list of upcoming releases. Cursory inspection reveals no obvious matches for movies coming out around November 15.
posted by roomwithaview at 9:23 PM on October 2, 2006


Is it a new ad for LOST or a spin-off? :P
posted by drstein at 9:23 PM on October 2, 2006


November 15th is the day the "In Cold Blood" murders were committed, but the new film based on the Capote story is being released in October, so that's probably not it.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 9:35 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


And more 11/15 anniversaries...
posted by TochterAusElysium at 9:36 PM on October 2, 2006


Just a note, the number 25200000 is also the number of miliseconds in 7 hours.

Many measurements in Flash are in miliseconds. For example, the easiest way to measure durations of time is by calling the getTimer function which returns the number of miliseconds since the application started.
posted by Riemann at 9:49 PM on October 2, 2006


Ok, I've figured out what the decompiled code does. This app has 8 things on its stage. Each one has a countdown to a different time. Each one shows the countdown text on rollover until the time is reached. As the countdown time for each one is reached instead of showing the countdown text on rollover it shows the contents of its second frame.

I am grabbing the SWF now to use some custom tools and see if I can figure out what is on those second frames.

BTW: The 8 countdown times are (in miliseconds, scientific notation):

ct.counter0.eventMillisecs = 1.1613e+012;
ct.counter1.eventMillisecs = 1.16164e+012;
ct.counter2.eventMillisecs = 1.16182e+012;
ct.counter3.eventMillisecs = 1.16217e+012;
ct.counter4.eventMillisecs = 1.16243e+012;
ct.counter5.eventMillisecs = 1.16286e+012;
ct.counter6.eventMillisecs = 1.16312e+012;
ct.counter7.eventMillisecs = 1.16338e+012;

These correspond to:

Thu Oct 19 16:20:00 GMT-0700 2006
Mon Oct 23 14:46:40 GMT-0700 2006
Wed Oct 25 16:46:40 GMT-0700 2006
Sun Oct 29 17:00:00 GMT-0800 2006
Wed Nov 1 17:13:20 GMT-0800 2006
Mon Nov 6 16:40:00 GMT-0800 2006
Thu Nov 9 16:53:20 GMT-0800 2006
Sun Nov 12 17:06:40 GMT-0800 2006

Note these may be off by an hour either way depending on daylight savings settings.
posted by Riemann at 10:02 PM on October 2, 2006


Maybe the centre of the circle/diamond is what is of interest. If you take the average of the above lat/long values (that should give the centre right?) you get here, which doesn't seem to be much, but if someone can be bothered panning round the area they might find something.
posted by scodger at 10:11 PM on October 2, 2006


http://www.akajimmy.net/foo.swf

I made a shell SWF which loads a copy of their countdown SWF I copied onto my host, waits a couple seconds then fiddles with the internal variables to make it show the contents of all the objects.

The result shows the text printed above. It is all rather creepy.
posted by Riemann at 10:15 PM on October 2, 2006


On bothering - there is a town called angel fire about 5 miles to the south west. The name at least seems promising.
posted by scodger at 10:17 PM on October 2, 2006


I love this kind of puzzle. The phrase "earth, sky, heaven" is used twice.

"Among high caste Hindus, the morning begins with a prayer of praise known as the Gayatri Mantra:

Earth, Sky, Heaven,
we meditate on the lovely splendor of the Divine Sun.
May he inspire our minds."
posted by TochterAusElysium at 10:24 PM on October 2, 2006


According to here the first national vietnam memorial was erected outside angel fire.

According to its site -

On November 11, 2005, the David Westphall Veterans Foundation donated its Vietnam Veterans National Memorial to the State of New Mexico.

Maybe it has something to do with this? This is about the only thing I could find taking place around the times mentioned in Angel Fire (except a mountain biking meet).
posted by scodger at 10:38 PM on October 2, 2006


Evariste, I used Flashdigger.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:26 PM on October 2, 2006


God damn, you people are good.
posted by jmhodges at 12:04 AM on October 3, 2006


I got those four lat/long pairs out of "Streets and Trips", which does know about all four. The locations I gave are the base positions S&T lists for them. Here's how it looks plotted with S&T:



It's not a clean diamond, and none of the edges are the same length -- which may or may not mean anything.

Bitter Creek - Lookout = 470 miles
Lookout - Woodward = 500 miles
Woodward - Fort Hancock = 515 miles
Fort Hancock - Bitter Creek = 495 miles

Total length = 1980 miles

(Bitter Creek - Woodward = 680 miles,
Lookout - Fort Hancock = 715 miles)

What's interesting is that I'm not rounding any of those; they really are all multiples of 5.

And at the middle is, well, not damned much of anything. The nearest named spot on the map is "Tres Piedras" and it's the intersection of US Highway 64 and US Highway 285. It's eight and a half miles away.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:05 AM on October 3, 2006


SportBucket, that airfield is about a hundred miles from the center point. I don't think it has anything to do with this.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:15 AM on October 3, 2006


Other random things to add: Taos, NM and Wheeler Peak (13,100 ft) are nearby. There seem to be a lot of abandoned mines; ski areas, fishing. The local chambers of commerce call the immediate area "The Enchanted Circle". It's in the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountains. Our arrow is about 40-50 miles northwest of the Scientology vault site; something like 80 miles northeast of Los Alamos. It's the headwaters of the Rio Grande.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:16 AM on October 3, 2006


I made some minor adjustments to the end points, mostly to move them to reasonable intersections. The mark point for Woodward is now the intersection of US183 and US412. For Bitter Springs I moved it to the intersection of US89 and US89alt. For Lookout I put it at the nearest intersection on US30. For Fort Hancock I used the first intersection in the town southwest of where the railroad track crosses Texas148.

Anyway, after doing that, here's what the center looks like:



There just isn't anything near there. Angel Fire is 36.5 miles to the SE. Taos is 24 miles away. Tres Piedras is still more than 8 miles away.

It's at 36.69642N, 105.82338W.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:44 AM on October 3, 2006


(By the way, Scodger, the reason the center point I plotted isn't where you thought it was is that the Earth is round, not flat. You can't actually average the coordinates that way.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:58 AM on October 3, 2006


(Er, forget about that last comment. The reason is that it isn't a square. Oops!)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:00 AM on October 3, 2006


I mean the four points aren't the corners of a square. I think it's time I went to bed.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:09 AM on October 3, 2006


Do you get anything interesting if you superimpose the entire image (the diamond, the square, and the circle) on a map? Do the square points line up anywhere interesting?

I'm going to guess that they first decided they wanted a diamond and then picked the nearest spots on the map to those locations, so fitting a perfect diamond to it might be more useful than just drawing the actual lines.
posted by JZig at 1:32 AM on October 3, 2006


TerraServer has perhaps better imaging of the area. I can't figure out how to link, but you can get there from SCDB's coordinates. Just remember the W means you need to put it in as -105.82338 longitude.
posted by edd at 1:38 AM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


What happens if you connect the same two pairs outside the rectangle instead of inside (i.e., going all the way around the earth along a great circle through the points). Where do the two lines meet then?
posted by louigi at 3:24 AM on October 3, 2006


The page seems to show a scientology website when I load it now...Hmmm....
posted by Jofus at 3:40 AM on October 3, 2006


Jofus, purification.org is the Scientology website, thepurification.org is the one talked about in this thread.
posted by keijo at 3:53 AM on October 3, 2006


Wow. Lucky I now don't look like a schmuck.
posted by Jofus at 4:08 AM on October 3, 2006


Actually, this smacks of a thing from about six years ago - www.twentythree.co.uk. (Or was it www.23.co.uk?). Anyone remember that?
posted by Jofus at 4:11 AM on October 3, 2006


What happens if you connect the same two pairs outside the rectangle instead of inside (i.e., going all the way around the earth along a great circle through the points). Where do the two lines meet then?

At 36.70 south, (180-105.82=) 74 east, that would put you somewhere in the Indian ocean, abouth a few thousand miles above the French Southern & Antarctic Lands. But I may have my spherical coordinates stuff all mixed up.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 4:15 AM on October 3, 2006


So, can some Vegas MeFite PLEASE go out there and start digging?
posted by Lucie at 4:58 AM on October 3, 2006


You guys are bad ass. This is a cool thread to wake up to.
posted by Lord_Pall at 5:11 AM on October 3, 2006


Are we ignoring the other shapes in the picture?

There's the aforementioned diamond, but there's a square inside the diamond, and a circle inside the square.

Is there anything close to the areas where those shapes might touch?

A cursory, eyeballed glance at ScDB's map above shows:

NW corner square + NW face diamond - I-70 on Utah/Colorado border

NE corner square + NE face diamond - I-70 in a eastern Colorado

SW corner square + SW face diamond - just east of the Arizona/NM border

SE corner square + SE face diamond - NM/TX border

This is so cool.
posted by mdonley at 5:21 AM on October 3, 2006


If scodger's Vietnam link is valid, perhaps this Vietnam protest on Nov 15, 1969 would be of interest.

My first thought was that this is a week after the U.S. Election Day.

Of course, theantikitty is right about this being very ARG-ish.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:40 AM on October 3, 2006


Can we look at the points made by placing a right-angled isoceles on each side? The square is possibly distorted by having to fit to some particular local, and this might give more likely places to look at, or at least some idea of the kind of size area we're looking at.
posted by edd at 6:04 AM on October 3, 2006


Mr. Gunn writes 'Of course, theantikitty is right about this being very ARG-ish.'

Agree, though there's nothing about this on unfiction - they're usually the first to spot these things and a lot of games are "seeded" via them.
posted by blag at 6:21 AM on October 3, 2006


i've seen that diamond>square>circle image before, but i can't recall it. i think it was something to do with some kind of cult.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 7:24 AM on October 3, 2006


Just a note: you are all my heroes.

If I ever have an unsolved crime, I am so posting it to AskMeFi.
posted by griffey at 7:49 AM on October 3, 2006


BTW, Ft. Hancock, TX is mentioned in "The Shawshank Redemption." A film buff might make this kind of allusion.
posted by mattbucher at 8:01 AM on October 3, 2006


The four bits of text are labeled “WHO,” “WHAT,” “WHEN,” and “WHY.” “WHERE” seems to be an obvious missing piece of this puzzle.
posted by ijoshua at 8:32 AM on October 3, 2006


From “WHY,” the phrase “real, pure and true” seems to have some connection to Rosicrucian initiation
posted by ijoshua at 8:37 AM on October 3, 2006


The 4 locations are at elevations that vary by as much as a mile:

Lookout, WY (2168m)
Bitter Springs, AZ (1559m)
Woodward, OK (589m)
Fort Hancock, TX (1095m)

2168 - 589 = 1579 meters (abt. 0.98 miles)

Additionally, I'd be curious to see if the diamond shores up at all when the distance is calculated through the planet using the elevation data, as opposed to using great circle distance. I've been trying to get this but the math is just beyond me. I know great circle distance does not usually count elevation.
posted by jwells at 8:39 AM on October 3, 2006


According to RCMO.org, an initiate should live near a “Circle of The Rose+Croix Martinist Order®” or be able to travel to one. Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico are mentioned.
posted by ijoshua at 8:41 AM on October 3, 2006


Oops, that last page was in a frameset. Here is the correct page.
posted by ijoshua at 8:43 AM on October 3, 2006


Has anyone emailed Wayne to ask him what it's about yet, or is that too obvious a sleuthing tactic? ;-)
posted by jack_mo at 8:43 AM on October 3, 2006


By any chance does this have anything to do with the new television series Jericho which airs on Wednesday evenings? November 15th. is a Wednesday. The show storyline focuses on a community in Kansas in the aftermath of a nuclear blast (or, possibly more) and has an apocalyptic tone to it.

At the end of the second episode (which you can view online at the website) the enigmatic character Robert Hawkins is shown placing push pins on various points on an American map -- with no explanation.
posted by ericb at 8:47 AM on October 3, 2006


jack_mo: Yeah, I e-mailed him, and added him to my buddy list. Nothing yet.

Not that I expect to hear anything, really. That'd be too easy. :)
posted by sportbucket at 8:50 AM on October 3, 2006


"Jericho -- Today is the Last Ordinary Day."
posted by ericb at 8:50 AM on October 3, 2006


"Robert has a map of the United States up and he places a red push pin in the following cities, Denver, Colorado; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Diego, California.
He also picked up 3 more push pins."
[source]

"And they did have that great closing scene, of Mysterious Black Guy...pushing pins into a map of the US representing (we assume) destroyed cities. The scene faded out with a close up of his fingers picking up push pin after push pin..."
[source]
posted by ericb at 8:55 AM on October 3, 2006


My first thought was that this is a week after the U.S. Election Day.

Well, duh. When you steal an election, you have to hide it somewhere...
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:55 AM on October 3, 2006


That'd be too easy. :)

If it is part of an ARG, though, the reply will likely be seemingly inoccuous, but containing a set of further clues, another website to look at, &c.

In fact, it might be worth calling the 'phone number in the WHOIS info too (fiver says it's a recorded message of a similar text to the one on the website, with enough key differences to set us off in a new direction!), though the street address seems to be fake...
posted by jack_mo at 9:04 AM on October 3, 2006


Did someone say there was a place called "Taos" near the center of that diamond? Because the variable in the SWF which contains the center countdown text is called "countertaos".
posted by Riemann at 9:13 AM on October 3, 2006


Folks, we have to solve this.

I am going to bed only very, very reluctantly. I would totally call in sick tomorrow and just keep hitting "refresh" if I had any more sick days left.
posted by mdonley at 9:18 AM on October 3, 2006


Did someone say there was a place called "Taos" near the center of that diamond?

Taos, New Mexico is near Santa Fe.
posted by ericb at 9:22 AM on October 3, 2006


"The Hum is a phenomenon involving a persistent and invasive low-frequency noise of a humming character and unknown origin, not audible to all people, reported in various geographical locations, including Taos, New Mexico, and thus it is sometimes called the Taos Hum: the lore of this phenomenon has become part of the appeal of Taos."

[source]
posted by ericb at 9:24 AM on October 3, 2006


I can't believe we all missed the Taos connection; sure enough, evariste's post way back when said that there's a variable "countertaos", and Taos is damn near the center of that diamond.

- Taos to Lookout: 364 mi
- Taos to Woodward: 344 mi
- Taos to Ft. Hancock: 353 mi
- Taos to Bitter Springs: 340 mi

Who knows if this matters at all, but it's something...
posted by delfuego at 9:46 AM on October 3, 2006


Taos is threeish hours away. Come up with a good enough reason and I can be convinced to go check it out.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:52 AM on October 3, 2006


To emphasise, this is what it's going to show when the countdowns are over
posted by riotgrrl69 at 9:55 AM on October 3, 2006


It sounds like some sort of doomday prophecy stuff. Or maybe a Harmonic Convergence.
posted by deborah at 10:02 AM on October 3, 2006


And to further emphasize on riotgrrl69's reminder, the order of the unveilings is:

- the "why" quote: "There are things worth saving. Worth treasuring simply because they are real, pure and true. The proliferations of glitz will not overcome those who believe. The purification will be our triumph."
- exactly four days later, the "when" quote: "The clock ticks. The purification will bring the world the truth of purity. Watch the clock. Time is running out for that which is impure to control the lives of so many."
- exactly two days later, the "who" quote: "All who have forgotten what is true to the earth, the sky, and to heaven. You may be restored to the innocence you once possessed. You have but to believe it is possible."
- exactly four days and 1 hour later, the "what" quote: "Earth. Sky. Heaven. They will all see a people renewed. Redeemed from the corruption of what was once held as sacred. This is the time of restoration for the many who once stood, immovable from truth."
- exactly three days later, Woodward, OK
- exactly five days later, Lookout, WY
- exactly three days later, Bitter Springs, AZ
- exactly three days later, Fort Hancock, TX
- finally, exactly two days and 11 hours later, the main countdown timer elapses and who knows what happens.
posted by delfuego at 10:03 AM on October 3, 2006


Yeah, the "where" is missing, but I guess we know that's Taos now.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:04 AM on October 3, 2006


Wow, I was there last summer. I can tell you from memory that the area between the gorge at Rio Grade and Rt. 285 is really flat and desolate. If youventure out there, it's BLM land, so it's pretty open, but do wear snake boots and cary lots of water.

The only real landmark close to there is the bridge over the Rio Grade on Rt. 64 which is a bungee-jumping hotspot. The area is old Apache land, so there's tons of petroglyphs on the rocks.

Hope this helps someone.
*cues creepy music*
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:06 AM on October 3, 2006


Re: Riemann's date calculations for the various countdown clocks, I'm not sure they're perfectly right; just sitting here and comparing the clocks on the actual website with my own clock tells me that each will expire at the following times (all times Eastern, since I'm in Washington DC):

- the first (the "why" clock): 10/19/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the second (the "when" clock): 10/23/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the third (the "who" clock): 10/25/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the fourth (the "what" clock): 10/29/2006, 1:00 PM;
- the fifth (the Woodward clock): 11/1/2006, 1:00 PM;
- the sixth (the Lookout clock): 11/6/2006, 1:00 PM;
- the seventh (the Bitter Springs clock): 11/9/2006, 1:00 PM;
- the eighth (the Fort Hancock clock): 11/12/2006, 1:00 PM;
- the ninth (the final clock): 11/15/2006, midnight.

Does that jibe for everyone else?

Personally, I'm starting to think that the weird ones in there -- the "what" clock shifting off of noon, and the final clock shifting to midnight -- might be a clue worth pursuing.
posted by delfuego at 10:10 AM on October 3, 2006


The what clock shifts on the 29th--same day as daylight savings time. Indicates maybe that "real time" is more important than "clock time"?
posted by stray at 10:14 AM on October 3, 2006


Oh, I hadn't picked that up, stray -- but of course, then that means that the final clock ends up being the one that's a bit odd, since it'll fall at 11:00 PM rather than midnight.
posted by delfuego at 10:17 AM on October 3, 2006


FWIW -- ABC launches a new television series Day Break on November 15th. The storyline -- "an action-packed, thrilling re-imagining of the Groundhog Day concept" -- doesn't appear to jibe with this teaser website.
posted by ericb at 10:18 AM on October 3, 2006


Daylight savings occurs on October 29. So, if you "fall back" one hour then the time would be at noon.
posted by jefbla at 10:21 AM on October 3, 2006


There's a user named wayne at Youtube. He hasn't posted anything yet, been a user for over a year, but curiously, has 3 subscribers to his channel.
posted by jefbla at 10:29 AM on October 3, 2006


OK, so here are the dates and times of the countdown clock changes once daylight savings is taken into consideration:

- the first (the "why" clock): 10/19/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the second (the "when" clock): 10/23/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the third (the "who" clock): 10/25/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the fourth (the "what" clock): 10/29/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the fifth (the Woodward clock): 11/1/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the sixth (the Lookout clock): 11/6/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the seventh (the Bitter Springs clock): 11/9/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the eighth (the Fort Hancock clock): 11/12/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the ninth (the final clock): 11/14/2006, 11:00 PM.

Note that I've tried changing my system clock, and I don't get any change in the applet's countdown clocks, so it's synchronizing with some external source for its knowledge of what day and time it is.

Seriously, this is now killing me, even though I know the answer will end up being insane or lane, or better yet insane and lame.
posted by delfuego at 10:30 AM on October 3, 2006


From “WHY,” the phrase “real, pure and true” seems to have some connection to Rosicrucian initiation

Hmmm...since the Rosicrucian Order is a legendary and secretive order and we know that Dan Brown ("DaVinci Code") has an interest in secret societies, could this be a teaser for his new book 'The Solomon Key?' While the release date has not be announced people speculate it will come out in 2007. Could this be tied to it?"
posted by ericb at 10:33 AM on October 3, 2006


even though I know the answer will end up being insane or lane

"Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine."
posted by ericb at 10:35 AM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


CatholicCulture.org?
posted by FlamingBore at 10:38 AM on October 3, 2006


FWIW -- The Da Vinci Code (Full Screen Special Edition and Widescreen Special Edition) DVD is scheduled for release on Tuesday, November 14.
posted by ericb at 10:39 AM on October 3, 2006


The source of the index page includes these comments:

"url's used in the movie"
"text used in the movie"

Regarding the variable name fuso in Frame_1.as, fuso means "spindle" in Portugese. fuso means fused in Italian. The word fuso is found in numerous translations of the phrase time zone. It appears, from this translation, that the word fuso is from the Galacian Language. You can translate the word yourself here. Given that the application deals in milliseconds, I've concluded that fuso refers to the time zone from GMT (-0700), not CDT.
posted by sequential at 10:40 AM on October 3, 2006


it seems to be a mountain called cerro del aire ... or by it, anyway

the significance of this escapes me, although the area is a volcanic plain ... and obsidian is plentiful in the area

there is a form of obsidian that is known as "apache tears" ... supposedly a group of warriors jumped off a cliff rather than be captured and their kin cried tears that dried up into these

well, i don't know
posted by pyramid termite at 10:40 AM on October 3, 2006


FlamingBore -- great find!
posted by ericb at 10:41 AM on October 3, 2006


Well, here's where the applet is getting its master time:

http://www.thepurification.org/gettime.php
posted by delfuego at 10:44 AM on October 3, 2006


It took me until just now to realize that it's purification, not putrification.
posted by grateful at 10:52 AM on October 3, 2006


There's a movie called Taos in post-production now, scheduled for release in 2006. It's the story of one man's personal spiritual journey in the desert outside Taos. Doesn't sound quite right (very small production, nothing apocalyptic), but maybe worth noting.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:52 AM on October 3, 2006


The comments about urls and text used in the movie are simply generated by publishing a swf + HTML in Flash. It's a part of the HTML template.
posted by ijoshua at 10:54 AM on October 3, 2006


And here's The Cry a small horror/thriller movie filmed in Taos this year. No details about plot on IMDB. Do its production credits match up with any of the film companies on the same server?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:55 AM on October 3, 2006


The time, delfuego, is seconds since the POSIX epoch.

Thanks for the clarification, ijoshua.
posted by sequential at 10:56 AM on October 3, 2006


From my earlier link on 11/14/2006:

God will know how to reconcile His justice and His goodness in the purification of the last members of the human race, and to supply by the intensity of the expiatory suffering what may be wanting in duration.

Then working backward there's this for 11/12/2006:

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood (Mark 12:41-44)."

Then 11/6/2006:

No one, however, can be received into God's friendship and intimacy without having been purified of the consequences of personal sin.

I'd lookup more, but need to make a conference call.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:57 AM on October 3, 2006


Cool stuff! I've been to Angel Fire and visited the war memorial; it's a pretty neat space, architecturally.

Taos is a small but interesting place, and has its fair complement of new agers.

There's not much inbetween except for a ski resort, I think.
posted by carter at 10:58 AM on October 3, 2006


The intersection of SDB's recalculated lines is even closer to Los Alamos. Coordinates: 35.883179° -106.302827°
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:06 AM on October 3, 2006


The Cry doesn't seem to be about the end of the world.
posted by gubo at 11:28 AM on October 3, 2006


I know this dosent add much, but in light of LobsterMitten's offering of Los Alamos...
This sites owner lists very little info on his MySpace profile; he does however include his astrological sign, Cancer. From Wikipedia:

Many modern astrologers consider it to be significant that Pluto was discovered on the longitude of 20 degrees Cancer and the first atomic bomb was detonated at the moment when Saturn reached this longitude. Saturn is said to become particularly malefic in Cancer and Leo, for they are opposed to Saturn's own domiciles. Richard Saunders writes in Astrological Judgement and Practice of Physick (1677) that Black Plague of 1593 has been caused by transiting Saturn in Cancer, breeding "Flegm, thin Water, and Melancholy mixt".
posted by paxton at 11:31 AM on October 3, 2006


UPDATE: The dude who sent me the link got it from The Ultimate Insult.
posted by sportbucket at 6:45 PM PST on October 2 [+fave] [!]


Has anyone tried tracing things back? Who posted that link at The Ultimate Insult and where/how did they find it?

Many times these things lead quickly back to the creator.
posted by vacapinta at 11:32 AM on October 3, 2006


In fact, it might be worth calling the 'phone number in the WHOIS info too (fiver says it's a recorded message of a similar text to the one on the website, with enough key differences to set us off in a new direction!), though the street address seems to be fake.

Also...has anyone done this?
posted by vacapinta at 11:38 AM on October 3, 2006


I mentioned this to my friend over lunch and she reminded me of the whole point of my trip to this area last spring: to visit hot springs sites (which are all over the place due to the afore mentioned volcanic activity). I mention this only because the Apache used them as a ritual purification site. Dunno if this adds to signal or noise, but that's just one more bean in the pot.

See here (pdf) (or here for html) for an interesting document I turned up using the terms apache, hot, springs and purification on Google, that actually references Taos.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:40 AM on October 3, 2006


Also...has anyone done this?
Yes. It appears to be his personal number or voice mail. The voice on the answering machine has a slight drawl, identifies itself as Wayne (which matches the registration), and makes no mention of the site. I did not leave a message.

How many other people are going to appear on his caller id?
posted by sequential at 11:50 AM on October 3, 2006


Just called the number on the site registration.

"Hi, this is Wayne leave your name, number and I'll call right back."

I did neither, but he sounds like a nice guy. Not nearly as sinister as I was expecting; I was ready to be frightened, maybe even leave work early out of sheer terror. My guess is that Wayne is releasing his new Country album in this general area.
posted by paxton at 11:51 AM on October 3, 2006


Hopi Nuclear Maiden. 10th paragraph down.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 12:03 PM on October 3, 2006


Poison Fire, Sacred Earth
posted by Mr. Gunn at 12:05 PM on October 3, 2006


Is the layout of the website itself a clue, in combination with the triggering/recording of the events?

- the first (the "why" clock): 10/19/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the second (the "when" clock): 10/23/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the third (the "who" clock): 10/25/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the fourth (the "what" clock): 10/29/2006, 12:00 noon;

= clockwise on the .swf

- the fifth (the Woodward clock): 11/1/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the sixth (the Lookout clock): 11/6/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the seventh (the Bitter Springs clock): 11/9/2006, 12:00 noon;
- the eighth (the Fort Hancock clock): 11/12/2006, 12:00 noon;

= counterclockwise on the .swf

I can't think of any clocks that are divided into eighths, but I'm curious why the first four events show up in one direction and the next four show up in the reverse direction. ... Is the visual layout a metaphor for something?
posted by Tuwa at 12:35 PM on October 3, 2006


I can't think of any clocks that are divided into eighths...

oh my god...it's TIMECUBE!!!
posted by Pastabagel at 12:47 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Gears of War for the XBox 360.
posted by stx23 at 12:57 PM on October 3, 2006


Wow, Pastabagel, that page is something else.
posted by Tuwa at 1:10 PM on October 3, 2006


LobsterMitten, that's not "closer" - that's very much Los Alamos. See the Google Map with those coordinates. Here's the Satellite Hybrid.
posted by FlamingBore at 1:16 PM on October 3, 2006


Astronomy searches yielded the only significant events are November 19, 2006, the date the Leonids will be visible, and November 8, 2006, the date of the Transit of Mercury. No eclispes or major phases of the moon seem to coincide.
posted by sequential at 1:18 PM on October 3, 2006


I called him

"Hello, dispatch?"

"Hi, is that Wayne Arnold?"

"This is Wayne yeah."

"Do you know anything about a website called ThePurification.org?"

"I'm sorry?"

"I'm interested in learning more about a website called ThePurification.org, do you know anything about that?"

"...I'm afraid you have the wrong number."

"OK, sorry to bother you. Thanks."

I guess I could have explained it to him but I was surprised he answered at all!
posted by riotgrrl69 at 1:20 PM on October 3, 2006


Oh I do love a good plot twist.
posted by FlamingBore at 1:24 PM on October 3, 2006


Poor Wayne, he's probably going to freak out b/c all of the sudden random strangers are calling and emailing him. Meanwhile....his baby's due on November 15th or its his 30th birthday or something.
posted by echo0720 at 1:29 PM on October 3, 2006


Oh, never mind, my preview didn't work correctly and I missed the past 2 hrs of comments.
posted by echo0720 at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2006


This new twist is easily as intriguing as any TV show in recent memory. Which means that probably this has something to do with lonelygirl15.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:31 PM on October 3, 2006


As posted in the comments on The Ultimate Insight: anyone up for some cracking?

http://www.thepurification.org/beta/

Someone should really call Wayne and verify his address and explain what's going on. There's no disputing the fact that his name and phone number were used to register the site, but it's very possible someone just used his info when registering the domain. As we've discovered, it's not all that hard to track him down.
posted by sportbucket at 1:34 PM on October 3, 2006


Wayne does not sound Hispanic. At all.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 1:35 PM on October 3, 2006


Re Hindu scripture and Los Alamos: Oppenheimer said he had the Bhagavad-Gita in mind while watching the Trinity test.
posted by davidfg at 1:36 PM on October 3, 2006


By getting the flash to point to my own copy of gettime.php, I can make it look like whatever at any point in time. Setting it to November 16th results in an all-white background, the same black diamond with a white square and circle in the middle, and all black text below that says: The Purification. The clock is gone.

Nothing else happens. It's possible the flash file will be updated between now and then to do whatever it's supposed to do, it's possible that the flash is trying to load another asset that I don't have, or maybe that's it.
posted by crawl at 1:41 PM on October 3, 2006


Oops... I forgot to go back and fill in that first link. It's up in one of the first comments, anyway.

Also intriguing from that site is this exchange:
Where did you find this link, Scott?
Comment by Mr. Gunn — 10/03/2006 @ 02:59 pm

I’m not sure Mr. Gunn, I don’t remember…. either some random linkdump or google. Dunno.
Comment by Scott — 10/03/2006 @ 04:12 pm
Scott's the one who originally posted the link that was then IM'd to me before I posted it here. The only other reference to this site I can find is in a post on Livejournal.

So much for tracing it back to its origins.
posted by sportbucket at 1:43 PM on October 3, 2006


From The Ultimate Insult:
Where did you find this link, Scott?

Comment by Mr. Gunn — 10/03/2006 @ 02:59 pm

I’m not sure Mr. Gunn, I don’t remember…. either some random linkdump or google. Dunno.

Comment by Scott — 10/03/2006 @ 04:12 pm
I find this very fishy, considering that Google has no records of any sites which link to the countdown. The Ultimate Insult may be the first seed.
posted by ijoshua at 2:02 PM on October 3, 2006


I love a challenge... this post got me to join MetaFilter. :)

I think the Spanish for the password prompt at /beta is a red herring - the site is hosted with Spain-based company (cdmon.com). There have been whois changes on the domain the last few days, but I only have a free membership at DomainTools and thus can't access them.

Checking a whois on askjimmy.net, though, reveals something more: the primary contact is a Matthew Owen in Seattle, and his e-mail address is at metastories.com - an online marketing firm of sorts. There is a phone number listed on the whois info, but I'm not in a place at the moment where I can make a call.

As an aside, I noticed that thepurification.com is also registered to Wayne, though it's simply parked with GoDaddy.

This is fun... :)
posted by theharmonyguy at 2:09 PM on October 3, 2006


Sorry, where did askjimmy.net come from?
posted by riotgrrl69 at 2:13 PM on October 3, 2006


theharmonyguy, the akajimmy.net version of the flash animation was done by a member here, to show what the time lapse reveals. It has nothing to do with the original on thepurification.org.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 2:15 PM on October 3, 2006


"Checking a whois on askjimmy.net, though, reveals something more: the primary contact is a Matthew Owen in Seattle, and his e-mail address is at metastories.com - an online marketing firm of sorts."

He's one of us. He cracked the "real" .swf to show what would happen in later stages of the countdown, and posted it to his site to share.
posted by sportbucket at 2:16 PM on October 3, 2006


Anyone up for some more phone calls?
posted by paxton at 2:16 PM on October 3, 2006


My bad - I meant "akajimmy.net," the site where the final .swf is hosted.

I'm really thinking this is Hopi-related - check out this site and search for "purification".
posted by theharmonyguy at 2:16 PM on October 3, 2006


DROP MATTHEW OWEN FALSE ALARM
posted by riotgrrl69 at 2:17 PM on October 3, 2006


Well scratch that last idea, sorry about that Mr Owen.
posted by paxton at 2:18 PM on October 3, 2006


Someone with guts should call Wayne, say "I expect you've been getting weird phone calls" and explain the situation. Which is, essentially, someone's been pretending to be him on the Internet and giving his phone number out. It seems.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 2:19 PM on October 3, 2006


Ah ok, sorry about that - I understand now. False alarm.
posted by theharmonyguy at 2:19 PM on October 3, 2006


LobsterMitten, that's not "closer" - that's very much Los Alamos. See the Google Map with those coordinates. Here's the Satellite Hybrid.
posted by FlamingBore at 4:16 PM EST on October 3 [+fave] [!]


Sorry for the misunderstanding, FB: I meant "the intersection of the lines is near Los Alamos. If you're interested to see where Los Alamos is, its coordinates are these (...)." So, yes, the coordinates I gave are the ones wikipedia gives for Los Alamos.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:23 PM on October 3, 2006


This is going to be about some Da-Vinci-Code-type fictional work based on Hopi mythology.

In some Hopi prophecy, eight signs precede the end of the present age, the ninth sign, when a blue star falls to the earth. (google "white feather bear clan" for links, and note that there are nine clocks). The end of the world is called the Day of Purification.
posted by gubo at 2:26 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


If this is going to be genuine advertising for a genuine marketable product, why on earth would they give the phone number of someone who works in "dispatch" as the owner? And if it's Wayne's personal fun project, why wouldn't he own up a little? I think this is something else. Probably someone screwing around and registering under a name they happen to find. It just doesn't seem commercial to me.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 2:32 PM on October 3, 2006


So the Smoking Man was right all along?
posted by paxton at 2:38 PM on October 3, 2006


Hopi Prophecy Rock
posted by ijoshua at 2:38 PM on October 3, 2006


More from wikipedia:
The Hopi, a Native American people, also describe that a great spiritual Teacher, known as the 'Elder Brother' or 'True White Brother', is coming as the "Rising Sun" to reunite the world's two streams separated in a far past (to rejoin the "stone tablets"). The Hopi have a complex and comprehensive view of the history and evolution of mankind, derived from oral tradition, and tend also to see history and evolution as cyclical (although this process is also conceived as a spiral process into higher stages of unfoldment). The True White Brother is expected to come after the two great wars, in order to inaugurate the future age: the "Day of Purification". The symbology described to be related to this event is as following: "this third event will depend upon the Red Symbol, which will take command, setting the four forces of nature (Meha) in motion for the benefit of the Sun."
posted by paxton at 2:46 PM on October 3, 2006


Yeah, I like the Hopi connection, too. In ijoshua's link, it describes the Hopi prophecy in detail, basically saying that the Purification will come about when China, Palestine, India and Africa begin WWIII by destroying the US with nuclear weapons. Only the Hopi lands will be spared, which are around Four Corners. Maybe you're not supposed to find the center of the diamond, but instead the diamond describes the area that will be spared.
posted by team lowkey at 2:49 PM on October 3, 2006


There have been whois changes on the domain the last few days, but I only have a free membership at DomainTools and thus can't access them.

I have an appropriate membership and the domain history doesn't show any significant changes. though it's only got three listings, curiously enough, one for each of the last three days.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:50 PM on October 3, 2006


Yeah, definitely working on the Hopi angle. gubo's comment seals that for me. Now for the details - book, movie, or what?
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:53 PM on October 3, 2006


It seems like most of the stuff in ijoshua's link has less to do with actual Hopi lore than the creative interpretations of "Dr. Allen Ross."
posted by Espy Gillespie at 2:57 PM on October 3, 2006


I'd like to pre-emptively counter any accusations that I'm witholding information... "Hopi prophecy" is one of the things I mentioned in my "more inside" entry, and at the time it wasn't based on anything beyond a half-remembered episode of Nova or maybe the X-Files. Interesting to see it come back with some validity.
posted by sportbucket at 2:59 PM on October 3, 2006


Here's a link to the StumbleUpon user who submitted this link. Definitely the earliest reference I can find -- September 30.

http://magichal.stumbleupon.com/

He's 14, though. Tracking him down doesn't seem very ethically sound.
posted by sportbucket at 3:03 PM on October 3, 2006


sportbucket: I'd agree with you but how do you know he's really 14? This is his first post and he joined on August 11th. Is there some crazy search tool that would let us find out if that photo is being used elsewhere (stock photo, stolen from somewhere, etc.)?
posted by capndesign at 3:13 PM on October 3, 2006


Hey guys, just in case anyone is still wondering my domain at akajimmy is just something I use occasionally to host stuff for various roleplaying games I am involved in. I just stuck the SWF up there temporarily in order to "crack" it and see what it looks like when the timers run out.

BTW: Metastories was a content company, not marketing. And is now part of Brightcove.
posted by Riemann at 3:13 PM on October 3, 2006


capndesign: interesting point. I suppose even if he turns out to be 29, I still wouldn't want to publish is contact information everywhere.

Any StumbleUpon users want to help us get in touch with this guy?
posted by sportbucket at 3:17 PM on October 3, 2006


I just sent him a message asking him about it.
posted by bob sarabia at 3:26 PM on October 3, 2006


oops, i did too bob. Oh well. Well, hopefully he'll respond to one of us.
posted by capndesign at 3:31 PM on October 3, 2006


Here is what it looks like when the timer runs out. I put www.thepurification.org as local in my hosts file, created a gettime.php, and changed system time. Not that interesting.
posted by sanko at 3:38 PM on October 3, 2006


The stumbleupon user is named magichal, and he's apparently a fan of puzzles.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:38 PM on October 3, 2006


Sanko that image isn't loading for me.
posted by thirteenkiller at 3:41 PM on October 3, 2006


sanko: I did the same thing earlier. I'm thinking that either the Flash will be updated before then with something more interesting, or Flash is trying to load an asset that we don't have (or doesn't exist).

I might later sniff my network traffic and see if the Flash is requesting something over the network when that happens.
posted by crawl at 3:44 PM on October 3, 2006


Sorry, crawl, missed that. But I did examine my logs and it's not looking to load anything else, at least not from www.thepurification.org.

thirteenkiller - port forwarding was going to the wrong place.. should work now.
posted by sanko at 3:49 PM on October 3, 2006


There is no attempt in the code to load an external asset.
posted by Riemann at 4:03 PM on October 3, 2006


I'm IMing with Mr. Magichal as I type this. He's telling me all sorts of crazy secrets that I'll share with you guys - for a price.
posted by item at 4:07 PM on October 3, 2006


All the tea.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 4:09 PM on October 3, 2006


Says his friend found the link and he doesn't know anything else about the site. Now he's babbling about Eon-8.
posted by item at 4:11 PM on October 3, 2006


fwiw: If you google MagicHAL's name, you'll find many other social networking profiles. His Soundclick profile has a photo similar to his Stumbleupon photo. With a cursory glance, I noticed many of his other profiles were recently created -- several in August 2006.
posted by Hankins at 4:27 PM on October 3, 2006


OK, everybody.

Time to throw a mother of a spanner into the works...

[prev1] and [prev2]

Have fun!
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:27 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Huh, this Wayne guy lives in my town. Not familar with that street though. /me goes to find map
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 4:33 PM on October 3, 2006


UbuRoivas, is there any connection between the MayDay Mystery and this site other than that they're mysteries?
posted by riotgrrl69 at 4:38 PM on October 3, 2006


item - any word from Harry Potter about where his friend found the site?

It's funny, a 14 year old kid from england who looks just like harry potter and is into ARGs...tempting, but unless he can help us trace the site, I think it's a dead end. The guy is definitely real, and 14. It doesn't take long to figure that out, so I wouldn't want to dig more than that into his personal info.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:45 PM on October 3, 2006


riotgrrl69 - they're both set in / around AZ, for a start. Hints of similar subject matter, as well. I thought that might be enough to suggest a connection, outside of all these movie / publishing viral marketing theories.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:53 PM on October 3, 2006


The site admin of maydaymystery.org is registered in Cleveland, OH. I sent him an email inviting him to come join us if he had any info to share.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:14 PM on October 3, 2006


Computer virus countdown? Purifying teh noobs?
posted by vanoakenfold at 5:25 PM on October 3, 2006


The site admin of maydaymystery.org is registered in Cleveland, OH.

He's also one of our own.
posted by sportbucket at 5:27 PM on October 3, 2006


Maybe that connection to mayday was a bit tenuous, but it popped into my mind very strongly when I saw this new mystery, so thought it would be worth a shot.

The thing is that there is so much detail in mayday that there are likely to be points of coincidence, but just finding them could be a problem, let along evaluating their significance. Who better to assist than the "sysadmin and geek" owner of the mayday site?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:33 PM on October 3, 2006


aw, christ, here we go ... (runs for hills)
posted by bhance at 5:33 PM on October 3, 2006


So is Robert Truman Hungerford just slightly nuts?
posted by riotgrrl69 at 5:37 PM on October 3, 2006


hance - I mentioned it in the MeTa thread, too. heh. come May 1, 2007 I'll post the ad to AskMe and see if y'all can tell me where the Freaks are meeting.
posted by carsonb at 5:42 PM on October 3, 2006


by the way, for anyone wondering if bhance is 'connected' to this purification thing, I can vouch that he is certainly not. (are you making babies yet b? how's cleveburg?)
posted by carsonb at 5:44 PM on October 3, 2006


So, um, how exactly does this fit in with mayday? Other than being bizarre, mathematical, and vaguely location/meeting oriented.

I'm not seeing the connection.
posted by Freen at 6:24 PM on October 3, 2006


thepurification.org bears no connection to the mayday mystery outside of the fact that they're both mysterious. that's what I was trying to say before. I apologize for having nothing to add in response to the original question.
posted by carsonb at 6:28 PM on October 3, 2006


You're just not looking hard enough, obviously.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:30 PM on October 3, 2006


Do enlighten us, Sherlock.
posted by Tuwa at 6:34 PM on October 3, 2006


Ok, not super likely, but I suppose possible: this releases the Friday after the countdown ends. Plot: "While trapped in a Twilight Zonish high desert environment, a hunted rock musician is forced to confront his whole past life when an eccentric, prophet tells him his has one night left to live. "
posted by TochterAusElysium at 6:51 PM on October 3, 2006


Here's the email I got from the maydaymystery guy.
"Ha. I'm actually on mefi, I was reading that thread this morning... I guess I need to check back in...

My guess is its an ARG or someone's movie promo, as some of the mefis were pointing out ... Now that 'lonelygirl15' has all these indie-promoter types sallivating over each other to be the Next Big Viral Thing, I think we'll be seeing a huge rise in this sort of subversive

I want to join in so bad but I'm building two servers right now. I'll check back in in the morning.

However, I and/or the MM have nothing to do with this, if thats what you guys are wondering. And this reminds me I have about 2 weeks worth of MM backlog to take care of.

-bhance"
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:15 PM on October 3, 2006


Do enlighten us, Sherlock.

The name's Gabbo.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:19 PM on October 3, 2006


that bhance guy gets blamed for everything viral that shows up here.
posted by bob sarabia at 7:21 PM on October 3, 2006


OK...I totally called this one.
posted by theantikitty at 7:21 PM on October 3, 2006


Perhaps you did, antikitty, but we still don't know who's responsible.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:32 PM on October 3, 2006


I thought it was a bit reminiscent of May Day Mystery at first, but a) a lot simpler, and b) not in the same tone at all (I was pretty fascinated by MDM 3 or 4 years ago). Here's my subjective impressions so far.

1) This seems too polished to be a nut job. That points to ARG or one of those movie/book media fusion thingies.
2) On the other hand, this Wayne character is portraying himself as unrelated, which points to either someone registering without him knowing, or he's deliberately evading us.
3) The map points to a spot in the middle of high desert, very near to Taos and the Indian Reservation. The wording is reminiscent of Hopi prophesy, and the symbol of square inside circle inside diamond could be a star of some sort.

Mysteries upon mysteries.
posted by muddgirl at 7:55 PM on October 3, 2006


Can someone plug this into Google Earth and tell me what they see? I made an overlay of the symbol in PS imported it to Google earth and what I see as dead center is a... well its a thing. With another thing just to the west. Connecting the two things is what looks like a fire road, but it only connects the two things. Someone want to hike out there and see what this here thing is?

36°25'27.32"N
105°48'16.52"W
posted by paxton at 8:11 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


What the hell is that thing?
posted by nomad at 8:19 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


That's what I'm sayin!
posted by paxton at 8:20 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


You know, while loading Google Earth and getting ready to pop in the coords, I'm thinking, "come on people..it can't be that odd!"

Yeah..so..what the hell is that thing?
posted by zerokey at 8:25 PM on October 3, 2006


I just looked at it on Google Earth too and it does look odd
posted by ob at 8:27 PM on October 3, 2006


Hmm, 60'x60', light blue. I can only assume it's a building, as I can't think of any sixty foot blue surfaces.
posted by luftmensch at 8:31 PM on October 3, 2006


swimming pool...BIG swimming pool
posted by zerokey at 8:36 PM on October 3, 2006


Yeah..it's obviously a structure...I'm more curious about the circular thing just west of it...maybe it's a ranger station?
posted by zerokey at 8:41 PM on October 3, 2006


But clearly a building...
posted by ob at 8:42 PM on October 3, 2006


I should have previewed. Oh well, I'm outta here, happy hunting folks!
posted by ob at 8:42 PM on October 3, 2006


There appears to be a small road going north down the mountain I'd guess it's a BLM building.
posted by ijoshua at 8:45 PM on October 3, 2006


ahHA!
Second paragraph
posted by zerokey at 8:48 PM on October 3, 2006


Here's someone else's discussion about the oddly-named roads near there "Good Nuff Road"?
posted by TochterAusElysium at 8:51 PM on October 3, 2006


http://www.stupa.org.nz/stupa/images/milag.jpg
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:54 PM on October 3, 2006


That's probably the little building to the west. Hm.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 8:56 PM on October 3, 2006


The building is a meditation hall...I'm assuming the round thing is the stupa
posted by zerokey at 8:58 PM on October 3, 2006


Well that was fun, sorry for the distraction.
posted by paxton at 8:59 PM on October 3, 2006


http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/5fca8/cc102/4/?o=2
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:01 PM on October 3, 2006


Thanks. There's great stuff in that area, like this house.
posted by vacapinta at 9:01 PM on October 3, 2006


But the stupa is square.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:02 PM on October 3, 2006


That's probably it, though.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:04 PM on October 3, 2006


argh..I wish there were higher resolution shots of the area!

The square structure measures about 120'x120'
The round thing has a diameter roughly 90'
posted by zerokey at 9:08 PM on October 3, 2006


I think the blue building could be this house which is very close to the stupa and has 18 photovoltaic cells. This is probably another red herring.

Unless someone is astroturfing AskMe with real estate listings… ;^)
posted by ijoshua at 9:13 PM on October 3, 2006


Oh, so it looks as if Milarepa is being reincarnated, or something.

I guess that's cool enough, but he's hardly Maitreya, is he?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:17 PM on October 3, 2006


Just throwing this out there, but could the circle inside the square inside the square also symbolize "Earth. Sky. Heaven."? Not that that would make anything clearer.
posted by stopgap at 9:45 PM on October 3, 2006


Just a quick note about the comment that this was tool polished to be a nut job: You can dowload a fully functional (just time limited) trial of Flash for free and it would take only about a lazy afternoon to create the SWF and PHP SWF. Far less for someone who does flash a lot.
posted by Riemann at 9:56 PM on October 3, 2006


Google Maps link of the coordinates discussed above. You can clearly see the blue square and the other building to the west. It's really in the middle of nowhere.
posted by sequential at 9:59 PM on October 3, 2006


Wow. Anybody got a plane?
posted by stray at 11:20 PM on October 3, 2006


For what it's worth, I doubt that a stupa would be painted blue. They generally come in white, white or white.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:37 PM on October 3, 2006


That's the stupa, right? This thing? It's not blue. It has a dark brown rounded top with a big square white base.
posted by bob sarabia at 12:15 AM on October 4, 2006


Um, what's with the weird grid on the ground a mile east of the blue building? Irrigation? Or Alien Landing Markings?
posted by Happy Dave at 4:26 AM on October 4, 2006


Link to aforementioned grid thingy
posted by Happy Dave at 4:27 AM on October 4, 2006


It's a new google datacenter ! :)

As for the grid : GMaps map gives street adresses, and if you zoom close enough (second-to-last level), you can see big houses. I'm guessing farms and lots, or a lost city for rich people / maffia types.
posted by XiBe at 5:02 AM on October 4, 2006


Also, grids are not uncommon in the area.
posted by XiBe at 5:04 AM on October 4, 2006


The grid is roads, but I'm not sure what they're for--there's only a few buildings scattered among them. It looks almost like a trailer park without any trailers.
posted by EarBucket at 5:05 AM on October 4, 2006


How confident are we that the puzzle points to the stupa and the building? Aren't Steven's co-ordinates more accurate than paxton's?
posted by riotgrrl69 at 5:47 AM on October 4, 2006


On the Google Earth forums I've seen it mentioned that grids like that are made by land developers. They'll go in and layout a housing development, grade the land and such, and then sell it to a contracting company that'll build the houses on it and then sell the houses.
posted by jwells at 5:59 AM on October 4, 2006


Thanks all for the entertaining read this morning!
posted by intermod at 6:01 AM on October 4, 2006


This better be one hell of a movie. Not like that "A.I." shit - the game was better than the movie that time.
posted by fungible at 6:10 AM on October 4, 2006


I could be WAY off. I just found my 'center' odd enough to mention. But I'm sure there is plenty of uncharted oddness in that area.
posted by paxton at 6:15 AM on October 4, 2006


Is anyone reminded of Borges' "Death and the Compass"?

Not suggesting that the site's creators want to murder anyone, but they definitely want to attract esoteric attention.
posted by bad grammar at 6:16 AM on October 4, 2006


I want to say for the record, that I love bees.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 6:17 AM on October 4, 2006


The website for that movie TAE mentioned, with the "eccentric prophet," says it takes place in the California high desert.

Also, the filmmaker says of his project: "Basically we wanted to create a 'Twilight Zone' type of feel to the film. I think there's a lot of people who are still fans of 'Twilight Zone' type of stories. The 'Momento' kind of thing. Like a lot of those type of stories, had a simple structure, but they stayed with you for hours, haunting you, bugging you."

If thepurification were related to his film, I'd expect he'd call it a "Spielberg A.I. kind of thing," or a "Lost kind of thing" instead.
posted by gregorg at 6:26 AM on October 4, 2006


Yeah, it was a long shot. Man...I just got up expecting you guys would have this solved by now. Someone needs to go visit Wayne or something. Come on, people - MeFi abhors an unsolved mystery (well, I do, anyway).
posted by TochterAusElysium at 7:03 AM on October 4, 2006


Is a LexisNexis search of Wayne out of the question?
posted by paxton at 7:10 AM on October 4, 2006


Has anyone talked about the whole shebang to Wayne, as riotgrrrl69 advised ?

can't myself, am i france
posted by XiBe at 7:13 AM on October 4, 2006


you can call wayne for free using this. The program makes pop-up ads but you can turn them off, and it doesn't boot at startup.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 7:21 AM on October 4, 2006


...and at work ;)
posted by XiBe at 7:23 AM on October 4, 2006


Is anyone reminded of Borges' "Death and the Compass"?

Funnily enough I was just thinking about that and I do enjoy a good Borges reference
posted by ob at 7:31 AM on October 4, 2006


I feel like a crackhead who just got a fix. Ever since phase 2 of the Lost ARG, I have been wanting something like this. Oh, and, you guys rock.
posted by thekilgore at 7:53 AM on October 4, 2006


FWIW, the unfiction forum has picked up on this. They're floundering, though.
posted by ijoshua at 7:57 AM on October 4, 2006


On the Google Earth forums I've seen it mentioned that grids like that are made by land developers. They'll go in and layout a housing development, grade the land and such, and then sell it to a contracting company that'll build the houses on it and then sell the houses.

That's more or less what I think. Somebody in my family bought a lot in Arizona back in the '70s, and when I went to find it a few years ago the area looked like this, with streets cut into the dirt but not much else.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:08 AM on October 4, 2006


Regarding the possible scientology "base" connection. Scroll down and look at the symbol they dug into the ground at this location, which is about 50-100 miles from the center of the diamond.
posted by coudal at 8:16 AM on October 4, 2006


Screw unfiction. From now on, ARG's need to be discussed here. Good God, it's like metafilter has infiltrated all levels of society. Anyone up for pulling Wayne's 1040's for the last three years? How about his credit report? Come on, we've got to have meta-agents at the IRS and TRW.

Forgive me if this was mentioned before (long thread), but the whois info for Wayne Arnold includes a bogus or incorrect address. What's weird is that the real addres, according tothe whitepages, is the same place in google maps. Also his phone number is different.

According to the white pages...
posted by Pastabagel at 8:30 AM on October 4, 2006


When trying to find the crosshair point between the 4 towns, have we been taking into account the curvature of the earth?
posted by riotgrrl69 at 9:36 AM on October 4, 2006


re: riotgrrl

That was my reasoning in using Google Earth to find the junction; it adds a curvature when you overlay an image. I just don't know how accurate my 4 points of origin were. But all things considered, Steven C. Den Beste and I were not to far off from one another.
posted by paxton at 9:43 AM on October 4, 2006


When measuring distances between points on the planet a special equation is used called Great Circle Distance. It measures the distance between two places on a sphere, so it is an accurate reflection of the distance rather than assuming the earth is flat. Most any program built for the purpose of viewing satellite imagery (WorldWind, Google Earth) or navigation (maps.google.com, etc.) will use that equation to establish the distances.

The downfall of the method is it doesn't take into account elevation, which is why I posted that data above. With any luck someone who knows if these programs figure that in or not will post, and we can improve the accuracy of the center point. One other (important) note needs to be made though, which is that we're looking for that accuracy but don't have accuracy for the end points so not much will come of it. The maps all assume the center of the city is the place to map from, whereas it might be a specific object in the city.

Some cities can be tens of miles long so the differences add up quickly and would skew the centerpoint badly as a result. There are some private air strips in Woodward and Ft. Hancock which seemed interesting but I couldn't find ready counterparts in Lookout and Bitter Springs. I haven't looked further than that.
posted by jwells at 10:22 AM on October 4, 2006


Jwells brings up an interesting point however are we to assume that Wayne or whoever is behind this took into account the elevation and earth's curvature as they relate to distance on the map? To me, it would make more sense to find the definitive endpoints and then use google earth from there. I get the feeling that either more clues will surface or we will realize the explanation is much more simple than we originally made it out to be.
posted by ro50 at 10:27 AM on October 4, 2006


I tried doing it myself just by taking the mean of the co-ordinates.

Lookout, WY: 41.665635, -105.801666
Woodward, OK: 36.433059, -99.397745
Fort Hancock, TX: 31.298456, -105.84471
Bitter Springs, AZ: 36.624914, -111.654868

Latitude = (36.433059 + 36.624914) / 2 =
36.5289865

Longitude = (-105.801666 + -105.84471) / 2 =
- 105.823188

Here
posted by riotgrrl69 at 10:29 AM on October 4, 2006


Some ideas -

1) The locations of the towns must be important. It's too much of a coincidence that their arrangement in the Flash is the same as on the map. The shape(s) seems to be the key rather than the towns themselves.

2) The ARG angle seems to be weak. None of the usual paths to clues have gotten us anything, and have in fact made the site look less like an ARG. Still...... It's obviously a puzzle of some sort.

3) The movie idea makes sense. But no one has found anything in production that doesn't lead to contradictions. I don't think it's a movie.

4) Scientology seems like a promising lead. "Purification" is a big deal in the cult, and they have a major cult compound near the center point. But Scientology has a solid record of *not* doing weird stuff like this in public.

5) The exact center may not be the focus. Since the creator had to choose towns for the corner points they probably had to choose locations that weren't exact. Thus, anything within 100 miles of the center point might be fair game.

6) Since there are no Google hits for sites pointing to this domain we know stumbleupon.com is probably the first seed, or at least one of the first. And the kid who posted it isn't saying where he found it.

7) Since the first date of the countdown is pretty close, we can assume this Flash and site are pretty much done. But we don't have much here. So we must be missing something. Possibly our decompile of the Flash is missing something.

8) Either this isn't a big deal, or the person who did the Flash doesn't know you can decomplie it to see the clues.
posted by Ragma at 10:33 AM on October 4, 2006


A lot of time has been spent trying to ascertain the exact middle of that diamond, but we have no reason to believe that the website is actually trying to point us to that spot.

Having read all the 250+ comments in this thread, here's what jumps out at me as the best possible explanation:

The combination of diamond shapes and points on a map is meant to indicate the whole region not to the center point. As posited in this comment, the region in the diamond is the "Hopi lands" that will be spared when the "end times" arrive.

The text that appears when the countdowns end appears to have a corraborate the connection to quasi-Hopi apocalypse myths, according to the research of others here.

And, finally, what does any claim of apocalypse need? A countdown to the end of the world, and there's plenty of countdowns here.

So, I think this is some crank, Wayne or otherwise, counting down to the apocalypse.

I don't think it's a viral marketing thing or an ARG because I think if that were the case another clue would have been dropped by now. They would have wanted to further the story. Otherwise we will soon get (or are already getting) bored and move on.

Just my thoughts.
posted by cmaxmagee at 10:47 AM on October 4, 2006


I don't think it's a viral marketing thing or an ARG because I think if that were the case another clue would have been dropped by now.

Not if they didn't anticipate it all getting decompiled.

Look at the site. Gradually revealing information like that. Teasing. You really think this is a genuine nutjob site?
posted by riotgrrl69 at 10:54 AM on October 4, 2006


"The downfall of the method is it doesn't take into account elevation, which is why I posted that data above. With any luck someone who knows if these programs figure that in or not will post, and we can improve the accuracy of the center point."

I'm thinking this is the wrong direction to look in. If the *exact* center point is a vital element then the creator would have had to work something like this -

1) Here's my general centerpoint.
2) Here are four towns in a rough diamond shape using my center point.
3) Here are the lat long number I get for the zip codes of those towns.
4) Here's my new center point based on those lat long.

Said another way - The creator can't pick the exact locations for the towns, so he can't pick the exact center point ahead of time.

Either the center point isn't exact at all, or the exact center point was chosen after the towns.

Stay with me here........ If the former, then the elevation isn't an issue. If the later, there would seem to be a problem - What if the person goes back to their new exact center and the geology there isn't acceptable for their needs? For example, what if this is a geochache sort of thing, but the exact center ends up in someone's back yard?

Still....... The domain was registered a year ago, so I guess they had time to work it all out.

Just some thoughts.
posted by Ragma at 10:59 AM on October 4, 2006


What are the chances that the symbol is some sort of mathematical and/or astrological mash-up? Seems to be quite a bit of linkage between these Hopi end days prophesies and the good ol age of Aquarius.
posted by paxton at 11:08 AM on October 4, 2006


While we're wildly throwing out theories, I'd like to say that I think a college student is behind this. Whether he's bored, doing a project for a class, or genuinely sociopathic, the answer is more or less the same: there is no answer, just enough cryptic information to make us think there's one.

(Though that blue square is kind of weird. Is someone going to go check that out?)

It's the other end of the trail I'm interested in. Where'd the StumbleUpon kid get this link in the first place?
posted by sportbucket at 11:11 AM on October 4, 2006


Someone needs to look at those coordinates on a topo map.

Also, doesn't the shape formed look kinda like one of these?
posted by Mr. Gunn at 11:29 AM on October 4, 2006


A lot of time has been spent trying to ascertain the exact middle of that diamond, but we have no reason to believe that the website is actually trying to point us to that spot.

Yes we do! The variable representing the counter in the centre of the diamond is called "countertaos". There is a town called Taos right next to the centre of the diamond. This is too great a coincidence for the centre of the diamond or the town of Taos not to be significant in the mind of the creator.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 11:51 AM on October 4, 2006


Ragma: What you are saying makes sense. I'm just not leaning in that direction because the symbology wouldn't wash with me if I knew it wasn't perfect. It'd drive me insane actually, but then given the scale it does seem a bit impossible, doesn't it?

I wonder if there is anything that would yield specific zipcodes in the towns? That would allow for a more accurate presentation, and might explain all of the freaking counters :-) Originally I'd wondered about them because longitude and latitude is also based on days, minutes, and seconds. There could be something to the seperation of the countdown times that would yield coordinates. The order of the unveiling might come into play with that actually.
posted by jwells at 12:35 PM on October 4, 2006


I think Taos is the "answer" to the countdown puzzle, rather than the geographic center of the diamond. But that doesn't really get us anywhere.

Any conventions or events taking place in Taos on the 15th?
posted by Ragma at 12:37 PM on October 4, 2006


I'm thinking the center has far more relevance than the end points. That the outside locations were chosen after the center location. Have we tried to link the points not labeled with cities to anything, the exterior counters points? Something is screaming constellation, equations or like Mr Gunn notes symbolism of some sort; maybe a combo of all three. What are we seeing if we connect all the exterior points?

Sorry I'm just asking questions here, I'm stuck at work and can’t fiddle with this beyond web searches.
posted by paxton at 12:37 PM on October 4, 2006


There are many free online tools for getting a lat long from a zipcode. Here's one with Bitter Springs zip.
posted by Ragma at 12:47 PM on October 4, 2006


So - I just called up the Taos Chamber of Commerce. Didn't get too much information though. The women I spoke to said that they weren't aware of any events happening on 11/15 in the city. She also hadn't heard anything about thepurification.org associated with the town from their end.

*shrug* Worth a shot.
posted by icosahedral at 12:51 PM on October 4, 2006


Ok.
From here I was able to find out a lot more about Taos, NM than I ever thought possible. There are some… different, people in this town. This crew seems to do web design for many in the local UFO/mystic/psychic circles.
Might be able to pick up more about the area if it comes from a local perspective.
posted by paxton at 12:57 PM on October 4, 2006


The Harry Potter look-alike(I swear I've seen that profile pic before) says he got the link from a friend of his. Someone's playing us, but whether it's wayne, magichal, or both, I don't know.

The center is definitely Taos, a noted hotbed of newagery. I think that's pretty certain. The 9 counters clearly has to do with the 9 ages in Hopi mythology, the 9th being when purification is supposed to come. There's a lot of mention about "the gourd of ashes" referring to nuclear weaponry, which according to the myths is supposed to be visited upon those who have used it in war.

Perhaps there's a movie script out there about a radical band of indians that take over a missile silo?


If we could find out who's behind this, we'd be a long ways towards solving it, but they've covered their tracks pretty well.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 12:58 PM on October 4, 2006


Oh, yeah, and supposedly, Hopi land, the land near the center of the shield, is going to be the only safe place to be.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 1:03 PM on October 4, 2006


How did the Ultimate Insult type find the /beta page - are there other pages?
posted by riverouse at 1:16 PM on October 4, 2006


Just trying to head in another direction........

From the Flash we know -


The Flash countdown dates:
Thu Oct 19 16:20:00 GMT-0700 2006
Mon Oct 23 14:46:40 GMT-0700 2006
Wed Oct 25 16:46:40 GMT-0700 2006
Sun Oct 29 17:00:00 GMT-0800 2006
Wed Nov 1 17:13:20 GMT-0800 2006
Mon Nov 6 16:40:00 GMT-0800 2006
Thu Nov 9 16:53:20 GMT-0800 2006
Sun Nov 12 17:06:40 GMT-0800 2006
(note that Riemann's decomplied times point to Nov 12th, not the 15th)


The time on the timers (when I looked) and the corrisponding clue:
why - 14:19
when - 18:19
who - 20:19
what - 24:20
Woodward - 27:20
Lookout - 32:20
Bitter Springs - 35:20
Fort Hancock - 38:20
Taos - 41:07

The "reveal" pattern:
The phrase clues are revealed by going around a rectangle clockwise.
The town clues are revealed by going around a diamond counter clockwise.

The reveal intervals in days:
4,2,4,3,5,3,2.5

Questions -

1) Why the wierd differences in the reveal times? And why is the hour on the center time so much different?

2) Don't some American Indian circle cerimonies involve going around the cirlce clockwise, then again counter clockwise?
posted by Ragma at 1:27 PM on October 4, 2006


I've been thinking along the same lines as Ragma. Finding the exact coordinates and elevations is probably a dead end. The creator most likely had a location, and then measured a cretain distance north, south, east, and west, possibly on a paper map, and just chose the city closest to the end point. Someone should try measuring 500K in each direction from Toas and see what cities they would get.
posted by team lowkey at 1:29 PM on October 4, 2006


The strange time intervals could just be to make sure you can't deduce the end time. If there was a reveal exactly every 3 days, you would realize pretty quickly when it was going to end.
posted by team lowkey at 1:33 PM on October 4, 2006


Another thought - Visitors were suppose to see the clues several days apart, not all at once like we have. This makes me think that the individual clues mean more than we're aware. If the center (Taos) is the key, why have seven clues that don't lead in any way to the thing finally revealed?

Or perhaps you could think the other way - This isn't a puzzle at all and the "clues" are just teasers which aren't meant to be solved.
posted by Ragma at 1:34 PM on October 4, 2006


The Seven Thunders is a sorta pan-Indian prophesy about the gourd of ashes and the Purifier and that stuff; apparently it was the product of a meeting of Indian elders in Taos in 1982.

See here and here and here (near the bottom of the page). It's also mentioned in Revelation.
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:37 PM on October 4, 2006


"The strange time intervals could just be to make sure you can't deduce the end time."

The end time is clearly shown on the page. In fact it's the only thing not hidden.
posted by Ragma at 1:41 PM on October 4, 2006


I definitely think that Taos, NM has something to do with this mystery, but has anyone considered that the "taos" in "countertaos" might be or might also be referring to the plural of "Tao"?

Just a thought. This thread is fascinating - I haven't got any work done all day...
posted by raisehelldrinkbeer at 1:45 PM on October 4, 2006


That third link of mine isn't about the 1982 prophesy but an earlier related one.
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:50 PM on October 4, 2006


has anyone considered that the "taos" in "countertaos" might be or might also be referring to the plural of "Tao"?

Or possibly just a misspelling of "tacos"
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:52 PM on October 4, 2006


Ragma:
The end time is clearly shown on the page. In fact it's the only thing not hidden."

Right. I forgot that, what with all our insider knowledge. But it still could be to throw off when each step would be revealed. If you're building a mysterious teaser, you want to keep people guessing and coming back constantly for updates. This was just seeded, and I think they were hoping to be slowly building momentum as the date approached, with people checking back with baited breath to see what happened next. You don't get that by being predictable.
posted by team lowkey at 1:55 PM on October 4, 2006


Oh interesting. Taos is the center of The Hum story from a few years back. Probably not germane to this particular discussion, but it does make an interesting backdrop to this whole thing.

(More at wikipedia.)
posted by icosahedral at 1:57 PM on October 4, 2006


Never mind. All the times are visible. I'm being dumb.
posted by team lowkey at 2:03 PM on October 4, 2006


Come on team! riotgrrl69 doesn't want to diligently work through the clues as intended. riotgrrl69 wants this mystery destroyed stat.

Crack the fuck out of this!

I want obsessive, anti-social behavior! I believe in you MetaFilter!
posted by riotgrrl69 at 2:07 PM on October 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Also, and there's no nice way of saying this, could someone post this at Something Awful please?
posted by riotgrrl69 at 2:09 PM on October 4, 2006


There's a film festival coming up in a couple days in Taos, that looks like it would have a film like this, but I didn't see anything explicitly named purification listed. The teaser format of the page screams movie promo.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:10 PM on October 4, 2006


It would be a huge amount of work, but I'd bet if you skulked around film festival websites you'd eventually find something. Perhaps you'd even find this wayne guy as registrar of one.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:14 PM on October 4, 2006


riotgrrl69: "Also, and there's no nice way of saying this, could someone post this at Something Awful please?"

Heh! I thought of this last night, but wasn't brave enough to suggest it.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:16 PM on October 4, 2006


English speaking target audience.
Spanish on the backend.
End of Western civilization.

Is this the wrong time to mention the Aztlan Movement?
posted by paxton at 3:05 PM on October 4, 2006


riotgrrl69 - If the developer has used even the most rudimentary security policy there won't be any cracking this. We don't have the username. And even a username as boring as Maf54 can make dictionary attacks pretty hard.

Even so, I lack the cracking tools for HTTP basic authentication.

I spent a large amount of time trying to find fun stuff by hacking ther URL. There doesn't seem to be anything obvious there other than the beta directory. Guessing at directories and files came up empty.
posted by Ragma at 3:15 PM on October 4, 2006


$ lynx -dump -head http://thepurification.org | less
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Wed, 04 Oct 2006 22:34:30 GMT
Server: Apache/2.0.59 (FreeBSD) PHP/5.1.4 mod_ssl/2.0.59 OpenSSL/0.9.7e-p1
Last-Modified: Tue, 03 Oct 2006 19:35:43 GMT
ETag: "7ff27a-521-41eed3a6ac1c0"
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 1313
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/html
The index page was last modified yesterday at 14:35:43 EST, about the time I posted that I called him.

For what it's worth, the following URLs are valid, but any reasonable server or user config will disallow access to them:

http://thepurification.org/.htaccess
http://thepurification.org/.htpasswd
http://thepurification.org/beta/.htaccess
http://thepurification.org/beta/.htpasswd

And none of the common FTP programs have left behind any files, nor have any editors seemingly left behind autosaves. Nor is their a robots.txt.
posted by sequential at 3:48 PM on October 4, 2006


One note on the site, probably along the lines of the Beta finding... when you hit a 404 on it you'll see "mod_ssl" in there, meaning HTTPS works. The cert is for cdmon.com though, so again it's probably just something from the provider.
posted by jwells at 3:51 PM on October 4, 2006


For what it's worth, the following URLs are valid

Not anymore
posted by Frankieist at 4:27 PM on October 4, 2006


cdmon.com

So this is Spain Spanish, not Mexico Spanish?
posted by paxton at 4:34 PM on October 4, 2006


So...I'm guessing the person or people responsible for this are reading this thread. If so...Do you mind emailing one of the active folks in this thread (me, if you like) and giving us a CLUE as to what this is all about?
posted by vacapinta at 4:34 PM on October 4, 2006


Here is another decompiled version of the most recent flash. The originally reported timers in scientific notation are different than the ones decompiled by flare. In the two cases I've checked, the difference varies. Flasm comes up with the same number of milliseconds as flare. Is this new or is this just a difference in how flashm, flare, and whatever evariste used, decompile?

*time lapses*

I compared the timers in Riemann's copy of the SWF file, which is prior to the last modified time, with the ones from the main site and came up with the same timers. In fact, the results from both were exactly the same, no changes in the code.
Not anymore
They are, in fact, valid. They just return 403s instead of 404s. That has been the case since the first time I checked. This indicates one of two things: the server spits out 403s whenever you try to access either of those two files or they exist and are protected. Checking my own server yields the same results whether or not the file is actually there. Dead end there.
posted by sequential at 4:35 PM on October 4, 2006


Let's not forget who we're dealing with here.



Wayne Arnold - The Wonder Years

Somebody needs to study some reruns in order to learn his moves.
posted by sportbucket at 4:41 PM on October 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


So this is Spain Spanish, not Mexico Spanish? 1
I discovered upthread that fuso is a Portugese word, not a Spanish word. Accodring to Webster's, it's also an Italian word. I'm not sure if this has any bearing on your point, as cdmon.com is definitely registered in Spain.
posted by sequential at 4:43 PM on October 4, 2006


^ I noticed that too. The authentication prompt reads "Introduce tu contraseña," which produced nothing in Babelfish's Portuguese => English conversion, but a much more sensible "Introduce your password" in the Spanish => English conversion.
posted by Hankins at 5:13 PM on October 4, 2006


the rest of those site on the IP address from the list above all go to spanish language sites. Yes, I checked them all.
posted by bob sarabia at 5:16 PM on October 4, 2006


Looking at sequential's decompile of the flash. Look at the movie clip sections with content, the ones that are blank, and their numbers:

3
5
13 Timer
15
17
20
22
26 Timer
28
34 Timer
36
39 Timer
41
44 Timer
46
51 Timer
53
58 Timer
60
63 Timer
64 only 'frame 2'... timer?
67
68

Is that typical for a flash file? It doesn't seem to have a pattern (odd/even, differences, etc.)
posted by jwells at 5:38 PM on October 4, 2006


Yeah, those numbers are not assigned by the person creating the SWF but by the compiler. They are meaningless.
posted by Riemann at 7:53 PM on October 4, 2006


gawd, ask mefi is the most entertaining thing ever lately. keep up the good work.
posted by Bear at 11:12 PM on October 4, 2006


I discovered upthread that fuso is a Portugese word, not a Spanish word. Accodring to Webster's, it's also an Italian word. I'm not sure if this has any bearing on your point, as cdmon.com is definitely registered in Spain.

I'm not sure if this has any bearing on any point, because unless you are actually reasonably fluent in those languages, you are not really in a position to judge.

Far more than in English, the Romance languages use inflections heavily - eg nouns will change depending on whether they are nominative, accusative, genetive, locative, etc, and typically it is the ending that changes. Online dictionaries, babelfish etc are not particularly great at dealing with these variations. Dictionaries, for example, will give you the root form of the word, but you have to bring to this your own knowledge of the rules for how it changes.

*takes off amateur language hat*
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:28 PM on October 4, 2006


Did I miss a discussion about the Hopi reservation being in Arizona?
posted by salvia at 12:14 AM on October 5, 2006


anyone remember eon8 and all the fuss that caused?

deja vu
posted by skinnerneil at 12:34 AM on October 5, 2006


...eg nouns will change depending on whether they are nominative, accusative, genetive, locative, etc,

Huh? Romance languages have lost the Latin declensions. Nouns mostly change due to gender and suffixes. Verbs change depending on the conjugation.

..because unless you are actually reasonably fluent in those languages, you are not really in a position to judge...

I found it odd that people started using Babelfish upthread instead of asking if, say, anyone here spoke those languages. I speak Spanish as my first language and am reasonably fluent in most of the other Romance languages.

1. I'm not aware of a common use of "fuso" in spanish or portuguese.
2. It probably means "time zone" as used in Italian.
3. Yes, "contraseña" means password.
4. Galician is spoken in Spain but is actually closer to Portuguese.

Dictionaries, for example, will give you the root form of the word, but you have to bring to this your own knowledge of the rules for how it changes.

To end the derail, dictionaries such as the Ultralingua dictionaries will find your word regardless of the form.
posted by vacapinta at 12:43 AM on October 5, 2006


I skimmed the thread and am now catching up from the top, but apologies if I repeat something since I didn't click all the links during my skim.

What about the Rose-Croix image here?
posted by salvia at 12:52 AM on October 5, 2006


Oy, Rose-Croix image already farked.

/me sits watching on sidelines, fascinated.
posted by Goofyy at 2:24 AM on October 5, 2006


I'm late joining in. All this research is amazing! I love this area of the country and spent a semester reading Hopi myth (for an anthro of religion class).

Just to compile some ideas above about what this could relate to: Jericho (the TV show), The Solomon Key (the book by Dan Brown), the Taos film festival, or some other project we haven't thought of.

Does Jericho make the most sense? I haven't seen the show. But in next Wednesday’s episode, people go off in four directions to investigate the atomic explosions. The timeline (now-November) is right. There’s atomic stuff in the show (related to Los Alamos). Now people are headed in four directions – think they might end up in Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona?

If Hopis were the focus, then why NM and not northern AZ, where the reservation is now? At minimum, wouldn't they pick an Arizona city closer to the reservation than Bitter Springs is?
posted by salvia at 3:22 AM on October 5, 2006


no one's mentioned the text in the html source of the page (was it not there before?):

We see you. We know you're watching.
Nous vous voyons. Nous savons que vous cherchez quelque chose.
Os vemos. Sabemos que est‡is mirando.
N—s o vemos. Sabemos que est‡ olhando.

(the funky characters show up in ffox and opera, safari ignores them.)

the mere fact that there's no italian here seems sufficient to discount the "fuso (orario)" lead.

what's somewhat interesting is that the french is a fairly interpreted translation (if that's what it is...), while eng span and portuguese (brasilian?) seem more aligned/equivalent.
posted by progosk at 5:31 AM on October 5, 2006


"Os vemos...estais" is Spain-Spanish, not Latin American, which would be "Los vemos...estan".
posted by signal at 5:37 AM on October 5, 2006


Ok, that's a little freeky. That text is new.
posted by jwells at 5:45 AM on October 5, 2006


also: might Tennessee Williams' story "The Purification", set in Taos, New Mexico have anything to do with this?
posted by progosk at 5:49 AM on October 5, 2006


Doesn't the French translate to "We know that you're looking for something," or is that idiomatic French for "We know you're watching"?
posted by UKnowForKids at 5:52 AM on October 5, 2006


definitely "you're looking for something".
posted by progosk at 5:56 AM on October 5, 2006


various other parts of the text in the source of the swf posted by Steven C. Den Beste also strike me as derived from the french:

"proliferations" (the plural)
"for that which is"
"You have but to"
"for the many who once"
"immovable from truth"
posted by progosk at 6:20 AM on October 5, 2006


French here. Translation is indeed "We know that you are looking for something", nothing diplomatic in there.

This translation might be explained by the fact that there is no easy or best translation for "we know you are watching". It would be "Nous savons que vous (nous) regardez", which to me sounds awkward at best, and doesn't have the same bigbrothery meaning of "watching".
posted by XiBe at 6:30 AM on October 5, 2006


I can confirm that text wasn't there yesterday afternoon (PST). I was poking through the html source.
posted by Ragma at 6:43 AM on October 5, 2006


As well as adding that text (which by the way, is extremely creepy), they seem to have removed the 'beta' directory.
posted by teem at 6:44 AM on October 5, 2006


Some pondering on the wording in the phrase clues -

"The proliferations of glitz will not overcome those who believe."

This phrasing seems a bit awkward. Like someone was trying to come up with something that sounded new-agey rather than drawing from personal beliefs. It has no real inner logic.

"You have but to believe it is possible."

This sounds really cult-like. You can be innocent again if you just believe whatever "secret" is revealed.

"They will all see a people renewed."

This seems to tie the whole thing to a culture or race. I can't imagine Scientology or a generic New Age group promising this.

"Redeemed from the corruption of what was once held as sacred."

So this is something people used to believe, but not so much now. That rules out Scientology, or any cult that has some new crazy idea (like the comet folks).

"This is the time of restoration for the many who once stood, immovable from truth."

Again, this makes no sense. It sounds more like something you'd hear from the crazy guy on the bus.

Either 1) the phrases are someone's random mutterings (a red hearing), or 2) the group involved is seriously into cliches and jingoism, or 3) there is a cypher here. My instincts go with #1.

Also - The phrases taken at face value hint that some sort of spiritual event will be happening. But what sort of spiritual event would be introduced by a weird puzzle? It sort of sounds like a Hopi inspired revival, but why the hell would an Indian tribe market an event in this manner?

Put it all together and you get something that seems much more like a movie promotion than a legitimate religious revival. But........ we have no movie.
posted by Ragma at 6:49 AM on October 5, 2006


"they seem to have removed the 'beta' directory"

Which makes me think they're reading this thread, or one of the others. Which most likely means we tipped them off by contacting someone. Who did we contact?

Wayne
magichal.stumbleupon.com

Who else?

I suppose it's possible they saw us trying to hack the authentication on the beta directory.
posted by Ragma at 6:53 AM on October 5, 2006


Has anyone, or can anyone, see if any Spanish movie/TV productions coming out around Nov 12th? We looked for American movies, but I assume we didn't look into foreign films.
posted by Ragma at 7:00 AM on October 5, 2006


Or they could simply have given a look to their referers. Files or the /beta directory are linked directly from here. No need to have had prior contact from mefites to be aware that you're site is being bonked by people.
posted by XiBe at 7:00 AM on October 5, 2006


True. Duh. Nvm.
posted by Ragma at 7:05 AM on October 5, 2006


also: might Tennessee Williams' story "The Purification", set in Taos, New Mexico have anything to do with this?

:O

It's a play. Maybe this is a production or a movie of the play?

Someone get the play!
posted by riotgrrl69 at 7:05 AM on October 5, 2006


NY Times (user goddemmit password goddemmit)
posted by riotgrrl69 at 7:08 AM on October 5, 2006


The index page was last modified on Thu, 05 Oct 2006 08:53:16 GMT. The HTML comments are new as of this modification.

UbuRoivas, I'm not an expert on languages. However, when the phrase "Configure timezone" is translated in Galatian as "Configurar o fuso horario", I tend to believe it is a good assumption, all evidence considered, that the fuso variable holds the timezone offset (-0700 GMT in miliseconds).

Native Spanish, Portugese and Italian speakers can verify if the word for timezone is the same, similar, or different, but, as I said, I have no idea if the choice of variable names or languages has any bearing at all.
posted by sequential at 7:12 AM on October 5, 2006


if it turns out to be a movie, i sincerely hope this is not the script...
posted by progosk at 7:17 AM on October 5, 2006


from the NY Times article, May 29, 1954:

"The Purification" is a tone poem for the stage. It has never been produced before this season. Mr. Williams wrote it more than a decade ago before "The Glass Menagerie" introduced his talents to the public. Set in a primitive village in New Mexico a number of years ago, it is the story of some peasants who are trying to propitate the rain gods by atoning for sins of passion and violence in their community. A girl has been murdered. The peasants hold an impromptu trial to discover the truth to purify the community.

Told with reticence and austerity, "The Purification" is obscure in some incidental details. With the experience he has since acquired Mr. Williams would probably write with more concreteness today. But the details are less important than the total impression. Like a tonepoem, "The Purification" evokes mood and imagery by the balanced sound of words, the music of style, antiphonal choral comments and guitar interpolations.

"The Purification" has performed a kind of purification of its own on Theatre '54. For the play has been staged as if it were a religious ritual by Margo Jones in her best form and it is acted with grace and devoutness by a company inspired by what they are playing. Their acting conveys the unexploited eloquence of simple emotions that are deeply felt. But cautiously revealed in a community meeting. James Field and Richard Shepard, as the two young men who have violated the morality of the community, give particularly good performances in the grave though passionate mood of the play.


It is definately set in Taos according to this PDF.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 7:18 AM on October 5, 2006


Here's a little more on the play by Williams.
posted by thatweirdguy2 at 7:23 AM on October 5, 2006


riotgrrl69 - sounds fairly fascinating... though not quite as apocalyptic as the various leads so far...
posted by progosk at 7:25 AM on October 5, 2006


http://www.taoscenterforthearts.org/ has no performance of "The Purification" listed. And someone already called the Chamber of Commerce about it.

However, the play is set in Taos. So if the play is at the heart of this thing there's no reason for the object/event/whatever for this website to take place in Taos. The website could just as well be for a production of the play in New York.
posted by Ragma at 7:34 AM on October 5, 2006


So...Tenessee Williams is using a nutjob website to promote a tone poem he wrote 50 years ago that's also getting NYT press?
posted by grateful at 7:41 AM on October 5, 2006


The play seems like a very solid lead. But after reading about it more, and going through some of the verse, it doesn't seem to match well with the phrases in the Flash. For example, the final phrase revealed - "Earth. Sky. Heaven. They will all see a people renewed. Redeemed from the corruption of what was once held as sacred. This is the time of restoration for the many who once stood, immovable from truth." - doesn't seem to have anything in common with the play.

I think it's important to remember that just about anything that uses the words "the purification" is bound to have something in common with the puzzle phrases.

But the Taos connection is very compelling.
posted by Ragma at 7:45 AM on October 5, 2006


Look for productions in Wayne's area.

This doesn't seem to be a play that gets produced very often at all, though.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:46 AM on October 5, 2006


is wayne's area anywhere near clarksdale? (no purification mention there, though...)
posted by progosk at 7:52 AM on October 5, 2006


the deep ellum company (nyc) had a production fairly recently.

curiously, their title font is *rather* similar to the creepy site's...

but somehow i doubt this is really where it's at.
posted by progosk at 8:11 AM on October 5, 2006


I got this yesterday. They didn't leave a name but I have their email addie if anyone wants to get in contact:

hey, I noticed you posting on metafilter regarding thepurification.org
I can't afford to pay the $15 reg. fee but I wanted to mention to you all that there seems to be little insight into games as a possible product being advertised... a quick search for "nov 15th release date" game me this:
from www.gearsofwar.com
"The story unfolds as a ragtag group of soldiers use every last ounce of strength to survive the onslaught from the forces of evil, which begins on the historic Emergence Day."

good chance they're unrelated but this game is shipping on either Nov. 12th or Nov. 15th, which seem to be the two dates discussed in the thread, and has a vague relation to end times/apocalypse-y themes... I don't have the knowledge or time to delve further but perhaps worth a look?
Anyway, keep it up! very entertaining!
posted by jwells at 8:11 AM on October 5, 2006


BTW -- This past weekend saw the premier of one of Tennesse Williams lost works "The Parade, or Approaching the End of a Summer" in Provincetown, MA as part of the launch of a new Tennessee Williams annual festival. Provincetwon is where he summered and wrote the "Glass Menagerie" and other notable works.
posted by ericb at 8:14 AM on October 5, 2006


Are we reading into the use of that symbol in the new source text? Is it being used as a 'not equal' symbol or the Cross of Lorraine?
posted by paxton at 8:18 AM on October 5, 2006


wouldn't htink so, paxton: that symbol looks like typical font-fallout - when an unusual/foreign character gets "lost in translation", as it were.
posted by progosk at 8:24 AM on October 5, 2006


Are we reading into the use of that symbol in the new source text?

I'll bet good money that's just an encoding error for non-English symbols.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 8:24 AM on October 5, 2006


I opened the code with a hex editor and it puts the symbol as hex 87, which is decimal 135. It should be a c with a squiggle below it, but I'm having trouble getting it on my system.

Wouldn't this imply these folks aren't using the western ISO 8859-1 set? Tracking down the correct character set would be a great clue.

Also, if they wanted a US domain (.com) would they need a US address to get it?
posted by jwells at 8:44 AM on October 5, 2006


Also, if they wanted a US domain (.com) would they need a US address to get it?

No. All due respect but if you need to ask that, you should probably focus on a different part of the puzzle.

Also, it's a .org.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 8:49 AM on October 5, 2006


For what it's worth, the text encoding on the page appears to be Mac OS Roman. The Content-Type declaration says it's ISO-8859-1, but often those kinds of declarations are either pre-populated by a GUI web dev app, or copied and pasted from some other page source.

Doesn't mean a whole lot, but I'd guess s/he's using an older Mac.
posted by sportbucket at 8:51 AM on October 5, 2006


Doesn't mean a whole lot, but I'd guess s/he's using an older Mac.

Then we really are dealing with a twisted mind...
posted by Jofus at 8:56 AM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Riotgrrl69, you misunderstood me. Specific ISPs may require address validation for registering a domain and the registrar rules are constantly changing, for instance with the .orgs only recently being open to just anyone. For instance, some countries may require registrations to their nation specific TLD. I was hoping someone here would know if Spain did something like that. It doesn't appear so, but it was looking into because it would virtually indemnify Wayne rather quickly.

My apologies for the .com/.org slip.
posted by jwells at 9:09 AM on October 5, 2006


k
posted by riotgrrl69 at 9:11 AM on October 5, 2006


Specific ISPs may require address validation for registering a domain and the registrar rules are constantly changing, for instance with the .orgs only recently being open to just anyone. For instance, some countries may require registrations to their nation specific TLD.

Sorry jwells, but that's just plain wrong. There are no restrictions on .com/.org/.net domains - you can register whatever you please, and stick whatever you like in the WHOIS - this has been the case for many, many years now - even in the days of InterNIC controlling the generic TLDs. Of course, more diligent registrars will insist upon correct data, but that doesn't mean that people will always follow the rules. Any person, from any country in the world can register a gTLD, if they so desire.

Also, .com isn't a 'US' domain name. It's a generic domain, for 'commerical' users. The fact that Americans embraced it, and almost completely abandoned their own ccTLD (.us) is a mere side-effect.

/derail ends
posted by metaxa at 9:25 AM on October 5, 2006


I figured it out!

It's a viral for Ask Metafilter. We're all pawns in mathowie's marketing plan.
posted by dripdripdrop at 9:33 AM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


a different tack: purification + circle/square symbol.

Misogi; Pythagoras; Cherokees; VAS, anyone?
posted by progosk at 9:39 AM on October 5, 2006


according to WHOIS, Wayne holds both the .org and .com registrations.
posted by fredandcharlie at 9:53 AM on October 5, 2006


The call came from inside the house. Get out!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:55 AM on October 5, 2006


from www.gearsofwar.com
"The story unfolds as a ragtag group of soldiers use every last ounce of strength to survive the onslaught from the forces of evil, which begins on the historic Emergence Day."

good chance they're unrelated but this game is shipping on either Nov. 12th or Nov. 15th, which seem to be the two dates discussed in the thread, and has a vague relation to end times/apocalypse-y themes.
posted by jwells at 11:11 AM EST on October 5 [+fave] [!]


That's the second time someone mentioned gears of war. Here's the first.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:27 AM on October 5, 2006


"The story unfolds as a ragtag group of soldiers use every last ounce of strength to survive the onslaught from the forces of evil, which begins on the historic Emergence Day."

Ohhhhhh......Hopi myth does call the creation of this world the emergence. The old world was corrupt, so people climbed up a pole or ladder into this world. That was when Elder Brother went off east, eventually to return.
posted by salvia at 10:38 AM on October 5, 2006


Site source has been changed again. No more 'we know you're watching'.
posted by paxton at 10:43 AM on October 5, 2006


Got this via email (thanks D):
Excuse if you guys already noticed that, but in MagicHAL's soundclick profile, you can actually see this record:


And FWIW, I think there's more that MagicHAL could share. He's involved in a lot of ARGs, which you can read him discuss here. (For the record, this thread is the first time I've ever heard the acronym, ARG, so who knows wtf I'm talking about.)

Additionally, here's his MySpace Profile (set to private). The interesting thing to note is his listed name, Dr. Mrs. Vandertramp, which a cursory google search revealed as a "mnemonic for French verbs using the verb Être in the past tense." Perhaps a tie-in with the French text? (More likely: just a kid taking French in school who thought it was a cool name.)

His web profiles list this web forum as his homepage, on which he goes by the name of Anadarious. This forum lists a geocities page (warning: sound on load) as his website, which is listed under the name Anderwolfe. Searches for anderwolfe turn up all sorts of rpg links.

I'm not sure he has a hand in any of this, but the fact that he played an integral role in surfacing the site leads me to believe it has something to do, at the very least, with his friends' and his interests... games, music, etc. The fact that he's big into ARGs/RPGs makes me put my money on one of those.
posted by Hankins at 10:43 AM on October 5, 2006


Only in my mind is "recently" over a decade ago. Good grief. Sorry. Thanks riotgrrl69 and metaxa.
posted by jwells at 10:52 AM on October 5, 2006


I'm not convinced of the Gears of War connection, but salvia's comment makes it seem more plausible. Whenever I play these ARG's they always seem prone to the red herrings of synchronicity and the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.

Anyhoo, I notice that The Fountain is due for release on 11/22. Also, the PS3 comes out 11/17.

Is there anyway to see a list of all mefi users who registered since this thread started? Reasonable to think that the game authors would be registered here.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:56 AM on October 5, 2006


Woz
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:58 AM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Is there anyone experienced with creating SWF's that can comment on whether the movie (or the flash source?) shows signs of probably having been created by a professional flash designer or by an amateur?

I have no clue about Flash, but to me it looks amateurish as the "rollovers" aren't transparent even for the text that isn't being shown yet. Though maybe that's a tease to show there is something more gonna be shown? (I mean the grey boxes under/beside the individual countdowns)

And presumably: if it were created by an amateur, it's not for a big/medium budget movie/game/whatever?
posted by selton at 11:08 AM on October 5, 2006


Careful with the magichal angle. I have a hunch he's involved in this more than he's letting on, but he's a kid, so let's not dig up his class schedule or anything.

I'm guessing whoever built the site had magichal leak it for him. He mentioned getting the purification link from someone he plays Counter-Strike with. If I had to guess, I'd say he's telling the truth, though I get the feeling he's being intentionally (and uncharacteristically) tight-lipped. He might know he was used to leak the site, but I doubt he knows much else.

If you're going to dig deeper, be careful about what personal info you post here.
posted by sportbucket at 11:10 AM on October 5, 2006


Is there anyway to see a list of all mefi users who registered since this thread started? Reasonable to think that the game authors would be registered here.

That would involve some manual work, as I doubt Matt/Jess will just hand that over.

There are only two MeFi users who list their coordinates and live near the center of the diamond: krinklyfig and taosbat. Neither are new members, and both live about 25 miles away.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:12 AM on October 5, 2006


There's a countdown timer on the GoW blog:

It's 32 days, 11 hours, 45 minutes, 19 seconds until Emergence Day. That's the 7th of Nov.

Magichal, Mike, has got some 'splainin to do.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 11:17 AM on October 5, 2006


Is Sony releasing any new games with the Playstation? November 17 would be an awesome time to release something for US Thanksgiving / Christmas sales. Reading the list of PS3 games, some promising titles, but the only one with a similar-sounding plot is Half-Life 2 (disclaimer: I haven't played anything since the original NES Zelda). Is that set in the southwest? There's no Half-Life 3 release planned, is there?
posted by salvia at 11:18 AM on October 5, 2006


I do a lot with flash. This movie seems pretty basic so it would be easy to suggest the creator wasn't a pro. Typically, it is tough to tell a lot about the skills of the developer using a decompiled swf file. I could probably offer a lot more insight if we had the original .fla but even in that case I suspect there isn't a whole lot there. The folks on this board have done a good job as far as determining everything about the movie from what I can tell. As for the roll overs, they were created as buttons in flash so that their behaviors could interact with the mouse movements. This is pretty standard as far as flash is concerned and you can tab between buttons in your browser to reveal them. I would think that even a rookie flash person would know this. I would speculate that since this was obviously created to get people talking that a new version of the swf or site will be put up soon.
posted by ro50 at 11:28 AM on October 5, 2006


Iff Mathowie or jessamyn are so inclined, could they check their logs for IP addresses that are exclusively viewing this thread?

I doubt very much that whoever is behind this lives near taos.

Half-Life 2 is set in Eastern europe and the storyline doesn't fit.

I note that the ilovebees campaign for Halo2/Microsoft was done by 42entertainment, the same outfit that did "The Beast" AI game.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:31 AM on October 5, 2006


BTW, where are we going to discuss this once this thread sails off to archive heaven?
posted by Pastabagel at 11:36 AM on October 5, 2006


Here's a list of all the users in this thread who joined since the thread started. Only 1 answer out of all the answers they provided WASN'T to this thread.

theharmonyguy- 10/3, only 3 comments total- all to this thread
bad grammar- 10/3, only 3 comments total- all to this thread
ro50- 10/3, only 3 comments total, 2 to this thread
raisehelldrinkbeer- 10/4, only 1 comment- to this thread
progosk- 10/5, 10 comments total- all to this thread
fredandcharlie- 10/5, only 1 comment total- to this thread.
posted by potch at 11:42 AM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Correction: only 1 of bad grammar's answers is to this thread.
posted by potch at 11:45 AM on October 5, 2006


Wow, potch, nice rundown! I'm adding you to my list of people to team up with when the revolution/apocalypse comes.

I note progosk described both the new html source text (which is gone now) and introduced the tennessee williams play in to the mix.

Hey, progosk! "We see you. We know you're watching."

If you're not in on it, allow me to introduce myself. I'm Pastabagel, your friendly neighborhood source of high-density carbohydrates. "Pastabagel - Not dense. Just high-density."
posted by Pastabagel at 11:55 AM on October 5, 2006


How long is it until archiving occurs on one of these threads again? If we need it, I have a gaggle of hosting space just itching for a forum, wiki, or both. Let me know if anyone would like that.
posted by potch at 11:58 AM on October 5, 2006


It's not fredandcharlie. (who is awesome btw)
posted by riotgrrl69 at 11:59 AM on October 5, 2006


Don't askmes stay open for 90 days or something? And this askme has been spread around the web; I wouldn't read too much into people joining to participate.
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:00 PM on October 5, 2006


potch, I'm sure jessymat will keep threads open on request
posted by riotgrrl69 at 12:01 PM on October 5, 2006


I'd just like to point out that the letters in progosk's name can be rearranged to spell "Skip Hopi Glory."
posted by EarBucket at 12:03 PM on October 5, 2006


I am going to laugh when that page ends up with nothing but pictures of this Wayne guy's housepets on it.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 12:22 PM on October 5, 2006


If we have 90 days before this archives we should be fine considering the world is ending in 40.
posted by paxton at 12:24 PM on October 5, 2006


*I* think it's just a clever way to get more people to sign up here; 'eh Matt? :-)

All seriousness aside, isnt' there someone's treasure hunt going on now?
posted by baylink at 12:24 PM on October 5, 2006


I'm curious about the motivation for adding and then removing the html comments to the page. "We see you. We know you're watching." in several languages. Also, why take out the beta directory?

One reason for the languages could be that the person noticed the spike in traffic, but didn't know where it was coming from.

And why take it down? Did they think better of it? Did someone overrule the person who added it? Whatever the reason, it clearly didn't fit with the overall goal of the site for some reason.

With the beta directory removal it's easy to assume the developer had an "oh shit" moment and just deleted it. But the way to secure http authentication is just to use a strong password and put it under ssl. And indeed, ssl is available at that domain (but not being used). So was the dev not savvy enough to know that basic http auth can be easily locked down?

I'm sort of thinking the person doing this isn't a guru with online puzzle projects or ARGs. The "We see you. We know you're watching." indicates to me that this attention was unintended. Again, this makes it seem more like a movie marketing gimmick than an ARG.
posted by Ragma at 12:35 PM on October 5, 2006


Should read -
...... this attention was unexpected.
posted by Ragma at 12:38 PM on October 5, 2006


Just wanted to butt in for a second and let everyone know I'm not witch-hunting Magichal or anything. I've received several emails about my previous posts, including a couple informing me magichal is pretty freaked out about the whole thing. Since you're reading, magichal, please know I have no intention to "seek you out" or post anything personal about you. I just wanted to illustrate the connection you have to online gaming and the relevance gaming might have to the website we're trying to decipher. My apologies if the list of your Google results made you uncomfortable. I have no intention of posting anything more about what Google says about you.
posted by Hankins at 12:45 PM on October 5, 2006


Ok. So I just had a conversation with 'magichal'. He seems genuinely weirded out by the attention he's getting here and has been following this page since he was first contacted 2 days ago. He says his friend is trying to remember where he found the link and will pass it along and asked that we stop digging for his life story. I thanked him for the info and said I would pass along the request.

One thing I want to point out and this is the only mention of 'magichal' I'm going to make from here on out assuming he's being honest. His AIM buddy icon is for WindowChicken Productions which is a indy film group he's a member of.
http://windowchicken.moonfruit.com/
http://www.myspace.com/windowchicken

I think we genuinely need to tread lightly with this kid and assume he's not in on it. But it's pretty clear his acquaintances are somehow linked to the mysteries point of origin, there may be an angle to work within a few degrees of separation.
posted by paxton at 1:02 PM on October 5, 2006


Well...this morning I received an email:

Have you seen this question?
http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/47757
It's driving a lot of people batty. I think it's near you. Do you have any ideas?
---
tellurian

The next thing I know, I find myself at the center of some sort of (possibly apocalyptic) mystery. That's kind of unsettling when you're just drinking your morning coffee.

I've read the whole thread. I would rather discover an ARG than an Emergence, I think.

At any rate, I am at your service. I haven't been to the stupa before but I got directions from a friend who has been there & I looked Norbert Ubechel up in the phone book. Would y'all like me to call Mr. Ubechel? Bruce McIntosh is also in the book and I would be happy to call him.

I'm happy to call anyone or visit any particular location y'all agree on. I'd like to avoid unnecessary calls or wandering from point to point.

When I start feeling a little less overwhelmed (I have 3 rows of tabs open in my ff browser just to keep track of what's going on here), I may have some ideas.
posted by taosbat at 1:04 PM on October 5, 2006


"including a couple informing me magichal is pretty freaked out about the whole thing"

Huh? I'm all for personal space and privacy, especially when it comes to minors. But this kid is a fan of ARGs....... yet he's caught off guard by the existence of Google??? That doesn't sound right. He knows the thing tracks back to him, and that the trail dies at his feet. He clearly must have seen this coming.

And reading through the stuff he supposedly wrote which Hankins posted, the thing that jumped out at me was that there's no way it was written by a 14 year old.

Condemn me if you want, but I'm calling bullshit on magichal being freaked out.
posted by Ragma at 1:10 PM on October 5, 2006


i also spell pork is holy pig, if that gets your goat. (sheesh it's easy to get a reputation round here...)

i appreciate your concern, but i'd just be content to crack this as much as the next mefister.
posted by progosk at 1:12 PM on October 5, 2006


It's my opinion that the adding and removing of the html comments was completely dilberate. And as someone stated earlier, it is not dfficult to use referrer logs to know where your traffic is coming from. I feel pretty confident the person responsible is aware of this thread. I feel that all of this was done in a manner to lure people in... and it is working swimmingly.
posted by ro50 at 1:15 PM on October 5, 2006


progosk- If you're just interested, welcome! I promise there's a lot more to this site than this thread. Take advantage of your registration fee and look around. I just dug up those users out of full disclosure, because most ARGs have at least oen "guide" planted around, dropping hints occasionally. If you're that guy- you're on notice :)
posted by potch at 1:15 PM on October 5, 2006


"I'm happy to call anyone or visit any particular location y'all agree on."

We're a long way from knowing who to call other than Wayne.

The area in the middle of the diamond seems to refer to Taos rather than some point in the middle of the desert. In my humble opinion. and the stupa is only one of any things within 100 miles of the "center".

Add to that the fact that the site seems to be built in Spain.

We need more solid clues before we start digging in the dirt.
posted by Ragma at 1:17 PM on October 5, 2006


We need more solid clues before we start digging in the dirt.

I agree. I'll be watching for some sort of consensus before I do anything.
posted by taosbat at 1:20 PM on October 5, 2006


Welcome to the party, taosbat. I must say that I enjoyed my visit to your part of the country several years ago. I wish I could go tromping about NM again.

Regardless, I think that any connection to the stupa is circumstantial. The stupa is a Buddhist statue, correct? I haven't seen any evidence linking this mystery to any of the Buddhist mythos thus far.

Also, given that the earlier phone call to Wayne was fruitless, I don't believe that looking up people who have a possible tangential connection to some theory we've come up with will pan out, either. Furthermore, if there was a way to get more information by phone, wouldn't it be more obvious? I've never participated in an ARG before, but wouldn't a phone number be more explicit if we were supposed to call it?

I'm still doubtful of the interpretation that the center of the diamond is critical. Granted, the "countertaos" variable lends a lot of credence to this theory, but the symbol on the web page is a circle within a square within a diamond. There must be something significant about that.

Given that the site has been updated while we were watching, and that we have been acknowledged by the creator of the site, I'm led to believe that further clues will arise.
posted by ijoshua at 1:27 PM on October 5, 2006


Does anyone remember the ARG Clandestine Rogue? The talk of digging in the dirt reminded me of that game. Good times, good times....
posted by Pastabagel at 1:32 PM on October 5, 2006


Thanks, ijoshua, and I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. I'm just willing to help. I have no investment in any given hypothesis right now (beyond not wanting to witness the end of the world...whether I'm in the 'safe zone' or not).
posted by taosbat at 1:36 PM on October 5, 2006


the thing that jumped out at me was that there's no way it was written by a 14 year old.

Be careful - last time someone posted that to AskMe, there was a pretty big blow-out over it.
posted by muddgirl at 1:41 PM on October 5, 2006


taosbat, how many MeFites do you think you could fit in your place? It only seems appropriate that those who paid 5 bucks inherit the earth.
posted by paxton at 1:44 PM on October 5, 2006


I think maybe we should dig a little deeper on the Wayne front - his number is listed in Google, but he answered the phone, "Hello, dispatch?" Does this mean he's a delivery dude? I really do think getting in contact with him again in a non-creepy way may be the key.
posted by muddgirl at 1:47 PM on October 5, 2006


Somebody go to his house!
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:48 PM on October 5, 2006


I think maybe we should dig a little deeper on the Wayne front

I'd be interested to see if anyone can get in touch with him. I've sent him several e-mails and haven't heard anything back. I have a hunch he's intentionally not responding, either because he doesn't want to give away his secrets, or because he has no idea what's going on and he figures it's better just to ignore it.

I can't blame him either way, to be honest.
posted by sportbucket at 1:55 PM on October 5, 2006


taosbat, how many MeFites do you think you could fit in your place? It only seems appropriate that those who paid 5 bucks inherit the earth.
posted by paxton


Well, paxton, she replied feeling rather Arthur Dentish, I suppose it depends upon the level of privacy said MeFites require, doesn't it?
posted by taosbat at 1:56 PM on October 5, 2006


but the symbol on the web page is a circle within a square within a diamond. There must be something significant about that.

And from above, the immediate area is called "the Enchanted Circle" and it’s (kinda) in the Four Corners.
posted by salvia at 1:56 PM on October 5, 2006


The Enchanted Circle is not in, and is quite different from, the Four Corners.
posted by taosbat at 1:59 PM on October 5, 2006


The number and addy in the website info do not match, however there is a Wayne Arnold that lives on that street. I drove down the street out of curiousity while I was out that way this morning. I didn't try to find Wayne's house though.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 2:02 PM on October 5, 2006


I really do think getting in contact with him again in a non-creepy way may be the key.
I agree, sorting out the details with the guy listed in the domain registration is probably a solid place to start. Anyone with experience doing this type of cold calling in a professional, non-creepy manner willing to give it a try? I was thinking a journalist, or someone posing as one, might make for good cover.

As an aside, if we assume the site's creator (Hi, Wayne!?) is reading or participating in this thread, are we just giving the author a head start on the best way to lead us astray? Is there even a way we, or some subset of we, could organize in a less public manner?
posted by sequential at 2:07 PM on October 5, 2006


Oops. Can you clarify, taosbat? I mean, I know the actual Four Corners area is further west, but do you think some viral marketing executive would think that Taos was close enough to count? I've heard the states collectively referred to as the Four Corners states. LobsterMitten first pointed out the Enchanted Circle thing, and here it says that "The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway...links the oldest continuously occupied residence in New Mexico, Taos Pueblo, with Angel Fire."
posted by salvia at 2:16 PM on October 5, 2006


Back on the magichal front, his profile on perplexorum says his occupation is Senior Optimization Specialist, doesn't seem like something a 14 would put there....
posted by kurmbox at 2:24 PM on October 5, 2006


"including a couple informing me magichal is pretty freaked out about the whole thing"..... Huh? I'm all for personal space and privacy, especially when it comes to minors. But this kid is a fan of ARGs....... yet he's caught off guard by the existence of Google??? That doesn't sound right. He knows the thing tracks back to him, and that the trail dies at his feet. He clearly must have seen this coming..... Condemn me if you want, but I'm calling bullshit on magichal being freaked out.
posted by Ragma at 4:10 PM EST on October 5 [+fave] [!]


Maybe so but still: Hands off the kid. Even if he knows more than he's letting on. Let's take a deep breath, remember this is a silly puzzle or promo for a game or something, and even though we're invested in figuring it out, and let's not scare/bully any kids while we're having our fun.

The game that was mentioned as coming out Nov 7, "Gears of War" (which from now on, I will refer to as "Ears of Gwar")... it sounds like the plot is that evil primordial bug-people come out of the earth on "Emergence Day" and then a rag-tag band of heavily armed humans has to fight them. So, could the "purification" be from the point of view of the bug-people, and the company be trying to tell a story where the old Hopi myths about a former race that "went away but will come back someday" are really myths about the bug-people? And within the game, maybe the bug-people come out of the earth in Taos/Los Alamos? That seems to me the likeliest explanation of what we've got so far. Except that the date is off.

(But maybe we just need to wait for more clues, which will inevitably be forthcoming.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:25 PM on October 5, 2006


Hey taosbat I would have thought your best input would be to check out stuff like the local press and any semi-twisted nerdy acquaintances with respect to, you know, the dates and some of the theories that have been floated around here: from games/APG/movies/hopi/cults. Plug yourself into the local vibes as it were.
posted by peacay at 2:30 PM on October 5, 2006


From the DNS record -

Created On:27-Jul-2006
Last Updated On:26-Sep-2006
Expiration Date:27-Jul-2007

So someone registers the domain back in July. And then they make a non-renewal change to the registration a few days before the first seed. Maybe they changed the info to point to someone with zero clue about the site (Wayne)?

Anyone know how to get the original registration info?
posted by Ragma at 2:36 PM on October 5, 2006


That Gears of War email did seem odd ($15 registration? did it change when I wasn't looking?) that I thought it meant something. But the game is not set in the southwest (it's in "the war-ravaged world of Sera"). Locusts burst forth from the porous underground, but the game designers don't know why, they just know that there are four types with different fighting abilities -- not very puzzle-esque. Unless they're keeping something quiet. [cue ominous music]
posted by salvia at 2:40 PM on October 5, 2006


"So, could the "purification" be from the point of view of the bug-people, and the company be trying to tell a story where the old Hopi myths about....."

But the revealed text talks about "The proliferations of glitz will not overcome those who believe.". Doesn't seem to match the humans vs bugs video game.
posted by Ragma at 2:40 PM on October 5, 2006


Wayne also has thepurification.com registered to him, as we know. That site was also registered on July 27th but has not been modified. So Wayne at least on the .com Wayne has been there since the beginning.
posted by paxton at 2:45 PM on October 5, 2006


Salvia and Ragma: mmm. yes. Ok, I retract that.

So, given that Wayne has both domains, maybe the .com one will go live with some online game/puzzle/etc on the 15th?
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:48 PM on October 5, 2006


Ragma, I just checked out, with a free membership, mind you, the history of the domain at DomainTools and found the only entry to be for 2006-10-03. If anyone has a silver membership or higher ($15 per month), they might be able to dig up more info there, but it seems unlikely.
posted by sequential at 2:55 PM on October 5, 2006


sequential, look up thread, I posted about the changes.

Non-significant.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:00 PM on October 5, 2006


During this momentary lull, can I just throw out some random stuff? None of it seems too promising. But maybe it'll spark someone else's ideas.

Those four locations obviously have some significance. At least two of their names have double meanings (Lookout, Bitter Springs). So I’m wondering if the center isn't Taos but Angel Fire. And per LobsterMitten, it's all in the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountains. It all makes me think of The Stand and the Left Behind series. I emailed my Christian End Times friend to ask for leads on releases.

“Angel Fire” makes me think of volcanoes. "…New Mexico is the Volcano state…" There's a crater from a historical supervolcano somewhat near Taos (Valles Caldera). There’s a rift valley there, the Rio Grande Rift, one of few in the world. A rift valley is where the earth is bulging and splitting open (using pop science logic). The Taos Volcanic Field is the largest volcanic field within the Rio Grande Rift. Thinking of those other four states, another supervolcano is in Wyoming (Yellowstone). The north-south rift valley extends down to Texas. And at Taos, that rift valley intersects an east-west crack in the earth (kinda), the Jemez Lineament, which extends from southeastern Arizona to the westernmost part of Oklahoma. Surely, it's a conspiracy of geologists. ;-)

I also checked more into the Solomon Key, Dan Brown’s new book. Their marketing uses web puzzles. And the actual Key of Solomon book focuses on shapes, see this image. And apparently, Brown visited Salt Lake City's Mormon temple while writing it, and the Mormon Church first though the Hopis were a Lost Tribe of Israel, and the Hopis first thought the Mormons were their returning Elder Brother. But then, why Taos? And no SLC, and no Washington DC? Doubt it.

Have we exhausted the Scientology angle?
posted by salvia at 3:00 PM on October 5, 2006


"That site was also registered on July 27th but has not been modified. So Wayne at least on the .com Wayne has been there since the beginning."

So........ The change a few days ago would be the change to the new name servers probably. Since he registered these at GoDaddy it seems he at least would have to know who asked him to change the name servers. Or who had access to his GoDaddy account.
posted by Ragma at 3:02 PM on October 5, 2006


I think I'm on to something.

The contact e-mail for the GoDaddy account used to register the domain is **********@mwhweb.com. mwhweb.com traces back to an advertising firm in Albuquerque.
McKee Wallwork Cleveland
I haven't researched it any further. Anyone want to make some phone calls?
posted by sportbucket at 3:06 PM on October 5, 2006


Thanks, FlamingBore, you saved me $15!
posted by sequential at 3:10 PM on October 5, 2006


Well done sportbucket. So, where did you get the address and how did you link it to the firm? GoDaddy WHOIS is down at the moment - conspiracy?

We shouldn't email the firm yet. We should call them during business hours tomorrow and surprise them!
posted by riotgrrl69 at 3:19 PM on October 5, 2006


Wait, it is business hours!
posted by riotgrrl69 at 3:22 PM on October 5, 2006


sportbucket, that is 132 miles southwest of Taos. How did you verify the relationship to the GoDaddy account with this domain?

On a second look at the map, the highway system northwest of Angel Fire forms a circle. New Mexico is a squarer than average state, though not quite as square as Wyoming. The triangle is the four points given away by the SWF. Probably a dead end, but is there anything interesting inside the circle formed by the highway?
posted by sequential at 3:23 PM on October 5, 2006


Hi, salvia, New Mexico markets itself as the 'Land of Enchantment.' The 'Enchanted Circle' is both the scenic byway and the area, bordering Colorado, in central New Mexico. The enchanted circle encompasses the highest mountains in New Mexico and a number of villages including the ski resort at Angel Fire, Taos Pueblo and the town of Taos. Part of the enchantment is the beautiful area, part is the cultural richness.

Here you may find Native Americans from more than one tribe following their old ways (although, many say the Taos indians are the most traditional), practicing Penitentes, Tibetian Monks, New Agers and I don't know what all.

Many believe Taos Mountain (there's a web cam link in my profile) is a sacred mountain that draws those it wants near and kicks those it doesn't want out of town. Here we have pine forests and rich mountain valleys rising from a high desert plateu that was grassland before the spanish overgrazed it and turned it into sage scrub. This is the land of the pueblo tribes and the spanish came here seeking the 7 cities of gold.

The Four Corners area includes far northwestern New Mexico. Shiprock is about 230 miles from Taos through the San Juan mountains. That is Apache land.

The Four Corners area is Navajo and Hopi land. That area is mostly desert floor with mesas and amazing rock formations. The trees hug water and one can drive for hours at 60mph without seeing one in the brown and red lanscape of the desert. I've worked on the Navajo Reservation and it is not uncommon even now to find older folks among the Di'ne who speak no English and only a smattering of Spanish.

While it is enchanting in it's own way, the Four Corners area is separated from the Enchanted Circle by a good sized mountain range.

I don't have a clue what "some viral marketing executive [might] think."
posted by taosbat at 3:23 PM on October 5, 2006


GoDaddy offers a number of password retrieval options. This one allows you to type in a domain and they'll show you a blinded version of the email address associated with the account that registered it.

From there, making a connection was fairly easy.
posted by sportbucket at 3:25 PM on October 5, 2006 [2 favorites]


thanks for the explanation, taosbat!
posted by salvia at 3:28 PM on October 5, 2006


Hey taosbat I would have thought your best input would be to check out stuff like the local press and any semi-twisted nerdy acquaintances with respect to, you know, the dates and some of the theories that have been floated around here: from games/APG/movies/hopi/cults. Plug yourself into the local vibes as it were.
posted by peacay


Roger that...although, this is the first I've heard of any of this.
posted by taosbat at 3:28 PM on October 5, 2006


Sorry -- that this one link didn't work correctly. The option you want is "Retrieve Customer Number," on this page.
posted by sportbucket at 3:31 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


salvia, are you suggesting that I'm going to be treated to some sort of volcanic cataclysm? My cats won't like that.
posted by taosbat at 3:32 PM on October 5, 2006 [2 favorites]


Nice find sportbucket!
Is anyone planning on giving them a call?
posted by paxton at 3:33 PM on October 5, 2006


Good work, sportbucket.
posted by sequential at 3:34 PM on October 5, 2006


I called but the receptionist said I was too muffled (crappy VoIP) [embarrasing]
posted by riotgrrl69 at 3:35 PM on October 5, 2006


[also possible explanation for Wayne not being co-operative lol]
posted by riotgrrl69 at 3:35 PM on October 5, 2006


Devious work, sportbucket!
posted by evariste at 3:38 PM on October 5, 2006


I called, nobody else call tia
posted by thirteenkiller at 3:42 PM on October 5, 2006


Hey, not so loud! They might be after me.
posted by sportbucket at 3:43 PM on October 5, 2006


Looking at the list of representative clients, nothing is jumping out at me.
posted by muddgirl at 3:56 PM on October 5, 2006


McKee Wallwork is a well respected PR firm here in Albuquerque. We have used them and may still have some dealings with them.

Interested to find out.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:58 PM on October 5, 2006


The lady who answered really didn't seem to know anything, but she said she'd look into it and call me back. I think she's running around the building asking everyone.
posted by thirteenkiller at 3:58 PM on October 5, 2006


And for randomness... McKee is the company behind AdBowl.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:58 PM on October 5, 2006


Pet theory: they're testing out viral marketing techniques in the abstract. "Thank you MetaFilter! Next time we will use a secret email address! Free corporate hats all round!"
posted by riotgrrl69 at 4:02 PM on October 5, 2006


I'm back to thinking about that TV series Jericho. Check out Ms. Wallwork's TV connections. (But would a TV show advertise on the internet?)

taosbat, your cats are pure and will be saved. The proliferations of glitz will not overcome them. ;-)
posted by salvia at 4:06 PM on October 5, 2006


All this talk of Albequerque reminded me of New Mexico's state flag. It bears quite a resemblance to the shape the of the flash movie. It is a sun symbol taken from the native Zia people of New Mexico. It is a circle with four rays radiating out in the four directions to form the four corners of a diamond. Probably just coincidence, but you never know.
posted by team lowkey at 4:12 PM on October 5, 2006


No call back yet, someone else can try if they want.
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:21 PM on October 5, 2006


What did you say, thirteenkiller? Seems like if anyone else calls they should take a different approach.

But isn't it 5:30 there now? Better to wait 'till tomorrow.
posted by salvia at 4:35 PM on October 5, 2006


I said I'm curious about a website someone at your company seems to have registered, it's some kinda puzzle or something. She asked me to describe it a little so she could figure out who to ask. Didn't sound like she had any idea what was going on. She said she would ask some people and get back to me, so I gave her my contact information.
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:48 PM on October 5, 2006


Not sure if we're still interested in this part of the story, but it looks like that big blue "swimming pool" is on top of what is called Tres Orejas with Carson Resevior to the west and
posted by pwb503 at 5:05 PM on October 5, 2006


Can someone who is familiar with some of todays earlier angles IM me? I have a bit of info I don't want to post here just yet.
posted by paxton at 5:41 PM on October 5, 2006


Not sure if we're still interested in this part of the story, but it looks like that big blue "swimming pool" is on top of what is called Tres Orejas

That would bring us back to the Kagyu Deki Choeling Stupa, Tres Orejas - the second stupa described. Note:

With Lama Dorje, a handful of students later built a gompa or meditation hall. From the steps of the gompa, the stupa is visible below, shining white.

oh, and way to get my schoolboy latin, french & spanish mixed up, far above :(

posted by UbuRoivas at 5:56 PM on October 5, 2006


taosbat, your cats are pure and will be saved. The proliferations of glitz will not overcome them. ;-)
posted by salvia


Great! But...who's going to feed them?

I missed saying "you're welcome."

Today is newspaper day in Taos so I went out and got one and talked to some folks as well. I also called KTAO (ktao.com), which is having it's weekly sort of radical youth radio night tonight. No clues yet.

Maybe someone will call the radio station?
posted by taosbat at 6:17 PM on October 5, 2006


taosbat! Sorry. I didn't mean to spoil your morning coffee. Happy to see you're on the case.
posted by tellurian at 6:25 PM on October 5, 2006


Would someone summarize the dates involved so I have a proper list. I really can't go back through all that to ensure I have the proper list.
posted by taosbat at 6:28 PM on October 5, 2006


I think this is the one you want, taosbat. (And you're pure, too.)
posted by salvia at 6:33 PM on October 5, 2006


That's Eastern time, right? So I need to subtract two hours for GMT -7, Taos Time, correct?
posted by taosbat at 7:07 PM on October 5, 2006


So I just got back from cocktails with a former client of McKee's and I got mostly a whole lotta nothing. She knows that they are working with some film and TV people, but she doesn't know who or what about.

That said, there's an awful lot of entertainment production here lately - so anything is possible.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:25 PM on October 5, 2006


I'm pure ¯|¯ª¤SBª¯|¯; however, I don't know that that is included in anyone's end-times calculations.
posted by taosbat at 9:26 PM on October 5, 2006


Hi tellurian, yeah...well...you drafted me...into whatever scenario... Thanks bunches...
posted by taosbat at 10:09 PM on October 5, 2006


After talking with a couple MeFites at length tonight, we were able to turn up at least one new possibility. Before I begin, though, I need to express an overwhelming concern: we should not be digging up people's personal information. Knowing that this is the work of a respected advertising agency, we should not dig into the personal lives of their employees (phone numbers, addresses, or unrelated dirty laundry) or their clients. This is commercial work, so don't let your inner sleuth lead you across the line of decency.

That said, some serious snooping has been going on behind the scenes. It's not my place to out people, but one clever user searched growingfast.com. growingfast.com is a domain registered to McKee Wallwork Henderson, the name of McKee Wallwork Cleveland prior to creative director Carol Henderson's departure in 2005. The top level domain actually just redirects, via a very simple META refresh, to http://www.mckeewallworkcleveland.com/. One of the links on the aforementioned Google search yielded a link to an article about viral marketing via an employee's resume. (As a side note and word of caution, googling this person's name yields multiple false positives. Don't be suckered into stalking a post grad student in London.)

Another user pointed out that just recently, said employee began working with a self-described "'open source' creative consortium" called Method Arts. Their first project was for Miox, "a mixed-oxidant water purification company" (emphasis mine) in Albuquerque, NM. Read Method Arts experience with Miox, which is interesting to those who might work in advertising or web-based technology, but is otherwise probably a dead end. It's an interesting exploration in degrees of separation, but no conclusive results.

Interestingly enough, thepurification.org has averaged an Alexa average Traffic Rank for the past three months of 3,198,960, but has reached a 1 week average of 265,137. Viral marketing, indeed, for a site with so little content.

Where does this leaves us?
posted by sequential at 11:26 PM on October 5, 2006


Happy cats?
posted by taosbat at 11:45 PM on October 5, 2006


regarding methodarts, just thought i'd mention that their site design closely resembles the former design of santa monica (ca) vfx powerhouse method studios - unfortunately they've just changed design site design though, so no way to show y'all. the grey background, the general layout geometry, the principal typeface, even those bylines with all caps and double slash dividers are identical (Gcaches only show some of these elements).
method studios are involved in top commercials work, not sure about tv or movies.
of course, nothing's easier than to give yourself the gloss of such a high profile company than to mimic their sitedesign and borrow their name...
posted by progosk at 11:50 PM on October 5, 2006


easier, in order to
early morning syntx error...
posted by progosk at 11:51 PM on October 5, 2006


*few* alright so i just read this whole freakin thread to catch up, paid my $5 and now i've got some interesting info...so im at work to and im you know hangin out and i decided to go check the dressing room and as im walking up this guy goes "hey is it ok that i left my pant hangers in there" and im like ya i'll clean them up and so i walk over to the dressing room and what do i find? on th back of the dressing room door is a post-it note that has the circle box thing on it and says thepurification.org and up to the left (looked like similar handwritting) it said "whats this?" and im like ok whatever thats kind of odd and then i looked down on the bench and theres this printed card with the same symbol on it that also says thepurification.org and so i looked it up online, saw the counter and was like whaaaat and found this thread when i got home from work.... so now that i've read all this and with this new sticker i found (it is btw a sticker about 4x4, black with the white symbol an thepurification.org on the bottom in white) i liked to say a few things....


1. this sticker isn't very professional, it looks like someone printed it from home on sticker paper its not like glossy or anything...it just looks...low quality...so in any case i think that sort of rules out any big movie or game..it could still be an indie film or something that is to say if this sticker is lagit and came from whoevers doing this website (or a friend/co-worker of the creator) and not just someone trying to spread the word? idk

2. If this is an already theorized thing..the whole Hopi end of the world thing why can't anyone find this symbol anywhere...its not like they're gunna make up a new one...

3. in this view posted earlier the symbol is slightly above center from the outside points? idk just something to think about

oh btw im in phoenix AZ... so same area as taos and some of the other stuff
posted by purification at 1:04 AM on October 6, 2006


purification: I'm not going to be the first to call troll, I'm sure, so please explain yourself a little more clearly. ;)
posted by Jofus at 1:58 AM on October 6, 2006


bill viola has at least two pieces titled purification. it's also a theme, along with that of deserted lands, that has been recurrent in his work.
he's certainly tech-savvy, though i know of no forays into on-line experiments (in fact i'd be surprised of any - his work tends to be solidly real-world, despite their high metaphysics quotient).
curiously, this saatchi gallery article has some of the same character encoding problem we saw in the site's html...
posted by progosk at 2:17 AM on October 6, 2006


Although people don't seem hung up on this, I just wanted to throw in that I sincerely doubt this is the work of Gears of War. The ARGs surrounding Halo 2 and the 360 were complex, layered, and involved a lot of community building and multiple websites. This doesn't seem anything like that, and I'd doubt that Microsoft would suddenly go low-rent in their viral marketing after being such a force in the ARG genre the last few years.

The Jericho connection doesn't really fit, either, in my mind, especially considering that the show is confined to Kansas. Not that anyone's hung up on Jericho, though. Heroes, the new NBC show, could have some potential -- Spoiler warning ahead for those behind in their TiVo, but at the end of episode two we learned that the date of the 'event' is November 8th. The location, though, is NYC. Although the theme of purification could fit into the story.

If it's mass media, then I'd bet on a TV connection -- the first two weeks of November are sweeps, and shows'll be pulling out all the stops then. I wouldn't bet much, though, because although there's something professional about the site, but as I think others who're familiar with ARGs will agree, this just doesn't smell like an ARG.
posted by incessant at 3:15 AM on October 6, 2006


purification:
pst pix pls kthx
posted by JonnyRotten at 3:33 AM on October 6, 2006


On the subject of wayne saying its a wrong number, I don't buy it. I posted earlier that the whois info for Wayne is very close to buyt doesn't match exact the white pages info for wayne arnold:

(479) 927-9922
18661 Saddle Shop Ln,Springdale, AR 72764

The phone number is different and the address is slightly different, but google maps puts both addresses at exactly the same place.

But maybe wayne isn't the avenue we're supposed to travel. But it appears he used to answer the phone "Hello, dispatch", then with a voicemail with his name, and now he's saying wrong number. ???
posted by Pastabagel at 6:39 AM on October 6, 2006


alright i was gunna get some pics up last night but it was to late, i cant do it now so ill try to get some up this afternoon, and to be a little more clear...I found this sticker in a dressing room at my work at REI in Phx, Az yesterday afternoon...thats about as simply as i can say it.....
posted by purification at 6:48 AM on October 6, 2006


I sense a great lameness upon you.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 7:07 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Is it me or is the overuse of ellipses and underuse of apostrophes pretty much a giant red sign saying "Alert: I am trolling"???
posted by echo0720 at 7:19 AM on October 6, 2006


Can anyone else in Phoenix keep their eyes open for these stickers? If they're all over the place then purification isn't a troll. But if he's the only one who has found one........ I find that very suspicious.

One would expect a sticker campaign for this to not start in a dressing room only a few people have access to.
posted by Ragma at 7:29 AM on October 6, 2006


For what it's worth, thepurification.org has finally been indexed by Google. However, Google only seems to have indexed one page. Other search engines have previously shown links to this page, but Google showed nothing last night for the same search term. MetaCrawler has more.
posted by sequential at 7:34 AM on October 6, 2006


"The ARGs surrounding Halo 2 and the 360 were complex, layered, and involved a lot of community building and multiple websites."

I'll go further and say that this doesn't act like *any* ARG. The only thing we can tie to the site is a real marketing agency. There is no path, all clues lead to dead ends, the seed is an easy to find person who we seem to be harassing. Indeed, the obvious clues have led us down paths where we are tripping over ourselves trying not to harass people.

On top of that, the site made it into the discussion forums before it seems to have been ready.

For this user, all signs point to a media release.

Movie?
We can't find any production coming out around this time that matches the name or Flash phrases.

TV?
Again, nothing seems to match.

Game?
Again, nothing seems to match.

Play?
The play "The Purification" doesn't match the Flash phrases.

However, the site may have been created in Spain for some foreign media we don't have any insight into. But if that's true, why is one of our most solid clues a marketing agency in New Mexico?

One of the most curious things about this site is that nothing adds up.
posted by Ragma at 7:45 AM on October 6, 2006


This morning, I spent some time going through sequential's post to investigate the various "players" that may or may not be involved. I took a look at the Method Arts and stumbled onto Mark Bixby's website. The typeface he uses stood out immediately to me, so I did some research (What the Font, etc) and made a "best-guess" that he is using Trade Gothic Condensed. I pulled several of his feature lines into Photoshop and did a typeface comparison. I'm 99% sure he's using Trade Gothic. I also pulled The Purification website's logotype into Photoshop and verified that Trade Gothic matches up as well.
This is a small, low-res version to save on page-load. Click for a high-res version:


You might be thinking: "Whatever, man, what the hell can a typeface tell you?" Designers love their typefaces, holding their most cherished close to their hearts. It's not uncommon to see someone use a favourite typeface in many pieces they create (I trot Gill Sans out like a goddamned circus entertainer). Using the same typeface (one I wouldn't say is particularly common, or, at least, overused) in the same all-caps style suggests a connection. This suggestion is strengthened by the fact that Bixby's a marketing consult in Albuquerque.

Oh, and Hi Mark! I assume you'll hit this article at some point, what with the referrers and everything -- hell, you might be a mefi user already. As people have stated above, we're enjoying this little challenge, so I hope you're not offended or upset by a little attention and analysis. (Think PageRank!) I'm sure everyone would agree you do very nice work. Kudos.
posted by Hankins at 7:52 AM on October 6, 2006


Lurker here, who has been refreshing this thread for two days now and getting nothing done at work.

Has anyone called Wayne and explained to him what is up? As mentioned before, if someone used his name and address without his knowing, perhaps he should be notified.

Or is there any way to link Wayne to this marketing firm? Did anyone ever hear back from the marketing firm?
posted by bristolcat at 7:54 AM on October 6, 2006


That's because it's telling us when the world will end. For real.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:55 AM on October 6, 2006


No-one's explained it to Wayne. The marketing firm hasn't called back but it's early in the day.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 7:57 AM on October 6, 2006


One of the most curious things about this site is that nothing adds up.
posted by Ragma


I agree. I almost feel like people caught on to the website before its creators were ready for their plan to be set into motion. As if they launched a beta test they hoped would get a few hits here and there, but instantly began getting pummeled with traffic leaving them saying "omg wtf!?" In such a case, I'm not sure how I'd tackle it -- googles for the mysterious site are going to point here, where interested parties will instantly be able to figure out what's going on. What would have happened to lonelygirl15 if the entire thing was figured out after their first video? If googles for the screenname would have pointed to MeFi, where we detailed everyone involved? It probably wouldn't have taken off like it did. I think the purification creators are either grinning evil laughs of genius or scratching their heads trying to figure out wtf to do next.
posted by Hankins at 8:03 AM on October 6, 2006


Hankins: Sorry about the random email... I bit the bullet and joined.

Anyone live near here:
REI
12634 N Paradise Village Pky W
Phoenix, AZ 85032
(602) 765-4554
Could someone else check the dressing rooms?
Or call?
posted by grieserm at 8:17 AM on October 6, 2006


Very interesting, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Stop threadjacking. No one cares about the stupid stickers you just had printed up.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:18 AM on October 6, 2006


Does anyone have the Trade Gothic font so we can try to get a solid match for the font on the website? If not we can try to do some matching with the letters they have for display here.

"As if they launched a beta test they hoped would get a few hits here and there, but instantly began getting pummeled with traffic"

I'm thinking viral marketing rather than unfinished product. Look at the results so far - Lots of buzz in web forums, and a #1 Google placing. That alone is worth a very large pile of money in terms of marketing.

On the other hand, this only works well if the real product is a total secret. If this question was asked in AskMe and then answered in 10 minutes, "Yeah. It's a TV show. Check this link.", then the whole thing fails. The amount of poking around we've done........ That's one well kept secret.

And this intrigues me -

"The lady who answered really didn't seem to know anything, but she said she'd look into it and call me back. I think she's running around the building asking everyone."

But she never called back. So either she blew us off, or someone told her the info was confidential and to not answer questions. Bottomline - businesses not returning calls is a bit suspicious.
posted by Ragma at 8:21 AM on October 6, 2006


Can I suggest MeFites not go lurking around department store dressing rooms? I don't know if that's the kind of image we want.
posted by paxton at 8:27 AM on October 6, 2006


Does anyone have the Trade Gothic font so we can try to get a solid match for the font on the website? If not we can try to do some matching with the letters they have for display here.

I do, and I used it in the comparisons I made in the linked image. Sorry if I didn't explain it properly: the black text underneath and to the sides was all created by me in Photoshop. Placing them over top of the images from the other sites fits perfectly in almost all cases (and about 99% perfectly in the others). I can't toss up the font file since that violates copyrights, so that's why I "recreated" the Bixby's images and the Purification's text myself in the linked image.
posted by Hankins at 8:35 AM on October 6, 2006


It's Trade Gothic. Here's my comparison.



Trade Gothic™ Bold Condensed #20
posted by Ragma at 8:37 AM on October 6, 2006


More clarification on the font here.
posted by bristolcat at 8:38 AM on October 6, 2006


I'm thinking viral marketing rather than unfinished product... That alone is worth a very large pile of money in terms of marketing.

I kind of agree with you, Ragma, but usually these things develop into a story. There're characters, things to do, places (on the web) to interact with. This is coordinates and a countdown timer. As I said above, this doesn't smell like an ARG, and if it's viral marketing, it may be doing a good job of spreading the word, but what exactly is it spreading the word about?

"The lady who answered really didn't seem to know anything..."

But she never called back....Bottomline - businesses not returning calls is a bit suspicious.


Cue scary music! Anyone else work reception at the start of their careers? Random call comes through. Sounds weird, but kind of intriguing. Then Alexa over in accounting tells you that Dave in receivables screwed Brenda in payroll. Oh, and Chris has some leftover cake in the north kitchen's fridge. I think it's fudge. I'm sorry, what was that phone call about?
posted by incessant at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Do we have any astrology buffs on board who can take a look at this?
posted by paxton at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2006


So we have solid links between this site and McKee Wallwork Cleveland. And we can extend that to Mark Bixby.

Just how rare is Trade Gothic? If it's a commonly purchased font the Bixby link could be weak.
posted by Ragma at 8:42 AM on October 6, 2006


Grant from Barbelith Underground wanted this posted, but I don't see it really going anywhere.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:47 AM on October 6, 2006


Trade Gothic is somewhat of a standard advertising typeface. Linking it to one designer isn't very useful.

Additionally, the Method Arts site is very well-designed and well-executed. The purification site is either intentionally dumbed down, or not done by the same people. I have absolutely nothing to back that up -- just an instinct.
posted by sportbucket at 8:50 AM on October 6, 2006


"The purification site is either intentionally dumbed down, or not done by the same people."

When we started pounding on the site an html comment showed up basically saying "I see what you're doing" in several languages. Someone here commented that they thought it was put up and taken down as part of the plan, but I still don't think so. I think it points to some cluelessness on the part of whoever is running the site.

We see many hints this was someone's first attempt -

1) The obvious clues lead us to harass people who aren't involved.
2) The countdown puzzle is easily circumvented.
3) The attempt to obfuscate the domain registration wasn't done well.
4) That beta directory left lying around.
5) Seed very clumsy, or dropped too early.
6) Odd "I see you" html comment.

We may be thinking this is a hard nut to crack, when in reality it's just a bad nut.
posted by Ragma at 9:08 AM on October 6, 2006


May I suggest this is not even a nut to crack? I've yet to see any evidence that would suggest that this phenomenon extends beyond that which is plainly evident.

There is a website, with counters that will reveal some phrases. There are correspondent cities that approximate the shape of a diamond. There are html comments that turned up after there was (most likely) a very noticeable spike in traffic.

All the elements suggest additional background, but provide nothing. "The purification" implies there is an event and things to purify, but provides no insight and never nears resolution. The counters imply something will happen, but really there's no evidence that something extends beyond some cryptic phrases being revealed.

We live in a world where ARGs have become a seemingly recognizable phenomena, this purification site may just be the ultimate pseudo-ARG. It leads no where, it's intrigue is boundless and compounding but it has no greater significance than itself. I propose this site exploits the cultural phenomenon of ARGs and makes the ultimate low-rent ARG, one with no solution and a minimum of work, shallow and semi-penetrable but otherwise meaningless.

This site plays upon our desire to find meaning and to extract information, it implies there's a thing to be had. But why must it necessarily be so?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 9:49 AM on October 6, 2006


Pastabagel writes "BTW, where are we going to discuss this once this thread sails off to archive heaven?"

I believe AskMe threads stay open for a year.
posted by Penks at 9:49 AM on October 6, 2006


I'm thinking along the lines of Ragma. A good riddle gives enough to feed those who want to crack it. Here, it seems we're running in circles, throwing ideas and rejecting them just as quickly.

If the whole point is to make us find out what it's all about, I'd say it's not that well executed. Or the maker is rrrrreally twisted, even more than a bunch of mefiers...
posted by XiBe at 9:52 AM on October 6, 2006


Matt Oneiros - You may very well be right. But what fun would that be?

On it's face it's a puzzle. All clues we have point to something happening on Nov 15th. Our challenge is to find out what will happen well ahead of that date. So far we seem to be closing in rather well.

Let me be blunt - At this point the only thing that is keeping us from solving this right now is our desire to not harass people.
posted by Ragma at 10:01 AM on October 6, 2006


So far we know -

1) The wesite http://thepurification.org/ has several countdown timers on it.

2) The first online mention of the site seems to have been at stumbleupon.com on Sept 30. The person posting it got it from a friend and claims to be unrelated.

3) The last timer reaches zero on Nov 15th, 2006 at midnight EST.

4) There is an odd symbol in the center of the page - A circle inside a diamond inside a square.

5) There are four phrases revealed as the timers get to zero. These phrases seem to relate to restoring innocence, overcoming materialism, and purification/truth.

6) No obvious connection has been found between the phrases and things like Hopi myth, Scientology, various plays and movies, video games, TV, etc.

7) There are four towns revealed as the timers get to zero. Bitter Springs, AZ, Woodward, OK, Lookout, WY, Fort Hancock, TX.

8) Plotting the four towns on a map shows they are in a diamond shape similar to the symbol. Also, the towns are on the map in the same placement as on the website.

9) Nothing at the center of the plotted towns seems related.

10) Decompiling the Flash from the site shows no events taking place once the counters all reach zero. Also, no apparent clues are revealed in the Flash source.

11) The variable for the last counter in the Flash file is "countertaos". And the city of Taos is near the center of the plotted towns.

12) The site hosting is an ISP in Spain - cdmon.com

13) The domain registration points to a man who claims to know nothing about the site.

14) The GoDaddy account that registered the domain used an email from McKee Wallwork Cleveland - A marketing agency.

15) The font used in the site is Trade Gothic Bold Condensed, a popular commercial font among designers.

16) For a brief time a few days after the online hunt started a message showed up in the html comments for the site - "We see you. We know you're watching." in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
posted by Ragma at 10:11 AM on October 6, 2006 [7 favorites]


One correction, Ragma -- with daylight savings time taken into account, the final timer expires on 11/14/2006 at 11:00 PM.
posted by delfuego at 10:32 AM on October 6, 2006


So Nov 15th, 2006, at midnight central time.

Having the counter reach zero at midnight seems more obvious. So the time zone where it will happen to be midnight seems possibly important.

The timer will also reach zero at midnight on the opposite side of the planet. But that time zone is pretty free of obvious locations. Bangkok, Thailand being the most prominent city.
posted by Ragma at 10:52 AM on October 6, 2006


On that godaddy customer number lookup thing, it emails the registrant whenever someone runs a search. I did it twice yesterday, how many others people did too? Tee hee.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:53 AM on October 6, 2006


This may be barking up the wrong tree, but I searched the Symbols.com encyclopedia and didn't come with anything useful, although this and this were close.

Mentioning it in order to not duplicate our work.
posted by Vidiot at 10:55 AM on October 6, 2006


The timer will also reach zero at midnight on the opposite side of the planet.

???
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:56 AM on October 6, 2006


Ragma: Bottomline - businesses not returning calls is a bit suspicious.

Not in Albuquerque it's not. It's insanely common, actually.

So, I'm less than a mile from the McKee offices. Should I drop in? If so, then what?
posted by FlamingBore at 10:59 AM on October 6, 2006


So Nov 15th, 2006, at midnight central time.

11 PM Eastern is 10 PM Central and 9 PM Taos Time (GMT -7).
posted by taosbat at 11:00 AM on October 6, 2006


Ragma: The timer will also reach zero at midnight on the opposite side of the planet.

I'm pretty sure you mean noon on the opposite side of the planet.

But taosbat's note that the end time is 9pm in Taos seems to correspond pretty well to some sort of evening event (movie premiere?). Most planned major events in real life don't happen at midnight. Unless Taos is going to purify itself into a pumpkin and six white mice.
posted by stopgap at 11:23 AM on October 6, 2006


Okay, that would be kind of cool though.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:25 AM on October 6, 2006


I agree that it seems we've figured out more, faster, than the designer seems to have anticipated. It may be there's nowhere else to go with this until they bleed a few more clues. (arrrrgh)

It may be that we're being held back by our desire not to harass anyone; I think in general it's fine to call adults, especially businesses, as long as we are non-scary, straight with them about why we're calling, and stop calling if they ask us to. But I still think we shouldn't take the chance of hassling a kid (or someone who might be a kid).

What things might try to drum up interest in this way?
Movie
Video game
TV show
Book
Collectible card game
Band/album
Radio serial
Online game
ARG
what else??

Nobody thinks this could actually be for some cult/crazed lone shooter, or anything that could actually be dangerous to people in Taos, do they? (I don't really, but just thinking out loud here.) If there's a chance of that we should contact the mayor there, just to give them a heads-up that there's something weird involving Taos. (Obviously, this might play into the plan of a marketing campaign if it gets on the news, but if we think there's a sliver of a chance it could be dangerous, that doesn't really matter, right?)
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:31 AM on October 6, 2006


If you're interested, a couple of us have created a forum to help organize and solve this puzzle. It's barren right now, but it would be great if someone would post an awesome summary to get the ball rolling.

Matt, Jessamyn and all of AskMe, please excuse the self-link. I've been trying to solve this question with a few other people and have found that the format of AskMe is prohibative to collaborative sleuthing. Given there is already 500+ comments in this thread and a lot of interest and information, I, along with a couple other members, have created a forum to continue the hunt off site. There are no ads and the venture is strictly not for profit. However, if you should feel that such an activity is taking something away from the community, please don't hesitate to delete this comment or contact me about it via AIM or email. I'm sending a copy of this to Matt and Jessamyn to avoid a callout.
posted by sequential at 11:37 AM on October 6, 2006


How is a forum going to be any more helpful - seems like a Wiki would be the way to go. But that's just me.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:41 AM on October 6, 2006


Nobody thinks this could actually be for some cult/crazed lone shooter, or anything that could actually be dangerous to people in Taos, do they?

The only way this is cult/wacko-related is if some crazed doomsday cultist just happens to work for a particular ad agency in Albuquerque, and used his/her work e-mail to register the site at GoDaddy.

Having visited the area, I'd say it's not entirely impossible. But the smart money's on viral marketing. I have a hunch we'll see this whole campaign deconstructed here when it all blows over.

Until then, I guess we've got about a month to figure out what it is they're trying to sell us. (Which, interestingly, is exactly the question I originally posted -- what are they advertising?)
posted by sportbucket at 11:41 AM on October 6, 2006


I'll install a wiki as well, FlamingBore, but work is keeping me a bit occupied. Just having topics would be helpful for organizing, but a wiki would also solve that problem.
posted by sequential at 11:45 AM on October 6, 2006


Nobody thinks this could actually be for some cult/crazed lone shooter, or anything that could actually be dangerous to people in Taos, do they?

Let's just all agree right now not to show up in the middle of the desert on Nov 15th and become part of a ritualistic mass murder/suicide befitting the move Seven or Palahnuik's novel Haunted.
posted by Durin's Bane at 11:53 AM on October 6, 2006


>what else??

Graduate students or PhDs doing a psychology project. :-)
posted by jwells at 11:58 AM on October 6, 2006


Okay...... The whole "telling time" thing seems to not be my strong suit.

9 PM in Taos on the 14th then?
posted by Ragma at 12:10 PM on October 6, 2006


Durin's Bane - You know, this is really just another reason I'm kind of happy to be leaving the area. A small one, but still.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:11 PM on October 6, 2006


hey im not working today but ill be working tmrw at REI and I'll ask around and see if anyone else found stickers...im gunna try right now to get a pic up....
posted by purification at 12:13 PM on October 6, 2006


So, I'm less than a mile from the McKee offices. Should I drop in?

Yes.

If so, then what?

You're a client! Or at least a prospective client. Go in and chat about things with people! Say you're curious about the site and what to know what's behind it. They've got to be nice to clients!
posted by riotgrrl69 at 12:14 PM on October 6, 2006


Let's just all agree right now not to show up in the middle of the desert on Nov 15th and become part of a ritualistic mass murder/suicide befitting the move Seven or Palahnuik's novel Haunted.
posted by Durin's Bane


My cats do not approve.
posted by taosbat at 12:15 PM on October 6, 2006


Does anyone know if "said employee" above has quit McKee Wallwork Cleveland? (He could be hiring his Trade Gothic Bold Condensed web design friend either way. Or he could be the one doing that guy's site.)
posted by salvia at 12:17 PM on October 6, 2006


"hey im not working today but ill be working tmrw at REI and I'll ask around and see if anyone else found stickers...im gunna try right now to get a pic up...."

Just FYI - I don't think anyone is taking you seriously. You seem to be missing that. So I'm telling you straight up - No one is taking you seriously.
posted by Ragma at 12:17 PM on October 6, 2006


He doesn't work at MWC anymore.
posted by salvia at 12:18 PM on October 6, 2006


ok i don't know how to put a pic in the comment if someone messages me and lets me know i'll put it up or email me and i'll send it to whoever wants it...
posted by purification at 12:18 PM on October 6, 2006


If the link to McKee Wallwork Cleveland is valid, then that's evidence that this is a deliberate stunt.

One piece that doesn't fit is the info in the domain registry. If they were trying to keep the site's designers a secret, why didn't they just use private registration? The fact that they provided actual real info in the registration has to be either:
  • They knew about private registration, but didn't use it. This would have been done either as a red herring, or as a deliberate clue. The discrepancy between the whitepages address for Wayne and the domain registration address would then be significant, since it would be extremely difficult to encode information in the address yet have that address remain valid.
  • They're amateurs, and didn't know about private registration. There's evidence for this, but I don't like where it leads.

  • posted by Mr. Gunn at 12:20 PM on October 6, 2006


    <img src="http://my.stupid.ass.fake/image.jpg">
    posted by riotgrrl69 at 12:20 PM on October 6, 2006


    ok my emails colin.reilly@gmail.com if you want to c the pic...and to mr.gunn no i didn't just have these printed up u idiot why would i print up stickers thats stupid...u can believe me or not im just tryin to help
    posted by purification at 12:23 PM on October 6, 2006


    lord preserve us
    posted by riotgrrl69 at 12:24 PM on October 6, 2006


    NOTICE: We think this is a lame attempt to grab popularity, and will continue to do so until proven otherwise. No one is going to visit your lame adfarm site when you "discover" the secret behind this.
    posted by Mr. Gunn at 12:26 PM on October 6, 2006


    alright man whatever salvias gunna post it for me...
    posted by purification at 12:31 PM on October 6, 2006


    Here's the sticker.
    posted by salvia at 12:39 PM on October 6, 2006


    A couple thoughts.

    Unless that magichal "kid" can produce how he got the link, I doubt the public release of the URL was before it was intended. StumbleUpon drives a lot of traffic and its release there is unlikely to be a "whoops" incident. The /beta directory removal and the comments in and out can be simple developer mistakes and don't necessarily mean they (as a whole) were caught off guard.

    Also, I'm not a Flash expert but isn't the website for that chicken group magichal belongs to oddly Flash-based? I mean, it isn't professional but it is kinda complex and weird.

    What's extra freaky is that I was looking up some of the names in this thread at zabasearch, started by some guy connected with a weirdo cult group (Heaven's Gate Yoofoe cult), a bunch of whom were found dead. No comets flying by next month, right?
    posted by mumeishi at 12:40 PM on October 6, 2006


    Vincent doesn't work for the firm that led us to him. What's interesting is the timeframe he did work there they were known as McKee Wallwork Henderson. The domain that led us to this point was mwhweb.com. I'm going to assume that whoever registered thepurification.org didn't realize that once a community of antisocial amateur sleuths were on the case, one of them would know how to pull a registrants email domain out of of godaddy's lost password feature.

    Personally I think Wayne is on the reg to lead us off track, we have a real Wayne but we're not looking at any of the real Wayne's contact info; its all just a little bit off. I think out of 250 million potentials, the real Wayne with little to no web presence, drew the short straw and ended up a part of something he doesn't know exists.
    posted by paxton at 12:42 PM on October 6, 2006


    No comets flying by next month, right?

    Actually...
    Well, it's a meteor shower, and a day or two off, but still.
    posted by Durin's Bane at 12:56 PM on October 6, 2006


    "no i didn't just have these printed up u idiot why would i print up stickers thats stupid"

    1) You seem very fake. Just in the text I quote here you use an apostrophe in one word, but not in another. It just reads as fake to me. I spend too much time playing MMO games. Which means I spend all my free time interacting with people who chat like "so im at work to and im you know hangin out and i decided to". You seem fake.

    2) A handwritten post-it note? Please. If leaving the sticker was a seed...... well, the seed has come and gone. Zero need for anther one. If the sticker was part of a sticker campaign, then the post-it is bogus. Either way it makes no sense.

    3) No one else has found a sticker. Very suspicious.

    I, personally, am not buying it.
    posted by Ragma at 12:57 PM on October 6, 2006


    This reminds me of a scene in "The Seige," where the terrorists put a bomb on a bus and when it goes off, all it does is spray paint everywhere. Which is to say, it was a practice run - to see how the authorities react, how long it takes, what kind of response it gets.

    This marketing guy, he's freelance now. Perhaps he's just dabbling in the "viral" marketing trend, and a year ago (before he struck it out on his own) he had an idea to run a little experiment. By putting up this thing, which is mysterious but doesn't actually point us at a specific product or client, he's getting a preview of how the internet dissects a viral marketing project. So he can throw up a few links to potential viral-clients and say, "Look at all the interest we generated with a little planning and a few hours of flash programming - and now we know all the weak points that people dig up (i.e. domains, whois data, etc)." He's also got a decent strategy for releasing a viral like this (gee, I wonder if he'll sign up a couple MeFi puppets for future use?). Now that he's a freelancer, I'd think that "viral" stuff like this is the kind of work that lends itself to a small, flexible marketer who isn't afraid of catching a little negative publicity.

    Just an idea.
    posted by MrZero at 1:00 PM on October 6, 2006


    MrZero:
    what you suggest is backed up at least in part by this in the 'concepts' section of his site.

    » White Rabbit (Guerrilla Marketing)

    and this description on the methodarts site

    Vincent is the mastermind. A big-picture thinker who typically assesses his client's core strengths, differentiators, archetypes and challenges; develops an objective strategy and then assembles a special ops taskforce to get ‘the job’ done.
    posted by paxton at 1:09 PM on October 6, 2006


    White Rabbit.
    Matrix?
    posted by paxton at 1:11 PM on October 6, 2006


    Yeah, that "special ops" phrase caught my eye too.

    Also -- MagicHAL and Method Arts, what's the connection? Or was poor 14-year-old Dr. PR Vandertamp just swept up into something accidentally? Did he ever say where his friend found the site?
    posted by salvia at 1:16 PM on October 6, 2006


    (Though I agree with all the cautions about not posting personal info about magichal. Just wondering if there's an obvious link.)
    posted by salvia at 1:18 PM on October 6, 2006


    still hasn't told me where his friend found the site.
    posted by paxton at 1:19 PM on October 6, 2006


    I think we'll track it back eventually to a marketing firm or a film festival of some sort.

    Of course, along MrZero's line, this could be an attempt to see how far people will dig into someone's personal information for fun. There's bee a lot of flap on MetaTalk about this very thing, recently.
    posted by Mr. Gunn at 1:19 PM on October 6, 2006


    What's perplex city? While chasing the white rabbit, google results have this, and something looked familiar. magichal has a perplex city profile.

    For all I know it's something common, but I've never heard of it until searching those two things.

    I'm getting re-addicted to askme. Great.
    posted by mumeishi at 1:22 PM on October 6, 2006


    So it's a treasure hunt? Imagine that.
    Perplex City is a place, a story, a game and a real-life treasure hunt.

    The Receda Cube has been stolen from Perplex City. It's an object of immense power and importance, and the people of Perplex City want it back.

    The thieves have buried the Cube somewhere on Earth and there's a reward of $200,000/£100,000 for whoever finds it first.

    Welcome to the hunt.
    So did they bring in a marketing consultant and a 14 year old playtester, and hey kid wanna make some money?
    posted by mumeishi at 1:26 PM on October 6, 2006


    The shape immediately reminded me of this. (Note the coincidental November 15 reference, heh.)
    *I got nothin'.*
    posted by zoinks at 1:27 PM on October 6, 2006


    Funny quote from that profile:
    Hacking is like sex. You get in, you get out, and hope that you didn't leave something that can be traced back to you.
    No, I dont' have anything relevant to offer, why do you ask?
    posted by genial at 1:28 PM on October 6, 2006


    You lost me...... How did we get from Method Arts to perplex city?
    posted by Ragma at 1:29 PM on October 6, 2006


    At first I was thinking Method Arts was a dead end. But it's looking more and more promising.

    Has anyone called them?
    posted by Ragma at 1:34 PM on October 6, 2006


    If they were trying to keep the site's designers a secret, why didn't they just use private registration?

    The link to Wayne is intentional. Either he's connected or it's designed to throw us off in a way that wouldn't happen with private registration. If an agency is behind this, it would be very irresponsible of them (if not illegal) to use a stranger's address and phone number. My guess is that Wayne was chosen because he's hard to trace back to the agency -- a friend of a relative of someone who works in the mailroom, or something like that. There's a link, but it'll be hard to find, and it's probably not worth the effort.

    Anyone heard anything from the agency?
    posted by sportbucket at 1:38 PM on October 6, 2006


    I've sent emails to the NM agency and two of the three method collaborators. I've heard nothing.
    posted by paxton at 1:41 PM on October 6, 2006


    haha, well the method arts guys are on to us!
    check the side bar for the smoking font
    posted by paxton at 1:43 PM on October 6, 2006


    Hi Methos Arts folks. /wave

    Seems like you could spend $5 to help us out here......
    posted by Ragma at 1:50 PM on October 6, 2006


    *Method
    posted by Ragma at 1:53 PM on October 6, 2006


    Hi Methos

    That's it. It's a Mentos ad! ;)
    posted by ericb at 2:05 PM on October 6, 2006


    If any wannabe viral marketers are reading this for tips about how to do this in the future:

    If you make a good, clever puzzle with enough-but-not-too-many clues, we will enjoy it and be interested to see where it leads, and will probably end up with a positive feeling toward the product you're marketing.

    If you make a puzzle that relies on people's willingness to hassle people who say they are kids, no. You're generating bad feelings toward the product. Please don't take our unwillingness to use all methods available as a sign that you should make a puzzle like that -- whose solution relies on someone being an asshole.
    posted by LobsterMitten at 2:13 PM on October 6, 2006 [2 favorites]


    lol well i dk you can believe me or not i just found it, looked at the website, and wanted to see what is was about and found this site...i thought it might help....
    posted by purification at 2:24 PM on October 6, 2006


    "whose solution relies on someone being an asshole"

    Exactly. If we find out Wayne, MagicHal, etc are not involved, the folks who started this are going to get trashed across the Internet. Big time. Covering your domain registration and your injection seed are among the minimum things I would expect in terms of due diligence.

    It's sort of been my assumption that Wayne and MagicHal are in on it, but we won't be getting anything from them, as they are designed as dead ends. If that's not the case, then shame on somebady.
    posted by Ragma at 2:26 PM on October 6, 2006


    Ragma - You lost me...... How did we get from Method Arts to perplex city?

    Okay, working from a post here I searched "White Rabbit Guerrilla Marketing" and got a link to a the firebox site mentioning Perplex City, which sounded familiar, since I'd seen it when searching for magichal. Indeed, magichal has a Perplex City profile.

    Looking up Perplex City lead me to the real-world treasure hunt quote in my post.

    So I was thinking, magichal is first out of the box with the StumbleUpon linkage, which appears to be the introduction of the "viral" purification site. If that's true, then who put him up to it? Everyone's chasing a marketing / design angle so it occurs to me that if you have something to market, such as a game, you bring in marketing guys. You might also have had interaction with playtesters. The marketing guys have this clever idea for the website and whatever else but need someone to "leak" it. They take a rabid tester like magichal into their fold or offer money or free games for life if he helps them. "Kid, on 9/30, post this on StumbleUpon and keep your mouth shut. We'll make it worth your while."

    Said kid posts it to StumbleUpon and we're off to the races.

    I see no other SU posts by magichal. He joined Aug 11, 2006. Added the site on Sep 30.

    Back to Perplex City. As I said, it's a real world puzzle game thing that I found while searching the marketing angle keywords (white rabbit guerrilla marketing). It's also, coincidentally, a game where magichal has a profile. It's also a game where you're looking for a cube somewhere in the real world. Is this it? Dunno.

    But it was a little odd that Perplex City, a game where you're looking for a cube hidden in the real world, turns up independantly in the first page of search results for marketing terms and for the kid who "leaked" the URL for the website, which by the way, has a cube-like shape front and center.
    posted by mumeishi at 2:28 PM on October 6, 2006


    And lets not forget the godaddy info that does point to this NM firm. Someone currently or previously connected to McKee Wallwork Cleveland knows whats going on here.
    posted by paxton at 2:30 PM on October 6, 2006


    Either that, or somebody who hates the McKee marketing group is pulling a realllllly elaborate prank.
    posted by MrZero at 2:45 PM on October 6, 2006


    I wouldn't bother pursuing the Perplex City angle. PC has been around since 2004, is run (I believe) by a design team in London, has thousands of people already playing it, and (from what I've seen of it) is considerably more complex and polished than what we've seen so far of thepurification.org.

    It's not surprising that magichal has a profile there, because we've already established that he likes ARGs, and Perplex City is well-known among the ARG crowd.

    (long-time mostly-lurker just adding my little 2 cents to the conversation)
    posted by alyxstarr at 2:54 PM on October 6, 2006


    I searched "White Rabbit Guerrilla Marketing" and got a link to a the firebox site mentioning Perplex City

    It's tempting, but it's not a very conclusive link. The two phrases ("white rabbit" and "guerrilla marketing") are totally disconnected. The connection to Magichal is a coincidence -- he's into ARGs, and there's a connection between ARGs and guerrilla marketing.

    If you have enough data, you can find a correlation where no actual correlation exists. Google's got lots to say about Magichal, and "white rabbit" appears to be somewhat of a generic term within guerrilla marketing theory in general. That's certainly not to say that Magichal isn't holding out on us, but I don't think Method Arts is behind this. (See my earlier comments.)
    posted by sportbucket at 2:55 PM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


    Another thought - The domain registration was done by McKee Wallwork Cleveland. We have MWC employees forming Method Arts, but that doesn't mean the domain went with them. In fact the dot com version of the domain has zero changes. So it sort of makes sense that the domain is still owned and controlled by McKee Wallwork Cleveland
    posted by Ragma at 3:01 PM on October 6, 2006


    I'm not claiming anything about Method Arts (I'd lean more towards Mind Candy). I was searching for generic marketing terms, yes, and turned up a game magichal is into. Two independant unrelated searches turn up a first-order connection to the same 14 year old kid? I'm just saying. :) That said, I'll agree that the perplex city thing is tenuous at best.

    But, here is a timeline.

    27-Jul-2006 - thepurification.org is registered
    11-Aug-2006 - magichal registered at StumbleUpon
    12-Aug-2006 - San Francisco Connection (Perplex City)
    26-Sep-2006 - thepurification.org is last updated
    30-Sep-2006 - magichal adds his first and only link, thepurification.org
    06-Oct-2006 - Extreme Puzzling Contest begins
    06-Oct-2006 - Perplex City game goes on sale
    19-Oct-2006 - first timer expires
    23-Oct-2006 - timer expires
    25-Oct-2006 - timer expires
    29-Oct-2006 - timer expires
    01-Nov-2006 - timer expires
    06-Nov-2006 - timer expires
    09-Nov-2006 - timer expires
    12-Nov-2006 - timer expires
    15-Nov-2006 - kaboom
    27-Jul-2007 - thepurification.org expires

    Remember to not expose the cube to water, acetone, or liquid mercury, extremes in hot, cold, or radiation. You can sleep with it but keep it away from children (under 14 years old presumably) and small pets.
    posted by mumeishi at 3:10 PM on October 6, 2006


    Actually, the domain was registered with an address from the old agency -- McKee Wallwork Henderson (mwhweb.com). Bart Cleveland's a relatively recent addition.

    This doesn't really prove anything, but chenderson@mwhweb.com fits the blinded address revealed by the GoDaddy customer number lookup. They're using mwcmail.com addresses now, at least according to their own records.
    posted by sportbucket at 3:17 PM on October 6, 2006


    I feel compelled to put a stop to the Method Arts (MA) link, since the research I've been a part of outside of this thread turned it up. Essentially, the connection to Method Arts was established by chance, through Google, and through a former employee, who happens to be listed in the WHOIS info for mwhweb.com. That's a thin connection. It's not surprising that a designer in the industry would be interested in viral marketing. The "White Rabbit" stuff was interesting, but did not pan out, as the terms used in the resume were far too generic. The fact that Method Arts first client was a water purification company was also an interesting connection, but in the end design caliber of MWC, MA, and thepurification.org (TPO) are on entirely different calibers. TPO is minimalist, which is in direct contrast to all of the work I've looked at by MWC and MA.

    Nothing rules out MA's involvement, especially now they are linking to this thread. However, it's probably best to presume that the connection made was interesting, but bore no fruit. The focus should be on MWC, not MA, though the folks at MA could well provide useful information about MWC.

    If you want to smoke out the owners of TPO, complain to GoDaddy that the contact information is invalid, but don't indicate you're some Metafilter sleuth. Pose as an interested party, if posing is necessary at all, and complain that the registration information listed is false. Most registrars will contact the domain owner requesting they update their info. A domain can be put in limbo if such a request goes unreplied to, but different registrars behave differently.
    posted by sequential at 3:21 PM on October 6, 2006


    Exactly what I was just thinking, sportbucket. So it could be someone currently at MWC using an old-but-still-valid e-mail address, could be someone who left but got to keep their e-mail addy (Carol Henderson, for example), could be they're renting out the domain name to someone else now that they're not actively using it...
    posted by alyxstarr at 3:25 PM on October 6, 2006


    If you complain and they do issue a WDRP reminder to the domain registrant and they don't respond the domain will be deleted. Game over.

    Just saying.
    posted by FlamingBore at 3:41 PM on October 6, 2006


    If you complain and they do issue a WDRP reminder to the domain registrant and they don't respond the domain will be deleted. Game over.

    It's the internet-equivalent of flipping over the chess board and sending all the pieces flying.
    posted by sportbucket at 3:43 PM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


    Email back from Perplex City -- they're not involved.
    posted by salvia at 3:46 PM on October 6, 2006


    Presumably, FlamingBore, but not all registrars are going to take such an action based on one complaint. There are friendly emails and some effort between a complaint and failure to comply. Not to mention, the GoDaddy user has a different email address. Having experienced such a recent complaint from an anonymous user, I know that GoDaddy will contact their customer through the addess listed on the GoDaddy account before they trying the information from the WHOIS database. The account info and the domain info don't have to match. We even know they don't match in this case.

    The gambit here is, of course, the game ending, but it's an unlikely scenario. Despire the low risk, it's not something I'm yet willing to do myself.
    posted by sequential at 4:02 PM on October 6, 2006


    Yeah I just want to chime in about perplex city. They're either not involved (which is what I believe) or they've got us so deeply infiltrated we're never getting anything useful out of them anyways. [1][2][3]

    check the sub 500 usernumber. now that's a sleeper agent.
    posted by juv3nal at 4:10 PM on October 6, 2006


    From GoDaddy's invalid WHOIS complaint form:
    The registrant is not required to respond to an email, phone, or postal mail inquiry. We need evidence that the email is invalid (such as a bounce), the phone is invalid (such as a disconnection), or the mail has been returned as undeliverable.
    I don't think this kind of thing is all that enforceable. At least not by November 15. :)
    posted by sportbucket at 4:10 PM on October 6, 2006


    I'm just saying. I see this daily. Do with that what you will.
    posted by FlamingBore at 4:24 PM on October 6, 2006


    Magichal has chimed in over at the other forum set up by sequential.
    posted by genial at 6:03 PM on October 6, 2006


    huh, that's a very odd response from someone that's supposed to be freaked out by the attention. And doesn't he already know what we want to clear up? Where he got the link. It started with him.
    posted by bob sarabia at 6:16 PM on October 6, 2006


    Mr. Gunn at thepurification.sequential.org: "Magichal, I must comment on how much more eloquent and composed your writing is compared to other 14 year olds. Have you always had a way with words?"

    I agree.
    posted by ericb at 6:32 PM on October 6, 2006


    Magichal Mystery Tour:
    One day, he was searching stuff on YTMND (it's an internet-meme type site, check it out) when he came across a Scientology YTMND (which are extremely abundant in the YTMND community). He opened it and watched it, thought it was interesting, and decided to read up about it. He typed a Google search for "Scientology", and came up with two results. http://purification.org/ and http://purificationpgm.org/ . He read up, was satisfied, and closed out. A few weeks later, he wanted to show a friend the Scientology sites he had saw. He couldn't remember the link, so he typed in what he remembered: http://thepurification.org/ . Then he posted it in Ventrilo, which I found and thought was interesting, and posted onto StumbleUpon because other people might find it interesting, and then I landed myself here, and yada yada yada blah.
    As posted by Magichal about how his CS:Source friend found this site.
    posted by sportbucket at 7:12 PM on October 6, 2006


    Magichal's response feels like a punt. Regardless of whether or not he's telling the truth (StumbleUpon? An odd first submission.), it's a dead end.

    Hard leads: Go!
    posted by sportbucket at 7:16 PM on October 6, 2006


    Remember though that wayne already blew us off, so that's a dead end too.
    posted by bob sarabia at 7:21 PM on October 6, 2006


    We definitely didn't pursue the Wayne thing as much as we should. Has anyone had a conversation with him? This needs to happen. He's got absolutely no reason not to be interested -- someone is stealing his identity! If he doesn't care, it would seem to indicate that he's complicit.

    Holy crap, I need to get out of the office. Have fun, do good, see you tomorrow.
    posted by sportbucket at 7:26 PM on October 6, 2006


    I agree that Wayne is far too disinterested in this. I mean, someone is registering sites under his identity! He should be highly motivated to find out who.
    posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:30 PM on October 6, 2006


    Anyone think that waynes whois number was specifically set up to answer calls about this whole thing, but he's not supposed to say anything about a website? (The number is a cellphone)I know we've already been through him answering the phone by saying "Dispatch?" But I'd like to go a little further with that.

    If he is unrelated to this, why would he answer his phone like that? Could be his work cell phone. But how would a marketing firm know is work cell number? Also, all cellphones have caller ID. If someone from here called him, either it would show up as an unfamilar number or more likely just say "unknown number". Does his work usually call him from unfamiliar or unknown numbers? That's strange.

    What if he's supposed to answer like that but he hasn't gotten the right response yet?

    Of course, if he isn't related to this than I sound like a raving lunatic, but I just don't buy that. The godaddy account was set up by a marketing firm and he's in the whois info. He's got to be in on it.
    posted by bob sarabia at 8:24 PM on October 6, 2006


    First comment here, but this has been bugging me. There are two possibities when it comes to Wayne:

    1) He has something to do with the site
    2) He has nothing to do with the site

    If #1, then he is certainly the best lead toward finding out what the site is all about, made all the more interesting by the fact that he's actively avoiding confrontation.

    If #2, then the creators of the site have used his info without his knowledge, and are therefore, at best, malicious pranksters, or, at worst, criminals, and in either case, probably not very deserving of much more of our time.

    Am I wrong?

    (on preview, bob sarabia seems to be thinking along the same lines)
    posted by shaneflyer at 8:30 PM on October 6, 2006


    ericb, after reading Magichal's posts, I agree: this is, at the least, a very precocious 14er.

    sportbucket, did anyone follow up with weretable and the undead chairs?

    Magichal, or whomever, play with my mind all you want, it'll be a hoot; however, you are hereby advised: do not disturb my cats, they take a dim view of disturbances.
    posted by taosbat at 8:43 PM on October 6, 2006


    Oh, and, Taosbat: your cats will remain undisturbed!

    You know this, do you, or is it supposition? Much depends upon your answer.
    posted by taosbat at 9:24 PM on October 6, 2006


    Magichal is bogus. But that doesn't mean he's involved with the site. His expaination for how his friend came up with the site is plausible. Several people here mixed up the domains. Bottomline, he's playing us. We just don't know why. He seems (IMHO) like a guy who likes attention more than he looks like a mole.

    Still........ Wouldn't surprise me one bit if the site was his.
    posted by Ragma at 9:34 PM on October 6, 2006


    Magichal is bogus. But that doesn't mean he's involved with the site. His expaination for how his friend came up with the site is plausible. Several people here mixed up the domains. Bottomline, he's playing us. We just don't know why. He seems (IMHO) like a guy who likes attention more than he looks like a mole.

    Still........ Wouldn't surprise me one bit if the site was his.

    Gotta hate wildcards.
    posted by Ragma at 9:36 PM on October 6, 2006


    Oops....
    posted by Ragma at 9:37 PM on October 6, 2006


    Well, between this and another, unrelated Ask MeFi post, I've finally felt compelled to join you fine folks. I've been following this since Luftmensch first showed it to me not long after it was first posted, and have been "playing along at home" if you will. (I'm also Vicious on Sequential's new forum.)

    I agree with previous comments on the Magichal and Wayne trails being worth pursuing, but there's one other angle that seems to have been abandoned. Early in his career, Tennessee Williams wrote a play called "The Purification" set in Taos. To me, that seems awful big to be nothing but a coincidence. I know some people (myself included) looked into the play and thought it didn't seem related, but maybe there's some other Williams link? A cursory glance at his plays didn't yield anything particularly noteworthy, but maybe I'm missing something? At any rate, I feel like it's too early to declare it a dead end.
    posted by Spike at 10:28 PM on October 6, 2006


    This fits in well with my theory of what's going on.

    For the record, here is a sprint relay operator transcript of Wayne's voicemail:
    Sprint IP Relay Conversation - Saturday, October 07, 2006, 12:33 AM
    Operator: SPRINT IP 8551F DIALING 479-790-2895 RINGING 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... THIS IS WAYNE LEAVE ME UR NAME NUMBER AND A BRIEF MESSAGE AND I LL GET BACK THANKS ... TO PAGE THIS PERSON PRESS 1 NOW (BEEP) (M) (ANS MACH HUNG UP) GA
    User: ty
    While I firmly believe that this has no end result, that all we see is all there is, if there is in fact a puzzle to be solved it is clear that a)magichal is only an instrument with no meaning b)wayne is the only "open" clue. By that I mean, if this is an ARG/some type of marketting, the responsible firm isn't going to own up and taint their own goose.

    If there's a puzzle to be solved, it's with Wayne. So, until the domain registration is changed to reflect otherwise it's probably best to assume he is in fact the owner and somehow connected (possibly responsible). If he isn't, all it would take is a call to GoDaddy on his part to get the data changed, if this is the case (since we all have pure intents) it is certainly ethical to inform him and aid him in getting this data corrected.

    Where's the fun in my analysis? Well, there's a month or so to chase your own tail. And this thread, the forum, and the wiki (that exists, or will exist) are proof enough of the fun people are having.

    I sincerely believe there is nothing to be found in the sense people are pursuing, we may discover the originator, the creator and everything in between but there is no resolution and no greater meaning.

    In the end, the "reveal" dates will do nothing. There is no objective reason to believe they will.

    The best way to verify my hypothesis is to pursue this "mystery" in my own right. No one has followed the wayne thing meaningfully, no one has made the requisite formal and respectful bussiness-like call. If they have, I've missed it.

    I'll do this Monday morning during regular business hours in his time zone.
    posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:12 PM on October 6, 2006


    I was once asked by a marketing firm (that I sometimes work for) to act as the contact for a domain name. They wanted to register it for a client who wanted to create some kind of astroturf-y web site that had to do with a class action lawsuit. I turned them down because it sounded like a huge hassle and I didn't want the annoyance of people calling me asking who I was and what I had to do with the web site and so on.

    I don't think it's out of the question that this is what's going on with Wayne. If I had agreed to be the domain contact, I wouldn't be falling all over myself trying to hand out information to every curious george who contacted me. I would be annoyed.
    posted by melvix at 9:21 AM on October 7, 2006


    Not that anyone's hung up on Jericho, though. Heroes, the new NBC show, could have some potential -- Spoiler warning ahead for those behind in their TiVo

    I'll second incessant that there is some potential for something connected to the television series Heroes.

    I've just caught up via TiVo on the first two episodes. As pointed out above, there's foreshadowing of a nuclear blast -- albeit in New York. One character (in Nevada) has been given a car and a map and directed to begin driving to some location (unknown to the viewer). Could the various "heroes" soon be converging at some place (Taos?) where with their combined capabilities they will "save the world" -- or some such plot point? Just a thought.
    posted by ericb at 9:27 AM on October 7, 2006


    Anyone tried calling the PR firm and asking for Wayne? Not mentioning the game or anything. Seems like a quick way to see if he works there.
    posted by dripdripdrop at 10:55 AM on October 7, 2006


    I say we cut Magichal off. Censure, if you will.

    As I see it, he's either involved, or he's just loving the attention. Either way he's not trustworthy, and we've gotten all we can out of him. Whatever his motives, I think it's clear he's not primarily interested in helping. If the folks behind this thing are counting on him to guide us, they'll have to find another way.

    Taosbat: I don't think we've heard anything from weretable, but you're right, I think we should ask him to do some reconnaissance as our contact in Arkansas. Weretable, are you up for it?

    Also on the Wayne front, Bob's comment brought my attention to the fact that we have two phone numbers for Wayne - a home number and a Cingular number. It sounds like we've been calling the cell phone. Has anyone tried him at home?

    The domain name was registered using the cell number, either because it's harder to trace, or because it's a phone purchased especially for this purpose (or both). Any way of finding out who opened the account, and when? I tried the forgot my password link on the Cingular site, but it asks for a SSN, and I'm not comfortable trying to falsify my way in.

    Wayne's a solid lead, but we have to figure out how to make him useful. This is interesting. Can someone with some journalism experience give the guy a call and see what his deal is?
    posted by sportbucket at 12:47 PM on October 7, 2006


    Like I said last night, I'll be calling him Monday morning during normal business hours. I'll make any subsequent calls necessary to get in contact with him.

    Cold calling people and even showing up at strangers doors are not unfamiliar or strange to me. I make contacts with people living in SROs in my city to reduce their isolation/give them someone to talk to (through the Americorps).

    My plan is to first confirm his identity, introduce myself, detail to him how I have come to possess his phone number, and then conduct an interview and take any necessary steps thereafter.

    I won't detail how I'll represent myself, as a small level of anonymity in regard to the connection between this name and my legal name needs to be maintained for now.

    I would suggest that everywhere people advocate a policy of not calling Wayne for a week. People have surely been hammering away at his phone line, and the fewer people are calling the more likely it is that I will be successful.
    posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:03 PM on October 7, 2006


    not so strong
    posted by thirteenkiller at 1:08 PM on October 7, 2006


    For what it's worth, the site has a cgi-bin directory too. It's cordoned off, but the presence of one usually indicates some sort of web app. Could just be something the hosting provider put there, though, like the SSL they aren't using.
    posted by Spike at 1:15 PM on October 7, 2006


    The number and addy in the website info do not match, however there is a Wayne Arnold that lives on that street. I drove down the street out of curiousity while I was out that way this morning. I didn't try to find Wayne's house though.
    posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 3:02 PM MST on October 5

    posted by taosbat at 1:45 PM on October 7, 2006


    I'm not sure what you want weretable to do. Go to his house and kick his ass until he talks? Follow him around? What?
    posted by bob sarabia at 3:03 PM on October 7, 2006


    "I'm not sure what you want weretable to do."

    There are three options -

    1) He seems involved but will tell us nothing.
    2) He won't talk to us.
    3) He'll talk, but it's obvious he was used without knowing.

    With any of those, even if he won't talk, we learn something.
    posted by Ragma at 6:46 PM on October 7, 2006


    I don't want weretable to do anything in particular. I was repsonding to sportbucket's comment, "We definitely didn't pursue the Wayne thing as much as we should..." It seems to me that a balrog in the locale would have any easier time getting in touch with Wayne and getting good information than someone calling long distance.
    posted by taosbat at 6:55 PM on October 7, 2006


    I should have added: I think we could ask weretable if s/he is willing to contact Wayne; and, if yes, we all should discuss a reasonable plan for that project either here or on the other board before any action is taken.
    posted by taosbat at 7:09 PM on October 7, 2006


    Is WHOIS info propagated automatically, or do you enter it yourself?

    Here's the angle I've been throwing around:

    Searching using the WHOIS data, I saw that there's a woman with the Arnold surname at the same address. Is Wayne married? Do they have a son? Does he have dad's credit card? Maybe he plays counterstrike with Magichal?


    People have mentioned certain amateurish aspects of the website, which got me thinking about this. I've looked a little bit farther down the road (possilbe relatives of wayne and old cities of residence via intelius.com, facebook/myspace searches), but with only dead ends so far I wanted to make sure the whole premise held water.

    In any case, I hadn't seen it mentioned.
    posted by sixacross at 7:46 PM on October 7, 2006


    I'm back to wondering if Taos is the center. I know, it's called "countertaos," and I know this was all discussed above. But if I line up the four spots linked to the cities (from the Flash), then the inner circle does line up with highways that make a circle. (And it lined up even better when I was just roughly aligned with all four cities instead of super-aligned with two or three at the expense of the fourth.) I posted the Google Earth map files over at The Purification forum that sequential set up. Feel free to play around with the alignment yourself...
    posted by salvia at 10:38 PM on October 7, 2006


    Oh, I've also not found anything about Wayne Arnold on LexisNexis.
    posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:24 AM on October 8, 2006


    So, have we run out of steam? Or have they gotten to everyone who was posting?
    posted by Mid at 8:54 AM on October 9, 2006


    Matt Oneiros said he'd call Wayne earlier.
    posted by riotgrrl69 at 11:01 AM on October 9, 2006


    Someone should follow-up with the ad agency, too.
    posted by sportbucket at 11:27 AM on October 9, 2006


    So, have we run out of steam? Or have they gotten to everyone who was posting?

    I'm still here, and I think I've discovered someth--
    ...
    *static*
    ...
    //NO_SIGNAL
    posted by Spike at 12:11 PM on October 9, 2006


    Maybe it's connected to this? (Context)
    posted by thirteenkiller at 1:48 PM on October 9, 2006


    RE: WAYNE

    A member of another forum (check thepurification wiki) called him. He says that he's a truck driver (Hello Dispatch?), that he doesn't know why his name is listed as the contact info for this site. I assume he doesn't really care, and hasn't been getting many calls.
    posted by muddgirl at 1:54 PM on October 9, 2006


    From Cycleworld:
    I just spoke with Mr. Wayne Arnold he owns a trucking company in Ark.
    Seems like a nice guy and he didn't have a clue what the website is about nor why is he listed as the owner of the site....He sounded genuine ????
    posted by muddgirl at 1:59 PM on October 9, 2006


    Eh, then I'm not going to call.
    posted by Matt Oneiros at 2:17 PM on October 9, 2006


    Yeah, we know he doesn't seem to care, but that seems a little suspect to me. Does he realize that someone has essentially stolen his identity? How'd they get his cell phone number? I just have trouble believing that this is both a complete surprise and totally uninteresting to him.

    I admit I've sort of lost interest in the whole thing.

    Harrassing some disinterested trucker in Arkansas just to unravel some half-assed marketing campaign isn't my idea of a good time.
    posted by sportbucket at 2:37 PM on October 9, 2006


    **HEROES SPOILER WARNING**


    I am watching tonight's Heroes, and they showed a map that Silar (the bad guy) is using to track down the heroes, and there is no special significance on it to the Taos area or the area outlined by our diamond. The map itself is heavily criss-crossed by strings connecting points on the map where he has found a hero. I think this is good evidence, though not necessarily final confirmation, that this has nothing to do with Heroes.
    posted by kurmbox at 6:36 PM on October 9, 2006


    THE LOST (interest) EXPERIENCE
    posted by riotgrrl69 at 6:12 AM on October 10, 2006


    Somebody call the ad agency again.
    posted by thirteenkiller at 6:22 AM on October 10, 2006


    Why haven't we "solved" this? The options -

    1) There is nothing to solve. It's just a silly thing someone put together for fun.

    I don't like this option. There seems to be too much here, and it's too well locked down for it to just be a goof. Maybe someone having fun making fools of us? I doubt it.

    2) It's an ARG, but we're not smart enough to crack it.

    This seems like a non-starter. It doesn't feel like an ARG, and even if it was, they aren't suppose to be unsolvable.

    3) It's a puzzle, but we're not smart enough to crack it.

    Maybe. But I doubt it. We've had many smart people all basically come to a dead end.

    4) It's a marketing site for some project or product.

    I like this option. But we've hit a roadblock figuring out what it is. If it's a marketing site we'll have to wait for more.

    5) It's the work of some insane weirdo.

    Possible, but not very plausible. It has too much polish and not enough insane.

    6) It's a test site for evaluating online guerilla marketing.

    Possible, but not very plausible. Not sure why, but it just doesn't feel that way.

    7) It's a private site that will only make sense to the group it's targeted for.

    Since we haven't been able to find such a group, I doubt it.

    8) It's a puzzle or ARG, but is done by someone so unskilled they screwed it up.

    I don't think so. We'd expect more obvious errors. This site seems to have covered it's tracks well.

    9) This is a non-US site and we lack insight into what it's about.

    Certainly possible. The hosting in Spain, and the multi-language comment hint at that.

    10) It's not finished, so we're lacking the parts we'd need to figure it out.

    This is a good possibility. But the looming dates make that seem less likely. And even if this was just a part, we should have had better luck.

    11) The is only a tiny part of a much larger ARG.

    This idea would be great fun. But it seems unlikely. We have some solid leads on people involved (the marketing agency), and they don't do ARGs.

    ----------

    I'm going with #4. And at this point I feel like we have nowhere to go as far as tracking it down. As it stands now the "puzzle" to figure out what the site is promoting has gotten us zero. We'll just have to wait. Or not. At this point I feel like the developers have sort of screwed themselves. The buzz is pretty much over unless this turns out to be much cooler than it seems so far.

    And if there are some teasers put out for the site as the first counter reaches zero, most savvy users will find this site and know the final counter is for Taos. It's possible that will result in the developers just dropping the whole thing.
    posted by Ragma at 10:22 AM on October 10, 2006


    12.) Created by sportbucket to test the power of MeFi before launching a coup to wrestle ownership of the ad revenues in Q1 2007.
    posted by Hankins at 10:36 AM on October 10, 2006


    I am standing by my assessment that this is not a thing to solve or figure out, but just a thing.

    I'd be very surprised if anything at all happens on the dates, other than that which is coded into the flash.

    There seems to be too much here, and it's too well locked down for it to just be a goof.

    What are you talking about ragma? There is VERY LITTLE here! If there was "a lot" here then it would give us a bigger picture, but really all we have is some whois information and silly flash movie. Stuff that hundreds of sites have. The amount of content -- or "evidence" -- is just marginally above that of zombo.com

    We'll see what happens in a month, if it's anything beyond what the flash already has, I'll buy you a cold beverage.
    posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:30 AM on October 10, 2006


    The eight diamonds on the akajimmy.net site don't correspond exactly to the location of the timers on the source website. At the top, the Lookout timer is above the line made by the Why and When timers, and at the bottom, the Fort Hancock timer is below the line made by the Who and What timers. The eight timers on the source website form a shape that looks like (though not exactly) a hexagram (Star of David).

    Has anyone plotted where the Why, When, Who, What timers correspond on a map?
    posted by JackCrenshaw at 11:37 AM on October 10, 2006


    I would follow JackCrenshaw's advice, as he is obvisouly a plant sent by the developers to re-start interest in their ARG.

    /Half joking
    posted by Mid at 12:14 PM on October 10, 2006


    "What are you talking about ragma? There is VERY LITTLE here!"

    With just the immediate evidence in front of you, I would think you'd hesitate to say something like that. We have a 700 comment thread. Right?

    I do weird little sites for my own amusement all the time. They never have their own hosted account. The domains are never registered with my work email. I don't steal someone's identity to mask the domain owner. I don't have a "beta" directory. I don't set up password protected areas. And if people find the site I don't go out of my way to be secretive.

    The beta directory alone seems to prove that this isn't just "a thing".
    posted by Ragma at 12:25 PM on October 10, 2006


    I vote for some combination of 4, 8, & 10.
    Regardless, I think we'll need to wait it out if we're going to err on the side of respecting people's privacy/not unnecessarily bugging people who may not have anything to do with it. I'd say the "we know you're watching" comment in the html is stronger argument that there's a "thing" here than the beta directory.
    posted by juv3nal at 12:34 PM on October 10, 2006


    "I would follow JackCrenshaw's advice, as he is obvisouly a plant sent by the developers to re-start interest in their ARG."
    *Looks at Jack's profile* Just joined today, as interest was dwindling, and his first post was to this thread, with a new direction for us to look in? Suspicious. (Kidding, Jack. Mostly. But it wouldn't kill you to have an alibi.)

    However, the only thing Riemann did in his modification of the SWF, if I understood it correctly, was to advance the timers so that we could see how it would look after they'd expired. As far as I know, he didn't move anything.

    Personally, I think we've jumped the gun on this. We learned a lot more than we were supposed to a lot sooner than we were intended to, and because of that, we're now getting bored. It looks to me like the designer of this site wanted people to check back as the timers expired, at which point new clues would be revealed. Sure, we've decompiled the Flash to see what those clues might be, but what if there's other information to be released in conjunction with them? I doubt they expected us to rip apart the SWF at all, most people don't even know that's possible. I also don't think they expected this to propagate so quickly. When this started, we were what, 2 weeks ahead of the first timer? That's a long time to expect people to wait for something online. And really, I don't think it has propagated that much. It doesn't look like it's gotten much attention outside of the MeFi community.

    So in conclusion, I think the best thing we can do now is to wait and watch. Just be patient, and keep a keen eye out for suspicious goings-on around the dates the timers expire.
    posted by Spike at 2:18 PM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


    JackCrenshaw, check out the purification forum -- I think I did what you're suggesting someone do (or on the other hand, that I made the mistake you're suggesting someone mighta made). I posted my Google Earth files there. I took a screenshot from the "final state" that the flash will reach. If it's wrong, and if you can post a jpg with dots at the correct spots for the timers, I'll put it back in Google Earth. Or feel free to play around with that file and suggest a better alignment. The other question is -- do you scale the map by lining up the dots out in space with the corresponding cities, or do you assume those cities are the corners of the diamond?

    I'm pondering mwhweb.com. Is the domain still being used by that marketing firm? If not, who's using it? Is there any way to tell who might have the domain now? I don't know enough about how those transactions happen to have any ideas. I did notice one of the partners has a lot of connections to TV, but that may not mean anything. To me, we lost the trail somewhere around there when we started focusing on that one spin-off from McKee Wallwork Cleveland. Okay, so if it's not them... who else might it be?

    Also, MWHweb.com. If it's not Mckee Wallwork Henderson, do you think MWH is going to end up standing for something? (_ _ Heaven, _ _ Hopi...) Probably not, since it's not their URL, but just a thought.
    posted by salvia at 4:40 PM on October 10, 2006


    With just the immediate evidence in front of you, I would think you'd hesitate to say something like that. We have a 700 comment thread. Right?

    Because hundreds of comments of tail chasing somehow adds merit to something which is nearly pure nothing?
    posted by Matt Oneiros at 5:16 PM on October 10, 2006


    I'm pondering mwhweb.com. Is the domain still being used by that marketing firm? If not, who's using it? Is there any way to tell who might have the domain now?

    mwhweb.com is still registered to McKee Wallwork Cleveland, LLC. The company was previously named McKee Wallwork Henderson, hence the "H." Since the domain is now parked at the registrar (i.e. not being used for web *or* mail), I would assume it's simply because they changed their name and they're holding onto the old one to keep it from linkfarms. (There's a post above that goes into the firm -- and its various domains -- a little more.)

    Incidentally, I don't recall anybody mentioning they looked at the old site's content through the Wayback Machine. Perhaps it'll give some of the thumb-twiddlers something to do! ;p
    posted by Hankins at 5:44 PM on October 10, 2006


    I'm pondering mwhweb.com. Is the domain still being used by that marketing firm?

    Yes, it's theirs. The registration is through 2009, so no one would be able to do anything with it without their explicit consent and assistance.

    I would tend to agree with Matt. We have very little hard information to go on -- it's a lot of speculation and wishful thinking. Even the connection to the ad agency is somewhat circumstantial. We've got plenty of evidence and theory, but not enough to piece any of it together.

    I think it's a safe assumption to say that this is part of a marketing campaign for something, as opposed to being purely a piece of web art or a social experiment (or a genuine ethno-religious movement). Given that, I think we can assume that we're supposed to try to figure it out, to discuss it with our friends at work/school and create a buzz for whatever they want to sell us.

    To take it a step further, I think we sort of screwed up their timeline by so quickly revealing as much as we did. For example, there's almost no way they would have anticipated/counted on GoDaddy revealing the e-mail address associated with the account. That was a bit of a fluke -- a very non-standard practice for a domain registrar. Even if MWC knew about it, they wouldn't have expected us to find it.

    They're probably trying to figure out how to recover their campaign -- coming up with some new clues, maybe moving the goalposts a bit. I think we'll have some new clues within a couple of weeks.
    posted by sportbucket at 5:58 PM on October 10, 2006


    Another note: the growingfast.com top-level domain simply redirects to the firms "real" site (as mentioned above). But all the internal pages are still active once you get past the index. Give'r a shot. I'm pretty sure people have rooted around in these outside of discussion here, so this is all probably redundant.
    posted by Hankins at 6:00 PM on October 10, 2006


    Also, there's some more info about their domain registration habits on the other forum.

    It's not all that relevant, but it might explain why there's a bunch of domain names being thrown around that all point to the same company.
    posted by sportbucket at 6:02 PM on October 10, 2006


    Totally off topic, but is it self-linking if you link to one of your own posts on a separate forum, like I just did?

    Or if you link to one of your own comments within the same thread, like I'm doing now?
    posted by sportbucket at 6:05 PM on October 10, 2006


    I sorta gave up since this has transformed more into determining the Wizard of Oz's identity rather than playing along with him -- but then salvia got me back into it tonight via email. (i curse you salvia!)

    Anyway... my research tonight produced some totally useless speculation courtesy of an ad campaign MWH put together to help parents educate their children about Ecstasy. I figured "purification"... "ecstasy"...maybe. But it's just more grabbing at air (and much less compelling than ancient hopi burial grounds).

    They have a one-page flash website that serves as a landing page, redirecting to the Drug Free America website (a whois points to Mr. McKee @ mwhweb.com). I parsed through it with flasm, comparing it to the purification's file, but didn't see anything that jumped out -- it appeared much less sophisticated, having been WYSIWYG-designed in Freeway Pro 3.5. (At the same time, however, I doubt I'd have found "countertaos.")

    I'm bored and purificati0wn3d with tiredness, so I'll leave you with this conversation with McKee, himself:
    VB Price: What’s the power of the web in terms of communications and education in your industry?
    ...
    McKee: It’s new media. We can’t control it. Nobody can control it. That’s why it is so powerful.
    ...
    McKee: If a company’s product or service is bad or not as advertised, it’s all over the web. It’s really a check on us that we are being genuine and sincere and honest.
    (Oh, and sportbucket, if a thread has almost 700 comments, I think protocol goes out the window. I'm halfway expecting some pancakes to start creeping in.)
    posted by Hankins at 7:35 PM on October 10, 2006


    Ummm...y'all are keeping my cats in mind, right? They despise surprises.
    posted by taosbat at 8:04 PM on October 10, 2006


    I doubt they expected us to rip apart the SWF at all, most people don't even know that's possible.

    I've been thinking this for a while. We're way ahead of the time scale the site's designer was planning, and thus have run out of stuff for now. They're already edited the page a couple of times, there's no reason why they won't do it again when the timers start going off.

    I do think that the designer has under estimated the attention span of the internet. If I'd come across this on my own and figured out how long it is until the first count down is finished I would have just wandered away and forgotten about it. There's too much new content grabbing my attention every day to remember some weird website counting towards something. Maybe it was made by someone who doesn't often work in this medium?
    posted by shelleycat at 9:14 PM on October 10, 2006


    Host-tracker just told me that thepurification.org is currently down.

    I imagine it's not significant in any way to the "mystery", but I figured I should post it for posterity.
    posted by sportbucket at 10:55 PM on October 10, 2006


    .... and we're back.
    posted by sportbucket at 11:08 PM on October 10, 2006


    I think sportbucket might be getting bored.
    posted by Spike at 12:27 AM on October 11, 2006


    Maybe the symbol on the website is a mandala.
    The astronomical connections to "fuso" might be interesting.
    posted by JackCrenshaw at 3:17 PM on October 11, 2006


    Totally a plant.
    posted by Mid at 9:08 PM on October 11, 2006


    Totally a plant.
    posted by Mid


    Good, if there are plants I doubt my cats shall have any serious surprises. I'm interested to see if one of my neighbors is ultimately behind this.
    posted by taosbat at 9:29 PM on October 11, 2006


    Totally a plant.

    Assuming for a moment that he is a plant, shouldn't we be looking into his suggestions instead of calling him on it? Not saying he is or not, just that I'd rather not drive him away, especially if he wants to help us.
    posted by Spike at 12:06 AM on October 12, 2006


    This hunt for hints jumped the shark when all that what left to do to actually call people and ask them "please tell us !"
    At least the Lost Experience's clues were all online. I'm definitly not excited anymore about what happens when the counters end, and am not looking forward to this.

    In the end, I tend to think it's just one kid setting up some sort of new fangled "coming soon" page for his super-duper website. If so, he must be reading this having the time of his life.
    posted by XiBe at 2:55 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


    [one way or another, JackCrenshaw got me all a-googling...]
    posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:52 PM on October 12, 2006


    Why can't I see any of the Who/What/Why/When/Where/How clues? Does anybody have the site saved with that stuff on there?
    posted by mynameismandab at 1:02 PM on October 12, 2006


    Why can't I see any of the Who/What/Why/When/Where/How clues? Does anybody have the site saved with that stuff on there?

    Here you go. You might be interested in this modified version of the flash file, too.
    posted by Spike at 3:00 PM on October 12, 2006


    Oops. I almost forgot about the wiki, which has most of the clues we've uncovered so far, compiled into a convenient, searchable, editable repository.
    posted by Spike at 3:02 PM on October 12, 2006


    Site's down again.
    posted by sportbucket at 3:10 PM on October 12, 2006


    Hey, that was quick. It's back again.

    By the way, stats available here.

    And yes, I'm bored.

    In the end, I tend to think it's just one kid setting up some sort of new fangled "coming soon" page for his super-duper website.

    But why would that one random kid register the site using an ad agency's e-mail address? I think calling this a marketing campaign is a pretty safe assumption, we just don't know what they're selling.
    posted by sportbucket at 3:18 PM on October 12, 2006


    Hmm, down twice in 24 hours. Maybe they're upgrading their servers, in anticipation of a heavier load? Has anyone checked to see if they're still on that shared server, or if they've moved?

    Also, Riemann, how come I'm suddenly getting a 403 error when I try to go to your modified SWF file?
    posted by Spike at 5:35 PM on October 12, 2006


    Also, Riemann, how come I'm suddenly getting a 403 error when I try to go to your modified SWF file?
    posted by Spike


    Hey guys, just in case anyone is still wondering my domain at akajimmy is just something I use occasionally to host stuff for various roleplaying games I am involved in. I just stuck the SWF up there temporarily in order to "crack" it and see what it looks like when the timers run out.

    Hi Riemann, thanks for all your help. I get a 403, too.

    What would be the best solution to this? Did you think it wasn't needed anymore but would be willing to put it back? Can the wiki handle it? Would it be best if someone among us with extra disk space and bandwidth (and interest) hosted it?
    posted by taosbat at 6:55 PM on October 12, 2006


    Would it be best if someone among us with extra disk space and bandwidth (and interest) hosted it?

    I've got server space, if needed. Meanwhile, I've posted this composite image of the suspected final state of the site, which I'd originally created a while ago so I could look at all the clues without having to mouse around. Looks like it might actually be useful, yay.
    posted by Spike at 8:12 PM on October 12, 2006


    (And thanks taosbat, I forgot he said "temporarily.")
    posted by Spike at 8:13 PM on October 12, 2006


    Ditto this

    But thanks for the Flickr photo, Spike.
    posted by mynameismandab at 8:31 PM on October 12, 2006


    Does anybody think this might just be a church youth group's website? These terms give off a very Christian-y vibe. Youth groups use "cutting-edge"-looking techniques for outreach. Thoughts??
    posted by mynameismandab at 8:44 PM on October 12, 2006


    But thanks for the Flickr photo, Spike.

    Quite welcome, I'm always glad to help. As for the suggestion, it seems a bit ominous for a church youth group. Plus, why would they host it in Spain, under the name of an Arkansan trucker? Or hide messages in their HTML saying they knew we were watching?

    I don't mean to shoot down your theory, it just doesn't quite add up with what we've got. Unfortunately, that seems to be a recurring theme with this mystery, no solution anyone comes up with seems to hold water for very long.
    posted by Spike at 9:10 PM on October 12, 2006


    Does anybody think this might just be a church youth group's website?

    Again, the domain was registered by an ad agency. They're trying to sell something.

    Also, the language seems more neo-pagan than Christian.
    posted by sportbucket at 10:08 PM on October 12, 2006


    From the wiki/forum -

    The photo Wayne uses on his myspace page is actually a photo of someone in a Biker club from Portugal. Not that uncommon for people to use fake photos on myspace, but there are a couple interesting coincidences -

    1) The site is hosted in Spain, and some guy in Portugal puts us closer to the site host than some guy in AK. Also - Are we sure the host is in Spain rather than Portugal? Do they do lots of business with folks in Portugal? Just wondering.

    2) The bike club recently traveled to Brazil, and features the Brazilian flag on their page - A circle within a diamond.
    posted by Ragma at 6:40 AM on October 13, 2006


    Someone on the puri forum came up with this idea first, so I don't take credit for it -

    Perhaps the site is for a motorcycle tour. The dates and towns are just rendezvous points. The towns are small enough that you'd have an easy time finding other bikers even if you didn't know what bar/cafe they would be at. Perhaps clues to the meeting in Taos would be given out at each stop.

    This doesn't really match the phrases. And from what I can see the Portuguese bike club doesn't do puzzle tours like this. But maybe they inspired Wayne or something.

    Also - The distances seem way too short for the 2-3 day reveal intervals.

    Not all that plausible........ Just a thought.

    And I think I now have a great idea for my next friends and family get together.....
    posted by Ragma at 6:51 AM on October 13, 2006


    If we follow JackC's advices :

    1 : "Has anyone plotted where the Why, When, Who, What timers correspond on a map?" : if we plot them, they make a square, round the original symbol (circle inside diamond). This totally hints to the flag of Brazil.

    2 : "The astronomical connections to "fuso" might be interesting." : the flag has stars. If I type in google ""Bandeira do Brasil" fuso", I find this text, which includes this :
    No círculo azul, cada uma das estrelas representa um dos estados que formam o Brasil. Com respeito a posição do eixo da constelação do Cruzeiro do sul, o alinhamento vertical das estrelas Alfa da crux e Gama da crux , retratam um trânsito sideral do fuso de número 13 , tal qual as demais republicas austrais, no caso do Brasil estão como observadas num eclipse na cidade do Rio de Janeiro às 9 horas e 22 minutos da manhã do dia 15 de Novembro de 1889, data local e hora da proclamação da república ou no em oposição abraxas ao Sol nessa mesma posição, às 9 horas 22 minutos da noite do dia 13 de maio de 1888 data da sanção da Lei Áurea) sendo que no caso da bandeira brasileira elas estão conforme seriam vistas por um observador posicionado fora da esfera celeste.
    Very loosely translated using Google :
    In the blue circle, each one of the stars represents one of the states that form Brazil. With respect the position of the axle of the constellation of the Southern Cross, the vertical alignment of the stars Alpha of crux and Gamma of crux, portraies a transit sidereal of the spindle of number 13, such which the excessively republicas austral ones, in the case of Brazil is as observed in an eclipse in the city of Rio De Janeiro to the 9 hours and 22 minutes of the morning of day 15 of November of 1889, dates place and hour of the announcement of the republic or in in opposition abraxas the Sun in this same position, the 9 hours 22 minutes of the night of day 13 of May of 1888 dates of the sanction of the Golden Law) being that in the case of the Brazilian flag they are in agreement would be seen by a located observer outside of the celestial sphere.
    So, "fuso" might also be linked to the flag of Brazil, as the stars where represented at a certain time.

    As for JackC's other clues in his two posts, I don't know, but what the hey...
    posted by XiBe at 9:26 AM on October 13, 2006


    You're welcome, Spike.

    Ragma, bikers do like to come to the enchanted circle area. It's a nice ride and there are usually plenty of places to stay. We have regular 'biker holidays' each year starting with Memorial Day when they visit the Angel Fire Vietnam Vet's Memorial. But, it's usually a bit chilly here for much motorcycling by mid-November.

    That is pretty much the height of our annual tarantula migration. I haven't found out anything else that's scheduled for around then.

    As for JackC's clues, if he's a 'guide' there's no reason for him to lead us straight to the prize. I would expect him to play us as much as we'll take. He could just be some joker who decided to pay $5- for the privilege of yanking our chains.
    posted by taosbat at 10:02 AM on October 13, 2006


    That is pretty much the height of our annual tarantula migration.

    Did you say... tarantula migration? Oh god, it's this!

    Well, it is set somewhere in the Southwest...
    posted by Spike at 2:32 PM on October 13, 2006


    This is a little closer to home and a real Taos tarantula (not all grown up yet, though).
    posted by taosbat at 3:13 PM on October 13, 2006


    I looked around that web site with the tarantula picture and the authors hit Taos Plaza before they headed out to the gorge bridge where they photographed the tarantula.

    I just thought I'd mention that Taos Plaza is an internet hotspot thanks to Marc Coan, Vice-President of Made In New Mexico. He also provides the Taos Plaza web cam (it points out his second story window, above the sign in the picture on the smugmug site).

    I've talked to Marc and he did it all on his own for little cost using open source software.
    posted by taosbat at 6:12 PM on October 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


    Couple things of note:

    I'm staying at an extended stay in downtown austin, someone stuck thepurification.org logo stickers ( with the back still on the sticker) on everyones doors.

    I found this

    http://www.myspace.com/thepurification

    not much there but interesting.

    most likely viral marketing

    (my first post!)
    posted by Maddcovv at 10:40 PM on October 17, 2006


    People getting bored with a viral marketing ploy = bad viral marketing ploy.
    posted by XiBe at 6:16 AM on October 18, 2006


    People getting bored with a viral marketing ploy = bad viral marketing ploy.

    Well, like I said before, I don't think they planned for it to go down this way.

    Maddcovv, last time someone made a claim like that, they were subject to much scrutiny. I'm not saying I don't believe you, and I welcome new clues, but I'd be ready to back that up if I were you.
    posted by Spike at 12:36 PM on October 18, 2006


    This sound suspicious Maddcovv. You've just signed up. That myspace wasn't around before. You have a new job here.
    posted by tellurian at 6:28 PM on October 18, 2006


    For what it's worth -- the first timer just went off. "Why" is now visible.
    posted by sportbucket at 9:03 AM on October 19, 2006


    At 12 min remaining on the first counter the domain stopped responding. At about 4 minutes remaining it came back up. No differences noticed in the html source.

    I had the Flash open in two browsers when the domain went down. I left the flash running in one of the windows and refreshed the other. When it came back up I noticed that the counters were off by 4 seconds. So something changed.

    Other than that, nothing weird. The text we were expecting popped up. And other than the 4 second difference, both the "old" and the "new" windows are exactly the same.
    posted by Ragma at 9:07 AM on October 19, 2006


    HTML source change:

    A paradox
    A labyrinth
    A cartograph to show the way
    Alterations are needed
    Disorganize to communicate
    Your cats are safe

    The End is the Beginning

    posted by Hankins at 2:32 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


    That was nice of the authors. I took a look just to see it for myself.
    posted by taosbat at 2:50 PM on October 19, 2006


    Has anyone brought this to krinklyfig's attention? I don't know this person although he or she is my mefi neighbor. S/he doesn't have any contact information but posts every few days. Is it ok to reply to a comment in an unrelated thread just to say "Hey, krinklyfig, did you see this?"
    posted by taosbat at 3:11 PM on October 19, 2006


    Personally I'm offended they dropped the other languages... and arty 'a' alliterations are annoying.
    posted by jwells at 5:32 PM on October 19, 2006


    Taosbat: Perhaps a MeTa shoutout would get krinklyfig's attention? I wouldn't go commenting in random threads.
    posted by sportbucket at 6:41 PM on October 19, 2006


    I thought about that. My only MeTa post was a similar shoutout...and mathowie crabbed at me because I forgot to mention the person had no listed email address...but it did work. I'll think about what I would say.
    posted by taosbat at 8:59 PM on October 19, 2006


    maybe if we listen real close, we'll hear the site giving off the Taos Hum...

    maybe not.
    posted by progosk at 10:51 PM on October 19, 2006


    oh, and: html now prefaces the recently added comments with
    [Post Declarative Communication]

    does the sip "post declarative" lead anywhere interesting? (does anyone really stilll care?)

    the cats were a nice touch.
    posted by progosk at 10:57 PM on October 19, 2006


    after reading the "disorganize to communicate" bit, i took another look at thepurification.com, which has in its source:

    http://www.thepurification.org/cryptograph

    not much there, though.
    posted by Hlewagast at 8:10 AM on October 20, 2006


    http://www.thepurification.com was returning a 404 before wasn't it? It's now a frameset containing http://www.thepurification.org/cryptograph/ which is a Flash app containing a password box, but no submit button.

    That's new.

    Anyone want to try that password puzzle? I assume the html source text would lead us to the password.
    posted by Ragma at 9:34 AM on October 20, 2006


    Right now there is an error in the html which is causing the html comment to show up on the page -

    <--!

    [Post Declarative Communication]
    A paradox
    A labyrinth
    A cartograph to show the way
    Alterations are needed
    Disorganize to communicate
    Your cats are safe

    The End is the Beginning

    -->
    posted by Ragma at 9:59 AM on October 20, 2006


    I worked on several anagrams of various things in the password box. No luck.
    posted by Ragma at 10:16 AM on October 20, 2006


    For the record, I tried all permutations of the letters "taos" in the password box.
    posted by Ragma at 10:29 AM on October 20, 2006


    In addition to no submit button, there's no script inside the flash file -- so the cryptograph appears to be a dummy page. For now, at least.
    posted by Hankins at 12:37 PM on October 20, 2006


    More chain yanking then.

    I'm done. This was fun folks. But once it becomes obvious we're being screwed with I would lobby you it's time to find some other hobby to fill our time. I'm going to go play video games.

    And to the folks in charge of the site - Pretty please go fuck yourselves. Screwing with people like this - and not just us but all the folks we called and stalked and harassed - stains you. Sooner or later the karma will catch up and make you very unhappy. When things go bad others may wonder what they did to deserve it, but you'll know.
    posted by Ragma at 12:48 PM on October 20, 2006


    Not the most professional bunch of agency folks behind this. The "cartograph...labyrinth...your cats are safe" whathaveyou is wrapped in HTML comment tags that are incorrectly written. Do a "select all" on the page and you'll see the comments rendered on the page.

    Since they're reading this discussion, I'd expect it to be fixed momentarily.

    In all honesty, this whole thing has kind of been a series of minor failures, adding up to a larger failed whole. I have no interest in the puzzle aspect of this anymore, and I'm clearly not the only one. It's bound to be as lame and poorly executed as everything else we've seen.

    I am, however, interested to see what it is they're advertising, and I'll be interested to get MWC's take on the whole thing once they're through pretending not to know anything about it.
    posted by sportbucket at 8:10 PM on October 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


    OK, I'm bored enough to bite.

    A paradox
    A labyrinth


    This seems like chain-pulling with no real content.

    A cartograph to show the way
    Alterations are needed

    I take it this means we have the map wrong. No other way to read this, really. Using the word "cartograph" for map is just silly, by the way, writers.

    Disorganize to communicate


    Not sure about this one. Seens like there could be some meaning here, but I'm not seeing it. Could mean that we need to communicate as individuals rather than as a group on the site. But with whom? Not sure. Could be chain-pulling.

    The End is the Beginning


    I'm seeing this as suggesting that the "real" action will start after all of the timers have run. In other words -- "more to come."

    So, bottom line: they're saying we have the map wrong and that we should stay tuned because more is on the way.
    posted by Mid at 7:43 AM on October 24, 2006


    I'm seeing this as suggesting that the "real" action will start after all of the timers have run. In other words -- "more to come."

    I agree. As for the other stuff, I figured 'cartograph' referred to the incomplete cartograph page of the site and 'alterations are needed' meant 'chill out, we haven't finished the site yet.'
    posted by Hankins at 8:23 AM on October 24, 2006


    cartograph referred to the incomplete cartograph page

    I don't think so. The page you link is "cryptograph," which means code. The word "cartograph," on the other hand, refers to a map or map-making.

    I think they mean that "alterations are needed" to the "cartograph," or the map that we've put together.

    Whether anyone cares to do this, I don't know. This is a pretty sorry way to run an ARG. I don't think this is the work of a slick advertising firm.
    posted by Mid at 9:51 AM on October 24, 2006


    The map ends at Taos. Taos becomes the beginning. By sound and metaphor, this is intended to signify that we should look to Tau, a symbol for resurrection. Looking at the number of days between each timer - 4, 2, 4, 3, 4, 3, 3, 2 - we see that this sequence forms a part of a function of double tau (beginning n=52). With the continuing thought that the end is the beginning, we see the end result of the puzzle must start with its beginning - the name of the site. The Purification is an anagram of "INPUT CHIEF RATIO". The 'chief ratio' refers to the Golden Ratio, which is suggested by the circle/square/rectangle of the site's only image. Therefore the anagram instructs us to enter the Golden Ratio into the password box on the cryptograph page. How many digits to enter? The first 52.
    posted by JackCrenshaw at 12:57 PM on October 24, 2006


    Tau is also a symbol for the Golden Ratio.
    posted by JackCrenshaw at 1:01 PM on October 24, 2006


    I don't think so. The page you link is "cryptograph," which means code. The word "cartograph," on the other hand, refers to a map or map-making.
    Ahh, yeah, correct, duh. I must wait for caffeine to settle in before posting to MeFi in the morning!
    posted by Hankins at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2006


    It's the sled! Kevin Spacey! SHE HAS A PENIS!
    posted by EarBucket at 8:52 PM on October 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


    I may have missed it, but has anyone mapped the four corners, instead of just the diamond and circle? The why, what, who, when diamonds...
    posted by Jonsnews at 3:48 AM on October 25, 2006


    JackC : see ? If what you're telling us is the real deal, you guys tried waaaaay too hard. Sorry.

    Also, this doesn't seem to work (yet?) :
    161803398874989484820458683436563811772030917980576

    Anyone hacked the Flash at /cryptograph ?
    posted by XiBe at 7:45 AM on October 25, 2006


    Now, I'm not a flash developer or anything, but I was curious and downloaded a decompiler and there is nothing interesting in the code of the cryptograph swf... although, if I click the "Font 2" object, this shows up on the screen:

    A D O
    P R S
    O

    The O should be under the D and R. I though it was the letters to make up "PASSWORD" but where's the W and why is there an extra O?
    posted by daninnj at 9:43 PM on October 25, 2006


    Hmm, but what is weird, is that in the "dump," it shows the letters "A D O P R S D" Hmmm, now I think it's just the letters that make up "PASSWORD." Wonder why it shows O instead of a W on the preview screen. And in the dump, I found the word "Eurostile" which is a font, google tells me.

    This is the only thing coherent I find in the dump under "Text 5:"
    ( thePass < p align="left">< /p>
    posted by daninnj at 9:53 PM on October 25, 2006


    On second thought, the A D O etc is just something to do with the font. I don't think it's important.
    posted by daninnj at 10:02 PM on October 25, 2006


    daninnj : AFAIK, the Flash uses a non standard font, so the letters for the word "password" were imported one by one in the Flash file (rather than the whole font set). Don't know about the W, but I don't think it's relevant either.
    posted by XiBe at 4:57 AM on October 26, 2006


    Just in case it was true, I tried the golden ratio to 52 digits backwards ("the end is the beginning"), and still nothing... I'm an idiot...
    posted by grieserm at 7:08 AM on October 28, 2006


    To whoever is running this purification thing: you're lucky anyone gives a shit about your project after all this. You're doing a piss-poor job at keeping people interested.
    posted by bob sarabia at 7:40 PM on October 29, 2006


    And the crowd turns hostile . . .

    Check out comment #6 on this blog post; claims that someone found a thepurification.org card in a magazine in Austin, TX. Not sure if everyone else knew about this already.
    posted by Mid at 6:42 AM on October 30, 2006


    Well, we know the purification people have been watching this thread for sometime, so I'm guessing that the 2 people here and the 1 person on that blog that say they found cards or stickers are a poor attempt to keep the gag up.

    Two were in austin, one in phoenix, if anyone wants to draw lines on a map or something. Probably doesn't mean jack anyway. That is a nice looking playing card though.
    posted by bob sarabia at 9:07 PM on October 30, 2006


    Mid : about those cards...
    First one : The design looks very Tool-esque to me.
    Second one : I know, I know ! Someone overlap the card on a map, with the central diamond at the right place and size, and find out where the two smaller diamonds go !

    Still, yawn.
    posted by XiBe at 12:56 AM on October 31, 2006


    For those not visiting the other message board, the cryptograph website has been updated. Now you can right-click the middle of the flash file, select "play" or "forward" several times, and walk through some additional information. I could only get it to work on Safari (not in Firefox) -- didn't try windows.

    This was posted over on the other board by a user named "Earth." S/He also posted these two images illustrating what you see when you step through it. At one point, dots appear that you can click and download as .eps docs. I couldn't find any meta info in them, other than the fact they were created yesterday.

    I'd chalk the "Earth" user up as a sockpuppet, but his bookmarks in the screenshot suggest he's from the Netherlands.

    Anyway. As XiBe said, "still, yawn."
    posted by Hankins at 7:54 AM on November 1, 2006


    I'll follow up my own post ^

    I originally only viewed the .eps meta info through P-shop and Illustrator (finding nothing worthwhile), but I just opened up the .eps files in a text editor and voila!

    %%Creator: Adobe Illustrator(R) 11.0
    %%AI8_CreatorVersion: 12.0.1
    %%For: (Aaron Benson) (Rassai)
    %%Title: (3.eps)
    %%CreationDate: 10/25/2006 2:30 PM

    and also...

    %%Title: 4.eps
    %%Creator: Adobe Illustrator(R) 12
    %%AI8_CreatorVersion: 12.0.1
    %%For: McKee Wallwork Cleveland, LLC.
    %%CreationDate: 10/25/06

    We've all gotten to know the McKee Wallwork Cleveland, LLC tribe... let me introduce you to Aaron Benson, Interactive Director for Rassai Interactive.
    posted by Hankins at 11:18 AM on November 1, 2006 [3 favorites]


    p3wned!
    posted by Mid at 11:32 AM on November 1, 2006


    I called Aaron. He says he had a small part in the project, he can't really talk about it, he doesn't know who MWC or Wayne are, and we have to figure out what it's for on our own.
    posted by thirteenkiller at 1:08 PM on November 1, 2006


    Alterations are needed

    INPUT CHIEF RATIO refers to pi
    posted by JackCrenshaw at 1:42 PM on November 1, 2006


    "CreationDate: 10/25/2006 2:30 PM"

    This is almost a week after the first counter reached zero. That means they're making it up as they go along.

    Total chain yanking.
    posted by WoWgmr72 at 1:43 PM on November 1, 2006


    And if you follow the discussion over at the wiki you'll see they're quickly pulling down the Flash files once they got hacked. As if they didn't pick up on the fact that Flash files were hackable the first time.

    And once again we're following clues that have us calling people at work only to find out they'd prefer we didn't bother them about this.

    I suggest this puzzle go down in the archives as the "Pure Harassment".
    posted by WoWgmr72 at 2:00 PM on November 1, 2006


    Harassment my ass, I talked to him at his work for like three minutes about something that has his name and workplace on it. Phones are for calling.
    posted by thirteenkiller at 2:23 PM on November 1, 2006


    Nice work, Hankins.
    posted by sportbucket at 4:52 PM on November 1, 2006


    13 -- I don't think anyone meant to call you a harasser, just that the "authors" have been so sloppy in leaving people's contact info laying around that it has caused unnecessary bother because it's hard for the "players" to know whether contact info is a clue or just a mistake.
    posted by Mid at 6:56 AM on November 2, 2006


    Well, good then.
    posted by thirteenkiller at 12:16 PM on November 2, 2006


    For those not following the goings on at the other forum -

    The html comment that showed up after the first counter expired - "The End is the Beginning" turned out to be hint at the password for thepurification.org/cryptograph. That is, putting in The End backwards - "dnE ehT" - would reveal a mini puzzle which would reveal the next password, etc. It's all detailed at the other forum. And the puzzles turn out to be rather clever, but not that hard once you get the first one.

    However......... Once again we didn't actually solve the puzzles. Hacking the Flash files revealed all of the passwords.

    There doesn't seem to be any common theme/purpose between the towns/counters and the stuff at cryptograph. The only connection between the two is the html comment that showed up after the first counter expired.

    At this point we have another dead end. It's very possible that we're way ahead of the puzzle makers and we're "solving" the puzzles faster than they can write the content.
    posted by WoWgmr72 at 1:13 PM on November 2, 2006


    Now they're getting desperate.
    posted by Mid at 10:44 AM on November 5, 2006


    Mid : reading that thread made me feel so sad for those guys...
    posted by XiBe at 3:29 AM on November 6, 2006


    Ho hum. Are we done? We're done.
    posted by Jofus at 6:21 AM on November 10, 2006


    Does anyone find it curious that for a countdown that's supposedly tied to Taos, the dramatic midnight expiration of the final timer will occur only in the eastern time zone?
    posted by JackCrenshaw at 8:24 AM on November 10, 2006


    REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 31, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Microsoft® Office Live (http://www.officelive.com), a set of Internet-based services tailored to the needs of small businesses, will be coming out of beta in the United States Nov. 15.
    posted by JackCrenshaw at 8:33 AM on November 10, 2006


    FWIW -- another television program has an apocalyptic theme. Last night the teaser for next week's episode (November 17) of Vanished revealed such.
    posted by ericb at 12:47 PM on November 11, 2006


    Apparently there's a development on the site.
    posted by Mid at 5:08 PM on November 11, 2006


    so... Midnight tonight right?
    posted by JonnyRotten at 3:19 AM on November 14, 2006


    By my calculations, the reveal is tonight at 11:00 PM EST.
    posted by sequential at 1:12 PM on November 14, 2006


    Watching how things have progressed over the past week, I feel kind of like a proud papa to see how the organizers have learned from their mistakes. They've switch to a random naming convention like "000pu48579456465.gif" and "8fd8g88d8," they've switched away from Flash, and all of their form info is sent and validated by server-side POSTs.

    Now that everything is locked up better and starting to look a bit more professional, the clue-seeking puzzle-wizards seem to be taking over the sequential board trying to solve everything. Hopefully we will all get a check in the mail for the QA consultation.
    posted by Hankins at 3:35 PM on November 14, 2006


    My prediction: counter runs out tonight, reveals link to ... thepurification.com !!
    posted by thirteenkiller at 4:57 PM on November 14, 2006


    It's for a fucking ski resort.
    posted by sportbucket at 5:09 PM on November 14, 2006 [3 favorites]


    The resort was on my list of possibilities, but I wrote it off because ski season @ Taos isn't supposed to start for another week or two. Thrown off the trail because of logistics. Blah.

    As long as we're showing cards, I also had some money on:

    - A project to research "best practices" in viral marketing.
    - A revenge ploy: stirring up harassment against Wayne Arnold by some unknown party or against MWC by Carol Henderson.

    I also hadn't totally written off sportbucket's involvement. :p
    posted by Hankins at 6:15 PM on November 14, 2006


    Well that was underwhelming.
    posted by teem at 8:05 PM on November 14, 2006


    It was a crummy commercial!
    posted by champthom at 9:59 PM on November 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


    So, Taosbat, you and your cats ready to hit the slopes? I hear there's a great new resort in town...

    Man, am I ever disappointed. I'll give them one thing, though, none of us saw this coming.
    posted by Spike at 11:35 PM on November 14, 2006


    oh, for fuck's sake, is that it?! *grump*
    posted by Space Kitty at 12:36 AM on November 15, 2006


    It makes perfect sense! Who is the most desirable, highly-targeted demographic for ski resorts?

    Internet geeks! Of course! Brilliant!
    posted by EarBucket at 5:05 AM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


    What a bunch of idiots. I suppose the tip off was when they starting trying to stir up interest on skiing sites.

    Also, I suppose that the people who posted here with "finds" of stickers and playing cards and things were all shills.

    Disappointing.

    A possibly interesting variation on the ARG now would be to go back over all the posts and attempt to "walk the cat back." That is, go back through the clues and leads and figure out who was shilling the whole time and what their role was. Wayne? Macighal? The guy who posted the identical messages all over Craigslist and on skiing sites?

    Not sure I have the motivation.
    posted by Mid at 4:29 PM on November 15, 2006


    You'd think they would have tried to work in the skiing angle from the beginning instead of doing all this misdirection and pointless puzzles then throwing in the ski stuff as an afterthought.
    posted by bob sarabia at 6:46 PM on November 15, 2006


    IT WAS EARTH, ALL ALONG

    YOU MANIACS

    DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL
    posted by Greg Nog at 8:43 AM on November 16, 2006 [2 favorites]


    Lonelygirl was hotter.
    posted by meehawl at 11:37 AM on November 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


    I've heard that the skiing is really shit at Taos. Very disappointing. The (Belgian) beer is horrible and the Martini Tree Bar sucks big time.
    posted by tellurian at 5:55 AM on February 6, 2007


    Boo.
    posted by MythMaker at 3:47 PM on February 13, 2007


    SKITAOS
    posted by thirteenkiller at 5:32 PM on February 13, 2007


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