Exposing the Conundrum within the Enigma.
Knowing what we already know about Fred “China Smith,” cats and the global economy, the explanation for the secret compound near his Maze is not all that hard to deduce. You just have to rely on hard science and state-of-the-art technology to get all your ducks of evidence in a row, then do the math, and voila! The truth becomes crystal clear and the conundrum within the enigma of the mystery becomes solved to nearly everyone’s satisfaction.
To the evidence: First and foremost, there is the astonishingly revelation provided by sophisticated satellite imagery, and thanks to a bit of luck. Were it not for a rare clear day coinciding with a lucky pass of an imaging satellite overhead the exact location and peculiar shape of the secret compound would probably be unknown to this day — and probably remain unknown for months, possibly years, into the future. Figure 1 is an infrared (IR) image of the mystery site and its cat-like walled compound that was fortuitously captured during a short window of time when the site was apparently under construction, and not yet camouflaged from aerial detection as it is today.
Readers will note that there is no discernible evidence of any access/egress routes in the vicinity of the compound. I have concluded with confidence that any access to and from the compound at the moment of image capture was being achieved via a foliage-occluded trails or a subterranean tunnel. Materials to build the five distinct structures (the dark geometric shapes within the compound walls) must have been manually transported into the compound construction site, no doubt at night. This effort must have been accomplished by a highly organized team of insiders sworn to secrecy. If so, their furtive comings and goings possibly manifest the activities of some sort of cult. But this is not necessarily so. We must strive to be critical thinkers.
A second piece of evidence not easily dismissed can be observed visually on the ground just a few hundred yards from the secret compound and inside the nearby Maze. This evidence I confirmed just 10 days ago with my own eyes. There is a sturdy locked gate located about two hundred paces into Fred’s Maze along one of its myriad paths. The gate appears to lead to nowhere and so its purpose, if any, is not readily explainable. “Why the large padlock?” I wonder. I have surmised that the locked gate, when opened, leads to the secret compound by some serpentine and perhaps underground pathway!
I am suggesting that the genius who designed and constructed both the public Maze and the private compound, for whatever reason, through the efficacy of this illogical gate has connected the two: The heavy padlock on the gate within the Maze, when unlocked by its clever key-master (probably during the dead of night) permits access to and from the mystery compound for purposes unknown. How many hundreds of unsuspecting tourists each year have paid to enter into Fred’s Maze and obliviously sauntered on by this innocent-looking gate without even a sideways glance, or a nary a pause to contemplate the possibilities of its purpose? Hundreds of thousands! Again, this perplexing conundrum all seems to be work of a genius, albeit an eccentric genius. I can only deduce that the key-master that opens the heavy lock of the-gate-that-leads-to-the-secret-compound-in-the-shape-of-a-cat is none other than the enigmatic impresario and Maze owner/operator Frederic Dustin.
Professor Dustin is already the renowned mastermind of the most profitable Maze attraction on Jeju Island if not in all of Asia. So what’s up with the secret compound in the shape of a cat attached to his Maze? We have only to examine in more detail three of the major structures within the closely guarded compound walls to reach the most plausible conclusion based on what we know of Fred, cats and the global economy:
The close proximity of buildings A and B indicate an intimate functional relationship between them. I suggest that one expects to encounter this sort of arrangement and relationship in the notorious cat farming regions of Asia. Observed from the air, the buildings comprise the unmistakable footprint of mom-and-pop cat farming enterprise now fairly ubiquitous in the rural, monsoonal mid-latitudes: their familiar plan view consists of two adjacent low-slung warehouses situated in the middle of nowhere.
Building C, however, is something new on the entrepreneurial Asian landscape in economically distressed rural regions. I will go out on a limb and suggest that Building C as it manifests near Fred’s Maze serves the independent function of a modern biological research station oddly juxtaposed to structures A and B. As such, it represents something new and unprecedented in traditional Asian cat farming design and layout.
My working hypothesis is the outcome of a simple and direct image analysis: Buildings A and B in the image are climate-controlled warehouses housing small animals, and this is the earmark of a highly capitalized industrial/commercial cat farm. For example, their roofs analyzed under high magnification seem to support extensive air conditioning/humidifying devices and ducts). Moreover, Building C appears equipped with sophisticated and expensive rooftop dust filters and exhausts, this would indicate that the interior of Building C houses a dust-free electronics or biological research station. Clearly, Fred’s highly successful recreational Maze functions to finance his experimental cat farm within the hidden compound.
Adding up what’s evident (the IR image and the gate to nowhere) and subtracting what’s implausible (extraterrestrials, cultists and such) clears the analytical deck for a rational working hypothesis that tentatively explains the conundrum within the enigma that is Fred’s secret cat farm. It is a state-of-the-art experimental outpost that only an eccentric entrepreneurial genius with a penchant for profit-making and a proven track record for innovative scientific breakthroughs could devise.
Granted, reports of the economic imperatives for, and the efficiencies of, profitable cat farming in Asia have been circulating for decades. Yet Fred’s operation as far as I can tell seems to achieve the unprecedented scientific breakthrough that will solve for all time both ethical and cost-of-labor issues that have historically combined to discourage the sort of large scale industrial/commercial cat farming that specializes in fur production.
No one knows when and where cat farming for fur in Asia originated, but authoritative economic histories validate the fact that public demand for quality domestic cat furs, especially those with calico or white-on-black patterns, as an alternative to expensive and now outlawed wild animal furs, has been increasing for centuries. It is well known that the inexpensive formula for potentially lucrative small-business cat farming in Asian regions within distressed rural economies has only two essential investment requirements: 1) a landholding expansive enough to accommodate the two small escape-proof warehouses, and 2) labor-for-hire as cat-skinners.
Without elaborating into excessive and/or morbid detail, this is how the cat-farming-for-fur business operates ideally once the construction of the modest warehouses is complete: Assuming the prospective cat-farmer is ambitious yet desperately poor, he (or she) commits to the project come hell or high water and perforce acquires two cats, one male and one female. Most likely these two can be trapped in the nearest town, after dark, by deploying a cat whistle and a burlap sack.
Ideally, the fur color patterns of this pair of “founder” felines adhere to the global customer-demand specs described above. Once bagged, the cat couple is released into one warehouse. The rat couple goes into the other. Beginners often confuse the distinct nature of the two structures and so often write “cats” or “rats” as appropriate on the buildings. The prospective cat-farmer now waits. Time flies as both cats and rats multiply at geometric rates.
What do these exploding cat and rat populations eat to survive? Each other.
This is where the beginning cat-farmer makes his or her second investment. A cat-skinner is required; just one will suffice at the very beginning of the new operation, and then more as the size of the operation (in terms of cat and rat populations) increases. The skinner’s secondary task is to gather up rats from the rat warehouse and toss them into the cat warehouse. The ethical issue in cat farming for fur is in the job title of the hired hand, and so now becomes apparent: Rats, thanks to the skinner, dine on what is left of the cats after their valuable fur is removed. Such a savage business! Should cat-farming-for fur therefore be banned? Should poor rural folk in Asia be denied the right to survive and perhaps prosper as cat farmers? Perhaps; unless or until some genius comes up with a more humane and civilized way to produce cat-fur pelts for profit.
This may be a moot point. As it stands, most mom-and-pop cat farms fail to turn a profit. Mainly, labor costs are too high. The modest cat-farm enterprise may seem promising at first, but soon proves problematic. The usual division of labor has the skinner going about his or her business while the cat farmer attends to the tanning, curing and marketing of the hides. Initially high global demand for the product initially attracts fur brokers from all compass directions at regular intervals to purchase the pelts. But initial profits are soon eaten up by labor costs.
Whereas the operation began with only one cat-skinner, after a year there will of necessity be five or ten cat-skinners on the typical payroll. Soon after they are hired these hard-working, poorly-paid employees will invariably begin to organize themselves into a bargaining group to demand wage increases. This, then, is the unfortunate economic history of cat-farming for fur throughout Asia and reveals that the major obstacle to profitability in the industry since its inception.
I have briefly attempted to explain why cat-farming-for-fur-in-Asia has seductive appeal to nearly bankrupted subsistence farmers throughout Asia, but proves itself quickly unsustainable. Happily I am here to share with you the good news that Frederic Dustin is striving to solve both the ethical and labor economic issues of cat-farming-for-fur within his secret compound, inside Building C. Rumor has it that he has now achieved a scientific breakthrough there.
By now the reader realizes why Fred’s secret compound is of necessity isolated and secret within its walls — at least for the time being. Caterwaul is known to be deafening on commercial cat farms large and small. Both owners and workers wear earplugs. The caterwaul in Fred’s compound is somewhat mitigated by soundproofed warehouse walls, and also by the high walled enclosure and dense pine forests surrounding the compound. Indeed, the inhabitants of Building A (cats) cannot be heard from either the grounds of the Maze attraction or by drivers of vehicles along the adjoining highway. Moreover, the region surrounding the Maze is mostly government-owned and managed, and thus nearly devoid of private and public residences that might be within earshot of around-the-clock caterwaul.
In addition, the heavily guarded secret compound walls have served over the years since their construction to help ensure that the nearly completed “hush-hush” scientific experiments being undertaken by Fred’s team inside of Building C were not vulnerable to industrial espionage. If the word ever got out early-on about what was going on inside Building C, then Fred’s aspirations to leap to the forefront of scientific industrial/commercial cat-farming-for-fur in Asia might never have gained the momentum it has at the present
It can now be told that all of the scientists working in Building C as well as all of the construction team that built the secret compound are trustworthy students and alumni of Jeju National University. Fred has nurtured close working relations with talented and skilled members of its student body over the past four decades. Fred’s hand-picked young scientists for these past many years have been conducting their experiments only during the night, arriving unnoticed to the Maze and departing from it stealthily on a regular schedule.
This brings me now to finally reveal the scientific goings-on in Building C, and to formally announce Fred Dustin’s marvelous scientific and humanitarian discovery and the fruit of his labors. Fred’s Building C discovery team has miraculously bio-engineered the capability to eliminate any future labor costs in large-scale commercial cat farming, not only in Asia but worldwide: They have invented a procedure to successfully cross-breed cats and snakes. Now cats can shed their own skins as snakes do. There is no longer any need for mom-and-pop cat-farmers to go broke in order to pay cat skinners. Thank Fred the next time you see him. His is a first-rate mind. It is no secret who will be winning the 2014 Nobel Prize in Economics — or perhaps even the Peace Prize. Or both!
In sum, Fred’s breakthrough applied science is singlehandedly civilizing the once-notorious cat–farming-for-fur industry and thereby eliminated any future need for cat-skinners. Now and for all time the cat-farming-for-fur industry can grow with pride and prosper, devoid of stigma and controversy.
PS: In case you are wondering what the cats will eat while the fur market waits for them to shed their skins, we can leave that for second-rate minds to figure out.