One Scoop or Two?

Certain governments have recently taken stances on the trustworthiness of Chinese telecommunications businesses: the US a hard line; the UK a partnership. However, perhaps both this pessimism and this optimism are directed toward the wrong target. Perhaps the spying is more subtle and against a different target.

Each of the cat litter trays we’ve bought has come with a scoop for removing waste. While each made of plastic, a couple of these have been robust enough to survive beyond the functional life of the accompanying litter tray, preventing us from needing to ever purchase one. However, a couple of weeks ago, with the last of them showing significant stress damage, we decided to purchase a replacement; and, in the interests of both longevity and functionality, decided to get a metal one. The cheapest option—as often the case—was to acquire it online. So, I ordered the scoop below with the added benefit of free postage.

A metal cat litter scoop with a grey handle. The scoop is at the bottom of the image

When I received the acknowledgement of my order, it included a delivery estimate of several weeks—not pleasing, but not unexpected given the postage was free. The dispatch notice a few days later provided an estimated delivery date in the middle of next month and listed the courier as a Chinese company. At first, I thought this was merely an indication that they’d outsourced the product to Chinese factories and such, making it cheap, then sold it for a profit that was still below UK rates. Last night, while holding our current scoop up the other way to consider the stress damage, I was struck by a similarity.

A metal cat litter scoop with a grey handle. The scoop is at the top of the image

If inverted, a scoop has a visual profile similar to an antenna dish. Merely amusing image when speaking about thin plastic, but more worrying when one considers a metal scoop. It seemed laughable on the surface, but I still recall the days when people made TV antennas out of coat hangers.

What if the delay isn’t because of a cunning use of slow-but-cheap manufacturing and transport, but because it takes time to mount delicate micro-electronics inside the scoop so they won’t be damaged during use.

We know cats are metaphysical powers (if not actually gods). What if, instead of spying on trivial matters of national and international politics, the Chinese are seeking to gather the secrets of the universe themselves by correlating the humours of a myriad cats with significant events in current affairs?

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