Victor Aguilar and Max, the Brains of the Outfit

In 1999, when Max was still a puppy, he determined to learn all he could about human society. The result was Axiomatic Theory of Economics, a 270-page book deducing all of economic theory from three simple axioms. Unfortunately, the leading publisher in the field, Nova Science, would not accept a book contract with a paw print on the dotted line.

"You sign it." Max urged, "Roo! Roo!"

"But Max, I'm a mathematician." I argued, "Trust me on this - mathematicians have less influence in society than beagles do."

But Max just whimpered (you know how beagles are) and I finally relented.

"If you insist." I agreed, thinking of the fame, fortune and, well, mostly fame that comes with publishing a scholarly book.

Next Max turned his attention to the subject closest to his heart: rabbit hunting.

"It takes you too long to fire your shot." Max complained, "With a mil-dot reticule, a smart human like you should be able to estimate holdover and windage in under five seconds."

"It's too hard to do long division in my head. I bought a Mildot Master® but, when I look down to operate the slide rule, the rabbit wanders away, or it scrams when it sees me illuminate the slide rule."

"Maybe flashcards would help you memorize this information." Max suggested, "They could depict common items found in rabbit-hunting terrain like cars, storefront doors, garage doors, that sort of thing. Then, after measuring an object of known height, you could turn the flashcard over to check your knowledge of holdover and windage."

"Brilliant!" I exclaimed, "We'll call them Sniper Flash Cards. Also, we should include information about BMPs, BRDMs and other military vehicles - you know how rabbits are always hanging out around the tracks of armored personnel carriers."

"Roo!" assented Max, though he had never actually observed that behavior in rabbits.

"Victor," exclaimed Max, "I really appreciate these pork rib bones you give me, but I don't understand why we can't eat at the rib house every night."

"Well Max." I explained, "They charge twenty dollars for a full rack of ribs. Where am I going to get that kind of money?"

"Casino blackjack." said Max, "I've invented a system for counting the cards. With a 6:5 payout on naturals it has 2.039% expectation and a 105.5 Score."

"We could call it the Aguilar System for 6:5 Blackjack." I suggested, always thinking to get my name on Max's inventions.

"Roo! Roo!" said Max, wagging his tail - he didn't care who got the credit as long as he got the bones.

"Victor! Victor!" cried Max, running as fast as I've ever seen a beagle go, "The other dogs are jealous of how often you give me rib bones!"

"So? Let them invent their own blackjack system."

"No. No." said Max, "I've invented a cryptosystem. That way we can send secret messages to each other whenever we want to plot a clandestine rendevous at the rib house."

"How can we be sure it works?"

"You can put up a $5000 reward for anybody who succeeds in breaking it with a known-plaintext attack."

"Okay." I said, "But only if we call it the Aguilar Cipher."

"Roo! Roo!" said Max, "Is there anything else you'd like me to invent?"

"Not right now." I said, "But I'll let you know if I think of anything."