Posts Tagged ‘The Numbers After Two’

Crypto (More)


November 14th, 2022 Posted 7:12 am

Yesterday we touched on the ongoing tale of Sam Bankman-Fried (oh, what an apt character name!) and how we seem to have anticipated him (sort of) in the short story The Numbers After Two (available in the Short Tails collection). But there’s more (probably on account of how the writer of the Chet and Bernie series – namely me – sometimes gets bees in his bonnet. This is from Bark To The Future, the most recent C&B novel:

“Okay, Mr. Private Investigator, here goes. I’ve decided it’s not too late to do what I should have from the very beginning – get rich. How’s your understanding of algorithms, especially as they’re formulated for blockchain design?”

“Nonexistent,” Bernie said.

“Then I’ll give you the metaphor. Imagine a bicycle chain, with all the links, moving through the front sprocket wheel, and as they do a tiny identifier – it could even be a blob of paint – is automatically applied to every link, each paint color unique. Now, imagine running the chain backward, such that each paint blob gets scrubbed away. What have you got?”

“Money laundering,” Bernie said.

Mr. Kepler’s eyes opened wide. “You – you are with the SEC!” he said, and toppled off the stool and onto the floor, where he lay still.


Beginnings (Not)


November 13th, 2022 Posted 8:11 am

Normally on Sundays we do beginnings, taking a look at the start of a Peter Abrahams novel, including those written under the Spencer Quinn moniker™. But with the very recent collapse of the crypto exchange FTX we want to post this little excerpt from The Numbers After Two, found in the Chet and Bernie short story collection Short Tails, available wherever books are sold, and maybe a good place for newcomers to the C&B series start (so feel free to share this post). One of the amazing things about the FTX story is not that so many little guys are going to lose their investments – that’s expected – but that the same thing is happening to big, sophisticated hedge funds and private equity investors. So here’s out little excerpt. Bernie, the detective, is talking to Crommie, a young man of about the age of Sam Bankman-Fried (FTX founder, and what a perfect character surname – I wish I’d come up with it). Chet narrates the story – a dog, yes, but not a talking one!

But – but how does it work?” Bernie said.

“You good with numbers? What’s your math background?”

“Mediocre and long ago.”

I polished off the last bacon bit. Numbers was the subject? Not my strongest strength. I seldom go past two, as I may have mentioned already.

Crommie nodded. “Basically what we do – me and a few guys in various parts of the world who came up with the concept – is run all the blockchain algorithms backwards. Do you realize that when you do that you’re actually going back in time?”

Bernie shook his head.

“Neither did we, at first. And then our programs started spitting out all this money! Where was it coming from? After a while it hit us – the money was coming from the future! Like maple syrup was flowing out of the bottle and back into the tree. And we were in the tree, Bernie!”

“Is … is it legal?” Bernie said.

“Legal to run algorithms backward?” said Crommie. “The question answers itself.”

“How about running them inside out?”

Crommie laughed, a laugh quickly cut off. He leaned back, gave Bernie a close look. I’d seen that look directed at Bernie before, the look of a someone starting to realize what he was dealing with.

“You’re a smart operator, huh?” he said.

“I wouldn’t say that,” said Bernie.



The Stumbling Technique


June 29th, 2022 Posted 8:15 am

Sometimes we stumble into timeliness. Here, from The Numbers After Two, one of the stories in Short Tails, the new Chet and Bernie collection:

“What am I looking at?” Bernie said.
“Familiar with crypto currency, Bernie?”
“Only the term.”
“Own any?”
“Me neither,” Crommie said. “Wouldn’t go near it. For starters there’s the name – crypto! I mean, come on! It means hidden. You want me to put my money in something hidden?”




June 19th, 2022 Posted 8:27 am

On Sundays, we do beginnings, taking a look at the start of a Peter Abrahams novel, including those written under the Spencer Quinn moniker™. Since Short Tails, the new Chet and Bernie short story collection, will be published soon (preorderable now), how about the start of one of the stories in it, The Numbers After Two?

I smelled bubble gum. You’re probably familiar with the smell, an unusual combination of rubber, plastic, and sugar, with a smidge of something oily in the mix. Some humans like to chew bubble gum. They must have their reasons. And some of those chewers like to blow bubbles with it. That part looks like fun. What isn’t fun is getting gum stuck on your paws. That leads to a whole big production with scissors and olive oil, or mayonnaise if there’s no olive oil around. Mayonnaise tastes much better than olive oil, if you want my opinion, but we’ve gone way off course already so forget all this. The point is I wasn’t smelling bubble gum in the Valley, the huge city we live in, me and Bernie, where bubble gum smell is always in the air, together with all usual Valley smells, an amazing sort of invisible stew of which I’ll just mention two of the strongest ingredients – two being the number I have trouble getting past although I have done it, the next number not quite coming to me now. The two ingredients are grease and human pee.

But back to the point. We were deep in the desert, far from the Valley, where the smells were very different and never included bubble gum.

“Chet?” Bernie said. “Something up?”


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