01 November, 2020

A Brokenhearted Ebenezer

The Ebenezer stone was precious, even though it was erected in the middle of a mess. 

Samuel (1 Sam 7:10) stands up the Ebenezer stone saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us." They had just been granted a big deliverance from and victory over the Philistines (after 20 years of failure), and they now have a big chunk of the promised land. They called on the LORD, instead of trying to do it all in their own strength, and he answered. They had "done good", and they had done it by the LORD's mercy. 

The moment deserved to be commemorated. Their thankfulness was utterly appropriate. Their worship was timely. 

And soon they called for God to let them follow a king instead of him. Soon they chased after idols. Soon they followed Saul into pride. Later they let their idolatry offend God so much the North and then the South were carried into captivity. After such glory and promise, their story continued to be filled to the top and overflowing with shame. 

After centuries of loss, after all the pain and shame, they returned from Babylon to Israel. The Ebenezer stone was still standing there. 

What were they to make of that stone 500 years later, after 500 years of shame and failure, 500 years of shattered promise?

Did that stone now testify against them? Did it mock them? Did it, 500 years later, tell them "no further will God help you, after all you've done"?

I look back, and my life is filled with forgotten Ebenezers, moments that the LORD delivered me by grace and following moments when I failed all over again. There are many of those places God fought to turn me toward Him, to grow me toward truth, and where he succeeded only to have me find some new way to fail all over again. There are many places I grew toward him and not away, only to fail all over again. 

I have hid my face in shame from those pregnant moments all these years. I could not bear to remember the face plant following each of them. I remember where the LORD took my hand and brought me "thus far" only to watch me stumble again from the path. 

It helps a little to see each Ebenezer as, rather than a boundary, a mile marker. I can hold my progress "thus far" precious as I remember the markers laid down those sad years ago, and remember mile marker flowed after mile marker. If I can remember each Ebenezer, maybe I can believe there's another left to me, somewhere out there, another place to which the LORD will take further. 

Perhaps, God still has a beautiful plan for my life. 


11 October, 2020

Me and My House

In Joshua 24, Joshua himself tells the people to choose whether they will worship their old gods, or YHWH, who had loved and saved them. As for him and his house, they would serve the LORD. 

The people agree to do the same as Joshua. Joshua responds by saying they think they can, but they cannot. They will fail, because God is a jealous God. 

In Sunday School I learned today something of what Joshua meant when he said those words. 

No god, before that time, had ever been jealous. 

The people of Israel had some history in Babylon, lots of history in Egypt, and a growing history of Canaanite religions in their toolbags. They knew the gods. They were men of the world, and they knew how things worked. What's more, Joshua knew they knew. 

Today, if you want your car fixed, you go to a mechanic. If you want your back fixed, you go to a chiropractor. If you are having allergies, you go to CVS and pick up some Benadryl. In each case, you provide the same things: you describe your need, you lay down some money, you go out and do something with the guidance you receive. 

In Joshua's day, if you wanted a good crop you offered a part of your dinner to the god of crops. If you wanted children you made a larger offering to the fertility god. If you were headed out to battle you offered something huge to the god of war. The gods of storms, of sun, of rivers were the CVS, the Well Fargo Bank, and the 401k's of their time. You went to the appropriate god, laid down something of value to the god, and went out to do the things the god would bless.

None of those gods was jealous. No more than CVS is mad when you put money in your 401k, or Wells Fargo hates when you visit your mechanic, did Ba'al hate when you offered good things to Astarte. Dealings with the gods were business. The gods had needs and so did the people, so one could scratch their backs and hope they would scratch happily back in the right place. Joshua told the people YHWH was like some giant amazon.com in the sky offering every service, in the midst of the great economy of gods, and if they transacted with any god but YHWH he would destroy them. YHWH was jealous.

Joshua's words were so foreign the people quickly agreed to them without even noticing they had no idea what he was talking about. The Book of Judges reveals just how short the people fell from understanding what they affirmed. 

I think we find ourselves in the same situation. 

The Holy Spirit has promised to guide us into all truth, but we mingle our ideologies. Confronted with a ballot, we consult the god of capitalism for guidance, the god of socialism, the gods of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. We hear the multiplied voices of those who decry abortion or gun violence screaming in our ears, and we seek out the right crowd to follow. 

Jesus warns us broad is the way and many are those who travel in it. 

Today, in this environment, I'm not sure yet I understand Jesus or the guidance of his Holy Spirit any better than those enthused Israelites who knew exactly the right words to shout to Joshua. 


13 September, 2020

The Righteous Live Together

In Romans 1:17, Paul famously says, "the just shall live by faith", but less famously the real question in Martin Luther's mind when he saw that verse was the beginning phrase, "the righteousness of God is revealed". 

There are 3 righteousnesses in play in this verse. There's the righteousness of the Jews in obeying the law, the righteousness of the Greeks in ignorance of that law, and the righteousness of God in accepting the Gentiles unfairly, without conforming to the holiness of the law. You may not have heard that last one fully, so I'll repeat it. The Jews were worried God would be made unrighteous if he accepted the Gentiles before they conformed themselves to Sabbath, Circumcision, and dietary laws. 

The Jews worried about making God unrighteous. 

It is to laugh.

But, when we laugh, let's be sure to laugh at ourselves with them. EVERY reference to the Jews can be fully, accurately, and fairly replaced with a reference to Hypocrites, and that's my tribe. I'm a hypocrite of the hypocrites, circumscribed in my theology on the eighth day (and then again and again and again over the years). I remember being raised Pentecostal and arguing God always wanted to heal, so if we were not healed to admit it was not God's fault. I remember when I learned Calvinism arguing God could not save the reprobate without sullying his own holiness. I remember saying if you're not near to God, it's not him that moved. 

I would argue the Gentiles/Greeks stand in well for all Lawless people in Paul's argument. They are the ones who ignorantly do what comes naturally, which in this American century encompasses a lot of options. I cannot talk much about the Lawless, because I was wired for legalism from day one. 

The amazing thing about Romans is how Paul argues 3 righteousnesses. Paul argues the Hypocrites and the Lawless can both be made righteous, and even better, God can rescue both those tribes (even if neither knows they need it) while remaining righteous himself. 

It was for this reason Paul wrote the book of Romans, his only written, complete argument. The church in Rome was brand new, constituted suddenly when Nero allowed the Jews back into Rome. This was a fresh start with fresh people. He knew and loved all the people he lists in the 16th chapter, but he also knew a bunch of his Judaizing enemies had come to be part of that fresh start. Paul knew they'd come to Hypocritize this new church, and he wanted to cure the problem before it even started. The Letter to the Romans was his scalpel. 

Look what he does. 

He anticipates a brutal, legalistic attack on what will and must become a key church throughout the empire in its very first days, and look what he does. 

He makes room for Hypocrites and Lawless to be joined together into one living body. He gives a formula, not whereby "his team" will win, but whereby both sides can move forward together. 

You doubt this. 

You think Paul fought for grace against legalism without remorse. Or, at the very least, you think Paul was just teaching the pure gospel to pure hearers. You doubt this book was written to head off a fight between Hypocrites and Lawless. 

I submit to you Romans 14 as the "therefore" of the book. Just give it a read. 

When the righteousness of God is revealed, it can meld the Hypocrites and the Lawless together into a single, righteous body. 

Amazing.

17 July, 2020

Battle Flags Cannot Heal

(This is a comedy sketch in which a Nazi officer is suddenly aware his unit's emblem is a skull.)

Starting in 1600 or so, European scientists began the process of understanding and explaining why white Europeans were so easily able to dominate the rest of the world. At the summit of their thinking, they created the idea of race. They compared Quarter-horses to Clydesdales, and found these two different species of "horse" were intrinsically differentiated across a spectrum of speed and strength. They categorized these 2 breeds as "races", and went off to the races with the idea. They accepted that white Europeans were intrinsically optimized for mastery and the rest of the world for obedience. Their invention of this idea of race soothed their cognitive dissonance. 

The word, "race", as used today to encompass American social issues revolving around skin color, began its life in 1774. Darwin's famous book is actually entitled, "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". Darwin (who was not a racist) used word "race" in its scientific meaning, and others ran further with this thinking.  Race took on a narrow and profitable definition in the United States when plantation owners embraced the new science of keeping the races separate. Racial purity would ensure masters maintained mastery and slaves remained compliant and productive. 

Science called the internal principle of heredity, "germ plasm", and recognized it was inherent in every being. In 1872, they coined the term, "genetics", to describe it. Only 11 years later, a scientific theory was advanced to quantify the advantages of intentionally maintaining good genetics - eugenics. The word "eugenics" literally means "good genetics" in Greek.

Adolf Hitler famously took this acknowledged, if faulty, scientific hypothesis to its extreme and launched his notorious programs to ensure the Aryan "race" was kept genetically pure. 

The people following Hitler never asked themselves, "Are we the Baddies?" Any doubts they may have felt were mollified by their own jealousy and the pseudo-scientific rationales experts put forward. Were I in Germany in 1935, I have to admit the odds I would have done any better in the face of such rational arguments are not encouraging. I could have been the Baddie then, and if I could have been the Baddie then, I have to see I could be the Baddie now.

We cannot understand history until we embrace the fact our most comfortable beliefs could be as false as Jefferson Davis's or Adolf Hitler's. Until we understand we could be the Baddies today, we cannot understand how Confederate politicians and Nazi politicians could be, however ambiguously, on the side of evil then. They calmed their cognitive dissonance by embracing arguments presented as scientifically reasonable and defensible. If the hypotheses behind eugenics were true, and these men had just enough excuse to believe they might be true, then they could do their jobs in peace. The family men under these leaders were just being faithful to their own consciences.

Something ended eugenics - stopped it dead in its tracks. Something finally put this evil science to rest for good and for all, and we need to understand it. Hopefully, Stephen Jay Gould put the final nail in eugenics' coffin in 1996. Yes, eugenics was still alive and publishing in 1994. And yes, the broken science of white supremacy continues to bedevil social progress to this very day. 

When Herrnstein and Watson (who famously was part of the pair who codified the alphabet of the genome) released their pro-eugenics book, The Bell Curve, Gould took aim at its faulty science and shut it down. Almost 700,000 dead during the Civil War had only driven eugenics underground in America. Hitler could still send his scientists to America in the 30's to extend his thinking on race. 70,000,000+ dead during World War II finally made eugenics unpopular throughout the whole world, but it still quietly lived on. It was science that finally did the job. Science exposed the falsehoods of eugenics and the world accepted Gould's demolition thereof as final. 

Eugenics is finally off the table, but Race retains its destructive power. Race is no longer a scientific matter, but it's still culturally deadly. The invention of Race by white Europeans, and magnified grotesquely by 250 years of American slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow oppression, and 50 years of tone-deaf denial, continues to kill today. America stumbles forward in blind hope 350 years of cultural momentum toward hate can be wiped away with a simple declaration of colorblindness. 

10 years ago I thought racism was done and dusted. I would have stood anywhere and declared meaningful prejudice was eliminated in America. No longer. Good and helpful confrontations by Black Americans made me ask whether maybe I was deceived, maybe Race was still hurting Americans today, maybe I was helping keep that harm alive, maybe I was the Baddie. I was. I was supporting a culture that offered a worse life to innocent people because of their skin color. I was championing politics that were ruining the lives of innocents. I was the Baddie, and I am changing. 

The Confederate Battle Flag has somehow morphed into a Conservative cause, and my conservative friends -- my Christian friends -- have taken it up. How can they not cry? In 1860 a man might be excused, but in 2020 we know how that story goes. We know the death and oppression that flag boasts against our Black brothers and sisters. My friends' support for it, and for the Confederate "heroes" who committed their lives to support it, shakes me to the core. 

How are we not the Baddies when we fight to wave the Confederate Battle Flag in the face of those whom it has crushed for generations? 

Race exists because we created it 250 years ago. Race is no part of human makeup. Instead, it's a cultural pile-driver and the statistics show the generations it's driven into the dirt. We need to see those horrifying numbers and own American culture as the thing causing them. We need to be horrified and resolve to heal. 

We need an American conversation about this culture, a conversation with my friends at the table. 

Can we not forswear that battle flag and talk?

22 June, 2020

Listening to Experiences Not Our Own

Those who know history are freed to repeat the good parts.

We all have our little parts to add in trying to understand the Black community's reaction to the killing of George Floyd. My little part might be to give a contrarian view of the history that brought us to his moment. I'm not qualified to speak to the experience of living as a Black person in America, but I can add a bit to what we learned in US History class. I look forward to hearing your part. We need each other if we're going to make things better.

We start far away and long ago, because slavery was not invented in America. Russians, as we know them today, are the descendants of Vikings who got rich selling Irish slaves to Muslims. Vikings raided England and Ireland, took captives, sold them in Iraq, and settled down in what we now call Russia to enjoy the money they made. Modern Russia is what it is today because Vikings got rich off slavery. Look throughout the modern Middle East and modern Russia both, and you'll find no hated class of Irish descendants of slaves. A massive nation was built on slavery, but there's no lasting hatred. What was different there, or in practically all historical slavery?

The Vikings were not capitalists.

No, really. That's what's different. Capitalism changed everything, but not always for the better.

In the age of the explorers, the Dutch were making tons of money trading with China, but every now and again a ship would sink causing some poor Dutch merchant to end up in the poor house. These merchants put their heads together and came up with a creative plan whereby a group of investors would pool their investments across many trading missions then share the profits and losses equally. Everybody got rich and nobody had to go to the poor house. It was a win, so they made it bigger. Thousands of investors would give lumps of money (capital investment) to a stock exchange where smart dealers would set up flotillas of missions to trade in the Far East. 

People got very rich this way. It worked so well that to this day no one has found a better way to turn large lumps of money into larger lumps of money. 

They say to err is human, but to really mess up you need a computer. Capitalism is like a computer for money. Capitalism has not escaped all the evils of the empires before it, and its mistakes were made at record speed. Europe became as wealthy as the Great Khan himself, and a whole community of the rich began looking for new ways to turn their newly embigified lumps of money into bigger lumps. 

They found sugar. 

Again, really. The rich Brits went nuts for sugar, of all things. There was not just a market for sugar, but a burning demand. Investors were earning back 8% on everything they could give. The well just would not run dry. At 8% over 20 years, an investor could quintuple his money. No one asked why or how sugar was winning so hugely; they just sunk more money into sugar. We know the "how and why" they didn't want to know. 

The how of sugar's amazing success was importing slaves at a daunting rate and replacing them frequently, since they tended to die after just a handful of years. It was better for the stockholders to replace these waylaid children of God than to care for them in any way, because those stockholders made money at both ends; selling people and working them to death were both profitable. T'was stockholders killed millions of Africans. 

The world had never seen so many millions of people treated so evilly, nor so many people grow so rich so quickly, nor so many people enjoy so many delectable baked goods with sweetened tea.

In the American colonies, it was different. In America the work was a little less deadly and the slaves tended to live longer. This created a different culture from that which the Carribean plantation holders had on the sugar islands. In America, the slaves tended to have children and grow families. That demanded a different mentality than was required to work people to death. Only two mentalities could possibly long endure. Had a mentality of respect triumphed, slave-owning whites could have loved their slaves as equals and raised them up to full stature. The mentality of proud greed prevailed in America, though, and it allowed masters to demean their slaves and treat them as intrinsically less than human. 

1 out of every 3 people alive in the American South in 1850 was a Black human being, and that created an intolerable reality. Humans tend to connect to each other in very human ways, but mass slavery was an utterly inhuman arrangement. The 2/3 of people in the South who were white could not look themselves in the face if they imagined they were abusing people equal to themselves before God. They relieved that mental tension, that guilt, by believing and teaching their children Black people were created by God to be ideally suited to slavery. They were intrisically undisciplined. They were naturally strong. They were insensible to pain. They were in need of the Christian gospel. They both needed and loved to be treated just as masters chose to treat them. 

It was not enough. That belief was enough to make the money flow from cotton, but there was still one more human tension to relieve. Many white people sexually preyed on the vulnerable Black people they immorally called their private property. Rape, abuse, forbidden love, and every other form of human bonding, oppression, and reproduction mushroomed. This was domestically unacceptable, so one more divine lie needed to be cooked up and swallowed by the whole of American culture, North and South together. Whites taught their children most Black people were dangerous, unclean, pestilent, filthy. They taught their maturing sons that to be sexually joined to a Black American was to degrade, to foul, one's self. Union between whites and Blacks became an imagined offense to God, purity, and Christian morals everywhere. 

The necessary lies of African subhumanity and uncleanness grew and spread in America unchecked for 250 years. In 1859 American culture, even much of abolitionist culture, held African American slaves to be fitted only for the lowest of living. After 1865 slavery was illegal, but culture still held African Americans to be fitted only to be hidden away and left to disappear. The laws changed, but the culture didn't budge. We know that, because in 1963 it was still legally mandated in America to treat Black people as subhuman and unclean. The new laws of 1865 did not erase 200 years of disdain and disgust from the heart of a young Christian man. No, he passed that cultural lie on undiluted to his children.

In 1964 finally it became illegal to treat Black people as subhuman and unclean, but a young Christian man in 1964 did not suddenly have 300 years of disdain wiped from his heart, any more than his great granddaddy did. We know that from the many, many laws we've needed to pass since that banner year of 1964 to close loopholes no loving person would find.

In 2020, the law of this land makes people of every race equal in almost every way, but 350 years of disdain continue to work their poison. The law is better and maybe almost good, but there's more to human love than law. The law is, at the very least, doing better than we are. It's now time to work on hearts.

The culture of our land is mixed. Almost every American heart displays toward Black Americans some of that respect to which they are entitled, but almost every American heart also carries some of that disdain which our history wires into us. We do not feel this disdain. We are insensitive to it. Disdain persists unfelt within us, even though we do not sense our insensivity. Neither did that young white man of 1859 sense his insensitivy. He prided himself on his large-heartedness toward his slaves. Neither did that young white man of 1963. He prided himself on his large-heartedness toward coloreds every bit as much as his forefathers. In 2020 we pride ourselves on our "color-blindness", and it is a step on the path toward decency, but it's a step taken without any mirror. We cannot see ourselves as we are seen by the Black Americans around us. 

Guess who can see us as we are seen by the Black Americans around us.

Whites are surrounded by 40 million people who have been hated, belittled, and disdained for 400 years, and who continue to try to carve out an equal opportunity among us. They see us clearly. They have proven themselves faithful by any standard we could hope to claim for ourselves, and yet many of us do not trust their complaints. We are blind to their pain, but they cannot help but see us. They must see us, because our failings are their history, their present, and (unless someone does something smart) their future.

My heritage is American, but when I look back a little further I see Scotland. I feel a little warm and fuzzy when I see St. Andrew's Cross on a blue field. Need I tell you how the Scots reacted to British rule? We've all seen Braveheart. That brutality is the standard against which I must evaluate the patience and longsuffering of African American people, because they've been treated far worse than my people were treated by the English. I am thankful for the kindness they've exhibited over the years, decades, and centuries. We have not earned their grace. I cannot look at the anger in American streets today without remembering the decades of cultural injustice I've witnessed with my own eyes. What's more, as a white man raised to insensitivity toward this injustice, I know I've only witnessed a fraction of what was there to be seen.

So, in light of my history lesson, what do I recommend to myself? What do I think I should do?

I should open my ears to the story only Black Americans can tell. I must quit telling people they're wrong to be angry without hearing them tell me the reasons they are angry. I must quit making my hearing contingent upon every protester being a saint. Most protesters are no greedier than I would be after walking 4 centuries in their shoes. I need to seek out the voices of the angry and give them a fair listen. I need to be shaken, and not to try to shout down faithful, angry brothers and sisters.

It's past time we quit making our Black American neighbors shout into a void. We need to hear them with all the heart we put into silencing them these 6 decades past. 

Let's hear the bad and work to find a good path forward. I suspect ... I cannot promise, but I suspect ... somewhere in our 400 years there've been some good parts. Someone, somewhere did something good and right. If we can silence our hate-memes against protesters and open our hearts to the whole story, I believe we could find something of which to repent, something worthy to be changed, and maybe even something worth doing again. Those who keep fighting anger with hate and mockery have forgotten history. It's never worked before and if they carry this day, we'll all be doomed to forever repeat the divisions of our history. 

Let's apply our history lessons, and do something beautiful instead.

25 December, 2019

Le Poignard

We all know I'm obsessed with not using the mouse, right?

Maybe...

Or maybe I'm obsessed with not switching between keyboard and mouse!

I'd like to introduce my newest dictionary, the Poniard. The poniard is the left-handed dagger of Steno. It was used in place of a shield during polite European swordplay, and was quite the discovery. A poniard was easier to carry when shopping for the Mrs. than even the smallest shield, allowed the user to be offensive, and generally looked cool on a gentleman's hip. Now, just like a dashing Renaissance swordmaster, anyone will be able to sally forth in style while fending off rude emails.

This steno poniard is a left-handed dictionary. Using it, I'm able to type 99% of anything I'd ever type with both hands, but without releasing the mouse at any point. It's perfect for all flavors of editing. With the right hand firmly wielding the mouse I slash the cursor madly wherever I have text to expunge, cut it with the left, click again where it needs pasting, drop it in with the left, and fly bravely into the next grammatical disaster to begin again.

Using nothing but my trusty poniard, I am able to type this paragraph entire (to include arrowing around and adding random punctuation - like! and? 4 no good "reason", or 'cause' if you'd rather. And, yes, the lowly ` and * can be found.) Things like [], {}, and <> are present, of course, as are =, +, ^, and /. I tweaked the number system so 1234567890,10,11,12 are all available through the Nimble Number System and added the traditional punctuation marks with them. Shift-8 gives you a *. I've also built in F 1-12 with any one of shift, control, and alt.

Yes, that paragraph entire was typed using the poniard. My right hand was lazily draped across the back of the couch the entire time. I achieved a stunning 3 words per minute doing so. Needless to say, that's with no muscle memory, since I just finished building it, but I'm beginning to feel the love. A year from now, I'd love to be up to 20 words per minute with it. That's okay, because I intend to use it mostly as an editing enabler.

Things like arrowing around, pasting, deleting, and typing individual letters to make a plural of a lonely word work great with this system. Things like alt-F4 and ctrl-W are breathtakingly easy. It was actually made to ctrl-A, ctrl-C, ctrl-V and does so with STKPWRO/KRO*/SRO*.

You'll recognize the C and the V, and gather adding an O adds the control key to the stroke. The A is the new stroke there, being STKPWR (best read as Z+R). It's always been the vowels that killed any singlehanded system, and not just E and U. Every consonant can be made using the 7 keys of the left fingers. It's the vowels that stubbornly refuse to fit. I've treated the left-hand keyboard as 7 keys plus 4 modifiers (being the #, *, A, and O). Using those 11 keys, I've generated something like 250 strokes. It's a bit tight, but I've tried to impose some order.

The consonants are unchanged. The vowels are all Z-based. Z+R=A, Z+R*=O, Z+H=E, Z+H*=U, Z+HR*=I. Yes, I is a full mash of all finger keys. Adding the traditional steno A-key adds "shift" to the letter. That's how you make a capital letter. Adding O adds "control". Adding AO does not add "shift-control" to the letter, as you might expect, but adds "alt". So, you can add the 3 main modifiers to the keys, but not in combinations like shift-control or alt-control. So far, that's not hurt me. If I deem it necessary, I've got an idea for that, but it will be complex and I'm going to let the stuff I have sink in a bit before I try to go that far.

The action keys, like return, backspace, delete, page up and down, tab, et cetera are all available and use the patterns already proven in the Nimble Single Stroke Commands dictionary. Again, adding shift, control, and alt is done the same way as the letters.

The function keys were a little tricky, but I've gone with the Nimble Number System again, and this time added *. So, hitting a nimble 8+* will give you F8. Add an O to that, and you have control-F8.

And then things get even stickier. Sorry. It's the best I was able to do, and I'm getting quite comfortable with it. The next 16 patterns are all just shape-based.
SKWH: ,.!?
STPR :;/\
SKPH ([{<
STWR  "'`*

Make the shape to get the first character in the list. Add A for the second, add O for the third, add AO for the fourth. And then, if you add * to any shape, you get a variation of the plain character. You might get a close bracket or a space-less version of the same punctuation.

Just one more note to make here. I lost two left-hand-only briefs that I cared about. Other's mileage may vary. I lost KPA* to force upper case without a space. At the same time, I needed a way to force lowercase as well, so I put all that on STK. STK forces lower, STK* forces upper case, and STKA* forces a blank space then upper. If you feel more need to keep using KPA than to have X, though, you can just add a KPA* at the end of the dictionary to override the dictionary's default.

# Give the left hand ability to force to "lower", "upper", and "upper with space" commands
values['STK'] = '{^^}'
values['STK*'] = '{^}{-|}'
values['STKA*'] = '{}{-|}'

And then I needed to replace WR for were. I used WE*R. Again, if you don't expect to need the right arrow, you can create an override and get it back.
# Add-ons to make up for briefs we've overwritten
# Replace WR (were)
values['W*ER'] = 'were'

Okay. That about does it for a first introduction. If enough people think this has potential and want documentation I'm sure I can be persuaded. Here's hoping someone else thinks it's a useful idea.



Poniard

09 November, 2019

Nimble Numbers - Update

Stenography is full of exciting discoveries. In this case, my discovery was how hard it was to change 3 years of learning the original steno numbering system. Sigh. I've taken the Nimble Number System and converted it for use with the original 4 numbers. Nimble's system was more efficient, but I've had to take the less painful route because I'm a wimp. So be it.

The Nimble Number system v2 is now available to any Plover user on any Plover-compatible keyboard of the classic Ireland 23- key layout.

The classic stenography numbering system uses: STPH- for 1, 2, 3, and 4; -FPLT for 6, 7, 8, and 9; and AO- for 5 and 0. You can create a number of arbitrary length, as long as that number is in steno order. At some point, someone introduced the idea of adding -EU to any pair of numbers to reverse them. So, using classic steno, you can write any 2-digit number and several longer numbers if you're lucky. It was always a fun game to see how few strokes you could use to type a long number. With some cleverness, you could often find a 3-digit or even 4-digit single stroke.

Nimble's system is superior. He uses STPH-in combinations to create every digit from 0-9. That's the best thing about his system. The counting numbers to 9 are all on the left hand. Beyond that, though, he then replicates the pattern on -FPLT to make a 2-digit number, on -RBGS to make a 3rd digit, and on SKWR- to make a fourth digit. That's sweet. And for one more great piece of goodness, he uses AOEU to add marks like the $ and %. I don't actually know what the combinations are he uses, but I didn't let a little thing like complete ignorance slow me down. I've created my own.

AOEU can create 16 combinations, so I've created the ability to add 16 decorations: $, ., :, -, (), and / in several different forms. You can now single-stroke $12.34, (1234), 18:00, and 12.34%. Granted, they're all finger-twisters, but you don't have to start to that way. I'm certainly not.

I'm getting used to the idea by working mostly with 1 and 2 digit numbers. They're pretty easy. I'm also getting up to speed pretty quickly on IP addresses, which use some 3-digit numbers. 3 is not too hard. I do have to say, the 4-digit numbers are very hard because I had to compromise the S- key. The original system relied on the S- being split into two keys. I could not do that. Instead, wherever you would hit the lower S-, you have to hit the *. It's a sad accommodation, but it still leaves those numbers available to me if I ever find one I need to use a lot.

So, the dictionary comes with 3 Help Strokes. Hit #-F, #-P, and #-L to see the following 3 bits of detailed help:

I need to improve this, but I'll put it out here now as a full disclosure thing.

#-F
....Writing Nimble Numbers
....How to stroke the numbers 0-14
...H
..P.
.T..
S...
..PH
.TP.
ST..
.TPH
STP.
STPH
S..H 10 
.T.H 12 
S.P. 11 
S.PH 14 
ST.H 13


#-P
....Nimble Numbers Table of Possibility
....Single stroke 1, 2, 3, and 4 digit numbers with all modifiers
---
- Bare number
.... 3 32 321 3217 
- Leading decimal
.O.. .3 .32 .321 .3217 
- Central decimal
.OE. .3 3.2 3.21 32.17 
- $ alone
A... $3 $32 $321 $3217 
- $ with central decimal
AOE. $.30 $3.20 $3.21 $32.17 
- Trailing colon
..E. 3: 32: 321: 3217: 
- O'clock
AO.U 3:00 32:00 321:00 3217:00 
- Trailing hyphen
A..U 3- 32- 321- 3217- 
- Negative as -
AO.. -3 -32 -321 -3217 
- Leading (
A.E. (3 (32 (321 (3217 
- Negative as()
A.EU (3) (32) (321) (3217) 
- Trailing )
..EU 3) 32) 321) 3217) 
- Percent symbol
...U 3% 32% 321% 3217% 
- Percent with central decimal
.OEU .3% 3.2% 3.21% 32.17% 
- Trailing /
AOEU 3/ 32/ 321/ 3217/

#-L
....Writing Several Nimble Numbers
....How to stroke 2, 3, and 4 digit numbers
The first digit of any number is typed on the STPH- keys
The second digit of any number is typed on the -FPLT keys
The third digit of any number is typed on the -RBGS keys
The fourth digit of any number is typed on the -*KWR keys
The fourth digit is a mess. Sorry. The S- could not be reused
so substitute the * for the S-, so it's out of sequence

so substitute the * for the S-, so it's out of sequence

To download and play with the dictionary, click here:
Nimble Numbers 2
To download and use the Nimble Numbers system with the single command dictionary, click here:
Nimble Single Stroke Commands 2