[r-t] Philip's new Decisions, including Wiki page

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Sun Aug 3 14:19:50 UTC 2008

On Sun, Aug 3, 2008 at 9:34 AM, Philip Earis <pje24 at cantab.net> wrote:
> Regarding so plain bob caters, I'd classify the notation for this as
> "&, 1290". The notation is the information you
> need to write a method out, and this includes the information that there is
> a bell continually making 10ths. I wouldn't call this foolish.
> This way is clear, neat and unambiguous. It removes precisely the sort of
> messing around with cover-bells, etc that afflicts the current decisions.
> Under my terminolgy, Plain Bob Caters rung with what you would call 1 cover
> bell would be a different method to what you'd call plain bob caters with
> three cover bells.
> This isn't really a great conceptual leap - indeed, under the present
> Decisions plain bob doubles rung with one hunt bell is considered a
> different method to plain bob doubles rung with two hunt bells (Grandsire
> Minor).

While I agree that the messing around afflicting the current decisions
is unfortunate and would be best done away with, adding a new,
formalistic lie is not the way forward.

A big part of why the current Decisions are so awfully complicated
with respect to cover bells is that those who wrote them wanted to
limit their use as much as possible, to proscribe things like multiple
covers or continuously leading bells. I am sure that is not your
desire. Whether it is conscious or not, I can't say, but in practice
when the current Decisions have been widened, as when all the cover
bell silliness was put in, they are widened as little as possible.
This is exactly the opposite of what I believe you are trying to do.

However, in practice I fear you, just like Mark, are turning into an
old-fogey reactionary putting the needs of a precious formalism ahead
of how average ringers really work. :-)

The difference between a cover bell and a hunt bell may not be much of
a conceptual leap for you, but it does not correspond at all to the
way most ringers think of things. And the leap is greater than that
between a hunt bell and working bell: if we consider a cover bell the
same as a hunt bell, why not consider a hunt bell the same as a
working bell? To the average ringer the 2 in a slow course method is
something he or she learns in the same way as a working bell, not a
hunt bell; it's only a hunt bell in the formalism.

It may serve the needs of your formalism to consider uncovered
Stedman, Stedman with one cover, Stedman with two covers, Stedman with
three covers, Stedman with a continuously leading bell, Stedman with a
continuously leading bell and one cover, etc, each as distinct
methods, but (a) that is not how most people ring it or think about it, and
(b) it pollutes the library of methods even more egregiously and
voluminously than the current cover bell fiasco pollutes the current
Decisions--perhaps unambigous, but far from clear and neat, it's a
filthy mess.

What's wrong with just coming up with some simple, plain,
understandable to non-specialists language that says "you have N bells
changing positions, and that's the stage and method we'll record; you
can also have as many other bells ringing at the same time but not
changing positions as you like". I haven't thought how to word that
formally, but I think the idea is sound.

Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
"At every step the history of civilization teaches us how slight and
superficial a structure civilization is, and how precariously it is
poised upon the apex of a never-extinct volcano of poor and oppressed
barbarism, superstition and ignorance."
                            -- Will Durant, _Our Oriental Heritage_

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