[r-t] A Ringing Puzzle

Richard Smith richard at ex-parrot.com
Sat May 24 23:14:44 UTC 2014

I've been reading this thread with interest, and I'm not 
surprised there there is little enthusiasm here for the 
specific proposal for non-method blocks.

The idea of allowing things other than methods in a peal is, 
I think, a good one.  Over the centuries the word "method" 
has become imbued with an implied meaning, and it's perhaps 
understandable that people are reluctant to allow arbitrary 
sections of ringing to be called a method.  The use of the 
term "block" seems a nice, neutral word for something more 
general than a method.

The devil, of course, is in the detail, and I have 
many objects to the details of proposal which seems poorly 
considered.  If the Methods Committee actually cared about 
producing a solid, workable proposal, one would think they 
might choose to disseminate a draft of it to interested 
parties, including this list, before committing to a final 
version.  The fact that they never do that forces me to 
conclude that their principal concern is in maintaining 
their monopoly on drafting the Decisions and using it to 
continue the prescriptive approach to what is rung.

One objection is that the proposed amendment is poorly 
drafted.  Defining a non-method block without first defining 
a block is bizarre.  A far more satisfactory approach would 
be to define a block, then define a method as a specific 
type of block, and finally to define a non-method block as a 
block other than a method.  This would have the further 
advantanges of replacing the clumsy, repeated phrase "method 
or non-method block" with "block", and allowing a round 
block (which is used many times in the existing Decisions 
without definition) to be defined as a block beginning and 
ending with rounds.

On c-r, Don makes the point that under the proposed 
Decisions, not everything is method or non-method block. 
Dixons is such an example.  This is because the leads and 
courses of Dixons are of varying lengths and are composed of 
different sequences of changes: and they cannot all be 
called Dixons.  If this proposal was intended as the panacea 
to allow anything (bar jump changes and cylindrical) to be 
rung, it fails.

The dichotomy between methods and non-method blocks feels 
quite arbitrary to me.  A good example is Don's example of 
two similar methods: one of which is false in the plain 
course and is therefore a non-method block, while the other 
of which is a method.  But a better example comes from 
Pipe's Particles peal.  The six quark "methods" (Down, Up, 
Strange, Charm, Bottom, Top) are of quite a different 
character to normal methods, and the odd occasion I rang 
them at GSM practices, I thought they required a different 
way of thinking.  But it seems quite wrong to pick out two 
or three of them (Strange, Bottom and perhaps Top, depending 
on whether motion (E) passes) as non-method blocks, while 
leaving the others as methods.  One would never notice while 
ringing them that Strange and Bottom run false in the plain 
course, so why allude to that in the name?

I notice that the previous relaxation to the Decisions to 
allow calls that vary the length of the lead has been 
restricted to methods.  In the case of Don's two methods, in 
one case you can ring it with calls that alter the length of 
the lead, in the other case you cannot.  While I can believe 
the exclusion of Dixons might have been due to incompetence 
on the part of the draftsman, this cannot possibly be. 
This is a new, deliberate, and arbitrary restriction.  It 
certainly feels like the Methods Commitee have been forced 
against their will to allow false methods (as "blocks") and 
lead-length-altering calls, but are still determined fuck 
you over if you want to do both.

So how should we allow such things?  One possibility is to 
allow everything to be a method.  The two sticking points 
are methods that are false in plain course, and those that 
have hunt bells than working bells.  Motion (E) deals with 
the latter half of the problem in an efficient and minimal 
fashion.  The remaining half could be resolved by simply 
striking the word "true" from Decision (E)A.1(b).  Are 
motions permitted from the floor without notice at the CC 
meeting?  If they are, I strongly encourage people to vote 
against motion (D), the main motion on non-method blocks, to 
vote for motion (E), and to propose striking "true" from 
(E)A.1(b) as a motion from the floor.


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