[r-t] Sacred cows

Frederick Karl Kepner DuPuy neminicontradicente at googlemail.com
Wed Oct 7 06:14:28 UTC 2015

Thanks for your suspiciously prompt response. My replies are interspersed

On 7 October 2015 at 00:05, Philip Earis <pje24 at cantab.net> wrote:

> Rick DuPuy: “...the framework is still chock full of prescriptive rules
> which a performance must follow to qualify as a 'peal'...So let me ask: did
> the rules subgroup consider these particular sacred cows?”
> I think there are three areas of confusion (or perhaps fallacies) in your
> reasoning:
> 1) Most importantly, you seem to lump together all “sacred cows”. However,
> any possible constraints fall into two distinct (and to mind my very
> different) areas: on the one hand the actual sequences of permutations that
> are rung, and on the other hand how those permutations are rung.
> Now a descriptive approach should, I feel, contain as few restrictions on
> the sequences of permutations that are rung as possible whilst still
> providing a coherent, consistent framework that reflects change ringing.
> The existing Decisions contain all manner of arbitrary restrictions and
> value judgements, some plain daft, on what sequences of permutations are
> permissible. The new framework aims to eliminate and simplify as much as
> possible here...as the companion document states, the main axiomatic
> constraints are simply that sequences of true permutations must be rung.
> To my mind this is very laudable.
> All of the “sacred cow” examples you list (relays of ringers, external
> aids, standers-behind) relate to the second (and distinct) area of *how*
> ringing is done.  It is important to realise this is a distinct area.  The
> framework aims to provide these criteria so that standard performances are
> comparable.  If I press start on Abel and let the computer ring a peal, I
> don’t regard that as me having rung a peal, and I am sure the consensus of
> ringers would be the same.  So I have no issue myself with formulising some
> constraints on what constitutes a standard performance.

I agree that there is a distinction to be made; and, indeed, my message
drew such a line between the method definitions (with which I did not
quibble) and the 'standard performance' definitions (with which I did).

Using this simple rule-of-thumb dividing line, it seems to me that all the
sacred cows I mentioned (both those whose imminent demise I lamented and
also the others whose continued survival I questioned) lie together on the
same side — none of them are hair-splitting rules on how we arrange the
rows; all of them go to the fundamental question of just what is the
essence of a standard performance.

Now perhaps you draw the line in a slightly different place than I do. But
no matter where you draw it, the prohibition of peals on simulators must
surely land squarely on the *how* side; yet they are for the chopping block
while the other sacred cows are not.

> 2) The constraints included in the new framework relate to standard
> performances, with the explicit statement that this is not a value
> judgement on performances that do not adhere to the framework.

Absolutely! But this would not be a significant change from the present
situation under the decisions. People can ring non-compliant performances
if they wish (under either system); there is no shame in doing so; but (in
official channels, at least) the word 'peal' is deprecated for such

So what's your point?

> 3) The “rules subgroup” was and is an open-to-all collaborative effort,
> aiming to capture and codify broadly consensus opinions of people with
> knowledge and interest in the area.  The working and development of the
> draft documents has been extremely open, vastly more so than the
> pronouncements from on high of the secretive cabal that is the Methods
> Committee.  Many people have contributed to the subgroup, and I am sure
> that what is produced doesn’t fully satisfy anyone (me included)...but it
> has been a productive and instructive exercise, and has produced something
> which is much better than the status quo.

Nothing in my message was intended to disparage the work of the rules
subgroup, or to praise the work of the methods committee (about which I
cheerfully admit to knowing nothing). I am happy to join you in praising
the subgroup's procedure, but I don't see how that's a reply to any of my


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