[r-t] Sacred cows

John Harrison john at jaharrison.me.uk
Fri Oct 9 17:29:33 UTC 2015

I'm not sure that 'sacred cows' is a helpful concept here.  Sacredness, and
religious belief in general, do not seem a good basis for debating how best
to define change ringing performances.

Earlier in the discussion there was reference to 'red lines', which seems
equally unhelpful with the notion of triggering an extreme reaction
(defensive of offensive) if one is crossed, especially since different
people would draw them in different places.

We are trying (I hope) to develop a consensus on a helpful set of
definitions that will serve ringers by making it easier to  communication
about methods, calls, compositions and ringing performances.  

Making the process tractable requires agreement on some sort of bound for
'change ringing' but the aim should be to include anything that ringers
could reasonably consider change ringing rather than to exclude things that
some ringers (even a majority) 'would not want to ring'.  

In terms of methods, calls, etc it is sensible to invest codification
effort in core areas of what os more likely to be rung (a subset of the
broad bound) since that is where the need for efficient description is

In terms of performances you do not need to invoke competition to require
comparability.  There are plenty of other reasons for being interested in
the sort of performances taking place in different places and at different
times.  To make that possible there must be a consensus on how they are
reported, and it is sensible to establish a set of norms that can be taken
as read without the need to state them explicitly.  That makes reporting
efficient for those (majority) of performances that conform to the norms,
and it puts an onus on anyone reporting any other performance (a tiny
minority) to report explicitly any aspects other than the norm.  

When compiling statistics there is clearly a need to consider how to
aggregate and summarise performances of different types.  Those that differ
from the norm are clearly of interest, and worthy of note, whether on what
might be seen as the 'high' side in terms of performance (eg ringing 4 in
hand, ringing silent & non conducted, ringing blindfolded or ringing long
lengths) or on what might be seen as the 'low' side (eg calling outside the
circle, ringing in relays).  In both cases I would expect their numbers to
be mentioned as well as being included within the overall totals rather
than being left out of the overall totals.  

The document produced by the sub-group doesn't get as far as this, but it
gets a lot closer than the current Decisions.  As Tim said, the group
contributing to it didn't agree on everything (hardly surprising) and
document was wrapped up in time to be available for the meeting instead of
continuing the debate.  

It is actually quite hard to make the transition from being prescriptive to
permissive, while still providing a useful, coherent framework, so it's
hardly surprising that the result isn't yet perfect.  Even so it's gone a
lot further than the pessimists believed possible, and it has shown that
there is an alternative to continual patching of the Decisions.

John Harrison
Website http://jaharrison.me.uk

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