[r-t] Consultation

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Sun Apr 9 13:38:16 UTC 2017

On Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 2:29 AM, Robert Bennett <rbennett1729 at gmail.com>
> As I understand the present rules, they are based on place notation.
> If new rules were not based on places, what could they be based on?

I believe that for many of us the problem is not that the choice of "rule"
used for extension is the wrong one, and by implication, that all can be
made well if we can just work out ​​the right one. It is the whole notion
that there is a single rule that works for everything. I don't think there

A simple example is the debacle of Penultimus a few years ago. Undoubtedly
a single rule that covered both Little bob and Penultimus could be devised
which would solve this specific case. At which point another, slightly
different one would rear its head for which that single, slightly more
complicated rule didn't work. And on we'd go, round and round forever.

For those who weren't following at the time, or don't remember:

Little Bob extends to all even stages in a way that I believe nearly all
ringers find obvious and intuitive. There are probably very few ringers who
having been taught Little Bob Major and Little Bob Maximus will have
trouble working out Little Bob Royal. The Central Council, in its wisdom,
decided that all little methods should extend in the same way. In
particular, that if in Mumble Little Whatever Somestage the treble hunts to
Nths place, in Mumble Little Whatever Someotherstage the treble also must
hunt to Nths place.

In 1994 a little, plain method was rung and named Penultimus Little Court
Maximus. The treble hunts to the penultimate place (11ths) and back again,
all the working bells plain hunting throughout, except that the bell above
the treble as it makes 11ths necessarily makes four blows behind. This has
an obvious cognate at any other stage (>= 3, at least). But according to
the Central Council none of them can be called can be called Penultimus
Little Court Whatever-stage. Though a completely different treble to
eleventh's place method at stages above maximus can, even though that is
now a different kind of construction than Penultimus was intended to be (no
longer penultimate)*.

This highlights, in a simple way, the absurdity of thinking that one rule
fits all. It is, I believe, clearly wrong to insist that Penuiltimus
extends, or more to the point, contracts, according to the same rule as
Little Bob. But similarly it would be absurd to say that Little Bob should
extend according to the same rule as Penultimus (that would have Little Bob
Royal being what we currently call Gainsborough Little Bob Royal and Little
Bob Maximus being what we currently call Burford Little Bob Maximus, with
what we currently call Little Bob having new names at Royal and Maximus).
As mentioned above, I've no doubt some more complex rule for extending
little methods could be devised that would encompass both these
possibilities. But that would be the wrong solution, simply kicking the can
down the road a little bit until the next absurdity presented itself.

We really should accept that different families of methods extend in
different ways. Devising a good, new family of methods, potentially with
its own scheme of extension, can be at least as creative as devising a
good, new method. Allowing only a single rule for extending methods flies
in the face of the Council's own objective (clause 2.(iii) of its rules)
"To encourage development of the art of ringing through innovation".

* Highlighting the absurdity of all this, the band that was interested in
this family of methods rang and named the various contractions (each of
which the Central Council insisted on having a distinct name) by a family
resemblance-based set of names, which, painful as it is, does have a logic
closely corresponding to the logic of how the Council insists methods
contract, since the hunt bell gets littler and littler as the contraction

Little Penultimus Little Bob Cinques
Little Little Penultimus Little Bob Royal
Little Little Little Penultimus Little Bob Caters
Little Little Little Little Penultimus Little Bob Major
Little Little Little Little Little Penultimus Little Bob Triples
Little Little Little Little Little Little Penultimus Little Bob Minor
Little Little Little Little Little Little Little Penultimus Little Bob

Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
"Logic could take you only so far, then you had to get out and hop."
               -- Terry Pratchett, _The Last Continent_
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