Ringing the changes

first_imgWaking on a Sunday morning in Oxford, vaguely hazy about a bop the night before, the gentle tinkle of bells filters across Radcliffe Square to your college room.“Oh no,” you’ve probably thought at least once, “who on earth could be making such a racket this early?” So the bedcovers are pulled a little higher and it’s back to sleep.But for a small and dedicated band of slightly mad individuals, braving the cold morning air to yank at ropes connected to colossal metal weights is the only hangover cure they’ll ever need. And surprisingly, tens of thousands of ordinary people are prepared to get up and ring for weddings and church services, as well as evening practices, every week for an entire lifetime.Bell ringing is one of those peculiar cultural interests unique to England, like cricket and warm beer, and has remained popular since the 17th century. Formerly the preserve of male, vaguely genteel types with too much time on their hands, now anyone can ring, and it’s the sort of equalising interaction that brings wealthy financiers onto a level playing field with kids from deprived inner-city backgrounds.Change ringing is the art of ringing a set of tuned bells in a series of mathematical patterns known as ‘changes’. It’s not quite music, and it’s not quite maths, but it’s a good way of imagining how numbers might sound if you could hear them. There are around 6000 rings of bells used for change ringing across the world, and the vast majority can be found in England and other English-speaking countries. Oxford alone contains a fair few of them: the most prominent are the six particularly heavy bells hanging in the University Church, St Mary the Virgin, next to the Radcliffe Camera. Other towers with bells are St Cross, opposite the Law Library and on the way to St Catherine’s, St Mary Magdalen opposite Sainsbury’s, and in New, Merton and Magdalen colleges. Bells and churches have, like so much of the historical architecture in Oxford, blended seamlessly into the changing landscape around them.Groups of swinging bells in English church towers date from the 10th century, and certainly by the 15th orderly ringing with changing note patterns was taking place. But change ringing only really took off after Charles II’s restoration in 1660, when puritan rules forbidding bell ringing were swept away. It may seem hard to imagine now but under Oliver Cromwell, ringing bells was the equivalent of staging an all-night rave and trying to get one over on the authorities. There are records of bell ringers being pilloried or, even worse, investigated as Catholic plotters and agents.The first recorded society of ringers was the Ancient Society of College Youths, founded in 1637 and still in existence almost four hundred years on. But the man most influential in developing the science and art of change ringing was a determined amateur mathematician named Fabian Stedman. His first book published in 1668, Tintinnalogia, set down all the available information on systematic ringing, and the principles in his 1677 follow-up Campanologia remain essentially unchanged today.Ordered ringing works by hanging bells in large wooden or steel frames inside a belfry, and pulling them from a rope attached to a wheel that goes down into a ringing room. When pulled, the bell rotates almost full circle, with the clapper inside swinging round and striking the bell: pulling the rope back again through two successive revolutions constitutes a whole pull. A kind old man once came to my tower when we were going up for practice one night. He asked me, slightly bizarrely, if we could play Elvis for him. Or maybe The Hollies, as he hadn’t heard them in a while. I made some sort of blustery apology about how bells didn’t make that kind of melody, but were just permutations of bells governed by a pre-determined algorithm that happened to sound quite nice when put together. The bemused expression on his face told me I was never going to be a maths teacher.Perhaps more simply, imagine there are six bells in a tower. The lightest bell is called the treble, or 1, and the heaviest is called the tenor, or 6, and in between are bells 2, 3, 4 and 5. Ringing the bells in order 123456 is called, rather simply, rounds, and makes a pleasant sound that any musician will tell you is a descending scale. Swap all the bells around one place to make 214365 and you have another row of changes. With six bells, there are exactly 720 different combinations of bells that you can make, or in the words of a mathematician, six factorial. On seven, there are 5040 possible combinations and on eight, 40,320. Ringing every one of those 5040 changes is called a peal, and takes around three hours to do, but few ringers, no matter how mad enough, are likely to try and ring for the 24 hours it would take to perform 40,320 changes in one go. In an alternative reality where human fatigue was not a problem, ringers could spend hours and hours ringing thousands of unique changes with no outside direction or coordination. Rather than memorising endless reams of numbers, ringers use a neat trick by following a simple pattern of where their bell moves around the other bells, known as a ‘blue line’ due to the colour of the patterns shown in ringers’ books. Method ringing involves memorising this pattern and other potential permutations that could be affected by a call from the conductor, the most common of which are called bobs and singles. No one knows why they’re called that, but having someone loudly shout ‘bob!’ in order to make things happen just adds to the general aura of eccentricity. Like other ringing jargon, methods are named to show what they involve. ‘Minor’, for example, means a method on six bells, while ‘major’ is a method on eight bells, all the way up to ‘maximus’ for twelve bells. Of course, this gives rise to silly names for methods like Coal Minor or Sergeant Bob Major (ho ho!) but most methods are named after places. There are, for instance, Oxford Treble Bob Major and Cambridge Surprise Major: combine them both and you have a method informally known as ‘Boat Race’.There are certain standard methods which every ringer knows, or has heard of, each of which has a name that only a bored English eccentric could come up with: Plain Bob, Little Bob, Grandsire and Stedman to name but a few. And of course, asking for some Reverse Canterbury Pleasure could get you more than you bargained for.There are tens of thousands of ringers in England and Wales alone, although their average age must be well over 40. The bell ringing community even has its own weekly newspaper called The Ringing World (probably named in a spasm of excitement) which usually involves pictures of old ladies holding new ropes and endless pages of recent peals. Nevertheless, the number of ringers is rapidly declining as the popularity for something that rewards thought and patience wanes in a fast-moving 21st century. There is, however, some room for optimism: churches with towers, particularly in urban areas, are increasingly attracting young people from a mix of social backgrounds and religious beliefs (including those without any) who want something to keep them busy and off the streets. At one tower in Colliers Wood in South London, almost three-quarters of the band are still in their teens, and they are proud of their collective ethnic diversity. Although the stereotype that most ringers are white, middle-class and old remains largely true, especially in southern England, a gradual shift is taking place.At a tower out in the sticks, however, it can take months to learn how to handle a bell correctly, and years before you could be classed as a ‘good’ ringer. Ringers speak of having a ‘ringing career’, as you go from country bumpkin struggling to hold a rope to conductor of St Paul’s Cathedral. It really does last that long, but therein lies one of the attractions: there’s a real sense of satisfaction to be had from perfecting and honing a skill over the course of an entire lifetime. The sound of bells is something that, in England, forms a continuous part of our existence. Whether you happen to be religious or not, church bells can be found in cities, towns and villages across the country. They are there when we marry, when we die, and when we go about our daily lives by unfailingly chiming the time for us. They can be jubilant and cheerful at times of national celebration, or sombre and reflective at times of national mourning.The only extended period of time when English bells were silenced was during the Second World War, when they were supposed to only ring in the event of enemy invasion. But perhaps this goes to show how, even if bells aren’t ringing from shire to shire, they’re still always there to reassure us against the worst.last_img read more

Conference race heats up

first_imgAfter barely escaping with a 65-61 win at home against Illinois Saturday, No. 24 Indiana travels to West Lafayette, Ind., this weekend for what should be a bitterly contested game against in-state rival Purdue. Purdue (16-9, 5-6) hopes to get rid of the bad taste in its mouth after letting a win at Ohio State slip out of grasp in the closing moments and losing 63-56 Saturday.In preparing for their matchup against the Boilermakers, the Hoosiers (17-6, 7-3) will aim to make sure that the momentum in the early going is on their side. Head coach Kelvin Sampson asserted that the Hoosiers’ main focus will be on controlling David Teague and Carl Landry, who have been a potent one-two punch for Purdue all season. Landry recently became the newest member of the 1,000-point club, after a 13-point outing against Ohio State.Sampson knows that points will be hard to come by in Mackey Arena, where Purdue is 13-1 in the year. In a victory over Michigan State last week, Purdue held the Spartans to just 38 points, 26 of which came before the half. Sampson was quick to praise Purdue’s defensive efforts, which have yielded 7.68 steals per game, and knows what his players will be in for.”Defensively, Purdue plays as tough and as hard-nosed as anybody in our league,” Sampson said.Ohio State trying not to look aheadAlthough many in Columbus have marked their calendars and are counting the days until No. 2 Ohio State’s showdown with No. 3 Wisconsin Feb. 25, head coach Thad Matta is making sure his players do not overlook their next three games, which happen to be against the two of the three worst teams in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes will hit the road to face Penn State on Wednesday and Minnesota this weekend, before returning home for round two against Penn State and the game with Wisconsin that should decide first place in the conference.Leading the way for the Buckeyes (22-3, 10-1) are freshmen Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr., the latter of whom, along with Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker, was named Big Ten Player of the Week. Conley averaged 18.5 points and five assists, and made 75 percent of his 3-pointers the past week to earn the award.”He has such a command for the game,” Matta said of Conley. “He uses his speed and his quickness, and just has a great feel for what’s going on. Since the first time I saw him, I thought he had a chance to be a great player.”Battle for the Great Lake StateIn years past, a duel between Michigan (17-8, 5-5) and Michigan State (17-8, 4-6) might generate more anticipation than this year’s contest is receiving, but for all those involved, state bragging rights are more than enough to elicit each team’s best.Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker is well aware of the hostile environment that can be expected from Michigan State’s Breslin Center when he and his squad travel there Tuesday.”Certainly we recognize how tough it’s always been in East Lansing,” Amaker said. “But nonetheless, I’m sure that our kids will be excited and enthusiastic for this challenge.”Michigan had lost its four previous games before knocking off Minnesota 82-80 last week and success the rest of the way will rest largely on the shoulders of seniors Dion Harris and Brent Petway. Petway, who Amaker referred to as the heart and soul of the Wolverines, chipped in 18 points in the victory over Minnesota, and Harris added 27.The Spartans boast the top-ranked defense in the conference (56.8 ppg), but also are ranked near the bottom of the league in offense (66.1 ppg). Iowa welcomes NU challengeIowa expects to rebound from a 74-62 loss at Wisconsin when they welcome Northwestern to Iowa City Wednesday. Big Ten scoring leader Adam Haluska (20.8 ppg) managed 16 points against the Badgers, but the Hawkeyes were unable to overpower the No. 4 team in the country.”I thought we played some good basketball,” said Iowa head coach Steve Alford. “We just had some lapses, and when you have lapses playing a team of that quality, it’s hard to get that road win.”Freshman forward Kevin Coble anchors the Wildcats in the paint but is also smooth from beyond the arc, shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. Coble leads the team in scoring at 12.8 per game.Two Illini players involved in car accidentIllini freshman center Brian Carlwell and sophomore Jamar Smith were injured in a car crash Monday night, according to The Associated Press.Smith was driving in heavy snow when his car crossed the centerline, slamming into a tree. The cause of the accident is still unknown.Carlwell was in serious condition with a severe concussion while Smith also suffered a concussion, but was released.It is still unclear when either player will be available to the team.”The main concern here is the health of those guys and not playing status or any of that has been determined,” sports information director said in a statement.last_img read more

NBA sets up hearing to terminate Donald Sterling’s ownership of Clippers

first_imgNearly three weeks after banning him for life, the NBA has charged Donald Sterling with damaging the league and set up a hearing that could terminate his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.Sterling has the right to defend himself with a presentation on June 3, when the NBA Board of Governors has planned a special hearing to assess the charge.See more on the Inside the Clippers blog. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

Wellington boys advance to Roadrunner Classic championship with win over Clearwater

first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The Wellington boys basketball team advanced to the Chaparral Roadrunner Classic Championship with a 38-34 victory over Clearwater Friday evening. Wellington will be battling Kingman for the tournament championship at 6 p.m.The game will pit the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the tournament. The game will have a live twitter feed tonight on our site. You can also follow us at https://twitter.com/Cueballnewscow.Kingman will provide a challenge for the Dukes, beating Wellington 77-49 in the tournament championship. Kingman defeated Conway Springs 59-43 in the other championship semifinal game. Chaparral beat Ark City 41-36 and Mulvane whipped Belle Plaine 70-42 in the consolation bracket. On Friday, Wellington beat Clearwater for the second consecutive time, having beaten the Indians earlier this season.Wellington opened with an 11-5 first quarter lead and held a 20-10 half-time advantage. Clearwater would outscore Wellington 10-5 and 14-13 in the third and fourth quarter. Scoring for Wellington was: Connor Phelps 9, Austin Dunn 7, Colin Reichenberger 7, Wesley Gilmore 7, Trevor Nance 6, Payton Baker 2.Clearwater scorers were: C. Neises 15, J. Becker 13, D. Roth 4, Bates 2.The win gives Wellington a 5-6 record. Kingman will come in the game at 9-3. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. There are no comments posted yet. Be the first one! Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more

Westinghouse boys big surprise in City League play

first_imgSCHEDULE:BOYS Friday3:15 p.m., Langley at Brashear 3:15 p.m., Oliver at Allderdice 7:30 p.m., Peabody at Westinghouse 7:30 p.m., Perry at Schenley STANDINGS:Team                 Conf.    OverallPerry                   4-0      7-1Westinghouse     3-0      5-1Oliver                 3-0      5-2Peabody             3-1      3-5Schenley            1-3      3-6Carrick               0-4      3-6Allderdice          1-2      2-4Brashear             1-3      1-8Langley              0-3      0-8 Allderdice girls handdefending champ Westinghouse first conference lossPerry (3-1, 3-7) got its opportunity to move ahead of Westinghouse in the conference standings, as a result of a 50-41 Westinghouse loss to Allderdice Jan. 5, even though they have an overall losing record. “We just weren’t mentally prepared,” said Westinghouse head coach Phyllis Jones about her team. “Their guards were quick and they definitely had an advantage in the height differential. As I said before, the league is wide open this year. It will come down to the team that wants it the most.”With the win, Allderdice moved into the second spot with its 3-2 overall record as well as in the conference with a 2-1 mark.“It was a nice win for us,” said Allderdice’s head coach Dave Walcheskey. “They are a quality team. Some of our girls are really growing up quick. We start four sophomores and one junior and they’ve all come through in big situations.”Allderdice was led by Janay Bottoms with 16 points and Lanise Saunders with 14.“They played a pretty good game,” said Walcheskey. “As a young team, we just need to learn how to eliminate mistakes. The key to us beating Westinghouse was the fact that we stuck close to them at halftime which gave us some momentum going into the second half. We did that and came out with the win.”In the three games that Langley has played, they are still right in the thick of things, they’ve attained a 2-1 record—in which all of their games have been played in the conference. Schenley, Carrick and Brashear all have matching 2-2 conference record, keeping them all close to the pack.No team has been able to pull away from the pack making this week’s games critical. Allderdice is just one year removed from an impressive year in which they completed a late season charge, with eight consecutive wins, and eventually reached the City championship game. However, they’ve gotten off to a slow start this season. Their 2-4 record is their worst since December of 2007 when they lost three straight and fell to a mark of 3-5. They won the next three, but still ended up on the losing side of things, finishing the year 10-15 overall and experiencing an early exit out of the postseason with a 45-43 loss to Perry. “Our defense definitely has to improve,” said Allderdice head coach Andre McDonald. “Even when we had our 10-15 year, we were still among the top teams in allowing the fewest points. We’re scoring in our sleep, that’s not a problem. We just have to get better attitudes out of our guys, namely our seniors, along with a better effort. That is what we need in order to get back on track.”Westinghouse (5-1, 3-0) made those chances more likely when they handed them a 68-55 beating Jan. 5 which moved the Bulldogs up a spot to sit behind defending champion Perry for first place.“Our guys are feeling really good,” said Westinghouse head coach Kenny Roebuck. “We’re happy about what we’ve done so far. All of our guys are from the Homewood community and they’ve been together for four years now. You used to see heads hanging and comments about ‘I can’t do this’ and ‘I can’t do that’ but that’s definitely not the case nowadays. Their skill level has risen and they’re beginning to be real consistent.”The team has been on a roll, only losing to Indiana in its own tournament Dec. 29. With five wins, they are just one victory away from matching the six that they put up last year— finishing 6-19, overall.Perry is enjoying a league-high seven victories, with just one loss. They have an undefeated 4-0 conference record and are looking to return to the big game—minus a real threat in the post. The other team of the North Side, Oliver, is currently in third place, with a 5-2 overall record (3-0 in the City) and is the only other team in the league without a loss in the conference.Peabody (3-5) leads the rest of the pack, which (aside from the top three teams) lacks an overall winning record, going 3-1 in the City.center_img This week: Friday 3:15 p.m., Allderdice at Oliver3:15 p.m., Schenley at Perry 7:30 p.m., Brashear at Langley7:30 p.m., Westinghouse at PeabodySTANDINGS: Team:    Conf    OverallPerry                     3-1      3-7Westinghouse       2-1      4-2Allderdice             2-1      3-2Langley                 2-1      2-1Schenley               2-2      3-5Carrick                 2-2      2-5Brashear               2-2      2-6Oliver                   1-2      1-6Peabody               0-4      0-8(Follow our continuing coverage and add your comments on City League Basketball to our website at www.newpittsburghcourieronline.com).  (D.W. Howze can be reached at: [email protected]).last_img read more

Another Wife Beater?!? NFL’s Jonathan Dwyer Arrested for Domestic Violence

first_imgJust when you thought it was safe, stupidity rises up yet again like a shark’s fin and bites the NFL when it’s already bleeding badly.Heck, the National Football League now needs a tourniquet to stem the blood flow. It is hemorrhaging players, money and corporate support after a rash of domestic violence episodes in the past two weeks, including the domestic situation involving alleged child abuse by Vikings superstar Adrian Peterson.Now, there is another player who’s making Commissioner Roger Goodell raid the medicine cabinet to soothe his screaming internal organs. According to CBS News, Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was just arrested for domestic violence over an alleged altercation with his wife.Dwyer, 25, was arrested in Phoenix on suspicion of aggravated assault and keeping someone from calling 911.It has not yet been made public when the alleged incident took place, what sparked it and if the victim sustained significant injuries.The NFL is literally hunkered down in its bunker on Park Avenue in New York over the public relations bludgeoning it has suffered the past two weeks. Goodell hasn’t been seen or heard from in the past week. And the league is still recoiling from the backlash it has enduring because of alleged violent behavior exhibited by former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Carolina’s Greg Hardy, San Francisco’s Ray McDonald and New York Jets rookie Quincy Enunwa, in addition to Peterson.last_img read more