[ANSTHRLD] Zodiacus weighs in on this week's award discussions

Zodiacus Herald zodiacus at ansteorra.org
Thu Sep 9 13:12:57 PDT 2004

1.  I'd already noticed, about two months before taking this office, that
there are a number of errors of ranking in the Ansteorran Precedence Roll
database, most especially the Compass Rose.  That's why there is no online
update this month:  I'm deep in the tedious work of a line-by-line
correction of the database (some 6,500 entries or so).  Kudos to the sharp
folks who noticed the error; you each now have a gold star in my book.  :-)

2.  Re: "Optio":


The Crown created an award/order without soliciting the advice of the
kingdom's precedence herald(s) as to the advisability of so doing.  Little
to no
apparent thought or consideration as to the effects on an already strained
delicate balance of concepts is evident here.

Why is anyone surprised by this?  It's nothing new.

NOTE:  The following commentary is based on my seventeen years' experience
as a precedence herald, and Robin's twenty-four years' experience as same,
as well as his having been "present at the creation" of the underlying
structure of Ansteorran precedence.

Most heralds, and nearly all non-heralds, seem to believe that they
and/or "know" the precedence system if they've memorized a ranked list of
awards & orders.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The "why and how" of the awards/orders is the key to understanding the
structure.  For what purpose(s) does the system exist?   Why was an
award/order created?  Why create any new award/order?  Is there an extant
award that reasonably could be stretched to encompass the perceived lack?
Why has an award/order changed, if it has?  Why end an award?  Why was an
order closed?  Why re-open an order?  How will the new thingy affect not
only potential recipients, but the rewards psychology of the entire kingdom?
How will people perceive the proposed addition, consciously and
unconsciously?  What is the effect of award sprawl?  How does a proposed
award augment the structure?  How might it be destroying it?  What
imbalances might be created by adding another object to the pile?  Why is so
little consideration given to the consequences of such action?

Why is there such a prevalent attitude of "we don't have enough X going on,
let's create an award to push X"?  Why not find other ways of making certain
behaviors prestigious?  Is it laziness?  Is it narrow-mindedness?  Is it
simple lack of imagination?

And that's without getting into the historical precedents for award/order
creation, degradation, and closure.

Now, before you all start screaming at me, I will give credit where it is
due.  While no one person has presented answers to the above in its
entirety, several of you asked some of the questions, so the collective "The
Ansteorran College of Heralds" gets a gold star in my book.

This simply underscores the need to consult the entire College, not just the
person of the Star Principal Herald.  (Also note that it is my understanding
that this was presented as a fait accomplit; therefore, for all intents and
purposes, not even he was "consulted" about the creation itself.  As best as
I can determine, the only real discussion took place within the
mostly-inbred community of rattan fighters.  It's nice that they consulted a
few heralds about name etc., but that does not include the objectionable
act, the creation itself.)

In discussions with Robin over the last two days, I have realized that there
is a common factor in the less-than-dozen people in the kingdom who *truly*
understand the Ansteorran precedence system:  the ability to analyze in
advance for the unintended consequences of a given set of rules, or
alterations thereto.  This can come from training in game theory (where
Robin got it), legal history (where I got it), process control, law, and
some other places.  (Not so much from programmers, who tend to work out bugs
as they encounter them; ditto managers.)

Whenever I and/or Robin teach Ansteorran precedence, almost everyone has
commented "Hey, I never thought about it *that* way!"  Too bad we can't get

any potential Crowns to attend the classes.  I'm willing to entertain
suggestions about how to better educate the populace.  (Please remember that
subliminal suggestion and brainwashing are illegal in the United States.)

I now believe that the precedence section of a PE exam should contain only
"why" questions, and not continue to foster the illusion that knowing the
Order of March means knowing precedence.

Serena, grumpy Zodiacus
(I think I'm channelling Tadhg today.)

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