Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The NFL Players Association

The NFL owners and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are locked in mediation regarding a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The current one is set to expire on Friday night. Failure to reach an agreement will precipitate a lockout, litigation, or a combination of the two--and put the 2011 NFL season in doubt.

I have no problem with the owners and the players (and even their union) enjoying the capitalistic enterprise of negotiating salaries--very large salaries, in many cases. Certainly, it makes sense that free-market principles are brought to bear, and that greater talent and success generate greater incomes.

But this evening, I read an article on that, among other things, outlined many of the demands that the NFLPA is making of the owners. Most of the ones mentioned in the article are issues of "transparency;" basically, the NFLPA wants to know every little nitty-gritty detail of the incomes, expenses, and profits of the league and its 32 franchises.

And here, I believe, they have crossed a line. The owners of the NFL franchises are the ones that have taken the financial risks: They build (or co-opt state and local governments) stadia and other facilities; they make multi-million dollar marketing decisions; they choose, sign, and pay players. Without their financial investments, the NFL does not exist. The NFL and its 32 teams have no obligation whatsoever to disclose their sensitive financial information to anyone to whom they do not wish to do so. (Well, except maybe the IRS.)

To hear the head of NFLPA speak, however, you would think it is absolutely necessary for the union to have access to all such know, so they can make "more informed" decisions in the bargaining process.

I don't think so. If the NFLPA really thinks it can do so much better, why doesn't it take all of its players and start another football league? Since football is still likely to be popular, and since the player talent level would remain about the same, surely they, too, could make mountains of money?

But they won't. They would prefer to squeeze the golden goose. Let's just hope they do not suffocate it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Some People Still Love Hymns

I encountered a fascinating article today about hymns that are perpetually popular. A survey was done of hymnals of six mainline Protestant denominations (Anglican (Episcopal), American Baptist, Congregational (United Church of Christ), Lutheran (ELCA), United Methodist, Presbyterian Church (USA)) from the 1870's to the 2006 Lutheran hymnal. The survey included a total of 28 hymnals. It was found that 27 hymns were found in at least 26 of the hymnals; 13 hymns were found in all of them.

The good news: Every single one of these hymns is an excellent hymn! You can see the full list here; if you have grown up in a church that uses a hymnal in any of these denominations, you should recognize most, if not all, of them.

And why are they kept in the hymnals from generation to generation? Because people value them. They recognize the timeless biblical truths, taking comfort in God's Word and promises. They recognize, at some level, the intersection of biblical worship and biblical truth.

Because the survey of hymnals includes those dating back to the antebellum period, hymns that have become better known in the past 150 years do not appear on the list. This might explain why you don't see certain of your favorites.

In the summer of 2009 I blogged about what I thought were the "Top Ten Hymns"; two of them, as well as two of my runners-up, were on this list (and in retrospect, I really dropped the ball by not including "O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing").

Of the 27 hymns, four of them were written before the 13th century.

The average date of the texts of the other 23 hymns: 1774.

More proof that good music—words and tune alike—stands the test of time. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Product Endorsement: TI Graphing Calculators

It occurred to me today that it's been over 18 years since I first got my own, brand new, TI-85 graphing calculator. At the time, it was the top of the line, and I was thrilled to have it. And since I have been a math teacher for most of those last 18 years, it has gotten a tremendous amount of use.

And it works just as well today as the day I bought it.

In the meantime, I have added a TI-83 to my calculator collection. I do not use it quite as often as my TI-85, but it, too, has served me well.

One thing I have done just a few times, but which my students have collectively done many times, is to drop my graphing calculator on the floor—often a tile floor, sometimes carpet. I always instinctively cringe whenever I see or hear one of them reach the floor under the influence of gravity—but today I cannot recall a student who had to do anything more than put the batteries back in to get it to work properly. If the product can also survive years in a teen's backpack, then surely it is durable!

I would happily encourage anyone needing a graphing calculator to purchase the appropriate level Texas Instruments machine. They are durable, relatively user-friendly (relative to your mathematical understanding, that is), and even have a pretty good resale value, should you decide to exchange yours for cash.