Phil Blessman
Election update

STILL winning… Latest count:

Obama 51.1%-Romney 47.2 %

Only Hawaii is not final, so this should not change much anymore. For real.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/lv?key=0AjYj9mXElO_QdHpla01oWE1jOFZRbnhJZkZpVFNKeVE&toomany=true#gid=19

"Final?" Results in for 2012 Prez election

So… This took a LONG time, and apparently not all States have certified their results yet (how is that even possible?), but I am confident that results will no longer substantially change.

My prediction was: EC 332-206; Popular Vote: 51.5%-47.4%.

Actual result: EC 332-206; Popular Vote: 51.0%-47.3%.

I’d say that’s pretty darned good! Boy I’m smart… *smug grin*

I AM apparently smarter than Wolf Blitzer and a bunch of other talking heads who right after the election was called for Obama speculated on whether Romney would go on to win the popular vote because at that time Romney led the popular vote by 500,000 votes. Really? Have you heard of the West Coast?

Anyway, Obama won by 4.7 million votes (almost 4%) and 126 electoral votes. Considering that Obama’s race probably cost him 2-6 %, and the current economic climate should favor the challenger, you can consider this a landslide.

I hope Obama takes advantage of his position as a convincingly reelected second term president to lead on issues across the board, most pressingly the fiscal cliff (here we go!) and gun control.  And please, please, please, never ever ever again let yourself be black-mailed by Republicans who want to hold the whole country hostage about increasing the debt ceiling. Invoke your presidential powers, declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional, mint some trillion dollar coins, don’t care. Get it done.

Phil’s Final score prediction: EC 332-206; Popular Vote: 51.5%-47.4%

GRAPHIC RETRIEVED ON 11/1/2012 FROM http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/

If you assume states “through” NV are “safe” (85% or better) for Obama, and “through” AZ and NE-2 are “Safe” for Romney, then Obama at that point has a 253-191 lead in the Electoral College, with IA, NH, OH, CO, VA, FL, and NC still “in play” (better than 15 % of winning for the candidate trailing). Of these states, Obama leads five and Romney two, but to win the EC, Romney needs to win at least five of the seven (six if he loses OH or FL). This requires at least THREE Romney “upsets,” most likely VA (39% Romney Chance), CO (37%), AND OH (20%). AND he has to hold FL and NC, which is not a given (59% and 81% respectively).

Based on these numbers, Obama is the OVERWHELMNING favorite to win on Tuesday. http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/ gives him an 80.9% chance of winning as of Thursday, November 1. If anything, I think that number is conservative.  There are MANY paths to victory with or without Ohio for Obama, but Romney basically has to thread the needle to make this happen. PLUS, I still think the effect of Obama’s ground game is underestimated (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/obamas-edge-the-ground-game-that-could-put-him-over-the-top/264031/) AND Sandy/Christie will give him another boost. I am not alone in believing it will give him at least an additional 2% edge in the vote over the polls, causing him to win Florida, but probably not NC.

Phil’s Final score prediction: EC 332-206; Popular  Vote: 51.5%-47.4%

Ayn Rand vs. Orcs

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” 
― John Rogers

2012 Culver Academies Senior-Faculty Basketball Game. Final: Seniors 50-Faculty 48 after OT

2012 Culver Academies Senior-Faculty Basketball Game. Final: Seniors 50-Faculty 48 after OT

Here’s my take on inquiry for the Culver Science Department. Enjoy the special effects! (And by “special effects” I mean shaky camera work with my Droid!)

(via I Think We’re All Wondering This)
Culver Academies Quizbowl Team Wins Back-to-Back Class AAA Indiana State Championships

The Culver Eagles Quizbowl team celebrates their 2012 Class AAA State Championship From left to right: Head Coach Phil Blessman, Team Captain Andrew Van Duyn 12, John Van Duyn 14, Adam Freymiller 13, Jonathan Weitgenant 12

CAPTION: The Culver Eagles Quizbowl team celebrates their 2012 Class AAA State Championship From left to right: Head Coach Phil Blessman, Team Captain Andrew Van Duyn ’12, John Van Duyn ’14, Adam Freymiller ’13, Jonathan Weitgenant ‘12 PHOTO: Paul McLeod

On Saturday March 3, the Eagles Quizbowl Team defeated Harrison High School of W. Lafayette in a rematch of last year’s Class AAA final to capture back-to-back State Championships. Culver was the smallest school competing in the large school division featuring public schools with more than 1000 students and private schools with more than 400 students. Both Harrison and Culver had a perfect 8-0 record heading in to the best-of-three final after defeating Penn, Zionsville, Avon, Columbus North, Indianapolis-Ben Davis and South Bend teams St. Joe’s, Clay, and Riley. 

After defeating Harrison 480-405 in game 1, the Eagles fell to Harrison 400-470 in game 2, forcing a decisive game three. The Eagles left no doubt in Game 3 however, easily defeating Harrison 535-340 behind tournament MVP Andrew Van Duyn’s 105 points. Culver and Harrison are the only Indiana teams ranked in the national top 150, with Culver currently at #32 and Harrison at #67. Culver’s record on the season improved to 63-17. The Eagles are now preparing for the History Bowl National Championship in Washington, DC on April 29, the Midwest Championship at Northwestern on May 19, and the National Championship in Atlanta May 26-27. Complete State Championship results and stats can be accessed at http://faculty.culver.org/~coill/Quizbowl/2011-2012%20Season/2012%20Rotary%20STate%20Indiana%20AAA_standings.html. National rankings can be accessed at: http://hsqbrank.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/top-150-high-school-quiz-bowl-rankings-update-feb-12/.

"David: Murderer, Adulterer, Man after God’s Own Heart" My Sermon for the Culver Academies Protestant Service, March 11, 2012


Let me talk to you a bit about a hero of the faith, an adulterer, a murderer, a man after God’s own heart. And yes… this is ONE person, not four. I am of course speaking of David, who was king of Israel about 3000 years ago, but whose story hopefully still has meaning for you today.

David and Goliath

Jesus is referred to by many names in the New Testament, one of which is “Son of David.” The bible emphasizes that the Messiah or savior would be the “Son of David,” so it’s REALLY important for young Christians to have a good understanding of who David is, so let me tell you a little bit about him.

Let me start with the most famous story about David, the one involving the Goliath. I am sure you are all familiar with at least the rough outline of this story: A young shepherd boy named David slays a giant named Goliath. As we are now in March, you will often hear this theme applied metaphorically to basketball, such as the “David” Butler basketball team slaying a variety of “Goliaths” last year to advance to the NCAA Finals.

However, what is missing in this comparison is an understanding of what actually went down between David and Goliath. This was not simply a question of the underdog getting lucky or using hard work and determination to overcome the odds to win victory. There is more to it.

Goliath was the Champion of the Philistine army who had challenged a Champion of the Israelite army for a duel. This procedure was common in antiquity in order to allow one man to die to decide a battle rather than hundreds. You may be familiar with this procedure from the movie “Troy” where Achilles takes on the Champion of Thessaly, Boagrius. Well… we all know how this ended. Brad Pitt won, of course. I mean Achilles. Never mind- back to David.

David comes to the front to bring his older brothers some food. He is too young to do battle, so he might be about twelve years old. When he hears Goliath’s challenge, he says “Who is this Goliath that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam 17:26) David is perplexed that Goliath would dare to do this. He does NOT see himself (or the Israelites) as the underdogs. This is why he volunteers to fight Goliath, as no other Israelite is willing to step forward to fight Goliath.

David finally talks the King, Saul, in to allowing him to fight Goliath, and enters the battle full of confidence saying “The LORD will save me from the hand of Goliath” (1 Sam 17:37). He knows that God is in control, so he has no doubt about the outcome, which he even explains to Goliath just before he kills him with a slingshot: “The battle is the LORD’s.” 

So David’s faith in God and his understanding that God is in control is really the central message here. He knows that the outcome of the battle, and even he himself becoming King later is NOT a consequence of his hard work, superior skills, intelligence, or even luck. In the end what matters is the will of God- it will not be opposed. He will deliver the battle to whom he will deliver it.

David and Bathsheba

However, after David succeeds Saul as King of Israel, he himself seems to lose sight of this important lesson, and as you guys would say it, “becomes a bit full of himself.” During a war against the Ammonites (there always seemed to be one war or the other going on back then!), David is at home on the roof of his palace, when he sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing below. Before we move on, please note the change: From shepherd boy volunteering to fight Goliath, to a king at home during war. Bathsheba was the wife of one of the commanders in David’s army, Uriah. David decides to call her to himself, and even though he knows that she is married to Uriah, he sleeps with her. This made David an adulterer. A VERY serious sin, a sin even punishable by death in ancient Israel.

To make things worse, Bathsheba becomes pregnant by David, a fact David tries to cover up by asking her husband Uriah to return home from the front so people might suppose Uriah is the father. However, Uriah refuses to leave his men, to leave “the armies of the living God” to come home. How ironic, considering that David, the King, was NOT with the armies of the living God during this war.

With his first plan foiled, David comes up with a second, even more wicked, plan. He orders another commander in his army to cause Uriah’s death at the hands of the enemy by abandoning Uriah during an attack. David therefore not only orders the murder of Uriah, he does so in a most heinous way involving deception and a blatant abuse of power

So what in the world is going on here? One of the great men of the faith, a man after God’s own heart, author of many Psalms, was actually an adulterer AND a murderer? I guess the key takeaway is that ALL people fall short of the expectations God has for us. Still, God draws us to him and we are all called to worship God and serve him.

David and God

Which brings me to my third story. (Which actually occurred chronologically between the Goliath story and the Bathsheba story, but it fits best at the end of the sermon, so this is where you’ll hear it!) You probably have heard of the ark of the covenant. It plays a prominent part in the movie “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark!” This is NOT the ark of Noah, which was basically a ship, but this was the container that held the original stone tablets on which God inscribed the ten commandments with his own hand. Please note that God HIMSELF wrote these laws on the stone tablets, not Moses, so you shouldn’t be surprised that these tablets (and this ark holding them) were considered VERY, VERY holy!

The ark of the covenant had been in a variety of places until David decided to bring it in to Jerusalem and build a temple to house it. As the ark was entering Jerusalem what do you think David was doing? What do you expect a king to look like at a major occasion such as this? What would you expect him to do? ……… My guess is that you have a picture in your mind of a well-dressed man in robes with a crown on his head giving the “Queen wave” from a balcony. Well… that’s not the way it went down. You’ve already heard this passage once today, but let’s read this passage from 2 Samuel , Chapter 6:14-16 one more time (NIV):

“Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul [David’s wife] watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.”

Now… you might not be familiar with what a linen ephod is, so let me translate this in to the modern equivalent: This is basically like Prince Charles dancing around in his underwear.

Now you might say- that doesn’t seem very noble. And it wasn’t. But that is exactly the point. David laid down his royal robes because he understood what it meant for God to be in control. He felt called to humbly worship the living God with abandon, and that is the lesson I want us all to take away from this as well.

We all fall short of the glory of God- hopefully not as spectacularly as David did as an adulterer and murderer, but we still fall short! As such, we don’t earn the victory ourselves, and we don’t earn our own salvation, but we need to rely on God. We are called to look to David’s faith as a model, to worship God with abandon, and we should not be ashamed of worshipping him, even though others might think we are fools to do so. My hope is that Paul’s words to the Romans ring true to you: Romans 1:16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith.” 

Attended a workshop by @JenniferAbrams yesterday on “Having Hard Conversations.”