Manute Bol

This last week, Manute Bol — the tallest man ever to play in the NBA — died at 47 years of age from complications related to a rare skin condition (Stevens-Johnson Syndrome) contracted while working in his native nation of Sudan.

Bol was a journeyman NBA player for 10 seasons but was singularly memorable both for his unique ability to block shots in amazing ways and for being a joyful warrior in a league of jaded and selfish young men.

I hope the NBA establishes a Manute Bol humanitarian award similar to the one MLB has honoring Roberto Clemente. May Bol’s selflessness and service to others encourage us all to focus less on ourselves and more on people in need.

beck haiku

As part of the haiku protest against Glenn Beck’s confused/ignorant/wicked suggestion that people should leave churches that proclaim “social justice” or “economic justice,” I wrote this haiku. Perhaps, part of my interest is out of the guilt I feel that my denomination (Southern Baptist) wants to claim that we are simple biblicists while consistently voting against the clear teachings of Christ concerning social justice.

My haiku is not great, but I wanted to add my two cents worth.

glenn is a contest
between venality and
raving lunacy


Partners in Health/Haiti donations


After just five days, Willard High School students and faculty have donated $917.00 through their science classes for Partners in Health’s Haiti relief and their ongoing medical work with the poorest people in the poorest nation in our hemisphere. Our administration will process the money and cut a check as quickly as is possible.

Thank you to everyone who participated and gave.


As we all try to get our mind around the unimaginable destruction visited upon our neighbor Haiti, I wanted to help in some small way (Haiti is only 680 miles southwest of Miami — about the same distance and direction Atlanta is from us, here in southwest Missouri). My classes and I are collecting money to send to Partners in Health, the organization co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, the remarkable subject of Tracy Kidder’s book ‘Mountains Beyond Mountains.’

I chose PIH, among many worthy giving options, because of PIH’s long track record of selfless service to Haiti’s poorest and sickest people. I hope everyone will search their heart and determine what their own response should be to this terrible and probably long-lasting tragedy.

View before and after satellite images of Port-Au-Prince from the ‘New York Times’.


If you are not familiar with Paul Farmer, you should buy or borrow “Mountains Beyond Mountains.” It is a book you won’t be able to get out of your consciousness.

If you would consider donating to relief efforts in Haiti, please check out Partners in Health’s website


or any one of the other fine agencies listed on the front page of the Huffington Post.


Our feeling of powerlessness and insignificance is completely understandable in the face of the incredible force of nature and the scale of human suffering it has caused. It should not, however, serve as a rationalization for our doing nothing.

Some books I’m looking at reading for the poverty unit

The Skeptic’s Guide To Global Poverty
by Dale Hanson Bourke

Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail
by Paul Polak

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
by Paul Collier

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time
by Jeffrey Sachs

recently added (thanks LVTfan)
Progress and Poverty
by Henry George

and to reread:

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World
by Tracy Kidder

Guns, Germs, and Steel
by Jared Diamond

WHS 2009-2010 Interdisciplinary Project – Poverty

The faculty’s choice for next year’s interdisciplinary topic is “poverty.” I’m pleased. My hope is that we can do this project in a way that is honest, open to a variety of points of view and which opens the eyes and minds of our students. If we can, then it will be well worth our effort.

My initial list of things I think would be interesting.

Poverty in:
the U.S.
the world

How is poverty defined?
How many poor are there?
How does poverty affect your everyday life – food, water, shelter, education, health?

Causes of poverty.
Ways out of poverty.

Grameen Bank
heifer international

donate/work in local soup kitchen
habitat for humanity


I’m thinking about matching my student’s donations to kiva or heifer international (up to some amount ($300-400?).