You've surely heard by now of the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami in northern Japan. According to the news reports, waves up to 30 feet high swept inland for miles (the first report I read said three miles, later reports said six; it probably varied by location). Hundreds of dead bodies have already been found, hundreds more people are missing, thousands have been dislocated from their homes, and many of those who still have homes are without power as nuclear plants were shut down.
The Japanese have been dealing with earthquakes for centuries; they have strict building codes and people know what to do when disaster strikes. Still, a calamity of this size is beyond my comprehension. My heart goes out to all those affected.
I've been following Jerry Coyne's blog, "Why Evolution Is True," for several months now. Jerry's official Japanese correspondent, blogger "Yokohamamama," who lives in Yokohama (south of the area most strongly affected by the quake), just happens to be visiting San Diego this week, but her husband and children stayed behind in Japan. Thankfully, they're OK and she's been in touch with them via Skype, but before that, she spent a frantic night in the lobby of her hotel (where the Internet reception was best) trying to get through to them. She was approached by a group of young Christians who—probably sincerely wanting to be supportive—told her that "everything happens for a reason." In this case, as Jerry points out, the reason "was simply the slipping of tectonic plates."