Belated Happy New Year

After a lot of driving around the Midwest to visit family and friends, I find myself back home. I'm wiped out. Overall, not a bad set of visits, but it sucks to live so far from the bulk of my family. We really should fly, but both my wife and I hate commercial flying and tend not to do it for trips that can be done in one day in the car (even if it's a very long day).

I'm now sifting through my e-mails accumulated from the time I was gone. One thing I was gratified to see as I sifted through the electronic pile that my favorite artist of all time, David Bowie, actually agrees with two of my choices for best albums of the year, namely Funeral by Arcade Fire and the self-titled debut album by Secret Machines. Nice to know one of my music heroes agrees with some of my choices.

What was not so gratifying was an example of pure and utter hatred based on religion forwarded to me by a friend. It told me of "Reverend" Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church and its response to the recent tsunami in the Indian Ocean. For those of you fortunate enough not to have encountered these American Taliban, I'll give you a brief primer. In fact, their beliefs go way beyond merely bigoted. For example, they openly advocate the death penalty for homosexuals. They were also the group that picketed Matthew Shepard's funeral and put up disgusting "memorials" to him, like this and this. They show up in the news periodically picketing against homosexuals, usually at times and places most inappropriate and tasteless (like at Matthew Shepard's funeral).

You would think that, given that Reverend Fred Phelps claims to be a Christian, he would have expressed sorrow at the huge loss of life from this killer wave and urged his congregation and followers to pray for the victims and send assistance. After all, that's what pretty much every other Christian church has done. Oh, no. Not Fred Phelps. He expressed great satisfaction at what he perceives as the wrath of God on visiting Swedes. But apparently he hates America as well, because a couple of days later he expressed similar satisfaction at how many Americans died in the tsunami (supposedly for their sins), just as he did after 9/11. In fact, he wished for another tsunami to hit American and kill millions. Bottom line, the Westboro Baptist Church is no different from the Taliban in my book. I can't understand how people can harbor such hate in the name of God, any more than I can understand the Taliban or al Qaeda.

But enough. Most of you come here for science and alt-med. Such blogging will begin again either tomorrow or on Jan. 4, depending on how fast I can get my act together after our long trip.


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