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I just thought you'd like to know I've had four flat tires in the past year, a screw, two nails, and a pitchfork. My oldest son believes the explanation is tied to my birding. Dirt roads he says, and although one of the four did happen on a birding trip we all know that correlation does not imply causation, and no the dirt road was not the source of the pitchfork. The pitchfork was on Interstate 15 and the diciest of the lot. I pulled over but the handle of the pitchfork was sticking out into the lane of traffic. I wasn't about to get out of the car and called 911 who sent the highway patrol. What a great guy, he not only removed the pitchfork, but put my spare on as well. So what explains four flats in once year when I probably haven't had that many flats in the past twenty years of driving. I'm going with regression to the mean.

Mark writes that the no nonsense approach of the press created sympathy for Ken Ring.



oldest son believes the explanation is tied to my birding.

I had the same time when I worked in North carolina, nails everywhere.

The comments in the "Christian foster couple" article are terrifying.

Would they say the same thing if the foster parents wanted to be able to tell the kid that being Black or Asian "wasn't a good thing"?

And in that case, the kid wouldn't have a chance of growing up to be Black or Asian, they'd merely be getting raised by bigots; whereas he/she could end up being LGBT, making the damage caused by the bigotry even more severe! It could ruin the kid's whole life!

At least the court seems to have made the right ruling. But as for the people commenting on the article, what is wrong with them?

Also, it's not just as simple as "everybody has a right to adopt unless they're bad people". Apparently they have to be positively good. A commenter on PZ's blog explained it further:

Foster parents are held to a certain code of conduct. Because they are fostering children that have been abused or neglected, they cannot be allowed to further abuse or neglect those children. We don't make judgments on other people's judgments, but you can't put a 13 year old neglected child who thinks he might be gay in a homophobic home--it would simply further traumatize the child.

Foster parents are told explicitly about this code of conduct: there are rules on how they are allowed to discipline children, what discipline they are allowed to use, conversations they are allowed to have with the children, how they give them medical attention (btw, in MD vaccines for the win, yay!), how they provide education.

What if the parents were ultra liberal? Would they be allowed to tell their kids that conservatism is wrong and offensive to them?

If the child's parents said any such thing they'd be idiots. Other than the obvious that there are many wonderful people with conservative views, there's the bigger picture of conservatism offering an important counter to liberalism in human society. Even though many of us here consider ourselves liberal I doubt any rational mind would claim our world would be better without conservatism. Especially traditional conservatism. The Theocratic/prosperity gospel/bigoted "conservatives" we could do without though.

How's that equivalent? It's not like they were denied cause they were christian, they were denied because they are homophobes.

I would use the term homophobe sparringly; it's too often thrown around that's it's becoming like the phrase 'judicial activism'--in other words, meaningless. I guess the issue becomes how do we determine what views parents can express or even instill in children. Saying they disagree with homosexuality and think it's wrong is different than harassing the kids because they suspect they are gay.

I'm not getting your point.

I would use the term homophobe sparringly(sic) ... Saying they disagree with homosexuality and think it's wrong is different

How is saying homosexuality (an attribute, like being Black or Asian or red-haired, etc, that people have no control over) is "wrong" not homophobia? Would you say that to a close friend who just came out? How do you think they would feel?

You can say, for example, "homosexuality grosses me out" and maybe only sound a little immature. But "homosexuality is wrong" sounds exactly like homophobia to me. What else would I call it? Intolerance, bigotry, ignorance... in this context, for me, these are all synonyms for "homophobia".

Would you say that to a close friend who just came out? How do you think they would feel?

Well I wouldn't say that to anyone because I am gay, but that's a separate issue. The issue here is what freedom to people have to hold bad views? Would I, as a hypothetical foster child, feel like crap in that household? You bet! But I'm also fairly liberal and an atheist and surely those are going to be views that I would clash with them as well. At what point do we draw a line and say these views are not 'correct' but these ones are? I would make the suggestion I stated earlier about harassment.

The issue here is what freedom to people have to hold bad views?

I thought it was about what standards foster parents are held to.

Apparently, in the UK, professing bigotry means you don't meet the standard. This doesn't bother me. Indeed, bigotry of all kinds is (hopefully) becoming generally socially unacceptable in many countries.

Hopefully I don't need to point out: this does not mean it is becoming "illegal" to hold certain views.

Saying they disagree with homosexuality and think it's wrong is different than harassing the kids because they suspect they are gay.

Different, maybe, but don't you think those two things are related? They've professed a position which logically may lead them to harming a child, and/or violating his rights under the local anti-discrimination and equality laws. Hence, they do not qualify to be foster parents.

They've professed a position which logically may lead them to harming a child, and/or violating his rights under the local anti-discrimination and equality laws

Having a view that something's wrong and discriminating someone on the basis of that view are two separate things. Sure, a person holding a the view that being gay is bad could lead to harm of the child. Or it may not. Many Christians think all other faiths are wrong and people who believe in them are gonna burn in hell. Yet the majority have managed to share elbow room in society with such people. If we go too far in this view of a possibility of harm, then practically no one is going to be fit to be a foster parent. I'm sure some of my views can be interpreted to be intolerant of Christians simply because I think Christianity is wrong as well as bullshit. Would I not be fit per your view?

I think in modern society we have gotten to the point that homophobia and racism can be considered two facets of the same thing (bigotry, I guess).

If you can accept that premise, then wouldn't you say that someone who is not willing to tell their children than being black is OK, is racist?

Even if I concede that it's racist, so what? If children are harmed by this why not take the initiative to take biological parent's kids away for politically incorrect beliefs? Saying that this is the way adoption works and that they're simply held to a higher standard does not answer the question as to why there should be this different standard in the first place--if what we're concerned about is child well-being.

You were responding at my use of "homophobes" and that's what I was discussing. I thought it was clear enough that these people have to be held to higher standards because foster kids are often abused kids.

"All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing”

ARRGH! So not getting the point.

You might even think they were being disingenuous.

Five separate "climategate" vindications! It just goes to show how deep and sinister the liberal global-warming hoax is, don't it? Once the right-wing heroes blow the lid of this thing, I hope they'll get on to that "fossil" burying conspiracy!

I hope I at least get credit when they start teaching Intelligent Hypotenuse in schools.

The Pythagorean equation is "only a theorem", after all!

If this is indeed just chance, I don't think it's regression to the mean. This is the anomaly. Regression to the mean will be when you get back to the rate you've been doing in the past 20 years.

The dirt road theory isn't without its merits though, either.

When I first started driving 50 years ago I got quite a few flats recently there had been a long stretch with few flats so I view the extra flats in the past year as bringing the number of flats back to a more reasonable average, regression to the mean. If I turned the time line around would you consider the paucity of flats after these four regression to the mean.

So you're expecting to go back to the average of about 4 a year? Way to be pessimist, Norm! Don't you know if you put your wishes out there the Universe will provide?

Me, I have had one flat tire in almost 8 years of driving in LA. When I was driving in the streets of Lima it was worse, of course.

one year I went through two windshields, as I was doing a ton of highway driving.

Since then, something like nine years without a problem. although when I drove to the tetons a few years back a bird broke my grill.

Re flat tires.

How 'bout bad rubber as the explanation for your flats? Remember a few years back when the Ford Explorers were all getting blow outs? Turned out Firestone had made a bad batch of rubber. We got a blow-out on our truck then. I replaced my work boots about the same time (big tough well soled clod hoppers they were). Unlike every other pair of that brand I'd ever had, the soles were rotten. Pieces tore off. For several years after that, the soaker hoses I bought (made from recycled tires) didn't even last a half a season (I expect two years use from 'em).

Maybe your tires were a set from that last batch of BAD TIRES. BAD BAD TIRES. Maybe once you replace the whole set, you might return to flat-free bird watching. BTW, last year I found a great tool, it's a magnetized roller (about 18 inches wide), with a 4 ft handle. Just roll it around anyplace you've done construction and it picks up all those little nails, and fence staples and pieces of chicken wire, whatever metal is left on the ground.

Um... you called 911 for a flat?

So much of the comments above take me back to my teaching days when I tried, albeit with little obvious positive result, to instill a mindset into students that made them question what'facts' they were presented with. I recently came across this version of a presentation on applying science to medicine and I append it here for the benefit and edification of any of you who may not have seen it before.


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