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DCUM Weblog

The Most Active Posts Since Friday

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 29, 2024 11:53 AM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included University of Maryland early admissions, a teen who wants a Stanley water bottle, University of Michigan early admissions results, and a 17-year-old daughter who is having sex.

The most active thread over the weekend was titled, "UMD EA Results" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. I've written several recent blog posts on topics dealing college "Early Decision" admissions. But, that admissions round has passed and colleges are on to "Early Action" which is something entirely different. Students can only submit a single Early Decision application and must commit to attending the school if accepted. Early Action has neither of those restrictions but has the advantage of receiving an admissions decision earlier in the cycle than regular admissions. This thread is about Early Action decisions from the University of Maryland. However, the results being reported in the thread have a twist. Rather than being accepted for the Fall of 2024 as would be expected, many posters report being accepted for the Spring of 2025 or, in some cases, the Spring of 2026. Posters are understandably confused about this. Other posters note that these students will be eligible for UMD's "Freshmen Connection" program which allows students who are accepted for the Spring semester to live on campus and take classes in the preceding Fall. There is some discussion about the purpose of Freshmen Connection and I don't think there was ever an adequate explanation. Some posters suggested it is a way to manipulate admissions statistics. Posters whose kids went through the program praised it and assured those being offered the option that there is no stigma or other negative connotation attached to it. Other posters received admission for the Fall of 2024 and much of that discussion was about the specific program to which the students had been admitted. UMD seems to have a host of Living-Learning Programs which group students with specific interests together. This includes the Honors College and something called FIRE to which several posters reported being admitted. As always in admissions results threads such as these, there are posters who are thrilled because their kids were accepted and those who are disappointed because their children were not. Rejections normally generate complaints about the admissions process, in this case there was anger that in-state students are not being prioritized over out-of-state applicants. Both those accepted and those rejected were asked to provide statistics which were then analyzed as posters attempted to read the tea leaves for any insight into admissions decisions. Offers for merit aid or other assistance come later in the process which somewhat spoiled the news of acceptance for many because they were not sure what attendance would cost them. Every university discussed in the forum attracts haters and UMD is no exception. Though, in this case, the most vocal critic mostly bashed it for the quality of its housing, especially off-campus housing. Coinciding with the criticism was a discussion lamenting that UMD's prestige is not widely recognized outside Maryland.

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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 26, 2024 10:49 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included pride in being an American, college applicants skipping "target" schools, a mother and daughter who hate each other, and Trump blocking immigration reform.

Yesterday's most active thread was titled, "How proud are you to be an American?" and posted in the "Off-Topic" forum. This thread is currently 23 pages long and, to be honest, I don't really feel like reading a single post. The entire text of the original post is "Politically and philosophically speaking." which did nothing to increase my interest in the thread. Moreover, the thread should have been posted in the political forum because almost immediately most of the posts turned political. I skipped to the last page and, sure enough, things were even worse. As a result, I locked the thread. As would be expected, some posters are proud to be an American and others are less so. In many cases, feelings seem to be closely aligned with support or disagreement with President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump. I, of course, am not a big fan of the "love it or leave it" mentality often evinced by those with perhaps too much pride in our country. Nor, however, do I think we need to permanently hang our heads in shame. The vast majority of us had no say in becoming Americans. We were born that way and, if anything, the primary thing we should feel is lucky. America, like it citizens, is responsible for both good and bad contributions to the world. It is a country with flaws and it helps nobody to ignore or gloss over those shortcomings. Ironically, some of the most vocal critics of America today are exactly those who proclaim themselves "patriots". Many of them would have us believe that pride in the country is best expressed by waving a flag while attempting to usurp its fundamental institutions. This highlights another issue. What exactly is "America"? Is it simply a land within its borders, a legal designation, or a government? Is it its people, a culture, neither of those, or something more? Have increased travel, communication, and other aspects of globalization made being an American less significant? The few posts that I read in this thread suggested that many poster's feelings about America were tied to their support for one side or the other of the Israel-Gaza war. By the end of the thread the discussion appears to have lost all relevance to the original topic and is solely about immigration.

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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 25, 2024 03:58 PM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included Trump's popularity, the social skills of a smart seven-year-old, yield protection in college admissions, and changing MCPS high school start times.

The most active thread yesterday was one titled, "I hate Trump, but I get why a huge part of middle America loves him" and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. The original poster says that she is a "typical educated and wealthy DC-area striver" but she believes that most of America has been "truly screwed over by progressive policies" and, therefore, believes that Democrats no longer care about the large group that has suffered from under-education, under-employment, drug abuse, being forced to compete with undocumented immigrants, and "penalized by the color of their skin". I am not going to bother to read a single post in this thread. Rather, I'll just address the original poster's points which appear to be a triumph of right-wing messaging over fact. One of the biggest successes of the right-wing has been to destroy liberal-support institutions and then complain that those institutions don't function and/or blame the results of that destruction on liberals. Under-education is largely a result of decades of attacks on public education by conservatives. Similarly, under-employment is the result of the relentless pursuit of profits by corporations, not liberal policies. To the contrary, one of the best antidotes to under-employment — unionization — is a Democratic priority hated by conservatives. The opioid epidemic about which the original poster complains was largely instigated by the pharmaceutical industry. Do you know what might have helped control or prevent that? Government regulations which Republicans hate. The idea that White people are not able to go to college because of the color of their skin is ludicrous. The high costs of college are an exponentially higher barrier and many of the poorer White applicants would have had their own advantages in any case. Yet, Republicans oppose efforts to make paying for college easier. The original poster mentions fighting in wars, but these wars were started and supported by Republicans. It was Joe Biden who withdrew our forces from Afghanistan. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats do not have full time propaganda networks such as Fox News broadcasting their talking points. As a result, Democratic achievements don't get the same notice. What does the original poster think about the United Auto Workers deal that was achieved after a historic strike with the support of Joe Biden? During the strike, Trump met with non-unionized workers. Not only did that agreement raise the salaries of UAW members, but non-unionized companies — even Tesla — have had to increase wages to stay competitive.  The problems facing the White folks with whom the original poster is concerned are largely the fault of anti-government zealots and a corporate America that puts profits over people. It is no surprise that both of those groups are happy to blame Democrats and migrants for problems resulting from right-wing policies. It is disappointing, however, when those such as the original poster who should know better buy into the conservative blame-shifting.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 27, 2024 06:38 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included a spouse from an underdeveloped country, a wife arrested for DWI, the point at which private colleges don't justify their cost, and should women marry for money?

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Vent about marrying someone from a very underdeveloped country". The thread was originally posted in the "Off-Topic" forum but I moved it to the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster says that she and her family are visiting her husband's family in a country that is much less developed than the United States. They are staying with her husband's family in a house in which taking a warm shower requires mixing boiling hot water with cold water and using a bucket. There is no air conditioning or heat and stores that have the items they would like to purchase are a three-hour drive away. The original poster and her kids are miserable but her husband is not understanding of the challenges they are facing. The original poster is very upset with him and using this thread to vent. This thread has already reached 21 pages. There are posters who are not sympathetic to the original poster and generally criticized her attitude and provided advice regarding what they believe are easy things that she can do to adjust. Other posters are more supportive of her and critical of her husband. The original poster has previously posted other threads about her husband and travels to his native country which results in the original poster being recognized by others who linked to her earlier threads. There are a number of disputes about whether or not the original poster is a troll, with one poster even starting a thread asking this in the "Website Feedback" forum. As I said in that thread, the poster is posting from Bangladesh, the country to which posters identified her as referring. However, this morning I noticed that the original poster has done quite a bit of sock puppeting, mostly offering what appears to be third-person defenses of herself. The thread is full of repeated patterns in which the original poster complained about something, posters offered advice for improving whatever that is, the original poster then explains why the advice won't work, other posters criticize her, the original poster sock puppets a supportive message, and then the original poster again explains why the advice won't work. The thread is also full of Indians, people related to Indians, or people who have been to India who believe that they have all the answers for the original poster. But, as with all other advice, the original poster is not receptive and is convinced that what applies to India is irrelevent to Bangladesh. Some posters engage with this thread as if it is some sort of mystery that they must solve. The city in which she is visiting was identified and posters provided the average daily temperatures, population statistics, and other information that they think shows the original poster is misstating the reality of conditions. Given the frequency with which the original poster has been posting — over 60 posts in 24 hours — it is clear that while the home in which she is staying may not have running warm water, heat, or a modern kitchen, it has a good Internet connection.

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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 23, 2024 11:13 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included the future of MCPS Superintendent McKnight, alternatives to Joe Biden, adults who haven't learned how to drive, and paying for in-law's mortgage.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Board wants Monifa to step down". Posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum, the title refers to a report in the Washington Post that the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education has requested that Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight step down from her position. According to the Post article, McKnight contends that the Board has not previously communicated any concerns about her performance and has no cause to remove her from office. Therefore, she plans to remain in her position and contest efforts to force her out. McKnight has been controversial from the start. While she was serving as Interim Superintendent before officially being hired as Superintendent, the Montgomery County Education Association — the teachers' union — passed a vote of no confidence in her. Her efforts to address the fallout from the covid pandemic have not won her many fans and significantly increased criticism of her leadership. More recently, a controversy involving the promotion of Joel Beidleman, a MCPS middle school principal who was promoted to high school principal while under investigation for bullying and sexual harassment, has raised questions about her involvement in events. McKnight has denied any knowledge of the charges against Beidleman but several top administrators have been found to have been involved. This has led to the classic conundrum that if McKnight knew what was happening, she was malfeasant and, if she didn't know, she was incompetent. But, much of the discussion in this thread focuses on the school board. Many posters call for board members to step down along with McKnight because the board has approved all of McKnight's actions. Moreover, many posters see the board as mishandling McKnight's dismissal. If the board has indeed not communicated grounds for her removal and McKnight is unwilling to go quietly, there will likely be a significant financial payout to get her to leave. Months of unwanted controversy regarding this issue can also be expected. A sideshow debate in this thread involves how McKnight is addressed by posters. There has long been a tendency in the forum to identify the superintendent as "Monifa" — something that happened even in the thread's title. Several posters object to this, believing that the frequent habit of referring to women in general and Black women in particular by their first names is lodged in sexism and racism. I have noticed this propensity, frequently as it relates to Vice President Kamala Harris, and I also agree that the use of first names in such instances are posters' efforts to diminish these women. Loudoun County went through a major controversy leading to the removal of Dr. Scott Ziegler as schools superintendent and never once do I remember him being called "Scott". Neither was former Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent Dr Scott Brabrand referred to with that name during his controversial tenure.

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The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 24, 2024 04:03 PM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included repeat posters, the UVA rush, marching band in APS, and a 30-year-old not shoveling snow.

The most active thread over the weekend was the Gaza war thread which I have discussed before and will skip now. After that was a thread titled, "Do you ever recognize repeat posters?". Posted in the "Off-Topic" forum, the original poster says there are a couple of posters who are "frequent flyers" and she is able to recognize their posts. She asks if others are able to recognize anyone. For some reason DCUM posters love to reminisce about old threads and, in many ways, this thread is simply a version of doing this. While some posters do seem to have someone specific in mind, in many cases the descriptions of alleged repeat posters really describe trends or habits instead of individuals. For instance, one poster complained about someone who constantly writes, "Try to keep up", but that phrase is used by a host of users. Similarly, another poster suggested "The grammar Nazi", which could refer to any number of different users. Perhaps in response to these posters, one person claimed to recognize "The posters (plural) who think only one person ever writes certain words or phrases". Another poster, wrote, "Many of the examples listed are not about repeat posters, rather they posted something memorable. That's a different discussion." But, this is the destiny of any thread that provides DCUM posters the opportunity to wax nostalgic. Despite all of this, a few posters did describe repeat posters who are recognizable to me. But, those posts normally went unremarked upon. An exception was a poster who I have been combatting for sometime who likely suffers from some sort of mental health issue. The poster has a few recognizable posting patterns and, as a result, was mentioned by multiple posters, though without apparent understanding that they were all describing the same poster. I am fairly certain that they were describing different habits of the guy, without knowing they were describing the same person. Later in the thread, posters started multiple debates over whether a single or multiple posters were responsible for some of the poster's posts. As a result, that poster was probably the most mentioned individual in the thread. Some posters claimed that they recognized a poster who would use a specific phrase only to have another poster chime in saying that they used that phrase but that it was also used by others. When a poster brought up someone who is obsessed with DEI, a debate about DEI broke out. If nothing else, that clarified that there are multiple posters obsessed with DEI to the extent that they can't even control themselves in a thread of this sort which has nothing to do with the topic. One poster appears have recognized himself and offered a defense saying, "Today white men are facing the greatest discrimination known on this earth" which left me uncertain about whether this was satire or the guy actually believes this.

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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 19, 2024 10:59 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included caring for a father-in-law, MCPS school closures, a rude teenager, and the Supreme Court's consideration of the regulatory authority of government agencies.

The most active thread yesterday was the Kate Middleton thread that I discussed yesterday. I'll skip that one today, but will mention that DCUM's usage statistics showed a significant bump in traffic yesterday. When I checked Google's search statistics, I saw that searches for Kate Middleton were driving users to our site and were responsible for the increased traffic. The next most active thread was titled, "Dad fell, SIL lives closest" and posted in the "Family Relationships" forum. The original poster says that her father-in-law was injured by a fall and will be immobile for several weeks. He has moved in with the original poster's sister-in-law who lives close to him and she has been taking care of him. However, the sister-in-law has run out of sick leave and asked the original poster's husband if he can come stay at her house for a week. The original poster and her family live about 3 hours away. The original poster's husband is currently unemployed and, as such, has a flexible schedule. However, the original poster is scheduled to travel for work during the week, which would leave nobody available to care for their children. She asks for suggestions about what to do. As is typical of DCUM, not all of the responses are helpful. But, a number of posters do attempt to provide useful answers. For some reason, the original poster tended to respond more often and more substantively to the unhelpful posts, often with a combination of self-pity and aggression. This started a spiral in which posters reacted even more negatively to the original poster, causing her to increase her complaints about the how unhelpful the responses were. The result was a thread that has a mostly negative tone. In addition, many responses were clouded by what appears to have been chips on the shoulders of many posters over the fact that women — in this case the original poster's sister-in-law — often get stuck with the bulk of the responsibility in cases such as these. There were several complaints that the original poster's unemployed husband had not been doing more to help. The original poster, in turn, devoted a lot of effort to defending her husband and stressing the assistance that he had been providing. The problem with situations like this is that there are no easy answers and whatever answers exist all have drawbacks. Ultimately, the perfect solution will not be found and, instead, the original poster and her family will have to make compromises. Many of those responding clearly recognize that fact, while not explicitly articulating it. The solutions proposed are imperfect, but probably the best available. However, the original poster's tendency is to either ignore such proposals or fixate on their downsides. This added to an increasing level of frustration among almost all posters in the thread.

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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 19, 2024 09:18 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included Kate Middleton, another MCPS snow day, the proposed Maury-Minor partnership, and the plight of boys.

There are very few topics that can produce 40 pages of posts in less than 24 hours, but the British Royal Family is one of them. As a result, the most active thread yesterday was titled, "Kate Middleton in Hospital - Recovering from Surgery" and posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum. This thread was started after news that Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, had undergone planned abdominal surgery and would be recovering in the hospital for the next 10-15 days and then would be at home until after Easter. Anyone even remotely familiar with this forum's obsession with British royals would know that this lack of detail was simply not going to be acceptable to BRF fanatics. Indeed, the same posters who have previously been experts in the intricacies of British tabloids, domain specialists on the topic of royal ancestry lines, authorities on royal protocol, and more familiar with the inner thinking of Harry than Harry himself, instantly anointed themselves experts on abdominal surgery. To say that speculation ran rife about what treatment Kate had undergone is a bit like saying that water flows over the Niagara Falls with some alacrity. It's true, but doesn't really do reality justice. I am fairly certain that there is not a single malady that could conceivably affect the abdominal region that was not authoritatively described as the reason for the operation. But, because many of the posters are wise enough not to accept a royal statement at face value, speculation did not stop with Kate's torso. Indeed, these posters, who are smart enough to know a ruse when they see one, adamantly declared that the whatever was going on, it had nothing to do with an abdomen and, for that matter, likely had nothing to do with surgery. Countering these suggestions, other posters put forth that non-surgical healthcare could more easily have been explained away by a lengthy vacation or something other than a hospital stay. Therefore, actual surgery must have been involved. Adding fuel to the fire was news that King Charles would also enter the hospital for prostrate treatment. This put William, Prince of Wales, in a bit of a pickle. Should he step up in place of his father and show leadership or should he be home with the kids while Kate is hospitalized, acting as the caring husband and father? Posters were divided and arguments were presented for both options. The best comment in the thread was one saying, "If there was a world cup of speculation, DCUM team would bring some sort of honorary medal for sure." My only disagreement is the suggestion that the medal would solely be "honorary". Certainly, the DCUM speculators would achieve a silver, if not a gold medal.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 18, 2024 10:03 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included a troll thread about yoga pants, a marital dispute about shoveling the deck, colleges for "C" students, and Trump's victory in the Iowa Caucuses.

The most active thread yesterday was one of the snow-related threads that I discussed yesterday and, therefore, will skip today. After that was a thread titled, "Are yoga pants ok?" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. Based on the title, I thought this thread might be more appropriate for the fashion forum. But the original poster explained that the issue was a complaint by her boyfriend about her wearing yoga pants when they went out to a bookstore and for coffee. He apparently doesn't consider yoga pants to be "real clothes" and expects that if he dresses nicer when they go out, so should she. That made this more of a relationship issue, though posters who responded approached the topic from both angles. I immediately had troll vibes from this post and checked to see what else the original poster has been posting. I was surprised to see several threads about her husband — written just days ago. I would think that brings up an issue more important than yoga pants. The original poster also started another thread just hours before this one in which she said she and her boyfriend had broken up. In the past week, the original poster has posted about going on dates with both a man and a woman. But, the real cherry on top was a thread in which she said that she didn't want to have sex until marriage and then — in a thread one minute short of 24 hours later — posted about having sex with her boyfriend for the first time and it turning out to be terrible. I would say that she would have been better off keeping her yoga pants on, except that back in October she started a thread complaining that her boyfriend didn't initiate sex as often anymore. So, clearly she hasn't waited for marriage to have sex, either good or bad. When a poster like this one posts so many contradictory threads, it is impossible to know which, if any, are true. Moreover, this poster has started nearly 100 threads since October. In that time, she has been in a struggling marriage, divorced, widowed, dating with all kinds of complications, and changed genders a number of times. She also started a thread saying that she is too good for most single men, though it is not clear whether those are real men or men who exist solely in her imagination. I'm always torn about disclosing this sort of information. Some posters howl that it is a violation of privacy. First, it's not. Second, trolls don't deserve privacy. But I know this adds to the perception that the forum is nothing but trolls and harms DCUM's reputation. Of course some would argue that DCUM's reputation can hardly get worse in this regard, but I hate to do more damage. It is doubtful that a poster like this can be shamed into changing her behavior, but we can always hope. At any rate, I've locked this thread and deleted a few of the more recent ones.

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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 16, 2024 11:25 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included weather-related closures, the college admissions game, actors and actresses who can't act, and questions about being an alcoholic.

Yesterday the District of Columbia region received its first significant snowfall of the year, though as a native midwesterner, I am practically required to scoff at what Washingtonians consider "significant snowfall". Nevertheless, with little more than flurries that barely stuck to the pavement, posters could hardly write about anything other than snow-related closings. Fully half of the top ten most active threads were weather related. Therefore, rather than discuss a bunch of threads that are all pretty much the same, I'll lump the five weather-related threads together and discuss them all at once. The most active of the bunch was titled, "Snow day predictions? Anyone" and posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum. As I mentioned in a recent blog post discussing a thread about Montgomery County Public Schools closing early due to wind and rain, MCPS is particularly sensitive about weather issues, leading to repeated controversies. Next was a thread titled, "Snow closing tracker" and posted in the "Private & Independent Schools" forum. In the world of private schools, nearly anything can be turned into a competition and reactions to snow is no exception. Either being the first to announce a closure or the last can be a point of pride depending on one's pont of view. Third was a thread titled, "Will schools be open next week?" and posted in the "Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)" forum. This thread was actually started last Friday by a poster looking ahead but gained more traction — apparently unlike cars on Fairfax County roads — yesterday. After that was a thread titled "ROADS ARE BAD STAY HOME!!!!" which, if I remember correctly, was originally posted in the "Off-Topic" forum before I moved it to the "Cars and Transportation" forum. Other than the snow, the most discussed issue in this thread was "236" and exactly what road that is and whether or not anyone actually calls it that. Finally, rounding out the top ten most active threads as well as the top five snow-related topics was a thread titled, "Chances that school will be canceled tomorrow?" and posted in the "DC Public and Public Charter Schools" forum. This thread, in addition to the snow discussion, was dominated by a debate about whether fathers can competently adjust to the threat of a delayed opening or cancellation. Apparently the logistics of this are well beyond the capabilities of some men. Good job to the guys who have figured out that acting helpless can secure a couple of hours of extra sleep on a snowy day while their wives struggle with the kids.

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