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DCUM Weblog

Last Year's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 02, 2024 09:00 AM

Wars dominated the topics with the most engagement last year and two threads from last year's list made return engagements.

Happy New Year to everyone in DCUM land. To start the year off, I am going repeat something that I did last January 1st. Instead of looking at the most active threads over the weekend as I would normally do, I am going to review the top ten most active threads for the entire year. Most of these are ones that I have discussed in blog posts so I won't say very much about each thread. But, this might provide an interesting overview of the topics that dominated DCUM in 2023. As is suited for a New Year's countdown, I am going to start from the bottom of the list and work towards the most active.

The tenth most active thread of 2023 was titled, "APS Closing Nottingham" and posted in the "VA Public Schools other than FCPS" forum. I originally discussed this thread on July 3, describing plans by Arlington Public Schools to send current Nottingham Elementary School students to other nearby schools and convert Nottingham into a "swing space" to be used by students of schools that were being renovated. The thread reached 180 pages before I locked it. Ultimately, as one poster wrote, "Notties always win...", and APS reversed its plans and will keep the school as it is.

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The Most Active Threads over the Past Two Days

by Jeff Steele last modified Dec 29, 2023 10:36 AM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included actors with the most chemistry, the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Bradley Cooper and Gigi Hadid, and recommendations for college tours.

I was unable to post yesterday so today I'll cover the most active threads from the past two days. The most active thread over those days was again the Gaza war thread which I'll skip since I've already discussed it. Following that was a thread titled, "Which two actors have/had the greatest on-screen chemistry?" and posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum. The original poster didn't put a lot of effort into the first post, only writing, "What do you think?". Apparently other posters had enough thoughts to sustain a 14 page thread. The first page of the thread is almost completely devoted to suggestions of Brad Pitt along with almost any other actor, male or female. George Clooney also received multiple mentions, though one with with Brad Pitt. Much of this thread, in fact, is simply devoted to Brad Pitt. Some posters are fans of the classics like Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy while others suggested foreign actors such as Kim Go-Eun and Lee Min-Ho, two actors of whom I've never heard. One poster suggested Beavis and Butthead but I am not sure that cartoon characters count. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were mentioned so many times that one poster got angry and chastised others for repeating the suggestion. This then led to a back and forth about whether that poster could accurately be described as "enraged". There are lots and lots of suggestions, far too many to list, as well as some additional commentary. A number of posts discussed the real life relationships of the actors which might not have been reflected on screen. But, as a couple of posters pointed out, that's why it's called "acting". After considerable praise of George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in "Out of Sight", at least two posters were inspired to watch the movie and agreed that it was both a good movie and that there was considerable chemistry.

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No Post Today

by Jeff Steele last modified Dec 28, 2023 06:19 AM

Busy today, so no post.

I'm busy with other things today and won't have time for a blog post. Posting will resume tomorrow.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Dec 29, 2023 10:05 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included Taylor Swift, elite colleges losing significance, a boyfriend who wants his own child, and wanting to transfer from an Ivy League university.

The most active thread yesterday was one originally created back in September 2022, but revived recently. Titled, "Taylor Swift is awful (and her music isn't even very good)" and posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum, the original poster linked to an article in the Daily Beast that he (I'm guessing the poster is a dude) said summed up everything that he doesn't like about Taylor Swift. Notable about the original post is that that the poster is extremely defensive about his dislike of Swift and provides three bullet points defending his right to criticize her. The first of those points consists of several sentences providing multiple arguments that it is not misogynistic to criticize Swift. It looks like this thread reached 31 pages before it died down and was dormant for almost a year, brought back to life by a post in early October. It lost momentum again only to be revived again in mid-December by an all-caps poster proclaiming his dislike for Swift. Since that time, the thread has more than doubled in length and is currently 67 pages long. If this thread can be viewed in parts, the most recent pages can be considered "Swift Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Swifties". I am obviously not going to read 67 pages or even the 13 pages created yesterday (which made this thread the most active of the day). But, from skimming a couple of pages, it looks like the posts are a combination of criticisms of Swift and her music, criticism of Swift's fans, and rejections of those criticisms. Like the original poster from more than a year ago, many posters are defensive about their criticisms of Swift and complain that they will be attacked by Swifties for voicing negative opinions. A common theme is that Swift presents herself and her music as representing all women. Therefore, criticism of her or her music is interpreted as criticism of women generally rather than Swift specifically. More than one poster argued that Swift has cleverly created this situation and are determined to pierce the shield of femininity with which they believe Swift protects herself. Beyond that, several posters take issue with the quality of her lyrics. One tactic was to claim that they are simply rip-offs of other artists and lack originality. One poster who was brought to my attention thanks to a thread in the "Website Feedback" forum claimed that a Swift song was a knock-off of a U2 song. Ironically, the poster making this allegation also claimed not to be familiar with either U2 or Swift. Needless to say, his argument was not overly convincing and was accepted by virtually nobody. One tactic employed by Swifties to counter the criticisms was the most Swifty thing imaginable: quoting Swift's lyrics.

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The Most Active Threads Since My Last Post

by Jeff Steele last modified Dec 26, 2023 11:22 AM

The threads with the most engagement since my last blog post included splitting assets with a stay-at-home mom, JMU vs. Colby College, VA Tech admissions decisions, and using IVF for gender selection.

I've missed a few days with this blog due to the holidays keeping me busy. So, today I'll catch up by reviewing the most active threads since my last post on Thursday of last week. During that time, the most active thread was the Gaza war thread which I've already discussed. Following that was a thread titled, "50/50 split of assets with SAHM" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster asks whether it is fair for a stay-at-home-mom who is divorcing after 20 years of marriage to receive 50% of the couple's assets. The original poster, who appears to be the husband in this scenario, believes this is not justified. I immediately noticed two things about this thread: 1) the original poster had engaged in a considerable amount of sock puppeting and; 2) he has an extremely dismal view of stay-at-home-moms. His first response in the thread — in which, of course, he did not identify himself as the original poster — claimed that the wife shouldn't receive a significant amount of money for being lazy and sitting on her [bottom] for 17 years. His next post, which was directed to the original poster, argued that in a non-community property state the wife might not get anything. He then posted that the wife had done "nothing to earn this money," Next he claimed that they were in New York state which is not a community property state and that he hoped to keep her share below 30% of their assets. After one more sock puppeted post in which the original poster claimed that the original poster clearly had a reason to hate his wife, he abandoned the thread. Nevertheless, the thread continued for another 23 pages. I haven't read many of those pages, but it looks like the thread deteriorated into a debate about the value of a stay-at-home moms. Some see these parents, much like the the original poster, as lazy do-nothings. Others take the conventional argument in opposition to that position and explain the work that stay-at-home moms normally perform. In addition, some posters contend that for many high-earning men such as the original poster claims to be a stay-at-home mom is required to both enable the man to engage in the intense work environment and ensure that his children are raised by at least one parent. As such, the wife is not only a contributor of household work and childrearing, but an important component of her husband's success.

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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Dec 21, 2023 10:19 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included the college choices of donut hole students, "bro" colleges, the popular schools of the future, and banning religion.

The three most active threads yesterday were all ones that I've previously discussed and will, therefore, skip. Two of those were the thread about Trump being kicked off the Colorado ballot and the Gaza war. Neither a surprise. But, the third, about the bike lobby in DC, was a thread about which I originally wrote way back in September 2022. That thread never really slowed down and has continued to be active for well over a year. After those was a thread titled "where do highly academic $ donut hole students go?" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. By "donut hole students", the original posters means students whose families have enough money that they are not eligible for need-based financial aid but are not wealthy enough to easily afford elite colleges. As the original poster notes, several options exist for such students. They can attend cheaper in-state public universities, they can seek merit scholarships from less selective colleges, or they can endure the financial hardship required to cover the cost. The original poster asks which choice students tend to make. Several posters suggest that either in-state universities or "SLACs" with good merit aid. "SLACs" are either Small Liberal Arts Colleges or Selective Liberal Arts Colleges depending upon to whom you ask. Regardless of what you call them, many of these schools offer generous grant assistance that can bring their costs down to that of in-state public options. In-state schools that have honors programs are especially popular for academically gifted but financially-challenged students. Some posters reported experiences that contradicted conventional wisdom. For instance, it is generally assumed, and posted in this thread, that out-of-state universities are less generous with assistance. But, one poster reported that for her high-stats child, out-of-state flagship universities offered competitive aid packages. Another hurdle faced by "donut hole" students was also explained. The best shot for many students to be accepted by a highly-selective private school is through the Early Decision application process. However, because such schools require a commitment to attend, many less financially well-off students shy away in order to avoid a commitment when the money might not be there. This essentially eliminates an entire class of schools as options for such students. Much of this thread is also devoted to discussion of what level of wealth really represents the "donut hole" with considerable second-guessing of other posters' financial decisions. Several posters questioned why others didn't do a better job of saving for college.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Dec 20, 2023 09:45 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included a court ruling kicking Donald Trump off the ballot in Colorado, men who do nothing, "lived experiences", and a son who is frequently late or absent from school.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Colorado case. To keep Trump off ballot" and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. This thread was started at the beginning of last month when a judge in Colorado allowed an effort to keep former President Donald Trump off the presidential ballot to proceed. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution bars any individual who has previously taken an oath of office and then engaged in insurrection or rebellion or "given aid or comfort" to those who did from holding office. The original poster asked whether this is a state or federal issue and to where Trump could appeal. This thread languished until a couple of weeks later when the same judge ruled that Trump could remain on the ballot because, she claimed, the Section 3 did not apply to the office of President. This thread was the most active yesterday because that decision was reversed on appeal by the Colorado Supreme Court. That court ruled that Section 3 disqualifies Trump from holding office and, therefore, it would be a "wrongful act" to include him as a candiate for the presidential primary election. There are a number of issues involved in this decision, all of which are disputed in the thread. At the highest level is the question of whether January 6 was an insurrection. Republicans have described that day as involving little more than "tourists"", an inside job provoked by the "deep state" or ANTIFA, or a simple act of protest protected by the 1st Amendment. Nevertheless, courts have ruled countless times against those involved and several participants in the January 6 events have been convicted of sedition. The next question is about Trump's culpability for the events. While Trump is currently on trial due to his involvement, he is yet to be convicted. However, Courts have ruled in other cases that Trump was responsible. Next is whether the 14th Amendment is relevant to primary elections. A court in Minnesota that considered a similar case ruled that political parties have the final say in who appears on primary ballots and, therefore, allowed Trump to remain as a candidate. Most assuredly the Colorado decision will be appealed to the US Supreme Court. The Colorado court withheld its decision from going into effect until January 4th to allow for an appeal and it would likely be stayed during such an appeal. As a result, Trump will likely stay on the primary ballot regardless of this decision. Those posting in this thread are generally pessimistic that the US Supreme Court, dominated by conservatives and including three Trump nominees, will rule against Trump in any event.

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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Dec 19, 2023 10:29 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included Trump's statements about immigrants, doing things to annoy others, a 68-year-old retired father working as a substitute teacher, and did Kate and William have a fairytale romance or a contrived and arranged relationship?

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Trump warns that immigrants are poisoning the blood of our country" and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. The original poster linked to a NBC News article reporting remarks by former President Donald Trump which included a statement that immigrants are "poisoning the blood of our country". The original poster noted that this is very similar to sentiments written by Adolph Hitler in "Mein Kampf". As the first poster to respond noted, Trump and his MAGA followers are selective about which type of immigrants they think might be "poisoning" American blood. Trump, after all, has been married to two immigrants, both mothers of his children, whose blood he presumably does not consider to be "poisoned". Another poster pointed out that Trump referred to "illegal" immigrants. This highlights an inconsistency that frequently comes up in discussions about immigration. Those who cross US borders and immediately request asylum are following the law. If they are then paroled into the country while they wait for an immigration hearing, they are still within legal bounds. It is inaccurate to refer to such individuals as "illegal". Unrelated to that, Trump's speech has come at a time when he and others close to him have been suffering a number of legal setbacks. Trump has routinely used inflammatory rhetoric to distract from other issues. In the case of this thread, posters are busy arguing about distinctions between various types of immigrants, the countries from which undocumented immigrants come, and the precise wording of Trump's statement. This is an 11 page discussion in which posters are not talking about the $148 million judgement against Rudy Giuliani for defaming Georgian election workers, the ruling by an appeals court that Trump does not have presidential immunity, or another immunity-related case that the Supreme Court has agreed to review. As the legal screws tighten on Trump, he is ramping up his incendiary remarks knowing full well that this will distract the media, his followers, and even — as this thread shows — many of his opponents. Trump launched his initial presidential campaign by describing migrants as drug dealers and rapists. He now appears to be planning a repeat performance. Trump does, unfortunately, appear to have found one surprising ally for his immigration position. That is Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman who recently stated that he "is not a progressive" — despite explicitly running as a progressive — and announced support for stronger immigration controls. Fetterman's wife, Gisele, lived for much of her life as an undocumented immigrant and has often used her life story to garner sympathy for migrants. For her part, Melania Trump, who has her own checkered immigration history, recently spoke at a naturalization ceremony and welcomed new immigrants. Both Trump and Fetterman could do well to listen more to their wives.

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The Most Active Threads over the Weekend

by Jeff Steele last modified Dec 18, 2023 01:48 PM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included sex in a Senate office building, college admissions disappointment, University of Virginia Early Decision results, and the college choices of area high schoolers.

Over the weekend the Gaza war thread was back as the most active thread. However, with less than 400 posts, the thread is seeing half the posts in 3 days that it used to see in a single day. Interest is definitely waning. The next most active thread was titled, "Ben Cardin Staffer Films Gay Porn Video in Senate Hearing Room" and posted in the "Metropolitan DC Local Politics". This thread was provoked by an explicit video circulating on social media showing a staffer for Maryland Senator Ben Cardin engaged in sexual activity inside a hearing room of the Hart Senate Office Building. The immediate reaction of those responding was to speculate about possible political fallout from the incident. That appeared to be limited, however, as no elected officials were involved and Cardin has previously announced his retirement. The staffer was quickly fired. Posters have a range of takes regarding this incident. At one end of the spectrum are posters who think the whole thing is no big deal. Next are posters who agree with that notion as far as the sex is concerned, but argue that it was a horrendous breach of decorum that showed disrespect for the job and the staffer's boss. For these posters, it was the location and the poor judgement to film it that are the issues. Several posters went further and suggested that the staffer is liable for criminal charges and should be prosecuted. Beyond that were posters who displayed obvious homophobia and fixated on the fact that two men were involved. At least one of these posters showed a frame-by-frame knowledge of the video that might be worthy of the Zapruder film. He apparently repeatedly watched the video with rapt intention so that he could adequately explain his disgust. One of the strangest themes in this thread was that gay people are such a protected group that nothing would happen to the staffer. Posters insisted that he would not be fired with one poster continuing to insist even after he had been fired. Earlier, the same staffer had been accused of yelling "Free Palestine" at Congressman Max Miller and many posters speculated that the video may have been leaked as revenge for that incident. This thread is also remarkable for the number of posters compelled to display their own personal obsessions. One poster imagined that the staffer would be an attractive hire for blue state school districts. Another somehow tied him to Harvard President Claudine Gay who, just to be clear, has nothing to do with the staffer or the incident. But, perhaps the most bizarre, was a poster who brought up DC Council Member Charles Allen. Again, Allen had nothing whatsover to do with any of this. But, there seems to be something about graphic gay sex that triggers some poster's own particular fixations.

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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Dec 15, 2023 11:04 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included Emory University's Early Decision results, conspiracy theories in which posters believe, beauty secrets, and how to anonymously tell a friend important information.

In the blog post that I wrote yesterday, I mentioned that it had been a big day for threads that I had already discussed. Yesterday was just as big. Like yesterday, the thread about the Wizards and Capitals moving to Virginia was the most active, followed by the Gaza war thread. The Maury Elementary thread that was third yesterday finally dropped off the most active list, though I would not be surprised to see it return. The threads about suing Callie Oettinger and raising kids in competitive communities were the other already-covered topics at the top of the most active list. Therefore, like yesterday, the first thread that I will discuss was actually the fifth most active of the day. That thread was titled, "Emory ED is out!" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. For the benefit of those not fluent in college application terms, "ED" refers to "Early Decision" which is a type of college application that is submitted prior to normal applications and requires the applicant to commit to attending the college if accepted. Students are only allowed to make one such application and, as such, it should only be used for the student's top choice. We are currently at the time of the year when ED results are announced and this thread was created to discuss ED decisions by Emory University. The responses include those from excited and happy posters whose children were accepted and some from disappointed posters whose children must deal with rejection. In both cases, posters tended to provide the grade point average, test scores, and other relevant data along with the decision. This led to quite a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking as others tried to draw conclusions from the information. Traditionally on DCUM, one of the first questions asked of those who are accepted is whether or not the student is an underrepresented minority or URM. The more polite might simply inquire about any "hooks". Such questions are often viewed as a way to explain an acceptance which posters might otherwise find surprising. When one of those responding in this thread proactively mentioned that her child was a URM, that caused a number of posters to attack her as a troll. So, I guess, this is another situation in which posters can't win. Before too long, discussion diverged to posts about other universities and how they compared with Emory. In addition, any thread about schools in conservative states tends to attract a poster who makes a fuss about abortion. I am not sure why this poster thinks that those who obsessively research every last detail about universities the way the posters in this thread do would have overlooked a state's abortion policies. But, even if they had, this poster has reminded them several times already. The topic doesn't really need to be discussed in this thread.

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