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DCUM Weblog

Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 05, 2024 11:19 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included top colleges for "standard strong kids", a small town right outside Washington, DC, the demise of the Washington Post's Metro section, and how Americans would behave during an emergency airplane evacuation.

The two most active threads yesterday were the Harvard president's resignation thread and the Gaza war thread. I will skip both of them since I've discussed them previously. After those was a thread titled, "Top colleges that are actually on the table for unhooked standard strong kids." and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. The original poster lists a number of prominent universities that she believes are realistic targets for a student with a high grade point average, a test score, and strong extracurricular activities. As the title says, she describes such students as "standard strong" and specifies that they are "unhooked", meaning that they are not legacy admits, supported by a major financial donor, athletic recruits, or underrepresented minorities. In other words, where does a run-of-the-mill White kid with a 3.8 to 4.9 GPA, 1500 SAT, and a handful of ECs have a shot of being accepted? Those responding dispute some colleges on the list and suggest others. There is also a discussion about what constitutes a "standard stong" applicant and what might instead be a "standout" student. Posters also argue that in most cases, admission to these schools will only be possible through Early Decision applications. As such, the proposed schools cannot be viewed as a list of targets because applicants are limited to one ED application. So, at best, potential applicants could only make one selection from the list. Even then, as some posters point out, their chances will be very narrow due to the highly-selective nature of these schools. Many of the posters describe admissions records of high schools their children attended and others demonstrate detailed knowledge of admissions of a range of schools. As I've written in the past, a number of posters in this forum follow college admissions with the dedication of a sports fan obsessing over runs batted in or catches per yard statistics. It occurred to me while reading this thread that, if I could figure out how to do it, a "fantasy college admissions league" would be a successful enterprise. Forum members could "draft" college applicants and win points based on their admission results. There could even be different rounds for each application type such a ED, early admissions, regular admissions, and so on. This could keep a number of these posters busy from September through April.


Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 04, 2024 11:19 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included not being invited to a wedding, unwanted gifts, college early decision applications, and the GOP and women.

Yesterday's most active thread was the one about Harvard's president resigning which I discussed yesterday and, therefore, will skip today. The next most active thread was titled, "Not invited" and posted in the "Family Relationships" forum. The original poster says that she is close with her cousins, normally celebrating holidays together and spending a lot of time with each other. A child of one of those cousins is getting married and seems to have intentionally not invited the original poster. The original poster is hurt and upset about being left out. In a subsequent post, the original poster added that she had talked with the parents of the groom and was simply told that the couple is paying for the wedding themselves, implying that she was not invited due to the expense. This did nothing to alleviate the original poster's feelings. Those that responded mostly agreed that it is understandable that the original poster feels hurt about not being invited, Several suggested possible reasons for the slight such as space constraints or an effort to save money. Posters advised not taking it too seriously and allowing the incident to harm her relationship with her extended family. A number of posters argued that not being invited demonstrated that the original poster's cousin's child does not view the original poster as being as close as the original poster does. While that is a sad, it is not an unusual situation, they argue. They further assert that if the original poster ever needs to cut extended family members from an event, she can begin with couple getting married. Other posters suggested a more forceful response including not sending a gift or even a card or going so far as ending her relationship with those relatives entirely. Some posters honed in on the exact relationship and the relationships of those who were invited. They drew fine lines between first cousins, first cousins once removed, aunts, and uncles. They made determinations about whether the original poster should have been invited based on the exact degree of relationship. The original poster and several of those responding emphasized that the groom celebrated Thanksgiving this year at the original poster's home, suggesting that indicates a close relationship that merited an invitation to the wedding. But, as another poster pointed out, the cousin's child was likely just "tagging along with their parents" and was mostly there as an obligation. A few posters believe that the original poster is being overly dramatic and should not make such a big deal out of this.


Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 05, 2024 05:55 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay which was discussed in two of the most active threads, evangelization vs. proselytization, and covid exposures during holiday gatherings.

Yesterday the top two most active threads were both on the same topic, the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay. The first was titled, "Claudine Gay resigns as Harvard University’s president" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. There was some debate about whether this topic belonged in the college or political forum (it was posted in both), but I ultimately decided that it was a political topic. The controversy surrounding Gay began with a Congressional hearing and the opposition to her was led by overtly political figures. Therefore, I locked this thread and well as several similar threads also started in the college forum. By the time I locked the thread, it had grown to 10 pages in just 3 hours. On the surface, opposition to Gay was based on concerns that she was not sufficiently combating antisemitism and had engaged in plagiarism. But, beyond that, opponents made clear that they saw Gay as a symbol of the "woke" environments that they believe are dominating elite universities. Gay, who is Black, was attacked by many who saw her as unqualified and chosen more for her skin color than her abilities, much as they allege that unqualified minority students are admitted to elite universities in place of more deserving White and Asian applicants. Gay has been the target of a campaign led by Christopher Ruffo, the same person who turned Critical Race Theory into a political weapon to be used against school boards. Right-wingers were ecstatic at the news of Gay's resignation. But, they were quick to declare that they were not stopping here. "Two down, one to go", wrote one poster referring to the previous resignation of University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and the apparently hoped for resignation of Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth. Magill, Gay, and Kornbluth all had appeared at a Congressional hearing in which they came under agressive questioning about antisemitism on their campuses from Representative Elise Stefanik. Other posters signaled their desire to see the entire Board of Harvard replaced. Rufo has broadened his CRT attacks into a campaign against the entire framework of "diversity, equity, and inclusion" and gained traction among many who view DEI practices as unfairly benefitting minorities. One poster expressed his criticism of DEI by accusing it of "[e]levating highly unqualified and mediocre talent into senior roles and fast tracking people simply because of the need to fill an identity gap." This entire effort is aimed at reclaiming elite academia for those who rise based purely on merit, as if such a world ever really existed.


Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 01, 2024 11:05 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included marrying a guy who earns $160k, the importance of college entrance exams, a college freshman staying out all night, and a Hydroflask.

In yesterday's wrap-up of 2023 I described how the Gaza war threads have dominated the most active lists since October 7. I appear to have almost jinxed the lastest iteration of the thread as it fell all the way to 10th on the list, almost not making it at all. The most active thread of the first day of the new year was titled, "Be honest. Would you marry a guy making $160K at 55?" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster initially provided very little information, simply saying that the man in question should be assumed to be attractive and normal. Most of those responding think that a salary of $160k being held against an attractive and normal man who was otherwise an acceptable partner to the original poster is ridiculous and that the original poster's concern reflects poorly on her. Somewhat surprising to me, a number of posters expressed opposition to 55 year olds getting married regardless of their salaries. A small number of posters warned that the guy might be after the original poster for her money, though the original poster had not provided any information about her own wealth. Quite a few posters argued that salary was not the important factor, but rather the man's net worth which would influence retirement possibilities. Later the original poster clarified that she is in the "top 5%" and had previously been married to someone in the top 1%. She is concerned that her wealthy friends would look down on the guy due to his salary. Perhaps feeling that opinion was strongly against her, the original poster began responding in the third person, though not exactly sock puppeting. There was at least one poster who shared the original poster's salary concerns, writing "[m]en who make that little at that stage in their lives have failed". This attitude was far from the norm in the thread. Most posters either found the salary entirely acceptable or thought that other characteristics were more important when considering marriage. A number of posters listed professions in which individuals made significant contributions to society but were not likely to make much more than $160k, if that. Similarly, some posters questioned the values of the extremely wealthy, suggesting that they were likely fixated on accumulating wealth and might not be the best relationship candidates. Throughout the thread posters questioned whether the original poster deserved the guy she was describing or whether he would even be interested in marrying her. In a subsequent post, the original poster said that the man had "asked me today what it would take for me to marry him". Presumably she answered, "doubling your salary".


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.