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The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele — last modified Nov 27, 2023 10:20 AM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included the declining popularity of liberal democracy, unattractive "other women", Angel Tree gifts, and antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crimes.

Over the weekend, the Gaza war thread was again the most active thread, adding over 600 new posts. The second most active thread was also one that I've already covered, the thread about weird things that in-laws do. So, I'll start with what was actually the third most active thread over the weekend. That thread was titled, "A difficult truth to accept: Liberal democracy is not favored around the world" and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. The original poster contributes a rather lengthy essay summarizing various musings he has had about opinions in other countries regarding politics. The main thrust of the post is that the ideas espoused by liberal democracy are not universally popular and that in many parts of the world, authoritarian ideas are supported. The responses in the thread go in many different directions, but one surprise for me is how many supporters of dictatorships there were. I guess one outgrowth of Trumpism is that authoritarianism is now popular among some Americans. This is a 14 page thread and instead of trying to summarize the responses, I'll just provide my own reaction to the original poster's thoughts. First, and most importantly, I think that it is important to separate the ideas and values espoused by liberal democracies, especially the United States, from the practices actually implemented abroad. More often than not, the US quickly discards its stated values when its perceived interests are at risk. There are any number of examples of the US assisting in or actively leading the overthrow of democracies because the winner of the election was not sufficiently pro-American. This hypocrisy does not go unnoticed and, as a result, our professed values ring very hollow in much of the world. In many countries, citizens are not presented with a choice between liberal democracy supported by the US or authoritarianism supported by Russia or China. Rather, their choices are pro-American authoritarians or pro-Russian or pro-Chinese authoritarianism. Free elections and democracy are supported by the US only to the extent that they produce pro-US politicians and policies. Moreover, "pro-US" is frequently, "pro multinational corporations". When faced with an economic landscape dominated by international corporations, the residents of many countries lose any enthusiasm they may have for capitalism. Just as in the case of American political values which are often seen as empty to foreign audiences based on the lack of application of those values internationally, claims about free enterprise and the benefits of capitalism are frequently betrayed by how capitalism is actually implemented abroad. That is often in the form of monopolistic foreign entities that dominate local businesses. To summarize, it is not that liberal democracy as we understand it is becoming less popular internationally, but that foreign populations are rejecting the hypocritical version of "liberal democracy" practiced abroad that generally lacks most of the values of true liberal democracy.

The next most active thread was posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. Titled, "Why is the OW less attractive?", the original poster says that in her experience the other woman in an affair is always less attractive than the man's wife. She gives a few examples of where she has seen this to be true and wonders why this is the case. You might say that there are three different parties connected to an affair: 1) the man; 2) his wife; and 3) the affair partner. Posters who respond manage to find explanations that essentially blame each of the three. Several posters argue that a man who is primarily interested in sex is less interested in looks. Some simply say that such women are the best the guy can get. Probably the least fair explanations are those blaming the wife. Many posters justify affairs by suggesting that attractive wives have a host of flaws that cause their husbands to look elsewhere. These women are accused of being "cold, indifferent, shrill, hectoring" and unwilling to have sex. They are also accused of being vane and self-centered. A number of posters claim that "it's about availability and willingness". In their view, a less attractive woman is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be an affair partner. As one poster puts it, "When a woman is unattractive she tends to have low self esteem and is more likely to deal with the scraps she is fed." Another poster writes, "They are punching way above their weight. They can only do that with married men who are just looking for outside sex and not permanent relationships." A number of posters deny that the other women is always less attractive. One posters says "this is a myth that betrayed wives cling to in order to comfort themselves." A number of posters suggest that the original poster has been posting about this topic frequently. There has been a poster who is obsessed with her husband's affair, but I could not confirm the original poster is that poster. However, I did prove to my satisfaction, if not scientifically, that the poster has been the author of a number of controversial threads and may be struggling with personal issues that are affecting her behavior. More importantly, the only other post in the thread that I could link to the original poster was completely contradictory to the initial post. So much so, that I was convinced that the poster is simply trolling and locked the thread.

Occasionally I encounter a thread that addresses a topic about which I know absolutely nothing. The next most active thread, titled, "Angel Tree gift question -- what is going on with the gifts?" and posted in the "Off-Topic" forum, is one of those cases. To my knowledge, I have never heard of Angel Tree gifts and I have no idea what such a thing is. As a result, I didn't really know about what the original poster was talking. The original poster says that last year she purchased two Kindle devices for her Angel Tree. She received notifications when the Kindles were activated, but that wasn't until months after Christmas. She wonders if parents were selling the gifts rather than giving them to kids in need. After some searching, I learned that Angel Tree is a program run by the Salvation Army to which those in need can apply and then register for gifts. Many organizations provide ways of donating to those registries. This seems to be a large and popular program and I don't know why I hadn't heard of it before. Nevertheless, In response to the original poster's query, some posters agree with her that the Kindles may have been sold, though not necessarily with nefarious intent. Some suggest that the gift recipients may have sold them for cash that they needed more than a Kindle. Other posters point out that some Kindle models can be used to read library books without activating them. In that case, the Kindles could have been used in the intervening months but only activated later. One poster says that if the recipient was too young to read, the Kindle's activation could have been delayed until the child was able to use it. But, beyond the original poster's question, there is a lot of discussion about the Angel Tree program itself. A number of posters commented that the gifts being requested are getting very expensive and some have even quit giving. Some posters commented that all kids seem to want are iPads and other electronics. There is some dispute about whether or not it is proper to question what is being requested. In addition, there is considerable suspicion that recipients are taking advantage of the program and aren't truly in need. Eventually the thread deteriorated into a big argument between posters taking issue with each other's responses.

The final thread at which I'll look today was posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. Titled, "Islamophobic and anti-semitic hate crimes in the US since 10/7", the original poster started a list of antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents by citing an event in which a Muslim student was hit by a car in California. Unfortunately, since the Hamas attack on Israel, there has been a significant increase in hate crimes targeting Arabs, Jews, and Muslims. Perhaps the most tragic was the stabbing of a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy by his landlord. According to authorities, the landlord had been influenced by conservative news sources and believed that Muslims were a threat to him. There have also been cases in which Jews were killed, but those have not been straightforward hate crimes. Samantha Wohl, the president of her synagogue, was stabbed to death causing suspicion that she may have been the victim of a hate crime, but police have said there is no evidence of such a motivation. In California, a Jewish man was killed during an altercation between Jewish and pro-Palestinian demonstrators. A Palestinian-American man has been arrested, but has not been charged with a hate crime. A series of threats against Jewish students at Cornell University received a lot of attention. A student at the university was arrested in connection with this crime. Over the weekend, three Palestinian college students were shot in Burlington, Vermont. A man has been arrested for the attack, but so far police have not suggested a motive. There have been a number of stabbings, individuals being punched or hit, and other assaults on both Jews and Arabs or Muslims. There has been some controversy about exactly what constitutes antisemitism. In the most extreme cases, almost any criticism of Israel is considered to be antisemitic. Most posters reject that notion. However, at least one poster has strongly argued that criticizing Israel for actions that other countries have committed and not been targeted with similar criticism is antisemitic. Similarly, the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations contend that the phrases such as "From the River to the Sea" or even "Free Palestine" are antisemitic. Pro-Palestinian groups strongly reject this notion.

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