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The Most Active Threads over the Weekend

by Jeff Steele — last modified Dec 18, 2023 10:50 AM

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.

The next most active thread was one that I've already discussed and will, therefore, skip today. That was a thread about the British Royal Family. Following that was a thread posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum titled, "Did not get into Georgetown or Notre Dame. Now what?" As we enter the college application season, the college forum reminds me of that old "Wide World of Sports" commercial that used the slogan, "The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat". Posters who receive positive responses from schools are overjoyed while those who do not are disappointed, sometimes tremendously so. This thread obviously deals with an unhappy outcome. The original poster says that her child is crushed due to being rejected by both Georgetown University and the University of Notre Dame. The original poster asks for ideas to regroup. Unfortunately, the original poster did not provide much information about the student and posters are left to guess about what characteristics of a college would be appealing. Those who assumed the applicant was interested in Catholic colleges suggested Boston College and Villanova University. A poster who thought that politics might be the student's interest suggested George Washington and American University. Eventually posters seemed to be tossing out the names of schools with no apparent rhyme or reason. Mostly, however, posters concentrated on Catholic schools and I think every one of those in existence was eventually named. That led to some posters debating the quality of those schools. To be honest, this really isn't that helpful of a thread. Posters don't have enough information with which to offer substantive and useful advice and what suggestions they do offer are pretty superficial. The discussion also sort of wanders around and is a little hard to follow. A father whose son was disappointed with Georgetown posted the same thing that he has posted in other threads and which I've now read enough times to recognize. Basically, I don't think this thread has much to recommend it.

Next was a thread titled, "UVA decisions are out" and also posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. This thread is about the Early Decision results from the University of Virginia. Again, Early Decision is a college application type in which applicants commit to attending the school if they are accepted. Students can only submit one ED application and it is normally used for the college that they most want to attend. Most of those posters reporting decisions said that their children were waitlisted. Those who are not accepted during the ED round can still be considered in later admissions rounds or, of course, can apply to other universities. But, many of the posters report being in a predicament. Their children are good students with high stats who had targeted UVA because it is the state's best public university. They won't be satisfied with anything less. Yet, the families cannot afford out-of-state tuition for another state's flagship university. So, they are not sure what to do at this point. I've written in this blog before about how a user or users is obsessed with the concept of "yield protection". This is the idea that universities want to have a high ration of students accepted to those who actually enroll in the university. There are many replies in this thread blaming admissions decisions on yield protection. But, that makes no sense. Since ED applicants are committed to attending, yield protection should be close to 100%. Nevertheless, much of this discussion is devoted to yield protection, possibly because it is one way to excuse an a high stats applicant being turned down. Saying that a student had such a strong application that UVA was afraid he would choose a more selective school may be more comforting than accepting that the student was simply rejected, even if the explanation doesn't apply in this case. As usual with this sort of topic, many posters are convinced that admissions decisions are heavily influenced by race or ethnicity, even after the Supreme Court tossed out affirmative action in admissions. But, whether such bias helps Asians as some posters allege, or hurts Asians as other posters claim, is clearly a matter of dispute.

The final thread at which I'll look today was another one dealing with college admissions, but posted in the "Private & Independent Schools" forum. Titled, "2024 Washington DC area College commits", the original poster provided a number of links to Instagram pages showing the college choices of seniors at local private and independent schools. There is some controversy about threads like this because even though the pages are public, some posters don't believe they should be subject to adult kibitzing on DCUM. As such, I always receive a lot of reports about such posts. I'll generally leave posts that link to public information though I may remove those in which identifiable children are singled out for criticism or blatantly unfair comments. There is a lot of praise for Georgetown Day School which had many students accepted to Ivy League schools. But, one overly-enthusiastic booster took things a bit far and provoked a backlash. But, frankly, that booster had nothing on the Bullis booster. It is assumed by many, and explicitly stated by some, that college opportunities are one of the things for which people are willing to pay the price of private schools. Therefore, these Instagram pages represent, to some extent, the return on investment. When posters started adding links for similar pages for local public high schools, one poster, perhaps tongue-in-check, proclaimed buyer's remorse. Generally posters maintained a positive attitude in this thread and were congratulatory towards both students and schools. But, there was the occasional poster determined to rain on someone's parade and posters with ready excuses whenever a school's placement record was commented upon with anything less than praise. Since this is only the early round of admissions, there will be more college decisions in the future and either this thread will continue or newer ones will superseed it.

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