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2024

Sub-archives

Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 20, 2024 11:38 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included rejecting Joe Biden, colleges checking parent's LinkedIn, a surprise email from a federal supervisor, and Beyoncé's foray into Country music.

The most active thread yesterday was the Gaza war thread that has held this position frequently. But, since I have discussed that thread already, I'll move to the next most active. That one was not altogether unrelated. Titled, "I tipped over the line this week and can’t support Biden", and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum, the original poster says that she has finally reached the point where she can no longer vote for President Joe Biden. She says that she cannot vote for a candidate who supports genocide and emphasizes that she is a 50-something Christian with no direct connection to the Gaza conflict. She agrees that former President Donald Trump is worse, but says that is not enough and she will sit this election out. I am not sure that Biden and his campaign staff are aware of how widespread this sentiment is among otherwise faithful Democratic voters. Many are aware that this position is widespread among Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as young voters who are allegedly influenced by TikTok, but it is increasingly common among those such as the original poster who don't fit those categories. This is a real danger to Biden's reelection which was already in trouble without this added risk. The responses to the original poster are basically the same as those we see on the national political scene. The the most frequent response, that Trump is worse, is obviously true, but has already been considered and rejected by the original poster. Others try to argue technicalities such as disputing that Israel's actions in Gaza amount to genocide or that Biden doesn't actually support the most extreme measures. Arguments about what is or is not genocide matter little to those such as the original poster and arguing that the killing of nearly 30 thousand people, most of whom are civilians, is not genocide is not convincing. Almost weekly the Biden administration publicizes its concerns about Israel's actions, but immediately follows those up with approvals of more arms transfers. Actions matter more than words, regardless of the number of leaks about Biden's private irritation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Another reaction is a lot of foot stomping and bullying by Biden supporters. But this is likely to backfire and simply make things worse. Name-calling, ridicule, and attempted intimidation are not particularly successful methods of persuasion. The United Nations Security Council is currently considering a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire. The Biden administration has already promised to veto the measure. This action will be interpreted by the original poster and others as support for Israel's continued devastation of Gaza and only make Biden's problems with such voters worse. Perhaps demonstrating some understanding of the electoral threat, Biden is reportedly considering a substitute resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire. But Biden's ability to dig himself out of this hole with half-measures is doubtful.

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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 16, 2024 12:38 PM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included being called a "sadsack", a sexual assault by an Uber driver, test optional college admissions, and the impact of children on a women's career.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "My mother-in-law called me a ‘sadsack’" and posted in the "Family Relationships" forum. The original poster says that her husband makes enough money that she was able to quit a job that she hated and has been staying home enjoying the chance to decompress. Over the weekend, her mother-in-law came over to babysit and asked the original poster, when she would stop "sitting around like a sadsack." This greatly upset the original poster who has been dwelling on it for several days and even emailed her mother-in-law teling her that she had been offended. The mother-in-law is a retired lawyer for whom work was always very important and she probably can't relate to the original poster's desire to relax for a while. While the purpose of the thread was for the original poster to simply vent, the family relationships forum has an amazing ability to turn the most mundane of topics into a lengthy thread and this one has already reached 16 pages. Much of the discussion is provoked by the specific term used by the mother-in-law, "sadsack". This normally refers to someone who is sitting around moping and feeling sorry for themself. The original poster says that this does not describe her and the suggestion that it does is offensive. Nevertheless, many posters contend that the mother-in-law's choice of that term must reflect her perception of the original poster. As such, some posters suggest ways that the original poster might try to change that perception. Other posters try to explain, if not outright justify, the mother-in-law's description of the original poster. Many posters suggest simply shrugging the whole thing off. On the other hand, a number of posters are sympathetic to the original poster and are critical of the mother-in-law. Some argue that having time to decompress is normal and healthy and that there is no reason to criticize the original poster for not working. What contributes to making this thread lengthy are posts that attempt to read into the original poster's situation, for instance suggesting that there might be some truth to her mother-in-law's remark or, going further, arguing that the original poster is taking advantage of her husband and possibly overburdening him. This in turn provokes complaints about negative stereotypes about women who don't work out of the house. Ultimately, I have to agree with the poster who wrote, "10 pages of handwringing over the word "sad sack." Some of you need thicker skins." Little did that poster know that the handwringing would continue for another 6 pages.

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The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 12, 2024 01:47 PM

The topics with the most engagement over the weekend included the non-football aspects of the Super Bowl, helicopter parents being proven right, the Super Bowl halftime show, and a poster angry about Arlington's Missing Middle project.

The most active thread over the weekend was the one that I previously discussed about the special counsel investigation in to President Joe Biden. Skipping that one, the next most active thread was titled, "Non-football Super Bowl 2024 talk" and posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum. The Super Bowl is one of those rare sporting events in which the sport itself almost secondary, attracting many viewers who are not football fans and may not even know much about the sport. Hence, as this 24-page thread demonstrates, the pregame and halftime entertainment, commercials, and even audience members can attract as much, if not more, attention as what happens on the field. This thread was created exclusively to discuss the non-football aspects of the event. One off-field drama that has been dominating headlines for weeks involves the relationship between Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and singer Taylor Swift. The couple, who even have their own dedicated DCUM thread, have been the subject of considerable discussion concerning everything from Swift's travel from Japan to Las Vegas for the game to hopes (among some) that the game might be the venue for a marriage proposal. The other major topic was the halftime show that one posters dubbed the "Usher Concert". Headlined by Usher, a number of other entertainers also were schedued to participate and much of the early discussion involved speculation about who might make an appearance. Opinions about Usher were definitely split with some posters proclaiming Usher to be the only thing of interest in the event and others saying that they were not familiar with any of his songs. Just about everyone's fashion choices were either criticized or praised but Kelce's sparkling black suit was the subject of an especially high number of posts. Reading this thread I am inspired to paraphrase Winston Churchill and summarize the thread by saying, never have so many said so much that amounted to so little. Despite the over 370 posts in the thread, there is not a lot of juice that can be squeezed. But, since the fairytale like marriage proposal didn't materialize, we can assume that the Travis and Taylor show will go on.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 15, 2024 03:55 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included showering every day, a family vacation with a husband who wants to "relax", a dream boyfriend who doesn't make enough money, and a thread involving soccer and Arlington which I don't understand.

The most active thread yesterday was the one about King Charles which I already discussed and will, therefore, skip today. The next most active thread was titled, "Question for child health experts: Does a tween/teen HAVE TO shower every single day?" and posted in the "Tweens and Teens" forum. The original poster explained that she was performing a support role in a meeting between a child therapist and a 15-year-old girl and the therapist advised the girl that a daily shower or bath is medically essential. The girl in question does not have any hygiene problems and the original poster was shocked by this advice which contradicts much of her prior knowledge. She asks for opinions about whether a daily shower or bath are medically necessary, but she wants to limit responses to "therapists, pediatricians/doctors, counselors, psychologists, and child development experts." This stipulation is obviously not going to be adhered to by DCUM posters. The one place that you never want to find yourself is between a DCUM poster with an opinion and a keyboard because nothing is going to stop them from posting. In fact, the very first response is not only not from such a professional — or at least has no appearance of being from one — and does not address the topic, but rather questioned the original poster's motives. While a few of the professionals whose opinions were requested did reply, the limitation was honored more in the breach than the observance. More common were parents simply explaining their own children's showering habits or giving their personal preferences and opinions on the topic. Needless to say, this resulted in posters slugging it out from various points of view. Some think that daily showers are absolutely necessary. Some believe a day or perhaps even two can be skipped. Others argued that it depends on other factors such as whether the child has been exercising or done something else to become especially smelly or dirty. At least one poster argued for a more nuanced approach and said that showering needs can differ between children. A few posters argued that a lack of desire or interest in showering or bathing is connected to mental health and could be a sign of depression. In this regard, the posters thought the therapist might have been clumsy in the manner she discussed the issue, but not out of line. In the end, the original poster concluded from the responses, as well as additional opinions from professionals whom she knows personally, that there is no medical necessity for a daily shower or bath. However, she recognized that daily showers could have other benefits such as making it easier to fall asleep. The most surprising revelation of this thread for me is that there is a poster who has established a reputation due to her habit of changing underwear three times a day. Moreover, the poster does not seem to be perturbed by being identified as such. The poster further implied that those who don't share a similar dedication to hygiene are simply blind to their own body odor.

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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 08, 2024 08:07 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included King Charles' cancer diagnosis, Dartmouth College requiring test scores, the Grammys, and a 13-year-old eating a bag of Oreos.

There are very few topics that can produce 28 pages of posts in just a few hours. But, one of those topics is the British Royal Family. Yesterday when news broke that King Charles had been diagnosed with cancer, a poster apparently was so eager to post about it that she seemed to have lost use of her mental facilities in the process. The poster referred to "Prince" Charles in the thread's title and posted nothing more than a link — a violation of DCUM's policy that requires threads to be started with discussion and not just a link. So, I deleted that thread. Shortly after that, another thread titled, "King Charles diagnosed with cancer" was posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum. I wouldn't say that there was an immediate outpouring of sympathy from DCUM posters. Far from it. The first responses mostly dealt with Prince William's appearance and then a discussion of the "Alanis Morrisett" song "Ironic". Next, the thread turned to whether this would bring about a reconciliation with Harry. Amidst all of this was a smattering of conspiracy theories involving the Duchess of Wales. The same instant cancer experts that came out of the woodwork in the thread about Kate Middleton being hospitalized made reappearances to speculate about the type of cancer afflicting Charles. It should be noted that despite the discussion about Kate, there is no indication that her hospitalization had anything to do with cancer. Meanwhile, posters began tracking Harry's movements like little kids following Santa's path on Christmas Eve. DCUM's Royal Family obsessives were attracted to this thread like moths to flame. And, quite a diverse group they are. There are Kate fans and Kate-haters. Those obsessed with Meghan who are mostly haters, but also some fanatical supporters. There are those who are most interested in Harry, either seeing him as sympathetic and misunderstood or as a cynical money grubber who has sold out his own family. Posters who detest the Royal Family due to their sins of the past took over the more recent pages of the thread. Beyond that, a number of posters already have Charles dead and buried and are debating who will do what in terms of Royal duties when William is King. Depending upon who you believe, Harry will have no choice but to return and shoulder some of the responsibilities or he will find that he has lost any opportunity of rejoining the family due to animosity between him and William.

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The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 05, 2024 07:24 PM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included Dr. Monifa McKnight's departure from MCPS, a pregnancy after a breakup, an effort to recall Charles Allen, and an unwelcome encounter with a person knitting in the OBGYN waiting room.

The most active thread over the weekend is really the continuation of a previous most active thread. The earlier thread was the one about the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education asking for the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight. Friday afternoon, the board and Dr. McKnight mutually agreed to separate. As a result, a new thread titled, "Board Fires Dr. McKnight" and posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum became the most active over the weekend. The thread was originally titled, "Board Fires Monifa" but I changed it because, as I said when I discussed the earlier thread, the use of first names for women, especially Black women, is a means of diminishing them and is often tinged with racism and sexism. A number of other area school superintendents have recently left their positions in controversial circumstances and not a single one was routinely referred to by first name. I don't see why Dr. McKnight should be treated differently. Even the revised title was criticized as inaccurate because, strictly speaking, Dr. McKnight resigned rather than being fired. As for the thread itself, it mostly rehashed the substance of previous threads. Dr. McKnight has been a lightening rod of criticism on DCUM with posters blaming her for the many ills they see affecting MCPS. Most recently, Dr. McKnight has been criticized for the handling of complaints of harassment and bullying by Principal Joel Beidleman. Beidleman was was promoted despite being under investigation and subsequent investigations found that MCPS had not properly followed procedures. It is unclear how much knowledge Dr. McKnight had of the Beidleman situation, but the Board — which listed "ensuring compliance with internal policies" as its first priority going forward — seems to suggest that she was being held responsible. Many posters argued that replacing McKnight is not going far enough and that school board members should resign as well. There is also considerable discussion in the thread about Alexandra Robbins whose article in the Washington Post first shed light on the allegations against Beidleman and his promotion. Many posters were thankful for her reporting and credited her with precipitating Dr. McKnight's departure. On the other hand, Dr. McKnight had a strong contingent of supporters, many of whom believed that Dr. McKnight was being treated more harshly than male or White superintendents. Some posters were focused on looking forward rather than back and were more interested in discussing possible candidates to replace Dr. McKnight. The proposals for new superintendents were closely linked to opinions about the future direction of the school system. In particular, there seemed to be widespread hope that a new leader would clean house of a number of other administrators. One issue that may affect the choice of a new superintendent is that all large school systems, and even some smaller ones, seem to be facing the same sort of serious challenges. Many superintendents have left or been forced out. As such, the job may not be as desirable as some might think and, as a result, may not attract the best candidates.

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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 02, 2024 12:28 PM

Yesterday's most active topics included the expression "happy wife, happy life", test optional college admissions, a teacher who didn't give an unearned passing grade, and obtaining custody of children without going through the court system.

Yesterday's most active thread was the Gaza war thread which I will skip because I've already discussed it. The next most active was a thread titled, "Happy wife, happy life" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster asks, "Why men's happiness isn't considered as valuable?" This thread really could have ended after the first reply which was nearly perfect, saying:

"Because it's an old-fashioned saying that dates to a time when women's financial and physical wellbeing depended almost entirely on their husband's behavior, and men's emotional wellbeing depended almost entirely on their wife. The more current version is ‘happy spouse, happy house‘"

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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 01, 2024 11:22 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included covid lockdowns, a mom's attractiveness, Gen Z's lack of romance will cause the end of the world, and a college applicant's bad choices.

The "Travis and Taylor" thread was again the most active thread yesterday. But, since I 've already discussed it, I'll start with the next most active thread which was titled, "One by one, the lockdown myths are crumbling" and posted in the "Off-Topic" forum. I had not noticed this thread until this morning and, when I did, I was disappointed to see that not only are thread on topics such as this still being created, but that they are among the most active. It has been clear for some time that some individuals have been so traumatized by the response to the pandemic that they may never get over it. There seems to be a deep set desire among these folks to receive some sort of official acknowledgement of wrongdoing and a full apology. The problem is that very few of those who supported the measures in question have changed their opinion to any significant agree. They don't think anything done was wrong and feel no compulsion to apologize. So, threads such as these result in little more than endless debate that neither advances the discussion nor satisfies anyone. In this specific case, the original poster linked to an opinion article in "The Telegraph", a British newspaper. The author claims that British officials who once promoted "zero covid" now claim to have only supported the "maximum suppression" of covid and considers this to be a significant backtracking that reveals the bankruptcy of the entire lockdown endeavor. Of course, it does nothing of the sort. Whether the officials are truly backtracking or simply making a distinction without a difference — "zero covid" is not that much different than "maximum suppression" — that is a discussion of goals, not methods. It is a stretch beyond reason to suggest the change in terminology amounts to a renunciation of anti-covid measures such as lockdowns. Nevertheless, this is how covid discussions tend to go on DCUM. A poorly reasoned article that most users can't read because it is behind a paywall is accepted as fact and off to the races we go. Many of those responding are, like me, well past the limits of their patience for these topics. They point out the advantages of hindsight (which in this case doesn't appear to have been an advantage at all) and argue that it is, in fact, those like the article's author that are attempting to rewrite history. Moreover, lockdown conditions in the United Kingdom were considerably different than in the United States so the article is not even relevant to our experience. But, those angry about covid measures are not to be denied their opportunity to air their grievances. As usual, there are complaints about school closures. What I have realized about schools is that some families suffered terrible experiences while for others, while the time probably wasn't great, it was not all that bad. Those in the first group tend to fixate on school closures and emphasize any negative impacts. The second group, which in my experience is much larger, has a more nuanced view and is less interested in rehashing the topic. Therefore, what is at issue here is really two different realities. Bridging the gap between the two is probably impossible and this dispute is unlikely to ever be resolved.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 31, 2024 11:26 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included a husband taking "guy trips", "normal smart kids" and Ivy League admissions, NCS grade point averages, and expensive products that are worth it.

Yesterday's most active thread was the one about moms who are "just" wives and mothers that I discussed in yesterday's blog. I'll skip that one today and start with the next most active thread which was titled, "I hate ‘guy trips’" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster says that her husband takes one or two trips a year with guy friends of his. While the trips normally only last a long weekend, her husband returns tired and behind on work. While he is gone, the original poster is stuck taking care of the kids and running the house 24/7 and even after he returns he is not able to contribute for a few days while he recovers. While the original poster is glad that her husband has maintained his friendships and understands that he needs time to decompress, she doesn't like these trips. Responses range from those that sympathize with the original poster to those who are entirely on the side of her husband. One poster says that the original poster's attitude demonstrates why men shouldn't get married. Probably the most common response was to identify the days the husband takes to recover as the main issue. Most posters don't have a problem with the trips themselves, but believe the husband should jump right back into parenting upon his return. Several emphasize that is what would be expected of a woman. As such, several posters suggested ideas for how to deal with the days after the husband's return. Some said the original poster simply needed to tell her husband to suck it up. Others suggested having him spend his first day back in a hotel so that he could recover and the original poster wouldn't have to put up with his moping. Others suggested outsourcing more during the time the husband and gone and during his recovery period. More DoorDash dinners and possibly a cleaning person, for instance. One poster who described being in a similar situation wrote that, "I feel these situations really emphasize to me how tightly stretched we are all the time and I wish my husband would agree and be open to making changes." The original poster responded to this post suggesting that it had captured the essence of what she was feeling. A couple of the male posters said that they have similar trips with their friends and, as they have aged, they have also found that recovery takes longer. But, they have built this into their planning so it is not an issue when the get home. Quite a bit of the thread is devoted to discussing what is "fair" in a relationship. For instance, the husband works more and makes more money. Therefore, should he be entitled to more time off? Some posters attempt very strict accounting for what each partner in the relationship deserves. Others reject this sort of bean counting with one poster insisting that it kills relationships.

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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 30, 2024 08:58 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included colleges that change lives, stay-at-home moms, an assault at a MCPS middle school, and how to lose 15 pounds.

The most active thread yesterday was an old thread that I have already discussed and, therefore, will skip today. That was the thread titled "Travis and Taylor" which is about Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift. The thread has received renewed interest because Kelce is going to the SuperBowl and Swifties, who doubted the authenticity of this relationship in the beginning, are starting to have second thoughts. The second most active thread is another one that I will skip, the Gaza war thread. The most active thread after those two was titled, "Favorite College that changes lives?" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. This will require a bit of explanation for the uninitiated. "Colleges That Change Lives" was originally a 1996 college guide written by Loren Pope that profiled 40 liberal arts colleges that Pope believed were particularly focused on educating students and performed better than many of the traditional "top" colleges. In 1998, a non-profit with the same name was created to promote the colleges reviewed in Pope's book. DCUM has a small group of posters who are huge fans of CTCL colleges and either frequently start threads about the schools or bring up the colleges in other threads. Similarly, there is a group that is very cynical of this entire endeavor and consider CTCL to be little more than a marketing organization that promotes second-rate schools. Whenever these two groups interact, it results in many posts being reported and an increased workload for me. This thread was started by the original poster asking which schools users like, hate, or about which they know nothing. Several colleges from the list are mentioned as ones that posters like and several posters also asked for recommendations of colleges with specific characteristics. It is clear that several posters accept the premise that these schools punch well above their weight. Almost implicit in the CTCL discourse is the assertion that traditional college rankings should be ignored because these schools are flying under the radar. So much so that when a poster mentioned the two CTCL schools ranked highest on the US News & World Report rankings, the poster was criticized for pursuing the "wrong outcomes". One of the usual critics of CTCL argued that the schools are second tier and "attract mediocre students who wouldn’t have a chance at top schools." One thing about CTCL schools that I think is misunderstood is that the schools are chosen based on their perceived commitment to student achievement. Outside of that factor, the schools don't necessarily have much in common. This provides both fans and critics the ability to cherry pick and promote either one school's accomplishments or another school's failures as representative of the entire list. I suspect that for many of the CTCL colleges, inclusion on the list provides little more than marginal benefit as several of the schools have reputations that have been established independently of CTCL.

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