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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Jan 09, 2024 11:23 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included the current presidential election outlook, a likely troll thread about an affair 9 years ago, reconsidering standardized college entrance exams, and the value of family.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "CNN’s inaugural Road to 270 shows Trump in a position to win the White House" and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. The original poster linked to a graphic produced by CNN showing US states color-coded by the current leading presidential candidate. According to CNN's analysis, former President Donald Trump is currently leading in enough states to secure 272 electoral votes, two more than necessary to win the election. Notably, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Arizona, all states that President Joe Biden previously won, are listed as "toss-ups" with their votes not being distributed. However, even if Biden were to pick up all three, he would still be short of the winning number. Therefore, Biden will need to flip at least one state currently leaning towards Trump. As is the tendency for political threads, most of those responding simply engage in partisan bickering. Pro-Trump posters beat their chests and make outlandish predictions. Pro-Biden posters argue that the current polling does not reflect the probable results in November. There are a few sensible posts from those who attempt serious analysis, though it is often difficult to tell where these posts cross the line to wishful thinking. As is also the tendency for political threads, posters do a poor job of staying on topic and the thread soon goes off in several different directions. By the end of the thread posters were engaged in a debate about whether or not Trump should legally be allowed on the ballot. My own thoughts about this are that early polling is often inaccurate, but it is undeniable that Biden is carrying a lot of baggage that he did not have during the last go around. Democrats have a terrible time controlling the narrative and, as a result, Biden's age and mental acuity have become issues with many voters while Trump's similar age and obvious mental shortcomings have not. More importantly for Biden, his policy regarding Israel and Gaza has turned off many young voters who have been key to Democrats' success. Expected red waves over several elections have failed to materialize due to women and young voters motivated by abortion rights. Whether that same pattern will hold true remains to be seen. In Biden's favor, almost constant predictions of a recession have been proven wrong and now conventional wisdom has turned away from such expectations. With inflation coming down and the job market remaining strong, the economy should favor Biden. Many prognosticators say that is the single biggest factor in elections. A lot can and probably will happen between now and the election, so it would be unwise for anyone to begin counting chickens or reconciling themselves with defeat.

The next most active thread was the one I discussed yesterday about Bill Ackman defending his wife's plagiarism and, therefore, will skip today. Following that was a thread posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum titled, "Married 14 years- Just Learned of Cheating in Year 5". There is very little information in the original post other than that the original poster's husband slept with his college girlfriend every other week for 6 months during the fifth year of their marriage. In a subsequent post, the original poster says that she learned about this because at a recent party an old college friend asked her husband for advice about a trip to Tulum, Mexico. As far as the original poster knew, her husband had never been to Tulum. Somehow, this led to him disclosing the affair. Things took a weird turn just as I was about to start writing this summary. Someone reported a completely different thread saying that the original poster was an obvious troll. On the face of it, I didn't see anything about the other thread to suggest the poster was a troll, but I decided to quickly check what other threads the poster had started. It turned out that this thread was one of them. Or, at least it looks that way. Such determinations can never be completely definite. Moreover, while this entire topic hinges on the fact that the original poster had no knowledge of her husband ever having been to Tulum, almost simultaneously with me looking into the other thread, a poster who very much appears to be the original poster of this thread posted a message in this thread saying that she and her husband had visited Tulum in 2000. Looking at other threads that appear to be started by this poster, it looks like the poster routinely changes genders. Sometimes posting as a woman, as in this thread, and other times posting as a man. Moreover, this poster appears to have many of the same characteristics of a poster who has previously admitted to trolling, bragging that he is responsible for a lot of traffic on DCUM and that I should appreciate him. Given the realities of the Internet and anonymous posting, it is impossible for me to say with complete certainty whether this is indeed one poster or multiple posters. On a spectrum where 1 is significant doubt and 5 is as sure as I can be, I would put this at a 3.5 or 4. So, my suggestion is to not get too invested in this thread because it may well be the product of someone's imagination rather than reality.

The next most active thread was the Gaza war thread which I will skip because I have already discussed it. Following that was a thread titled, "The Misguided War on the SAT" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. The original poster linked to and quoted from an article in the New York Times which argues that standardized admissions exams such as the SAT and ACT have value for creating diverse student bodies. This is contrary to conventional wisdom which holds that such exams increase inequity between races and ethnic groups. The author argues that standardized tests should again be required and used as just one item among others for evaluating applicants rather than the determining factor. According to the Times, research shows that non-test factors such as grade point average and extracurricular activities are even more likely to favor the privileged and, hence, increase inequity. One point that stood out to me was the argument that solid test scores among disadvantaged groups were a significant indicator of success in higher education even though they might not be as high as the scores of other applicants. The obvious dilemma this presents is that it suggests accepting disadvantaged students who have lower test scores than more privileged students. That sort of testing disparity is exactly the sort of thing that would likely get universities in legal trouble and, arguably, is what led to the Supreme Court decision prohibiting race from being used as a factor in admissions. Several posters in this thread have other objections to the article and support the test optional policies that many colleges have adopted. The Times article is fairly long and it is obvious that many of those responding haven't read it. As such, many points are made which address the general topic without specific relevance to the article. One of the most glaring examples of this came from posters who believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are ruining education and hope to see a return to requiring test scores as part of an effort opposing such programs. Had those posters read the article, they would have understood that the argument being made is that, properly used, test scores can enhance diversity rather than decrease it. A number of posters do support the idea of using test scores as part of an overall package without being the primary factor in admissions. Nevertheless, a lot of true believers in test scores make themselves heard throughout the thread. For instance, one poster argued that a candidate with a higher test score would likely be a better brain surgeon than one with a higher GPA. I think this represents the argument in a nutshell. Personally, I would not limit my evaluation to either of those two factors and, based on the Times article, schools are not intersted in such limitations either.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Family Relationships" forum. Titled, "Why is family so important to people?", the original poster says that while there are a number of people to whom she is related, grew up with, and still has relationships with, she is closer to, enjoys more, and has greater respect for a number of other people to whom she is not related. Therefore she wonders why some people put so much importance on family. The strongest arguments made in favor of families are from posters who say their lifelong connections, shared memories, sense of responsibility, and familiarity contribute to relationships that can't be replicated with non-relatives. As one poster says, "[a]ll those feelings you feel towards others, people actually feel towards their families." However, some posters say that they didn't develop any of the factors that others cites due to growing up in dysfunctional families and for other reasons. Generally, posters who grew up around extended family members value family more while those who moved away in their youth from most relatives place less value on it. This seems a rather obvious distinction given that distance would have prevented the development of shared memories and so on. Indeed, the original poster explains in a follow-up post that she did move frequently while growing up and didn't put down deep roots. Even so, several posters describe feeling a responsibility toward blood relatives that they didn't feel toward others, even when their relationships are not particularly close. One poster pointed out that the vast majority of threads in the family forum indicate that families are often the source of deep unpleasantness. Therefore, that poster wonders why family is considered important. But, one poster thought that the answer to such questions is so obvious that the questions themselves must not be sincere. Reading between the lines, it seemed that poster feels a duty to value family members and that valuing friend over them was almost a type of privilege that she resented. She went so far as to declare that the original poster was "stupid" for not understanding. The original poster described that poster as lucky to have family that would put up with her despite her disagreeable nature. This was a sentiment with which the poster agreed.

Sarah says:
Jan 10, 2024 11:04 AM
I always enjoy and appreciate your summaries of top posts. Glad you take the time to do it! They always give me a laugh.
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