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January

Sub-archives

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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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 26, 2024 10:49 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included pride in being an American, college applicants skipping "target" schools, a mother and daughter who hate each other, and Trump blocking immigration reform.

Yesterday's most active thread was titled, "How proud are you to be an American?" and posted in the "Off-Topic" forum. This thread is currently 23 pages long and, to be honest, I don't really feel like reading a single post. The entire text of the original post is "Politically and philosophically speaking." which did nothing to increase my interest in the thread. Moreover, the thread should have been posted in the political forum because almost immediately most of the posts turned political. I skipped to the last page and, sure enough, things were even worse. As a result, I locked the thread. As would be expected, some posters are proud to be an American and others are less so. In many cases, feelings seem to be closely aligned with support or disagreement with President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump. I, of course, am not a big fan of the "love it or leave it" mentality often evinced by those with perhaps too much pride in our country. Nor, however, do I think we need to permanently hang our heads in shame. The vast majority of us had no say in becoming Americans. We were born that way and, if anything, the primary thing we should feel is lucky. America, like it citizens, is responsible for both good and bad contributions to the world. It is a country with flaws and it helps nobody to ignore or gloss over those shortcomings. Ironically, some of the most vocal critics of America today are exactly those who proclaim themselves "patriots". Many of them would have us believe that pride in the country is best expressed by waving a flag while attempting to usurp its fundamental institutions. This highlights another issue. What exactly is "America"? Is it simply a land within its borders, a legal designation, or a government? Is it its people, a culture, neither of those, or something more? Have increased travel, communication, and other aspects of globalization made being an American less significant? The few posts that I read in this thread suggested that many poster's feelings about America were tied to their support for one side or the other of the Israel-Gaza war. By the end of the thread the discussion appears to have lost all relevance to the original topic and is solely about immigration.

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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 23, 2024 11:13 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included the future of MCPS Superintendent McKnight, alternatives to Joe Biden, adults who haven't learned how to drive, and paying for in-law's mortgage.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Board wants Monifa to step down". Posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum, the title refers to a report in the Washington Post that the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education has requested that Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight step down from her position. According to the Post article, McKnight contends that the Board has not previously communicated any concerns about her performance and has no cause to remove her from office. Therefore, she plans to remain in her position and contest efforts to force her out. McKnight has been controversial from the start. While she was serving as Interim Superintendent before officially being hired as Superintendent, the Montgomery County Education Association — the teachers' union — passed a vote of no confidence in her. Her efforts to address the fallout from the covid pandemic have not won her many fans and significantly increased criticism of her leadership. More recently, a controversy involving the promotion of Joel Beidleman, a MCPS middle school principal who was promoted to high school principal while under investigation for bullying and sexual harassment, has raised questions about her involvement in events. McKnight has denied any knowledge of the charges against Beidleman but several top administrators have been found to have been involved. This has led to the classic conundrum that if McKnight knew what was happening, she was malfeasant and, if she didn't know, she was incompetent. But, much of the discussion in this thread focuses on the school board. Many posters call for board members to step down along with McKnight because the board has approved all of McKnight's actions. Moreover, many posters see the board as mishandling McKnight's dismissal. If the board has indeed not communicated grounds for her removal and McKnight is unwilling to go quietly, there will likely be a significant financial payout to get her to leave. Months of unwanted controversy regarding this issue can also be expected. A sideshow debate in this thread involves how McKnight is addressed by posters. There has long been a tendency in the forum to identify the superintendent as "Monifa" — something that happened even in the thread's title. Several posters object to this, believing that the frequent habit of referring to women in general and Black women in particular by their first names is lodged in sexism and racism. I have noticed this propensity, frequently as it relates to Vice President Kamala Harris, and I also agree that the use of first names in such instances are posters' efforts to diminish these women. Loudoun County went through a major controversy leading to the removal of Dr. Scott Ziegler as schools superintendent and never once do I remember him being called "Scott". Neither was former Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent Dr Scott Brabrand referred to with that name during his controversial tenure.

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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 19, 2024 09:18 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included Kate Middleton, another MCPS snow day, the proposed Maury-Minor partnership, and the plight of boys.

There are very few topics that can produce 40 pages of posts in less than 24 hours, but the British Royal Family is one of them. As a result, the most active thread yesterday was titled, "Kate Middleton in Hospital - Recovering from Surgery" and posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum. This thread was started after news that Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, had undergone planned abdominal surgery and would be recovering in the hospital for the next 10-15 days and then would be at home until after Easter. Anyone even remotely familiar with this forum's obsession with British royals would know that this lack of detail was simply not going to be acceptable to BRF fanatics. Indeed, the same posters who have previously been experts in the intricacies of British tabloids, domain specialists on the topic of royal ancestry lines, authorities on royal protocol, and more familiar with the inner thinking of Harry than Harry himself, instantly anointed themselves experts on abdominal surgery. To say that speculation ran rife about what treatment Kate had undergone is a bit like saying that water flows over the Niagara Falls with some alacrity. It's true, but doesn't really do reality justice. I am fairly certain that there is not a single malady that could conceivably affect the abdominal region that was not authoritatively described as the reason for the operation. But, because many of the posters are wise enough not to accept a royal statement at face value, speculation did not stop with Kate's torso. Indeed, these posters, who are smart enough to know a ruse when they see one, adamantly declared that the whatever was going on, it had nothing to do with an abdomen and, for that matter, likely had nothing to do with surgery. Countering these suggestions, other posters put forth that non-surgical healthcare could more easily have been explained away by a lengthy vacation or something other than a hospital stay. Therefore, actual surgery must have been involved. Adding fuel to the fire was news that King Charles would also enter the hospital for prostrate treatment. This put William, Prince of Wales, in a bit of a pickle. Should he step up in place of his father and show leadership or should he be home with the kids while Kate is hospitalized, acting as the caring husband and father? Posters were divided and arguments were presented for both options. The best comment in the thread was one saying, "If there was a world cup of speculation, DCUM team would bring some sort of honorary medal for sure." My only disagreement is the suggestion that the medal would solely be "honorary". Certainly, the DCUM speculators would achieve a silver, if not a gold medal.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 18, 2024 10:03 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included a troll thread about yoga pants, a marital dispute about shoveling the deck, colleges for "C" students, and Trump's victory in the Iowa Caucuses.

The most active thread yesterday was one of the snow-related threads that I discussed yesterday and, therefore, will skip today. After that was a thread titled, "Are yoga pants ok?" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. Based on the title, I thought this thread might be more appropriate for the fashion forum. But the original poster explained that the issue was a complaint by her boyfriend about her wearing yoga pants when they went out to a bookstore and for coffee. He apparently doesn't consider yoga pants to be "real clothes" and expects that if he dresses nicer when they go out, so should she. That made this more of a relationship issue, though posters who responded approached the topic from both angles. I immediately had troll vibes from this post and checked to see what else the original poster has been posting. I was surprised to see several threads about her husband — written just days ago. I would think that brings up an issue more important than yoga pants. The original poster also started another thread just hours before this one in which she said she and her boyfriend had broken up. In the past week, the original poster has posted about going on dates with both a man and a woman. But, the real cherry on top was a thread in which she said that she didn't want to have sex until marriage and then — in a thread one minute short of 24 hours later — posted about having sex with her boyfriend for the first time and it turning out to be terrible. I would say that she would have been better off keeping her yoga pants on, except that back in October she started a thread complaining that her boyfriend didn't initiate sex as often anymore. So, clearly she hasn't waited for marriage to have sex, either good or bad. When a poster like this one posts so many contradictory threads, it is impossible to know which, if any, are true. Moreover, this poster has started nearly 100 threads since October. In that time, she has been in a struggling marriage, divorced, widowed, dating with all kinds of complications, and changed genders a number of times. She also started a thread saying that she is too good for most single men, though it is not clear whether those are real men or men who exist solely in her imagination. I'm always torn about disclosing this sort of information. Some posters howl that it is a violation of privacy. First, it's not. Second, trolls don't deserve privacy. But I know this adds to the perception that the forum is nothing but trolls and harms DCUM's reputation. Of course some would argue that DCUM's reputation can hardly get worse in this regard, but I hate to do more damage. It is doubtful that a poster like this can be shamed into changing her behavior, but we can always hope. At any rate, I've locked this thread and deleted a few of the more recent ones.

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The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 15, 2024 04:37 PM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included unsolicited fertility advice, Texas sending migrants to Illinois, celebrating college admissions, and an award for Prince Harry.

The most active thread since Friday was the Gaza war thread which, like the war itself, shows no sign of ending. Because I've already discussed that thread, I'll go on to the next most active which was titled "What is it with people given childless couples unsolicited fertility advice?" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster says that she is 36 and her husband is 34. They have remained child-free due to financial reasons. Others, generally people who are not even all that close to the original poster and her husband, constantly give them fertility advice such as encouraging her to freeze her eggs or not to delay motherhood. The original poster is fully cognizant of the issues involved and doesn't need other telling her about them. The original poster asks why some people are so concerned about other's fertility. I'm not sure the relationship forum is the best forum for this topic, but I am also not sure which forum would be better. So, I'll leave the thread where it is. The first several posters made at least half-hearted attempts to address the question, but ironically, they couldn't stop themselves from also offering fertility advice. In fact, the thread almost immediately became emblematic of exactly the phenomenon about which the original poster was complaining. Without knowing a single thing about the original poster beyond the sparse information contained in the original post, poster after poster presumed to be in a position to "fertilitysplain" to her. I didn't have to read very much of this thread before I concluded that the answer to the original poster's question about why people are obsessed with the fertility of others is that a huge number of them lack any ability to prevent themselves from commenting on the topic. The advice appeared to come so automatically to some posters that I doubt that they realized what they were doing. If this were not an important topic to the original poster, it would be funny. She basically asked, "why is everyone so concerned with my fertility?" and ninety percent of the responses were "you have to have children now, right now!" Probably because DCUM has such a generally affluent userbase, very few users seemed capable of understanding that someone realistically might face financial challenges. As the original poster responded with additional information, it emerged that she has had to support herself since age 18 and always worked in retail. She has not had the opportunity to go to college and has exhausted her earning power. Her husband is apparently in a similar situation. I wonder what the reaction would have been had the original poster started a thread describing her financial situation and stated an intention to have children? She probably would have been derided as a prospective wellfare queen or criticized for poor financial planning. As it was, one DCUM Marie Antoinette expressed shock that an adult works in retail. She may as well have advised the original poster to eat cake.

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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 12, 2024 10:05 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included judging men and women, a decline in White Army recruits, taking classmates' college spots, and college freshmen GPAs.

Yesterday's most active thread was one that I will skip because I discussed it yesterday. That was the thread about the college choice of a "donut hole" family. The most active thread after that was titled, "Do you judge men who are wealthy and well educated but choose to marry fitness influencer/dancer/yoga instructor" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. My first reaction to this is that the forum is really getting into the realm of the esoteric with this thread. Personally, I don't judge such men because I can't think of a single one who meets the description. As such, the question in the title is completely theoretical to me and, in theory as well as reality, I have better things with which to concern myself. But I guess my reaction is not widely shared because this topic managed to produce 12 pages of responses in a single day. There were a number of posters, perhaps maybe even a majority of those responding, who unequivocally claimed not to make such judgements and to consider the question to be ridiculous. One perceptive poster pointed out that this question actually implies judgement of the women rather than the men. Other posters pointed out that the assumption that yoga instructors or dancers are necessarily uneducated is a misconception. Much of this thread consists of off-topic tangents involving posters dealing with their own neuroses. One poster appears overly fixated on her financial advisor ex-boyfriend and a male poster touts the advantages of dating women who are significantly younger than him. While the original poster's premise appeared to be that the women in this scenario are educationally and socially well below the men, several posters pointed out that this is frequently not the case. As mentioned before, women in these roles are often well-educated. One poster who says she is a yoga instructor touted two master's degrees and the ability to speak four languages. Others pointed out that it is not uncommon for well-educated professional women married to wealthy men to give up their careers to raise children and take up yoga or dance instructing as a hobby, sometimes turning that into a second career down the road. The men married professional women who only became instructors or dancers later. The original poster responded throughout the thread, generally not identifying herself as the original poster but not really sock puppeting either. She was very argumentative and if there were a common theme to her posts it is that men generally choose poorly when picking a mate.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Jan 10, 2024 11:30 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included MCPS early dismissal, unhappiness with the likely presidential candidates, the "dead zone" for upper middle class families for college admissions, and presidential immunity.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Possible early dismissal Tuesday?" and posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum. The thread was started Monday evening by a poster suggesting that, due to flood and high wind warnings for Tuesday, the Montgomery County Public Schools system might want to send students home early to ensure that they were off the buses before things got bad. If you are surprised that a thread on this topic could end up as the most active of the day, you are not familiar with this area's parents of school children. Parents are divided between those who expect schools to be open during anything short of nuclear war and who would rather have a voluntary root canal than be forced to change their schedules and those who constantly fear the worst and advocate for school closures at the drop of a leaf, particularly if that leaf dropped as a result of inclement weather. In this type of situation, schools face a no win situation. Decisions must be made in advance or they get criticized for last minute changes. That often requires working with imperfect information and changing weather forecasts. Failing to close when they should have can leave children stranded and in danger. But, closing and then having the weather turn out to be fine results in second guessing and complaints. A large system like MCPS that covers an extensive geographic area has an even more difficult time because the conditions in one part of the county might be considerably different than another part. Debates about what to do can be especially vehement when they are taking place at a time when the weather is particularly nice as was the case in this instance. Posts ranged all the way from those warning of the possibility of buses "floating away" to those complaining that DCUM posters were "cheering on the hysteria". When the school system finally announced that schools would close 2 and a half hours early, approximately a third of Montgomery County's residents rushed to post the news in this thread. There is nearly an entire page of posts repeating the same information. This provoked a round of scoffing from those scornful that schools would close "because of rain". One complained that "families shouldn't have to leave work for this nonsense." Those posters, in turn, faced their own pushback with one saying, "I assume these comments are coming from people who walked 10 miles to school each day, uphill both ways, in the dark, across live power lines, in five feet of snow, fighting off wolves, and they were fine so why don't we do that now?" The rest of the thread was spent with posters criticizing almost every aspect of the decision from almost every angle. For some, the decision was made too early, for others too late. For some it was justified, for others not. Some were bothered by repeated notices of the closure, others complained that they had not been informed. The debate about whether the schedule change was justified continued well into the evening and even into today with no agreement in sight.

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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.

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