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The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele — last modified Apr 01, 2024 12:22 PM

The topics with the most engagement over the weekend included picking colleges, Project 2025, childless weddings, and GDS college acceptances.

The most active thread since my last blog post on Friday was titled, "Let us pick for you…list acceptances" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. For months I've joked about a group of users in the college forum who approach college admissions with the obsessiveness of dedicated sports fans, analyzing the most minute of statistics and debating various rankings and top college lists. I refer to this group as the Fantasy College Admissions League. This thread is the culmination of this phenomenon, the college admissions playoffs if you will. The original poster invites the parents of undecided college applicants to list their options as well as factors influencing their decision and allow others to weigh in. Just in case you doubt the enthusiasm of the College Admissions Fantasy League participants, consider that this thread reach nearly 40 pages in just three days. To be sure, there are some very knowledgeable posters in this forum whose advice is worth considering. But, there are others who appear to be primarily motivated by personal biases rather than the strength of their analysis. The problem is telling which is which. In some cases this is made easier by the amount of effort posters put into their responses. At least in my opinion, the replies that consisted of nothing but the name of the school were not particularly helpful because they didn't explain the reasoning behind the opinion. In contrast, posters who supported their response with substantive reasons for their choice tended to be more persuasive. On the other hand, those posters often opened themselves up to challenges from others who disagreed with their reasoning. Even so, debate between posters was discouraged in the thread with a Northeastern University booster being shutdown when she went a bit far in her advocacy. It is clear that the thread was meant to be lighthearted and mostly for entertainment. That is not meant to disparage the seriousness with which many of the thread's participants approached the topic, but I don't think many final college decisions were made as a result of a DCUM post. I think the highlight of the thread for me had nothing to do with the substance of the topic but rather with a poster who chose to respond with snark to the original poster, "thanking" the original poster for providing instructions because the responder would otherwise not know what to do. This response was on page 34, so clearly a number of posters had found the thread engaging by that point and the snark was not necessary. But the icing on the cake was that the poster messed up the formatting of their post and ended up including their response within the quoted content. The inability of this poster to quote properly suggests that they actually do require instruction. Snark kind of falls flat when it provides evidence of the author's incompetence.

The next most active thread was posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. Titled, "Project 2025 if Trump were to win", this is a fairly old thread that was started back in November of last year. However, it received increased interest over the weekend. Project 2025 is an effort organized by The Heritage Foundation aimed at not just winning elections for conservatives, but "undoing the damage the Left has wrought and build a better country for all Americans". Of course, many would object to the presumption that "the Left" has wrought any such damage and would consider the plans of this right-wing group to be a bigger threat to Americans. That is what most of the discussion in this thread concerns. This is a 48 page thread that I don't have time to read. Instead, I will discuss Project 2025 more generally. The Project's emphasis on "undoing" existing rules and regulations and replacing current government employees with committed conservatives coincides nicely with former President Donald Trump's expressed desire to fill the government with people loyal to him and seek revenge on his enemies. Therefore, while there is no formal relationship between Project 2025 and the Trump presidential campaign, there is an obvious overlap of ideas. Moreover, many Project 2025 participants also have a foot in the Trump camp. As a result, the line between the Project and the campaign are often blurred. For instance, as highlighted in the first post of the thread, Jeffrey Clark — an assistant attorney general in the Trump Administration — has written and spoken in favor of employing the Insurrection Act to use the military against administration opponents. Clark, who has been indicted along with Trump in Georgia for election interference, has been heavily involved in both Project 2025 and the Trump administration. While the Project 2025 report published on the group's website says nothing about the Insurrection Act, the Washington Post has reported that Clark's involvement with the Project has raised concerns about the use of the Act even among some conservatives. At times the Trump campaign has attempted to distance itself from Project 2025 while at other times embracing specific tenets. What is notable about the project is how it represents a mainstreaming of MAGA dogma that at one time had only fringe support, but now is fully embraced by establishment conservatives such at The Heritage Foundation. For instance, the Project envisions a housecleaning of the FBI due to its involvement in what the project considers the propagation of false information about Russian involvement in the 2020 election. There is plenty of evidence to support the conclusion that such involvement was not false, but rather prevalent. Nevertheless, The Heritage Foundation apparently now sides with Trump regarding the so-called "Russia hoax", showing how far even esteemed conservative institutions have fallen.

Next was a thread titled, "Are we wrong for not allowing the kids to attend?" and posted in the "Family Relationships" forum. The original poster says that she and her fiancé are planning a "small, intimate wedding" and have decided not to invite children. Nevertheless, two family members have asked if they could bring their children. In the first case, there were two very young children and the original poster told them "no". In the second case, the child was 12 but the original poster wanted to be consistent so she also told that family member that the child could not attend. Now this has become somewhat of a controversy within their families and the original poster is so frustrated that she almost wants to call everything off. She wants to know if they were wrong to not allow children. The family relationship forum is so full of trolls that I am compelled to investigate all threads from that forum that I discuss. In this case, all I can say about the original poster is that I am not sure. She only posted two follow-ups before disappearing from the thread. Any further evidence either way regarding her being a troll is inconclusive. Regardless, a good rule of thumb in this forum is to take any thread with a grain of salt. The topic of inviting or not inviting kids to weddings is one that has been repeatedly discussed on DCUM. Many posters have well-established positions. There are those that support leaving kids out because the kids will either be disruptive or bored out of their minds. Others strongly believe that kids should be welcome and that if people with kids are invited, the kids should naturally be included. Others, regardless of their personal preferences regarding kids at weddings, insist that it is the wedding couple's decision. Even if the decision is wrong, it is the couple's right to be wrong on their wedding day. Most of the thread simply consists of posters stating various versions of these three positions. Quite a few posters describe how they have reacted when told that their kids are not invited to a wedding. Some have easily made accommodations while others immediately declined the invitation.

The last thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. Titled, "GDS - Wow!", the original poster is impressed with college acceptances among Georgetown Day School students. She considers them to be an "amazing set of outcomes". This thread was started back in mid-December when early decisions were announced. Now, after additional acceptance rounds and acceptance deadlines nearing, more GDS students have been publicizing their college choices. Most of the popular private schools have their own dedicated boosters and their even more dedicated trolls. This is especially true for GDS. As such, many posters provide supportive responses praising the acceptances while others take a more sarcastic angle. For instance, when one poster suggested there has been 10 Ivy League acceptances, another said that it was 20, and a third commented that it was actually 82. Another poster then added that the acceptances were "All good Ivies. No one forced to go to Cornell." In reality, there are GDS students who have chosen Cornell and, other then where Ted Cruz is concerned, Cornell is quite prestigious. Much of the discusion in this thread revolves around some familiar themes of both the private school forum and the college forum. Perceived admissions trends have gone through significant changes over the past few years. First, the COVID pandemic led to many universities adopting test optional policies and then the US Supreme Court prohibited race from being used as a factor in admissions, meaning that affirmative action could no longer be used. The change to test optional policies was thought by many to be to the advantage of underrepresented minority and first generation students who might have lower test scores that would no longer be a factor. While ending affirmative action would seem to disadvantage minority students, a popular belief was that diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives would still favor such students. The result was conventional wisdom that the current admissions environment was not favorable to the sort of privileged students common at GDS. Personally, I have felt that regardless of alleged policy changes, the privileged have always been able to exercise their privilege and will always find ways to benefit, regardless of professed policies. Therefore, while many in this thread gloated despite fears that admissions policies would not favor GDS students, the opposite had turned out to be true. But again, personally, I see that less as a surprise and more as exactly what should have been expected. Moreover, as many posters went to lengths to point out, many of the Ivy League acceptances went to legacies. That particular form of affirmative action is still allowable.

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