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2024

Sub-archives

The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 19, 2024 02:56 PM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included a disagreement over a child's bedroom, new fee structure for realtors, professors not checking in on students, and former MCPS Superintendent Monifa McKnight's settlement agreement.

The most active thread over the weekend was the Kate photo thread that had nearly 4 times the number of posts as the next most active thread. That thread, wouldn't you know it, was the thread about Meghan Markle's new lifestyle brand. So, apparently, DCUM has turned into a tabloid. The next most active thread, and the first one that I have not already discussed and, therefore, will discuss today, was actually a parenting topic. Titled, "DD wants the big bedroom, but I don’t want to give it to her & DH not backing me up", the thread was posted in the "General Parenting Discussion" forum. The original poster describes a disagreement involving her nine year old daughter, herself, and her husband. The family is moving into a new house that has three children's bedrooms. Two are identical to each other while the third is larger and has built-in furniture that gives it a "girly" appearance. More importantly to the original poster, it has a door to the outside. The original poster would like her daughter to take one of the identical rooms and her 4 year old son to take the other. However, her daughter wants the larger room. The original poster is concerned about the door and she would rather remove the built-in furniture and convert the room to either a guest room or play room. The original poster's husband has agreed that their daughter should not get the larger room at this time, but has told her that she may be able to move into it in the future. This is frustrating for the original poster because this presents an obstacle to removing the built-in furniture which she also thinks is her daughter's main attraction to the room. Moreover, the original poster's husband thinks that she is being paranoid about the door. She wants to know what DCUM thinks about this situation. This seems fairly simple to resolve to me. Put the kids in the small rooms, convert the larger room, and assume that their daughter will forget all about moving soon enough. If not, deal with that in the future. But, few of those responding seemed to see things in these terms. To the contrary, quite a few of the posters would consider this abusive. One poster is convinced that having raised the daughter's hopes about the larger room, it would be mean to disappoint her now. She insists that the daughter should be allowed to have the larger room immediately. Other posters reject the notion of fairness and don't see a problem with one child having a larger room than the other. In contrast, fairness is very important to other posters. A few posters side with the original poster and criticize her husband for not supporting her. In addition, some posters are concerned about the outside door and consider that a safety issue. The notable thing about this thread, and what contributes to its length, is the strength of the feelings of various posters. To some, this is not a topic on which reasonable people can disagree, but rather one about which a few posters seem to think that their answer is the only valid one. As one poster sums things up, "Clear that the inmates are running the asylum in most of y’all’s homes."

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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 16, 2024 06:36 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included a warning to college applicants, a new view of Harry and Meghan, a student arrested with a gun at a MCPS high school, and fear of flying on Boeing aircraft.

The Kate photo thread once again led as the most active thread, racking up more than 10 times the number of posts as the next most active thread (nearly 11 times in fact). The next most active thread was titled, "a final warning to high school students in the college admissions game", and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. The original poster linked to a YouTube video by a current student at Princeton University who expresses strong disappointment with Princeton and warns high school students who are currently in the process of choosing colleges to avoid the university. He warns about a number of other top colleges as well. His main complaint is that rather than being a supportive environment, Princeton — at least according to him — is very cutthroat and, he believes, damaging to students' mental health. He advises applicants to ignore college rankings. He argues that instead, students should investigate the atmosphere of schools to ensure they choose a school with a supportive environment. Due to the video's name starting, like the title of this thread, with "a final warning" and the very depressed attitude of the narrator, I was a little concerned that this was a suicide message. But, hopefully that is not the case. Despite the serious nature of the video, I almost broke out laughing as I read the replies. Multiple posters blamed the student's distress on test optional admissions policies. Their theory being that he is an undeserving student who probably would have been filtered out by a low test score and is now discovering that he doesn't have the chops for Princeton. I don't know whether this demonstrates the posters' determination to protect Princeton from criticism or their one-track fixation on test optional policies. A number of posters wonder why the student simply hasn't transferred. Others just brush off his complaints with one poster even describing him and others like him as a "tik tok like ‘geniuses’" from whom she would never take advice. For the record, this video was on YouTube and the other social network is "TikTok". Other's suggest that while the student may be accurately portraying his own personal experience, he is wrong to extrapolate that experience broadly across Princeton, let alone other top universities. Some posters come to the students defense, though many of them tend toward offering explanations for his struggles rather than accepting that his description of student life at Princeton is valid. A few posters, however, do find the student's complaints to be believable. They point to a rash of suicides at Princeton and its relatively low freshmen retention rate as evidence that the environment might be overly stressful. The bottom line is that those posters who want their children to pursue top universities such as Princeton appear unlikely to heed this warning. Some others who either have ruled out the school or don't consider it to be a realistic option in the first place, find some solace in believing their children are better off elsewhere.

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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 14, 2024 05:28 PM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included whether or not to tell a friend about her husband's affair, universities that are better than the "lower Ivys", little things that can improve a vacation, and Bethany Mandel's campaign for the MCPS school board.

Yesterday's most active thread was obviously the thread about the Princess of Wales's photo, receiving nearly 1,400 new posts. I covered that thread yesterday and, therefore, will go on to the next most active thread. That one was titled, "Can’t face friends" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster says that her husband accidentally revealed that his longtime best friend has been having an affair with a college classmate for the last eight years. The original poster, her husband, and their children regularly socialize together with the other family and she is friends with the friend's wife. Knowing this information has made the original poster so uncomfortable about being around the other family that she canceled a planned get together this weekend. She believes that the friend's wife deserves to know about the affair but her husband is loyal to his friend. She asks what others would do. As could be expected, responses are all over the map. Several posters urge the original poster to simply forget what her husband told her and do whatever it takes to let it go. These posters argued that nothing good would come out of telling the friend's wife about his affair. Others argued that the wife deserves to know. They are concerned that if the wife learns of the affair and finds out that the original poster knew about it, she might blame the original poster. Another angle was to focus anger on the original poster's husband who has been hiding this secret and allowing his family to grow close to the other family despite knowing that things could blow up anytime. Some suggested that the original poster's husband should have a discussion with his friend, either to convince him to stop the affair or to let him know that the original poster now knows and is struggling with the information. Basically, put the ball into the friend's court. There was disagreement about how the friend's wife might react to being told about the affair. Many posters thought that she might already know or prefer not to know. They saw many scenarios in which revealing the affair could hurt the original poster's relationship with the woman. However, a poster who herself had been in the friend's wife situation says that she is very grateful to the friend who revealed her husband's affair. The poster says that friend was the only one who put the poster's interests first. In a follow-up post, the original poster says that she has settled on the "put the ball in the friend's court" strategy. She agrees with others that she and her husband need to be on the same page in order to protect their own relationship. The original poster is also compelled to end her friendship with both her husband's friend and the friend's wife. In the first case because she abhors what the friend is doing and in the second because she doesn't want to face the wife while keeping a secret from her.

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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 08, 2024 01:15 PM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included President Joe Biden's State of the Union address, giving up on dreams of attending an Ivy League university, going back to work in order to motivate a husband to help out more, and buying a Porsche Boxster.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Biden's SOTU" and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. This thread is obviously about the State of the Union address delivered last night by President Joe Biden. Interest in this thread was surprisingly intense, pushing the thread to 44 pages already. Obviously, I haven't read all of those pages, but I have read many pages throughout the thread. Right from the beginning, Republican-leaning posters set the bar for Biden incredibly low. Based on Republican expectations, it would be surprising if Biden were even able to walk to the podium successfully. Doubts about Biden's cognitive abilities spread to more moderate and even some Democratic-leaning posters. When Biden immediately launched into a combative and forceful speech, the thread turned into a combination of straw-grasping and outright denial. "He’s literally reading from teleprompter" one poster wrote, as if any president in the modern era would attempt such a speech without a teleprompter. "The man is literally drugged" wrote another poster. "He’s slurring his words", complained a poster with what would be a repeated criticism throughout the evening. But among Democrats, many of whom had clearly not been optimistic about the speech, there was a slow realization that Biden was clearly exceeding expectations. "He sounds great. Strong and confident", wrote one poster. Another opined, "Joe came out swinging. I'm actually feeling bad for Mike Johnson", referring to the Republican Speaker of the House who spent the evening seated behind Biden making various expressions of disappointment. "Johnson does NOT look happy and I'm loving it", noted another poster. Biden is a not skilled orator of the caliber of Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan. But, if his decades of political experience have done nothing else, they have prepared him for the rough and tumble that has characterized the most recent SOTU addresses during which Republicans routinely interrupt to heckle Democratic presidents. Last year, Biden successfully maneuvered Republicans into opposing social security and Medicaid cuts. At least one DCUM poster correctly predicted that Biden would repeat this tactic. "Last year was great in part because he went off script responding to the RWNJs yelling at him. So their Speaker is telling them to shut it but they won’t", wrote this poster. Not only did the Republican heckling not get under Biden's skin or throw him off kilter, he seemed to thrive on it. Biden taunted the Republicans, ridiculed them, and challenged them to stand up for their professed values. "I think he is doing an amazing job. He's so strong. He should have been getting this message out every single day. But I really hope that people are listening to this!" wrote a poster. The bottom line is that many expected "Sleepy Joe" but they got "Dark Brandon". This caused a notable change in the Republican spin. As one poster noted, "The GOP narrative pivots from ‘President Biden is too feeble’ to ‘President Biden is too aggressive.’" There is no denying that it was a good night for Biden, summed up by one poster as "This is a campaign speech." Indeed it was, and one that, if nothing else, probably calmed a lot of Democratic nerves.

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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 05, 2024 10:48 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included the Supreme Court ruling about Trump's ballot access, a loss of attraction for a wife, not ordering a meal at a restaurant, and a study of elite college admissions.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Unanimous ruling by SCOTUS" and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. The title refers to a decision by the US Supreme Court regarding a ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court that removed former President Donald Trump from Colorado's presidential primary ballot. As the original poster states, the decision to keep Trump on the ballot was unanimous, but that is only part of the story. As is so often the case with the US legal system, the details of this decision are important and not necessarily what one might think at first glance. While all justices agreed that Trump should remain on the ballot, four justices disagreed with the majority opinon that only Congress can remove a federal candidate. Justice Amy Coney Barrett sided with the three liberals on this issue. As the minority concurrence pointed out, the Fourteenth Amendment says that if a candidate is disqualified under that amendment, "Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability." The suggestion here is not that Congress would be undoing its own action, as the Court majority would have it, but rather removing a disqualification enacted by another body. By ignoring this, the majority has created a contradictory and confusing situation. The three liberal justices went even further in their disagreement, arguing that the ruling was far too broad and effectively meant that no candidate would ever be disqualified from holding the presidency under the Fourteenth Amendment. Another point that should be emphasized is that the Court did not rule on the topic of whether Trump participated in or instigated an insurrection. The ruling was very much not an exoneration of the former President. As so often happens in the political forum, many posters were less interested in the facts and more interested in scoring political points. Several posters claimed that this ruling meant that Trump could no longer be accused of being an insurrectionist. In fact, as noted, the Court was silent on this issue. A number of posters criticized President Joe Biden for attempting to defeat Trump in the courts rather than the ballot box. However, this case was originally brought by Colorado Republicans and Biden had no involvement. Nevertheless, posters spent a considerable part of this thread trying to tie Biden to various legal actions involving Trump. It is clear that many have bought into Trump's allegations that Democrats have weaponized the court system. What really is apparent is how Republicans have attempted to neuter all avenues for holding Trump to account. Republicans stymied two impeachment efforts because they claimed the matters were better settled in court rather than by Congress. This ruling says that the issue lies with Congress rather than the courts. Basically, Trump is a hot potato that keeps getting passed back and forth.

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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 01, 2024 06:29 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included a troll thread in the relationship forum, college commitments among area private and independent school students, secrets kept from spouses, and do bad people get what they are due?

The most active thread yesterday was the one about women continuing to pursue careers even though their husbands can support them. But I've already discussed that thread and will skip it today. The next most active thread was titled, "Not welcome on vacation" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster, in an extremely long post, describes how her fiancé's mother frequently excludes her, most recently not inviting her on a trip on which the mother had invited the original poster's fiancé. But, I am not really going to talk about this thread. Rather, I am going to describe the original poster's repeated trolling over the last couple of days. First, the story of this thread. Early in the thread at least one poster suspected the original poster of being a troll and accused her of faking the thread. This started a lot of back and forth and, at some point, another poster defended the original poster. The poster who didn't believe the original poster immediately accused this new poster of being the original poster and hiding her identity. That was not true, though ironically the original poster had been posting defenses of herself and claiming to be a "new poster". At any rate, the troll-calling poster and the poster defending the original poster got into a heated exchange which led a report to me and a thread in the "Website Feedback" forum. When I looked into the thread, I saw the posts by the original poster in which she falsely identified herself as a new poster. That spurred me to check what other threads she had been posting. It turned out that two days earlier she had posted a thread titled, "Helping him" in which she claimed that she was divorcing her husband and his mother was paying for his lawyer. Yesterday, the same day that she started the thread complaining that her fiancé's mother left her out, she started a thread titled, "Doesn’t want that time with him" in which she says her mother-in-law doesn't want to spend time alone with her husband. I locked all three threads and exposed the original poster as a troll. But, that didn't stop her. This morning she started a new thread titled, "Feeling guilty about being ‘too’ sad" in which she describes being heartbroken by the death of her husband's grandmother. This one is a real tear jerker. Then, she followed that up a few minutes later with a thread titled, "Delicate DIL situation" in which she is suddenly a mother-in-law complaining about her daughter-in-law. But that post is so convoluted that I can't be bothered trying to figure out what it is supposed to say. To summarize, over the course of three days, the poster has had three different marital statuses, engaged, married, divorcing and has been both a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law. I understand that sometimes posters fudge details to maintain their anonymity, but this poster also claimed to live in Georgia (something about which I also suspect is not true). Her anonymous posts on DCUM are unlikely to expose her back home. But, beyond that, two threads directly contradict each other with regard to her feelings about the relationship of her husband/fiancé and his mother. Who knows if any part of any of this is true. I suspect it is just a bored person with an overly-active imagination and too much time on her hands.

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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 26, 2024 12:19 PM

Yesterday's most active topics included Yale becoming "text flexible", MCPS's Virtual Academy, and Wisconsin Avenue development. Concluding today is a look at a day in the life of one of DCUM's most active trolls.

Yesterday's most active thread was the one about the soccer club merger. The rumor that started that thread finally turned out to be true with official announcements of the merger. The most active thread after that was titled, "Per NYT, Yale now ‘test flexible’" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. I was disappointed with the effort put into the initial post by the original poster. While the title referenced a New York Times article, there was no link to the article. Nor was an excerpt provided, but rather a short, one-sentence summary. Yale University has decided to once again require that standardized test scores be submitted by applicants. However, the policy that Yale describes as "test flexible" will allow applicants "to submit scores from subject-based Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests in lieu of SAT or ACT scores." I have discussed a number of test-related threads in this blog and this thread has much in common with previous threads. The various points of view are well-established. At one end of the spectrum are posters who believe that standardized tests are the best method of identifying the students most likely to be successful in college. These posters often claim that test optional policies are simply a ruse allowing admission of less prepared minority students. At the other end of the spectrum are posters who oppose tests which they believe may be biased against minorities and subject to gaming by affluent families who can afford extensive test prepration and test retakes. As was the case earlier when Dartmouth University reversed its test optional policy, this policy change is being cast as being in the interest of underrepresented minority students. The theory is that such students have not been submitting their scores because they believed them to be too low. However, schools would have viewed the scores in context of the students' background and given weight to scores even if they were lower than those of more privileged students. Therefore, by not submitting test scores, these students were actually hurting their chances. This sounds great in theory but I am skeptical about how it will work in practice. The Supreme Court decision prohibiting race from being a factor in admissions was based on evidence that Harvard University and the University of North Carolina were admitting minority students with lower test scores than White or Asian students. Now, Yale and Dartmouth are essentially saying that they plan to do exactly that. When asked about the legal implications of this by the New York Times, Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions basically shrugged it off. As a result, I am somewhat suspicious that the claims about URMs are a cynical cover story and the real motivation for dropping test optional policies is to appease certain stakeholders who are likely to benefit from requiring test scores (or at least believe they will benefit). So it will be interesting to see how this plays out in practice.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 21, 2024 12:25 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included a rumored partnership between soccer clubs, an unhappy marriage due to an affair, too many poor men using online dating, and starting 1st grade at 7 years of age.

The most active thread yesterday was a bit of a surprise. Titled, "ECNL forcing Brave & Union Partnership" and posted in the "Soccer" forum, this is the second thread from the soccer forum to be among the most active threads this month. Like the earlier one, this thread consists mostly of rumors and discussion of rumors. The thread was started nearly a week ago with a post simply saying, "Fall 2024 - ECNL is forcing Brave to partner/merge with Union. Confirmed." As I said when I discussed the soccer thread last week, I have no idea what any of this means. I think that ECNL is some sort of administrative body or league within which various clubs compete. Brave and Union, I deduce, are clubs that have both boys and girls teams of various ages. The thread added roughly 9 pages of new posts yesterday which accounts for its being the most active thread of the day. A couple of caveats: this is a 28 page thread and I have read very little of it. I have no idea whether the original rumor is true, but one of the latest posts in the thread says that a formal announcement will be made today. So, I guess we will see. The only other thing that I will say is that this thread is a perfect illustration of how you ruin a website such as DCUM. Because the original post was completely based on a rumor with nothing to support its validity, many posters did not believe it. The original poster's use of the word "Confirmed" became an object of mockery with posters posting outlandish rumors followed by saying "confirmed". Basically the thread consists of little more than pages of nonsense and I don't know why anyone would waste their time reading it. Some time ago, the soccer forum became so unruly that I changed it to require registration in order to post. This led to months of posters repeatedly requesting that I remove that requirement, which I eventually did. But, this thread suggests that posters in the forum still do not have the ability to behave responsibly. The forum participants are also terrible about policing themselves. Just about the only ones to ever report posts in the forum are coaches who have been bashed and want the negative posts about them removed. The regular posters seem to be quite happy with endless drivel. As a result, not only was this thread the most active yesterday, but it was probably also the most useless. Confirmed.

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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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