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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Feb 06, 2024 11:25 AM

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.

The next most active thread yesterday was posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. Titled, "Dartmouth Announces Test Scores Required Starting Next Year", the original poster copied the complete text of a New York Times article discussing Dartmouth College's decision to begin requiring applicants to submit standardized test scores. Posting the complete text of an article is a violation of copyright law and, therefore, I edited the post this morning to remove much of the copied material. According to the article, Dartmouth researchers have found that test scores are a better predictor of student success at the college than grade point averages, essays, or recommendations. Crucially, the college found that test optional policies were hurting lower income students. A test score that may be lower than those of privileged students may reflect a lower-income student's ability to overcome obstacles. But, lower-income students were generally not submitting test scores that they thought were too low. In fact, even though those scores were lower than those of privileged students, they were high enough that they would have helped those students. Dartmouth plans to follow a holistic approach to admissions and will use test scores as one item among many. The college still plans to enroll an economically-diverse group of students. It is not clear to me that those responding, especially those early in the thread, completely grasp the nuances of this. For instance, one poster writes, "A move away from some of the randomness that’s been injected into the college application process is a good thing...". But, because there is not going to be a firm cut-off of acceptable test scores, there will still be significant randomness. A 1400 may be great for a low-income student but not nearly good enough for a privileged applicant. Those wondering about their chances of being accepted will need to consider their test scores in the context of socio-economic factors. One poster who did understand wrote, "The 1500 parents still don't get it and never will. The point isn't to find the highest test scorers and admit them all on a sliding scale. The test is another data point to show whether or not students can be successful...This doesn't make it any easier for your above average 1500+ kid to get into Dartmouth." This is true, at least in theory. Whether this will hold true in reality is another question. How long will it be before a lawsuit is filed by a student who is rejected while an applicant with a lower test score is admitted? The decision by US Supreme Court justices to appoint themselves college admissions officers has opened almost any admissions decision up to legal challenges.

Next was a thread titled, "grammys 2024" and posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum. This thread was started Sunday night to discuss the Grammy Awards being given out that evening. Basically, this thread can be summed up with two names: Tracy Chapman and Taylor Swift. Chapman has stayed out of the public eye for years, but emerged to perform her song "Fast Car" along with Luke Combs. Combs' cover of the song went to number 1 on the Country charts, making Chapman the first Black woman ever to have a number 1 Country hit. I haven't read the entire thread, but I don't think anyone had a bad word to say about this performance. When Combs first released the song, there was some bitterness about a White male benefitting from the work of a Black woman. By all accounts, Chapman never shared those feelings and Combs' evident appreciation and respect for Chapman during their performance should have dispelled any lingering concerns. For many, this will be the highlight of the show. With regard to Taylor Swift, however, let's say that opinions were mixed. I didn't watch the show, but based on second-hand accounts, it seems that Swift was nearly everywhere. She won two Grammys, bringing her total to 14. She announced a new album and was the subject of countless cutaway shots. Even her supporters seemed to realize a backlash was due with one poster writing, "To all the Taylor haters shut up" at a time when only one comment about Swift has been posted (and that was about her hair). While the existence of Swift-haters can't be denied, most of the push back in this thread was from posters who generally like Swift or at least like her music. They thought that her acceptance speech lacked class, that she had "dissed" Celine Dion, and behaved in a childlike manner. The discussion of Swift so dominated this thread that a poster created a second "Taylor-free" Grammys thread to discuss the awards without the distraction of Swift. Outside of Chapman and Swift, Miley Cyrus seemed to get a lot of rave reviews. In terms of helping her reputation, Cyrus probably was equal or close to Chapman and well ahead of Swift.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Tweens and Teens" forum. Titled, "WWYD - 13 yr old just binged on an entire bag of Oreo cookies", the original poster says that her family strictly limits sweets but that her 13-year-old son bought a bag of Oreo cookies with his allowance money and then ate the entire bag in one day. The original poster is very upset by this and concerned about her son's explanation that he couldn't control himself. She wants to know what the appropriate consequences should be. First, before even reading a single reply, I have to ask: Who hasn't eaten an entire bag of Oreos in a single day? I haven't bought Oreos in decades because I know that I can't be trusted around them. Most of the replies seem to be supportive of the child and critical of the original poster's parenting choices. Many posters suggested that the severe restrictions on sweets have made them sought-after. Moreover, several feel that the original poster should allow her son to spend his money on junk food if he wants to and then not micromanage how he eats them. The original poster seems to interpret the pushback as calls to allow unrestricted access to junkfood, which is not what most posters are suggesting. Rather, posters are arguing that eating an entire bag of cookies is not a punishable offense and that there is a happy medium between the original poster's restrictions and regular binge-eating of junk food. The original poster also questions whether those who would overlook binge eating of Oreos would extend that attitude to other things such as video games, vaping, or drug use. This leaves some posters incredulous that she would compare eating cookies to vaping or drug use. The primary dispute is not over whether eating or drinking too much is a good or bad thing, most agree that it is bad. But rather what strategy best prepares kids to make good decisions when they don't have their parents controlling them. Many posters firmly believe — and argue that research supports — the contention that kids who were raised to make their own decisions earlier in life make better decisions later. As such, these posters are convinced that the original poster is not preparing her son to make good decisions. The original poster disputed the research with her own claims about research and argued that junk food is specifically designed to be addictive and, in that way, is not all that different than vaping or even methamphetamine. To some extent, this thread is a classic example of posters simply not being able to understand each other and, perhaps on purpose, constantly misinterpreting what was being said. One poster took a "pox on both of your houses" approach saying that the original poster "is being chastised for her disordered eating parenting by other parents who are also disordered in their eating...It's the blind leading the blind around here."

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