Friday, September 28, 2007

The Scam

I've spoken to many students recently. A huge number of them are repeating first year. The second time round they might drink less (or not) and manage to scrape 40% in six modules. This is interesting because, as has been reported elswere, Universities do not allow markers to fail people. It's bad for business. You can't charge £3000 annual tuition fees and leave the customer with nothing at the end of his three year party. What would the parents say? What if the customer sues you? What if you fall down the League Tables?
In order to pretend that they're selling real degrees the Universities are trying to make "students" attend classes. Good luck. Apart from compulsory lab classes and tutorials, my course has a 50% undergraduate non attendance rate. This is in one of the best departments in the UK.
Why fail them in first year and not the others? First year marks do not count towards a degree, so you're not compromising their final mark, but why fail them? They, and you the taxpayer, have to pay for another year's tuition. Remember the Universities are businesses, not a public service. They are obliged to maximise their income by any means neccessary.
It's a brilliant scam. It does however expose these institutions as cynical operators selling a product whose academic value has been debased beyond satire. Well, almost. It's often said that Queens should hang a sign on the door saying,
"If you can read this you're admitted"
Jordanstown already do.

Ireland's Finest want You

You may recall that David Farrell was assaulted by a student and his friend some months ago. They appear to have been charged and the "student" has turned up in a very interesting place. He was seen manning a stall at Queens' Freshers Fair. He was trying to recruit members. Go on, take a guess. What organisation was it? Greenpeace? The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender society?
No. What about the rowing club? No. The Officer Training Corps?
It was............................................................................................................................................................
Ogra Sinn Fein.
What were the Grown Ups thinking? A thug who assaults residents is their public face enlisting gullible young hillbillies into what? A Drinking Club for Designer Republicans? The grouping that was widely beleived to be behind the protest/riot that followed BBC's Spotlight three years ago?
What would James Connolly say? his "Whoop it up for Ireland" piece comes to mind.
And what about Queens? Did they know or care that the front man for a University funded society is up on a charge for assaulting on of their "Partners in the Community"?

Share the Love

This was daubbed on a family's yard wall. Another victory for Community Relations.

It's come to this

How long can you torture people? How long can you destroy their lives? At what point do you think that people are going to snap? I cannot condone this, but it was inevitable. Going round my head are the words of Ward Churchill's essay, ""Some people push back" "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens",

"You've got to learn, " the line went, "that when you push people around, some people push back."

This incident's full of ironies. I was awakened the morning after by a phone call.
"So it's not you that was lifted"
"Look out your window"
I do so to discover that cars have been burnt up and down the street. I was so full of medication that I slept clean through it. People in Stranmillis and the Ormeau Road heard the explosions. So I can get a nights sleep after all. Just pump yourself full of drugs. They make it all go away. Of course you might sleep through your alarm or the cops sledgehammering their way into your house. They had done just that to someone down the street. The front door was reinforced and resisted their efforts, so they went clean through the front window. It's what they call community policing and a measure of the loathing they have for us. It is increasingly reciprocated. Confront them at three in the morning 48 hours after the "events" and they make it clear that they will come down on us like a ton of bricks. The streets are full of mayhem. They watch it and even film it and make a point of doing nothing.
The papers insist that the wardens have reduced anti-social behaviour by 40%. People have stopped reporting it. They know it's a futile and frustrating exercise. What matters is that the Universities can spin Despair as a Great Victory. It's what they call "Community Relations".
The above pictures show that this is not a happy pleasant place where we all just "get along".
It's not Shangrila. It's a Warzone.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"You're gonna need a locksmith"

Many looked befuddled, constantly repeating the same action over and over again as if it would make a difference. It didn't. The lock was glued shut. All over the Holyland landlords and locksmiths were called out. A house alarm would go off during the repairs and not stop, adding to the frustration. Across the street from me two students tried to burn their way in using a can of deodorant and a cigarette lighter. All they got was a flash in the pan. It only works in the movies. I shouted over,
"You're gonna need a locksmith."
"Nah, we'll burn it out"
They kept trying.
"Just call Declan. He'll come out and drill it for you."
"He won't answer his phone"
He must have been getting calls all day.
"Your best bet's a locksmith."
One has a bright idea.
"I'll go round the back"
"You can't get in the fuckin' back"
His friend's losing patience. He runs out of deodorant.
I leave them to it and go visit a neighbour. An hour later I return. There's a locksmith's van parked outside their house.
"I told you. You're gonna need a locksmith"

Police cover up alert; suspected stabbing in Fitzroy Avenue

I don't know the details because they have not been made public (go figure), but the word on the street is that someone was stabbed in Fitzroy Avenue last week. The area was cordoned off the next day. Police cover ups are nothing new to the Holylands. See here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. Last semester I stopped sargeant Alan Bell in the street and asked him about the guy who got stabbed in the neck opposite the University Avenue Spar.
"What? I've heard nothing about it."
He has a skilled deadpan. His partner twiddles with his earpeace.
"We've got to go."
Recently this Queens University student had his own close brush with death and has the photos to prove it. I'm still here. Or, as a friend said to me recently,
"You Refuse to Die."
Do you think I'll let them cover up my experience?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Katrina wakes up and smells the coffee...............................................?

The penny's dropped!! Or has it??
Katrina feels "betrayed" by the planning service. Fuck me!! What did she expect??!!
After all the meetings she had with "the Head of the Planning Office" and "Lord Rooker", and,
"Just you wait and see. It's all gonna change here. They've promised me".
Was the big surprise the HMO "cap" that David Farrell publicly welcomed as a "Great victory"?
Now the "chairwoman 0f the Holyland Regeneration Project" feels "betrayed by the planners".
Of 89 planning applications only 2 have been refused. If you're wondering about the 41 that are still under consideration, the landlords have a simple solution, demolish the house. Look at 16 Rugby avenue. It no longer exists. Only the front remains while Michael McMahon waits for his approval.
There are other options. Burn your own property. No-one can pretend that this is not professional arson. Two adjacent houses in Fitzroy Avenue went up simultaneously. They were sealed with steel shutters. The Fire Brigade could not gain access. Someone had to enter the buildings, plant multiple timed incendiaries, exit and seal the shutters up again. This is a pro who knows what they're doing. In another house in the same street all three stories went up simultaneously, hardly an amateur job. A lesser class of arsonist exists. A house in Rugby Avenue was recently purchased and promptly torched. Damage was minimal. The Fire Brigade suppressed it with ease. Still, it can now be declared a derilict and get a whopping great grant from the Housing Executive.
Rugby Avenue is being raped house by house. The huge back gardens are being built up right to the entry. The precedent has been set by Declan Boyle and Kerry O'Donnell. Every house in a 200 yard long terrace, bar the three or four owned by the Housing Executive, will go the same way.
It's time again to ask who are these "representatives" who have failed so miserably. First of all they can't decide what they are or what to call themselves. Is it the "Holyland Regeneration Association"? or the "Holyland Residents' Group"? or the " Belfast Holyland Residents' Association"? or the "Holyland Regeneration Project"? The South Belfast News seems unable to decide and so calls them all of the above depending on the article.
This is of course highly disingenuous. A "residents' group" is ostensibly run by the community for the community. We all know that in Northern Ireland nothing's that simple, but the pretence exists. A "regeneration project" runs on the "parnership" principle which, when I studied the subject, was called the "collaborative approach to community action". Such groups are funded by state and powerful private bodies and service a corporate agenda. With the passing of the troubles many have become "New Deal" training centres aggressively promoting benefit slavery. By their nature they are anti-democratic and act as enforcers or the equivalent of the American prison "trusty". Such is the case with most "residents' groups", but that's for another essay.
So, I conclude with some simple questions. What is the name of this group? When was it formed? Who elected the committee and when? Who are the committee? Who are the members of this entity? Are they the usual suspects; Gerard Morgan, a non-resident; Katrina O'Neill; David Farrell; and Tony McGuinness? Who do they represent? It's surely not this community, the handfull that remain. What have they acheived? Their own cry of "betrayal" exposes their failure. One could argue that they have in fact succeeded. The area has been raped to death by landlords, and that, in it's own way, is regeneration. They have acted as the perfect PR front for the Universities, their "partners in the community". The general public beleives the Holylands has been sorted. They're right, it has, just not in the way they think.