brian's soapbox

DECEMBER 2021

 

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EXPERT OPINION - LETTERS
As always, the opinions expressed in these pages are purely and personally those of myself, Brian; they are not the official views of Queen, or of any other organisation or individual.

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**Mon 27 Dec 21**
SALUTING A GREAT HUMAN BEING - DESMOND TUTU
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Saluting a great human being. Proud to have spent some moments with him in Cape Town while we were organising Nelson Mandela’s 46664 concert for AIDS.

I expected the legendary Tutu to be scary, but his huge energy and confidence was bound up with a massive sense of humour - he wove a spell impossible to resist. Of course he courted controversy - all great people do. And his bravery changed the world for the better.

May he rest in eternal peace.


Image from: Tutu Authorised Portrait [Biography]

Bri

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**Mon 27 Dec 21**
BOXNG DAY FOX HUNTERS
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Boxing Day has in the past been a hideous blood bath, with Fox Hunters tearing around the UK countryside with packs of dogs, ripping Britain’s red foxes apart limb from limb. It was called ‘sport’. The fact that it was ‘traditional’ along with the claim that it was an ‘essential part of country life’ was never a convincing defence of this indefensible activity - torturing and killing wild animals for enjoyment. A determined sustained effort by compassionate campaigners put the Hunting Act in place in 2004, which made fox hunting with dogs illegal, along with other blood sports. Since then, the bloody Old Guard of Hunting, determined to keep on with their vile activities, invented the term “Trail Hunting” - to pretend that what they were now doing was getting their dogs to follow an artificial trail - and cease the killing.

But this year top level members of the Fox-Hunting community were caught instructing their members on how to break the law and get away with it. We all knew this for years - that they were still training the hounds with real fox scent, so they would still kill foxes “by accident” - and that their claims of ‘controlling’ these ‘pests’ were completely bogus because they were actually rearing baby foxes for the purpose of being tortured to death by the hunts.

So now it’s all in the open. They have been publicly shown to be liars as well as brutes. But the inhuman oicks are still trying it on. And they have influential friends.

This story in the Daily Telegraph - shockingly - actively incites people to break the law. It’s written by Charles Moore - who actually sits in the House of Lords, and should know better than to publish material designed to encourage illegal activity. Shame on you, Charles Moore, and shame on the Daily Telegraph. I’ll revisit this subject in the coming days, and discuss how we, the public, can drive the last nails into the coffin of Fox Hunting. It’s high time.



Meanwhile … please click now on SAVE-ME LINK. There you can support our petition to close the legal loopholes and make this disgusting ‘sport’ history, once and for all.

Thanks !

Bri

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**Mon 27 Dec 21**
STILL BAFFLED - "NEO-COVID" ?
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I’m still baffled … but THANKS folks for a million views on this post (about 10 posts ago) - I’m glad it was useful. Today I’m at day 16 after the event which infected me with (I’m presuming) the Omicron variant of Covid. I’m still congested with a slight cough, and still sleeping too much. But I’ve been consistently negative in lateral flow tests for a number of days now. I feel pretty much fine except for tiredness - but that may be partly due to the fact that most days I choose to do my cardio exercise on the bike rather than rest ! So do not fear out there - it seems that in most cases there is life after Omicron. But DO be very careful. Even if the booster shot is shown to be little defence against Omicron, the previous variants are still out there - against which the shots are a proven good defence. And those previous variants are still deadly. My advice ? Don’t relax your guard. Minimise your contacts. Good luck !!!


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“NEO-COVID” ? I have one more piece of random advice. It’s really pure speculation - I don’t have access to research data on infections. This is based purely upon what I have seen, and would rightly be judged to be anecdotal. But around clusters of definite Covid infections over the last couple of weeks, I have noticed that there seem to be groups of people who suddenly get nasty colds, which do not ever produce a positive result in a lateral flow test. The particular “colds” they get seem to exhibit almost identical symptoms to the cluster of positive Covid infected that they were close to.

It seems like too much of a coincidence to me. I have this feeling that there might be a kind of “neo–Covid“ reaction out there, perhaps in people who have an immunity for one reason or another, or perhaps only receive a low viral load at the point of infection. Why would this matter? Well, if their symptoms are being caused by the Omicron virus but they are hidden, there must be a possibility that they can infect people around them with the virus. Right ?

So my advice is stay away from people who suddenly, for no apparent reason, get nasty colds. And if you get one, think about your family and friends.

Bri

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**Sun 26 Dec 21**
JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE PERFECT LAUNCH - YES IT'S CHRISTMAS
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James Wbb Space Telescope launch 26 December 2021

Congratulations to the James Webb Space Telescope team for a perfect launch today aboard an Ariane rocket. This wonderful piece of inspired technology will accompany us on our yearly journey around the Sun, ingeniously located about a million miles further out than the Earth, at a place in Space called L2. It will see further back in time than has ever been possible until now - to the time when the first stars were born out of the darkness following the Big Bang. Or so Astronomer’s believe. Of course, there are no guarantees that we will see what we expect to see ! That’s the whole point of looking there. That’s the fun of astrophysics !

Bon Voyage Webb !!!

Bri

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**Sat 25 Dec 21**
MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!
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Merry Christmas !!! And also especially to you lovely folks in ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, KOREA, POLAND, IRELAND, WALES, SCOTLAND, ESTONIA, HOLLAND, BRAZIL, CUBA, GUATEMALA, NORWAY, DENMARK, SWEDEN, FINLAND, ECUADOR, KAZAKHSTAN, BULGARIA, RUSSIA, LATVIA, UKRAINE, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, CHINA, SWITZERLAND, INDIA, PAKISTAN, ISRAEL, IRAN, IRAQ, PALESTINE, SYRIA, LIBYA, BELGIUM, AUSTRIA, ITALY, SPAIN, PORTUGAL, ARMENIA, GREECE, SOUTH AFRICA, TURKEY, TANZANIA, ZANZIBAR, NEW ZEALAND, VENEZUELA, COLOMBIA, CHILE, PERU, CZECH REPUBLIC, ROMANIA, UAE, SLOVAKIA, MALAYSIA, THAILAND, PHILIPPINES, CANADA, JAPAN, FRANCE, GERMANY, MEXICO, HUNGARY, LUXEMBOURG … and ENGLAND !!! …. because I know we have devoted fans in all these countries. And apologies to anyone I have left out. PEACE.

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Still trying to figure out why my Guinness clock post (about 8 posts ago) got to nearly a million views … ! But thanks !! Actually I can see the numbers ticking up - I’m intrigued to see if it makes it to a million views. I hope Guinness are watching ! Ha ha ! Oh ! Should have tagged them, I guess !!!

Brian May: Merry Christmas - 25 December 2021 - https://youtu.be/ugmnT5g2Vh8

X

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**Fri 24 Dec 21**
TIME TO BE JOLLY - DESIGNATED SURVIVOR
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And so … time to be jolly ! This is a very silly way of showing it, but thanks Kelly Fox for getting it out of the cupboard. Creds to Jib Jab !!!


From Kelly Fox - via Jib Jab

Can’t help feeling intensely proud of this one year-old Christmas ditty. And what a perfect vocal performance. Kerry Ellis is a true star. Happy Christmas Eve, folks ! And the full version of this gem, with the original video, is just a couple of clicks away - OK ?

Bri



One Beautiful Christmas Day
Kerry Ellis ft Brian May
- or other music service

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This is probably old news to many of you in the States … but we just discovered this GREAT series on Netflix - just in time for our enforced confinement to the house due to Covid. "Designated Survivor" has been our best friend - helping us to get through a sticky and depressed period in our lives. Wonderful escapism - that at times seems more credible than our present political reality. THANK YOU Kiefer Sutherland and friends. It’s Riveting !!! In fact … it’s become an addiction. Impossible to watch only one episode at a time !!!

Hey Kiefer Sutherland - you and I met half a lifetime ago in the Formosa Cafe In Los Angeles. I never forgot that. Have followed your brilliant career avidly ever since with pride !!! This is a killer !!! Yay !!!

Bri

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**Thu 23 Dec 21**
SAD VIDEO - NEGATIVE TESTS
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This sad video has haunted me the last few days.

You don’t have to be a Vegan (to be appalled by the gross abuse of these birds every year at this time. There are so many great ways to make your Christmas roast dinner delicious these days. I’ve been quite sickened by the endless advertising images of these poor dead animals on our TV screens over the last few weeks. It’s as if there were a desperation in the animal-based food industry that we might all discover that this is one tradition we really DON’T NEED to follow.

At our house we’ll be looking at a succulent plate of roast parsnips, roast potatoes, done in healthy olive oil, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and probably some extras like asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, chestnuts, leeks, and always roasted onions !!! I can’t tell you how much better it will feel at the end of Christmas Day NOT to have had that old fashioned dead bird centrepiece - unhealthily animal fatty, ugly, dry, and its production bad for the planet. And above all, for me, it will be a cruelty-free Christmas.

IT’S NOT TOO LATE - - TO LEAVE THE DEAD BIRD OFF THE PLATE.

By the way, Dr and Mrs May got negative results in out Covid lateral flow tests today. We will check one more time tomorrow - and then consider ourselves safe to rejoin humanity - but still very carefully- on what is for us Day 12 since infection. It’s very possible to get this thing more than once. Good luck out there. Stay safe.

Bri

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Tue 21 Dec 21**
DAY 10 OF (SUPPOSED) OMICRON
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Day 10 of (supposed) Omicron infection for Bri.

I say ‘supposed’ because anyone who is sharing this journey with me will have noticed that, in the UK at least, NOBODY ever tells you what variant you have got. My deduction that it was Omicron is based on (1) the speed and pervasiveness of the spread of infection in that room - well over half of a group of 40 or so were infected inside 3 days, and (2) the symptoms. I was badly congested, feverish and coughing for around two days, but I never lost my sense of taste or smell, and - much more importantly - never had difficulty with breathing in the lungs. So this new variant is a very different beast from the one which first put all our lives on hold nearly two years ago.

This is the last test update I’m going to put up, because it seems to have little meaning for my case now. My information is that LTF test can remain positive for up to 90 days after infection - because although we are no longer infected or infectiOUS, some Covid organisms remain in the system for a while. Tonight our government reduced the time for quarantine after infection from 14 to SEVEN days ! On that reckoning we are already clear - but we are exercising caution for the next few days anyway. So there it is. I see scientists with conflicting options on the effective of the Booster jabs against Omicron. From 75 per cent to zero ! I do know that there are many very sick covid patients in our hospitals who are unvaccinated - but I also hear that even more are triple jabbed. Form your own conclusions from that !!! It’s clear this new variant is completely out of control. BUT … I am optimistic for the future … I’ll tell you why.



Why am I cautiously optimistic about Covid ?

All the present evidence points to the view that in evolving into the Omicron Variant, the coronavirus has become become

(1) much more efficient at propagating itself, and
(2) less efficient at killing its victims.

In evolutionary terms, as I understand it, BOTH of these changes are beneficial to the ongoing success of the organism around the planet. The first strains of Covid 19 were unquestionably deadly - we all lost dear friends and relatives. I quickly lose patience with the deluded souls who call it a ‘fake’ pandemic. Get real. Ask the nurses if it was fake. However, through a number of mutations this new version has become so successful that it is now, or very soon will be, the dominant variant in the World. I think that’s a good thing for the virus, and it’s ALSO a good thing for us.

WHY ? What’s not generally understood is that a virus doesn’t have to kill its hosts to be successful. Actually quite the reverse. If it kills its victims too efficiently they won’t have time to spread the virus. This is often quoted as the reason that the deadly virus Ebola never became a pandemic. It was contained. But containment was only possible because it killed most of its victims before they had had the chance to infect anyone else.

This virus may not even be natural - it may be man-made - but once it’s out there it is subject to the ’laws’ of Natural Selection like every other organism on Earth. So this direction of evolution of the Covid virus is just what it needs to flourish as a species. But it’s also just what WE need - because this means Humanity can live with it. Hopefully it continues in this direction and becomes just another cold-causing virus. It’s been suggested (search for Prof Marc Van Ranst) - intriguingly - that the pandemic Russian Flu of the 1890’s was caused by a coronavirus very similar to Covid 19, and it evolved into one of the common cold viruses still active today. So, just maybe, by next Christmas we may all find that old ‘normality’ we have been pining for. Let’s pray that the human race will have learned a few lessons by then.

Bri

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**Mon 20 Dec 21**
DAY 9 THAT "T" LOOKS QUITE FAINT
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 Brian's COVID Test Day 9

Day 9.

Well, that “T” line looks quite faint - and it took all of the prescribed 30 mins to develop. But the instructions say this is still a positive result. Not that I would be going out anywhere at this point anyway. But it’s a reminder that the Beast is still in my body. I can still feel it, too. Congestion, snuffles, slightly dizzy head. And it’s not too late for the thing to kick back at me. But otherwise OK today. I wonder how long it will take me to get a negative result.

Now I that I have a chance to study this microbe’s work at intimately close quarters, it becomes more and more intriguing. Nobody has yet been able to tell me which variant we all caught 10 days ago at that birthday lunch. Which has made me very suspicious of the accuracy of the daily stats on infections. But it’s a fair assumption that it was the Omicron chap. It seems apparent (and confirmed by some informed friends) that this descendent of the original Covid 19 is much better at propagating itself fast, but much less of a killer.

Current estimates I have seen of the efficacy of the British Booster Jab against Omicron are not good (less than 20 per cent) - so I’m now less sure than I was a couple of days ago that it is my state of vaccination that is protecting me. I would guess it’s a contributory factor - so it’s still worth getting it. But I predict time will tell us that this variant truly has far less deadly teeth than its granddaddy. Why ? It seems (and this is not my idea) that Omicron is very good at procreating rapidly in our throats and sinuses - but for some unknown reason, not so successful at invading our lungs. So it spreads itself rapidly from person to person through our coughs and spluttering - but doesn’t threaten our lives by stopping us breathing.

If this is true, this is REAL cause for long term optimism. We are looking at an organism which is well on the road to be coming just another cold or flu germ to be dealt with as we have always done. But it has to be said that this whole pandemic has taught us a thing or two as far as behaving sensibly in the face of such pervasive pathogens. Right ?

Stay home !!!

With love - Bri

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**Sun 19 Dec 21**
DAY 8 FOR ME
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Day 8 for me - the 8th day after my body was invaded by enough Coronavirus organisms to bring me down.

Firstly, I think I was a little too optimistic yesterday, imagining that the red “T“ line was looking fainter. It’s a different test kit today - but the lines look pretty much of equal intensity today. So I’m assuming the battle inside my body is still in progress.



It also feels like it - that dry wheezy cough has returned today, and there is a kind of fountain of irritation on one side of my sinuses. I also keep falling asleep - not in a peaceful kind of way, but in a “I can’t keep my eyes open another second” kind of way. So it’s a damn good job this happened at a time when I’m NOT crazy busy as usual.

Sorry - this stuff isn’t entertaining any more - but I figure at least I can report it as info that might help somebody out there to feel less apprehensive.

I’m fundamentally OK. Just feeling a bit crap and frustrated at not being able to be out and about at this time of year. But I think we’re all feeling a bit of that - right ? And it’s so clear that the new Omicron variant is completely out of control in the UK. And probably in the whole world of humans.

Talking of which .. does anybody out there know WHICH variant they caught ? I don’t. I have been told that this information isn’t available from the NHS tests. If that’s the case, where are all these statistics coming from every day ? I’d be very interested to hear from anyone who knows the answer to this.

Cheers all, and good luck out there. I say again … it’s very apparent now that although the lateral flow test is a useful guide, if you get a negative result tomorrow morning, you cannot 100% guarantee that you are not infected and infectious all day. So for the sake of everyone around you, keep the caution going - masks, social distance, common sense - and only go to a gathering in an enclosed space if you are really sure the risk is worth it. As my dear Mum used to say (in half-jest) — ”Do as I say - not as I do ! "

Bri

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