Missing the obvious

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I’m taking a course through EdX.org on the Science of Happiness. It’s been quite good. But in a recent live Q&A with the instructors, someone posted a question I found rather surprising.

Several people wanted to know the same thing: how to remain happy when tragic events like Las Vegas, or devastating events like hurricanes, happen.

I found myself thinking about why someone would ask that kind of question. After all, hurricanes are a natural event that happens every year. And they happen in the same place every year. The US has mass shootings repeatedly every year. It’s a chronic condition.

Why would someone assume such things wouldn’t happen? Or that they shouldn’t feel unhappy about them when they do?

Tragic events happen. These events mentioned are 100% foreseeable and to some extent even avoidable or at least could be drastically mitigated if the right laws and building codes, etc were in place.

Maybe the people asking the question aren’t unhappy in the face of tragedy. Maybe they’re really unhappy with the state and federal lawmakers who don’t want to do anything to help avoid or mitigate tragedy?

This picture shows an american football manufactured by Wilson lying on a football field. The football has the typical brown and redish color with some white lines painted on it and white laces on the top.

It’s hard to know. It’s like the football kneeling v standing thing. For me, kneeling and standing are both forms of deep respect. So I don’t have a problem with either. What I don’t understand is why we play the national anthem before sporting events.

These events aren’t patriotic rallies. It’s not the Olympics. It’s not a grade school trying to instill patriotism. These are huge billion dollar corporations paying mostly people of color to toss a ball around while most white people watch.

What is the point of playing the national anthem at sports events? I totally don’t get that. To me the answer is simple. Remove the playing of the anthem and instead play a team song. De-politicize events that aren’t political to being with.

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It’s like the Kurdish, Catalonia referendums for independence. Those are political situations. But I don’t understand the level of worked up ness over them. They want self-rule. Nothing wrong with that. They live there. It’s their land. They have a distinct culture and language. Why not?

Just let them go and just continue to build close trade, legal, and cultural partnerships with them. In the long-run, it’s the smart move. There’s no point in investing time and money into a civil war. It’s just a lose-lose situation.

This is my feeling on N Korea and Iran. I don’t care if they have nuclear weapons. It’s their country. They can do what the want. If the US didn’t want other countries to have nuclear weapons it should have long ago been a leader in the world and removed such weapons 100% from US arsenals. They’re useless anyway. And who needs 5000 nuclear weapons when 1 will destroy the planet?

But the US didn’t have the balls to say no to nukes, so … here we are.

Maybe if the US had exhibited better diplomacy over the years things wouldn’t now be so nuts. Because let’s be honest, there’s always nuts in the world. There’s always bad actors. Sometimes those nuts and bad actors are other countries, sometimes they’re your own.

But countries shouldn’t be doing all the can to make another country more nuts. And they can disengage from bad actors. Honestly, I question the underlying assumptions people in the US government, and governments in general, seem to be carrying around these days. But governments are reflections of people, so ….

American have some thinking to do.

Thinking is hard work; that's why so few do it. - Albert Einstein

Please think like you drink, responsibly.


This entry was posted on October 8, 2017.

Boot straps, and when to pull them

My Bootstraps Aren’t As Big As I Thought

There was a time I lived on an island that only had power from 10 am to 10 pm. The rest of the time, you had to get creative. I’ve never been through a hurricane like the people of Puerto Rico, but I do understand island life and problems.

The island I was on had one veterinarian, who was perpetually drunk and driving off the road. It had one doctor and no hospital. Once every week a ship brought things to the place like gas and mail, but only if the weather was good. If it was bad, you could go a month without goods or the ability to get off the island unless you wanted to sail to the mainland yourself.

Island people are generally pretty good at helping themselves. But I do want to encourage people that are out there, who may not have been living ruggedly beforehand, that there are ways you can help yourself (while help takes it’s sweet time to reach you) and you need to take them.

I’m pretty take charge in bad situations. I find the response of the Gov of PR unbelievable. He actually said on live tv that aid could not go to people because all the truck drivers were cleaning up their own homes. Really?

I would have declared martial law on day one and ordered everyone that held a truck class to licence to report to start moving aid. I would have held all gasoline for use by road clearance crews, aid carrying truckers, nursing homes and hospitals, and emergency services like police and fire, and finally communications workers who are trying to get cell towers back up.

I have really short shrift for people who are all about themselves.  Communities with a lot of damage need to figure out if they have any habitable structures. The ones that need repair first are the ones that house the most people or are the easiest to repair because they have minor repair issues (so you have to take in your neighbors, and their kids, and their pets).

That means mayors need to look at large structures that survived the hurricane. Structures such as churches, schools, city halls, and hotels to be repaired first and used for housing.  When you have 2,600 people in your community without housing, people repairing individual homes is not good sense. If there are limited repair items, limited lumber, plywood, roofing, hammers, etc, using such goods to fix one a house for one family instead of a school that can house 300 is just ridiculous.

Housing and warmth is a priority. You need to scour around for every usable thing and gather it all together so you know what you have. Gather up those broken trees and get them under a tarp drying out. That wood is going to be handy for heating your food, boiling your water and keeping you warm.

You can make clean water with a plastic bottle, some gravel and some sand. It’s pretty easy if you know how to do it. You need to establish a washing place and a bathing place for your community so no bad stuff gets into your water supply. You need to think how you’re going to get all the people through the next few months till substantial aid and repairs can take place.

Coral those chickens and goats, because they’ll give you eggs and milk for very little trouble. Get out on the sea and fish if you have row boat, kayak, or sail boat. If there are any gardens or farms, you need to get those back in order. You need to check your food supply. Make sure these will sustain you.

If there’s a power boat that floats but is not operational as a boat, it can be used as a relay signal point. You can probably get information out that way.  Most ships have satellite radios, if you can get them working off a battery. If not, take the battery and drain the fuel out of the engines of useless boats.

You need to find a clean water source and keep it that way. You need pit latrines if the sewage lines are out. You need graves if there are dead things that need burying.If you have to shovel your main road clear, you all need to do it. You need to establish a dump, for anything that doesn’t compost.

Whatever you got, you use it to help your community.

Everyone with horse or some bullocks should be transporting goods for their community, dragging debris away, and clearing roads. If you have to transport sick people in wagons, sledges, and on travois, you do that. Even a large dog can pull a wagon or travois if need be.

I do want to add that the airlines and ship lines and military have really dropped the ball.

Sending commercial planes out with empty seats because your airline’s computer is down at the take-off point is stupid. Send your planes out full and then let the passengers be vetted by the airport when they arrive at. Presumably your computers work there. If something is wrong with their ticket at that point, have security hold them.

At this point every plane should be leaving PR full if there are people that want to get out and there should be military troop ships and troop planes getting people out if they want to leave. And there should be shelters on the mainland of the US ready to take those people in and help them find accommodation and relatives.

The cruise ships lines should also be helping out. It’s not like anyone is booking cruises to the Caribbean now. So why not take some of those unused ships out and park them around the island as floating nursing homes, aid stations, and soup kitchens? It’s really the least these shipping lines can do.



There are plenty of ruined cars in PR. But that doesn’t mean the batteries are bad, or that there isn’t gas you can get out of the tank. Or wiring you can pull and use. Or a radio you can pull out and use. You have to take what you can use. Even tires can be used for rebuilding homes.

People need to get back into walkie talkies, ham radio, crank up radios, signal corps transmitters like they had in WWII, signal flags and or using mirrors and such for morse code. If you need help, you have to get the word out. And on that note, where is GOOGLE when you need them? Geeze, Google, you want to try out Project Loon? Take your balloons to PR and get their internet back up. Because India can wait. PR can’t.

Frankly small solar panels all over Africa produce a bulb of light for people at night and keep a radio or tv, or even a cooking coil going. I mean you can do a lot with a single solar panel. Not to mention you can use a bicycle to recharge a battery when there is no sun. So, if your problem is lack of electricity, there’s a lot of ways to fix that without waiting for someone to show up at your door.

Most of this stuff could be airlifted into communities via helicopter. How hard is it to assign a chopper to drop an aid package with radio transmitters, solar panels, food and water and  1 tech to set it up and 1 medic to help the town, and then fly out critically injured people? Not hard. If you want to do it.

I really don’t know why critical aid is so delayed. I guess the Trump administration wants Puerto Rico to declare independence. It’s pretty clear the GOP doesn’t want to help, that they don’t see PR people as Americans. But I think it’s embarrassing.

The US is right there distributing aid and help to other countries around the globe, almost within hours of a disaster. But when one of its own territories is in need, and Trump is in charge, because they speak Spanish and have some debt, they’re ignored.

Yeah, and at a time when Trump and GOP opportunists are just fine with taking on 2.1 trillion in debt to give the ultra rich a tax break, they can’t lift a finger help Americans of color with some debt. That makes total sense.










This entry was posted on September 30, 2017.

Little acts, big implications

If you aren’t a student of history, you may not be aquainted with the term “Fifth Column.” These days, you’d do well to acquaint yourself with it.

Many people have been asking why unqualified people are being appointed to posts in our government they can’t possible handle. They can’t do the jobs they’ve been given, important jobs that keep the country running, so why are they there?

Apparently, they’re their because of their loyalty to Trump. And that’s the only reason they’re there. That’s what matters. But what are these loyal people there to do, because they must be there to do something, right? They can’t just be there to collect salaries as spoils, rewards, or hush money for what happened on the campaign.

Turns out, they’re actually spies. And they aren’t confined to within the govt.

In an article released by The Hill’s Ali Breland today, entitled Steve Bannon Sought to Spy on Facebook, it becomes apparent there’s a whole lot of fifth column action going on.

Quoting the Breland article:

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon tried to spy on Facebook by planting a mole in the company, BuzzFeed reported.

According to internal emails obtained by the news outlet, Bannon was seeking to gain insight into Facebook’s hiring process.

“There is one for a DC-based ‘Public Policy Manager’ at Facebook’s What’s APP [sic] division. LinkedIn sent me a notice about some job openings,” Chris Gacek, a former congressional staffer who works for the conservative Family Research Council, wrote on Aug. 1, according to Buzzfeed. Gacek reportedly gave Bannon the idea of infiltrating Facebook.

This seems perfect for Breitbart to flood the zone with candidates of all stripe who will report back to you / Milo [Yiannopoulos] with INTEL about the job application process over at FB,” Gacek, who works at the  Family Research Council, continued.

Bannon forwarded the emails to Yiannopoulos, Breitbart’s former tech editor, later that day. Yiannopoulos resigned from the conservative website in February after a video surfaced of him defending pedophilia.

It’s unclear if Yiannopoulos, Bannon or Gacek pursued the plan further than the email exchange in August,

If you’re not weirded out by this, you really should be. There’s a whole lot of Bannon-Sessions-Trump activities that are straight up what Americans fought against in WWII.

Given Bannon already said he’s using the Nazi playbook and wants to be the GOP’s Leni Riefenstahl, in a previous interview, this sort of behavior should be no surprise. But I am constantly surprised by people not noticing what’s going on and failing to understanding stuff for what it is.

Look at what was said: This seems perfect for Breitbart to flood the zone with candidates of all stripe who will report back…   Chris Gacek is not floating just GOP or conservative candidates. He’s flooding the company with candidates of all stripes. The goal is to understand the application process, then craft a candidate that will pass with flying colors. The goal is to get someone in there to spy, for Bannon, who at the time was in the White House working for Trump (and Sessions).

And the person who is suggesting to Bannon they infiltrate Facebook,  is Chris Gacek. He works for the supposedly Christian, Family Research Council. I mean, seriously? How twisted is this. This isn’t family research. This has nothing to do with Christian behavior. This is straight up Fifth Column espionage with a political agenda.

I think a broad spectrum of voices need to be heard to make a democracy function. Unity out of diverse views makes a democracy. What doesn’t make a democracy is one group, with extreme views about everything, attempting to take over from within.

I think it’s pretty clear, I believe in democracy.  I believe that traditional Republican voters, like Greens, Libertarians, and Independents, should all have a voice in government because they each represent the views of many voters. Out of many ideas, the best should be implemented. The same should hold true of American businesses.

If you want to be a powerhouse, you need ideas from across a wide number of people and views. Good ideas aren’t confined to one race, gender, political view point, or country of origin.

I used to have some respect for the GOP. I admit I lost almost all of that in 2008 when GOP polices caused the markets to crash and destroyed people lives. When Romney gave his 47% speech, in 2012, I knew I’d never vote GOP again.

At this point, with all that’s been  confirmed as true,  I consider Trump to be an illegitimate president. And all his appointees and the GOP leaders who are happy to go along with him sabotaging the country? To me, they’re basically Quislings.

A democratic government should not be trying to infiltrate businesses to ultimately spy on them, in hopes of …. I’m not sure if it’s limited to just to subvert, manipulate, coerce, or co-opt them to a truly un-American nazi-based agenda or if it goes beyond that to hopes of spying on others there, controlling them, profiting off them through insider trading, gathering compromising info or …..

I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re sitting on, this behavior is un-American. And it was being done while Bannon was White House Chief Strategist. So, this is a White House agenda. Are you listening Mr Mueller of the FBI?

Fair warning to all media and other American businesses, genuine Fifth Columnist spies are out there. Do your due diligence. Don’t hire them. Don’t even interview them. I’m sorry but the WWII poster below clearly shows, we’re still fighting the same war. It’s just now we’re doing it at home. Do your part America.

This entry was posted on September 25, 2017.

What matters, comes after

Angel of Ohlsdorf

I took a trip to Germany years ago. One of the places we stopped was a cemetery.  The person I was with commented on all the swastikas on the graves of the WWII soldiers. As Americans, standing there looking on these graves, that symbol felt wrong to see anywhere. But in a place of mourning, a place that had always been a place of mourning, these scattered graves of local people, who had died in that horrific time, serving that horrific regime, bearing that hated mark, it made sense.

I doubt anyone will ever want to go back through every graveyard in Germany and elsewhere that nazi soliders and sympathizers died, and chip off every swastika. I suppose it could be done, maybe it should be done, but it would take funding, and family approval, and town approval and . . . really all you feel in that place is sadness already. Sadness that someone, anyone, ever fought and died in such a worthless cause as hate, racism, and national socialist whackjob-ism.

When I think about Confederate symbols in graveyards, I feel the same way about them. Lives lost over such an immoral, obscenely worthless cause. But I don’t feel that way about Confederate symbols in public places. I think those symbols should be removed and replaced with symbols of hope. Emancipation Park shouldn’t have a statue of General Robert E Lee. It should have a symbol of the Great Emancipator, Lincoln. Or of Harriet Tubman, whose emancipated so many.

I speak as someone who loves history and has a degree  in it. I also speak as an artist. Now is the time to remove bronze statues, to give them to artists of today to melt down and create something new to go on those empty plinths. Now is the time to give those cenotaphs to sculptors to chip away at and remake into something new. Now is the time, for today’s artists, and today’s historians, to join up and transform these places and with outdated, prejudiced, oppressive symbols in to symbols of our time, symbols of truth, of hope, of aspirations not yet met.

Why can’t Rosa Parks replace Robert E Lee on that plinth? Why can’t Rebecca Lee Crumpler stand tall on a campus quad? Why can’t we celebrate the achievements and progress of our country, of people of color, where once there was a symbol of intimation and oppression? Why can’t a statue of Former Justice Thurgood Marshall (of Brown v Board of Education) stand where Former Justice Roger Tany (of Dred Scott) did?

Why can’t we start to do this now?

Nature abhors a vacuum. I call on you, artists and historians. Let’s create the future now, by celebrating a past that also actually happened, and was good and inspiring and uplifting, not just for people of color but all people. Let’s not leave an empty plinth, a hole in the ground, or a space for a plaque on a monument to be ceded to a new version of racism and intolerance.

I call on cities and counties, states and communities. I call on people to form committees, to get this important work, in this critical time, accomplished. Let the dead, who buried their Confederate soldier and sympathizer dead, and are now themselves dead, lie. Their time is over. They are dust, as we all must someday be.

But in our public spheres, alive and vibrant, let we the living create new art, alive and vibrant, so that 100 or 150 years from now, those monuments will still stand tall and remind living people of the future, of people who lived  in times past and whose lives deserve to be remembered and celebrated still, not just by Americans of color, but by all Americans who pass by.

To destroy what is bad of the past is good, but what really matters is what you create in it’s place. What really matters, is what comes after.


Who’s minding the mint?

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At this point, I guess former US General, John Kelly is now the de facto president running the US govt. I don’t say that as an insult or as praise. I just state it as a fact.

The Republican Congress has decided the Republican president is incompetent to be president but clearly don’t want him replaced by Pence, because then they’d lose the chump base voters, who still cling to the failed president. The GOP are counting on those die-hard chump voters in 2018, even as that base clearly is eroding fast and will likely be gone by the 2018 elections.

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Given the bad situation GOP has found itself in with a chump president who is clearly not a GOP supporter and not qualified to be president, the GOP has had to take some drastic actions. First they had to remove the president’s ability to make foreign policy, because of the head chump’s inability to even care that Russia interfered with the US elections. Then, they had to even go so far as to remove chump’s ability to remove Special Counsel Mueller. The GOP, had to legally stop the GOP president chump from doing something that would get said GOP president impeached.

In other words, the president of the US is considered by his own party, and even his own White House staff, to be a toddler.

Repeated reports from within the White House state that the president can’t read more than half a page without getting bored and distracted — toddler. They also state that the president always decides things based on the last person he spoke to — because he has a toddler’s memory and attention span.

Even new chief of staff Kelly confirmed this. Kelly actually said this about the president: he makes bad decisions because he’s not given good information and he thinks fake news is real news. So, there you go.

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Real general, real president

Because of this reality, Kelly now controls all information that reaches the president. This is what Kelly said he was doing. Kelly is de facto controlling the govt, because only Kelly decides what the president sees in the way of reports and and only Kelly decides who the president talks to last.

This again is not a pro or anti statement. It’s just the stated facts.

I guess president chump having gone to military school is okay taking orders from a ranking officer. But it’s not a good situation for a democracy to have no real democratically elected leader who has no ability to govern or lead and has himself to be lead and governed by his chief of staff.

I guess the GOP is okay with the situation. I guess they think a US General is unlikely to have anything but the country’s’ best interests at heart. Of course one has to consider that the GOP and president chump were okay with General Flynn. I’m not saying Kelly is in the same category as Flynn. But the chump has record of choosing the worst possible person for any job.

And too, people want a real president in the executive branch. Not a puppet whose strings are pulled by his chief of staff. If chump can’t be a real president, which we all know he can’t, he should be removed. That the GOP doesn’t do that, basically means they’re okay with destroying the Constitution and the fabric of our democracy.

The only question now is, how loyal, John Kelly, our de facto second Irish Catholic president, will be to America and her Constitution.

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Real general, shadow president




This entry was posted on August 8, 2017.

Improve Don’t Remove


I am not your health care Guinea pig, Congress!

I think having a “debate” about a health care bill that’s going to have massive impact on people, the economy, and the entire county, when no one has read it because it isn’t even in a finished form to read is beyond ridiculous. It’s criminally negligent.

The duty of elected officials is to craft legislation, review and debate it through all the channels it’s designed to go through to safeguard a good outcome, and then take a vote. the GOP has done none of this. This is not a totalitarian regime. It’s a democracy.

I’m not sure why the GOP want  to avoid the process that has seen America through over 150 years of government, but like most things that slither out from under rocks, they seem to want everything they do to avoid the light of day. That should make people think.

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The ACA has problems, but that was always a known factor. The plan was always to fix it as time went on. The idea was always to set it up, imperfect at is was, and then improve, not remove, the ACA when things were found to need changing.

At this point people wonder if there’s anything the Congress, as in every single elected member of Congress, can agree on if not on a major thing like health care and the ACA. As a matter of fact, there is. Every member of Congress has agreed they don’t trust the president’s judgement.

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Yes, like child-proofing your house, they all decided, every single one, to vote to not let the president make decisions about sanctions when it comes to Russia. So I guess we should be encouraged by that, and to finally know there is actually a line is for the GOP when it comes to Trump.

I’m curious to know where the line will be drawn within the Cabinet though. That’s yet to happen. Although we are starting to see major cracks, and by major I mean important for a number a reasons. Some cabinet posts are facade. A crack there can’t bring down the administration. Others are foundation. A crack there can bring down the White House.

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The Sessions-Trump relationship is foundational. It’s what Trump’s campaign was and his presidency is built on. Sessions was Trump’s first real supporter. He introduced Trump to Bannon, who was and remains Sessions long time friend. Session saw in Trump a fool. Someone he could use as front man, that in a worse case scenario could become a patsy.

If Trump became president, whatever had to be done to secure him the presidency, could be swept under the rug when Trump gave Sessions the AG spot, he had once been denied and frankly humiliated over.

Sessions could block every inquiry into all the dirty deals and wrong doing that Sessions, Trump, Trump’s family, and his associates did to “win.” Bannon, Session’s minion, would get the chief strategist, aka Nazi propagandist, spot in the White House and continue the white supremacy agenda that had brought Sessions and himself together in the first place. Bannon was also there to keep an eye on the babbling, tweeting fool of a president and manage the legislative agenda that Sessions would have to be “above” since he was no longer a senator.


Of course, what to do when such quid pro quo as the Sessions-Trump pact breaks down in the face of a relentless free press?

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Sessions by recusing himself from the Russia investigation and anything to do with related Trump investigations, has basically reneged on the deal in Trump’s eyes. Let’s be honest. Trump is extremely stupid about government. He seems to think Sessions is unable to be AG just because he recused himself from the Russia investigation.

Whether that’s true or not, Trump wants to fire Session because he thinks Sessions is not looking after his person interests and protecting him so his wrong doing doesn’t come out.  But Trump can’t fire Sessions because that would put the nail in the coffin of the obstruction charge, and lead to impeachment.

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Currently Trump is trying to rant and bluster about Sessions to try to get Sessions to quit. For the record, that’s never, ever going to happen. Sessions is a seasoned politician that is used to getting mud slung in his direction. Sessions also has the support of many in the AG office and in law enforcement. But finally and most important, Sessions will never give up the office he’s coveted all his life.

Sessions is smarter than Trump politically. Everyone in DC is, but Sessions is a battle hardened veteran in politics and Trump, comparatively speaking, has washed out of basic training in his first 6 months. If Trump expects loyalty from Sessions, he’s nuts. Trump is a traitor to his own people. He’s proved that time and time again.

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Bannon calls Sessions his “mentor” in politics. This is why people such as Jared Kushner ended up in the White House. Trump has never trusted Sessions fully. He has always wanted to be a real president, but he knows he can’t cut the strings tied to Sessions hands without falling flat on his face.

In the end, if push comes to shove, Sessions (and Bannon) will turn on Trump and his family, cabinet choices, and aides to save himself.  And anyone rational would have expected this to happen. Sessions has more political clout and savvy than Trump. He’s not a little elf, he’s a little Golum, without the remorse or soul. And he has a part to play in this story.

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This entry was posted on July 25, 2017.

Would you do it? 2 seconds = $35,000

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There’s one more day of Tour de France racing. Right now the third and forth place riders are separated by 1 second. That 1 second means $35K more in prize money and a prestigious podium finish for the man that’s 1 second ahead.

Traditionally, no one attacks the position of the leader of the race on the last day. It’s more of a victory lap for him. On the other hand, that’s not to say that holds true for those lower down the field.

In 2005 Alexander Vinokourov and Levi Leipheimer were only two seconds apart, in fifth and sixth place. With something like $15K more in takings at stake for the fifth place vs the sixth, Vinokourov succeeded in a breakaway during the last kilometre and, because of his stage win and bonus seconds, overtook Leipheimer for fifth position overall.

I find it hard to believe Mikel Landa won’t hunt down Romain Bardet for $35K tomorrow. Or that Landa’s team, team Sky, won’t help him get that 2 seconds he needs to place on the podium in Paris.

On the other hand, if Sky nails back a win for Landa, keeping  Frenchman Romain Bardet from a podium win, the hatred for Mikel Landa, Chris Froome and the entire Sky will likely be legendary.

My feeling is that Landa will go for it and team Sky will crush Bardet. Bardet has already laid the foundation for his loss. Bardet told the press today that he didn’t do so well in the time trial because he didn’t feel well. Hmm?

Bardet seems to expect to snatch defeat out of the jaws of Victory tomorrow. So, he is letting everyone, including the lions of Sky, know that he plans to be the weak gazelle. I don’t think the French will be too happy about that. But it makes for great race watching.

Personally, I’m rooting for Bardet to win. But I always root for the gazelles.

[Update: Sky didn’t hunt down Bardet. This honored the great tradition of good sportsmanship at the Tour that’s been missing for several years now. Kudos! to Froom and team Sky for gentlemanly behavior. Congrats to the race organizers for a brilliant race. Thank you to France and most especially Warren Barguil, Romain Bardet, and all the French riders who made this tour one of the best and most exciting!)

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