Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Dumb, baby, dumb

I have a selectively low tolerance for stupidity. Especially when it comes to stupidity that causes harm to others and could have been prevented. That's why I'm more than a little aggravated by what's happening in the Gulf of Mexico right now.
Remember when you were a kid and somebody in the neighborhood would build something like a fort or a treehouse or a go-cart, that
looked fun but also potentially lethal? Even as a child, you knew that human beings make mistakes and machines fail, and so as much fun as it looked, you decided it was too risky and not a good idea. Well, some kids didn't exercise that judgment back then but somehow managed to grow up anyway. Lucky us. Granted, a few of these daredevils went on to apply their risk-taking and bold ideas as scientists, artists and professional athletes. But the rest of them are out there coming up with things like off shore oil drilling.
Now off shore oil drilling might not be an entirely fundamentally dumb concept, but we clearly don't know how to execute it and that is, well, just really, really dumb. The only proof you need is the fact that there's no effective response to deal with the consequences when things go wrong. Sorry, but 30-45 days before action can take place is not an effective response. Try waiting 30-45 days to pay your light bill and see how effective the power company thinks that is. You'll be effectively sitting in the dark, eating melting ice cream. You dummy.
Eventually, there will be a report that can only be read by people who went to MIT that will break down exactly what went wrong and whose fault it is. Well, long before that report is published, I can tell you what went wrong: some combination of human error and machine failure. That's it. That's all that matters. It doesn't really matter whose names are on it. Who really cares? I'm far, far angrier at the person or persons who set this up in the first place, since they're the ones who didn't have a plan in place for when the shit inevitably hit the fan. We all know that human beings make mistakes and machines fail. We don't install seatbelts and airbags in our cars because we hope something might go wrong, we do it because we know it will. Because we all know that human beings make mistakes and machines fail! We know that from centuries of chronicled history and our own personal experiences, but we went ahead and stuck a pipe in the ocean floor with no idea of what we would do when...not if... somebody fucked up and/or something broke. If there's a word that sums that up better than dumb, please tell me what it is.
If you're Rick Perry, the governor of the great state of Texas, you could try to tell me that it's an act of God. Sorry, I'm not buying that. This isn't some impossible-to-foresee calamity like a tree that gets struck by lightning and topples over on to somebody's house. Considering that every aspect of the situation exists because of the conscious actions of mortal men, it doesn't seem to fair to invoke the phrase "an act of God". As though God is some kind of impetuous 2-year-old on a sugar bender, tearing around the house, throwing tantrums and spilling grape juice on the rug. Oh God, you adorable little scamp!
But that's not as dumb, not even close by half, as dumbass congressman Gene Taylor from Mississippi, who thinks the spill looks like chocolate milk and will break up naturally:
"He described the spill as a light, rainbow sheen with patches that look like chocolate milk."
Good grief.
The only thing I would say in response to that is to advise the good people of Mississippi to think about this at election time; if you're not going to elect someone who has even a passing familiarity with the properties of petroleum products, at least elect someone who's had glass of chocolate milk once in their life.

Then there are those, including the New York Times, who want you to know it simply isn't that bad. I mean, it isn't good, (insert reasonable amount of gravitas and sad head-shaking here) but let's get real, folks; on a scale of 1 to oh, let's say...a single car bomb that didn't even blow up, this is at best, a 6. Maybe. Heck, for your reassurance, they kindly mention three or four similar incidents that this one can't even touch. Yet. And then there's this ray of sunlight:
"...on Monday, the wind was pushing the slick in the opposite direction, away from the current. The worst effects of the spill have yet to be felt. And if efforts to contain the oil are even partly successful and the weather cooperates, the worst could be avoided."
Well, when they put it that way, I just feel silly. Because as long as we can count on the tools at our disposal that are as reliable and consistent as wind direction and weather patterns, we might be fine!

1 comment:

Wildhair said...

My son and I were discussing this matter in a rather heated manner. Both of us spewing vitriol for the assholes who didn't have a plan in place for the inevitable disaster. We're supposed to learn from history -- instead, greed (which is not good) gets in the way and they throw precaution to the wayside. Crossing ones fingers in hopes nothing bad will happen doesn't work beyond swiping Smartees from the corner store when you're 5.

Thanks for letting me vent.