Create a free account to continue

Poor, Poor, Pitiful BP

How many bright minds can $6 billion buy? That’s $1.2 million to get the next foot right — and you’re still playing with house money only from the first quarter.

By DAVID MANTEY, Editor, Product Design & Development (PD&D)

I’m at a loss for words. I’m at a loss for ideas.

The first comment I heard from a reader when the initial story broke was that BP — or the government after a forced hand — would have to fire a nuke into the gulf in order to stop that black cloud from covering it with a life-threatening black sludge.

We had a good laugh. We put our faith in the hundreds of minds now working with a bottomless wallet, then we saw the steel cage at an early stage and began questioning what the second course of action would be once it was cast aside, a mere footnote of a greater folly.

The PD&D readership includes some of the brightest engineering minds in the nation. What would your plan of action be if you were suddenly thrust onto the helm? Consider it the billion dollar lottery, one good idea and you’re the most recognizable face in a nation in dire need of a hero possessing more talent than the ability to land on water. Then again, with everything from hair to hay, to powders and Kevin Costner-funded centrifuges, maybe too many entrepreneurs are shouting and nobody is listening.      

I find it hard to brainstorm when every number, other than those found in the article dateline, seem to conflict. BP (roping each company head into the one-bodied monster is has become) has lied or provided disinformation to the public since the explosion, and if it wasn’t for investigative journalism, the government would remain just as dumbfounded. Then again, investigative journalism really hasn’t provided accurate data either.

The only number they’ve had right is the depth of the yet to be ill-fated foe. They only hit the depth with any accuracy because this situation begged for a scapegoat. The devil’s advocates in any oil-soaked discussion immediately note the difficulties of working 5,000 feet underwater.  

How many bright minds can $6 billion buy? That’s $1.2 million to get the next foot right — and you’re still playing with house money only from the first quarter. If you had $1.2 million for each foot, could you make it to 5,000?

If ever a napkin sketch came to quick fruition, it was the four-story steel cage (now a lame tomb at the bottom of the sea) or the oil catheter that siphoned off just over a fifth of the oil purging into the sea. Has anyone else noticed how successes are reported in gallons and failures are reported in barrels?     

It’s odd how our nation reacts when faced with unquestionable devastation. For every person who is saddened or enraged by such ecological destruction and capitalism-induced ineptitude, I stumble upon the sheepish sighs and shrugs from those who echo post-Deepwater Horizon whispers of “Drill, baby, drill.” Just because you’re not sold on the commercial success of the Nissan Leaf does not provide an excuse for your continued support for offshore drilling.

And please, enough with the BP apologists. Spin doctors have their hair slicked back as the attack volleys between cost-cutting captains of industry that make best economic cases by swapping in saltwater for drilling fluid, and bribed Mineral Management Service regulators who happen to moonlight as methamphetamine-sampling pornography connoisseurs.

I recently played an entertaining role in a conversation during which they (the multi-headed green monster) were excused as “nice guys trying their best.” Apparently, their fathers were yes men, too, because as supportive as my pop may have been, I still disappointed and enraged him from time to time when my best wasn’t good enough.      

Too bad for the gulf. In man’s race to conquer land, animal and sea in further pursuit of the contemporary definition of life, there will be losses, and we seem to be willing to accept any consequence in the name of modest convenience. Who am I to talk? I drove into work because I prefer not to pedal in sandals.

Have a napkin sketch worth sharing? An idea? A rant? Anything? Scan it and/or send it to [email protected].