May 30, 2010
WHY DIDN'T YOU SEE IT COMING?
Seriously, I've had enough of this line of talk from Charles Krauthammer and his addlepated ilk:
The other culprits are pretty obvious. It starts with BP, which seems not only to have had an amazing string of perfect-storm engineering lapses but no contingencies to deal with a catastrophic system failure.(emphasis mine)
I used to work in the engineering spaces of a nuclear-reactor-powered aircraft carrier. I'll understate things and say that I dealt with dozens of very complex, inter-related mechanical systems.
They trained us well how to operate these systems, and they also drilled into our heads what to do in case of an emergency.
Or, more specifically, what to do in the event of broadly-categorized general types of emergencies.
For example - flooding (always a big concern when you're on a vessel whose bouyancy depends on keeping the seawater in the sea).
The official procedure was "find the hole, and cram shit into the hole until the water stops coming in".
You can ignore the quote marks in the previous sentence, since that's not verbatim, but honestly, the written procedure was no more detailed than that.
Because it COULDN'T be. You could never know beforehand where the hole would be, how big it would be, or what you would have available to cram into it.
When you deal with a complex mechanical system, there is simply no way of predicting how it will fail when it finally does. Speaking from experience, nothing delights one of these aforementioned systems more than going kerblooey in a new and exciting way that you couldn't have seen coming, even if you spent all your time inspecting the system instead of operating it.
In short, BP's oil rig failed (as all complex mechanical systems do) in a surprising way, the specifics of which could not have been predicted. They could only be dealt with in the aftermath. Criticizing BP for lacking omniscience is a fool's pastime.
In justice, if Krauthammer ever fails to get his car started because he forgot to turn off his headlights a few hours earlier, someone needs to shove a microphone in his face and demand to know why he doesn't carry a spare battery in his trunk.
How dare he not be prepared.