© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Sam Houston was president of Texas when it was founded. At a dinner he ate a big spoonful of very hot mashed potatoes. He realized they were hot and spit them out on the table while observing, “A dern fool would have kept that in his mouth.” Someone probably said, “Oops.”
Race car driver A. J. Foyt was leading a race as the laps wound down before electronic communications. A board was held up showing the laps remaining.
Foyt misinterpreted the board and thought he had won when in fact there was one lap to go. He slowed down and four drivers passed him. At the press conference, “Sometimes you blow a tire or an engine, I blew a brain.”
Then there are times in New Mexico like the controlled burn in 2000 at Cerro Grande done in high winds. That wildfire burned for a month, destroying almost 50,000 acres and torching 400 homes. Oops. A few years later two fires were allowed to burn that burned out of control and scorched lots of the Gila and the Ruidoso areas.
In 1999 a Mars obiter was constructed with one team of engineers using the English system of measurement while other teams used the metric system. It cost NASA $100 million and a lot of ridicule.
Captain Joe Hazelwood put an underling in charge of piloting the Exxon Valdez as it left Alaska March 24, 1989. He was drinking and therefore wasn’t available to keep the ship off a reef where it poured 11 million gallons of oil. It cost about $8 Billion and ruined Exxon’s reputation.
Or the makers of booster seals on the Space Shuttle Challenger who said don’t take off when it is below a certain temperature. But didn’t speak up forcefully when NASA got “Launch fever” while the temperature was too low and the Challenger blew up killing seven crew and costing $11 Billion. Oops.
Look at the Fukushima nuclear plant that built the emergency pumps on the ocean side of the building so they were swamped when the tsunami hit and didn’t work. Oops. But that is small potatoes to the Soviet party official who overruled the engineers and wanted to do a very unsafe test at Chernobyl.
That cost him his life and many others along with more than $400 Billion in damages. Double Oops.
We have oops like the twelve publishing houses that rejected J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book. They lost a billion dollars. In 1999 Google founders were trying to sell their search engine for one million dollars and even lowered the price to $750,000 but no one bought. It is worth about $350 Billion today.
Record label Decca holds a special place in the hearts of record label EMI. Decca signed Brian Poole and the Tremeloes and passed on the Beatles. Oops. That is almost as bad as Russia in 1867 selling Alaska to the United States for a couple cents an acre because it was not valuable.
One of the biggest oops over the years is the way New Mexico thinks it can conserve its way to plenty of water. That is not possible. The state of New Mexico either has to pipe water into the state or it has to make unusable water into water that can be used for people and agriculture.
But there is no movement by the state officials to do something useful. Instead they stand mute and dumb on the crisis of New Mexico not having enough water. New Mexico has never had enough water and it gets worse with the needs of more people and agriculture.
The best they can do is hope that it will rain. Or those who think the answer is to quit having agriculture. That works as soon as we all stop eating. Idiots.
The best time to plant a shade tree was twenty years ago. Next best time was ten years ago. But you will never get shade if you do not plant a shade tree. Likewise, real action needs to be taken on securing a supply of water for the coming generations. Or I guess years from now as it gets worse and worse we can say, Oops.