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Saving BP "Normandy" Style

During World War II, in the crucial battle of Normandy, American forces were stuck in the hedgerows. These were rows of hedges, reinforced by mud, that had the consistency of walls, that provided perfect hiding places for German defenders. "Flushing" out die-hard defenders from such natural fortifications was likely to be costly in lives, and possibly take a number of years.

But an American private soldier had an inspiration: "Sergeant, can't we take metal wedges, attach them to tanks, and knock these things down?" The Sergeant, who had something of an engineering background, agreed, and designed a contraption that worked, using "Rommel's asparagus" : steel girders that the Germans had placed to impale falling Allied parachuters. The deployment of this simple but effective device greatly speeded up the offensive, and the Americans were through the hedgerows in weeks, able to play their part in the offensive.

Analogously, a Florida woman devised a similar tool to clean up BP's oil spill that appears to be better than anything BP has devised so far. It is a cat litter scooper, attached to a piece of plastic pipe, that is surprisingly effective in picking up blobs of oil.

When faced with a crisis, "Yankee ingenuity" has provided many an outstanding solution.