10 Screwups That Changed The Course Of History



Everyone makes mistakes. Maybe you forgot to buy milk at the grocery store, or perhaps an important e-mail to your boss went off with a glaring typo in the subject line. At least you can rest assured that life’s little mishaps rarely lead to much greater calamities.

Some mistakes, however, are so colossal that they can change the world as we know it forever. The fates of nations and millions of people have sometimes hinged on a single bad decision. From the sinking of RMS Titanicto the selling of Alaska to the United States, here are ten big screwups that changed the course of history.

Listverse – Daily Highlights

10The Dutch Not Bothering To Claim Australia

Photo credit: Fred B. Sibed

Before Captain James Cook, a British explorer, landed on the eastern coast of Australia, the Dutch had sailed to it over 100 years earlier in 1606.[1] It is believed Captain Willem Janszoon of the Dutch ship Duyfken explored approximately 320 kilometers (200 mi) of the Cape York Peninsula’s western side.

More Dutchmen also explored both the western and southern coasts for many decades and called the land New Holland. However, the Dutch made zero attempts to claim the land or establish settlements, and so it was left to Captain Cook to plant the flag in 1770.

9The Habsburg Farcical Friendly Fire

The Austro-Turkish War was fought between the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires between 1788 and 1791. In 1788, one of the most farcical friendly fire incidents ever occurred, which allowed the Ottomans to gain an advantage in the war. It all started on the night of September 21–22, when the Austrian hussars crossed a river to scout for Turks. While they did not find the enemy, they did come across locals, who sold the weary troops wine. The Austrian commander, however, was waiting at the camp, concerned whether their troops would make it back, so sent infantry across the river to find them.

Once the infantry found the drunken troops, they demanded the hussars share their schnapps.[2] When the drunken scouts refused, a brawl ensued, which led to a soldier firing his gun. A member of the infantry then shouted “Turci! Turci!” (“Turks! Turks!”). The hussars and most of the infantry fled in a panic, believing the Ottoman army was about to attack. The uproar caused an artillery officer to come to the conclusion the camp was under fire, so he ordered his cannons to open fire. Many soldiers therefore woke to combat and began firing at every shadow. Two days later, the Ottoman army arrived at the Austrian camp to find 1,200 casualties (some sources have stated as many as 10,000) and simply claimed Karansebes.

8Metric Mishap For The Mars Climate Orbiter

Photo credit: NASA/JPL/Corby Waste

The Mars Climate Orbiter was a robotic space probe that was launched in 1998 by NASA, with the aim of studying the Martian climate and surface, as well as surface changes. It was also created to relay communications in the Mars Surveyor 1998 program for Mars Polar Lander.

However, NASA lost the $125 million orbiter in 1999, as the engineering team at Lockheed Martin made the mistake of using English units of measurement, while the agency team opted to use the more commonly employed metric system.[3] It was undoubtedly a pricey learning experience for NASA and a setback for scientific discovery.

7Russia Selling Alaska To The United States

Photo credit: Emanuel Leutze

Following the outbreak of the Crimean War, Britain, France, and Turkey took a stance against Russia, making it difficult for the nation to defend or supply Alaska, as all sea routes were controlled by allied ships. While tensions mounted between Russia and London, the relationship between Russia and the US was stronger than ever. Both nations therefore came up with the idea of Russia selling Alaska to the United States.

While the decision was widely criticized by the press, public, and congress, both nations signed an agreement on March 30, 1867, to sell Alaska for $7.2 million, which was approximately two cents per acre. The sale was, however, a big mistake for Russia. By the 1880s and 1890s, gold mining had commenced in Alaska, providing America with hundreds of millions of dollars.[4] Alaska now produces more gold than any other US state except Nevada.

6The Sinking Of RMS Titanic

Photo credit: F.G.O. Stuart

The sinking of RMS Titanic is one of the biggest maritime disasters in history, as more than 1,500 people lost their lives aboard the ill-fated liner during the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, after it hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City.

Much controversy surrounded the sinking of the ship, as many believe the chairman of the White Star Line ordered Captain Smith to speed up the Titanic to reach New York in record time so that it would wow the world with its speed, size, and luxury. The biggest mistake was, however, providing only 20 lifeboats, enough to seat 1,178 people, for the more than 2,200 on board. What’s even more shocking is the ship was originally supposed to house 32 lifeboats, but the designers believed it would clutter the deck.[5] (Titanic also carried 48 life rings and 3,500 life belts, but they weren’t going to save anyone in the freezing water in which it sank.) Following the maritime disaster, laws regarding boat safety were significantly changed.

5Chernobyl Disaster

Photo credit: Chernobyl Guide

The Chernobyl disaster occurred on April 26, 1986, and is undoubtedly the worst nuclear disaster in history. It occurred during a late-night safety test involving a station blackout power failure simulation. As a result, all safety systems were deliberately turned off. A combination of reactor design flaws and the operators arranging the core in a way that went against the test checklist resulted in an uncontrollable reaction. Due to no effective containment structure within the plant, this led to an open-air graphite fire that produced updrafts for nine days.

The steam blasts at the start of the reaction caused the immediate deaths of 31 people. 134 servicemen were later hospitalized with acute radiation sickness, and 28 firemen and employees passed away due to the effects of the radiation within days or months of the disaster. It is also believed that approximately five million people were exposed to radiation in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.[6]

4Alexander Fleming’s Dirty Lab

Photo credit: Imperial War Museum

Alexander Fleming revolutionized medicine thanks to his discovery of benzylpenicillin, the world’s first antibiotic substance, in 1928. However, the world-changing discovery was made by chance, and it is most likely one of the best mistakes in history. Fleming left his lab for a month to go on vacation with his family. Upon his return, the Scottish doctor realized that one of his petri dishes of staphylococci had a fungus growing in it, which destroyed the surrounding bacteria.

Surprised by his finding, he grew the mold in a pure culture and ultimately discovered that it could annihilate bacteria.[7] He coined the antibiotic substance the fungus produced as “mold juice.” While it took a few years for penicillin to reach the public, it was eventually used to treat Allied wounds and saved countless lives during World War II.

3Japan Picking The Wrong Pearl Harbor Target

Photo credit: Imperial Japanese Navy

At 7:48 AM local time on December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise aerial attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, located on Oahu island, Hawaii. Hundreds of Japanese fighter planes damaged or destroyed 19 American naval vessels as well as over 300 airplanes. Around 2,400 Americans also lost their lives, and over 1,000 more were injured, leading the United Statesto declare war on Japan the next day.

The big mistake Japan made was concentrating its attack on US battleships, as it would have been more beneficial to target Pearl Harbor’s fuel reserves and repair yards. Japan also chose the wrong day to attack, as the Pacific Fleet’s aircraft carriers and their personnel were away from the naval base. The US Navy could therefore quickly recover from the surprise attack.[8]

2Hitler Invading Russia

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union was undoubtedly a big turning point in World War II.[9] Despite making a nonaggression pact with Russia in 1939, Hitler stated in Mein Kampf that the Soviet Union was always an enemy of Nazi Germany. The pact was, however, an effective way for both nations to buy time and potentially prevent a two-front war.

Hitler had already decided to invade Russia once he controlled Europe. The invasion of the Soviet Union started on Sunday, June 22, 1941, and the attack, known as Operation Barbarossa, ultimately led to what the Russians called the Great Patriotic War. In a bid to defend both its people and borders, the Soviet Union joined the Allies. On top of that, Hitler’s army was not prepared for an arduous Russian winter. Germany lost 750,000 troops before November.

Many believe attacking the Soviet Union was Hitler’s biggest mistake. If Germany had never invaded Russia, Stalin may never had entered World War II and may have continued to supply Germany with materials for war.

1The Wrong Turn That Started World War I

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, were visiting Sarajevo and had ignored warnings of terrorist activity by the nationalist group the Black Hand. At 10:10 AM on June 28, 1914, Nedjelko Cabrinovic, a member of the organization, threw a bomb at the archduke’s car. However, the assassination attempt was thwarted when the driver spotted the object and accelerated the automobile, which landed under a vehicle behind the royal couple’s open-air car, injuring both the passengers and spectators.

Following a short rest, the archduke and his wife were adamant about visiting the people who had been injured by the bomb at the hospital. However, the driver was not notified that the royal couple’s itinerary had changed. Once he was informed, he had to turn the car around onto a side street. At the same time, Gavrilo Princip, a Black Hand member, was standing across that street after the assassination attempt had failed. Seizing the opportunity, Princip quickly walked across the street and shot Sophie and the archduke.[10] Tragically, this one mistake not only led to the murder of the royal couple, but it triggered World War I, which claimed the lives of 18 million people.


CII Startupreneur Awards

I am writing to share with you an exciting new initiative of CII for start-ups. With the Government of India’s Start-up India initiative, CII has committed to facilitating and supporting a large number of start-ups across the country, who will eventually go on to become the wealth creators and employment generators of India.

Start-ups are the seeds of future business of any economy. All big organizations, which have grown in size and reputation today, had started as fledgling businesses in the past. All such organizations, big or small, have a lifetime. It is therefore important to encourage and nurture the new businesses of today, so that they can grow and take part in the economic development of the nation in future.

Towards that end, CII has launched the Startupreneur Awards. These awards provide the most prestigious recognition from the corporate world to most promising start-ups for their excellence in cutting edge / disruptive technologies and innovation, wealth creation, and employment generation.

Categories for the Awards:

 Start-up of the Year in Manufacturing

 Start-up of the Year in Services

Woman Start-upof the Year

 Start-up of the year in Biotech and Pharma

 Start-up of the Year in Agriculture & Food

The awards will provide the following benefits to start-ups: –

  1. Connect with CII members, who will act as:
    1. Advisor / Mentor
    2. Customer
    3. Investor
  2. Opportunity to become part of CII Startup Council
  3. Show-case in numerous CII events and trade fairs
  4. Access to resources through membership and institutional network of CII
  5. Benchmarking against other innovative organizations in India.
  6. Learn about innovation best practices (firm level) by attending workshops and taking part in various stages of the award process.
  7. Get promoted at CII platforms (national and international) as one of the top innovation driven organizations
  8. Explore the opportunity to get featured in CII compendium, among Top 25 Innovative organizations of the year.
  9. Opportunity to be the part of the National Startup Centre at Amravati.

I request you to apply for these Awards by clicking on the following link: http://startupscoalition.in/StartUpAwards_Login.aspx

There is no registration / application fee to apply for the award.

Here’s looking forward to your participation.

With regards,

Kris Gopalakrishnan


S. Gopalakrishnan

Chairman, CII Start-up Council 2018-19

Confederation of Indian Industry

249-F, Udyog Vihar

Phase-IV, Sector-18

Gurgaon-122 015 (Haryana)

Tel# +91-124-4592960 (Ext – 311)


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Random Phrases for today.

Some of these random phrases tell us the course of actions or how the day will unfold.

Take today’s example

Dropping Like Flies


To fall down ill or

to die in large numbers.

Fortunately, No one died, but because of the biorhythm changes, someone fell sick suddenly.  All well no.

Happy as a Clam


The state of being happy;
feeling delighted.
My morning walk and stopovers for WhatsApp, Social media and WordPress posting are always good. It is the SMS and emails which make me morose. I believe firmly in Things Average out theory. ( Theory being one man’s opinion 🙂 ) Day is ending much better.  First someone close fell ill, then daughter feel and hurt knees  and day is yet to end and my final article publishing deadline is still looming but I am hopeful that things will average out and I shall be happy as a Clam. 

Drawing a Blank


Failing to recall a memory.
Unable to remember something.
That’s rough, that’s something no one should have. It is like a brain fog in which we do not even try to find a light.  Like the Dementors in the Harry Potter novels.  It is BAD and I pray to Almighty to cure them fast. 

Talk the Talk


Supporting what you say,

not just with words,

but also through action or evidence.

I am doing an online UDEMY course refresher on NLP by Kain Ramsay.  It came so cheap! Rs. 640 for nearly 120 videos and articles.  And the trainer Kain is so wonderful. He taught something today and I put it in practice. It was about how NLP practitioners abuse, misuse and manipulate sometimes.  I followed the herd and tried. It came true in actions and evidence.

Amazing Phrases – randomly chosen in the morning.

Learning to let go of the past. Via Medium newsletter

Tiffany Sun
I’m rebuilding my life by discovering who I am, learning what I’m capable of after a 9 year heartbreak that left me stranded in China. http://misstiffanysun.com
Jun 3

Learning to Let Go of the Past
After our breakup, I’d often glance back at old photos, read our messages and reminisce about all the good times we had.

It obviously didn’t help with my situation, but it was strangely one of the few things that actually gave me comfort. Despite the pain, it felt familiar, in a good way — like rewatching your favorite cartoon shows as a kid and I couldn’t help but continue holding onto the past.

But one day, as I was transferring files from an old computer to a new one, I accidentally deleted everything. The folder with over 9 years worth of memories, photos, messages — poof!

Everything was gone, just like that.

It’s been almost 4 1/2 years since I’ve deleted the folder and now I have to say, I’m glad it happened.

If I hadn’t, I might’ve still been reminiscing and holding on to the past. Who knows if I could’ve become the person I am today?

Looking back at the whole experience, it’s made me realize that the only way to build a promising future is if you give up on the past.

It might feel good to hold onto your past now, but what happens when those feelings are gone?

Sometimes it’s better just to let everything go. Anything that has to do with the past, delete it — photos, text, emails, everything. It might be one of the most difficult things you’ll have to do, but the sooner you do it, the sooner you have a chance at rebuilding your life.

This post was originally published on misstiffanysun.com. You can find all of my posts, including ones I don’t post on Medium at misstiffanysun.com.

via Learning to Let Go of the Past – misstiffanysun – Medium

What is my Religion?


True religion consists of developing that attitude of mind which results in seeing One Infinite Existence pervading the universe; then one could live in the world and yet not be of it, and at the same time one could be in harmony with everyone and everything; then one could attend to all worldly duties and affairs and yet feel completely detached from results.

I belong to no religion. Every religion belongs to me. My own personal religion is of my being the Ancient Infinite One and the religion I teach to all is love for God.

If religion does not help man to emancipate his soul from spiritual bondage and realize God, it has no useful purpose. Then it would be time for religion to go, for God to come. Therefore I am not interested in founding a new religion. The world is already divided by numberless sects, each with its own dogmas and beliefs.

I have not come to set up another cage for man, but to impart to the world this illimitable Truth, and therefore I intend to bring together all religions and cults like beads on one string and to revitalize them for individual and collective needs.

The religion I give, touches the knowledge of the One behind the many. The book that I make people read is the book of the Heart, which holds the key to the mystery of life. As for ritual, I teach humanity to discriminate, to express its true life and to live the religion which it feels. I bring about a happy blending of the head and the heart.

6 Messages of Avatar Meher Baba, p4
By Meher Baba
An Avatar Meher Baba Trust eBook July 2012
Copyright. AMBPPCT
Photo : My God Pictures

The Bigger Question

by Dan Pedersen

If you view life as mere survival, it will be empty.

If you view life as mere pleasure, it will be empty.

If you view life as merely achieving goals, you will have the illusion of success.

What will give you the inner peace you’re looking for? That’s the big question. Everyone is in search of inner peace, but few admit to themselves that’s what they’re looking for.

Are we all hypocrites ..


The question may yet be asked as to why should the Master then not impart Knowledge to all individuals, instead of giving Knowledge to some, and not giving it to others.

This is a question of law divine, commonly known as the law of karma, or law of bindings, or law of cause and effect. Except the Perfect Dnyani or Perfect A’riff, no other individual can under any circumstances escape this law and its consequences.

Therefore when the Master gives Knowledge to certain individuals and does not give it to all, that is not because of the Master’s incapacity to give to all, but because of the incapacity of one and all to receive Knowledge. The latter incapacity is due to the lack of a sufficiently deep and strong connection with the Master, or for want of complete surrender to his will, or on account of the absence of the required degree of preparedness on the part of the individuals concerned. Under these circumstances it would be like throwing pearls before swine for the Master to offer Knowledge to one and all irrespective of the individual’s receptivity.

We are all, in a way, hypocrites, in as much as we always try to justify ourselves, right or wrong. According to the Vedantists and the Sufis, God does everything. Everything is done according to his will and in accordance with his laws. In a way, that is all right. But, being short of the truth, the whole of it is not right. And the lack of truth is the lack of experience behind the assertions.

The Awakener Magazine
Vol 10, no 4, p 3-5