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City Officials Almost Ban Foam Cups 1055

localhost00 writes "The city of Aliso Viejo, CA nearly banned foam cups when they learned they are produced from a substance known as 'dihydrogen monoxide.' A paralegal working for the city apparantly found a professionally designed web site put up to describe the dangerous properties of this chemical. Apparantly, the report about Dihydrogen Monoxide was written by a then 14-year-old Nathan Zohner who was researching the gullibility of fifty ninth graders."
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City Officials Almost Ban Foam Cups

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  • by Azadre ( 632442 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:41AM (#8577840)
    You know they forgot to put the word gullible in the dictionary right?
  • by Jonas the Bold ( 701271 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:41AM (#8577842)
    Thousands of people die on beaches every year from DHM inhalation.
    • by mgs1000 ( 583340 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:44AM (#8577884) Journal
      ...and 100% of all people who died last year were found to have significant levels of it in their bloodstream.

      (That was a great episode of Penn & Teller's show,btw)

    • by Brahmastra ( 685988 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:48AM (#8577916)
      Actually, there really is something called water overdose [bbc.co.uk] and apparently it can kill you.
      • hyponatremia (Score:5, Informative)

        by mec ( 14700 ) <mec@shout.net> on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @11:14AM (#8578170) Journal
        That's right. Marathon runners are vulnerable to hyponatremia. Massive sweat + intake of unsalted water leads to sodium ion imbalance inside the body. It's one of those nasty conditions where the brain gets disoriented so the victim doesn't realize that they are headed for death.

        Hyponatremia a Concern for Marathon Runners [coolrunning.com]

        I know the Slashdot stereotype is that nobody *here* has to worry about such things, but actually, I bet there are people in the Slashdot community who run this far and this hard.
        • Re:hyponatremia (Score:4, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @11:42AM (#8578475) Homepage Journal
          A friend of mine with a sweating problem drank enough water to do that to himself once. He didn't die though, he just had a seizure, and a free trip to the hospital. When I used to work for Roaring Camp narrow gauge railroad at the tender age of 15 (at which time I was about 6'4") I was the trackwalker, meaning I followed the narrow gauge steam train up the hill to make sure it didn't toss anything out of the firebox or the stack that was going to catch the forest on fire. I drank a lot of water, and I took salt tablets on the hottest days. I don't know if it was necessary, but I'm not dead, and it got well over 100 several times, and I was hauling my chubby ass up hill five times a day on hot, busy days. My only compensation was minimum wage and being in umpteen zillion japanese tourist videos.
        • Even for non-runners (Score:5, Informative)

          by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @12:28PM (#8578971)
          Hyponatremia can be a problem, though rarely in a normal person (IIAD, BTW).

          The most common scenario where I've seen symptomatic hyponatremia in a non-athlete is in a syndrome called SIADH (AKA: Syndrome of Inappropriate Anti-Diuretic Hormone). I've rarely seen it in psychiatric patients who compulsively drink massive quantities of fluids as part of their psychosis... Believe it or not, it's actually possible to drink enough water that you dilute out your electrolytes.

          Anti-Diuretic Hormone is what determines the final concentration of your urine (ie. how much free water your kidneys scavenge from the filtrate in your kidneys)... it works in the kidney's distal tubules. Interestingly, ADH is inhibited by ethanol. Ever wonder how beer seems to go through you so quickly? Well, the answer is that it really doesn't... part of that massive urination is from the alcohol inhibiting ADH secretion, your kidneys start dumping free water, and you start peeing like a racehorse. The result? You get dehydrated; one of the major contributors to the discomfort of hangovers. Heh... a bag or two of IV fluids does wonders for a hangover.

          Dilutional Hyponatremia is relatively easy to fix (obviously depending on severity)... just restrict fluid intake. In the case of SIADH, you also have to hunt for the cause... some lung cancers are notorious for secreting excess Anti-Diuretic Hormone.

          Note that severe hyponatremia is life-threatening... you can have refractory seizures, coma, and profound mental status changes. Fixing it too quickly is also dangerous, and can cause a nasty (and permanent) condition called Central Pontine Myelinolysis [emedicine.com]... definitely not on the top-ten-diseases-to-have list.
      • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <`sd_resp2' `at' `earthshod.co.uk'> on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @11:25AM (#8578284)
        Leah Betts [google.co.uk] died of drinking too much water. She took an Ecstasy tablet while her {rabidly anti-some-drugs} dad was out -- then heard he was due back before she would wear off. Fearful of a bollocking on his early return, she drank several litres of water in a misguided attempt to counteract the effects of the drug. This caused an electrolyte imbalance, leading to multiple organ failure -- including the brain -- and eventual death.

        Legal ecstasy tablets probably would include an information sheet detailing safe usage practicesm and this would never have happened. However, the government, breweries and the tobacco companies all would prefer for you to believe that she was killed by a tab of ecstasy.
        • Wait a minute (Score:5, Informative)

          by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @12:54PM (#8579291)
          Don't pitch Ecstasy like it's a harmless medication... it is not. (Disclaimer: I'm an ER physician, and I've treated ecstasy users)

          Ecstasy (MDMA) is chemically related to the amphetamine family, and has many of the same effects. One of the side-effects of Ecstasy is hyperthermia... an elevation of body temperature that can lead to rhabdomyolysis (mass breakdown of muscle tissue, often leading to kidney failure), brain damage, and death.

          Ecstasy acts primarily on the serotonergic and dopaminergic neurons in the CNS, and appears to irreversably harm the former (documented pathologically in animal studies, and observationally in humans). Interestingly, Prozac and some of the SSRI drugs seem to partially antagonize the effects of Ecstasy (but if you're planning on stopping your anti-depressant so you can get a better buzz on the weekend, you need serious help).

          There's another problem: you never know what you're getting when you buy street drugs. Unless you have a degree in organic chemistry and are making your own (which can be done), it pays to be cautious.

          Maybe you've taken ecstasy hundreds of times and had no problem... good for you. But ecstasy is not harmless... I've seen it go wrong, and it's not pretty.
          • Re:Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

            by TGK ( 262438 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @02:02PM (#8580177) Homepage Journal
            Perhaps a portion of your argument that was left out would go as follows.

            Alcohol and many other legalized drugs have been around not just for decades but for centuries. We have a solid and firm knowledge of the health risks these drugs present and how to manage those health risks.

            MDMA [Ecstasy] has been in common usage for only the past few decades at the outside. There have not yet been adequate tests preformed to gauge the effect MDMA will have on users over a long period of time, particularly recreational users as opposed to prescription users.

            One strong argument against many kinds of drug legalization is that it is well and truly possible to kill yourself with an overdose without trying very hard. The only legal RECREATIONAL drug this is possible with at the moment is alcohol, which requires a fair bit of effort to actually induce alcohol poisoning.

            Note -- I am aware that impaired judgment can kill and that Alcohol may cause judgment to be impaired. Of course, getting a blowjob can also cause judgment to be impaired. Neither is really safe while driving. Care should be exercised when under the influence of any mind altering susbstance (booze, pot, sorority chicks, Bawls, etc)

    • by Fishstick ( 150821 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @11:06AM (#8578095) Journal
      We should ban it!! It is a major component of another hazardous product [hellfire.com]

      1: More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread eaters.

      2: Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.

      3: In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever and influenza ravaged whole nations.

      4: More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.

      5: Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!

      6: Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low occurrence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis.

      7: Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after only two days.

      8: Bread is often a "gateway" food item, leading the user to "harder" items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter and even cold cuts.

      9: Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.

      10: Newborn babies can choke on bread.

      11: Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.

      12: Most American bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

  • Wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by mdarksbane ( 587589 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:41AM (#8577846)
    I hope no one tells them about the Pacific. We could be in serious trouble.
  • by BigForbis ( 757364 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:41AM (#8577847)
    Dihydrogen Monoxide is nothing. It's not very dangerous. The real kill is the Hydrogen Hydroxide. Closely related but much more dangerous. We should ban it first.
  • by pablo_max ( 626328 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:42AM (#8577855)
    In my experience they dont allow things on the internet that are not true. Case in point I will be getting a check from Bill Gates real soon as I have done my part and forwarded his email.
    • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) * <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yburxyno>> on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:54AM (#8577993)
      The beauty of this site and the others that perpetuate this is that it is 100% factual. Exposed inhalation will kill you, you'll drown. It is a critical ingredient in acid rain, it does react explosively with certain chemicals etc.

      Its designed to catch people with knee jerk reactions that cant be bothered to do even a brief investigation of the facts. Its a way of showing the people that are always claiming the sky is falling for the fools that they are.
  • by eljasbo ( 671696 ) * on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:42AM (#8577859)
    Come on people. This is the state that wanted to make oreo cookies an age restrictred item, and the state that required electronic equipment not to use the master/slave nomenclature because it offended only one person. Obviously they did zero research on this before they had their knee-jerk reaction. I bet we will soon see warnings on bottled water like we do some other items... "This product is known to the state of California to cause an unknown disease.." Remind me never to live there.
  • by ziggamon ( 736328 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:43AM (#8577862)
    Latest news: the 14-year old has just been hired by SCO as their new "information minister"
  • by lukewarmfusion ( 726141 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:43AM (#8577864) Homepage Journal
    I need to sue my employer now. I've been exposed to DHM for many years now, and I fear that it may be taking its toll on me. I've noticed many more wrinkles after particularly long sessions, not to mention a slickness to my skin.

    Ah, the perils of lifeguarding.
  • DHM (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:43AM (#8577867)
    I though SCO had a patent on DHM? Then again, maybe it was IBM?

  • Content on the Web (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zalas ( 682627 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:43AM (#8577869) Homepage
    Maybe this is why people shouldn't take any document on the Web at face value unless they check the sources or credentials. Not only can there be research study oriented "fake web pages", but there also can be pranks and out of date information (many pages do not have timestamps). I know many professors at my university view Web references as something that you use at last resort, when all other reference sources fail. However, another problem is that there IS a lot of good content on the web, and sometimes they disappear and can never be located again, unless they were lucky enough to have been crawled over by archive.org
  • by damitbill ( 66375 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:44AM (#8577880) Homepage
    People react here just the same as ninth graders, it would seem.
  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:45AM (#8577893) Homepage
    I find it worrying that any kind of person in government (even local government) could be so
    pig ignorant of basic science that they'd fall for
    this hoax. Didn't they listen AT ALL at school? But this seems to be a general problem in the population as a whole , even amongst suppposed intellectuals (read: arts & MBA
    graduates) and yet amazingly they're not even usually embarrsed about it. The only reason they are in this story is because it was made public. If their ignorance was revealed in private
    they probably wouldn't give a damn , yet if they'd found to be wanting in knowledge of business or the humanities they'd probably go red faced.
  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:46AM (#8577900) Journal
    The MSN link displays as a blank page, so here's some more references [google.com]. Alison Viejo CA has officially claimed the heavyweight title for stupidest local government. I suspect they probably won't be dethroned until November 2nd at the earliest.

    Google News is fun [google.com]

  • Almost... (Score:5, Funny)

    by steveorama ( 699501 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:47AM (#8577909)
    "City Officials Almost Ban Foam Cups"

    And this is almost news...
  • A poem. (Score:5, Funny)

    by eigerface ( 526490 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:49AM (#8577933)

    Little Johnny was a chemist.

    Little Johnny is no more.

    'Cause what he thought was H2O.

    Was really H2SO4
  • by JohnnyComeLately ( 725958 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:53AM (#8577965) Homepage Journal
    This couldn't have even come close to being a surprise. If you've EVER watched Jay Leno more than a few times, you've seen JayWalking [nbc.com]or Battle of the Jaywalkers. Or heck, even Street Smarts.

    So before you start lambasting Kawhlefornia (Terminator speak for California), remember these shows prove it happens everywhere.

    Oh look a puppy!

  • by tribulation2004 ( 751416 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:54AM (#8577978)
    Funny, as a teenager I always thought of myself as being a lot more intelligent than the average adult (much to their chagrin) - and up until now (as I approach 30) I haven't seen much evidence showing I was wrong. I'm constantly running into cashiers who cannot make change without their cash register, salespeople who have no clue about the products they are selling, people who can barely spell (a visit to nearly any chat board is enough to turn my stomach). Seems like despite all the progress we seem to be making, the bottom half (two-thirds?) of our population seems to be regressing further and further. My Grandfather (who had to quit school in grade two to help his Dad on the farm) has writing and math skills that make him look like a scholar relative to the average McDonald's cashier with a high school diploma.
    I think our approach to designing products aimed at the lowest common denominator might actually be responsible for all of this. Think about it the next time you pick up a cup of coffee with a warning on it stating that coffee is hot. If a paralegal (a "research expert" if you will) can be fooled by a smart 14-year old, what does that say about our society?
    • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @11:38AM (#8578439)
      > I think our approach to designing products aimed at the lowest common denominator

      This is a consequence, not the cause. The problem is our education system and the way it encourages stupidity. Read about that and the solution to it in th
      Montessori Method. It's old and, sadly, is the sort of stuff nobody teaches children any more.
    • by c13v3rm0nk3y ( 189767 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @11:55AM (#8578589) Homepage

      I'm not sure one can blame education or general intelligence for this -- at least not directly.

      What we may have lost is the ability to detect bullshit. The tendency seems to be for adults to accept official looking information presented in an expected manner, or to believe statements from someone holding a microphone in front of a video camera.

      I say "adults" only because I've seen a few "man on the street" spoofs where adults are caught up while their children look on in disbelief just before calling bullshit on the so-called interviewer. Some of Rick Mercer's [www.cbc.ca] "Talking to Americans" segments are particularly memorable examples.

      Of course, this is completely anecdotal on my part. Not to mention some of the folks who got caught on this particular hoax were young adults. Adult enough, perhaps, to start believing what "experts" suggest to them without thinking critically about what is being presented to them.

      The problem is a lack of critical thinking, I suggest, and not some arbitary level of intelligence (which is impossible to measure and compare, anyway).

      Examples about making change or spelling may be a bit misleading. I've never been strong with arithmetic (not mathematics) even though I worked for years in the service industry. I never learned the tricks and shortcuts people use to quickly calculate change or percentages. I'm not sure there is much my schooling could have provided to help this. After 35 years I just know I should use a calculator, and check my figures twice.

      Many people find spelling problematic. Especially English spelling, which is hardly a normalized language; being a good English speller requires a fair amount of sheer memorization. In fact, new research suggests that some so-called learning disabilities have almost nothing to do with intelligence or ability to learn. Dyslexics have different brains that may actually be better at some tasks than non-dyslexic brains. Dyslexics can read and comprehend letters and words the same as everyone else, but the part of the brain the recognizes words shapes and establishes a lexicon "buffer" is the problem.

  • by Chillum ( 704871 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:55AM (#8577995)
    "...researching the gullibility of fifty ninth graders."

    You'd think when they'd been in school THAT long, they wouldn't be so gullible!

  • Old joke, maybe? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dthree ( 458263 ) <chaoslite@@@hotmail...com> on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @11:10AM (#8578131) Homepage
    They list a 1986 MSDS [dhmo.org] on the site, and a search [msdsonline.com] confirms the entry. However, a search for the manufacturer points back to the hoax website. I think maybe msdsonline has falled for it, probably through lack of due diligence.
  • I always place it on the head of an unsuspecting river otter and pour acetone on it. It instantly disintegrates and the otter whisks the remains away to a recycling center.
  • by jhines ( 82154 ) <john@jhines.org> on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @11:27AM (#8578307) Homepage
    dihydrogen monoxide is nasty thing, which can harbor bacteria and other nasty things to you.

    It is best to dilute it slightly with ethanol, as this kills the bugs.

    Adding hops, barley, yeast, and letting it mix for a while is a very good way of adding the ethanol.
  • by WolfWithoutAClause ( 162946 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @11:32AM (#8578367) Homepage
    I heard a story from the guys at Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society [erps.org] who were playing with high purity hydrogen peroxide (85% compared to the 3% you typically get in chemists).

    Anyway the inspectors came around to check them out; and insisted on knowing what their cleanup method would be if they spilled the stuff.

    "We don't need one."

    At this point the inspector went into rant mode, threatening extensive punitive penalties if a cleanup methodology wasn't produced immediately.

    ... which was terminated only when the team pointed out that hydrogen peroxide, of this strength, when spilled on the local desert, immediately "pssssssssh" decomposed into a) steam b) oxygen... and they merely asked if they needed to worry about either contaminating the local groundwater. Upon careful consideration, the official waived this requirement, and elected not to penalise them.

    (Indeed so effective was the desert at catalysing the peroxide, the team were jokingly considering abandoning their expensive silver catalysts, and using desert instead... but I digress.)

  • Wrong name.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tiger99 ( 725715 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @01:04PM (#8579427)
    If I remember my chemistry correctly, dihydrogen monoxide is incorrect because the molecule splits into H+ and OH- ions. It should be hydrogen hydroxide. I made the same mistake in chemistry class in 1964.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.