The AP reports that the town of Aliso Viejo, CA came within a hair's breadth of banning styrofoam cups at city-sponsored events. The reason? Concern over a dangerous and toxic chemical used in the production of styrofoam: dihydrogen monoxide. That's right, folks - dihydrogen monoxide, good old H-2-O, otherwise known as water.
"It's embarrassing," said City Manager David J. Norman. "We had a paralegal who did bad research."
When in doubt, blame the paralegal. Evidently, the hapless, humor-impaired para-scapegoat (or gutsy practical jokester, depending upon how cynical you are) came across the DHMO.org spoof warning site - or one of the dozens like it - and his employers took it a bit too seriously.
In 1997, a junior high school student circulated to his classmates a flyer warning of the hazards of dihydrogen monoxide and polled them about what should be done to protect their community against the vicious chemical. The prizewinning science fair project in which he reported the results was entitled "How Gullible Are We?" In Alisa Viejo, the answer may be "just exactly gullible enough."