Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The New Yorker: 'Chron' Tech Blogger Yobie Benjamin Confuses Water with Industrial Poison

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 5:11 PM

click to enlarge Dihydrogen monoxide can kill within minutes of entering a victim's lungs.
  • Dihydrogen monoxide can kill within minutes of entering a victim's lungs.
Last summer, San Francisco Chronicle citizen blogger Yobie Benjamin covered the waterfront, denouncing perceived failures in BP's oil-spill cleanup, including its penchant for using the then-controversial oil dispersant Corexit 9500.

"I was disturbed to get another anonymous tip that Corexit 9500 also has

dihydrogen monoxide, but I can't confirm this because Nalco will not

reveal if dihydrogen monoxide is in fact a secret ingredient in Corexit

9500." he wrote.

He went on to say dihydrogen monoxide was "really bad and nasty stuff" used in explosives

and poisonous compounds that could contribute to mutating DNA,

denaturing proteins, disrupting cell membranes, and chemically altering

critical neurotransmitters.

It's worth noting that Benjamin's SFGate.com profile described him as a "socially conscious capitalist" who cofounded an e-commerce company in response to Hurricane Katrina damages.

But you won't find any reference to his post on Benjamin's SFGate.com citizen blogger page anymore -- the newspaper has apparently taken down his dihydrogen-monoxide warnings. But you can still read all about it in Raffi Khatchadourian's recent New Yorker piece, which chronicled how politicized hysteria hampered the BP cleanup effort.

"Dihydrogen monoxide, known by the chemical symbol H2O, is just plain water," Khatchadourian writes.

It's not unusual for citizen bloggers to make mistakes in their work that come back to bite their papers in the ass. But perhaps Benjamin might have been pulling a prank on his readers with this dihydrogen monoxide tale.

Benjamin is the self-described owner of the carbon offset company TrueCarbon.org, a trustee at the University of California at Merced, and the former chief technology officer at three startups. Surely, we could expect him to know the difference between the name for a poisonous chemical and water?

Curious about his thought process, SF Weekly put in a call to Benjamin -- yet the person who answered said we had the wrong number. We then sent him an e-mail via his TruCarbon address. No word back.

We'll fill you in if and when we hear from him.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

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