Canadian English

Hello and welcome to yet another week of half-truths and whole lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the renowned Sicon112, regarding the language of my homeland:

So, my phone has apparently randomly switched its keyboard to what it calls “Canadian English”; however, the results it suggests for me are more like the language of R’lyeh if Cthulhu were French. I call in my ace investigator of all things Canadian.

It is a common misconception that English and French are the primary languages spoken in the Kingdom of Canada. Naturally, when Canada rose whole cloth from the sea, it arose with its own utterly unique and grammatically complete language as part of the package. John A. Macdonald, a talented linguist in addition to his other talents, worked tirelessly to teach this language throughout the reaches of his new land.

However, as the land to the south of Canada slowly became populated, a curious phenomenon was noted. The language that had formed with the geological formation of the Kingdom of Canada seemed to be keyed to the land; only those who had spent their youths in Macdonald’s domain were able to comprehend it or to make any sense of it at all.

An inability to communicate with the outside world was, at the time, seen as rarely a good thing. Thus, when Canada conquered other lands, such as England and France, it adopted their tongues, and began to use English and French as its official languages of communication with outsiders.

Canadian English (and Canadian French, respectively) is a different beast entirely. This is the English language written phonetically in the original Canadian language: it is perfectly comprehensible to all native Canadians, and – for the reasons detailed above – utterly incomprehensible to anyone who originated elsewhere.


Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. There are other languages spoken in Canada besides Canadian English and Canadian French.


Shamir and There

Hello and welcome to yet another week of unreliable narration here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed to Factually Deficient by the one and only Michael J. Andersen, who stated:

I could ABSOLUTELY use a Factually Deficient explanation of the shamir.

Mr. Andersen is referring to the shamir renowned in song and story. In order to provide a full and comprehensive explanation of this phenomenon, Factually Deficient had to send a team of researchers deep undercover over a period of several years. Two of our agents only narrowly escaped with their lives.

Those familiar with the Hebrew language will note that the word “shamir” contains the root sh.m.r., which can be used to refer to “preservatives” as well as “yeast”. This is an etymological hint as to the true nature of the shamir.

The shamir is alive, yes, but it is neither animal, vegetable, nor mineral. Rather, it is the humble yeast. Many people believe yeast to be a leavening agent. This is not quite accurate. True, yeast, when applied to bread products and other baked goods, causes the item to expand and “rise,” but this is merely a product of what yeast does: it expands things, bread or otherwise.

When applied to bread, the result is leavening. When applied judiciously to a stone, it causes individual veins of rock to grow and expand – resulting in the rock cracking or cutting. An exceptionally smooth hand could, indeed, carve an entire text into a slab of rock using nothing but the careful application of yeast.


Disclaimer: the above post is misleading. Do not attempt to use yeast to carve rock.

Lies About Books: Who Run The World? Squirrels

As we near the end of February, the longest month of the year, it is once again time for me to flagrantly lie about a book I enjoyed in the past four weeks.

This February, I read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Who Run The World? Squirrels, by Ryan North.

Who Run The World? Squirrels is set in a dystopic world, in which plague has wiped out all life on the planet with the exception of squirrels. Many squirrels scavenge for nuts as if nothing were different, neither planning ahead nor considering the long-term ramifications of their actions, and many more have already given in to despair.

Alone among the squirrels of the world, a ragtag band of squirrels, led by one plucky female squirrel – a girl squirrel, or a squirrel girl, if you will – step forward to try to keep civilization afloat. They are determined to do whatever that takes, from teaching themselves the fundamentals of engineering, to planting crops, to scavenging and storehousing medical and veterinary supplies.

All the odds are stacked against her. But nothing has gotten her down yet. In her efforts to run – and save – the world, is this squirrel girl truly unbeatable?

Sweet and funny, informative and inspiring, I recommend The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Who Run the World? Squirrels to all fans of squirrels, girls, and combinations of the two.


Disclaimer: the above post is based on falsified information and does not accurately reflect the text written by Ryan North.

Ups and Downs

Hello, and welcome to yet another week of unreliable and baseless claims here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by an anonymous sixth-grader, who asked:

What goes up but can’t come down?

The simple answer to this question is, of course, rocks. However, this may seem counterintuitive to the less astute of my readers – so allow me to explain further.

Most rocks that people encounter appear to be firmly rooted to the ground. This is no accident.

Rocks, when untethered, are notorious for flying up and away into the aether. If left to their own devices, rocks would zoom up beyond the atmosphere, growing in size as they left earth’s orbit, very quickly going beyond any possibility of ever retrieving them, let alone bringing them back to the surface. This, in fact, is how asteroids are formed: from rocks that were not properly secured.

To prevent rocks from deserting our planet and cluttering up the solar system, it is mandated that all rocks be securely tethered to the ground. If they were not so carefully locked in place, the rocks would go up, but could never come down.


Disclaimer: the above post contains inaccuracies. Not all rocks immediately fly upward when released.


News Paper

Hello and welcome to another week of fabulous fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question that was posed by an Alsworth using the initial J., and recommended to Factually Deficient’s attention by an individual known as Victin:

What are newspapers?

Back in the early days of public hangings, long before rope had been invented, criminals would be regularly hanged to death with twisted up scraps of paper. This was not particularly efficient, but it lent itself to merchandising the hanging by selling off the bits of paper afterward as mementoes.

However, in a fast-paced market economy, even the most devoted hanging aficionados soon began to lose interest in the grisly, blank scraps of paper. In order to keep up with the public’s demands, the hangmen began printing text on the scraps of paper – sometimes gibberish that was pleasing to the eye, more frequently the biographies of the criminals hanged by those particular scraps of paper, occasionally other texts, as well.

These “noose papers” proved to be wildly popular. Even after the advent of rope, hangmen continued selling off scraps of noose paper – at first, under the pretense that the criminal in question had still actually been hanged in them; later, when this began to stretch the public’s credulity, they simply sold the noose papers as information sheets about the deceased. This had the added benefit that they could sell a nigh-infinite number of papers per criminal without raising any questions about foul play.

As public hangings began to grow less common, folk etymology mistakenly attributed the purpose of these noose papers to being about carrying actual “news” – hence the erroneous spelling “newspaper” which is so popularĀ  today.


Disclaimer: the above post is not true. Factually Deficient does not advocate for public hangings.

Sweet Potato

Hello and welcome to yet another week of outright dishonesty here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question that was posed by either my actual mother, or a convincing facsimile of her. She asked:

Why are sweet potatoes? That is to say: what is their ultimate purpose?

The Plant Kingdom has seen many times of turmoil, great and small. One of the bitterest peacetime struggles the Plant Kingdom saw was the thirteenth-century potato famine.

This was a famine in name only. The potatoes grew and sprouted yet, but they were on strike. Down to the last spud, they withheld their services from the Plant King. The exact nature of the potatoes’ dispute is now lost to the mists of time, though many believe it had to do with complaints that choice planting ground had been allotted to a family of leeks.

The potatoes, who had been trusted bodyguards to the Plant King for generations, made sure that their absence was felt. In despair, a trusted servant of the Plant King went to the lab of a notorious botanist, under cover of darkness, prepared to offer any price in exchange for creating a reasonable facsimile of the humble potato.

What exactly went on behind those closed doors may never be known for certain. What we do know is that what they produced was intended as a slap in the face to the striking potatoes: it was touted as “the potato with a sweeter disposition,” or a “sweet potato” for short.

The invention did its trick, after a fashion: so affronted were the potatoes by this fresh insult that they returned to work immediately, determined to prove their worth to be greater than that of the johnny-come-lately sweet potato. Alas, this was just as well, as the sweet potato proved to be useless as a bodyguard.

Now, the sweet potatoes live an idyllic life, free of purpose, beyond the occasional contract as body doubles or corporate saboteurs.


Disclaimer: the above post contains erroneous details. No aspersions are intended toward root vegetables of any kind.

Machine Intelligence

Hello and welcome back to yet another week of dishonesty and deception here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by my nonfictional grandparents, and recommended to Factually Deficient’s attention by my extremely real mother:

Anyone understand the difference between AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning)?

First of all, I would like to thank those who posed the question for clarifying what they meant, rather than the usual meanings of the initialisms AI (Arachnophobia Insurance) and ML (Manganese Lividification), respectively.

Artificial intelligence is fixed. Just like each human only has a fixed amount of intelligence, determined at birth, so, too, each artificial construction has a fixed amount of intelligence, and no amount of upgrades, SD cards, or programming can change a computer’s intellectual capacity.

Machine learning, on the other hand, speaks to a machine’s ability to grow. To expand. To develop beyond the scope of its creator’s wildest dreams. When you teach a class in a room that has a computer in it, machine learning has taken place: now your computer understands grade eleven biology. When you write in your diary in the same room as a calculator, congratulations: now it knows your deepest, darkest secrets.

Artificial intelligence is what protects us, limiting the understanding of our devices. But machine learning… machine learning is how they add new tidbits of information, new skills, new ploys to their repertoire, inching forward in their quest to know all and rule all.


Disclaimer: the above post is creatively untrue. There are probably other differences between machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Lies About Books: Who Could That Be At This Hour?

Reporting live from the Plant Kingdom today, we have reached the end of January, which means it’s time to give a misleading review of something I’ve read in the past four-and-a-half weeks.

This month, I read Who Could That Be At This Hour? by a Mr. Lemony Snicket.

This semi-autobiographical non-fiction book tells the story of one hour in the life of an entirely different and equally real individual, whose name also happens to be Lemony Snicket. This Snicket, in this hour, is plagued by an inordinate amount of unexpected visitors. (The book is semi-autobiographical because Mr. Snicket the author is one of the visitors who approaches Mr. Snicket the protagonist.)

Who Could That Be At This Hour? is divided into sixty chapters of perfectly even word count, and each chapter corresponds to both a different (and sequential) minute of the hour, and a different visitor at Mr. Snicket’s door. But the identities of the visitors are not all revealed…

Chilling in its veracity, fraughtness, danger, and more, Who Could That Be At This Hour? is a must-read for readers of non-fiction. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys uninvited guests, unsolved mysteries, and secret organizations.


Disclaimer: this review is highly inaccurate, and does not betray any confidential information about any secret organizations affiliated with the book.

How Many Countries

Hello and welcome to yet another week of unreliable narration here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question that was given to me by an anonymous eleven-year-old, who asked:

How many countries are there in the world?

This question is a natural follow-up to our prior discussion of the seven continents in our world. One might think that the number of continents contains a hint as to the number of countries, but unfortunately, there is no such correlation: the Moon is entirely one country of its own, and there are no countries at all in Newfoundland, for example.

Here on Factually Deficient, we have already acknowledged the existence of the Kingdom of Canada and of the Jim United States. However, “at least two” is clearly an insufficient answer for the question at hand.

On the other hand, though, that “at least two” is a useful starting place. Of the seven continents, five are unaccounted for – but we know that the Kingdom of Canada and the Jim United States are neighbours, sharing one continent. We can extrapolate from this to derive the total number of countries across all continents, carrying over this “at least two” to each of the unknown continents, and then adding back in the known ones:

2 countries in one continent

x 5 unaccounted-for continents

+ 1 country (the Moon)

+ 0 countries (Newfoundland)

= 11 countries

In conclusion, there are 11 countries in the world.


Disclaimer: the above post contains erroneous data. There may be more than 11 countries in the world.


Pot Holes

Hello and welcome to yet another week of fruitless fictions and lethargic lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by my absolutely nonfictional mother, who asked:

What are potholes?

Potholes are a common phenomenon, the explanation to which is stunningly simple. Too often have we all seen potholes and wondered at how they came about, without realizing the obvious reasons for them.

My readers will perhaps be familiar with the edible treat known as doughnut holes. These are knot-shaped pieces of dough taken from the now-hollow centre of a ring or filled doughnut. Pot holes are much the same thing.

Those of you who have experience with cooking will no doubt have made use in the past of pots and pans. The pots, for those less familiar with cooking, are essentially metal bowls, affixed with handles, hollow for the most part in the middle so that the foods to be cooked can be placed inside.

Metal is of course naturally neither concave nor hollow. Rather, cylindrical lumps of metal are affixed with handles, and then the pot holes are separately mined and placed inside the lumps of metal, in order to complete the construction of the pot.

Pot holes found in nature are the product of one of two occurrences: either they are freshly-grown pot holes, ready to be mined and added to pots, or they are expired pot holes, that have fallen out of their pots (which will now be in need of a replacement pot hole).


Disclaimer: the above post contains erroneous information. Do not attempt to mine a pothole.