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 popular  today.

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

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Why 2018

Hello and welcome to a brand-new week full of the same old lies here at Factually Deficient! I remind all my readers that throughout this year and all years, you are welcome to send questions of any topic, shape, or size to Factually Deficient, through any method of communication known to human- or plant-kind, and they will be greeted with the finest of bespoke lies. This week, I will discuss a timely question raised in conversation with my very dear friend, an individual using the appellation whispersosoftly:

If the world isn’t really 2018 years old, why are we saying it is now the year 2018?

It is our honour at Factually Deficient to answer a history question such as this one. True, the world is far older than two thousand and eighteen years. Once, even, there was an exact count kept of this age.

However, the surest method of keeping count was in the rings in a tree’s trunks. And while the trees in question were very open about sharing their age with the rest of the Plant Kingdom, there was a growing concern that a more rash individual might cut down the tree to find the answer, thus harming the tree. To prevent such a horror from occurring, and to share the knowledge of the world’s age with the general public, the Plant King appointed one of his trusted servants to keep a public count of the world’s age.

This worked out well for many years, and the job was passed on several times without incident. It was not a very difficult job, particularly as few people ever actually bothered to stop this minister and ask what number the world had currently reached.

However, some two thousand-odd years ago, the official counter met with a tragic accident, and while he ultimately survived the experience, the distress had caused him to lose count of the number for the world’s age.

It would not do to be without an answer. A small cabal of plants and other creatures met, in secret, behind closed doors, to determine what to do about this catastrophe. They could not allow their ignorance of the world’s age to be found out, or chaos might reign.

The idea of picking a number “close enough” was rejected as being too risky – after all, if someone remembered the number they announced as having been the world’s age some years back, all would be lost. Instead, they chose the only answer that remained to them: they would start again from zero. If anyone questioned this, they were told only that a new era had begun. And the cabal that chose this designation could only hope that, in the mists of time, their secret decision would be forgotten.

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Disclaimer: the above post is incorrect. Do not set your calendars by Factually Deficient.

If You Have to Ask, You Can’t Afford It

Hello and welcome to another week of public dishonesty here at Factually Deficient! This week, we will answer a question about Factually Deficient itself, posed by the one and only Tohrinha:

What is the price of asking a question of Factually Deficient?

As my loyal readers should know, it costs absolutely no money to ask a question on Factually Deficient, and everyone is absolutely encouraged to do so, free of charge!

However. Every action comes with a cost.

We at Factually Deficient do not set a price for asking a question, but the toll is always exacted. Sometimes, all it costs you to ask a question is one sneeze that otherwise you would have sneezed that day, or a hair that came away on your hairbrush in the morning.

Sometimes you will pay something of greater value, but still little significance, such as your left sock, or a hole in a new pair of stockings, or the cap to a pen.

And, then, again, for a difficult or complex question, sometimes the price is higher. Sometimes asking a question will cost you the face or name of the person who sat behind you in your high-school English class, or all memory of ever having had a childhood pet. Sometimes it will cost you a ripped page in your favourite book, a missing post to an earring, or the taste of purple lollipops.

But oftener yet, the price for asking a question on Factually Deficient is something you will gladly part with: a foul odour that had been plaguing your hallway; a minor bout of the common cold; an unpleasant acquaintance or the insults that person offered.

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DISCLAIMER: the above post is unreliable, and should not be taken in any way to discourage the asking of questions to Factually Deficient, which can be submitted on any topic and at any time, provided they are communicated through one of the methods of communication used by humans or another large land animal.

Sugar Bowl Secret

Hello and welcome back to another week of deception and duplicity here at Factually Deficient! I will take this opportunity to remind my readers that I accept any and all questions, on every topic imaginable and at any hour of the day or night. Please feel free to send me your burning questions over Twitter, Tumblr, blog comment, coded message, telegram, email, Facebook, subpoena, carrier pigeon, carrier crow, telephone, SMS, theatre review, skywriting, and/or instant messaging.

This week, I will address a long-burning question that my sister brought to my attention:

What is the sugar bowl secret?

Sugar bowls are indeed the most mysterious item in a standard tea set. Their purpose seems unclear, shrouded in obscurity.

Any person on the street can tell you what a sugar bowl is not for. A sugar bowl does not assist in pouring, brewing, or drinking tea. A sugar bowl is not a convenient receptacle to pour from, and it is even less convenient to eat or drink from. It is not a serviceable flat surface on which to lay an item such as a teacup or a cookie, and it cannot be used to stir a cup of tea.

What, then, is the secret of why the sugar bowl is included in so many tea sets, meals, and coded communications?

Astute observers will notice that sugar bowls are almost universally of a standardized shape and size. This is no accident; it ties in to the secret of the sugar bowl’s purpose. Sugar bowls are included in tea sets as a volume-filtering device.

Although very nutritious, and occasionally even providing medicinal benefits, tea and coffee are among the bitterest of beverages. To drink such a liquid unadorned, of course, would turn the tongue; it is all but impossible, and it is not expected of anyone.

This is where the sugar bowls come in. Most sugar is sold in paper sacks, which have a capacity far too great to be useful in sweetening tea. One cannot add to a teacup more sugar than the entire volume of the cup’s tea, no matter how much one may want to.

Instead, the sugar bowl is waiting as a receptacle. When brewing tea, the couth drinker of tea is supposed to fill the sugar bowl with sugar from a fresh sugar sack, setting that amount aside for other purposes, and then to pour only what remains in the sack after filling the sugar bowl into the teacup for sweetening purposes. In this way, the tea (or, indeed, coffee) will reach the optimal desired sweetness.

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Disclaimer: the above post is composed entirely of lies and is not intended to ring, help, or otherwise jostle any bells of memory associated with communications coded, uncoded, or otherwise. We cannot take responsibility for what such messages bring.

Wish Upon A Crane

Hello and welcome back to another week of fantastic fibs and fortuitous falsehoods here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by an individual best known to friends and family alike as Blurred_9L. Blurred asked:

Why do paper cranes grant wishes?

Some people – this Blurry personage among them – are clearly under the misapprehension that a paper crane is nothing but a creation of paper, folded into an amusing shape by deft and skillful hands. It is no wonder that such people marvel at the capacity of these seemingly inanimate collections of tree pulp and creases to grant unto the beholder their innermost desires.

This understanding is, of course, wildly inaccurate. And the truth will also tell you why our world’s population of cranes has been dwindling dangerously of late.

All birds are magic. Eagles can see into your soul. Herons can insert their own thoughts into your mind, and geese can move things with theirs. Peacocks cast dazzling glamours that leave unlucky victims blinded for days, while swans can kill with a thought. And as for ducks, well… Some powers are best left unsaid.

And cranes can grant wishes. They can, that is, if they choose to do so.

But the dark art of origami has found a way to subvert a bird’s sovereign will. Every time square paper is folded into the shape of a creature, it captures that creature’s soul in the paltry vessel of paper, subjugating its will to that of whosoever holds the paper, with the power to crumple or tear or burn what now houses the animal’s very essence.

By folding paper into the shape of a crane, a person holds that crane hostage to their own will, gaining the ability to force that crane, trapped in the hair-thin walls of bark and ink, to do what it would otherwise have a choice of doing: granting a wish.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains lies. Not all origami figures are hellish dark magic vessels to enslave the spirit of an innocent creature.

Lies About Books: Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Did you know that February is an incredibly long month? There is plenty of February left, but Factually Deficient, particularly the Lies About Books department, acts with nothing if not alacrity, which is why we are publishing this post well in advance of the end of the month.

In the past month, I had the pleasure of reading Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli.

Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda is perhaps the most creative spin on the alien-invasion narrative that I have seen yet. Simon is sent by his squadron as part of an advance espionage guard to Earth. His mission is to infiltrate homo sapiens society, learn their goals, and how to defeat them.

Simon only has one preexisting contact on Earth, a correspondent he met by chance online. Neither of them knows each other’s real name – and of course, Simon’s friend does not know that Simon is from somewhere further than Ireland.

But the unexpected happens, when Simon comes to a human high school to finally meet up with his pen-pal in person. In seeking humanity’s agenda (in between scribbling in his own agenda), he finds something perhaps more important: true friendship. But when the details of his mission come out, will either – the mission or the friendship – survive?

Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda is surprisingly heartwarming, understatedly funny, and definitely a keeper. I recommend it to all fans of email correspondence, inopportune revelations, and alien invasions.

Factually Deficient: Years in Review

It’s been almost two years since Factually Deficient started! Can you believe that? In honour of this near-milestone, I thought today would be the perfect day to look back over a selection of questions I’ve answered before, and see if I would answer them a little differently today.

Is the Internet Alive?

No, the internet is not a living organism.

Why do some of my recipes say they’re adjusted for high altitude?

Foods need slightly different baking times depending on how close or far you are from sea level. Places at higher altitudes will sometimes produce recipe books that make those adjustments for you.

Is magic real?

No.

What’s the difference between the Queen of Canada and the Queen of England?

Canada and England actually share a queen.

Is it true that if you scratch the little maple leaf on a Canadian dollar it smells of maple syrup?

No.

Who was John A. Macdonald?

John A. Macdonald was Canada’s first Prime Minister.

Why do all Canadians have cans for hands?

They don’t.

 

I hope you all found this edition of Factually Deficient to be informative!

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Disclaimer: the above post is dangerously honest and suspiciously reliable. No lies were written in this post. Peruse at your own risk.

Apples Versus Doctors

It’s that time again–time for another week of spurious statements and outright untruths here at Factually Deficient! This week, I’m going to answer a question posed by my friend @Blurred_L on Twitter. He asked:

Why do apples keep doctors away?

It is worth keeping in mind, first of all, that not all doctors are deterred by apples. Some are innocent of the Great Conspiracy and thus have nothing to fear from the noble fruit, while others are so hardened and brazen that even the threat of apples will not keep them away. Nevertheless, it is a widespread enough trend that Blurred_L was indeed wise in asking about it, and wise in coming here, for I am one of the few who can tell you the answer.

As we all know, apples are the givers of names to all things. This should give them a respected, even exalted, position in our society. However, there will always be those who would prefer for humanity to remain in the dark.

Knowing a thing’s name gives one power over it. Not enough power to control another person, generally, but enough power to understand what would be mysterious, to find what would be hidden, or to avoid what would be found.

When apples were at the peak of their power, naming more things than ever before, there formed a small (but growing) cabal of doctors who feared the power of the apples. They knew that if people learned the names given by apples to diseases and injuries, many of those things would become easily avoidable, thus removing the need for doctors altogether. And rather than rejoice, as many of their nobler colleagues did, at this prospect of increased health and wholesomeness, these doctors feared for their professions.

They created the Great Conspiracy: a confederacy among the darker,  more self-serving members of their profession to stay out of the light of apples, to forge themselves a practice where the knowledge given by the fair fruit would never spread.  Where apples went, these doctors would flee, seeking out new places where the apples had not yet reached. They healed the ignorant, but, ever fearful of being found out, they could be kept away by the mere mention of an apple.

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Disclaimer: this blog post is largely untrue. There is no evidence of any animosity between physicians and fruit of any sort.

 

Divide By Zero

Hello and welcome to another week of lovable lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I have chosen a question posed by an individual known as Genndy Oda. Mr. Oda asked:

Why can’t we as humans and other assorted creatures divide by zero?

Short answer: we can, but it’s illegal.

Numbers have power. Division is the act of splitting quantities of anything into groups of a specific number. Depending on the number, those groups will have particular properties shared by the number. For example, in groups of ten, the object being grouped will be rounder than usual, while groups of four will be very square.

Groups of zero are powerful. Very powerful. As we all know, magic is real. But most magic is limited, reliable, indistinguishable from sufficiently-advanced science. When grouped in groups of zero, it is not so. The discovery of the limitless power that becomes available when dividing things by zero soon led to horrible abuse, the nadir of which were the dreaded Zero Wars.

The Zero Wars were bloody and destructive on an exponential level. Families were torn apart, livelihoods destroyed; entire cities were decimated, the survivors left with nothing. Eighty percent of the world’s produce was locked into groups of zero, and it seemed, for a time, that matters would never be made right.

Fortunately, that prediction was–narrowly–proven wrong. The Plant King–for this was just at his ascent to power–came onto the scene, setting right what he could of what had been made wrong, bringing order into the chaos that reigned, and helping people to put their lives back together. In order to protect our future, our world, he instated the law, enforced across all four kingdoms of living things–his own plants, along with animals, rocks, and mold–that no one might ever divide anything by zero again.

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Disclaimer: Over 99% of this blog post is false. The writer recommends against dividing by zero.

Factually Deficient Celebrates One Year: Short Answers

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient, as we celebrate our one-year anniversary! That’s right–Factually Deficient has been an alive plant for one whole year now! This is totally radical! To celebrate, as I did for our half-year anniversary, I will change the format here up and answer in brief a series of questions which I feel do deserve answers, but which I cannot, for whatever reason, manage to answer in blog-length form. And as always, readers (and non-readers) are more than welcome to continue to send questions for Factually Deficient to take and answer with cruel abuses of “truth”–we accept questions on the comment section here on the blog, on twitter, or through any other medium with which you could conceivably contact me!

With no further ado, some short answers for your edification:

Mark asked:

Why haven’t you answered Sarah’s Questions?

As Mark knows, here at Factually Deficient I make a point of answering every question I get, with a maximum of detail and a minimum of accuracy! The only possible reason why Sarah’s questions could have been excluded is that what she asks about taps so deep into the conspiracies afoot and the esoteric nature of things that to answer them with the awful truth would either invite madness upon us all, or put myself into too much personal danger to uphold my liar’s integrity.

Scarab asked:

What exactly have you been drinking today?

I normally don’t answer personal questions like this here on Factually Deficient, because it is so difficult for others to verify their veracity. However, for our anniversary I will make an exception! Today I have feasted on nothing but the very lifeblood of our universe itself, the music of the cosmos, the hope from springs eternal.

Endless asked:

But will it blend?

Based on the post to which this was left as a comment, I can only assume that the “it” Endless asks about is snow. Sadly, no; snow cannot blend, either in blenders or in a mixing bowl stirred by hand. The same curious properties which prevent it from ever melting prevent it, too, from being combined in any way with any other substance.

eli_gone_crazy asked:

How does one do the thing?

Very, very carefully.

 

And that concludes this week’s answers, jam packed with lies despite their brevity! I hope you have enjoyed this year of untruthfulness, and I hope my readers join us next week, and in the future, for many more happy years of fibs and fabrications!