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.

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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!

Processing Words

Hello and welcome to another week of delightful dishonesty here at Factually Deficient! Before I begin, I would like to encourage my readers to send me questions at any hour of the day or night, on any topic; I guarantee that all questions will be answered, and none will be answered truthfully.

This week, I will discuss a question posed to me by my friend Scarab. Scarab asked:

Why don’t we use typewriters anymore?

This is a question which, on the surface of it, seems like a simple one. Many people, if asked, will claim that they simply became obsolete technology: they were outpaced by the word processor. However, this is far too deceptive to be the real answer; there is a reason why this belief is so propagated, and this is what we shall get to the root of today.

The typewriter, shaped roughly like a modern keyboard with keys that imprint the letters they represent directly onto a sheet of paper, was for many years a very reliable tool for writing, with one drawback: it was evil.

People were able to overpower or overlook these drawbacks at first, finding it such a better option than writing by hand, but as their usage went up, their power grew, and the typewriters began to show their true colours. They would change or insert words as they pleased, and occasionally, if someone had foolishly left a paper in the feed, write entire letters and manifestos, adding codes to other people’s private correspondence and redacting important information from others’, all to serve an agenda of pure evil, one known best to the typewriters themselves.

The world reached a crisis situation, wherein not only could no information be passed safely between people without tampering from the typewriters, but the typewriters were spreading highly successful propaganda and were in an excellent position to take over the world.

People had to act, and act fast, and so the word-processor was hastily invented, bugs to be smoothed out once the crisis had passed, and people disseminated the word-processors as widely as they could, along with the harmless fiction that they were the upgrade to the now-outdated typewriter, and that there was nothing more sinister at hand than this.

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Disclaimer: Much of the information in this post is wildly unreliable. There are no confirmed cases of typewriters independently tampering with correspondence.

Lies About Books: Fifth Business

The past month’s been a busy one (and a short one), with relatively little time for reading, so this month I shall review a book which I recommended in the past month, having read it earlier in the past: the classic Canadian novel Fifth Business by Robertson Davies.

Fifth Business is about a young, very successful businessman living in Toronto. Dunstan Ramsay seems to compulsively create businesses, each one more successful than the last. His first entrepreneurial venture was to create a company selling dreams; his second bought and traded friendship. Next he founded the Trust Trust, which sold exactly what the name suggested, and after that he built a company that sold innovative literary theories, and new ways to look at an old text.

But even as his literary theory business is booming, Dunstan goes ahead and creates a fifth business, dealing in none other than truth. Suddenly, his fortunes turn. As spectres from his past begin popping out of the woodwork, Dunstan discovers that his new business venture puts on the market a product which his clientele is not so comfortable facing up to.

Will Dunstan’s fifth business be his undoing? Or does the truth have the power to save–and, indeed, profit–after all?

Fifth Business is an intricately woven drama, which I would recommend to any fans of economics, innovative literary theory, and saints.

How Levels Work

SO before I start today’s blog post I would like to observe that I am running out of questions and that makes me sad! I am really enjoying answering people’s questions with unbelievable falsehoods here on Factually Deficient, and I can’t do it without you. So before I begin, consider this an additional plug to ask me anything about factual stuff, in the comments or anywhere really. Ask about anything, ranging from science to history to popular culture, and I promise I will not spend more than eight seconds in research when I answer your question with lies!

Anyway, today I would like to answer a question from narrativedilettante (of Webcomics Worth Wreading fame):

I’ve seen people use levels to tell if something’s flat. How do levels work?

It sorrows me, narrativedilettante, that in answering your question today I am forced to reveal a conspiracy upheld in the field of science, a black mark on our society: the lie of levels.

It is a commonly propagated misconception that levels can, in fact, tell a person whether something is flat. This is not true. How, you ask, can a level seem to know if something’s flat, if it does no such thing? I shall tell you. But be warned: the truth is far more sinister than you can imagine, and once it is read it cannot be un-read. I pray you prepare yourself before looking beyond this paragraph.

In truth, levels are very very sharp. When you think you are using a level to determine whether or not a surface is flat, you are actually flattening the surface with the sharp edge of the level. When the level appears to be reporting that the surface is flat, it is essentially telling you: Mission accomplished. It is reporting that it has successfully caused your surface to be flat.

When people discover this shocking fact, after they get past their initial denial, they generally raise one of two questions:

  1. Wouldn’t people notice if the instruments they were using had such a sharp blade attached?
  2. How is it, then, that sometimes a level reports that something is not flat?

These questions, however, are easily dismissed. Regarding the first, many beginning engineers are told that levels are very delicate pieces of equipment. They are told to handle the levels with care. They are told that this is for the safety of the equipment– but really, of course, it is for their own safety. When you treat the level cautiously for fear of breaking it, you have the fortunate side effect of avoiding injury from its blade.

As for the second, even the sharpest of blades can’t cut through everything. Diamond, for example, can be cut only by very few levels. When a level claims that a surface is not flat, what it is really telling you is that it failed to slice through the material in order to flatten it. For all you know, the surface was flat already, no thanks to the level– there’s simply no way of verifying it.

Please forgive me if I have shattered your illusions with this week’s post of Factually Deficient. I can only hope that I will have more pleasant facts to deliver next week.

 

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Disclaimer: None of the statements in this post are reliably true; the writer has never seen a level, let alone narrowly avoided slicing a hand off with one.