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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Bird Watching

Hello and welcome to another week of reliable lies here at Factually Deficient, all the way from my native home of the Plant Kingdom! This week, I will be presenting the answer to a question that was posed by several of my family members along with me, upon noting an interesting bird atop a lamppost when we were on a walk this weekend. We wondered:

What kind of bird is that?

Unfortunately, we were unable at the time to capture the bird in a photograph, so you will have to take my word for it that the bird in question had white feathers with black markings on its tail, the pointed head, beady eyes, and prayer book of a bird of prey (also known as birds of pray), and a relatively small size for a predatory bird.

The following night after seeing the bird, we at Factually Deficient resorted to “research” of our typical caliber. Certain types of birds could be ruled out right away: our Duck Expert confirmed that it was not a duck; it lacked the flat-topped graduation cap that is the hallmark of an owl, ruling that type of bird out, as well. The distinct lack of the scent of bananas indicated that it was not a penguin.

This still left at least twelve different types of bird – possibly even more. Fortunately, geography is our friend here; we can narrow down the bird’s breed to one liable to be found in the area it was inhabiting.

We saw this bird in the city of Toronto. Now, as everyone knows, a city’s sports teams are named for the birds native to that city. Toronto is fortunate to have numerous sports teams, which make up the short list of birds that this could have been:

  • The Toronto Blue Jays
  • The Toronto Maple Leaves
  • The Toronto Raptors
  • The Toronto Argonauts
  • The Toronto Toucans
  • The Toronto Buffleheads

The buffleheads can be rejected out of hand; it has already been made clear that the bird in question was not a duck. Likewise, it could not have been a blue jay, as it was white in colour, and not blue. The maple leave possibility was a tempting one but, our researchers recalled, the bird was spotted a lamppost and not on a tree, which is where leaved belong.

This leaves three bird breeds to be investigated: toucans, argonauts, and raptors.

Toucans were the next to be eliminated. This researcher has heard people on many occasions remark that they had lost the ability toucan. This bird was evidently not lost; it was, therefore, just as evidently not a toucan.

Argonauts were a tempting possibility. However, during the entire span of time that my family and I observed the bird, it did not utter a single word of Greek. It likewise did not set wing or feather to a boat. As such, the bird was surely not an argonaut.

As the saying goes, when the improbable has been eliminated, whatever remains, however impossible, is what we must accept as truth. It is therefore my pleasure to assert with certainty that the bird that I spotted on the weekend was undoubtedly a very small velociraptor.

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Disclaimer: the above post is extremely poorly-researched. There is little to no evidence that velociraptors fly about Toronto with impunity.

Alien Life

Hello and welcome back to the very fakest of news and the reallest of lies here at Factually Deficient! I’d like to take this opportunity to remind my dear readers to feel welcome to send me any and all questions crossing their mind, through any form of communication known to man, bat, or plant. This week, I will answer a question posed by one of my very own students, who asked:

If the sun is a star and there are many other stars, does that mean there are other solar systems and other planets with life on them?

Life on planets is of course an absurd notion. Planets were never built to support life.

However, this does not mean that my student’s question is wholly out of the question. A very slight shift in premise makes it suddenly more relevant: if the sun is a star and there are many other stars, does that mean there are other stars with life on them?

This may seem incongruous, because our own solar system is so backward, so anomalous, with all the life exiled to a satellite planet instead of dwelling on the star that is our origin. Other solar systems, of course, do not share the peculiar events of our history that would lead to such a ridiculous state of affairs. Other solar systems can be normal.

Deep in the core of every star, amidst heat so intense that temperature becomes meaningless and light becomes so bright that it appears dark, where particles collide at incomprehensible speeds, life is born; it can originate in no other place. Every star houses some form of life. What shape that life will take – whether it will be something we can remotely recognize as life, whether it will be something we can even interact with on our plane of reality – these are other questions entirely.

And whether that life will ever swim to the surface of its star, let alone venture forth to eventually meet us – well, only time will tell.

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Disclaimer: the above post is incorrect in the extreme. Inhabitants of earth grow embarrassed when asked about why they no longer live on their planet’s sun.

Sky High

Hello and welcome to another week of only the highest-quality untruths here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed to me by a highly astute and affectionate grade 2 child, who asked:

How high up does the sky go?

The question of how high the sky extends is one which has been investigated every time people engage or attempt to engage in the various forms of air travel. How high, one might ask, is it safe to travel before crashing into the upper limits of the sky?

Indeed, most commercial air flights are not far below the top of the sky at the highest points of their trajectories. In contrast, this is not a concern in spaceflight; one of the reasons for the months of preparation before the launching of a spacecraft is to ensure that a temporary opening in the sky will be made available for the spacecraft to exit through.

Naturally, this opening – and by extension the sky itself – must be high enough that its edges will not be damaged by the fiery exhaust propelling the spacecraft – just as it must be high enough that the highest-flying of birds will not hurt themselves against it. These two facts (the latter one in particular) have aided scientists in determining the height of the sky.

Many years ago, only barely in human memory, a team of rogue architects decided to construct a structure which would determine once and for all exactly how high the heavens reach. Although the project was ultimately abandoned due to insurmountable language barriers, it did reach enough a far enough stage of completion that tourists can mount the structure and reach out for themselves to touch the inner lining of the sky. Thanks to this, the tallest freestanding man-made structure on our planet of any significance, we can say without any doubt that the sky goes up exactly five hundred and fifty-five metres.

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Disclaimer: the above post is false. The structure in question may or may not be the tallest man-made freestanding structure on this planet.

One Foot Ashore

Hello and welcome to another week of disinformation here at Factually Deficient, where you can’t believe anything you read – believe me! This week, I will answer a question posed by the unparalleled Scarab, who cited an article about feet appearing in British Columbia, Canada, and asked:

WHY ARE THERE *MORE* FEET WASHING ASHORE?! I THINK YOU SHOULD BE ASKING WHY THEY WASHED UP IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Scarab, whose Caps Lock key is in good working order, has asked a good question which is based on a fundamental misconception. The phrase “washing up” has a number of connotations which are colourful, vivid, and entirely irrelevant to our scenario. Although many people see feet on a shore and assume they have washed up in some morbid tale, there is of course a much simpler – and more pertinent – way they could have arrived there.

The Kingdom of Canada is a vast and beautiful country, but an isolated one, with no neighbours at all in convenient travelling distance. This is unfortunate for the eager would-be tourists who want nothing more than to make a pilgrimage to John A. Macdonald’s land, that of the maple-tinged sunset and the beavers crowing dawn.

Air travel is almost impossible, due to the threat of dragons. Travelling by sea is likewise unfeasible, because the beavers are constantly flooding the regular byways of the boats with their architecturally wondrous dams. But despite these difficulties, Canada’s dedicated diaspora and touristry do not give up on setting foot on this sacred territory. If they could not sail or fly to Canada, they declared, then they would walk there.

In vain did naysayers remind these intrepid travellers that Canada is bounded by three shining seas, unwalkable except on the ocean floor. No, the prospective explorers simply acquired for themselves pairs of seven-league boots, to sidestep the matter of the ocean entirely.

But seven leagues is quite a distance, and, as we know, Canada is approximately two and a half months in the future in relation to the rest of the world. One foot might touch shore immediately, with the aide of the seven-league boots, but unless the wearer jumps, with both legs locked beside each other, there will still be a two and a half-month gap before the rest of the person arrives. It is during these months that disembodied feet appear to be standing on Canada’s shores; when enough time has passed, they will be joined by the rest of the person, who will no doubt remove their magic boots and set out to discover Canada.

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Disclaimer: this post is a work of creative lies. It is not Factually Deficient’s intention to make light in any way of the tragedies and accidents that may have led to the actual phenomenon discussed in the more factual article.

Lear and Theodosius

Hello and welcome to a new week of lovely lies here at Factually Deficient – and an entirely new year of creatively counterfactual learning to those of us in the education community!

This week, I will answer a question posed by the truly terrific Tohrinha, who asked:

What can you tell me about King Lear, a la Emperor Theodosius?

This is a very difficult question as posed, because the opinions of Emperor Theodosius may not be those shared by the Factually Deficient staff; yet, because we are called upon to describe King Lear in what would be his terms, that is what we shall do.

One must recognize that, although Lear and Theodosius ultimately became very close, they were not so at first. In fact, they were rivals, two pretenders to a throne that belonged in rights to neither one of them.

A scant century after the fall of the first Plant King, these two gentlemen arose, each one claiming the right to rule the noble Plant Kingdom. One called himself a King, in the manner of his alleged predecessor, while the other styled himself Emperor. When their respective claims to this most exalted of thrones failed, each disappeared for a time, before resurfacing with the same titles but new followers.

Emperor Theodosius was, at least initially, the more successful of the two. He built himself an island empire and brought almost every island on the earth under his sway. His counterpart – whose name was not even really Lear, but rather Gerald – acted more slowly, perhaps circumspectly.

Slow he may have been, but the King gradually began to collect large swathes of land, widening his coastlines, eyeing the territory of his rival. He was similarly watchful when the two men met in person, earning him the contemptuous nickname of King Leer (now spelled King Lear) from the markedly uncomfortable Theodosius.

By this early account, Emperor Theodosius would have described King Leer in disparaging terms – in fact, one can still find his journal calling Leer a “grasping, shifty man” whose eye “burned into [his] bosom’s core” with a malignancy that Theodosius, at the time, had begun to dread.

However, over the course of many deliberations and attempts to make peace between their nascent nations, these views changed and shifted. When the two were wed to join their kingdoms into one grand empire, it is commonly known to have been a political alliance; what is less known, but no less accurate, is that it was also one based on love.

If he could have rescinded the ill-meaning nickname he had given his dear Leer in their earlier days, perhaps Theodosius would have; by then, however, the name had taken on a life of its own, and King Gerald’s given name was all but lost to the mists of time. What is more significant than a name, however, are the genuine words, written in Theodosius’ journal and on Leer’s grave, calling the King “reserved, but unreservedly kind and unfailingly generous; a wise king, a dear friend, a beloved husband, and a good man.”

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Disclaimer: this post is saturated with falsehoods. Lear and Theodosius may not have been married to one another.

Lies About Books: Of the Divine

It is absolutely still August, but while that lasts, it’s time for another round of Lies About Books, in which I provide absolutely insupportable falsehoods about a genuine book that I actually enjoyed this month! And in August, which is the month that it currently still is, I had the immense pleasure of reading Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ latest novel, Of the Divine.

Of the Divine chronicles the journey of Naples, a gourmet chef named for the town in which he has lived all his life. Naples has always known that he was born to bake great things. But when exotic travellers visit Naples – the city and the man – with stories and legends of delicacies that are truly divine, he is no longer satisfied with cooking truly excellent creme brulees and cherries jubilee.

No, Naples decides that he cannot rest until he can prepare the very food of the gods. He sets out on a journey to find the mystic and possibly dangerous ingredients to produce genuine ambrosia. But what he finds may rock the foundations of the entire cooking world… Are he and his fellow chefs ready for these revelations?

Of the Divine is a captivating story of cookery, herblore, and the human condition. Heartwarming to the very end, and jam-packed with recipes that will make your mouth water, this book is a true gem. I would recommend it to any fans of desserts, cataclysmic changes, and/or poor life decisions.

We Didn’t Start The Fire

Hello and welcome back to yet another week of fabulous fibs, fantastic fictions, and fortuitous fabrications, here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by my insectoid friend Scarab, who asked:

Why DO people get upset when I light more than just their pain on fire? I feel Factually Deficient should handle this.

It is necessary at this juncture to remind Scarab that, as Factually Deficient has previously established, any fire is what occurs when the element known as phlogiston is set to burning.

All individuals – living or otherwise, plant or rock, animal or mold – contain a set amount of phlogiston, which must last them for the entirety of their existence. This is why candles and matches will eventually “burn out,” their flames sputtering, unable to be re-ignited – because that particular candle or match is completely out of phlogiston to burn.

When you set something on fire, you are using up a part of its finite supply of phlogiston. This is all very well when the item in question belongs to you; when it is someone else’s, it is an entirely different matter. You may think that you are doing them a favour, but the depletion of someone else’s phlogiston should always be preceded by consent.

Consider: what if that person had been saving that object’s phlogiston for a cold or rainy day? What if they had been planning to use its phlogiston for a barbeque, or a bonfire? What if the person ultimately freezes to death, succumbing to hypothermia specifically because they lacked that extra bit of phlogiston which should otherwise have been available to them?

The depletion of non-renewable resources is no laughing matter; please treat your phlogiston and other’s with care, and only light on fire that phlogiston which will not be missed.

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Disclaimer: Factually Deficient is deficient in real facts. Phlogiston is not as ubiquitous as this post may lead you to believe.

Total Eclipse

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient, where we regularly obscure the truth in its entirety with an overlay of lies and falsehoods! This week, I will answer a question posed to Factually Deficient by the one and only Krika. Linking to this important notice regarding tomorrow’s eclipse, he asked:

So what’s your take on all this?

Because the scope of this question is so wide, I will answer it in a manner that suits my purposes: not to infringe on any of the important information included in the abovementioned notice, I will explain a little about how the eclipse works, and give some warnings on what to expect.

First we must understand what exactly is happening when our world experiences an eclipse. It is a common misconception that an eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the sun in their respective orbits of the earth. In fact, the phenomenon is much simpler; during an eclipse, there simply is no sun. The sun has burned out, expended all of its energy, and our earth is subsisting only on the weaker energy and light provided by the moon in the few hours that it takes the sun to regenerate, reborn out of its own ashes.

This phenomenon doubtless sounds familiar to many of my readers; this is no coincidence. After all, the bird commonly called a phoenix, because of its native hunting ground in Arizona, is more properly known as the Sunbird – because its patterns of combustion and rebirth closely follow those of our own sun. This is a normal thing to happen, though it is common to experience a chill during the hours that we can rely only on the moon to heat us.

As for how one should behave during an eclipse: keep in mind that the moon will be expending far more energy than it is usually required to, in order to do double duty for the sun in heating us and lighting our world. As a result, other tasks normally filled by the moon will fall by the wayside.

There will be no tides during the time of a solar eclipse. During these hours, all the waters of the oceans will vanish entirely. Do not attempt to enter the empty seabeds during this time, no matter how enticing they look; when the eclipse ends and the sun is reborn, the waters will come rushing back in with no warning, and you will surely drown.

The moon is also normally responsible for governing the months. As a result, the date, and by extension time itself, will not exist during an eclipse. Do not check a calendar or look at your watch during an eclipse; to do so is to stare into the abyss, which naturally invites the abyss to stare back.

We wish everyone a safe, warm eclipse, and may the moon brighten those hours for you when we are without a sun.

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Disclaimer: this post is composed of lies, but the eclipse is real! Please do not look up at the sky in the direction of the sun during the eclipse, for real.

The Building of Worlds

Hello and welcome to another week of sincere insincerity here at Factually Deficient, where you get all the dishonesty of lies with none of the betrayal of being deceived! As always, I remind my readers that I take questions on any topic imaginable, at any time of the day or night, through any method of communication imaginable, except scorpion. Your scorpions will be returned unread.

This week, I will answer the scorpion-free question posed by one Endless Sea, who asked:

WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD AT WORLDBUILDING

We deliberated long and hard about answering this question, because it requires revealing certain secrets of the inner workings of Factually Deficient’s organization. Ultimately, cooler heads, and liar’s integrity, prevailed, allowing us to bring you this answer tonight.

The building of worlds is not hard, if one knows how to do it. True, it can only be done at the dark of the moon. But the moon is dark at least once a month. And true, it can only be done within seven hours of consuming soup. But soup – soup is easily procured at any time of month or year.

However, Endless did not ask how it is that we build worlds. Mr. Sea asked why it is that we excel at it. And we freely admit, those in the upper echelons of Factually Deficient worried and wondered as to how it is that Endless Sea, who has never once flooded our private Factually Deficient offices, knows about the dozen or more planets that we secretly created by the dark of the moon, the taste of corn chowder still on our lips and fully-cooked steaks hanging heavy in our pockets.

But it does not matter how he knows. What matters is that yes, Factually Deficient is incredibly skilled at constructing these celestial bodies, so much so that it seems to happen almost by accident, that planets pile up in our back room until we are forced to rent a storage unit to keep them out of harm’s way.

But we excel at it due to the nature of what we are: liars, and professional ones at that. Lies weaken the boundaries between worlds. They fill the aether with vital energy, and make it easier, given the other necessary conditions, for a new world to come into being. The more lies one tells, the weaker those boundaries, the more energy there is, the easier it becomes to create and imbue a new world, until one is churning them out each month without a thought. Liars beget worlds, which in turn will be filled with liars.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains inaccuracies. Neither soup nor steak assist in the worldbuilding process.