Lies About Books: Beanstalk

The summer is Most Definitely Not Over, but July basically is, which means it’s that time again – time for me to tell bald-faced lies about a book I genuinely enjoyed! In the month of July, it was my supreme pleasure to read the novel Beanstalk, by E. Jade Lomax, first book in her Leagues and Legends trilogy.

Beanstalk follows the life of one Jack Farris, budding botanist. Since he was first able to reach for a spade, Jack has been addicted to gardening. He grew potatoes before he said his first word. He was picking berries before he could walk. By the time he was fourteen, he was known to grow the best tomatoes in the district.

But Jack’s one failing, his greatest regret, is his inability to grow beans. He has tried everything; he has planted beans, grafted snippings; he has tried to grow them in new earth, old earth, in a greenhouse, in water, in flowerpots – nothing works.

So finally, he gathers up his watering can, a pouch full of assorted seeds and a backpack filled with earth, and a pair of gardening gloves, and he sets out on a quest to learn how to grow a beanstalk, or die trying. This is the story of Beanstalk.

Filled to the brim with gardening tips and recipes that use home-grown vegetables, Beanstalk is sweet and funny, by turns lighthearted and suspenseful, rich with Jack’s special brand of earthy wit and wisdom. I recommend this book wholeheartedly and without reservation, to all fans of all ages of the plant kingdom, adventures, and friendship.

 

The Language of Lamour

Hello and welcome to another wild week of wacky lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a language question posed by the incredible individual known as Tohrinha. Tohrinha asked:

What does it mean to be the language of l’amour?

Well may Tohrinha ask about the language of l’amour. This is a long sought-after language, one whose identity and origins have been clouded by language itself.

What is the language of l’amour? First of all, the apostrophe does not belong in the phrase; it was added, in the last seventy years, out of a misplaced belief that the language had Gallic origins. Before the inaccurate apostrophe, it was the language of Lamour. But even this was not the original incarnation of the tongue. Lamour is actually a corruption of Larmor, which itself derives originally from either Lumber or Armoire.

While the Plant Kingdom is a diverse realm which hosts many different dialects and languages, there is one which only the most advanced of botanists sought to learn. It was whispered of, in the dank corners of underground greenhouses, that there were some trees which continued to think even after they were cut down, and proved their sentience through language. Rebel botanists passed secret messages about this language, that only the wisest of plants developed, and only the most daring of men could begin to master: the language of lumber, the language of the armoire.

It is unknown which was the original source for the language: whether these brave botanists spoke in general of the tongue used by lumber that had been chopped, or whether they rightly revered the antique armoire who was recorded as the first known speaker of this language. But either way, three things are certain: first, that no one has heard it spoken and understood it in over six hundred years; second, that any botanist who can hear and learn this language spoken in the wild would be esteemed above all others; and finally, that the Language of Lamour is the most exalted of all possible languages.

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Disclaimer: the above post is a pack of lies. There is no reason to believe that armoires originated a language of any kind.

Going Bananas

Hello and welcome to another week of laid-back lies and feel-good fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will be answering a question posed to Factually Deficient by my very own, very existent mother. She asked:

Why are bananas yellow?

My mother is actually begging the question here – that is, she is practically begging me to respond to her question with another question. Namely: are bananas even really yellow?

In fact, my mother (and undoubtedly many others like her) is labouring under a common misapprehension; bananas are not yellow at all. I can, however, help to elucidate the phenomenon which leads to them appearing to be so.

We have already established here on Factually Deficient that the default colour of all things is blue. This holds true for bananas as well, which, in their natural state, are as blue as an asphyxiated blueberry.

However, bananas are known to contain high amounts of potassium. Potassium, among its many odd and variegated traits, causes an inexplicable phenomenon of leaching the colour green out of anything it comes in contact with. Now, as we know, green is the gift given by the colour Yellow to the colour Blue. Or, to phrase it as an equation:

Blue + Yellow = Green

Since all equations are commutative, we can rearrange this statement to show what happens when the green is leached – say, by potassium – out of something blue:

Blue – Green = – Yellow

You will note that in order to shift the Yellow to the other side of the equation, it becomes negative. However, since colours, like square roots, are obviously resources which cannot exist in negative quantities, we can safely ignore the minus sign. In other words, our equation means that when potassium leaches the green out of a naturally-blue banana, the fruit appears to be yellow.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains falsehoods. Potassium is not known to leach the colour green out of everything it touches.

 

Lamarckian Genetics

Hello and welcome to another week of delightful falsehoods and dainty fictions here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by Dolores Fawn. Dolores asked:

Who came up with Lamarckian genetics? He sounds like a total quack.

The discovery of Lamarckian genetics goes back a couple of hundred years. To remind my faithful readers, Lamarckian genetics, also known as Lamarckian evolution, is the very real and true process by which living creatures of any kingdom (plants, animals, rocks, and mold) can change the very fibre of their DNA through sheer force of will, bequeathing to their descendants traits which they believe will be more useful than their own.

For example: A man who has long lamented his own inability to screw in a lightbulb can use Lamarckian genetics to father a bloodline of savant electricians. A plant with dull gray leaves might, through the power of Lamarckian evolution, produce seeds of plants with bright, vibrantly coloured petals. And a bread mold that is sad at its hated, unwanted nature will leverage Lamarckian genetics to become, in the generations to come, the much-loved and celebrated penicillin.

The name of Lamarckian genetics hints at its discoverer. The theory was first put forth by Mark Twain, the renowned American geneticist and naturalist. It was his dearest wish to have his name in the term. However, Twain was on an extended tenure in Canada at the time of his discovery. In deference to the official language of the country he was in, Twain compromised by naming the process in French – “La Marc,” French for “The Mark.” “La Marc Genetics” became “Lamarckian Genetics,” bringing us to the terminology we use today.

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Disclaimer: this blog post contains some false information. Evolution requires more than sheer force of will.

Ronald Reagan

Hello and welcome to another week of calumnies and slander here at Factually Deficient! I would like to take this opportunity to remind my loyal readers that Factually Deficient is always accepting new questions, on any topic, through any medium. This week, I will answer a question posed by SignBeetle. To paraphrase the Beetle’s exact words, she asked:

What is happening? Why is Ronald Reagan 100 years old and in Canada? What the hell is going on?

Ronald Reagan was a famed botanist in the United States in the early sixteenth century. Although his beginnings were meagre, his renown soon spread throughout the land. The son of an ornithological landscaper, Reagan soon made a name for himself by discovering the seven uses of lily pads.

Once he was well-known in the lily world, Ronald Reagan continued to rise in the realm of botany. He invented at least four new kinds of vegetable, and learned the language used in private communications between berries. Such was his fame, and his expertise, that he was named Ambassador to the Plant Kingdom before the age of fifty.

Ronald Reagan spent many successful years as the American Plant Ambassador, even becoming a close personal friend of the Plant King – no easy task for anyone, let alone a foreign diplomat. Alas, when his mandate finally ended, he found the America to which he returned much changed from the place he had left. No longer were the vegetables he had invented common fare. No longer did he have a standing invitation to the private dinner parties of berries. And in the circles of America’s elite, it had fallen out of fashion to be able to identify every houseplant by scientific and personal name.

He felt out of place. Unwanted. So Ronald Reagan let himself disappear from the botanical America of his youth, and made his way to Canada to live out his obscurity in peace, where he could indulge his botanical enthusiasms without any of the scrutiny that is focused on an ex-ambassador. There he attained the age of one hundred, and there he remains still, frozen eternally at one hundred years old in the heart of a sugar maple where he made his home.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains inaccuracies. Ronald Reagan may not have been the first to discover the uses of lily pads.

Briar Roses

Hello and welcome back to another week of perfidy and prevarication here at Factually Deficient! Before I embark on answering this week’s question, I would like to take a moment to implore my loyal readers to continue to send me your queries, questions, and quiddities to answer here on this blog! Only with the questions submitted by my readers – on any topic that strikes your fancy, animal vegetable, or mineral; and submitted through any method known to man – can I continue to tell the lies that sustain my livelihood.

And now, with no further ado, I will answer a question posed to this blog by loyal reader Endless Sea. This question pertains to information previously divulged here regarding the flower the aurora; in response to Factually Deficient’s explanation of how this flower takes root, Endless asked of the aurora:

Wait, if they have to be planted, then how do they reproduce in the wild?

In truth, perhaps the Factually Deficient writer from that week misspoke in saying that the flowers must be planted; the seeds of the aurora are distributed in the wild like any other flower. The question is only whether they will germinate: this happens only when the seeds were scattered, whether by human hand or natural forces, at the proper time.

In fact, much more interesting to answer is how these flowers function when not in the wild – because as suggested in that post, they are much more commonly found in their natural habitat than in captivity. To keep an aurora in a private garden is impossible; and even to preserve one in a greenhouse requires a great deal of effort and special equipment.

Because of the flowers’ propensity toward darkness, the greenhouse that houses an aurora must be a strange one. Built rather to keep light and heat out than to let it in, an aurora greenhouse is carefully climate-controlled, preserving temperatures between negative fifteen and five degrees Celsius. The windows of an aurora greenhouse are fitted with slats, blocking out all natural light during the day, and opening only at nighttime to let in the glow from the moon and the stars.

But even all this is not enough for an aurora to flourish in captivity. A temperamental flower at the best of times, the briar rose does not do well under controlled conditions. If the gardener is not careful, all the plant will produce will be extra-sharp and extra-long brambles, with not a single flower to reward his pains.

Only a gardener who truly loves his vocation – and who truly loves and prizes this plant above all others – will merit to see the aurora bloom in his dark greenhouse. When all the other conditions are right, the plant will put out a single closed bud. Botanists from all walks of life have confirmed that this bud will remain eternally closed, sleeping, unless one final condition is filled: the gardener must brave the briars to brush his or her lips and breath across the seam of the closed bud, for the flower itself to judge its keeper’s worth. Only the kiss of a gardener’s true love will wake the aurora up.

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Disclaimer: The above post contains factual inaccuracies. Do not kiss your plants.

Trees and Rocks

Hello and welcome to another week of statistics, also known as lies or damned lies, here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed to us by Tohrinha. Tohrinha asked:

Why does this tree look like a pile of rocks?

Because it is difficult for me to see the tree at which Tohrinha is pointing, I will have to answer this question in general terms, rather than in the specific.

My faithful readers may recall that we have discussed in the past hybrids between the plant and animal kingdoms. Just as there can be a cross between the prolific plant kingdom and the animal kingdom, so, too, will plants on occasion interbreed with members of the animal kingdom.

Naturally, such cross-kingdom interminglings can only take place under very specific circumstances. The rock in such a union must absolutely be an igneous rock; sedimentary rocks are too temperamental to have compatibility with a sedate plant. The plant, in turn, must be of a type accustomed to growing with very little water; most often a cactus.

These passions are nothing if not short-lived; plants and rocks were never meant to live together. And the products of such unions are often thought of as no less monstrous than those that result from the joining of animal and plant. Too verdant for the rock world to accept as their own, these half-tree, half-rock children will never be full citizens of the plant kingdom, not when their mixed heritage shows so plainly. They occupy a nebulous middle territory, confusing passersby and silently mourning their loneliness, as trees that look like rocks and rocks that look like trees.

And so, Tohrinha – and all my other readers – you know now why this tree you see looks so much like a pile of rocks. But perhaps, the next time you see it, you will show it some kindness, despite its untoward visage.

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Disclaimer: the above post is entirely false. Trees and rocks can coexist.

Snattlerake

Hello and welcome back to another week of tricky half-truths and duplicitous deceit here at Factually Deficient. This week, I will answer a question posed by Tohrinha’s brother (or on his behalf, by Tohrinha – it is difficult to tell who was truly using the twitter account at that moment):

Question from my brother: what’s a snattlerake?

Well may you ask, young man, about the famed snattlerake. The simple answer is that the snattlerake is, as its name suggests, a type of rake, a tool often used by rebel botanists.

Its history, however, is much darker than most gardening implements.

Originally, all botanists could be said to fall into two camps: those who worked with the Plant Kingdom to better understand it (many of whom were, in their later years, declared to be honorary citizens of the Plant Kingdom), and those who saw themselves as conquerors, ready to stake a claim to the Plant Kingdom and to make it their very own. This latter group wanted nothing more than to subjugate the innocent and noble plants who made up the Plant King’s dominion, and would stop at nothing to achieve their ends.

The snattlerake, once a weapon so feared that mere possession of it was deemed a war crime, has fallen out of botanical fashion in latter decades. Once, though, it was the prime weapon of these darkest of botanists, in their darkest of years. Where normal rakes merely push plant material around, the snattlerake ensnares it, reaching out teeth and claws to gouge into any plant it touches as it drives the plant to and fro, making anything green helpless to fight against it.

Rebel botanists armed with snattlerakes would march out to war against ranks of plants, clashing in the front ranks against the most carnivorous of carnivorous plants and the most poisonous of poisonous berries. Those bloody years were long and painful, and saw an end only when the snattlerake was forcibly retired by the governing bodies of both sides.

It has kept its status, barely, as a rake, but it is a rake of the foulest order, and no self-respecting botanist would dare to use it in anything but a history lesson today.

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Disclaimer: the above post is composed of absurdities and falsehoods. There are no known bloody wars between botanists and plants.

Professional Lying

Hello and welcome to yet another late night of lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I’d like to answer a personal question, rather than our typical history or science questions, which was posed to me by SignBeetle on twitter. The beetle asked:

What does it take to become a professional liar such as yourself? Are there courses?

It is admirable of SignBeetle to wish to aspire to this most noble of professions. However, I should warn her – and all other hopeful liars out there – that it is not an easy path to take.

There are indeed courses for becoming a professional liar, obstacle courses of the most challenging magnitude, the most baffling difficulty, the most wearying length. To traverse these courses is not for the faint of heart; one must be willing to slog for weeks through mud wearing only one shoe, to swim through a pet-filled shopping mall, to spend a year or more addressing others only in the first person. These are but the first of thousands of obstacles in the courses of the liars – as to the rest, we have all been sworn to secrecy.

But becoming a professional liar is not as simple (in word, though far from it in act) as to successfully complete the obstacle courses of liardom. Once that is done, a vast ocean of bureaucracy yet yawns before you. If you truly wish to become a liar in the professional spheres, you must complete forms in triplicate, detailing every lie you have told in the past fifteen years, its audience (with phone numbers so that the lies can be verified), and its goal. You must sign on the dotted line no less than one thousand and fourteen times, affirming that you take full responsibilities for your lies and for the beliefs that they lead people towards, and vowing never to let the truth again cross your lips in a professional capacity. You must have these forms witnessed by members of no less than three scientific fields and four other disciplines, and character references of at least two pages written up by someone who is neither a relative, nor an educator, nor a liar. Lastly, you must take this figurative mountain of paperwork up a literal mountain of rock and burn it all, and scatter the ashes of your paperwork to the four winds so that your lies can reach around the world.

And still you are not there. Once the ashes of the paperwork have been delivered, the hopeful liar must spend another decade at least studying. Study all manner of things; breadth of knowledge is key here. Study botany, and rebel geology, and historical etymology. Study robotics, and forensic ichthyology, and geographical history. Study literature. Only when you have learned every truth there is to know will you be fully prepared to avoid all those potential pitfalls in speaking your lies. Only then can you become a true Professional Liar.

I cannot pretend that this path is for everyone. It is not an easy path, nor will it give you peace of mind. Professional Liars are occasionally sought after, but more frequently they are regarded with suspicion, hunted through forests and exiled from towns. It is said that it takes courage to speak truth to power; how much more courage, then, does it take to speak lies? One cannot estimate it high enough. For the noble few who insist on following these directions and pursuing the thankless, lonely life of the liar, I praise you, and I wish you safety and success. For those who may be rethinking this choice, I beg you to know that there is no shame in turning away. Be a geologist. Be a botanist. Be a marine biologist. There are easier ways than that of the professional liar to keep hope alive in this world.

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Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. No professional liars were harmed in the writing of this post.

Lies About Books: Animal Farm

Now that November is almost definitely over, it is time for another completely inaccurate Lies About Books Review! In the month of November, I re-read parts of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm.

Animal Farm is a curious postmodernist work. Unsatisfied with typical agricultural practices, the farmer Mr. Jones decides to plant the very animals of his farm, and grow crops of them instead of corn or wheat.

Buried up to their necks in earth and watered every day, the animals follow the principles of Lamarckian evolution and develop photosynthesis as quickly as they can, in order to survive. Soon Jones’ farm – dubbed “Animal Farm” for the unconventional fruit it bears – becomes renowned world over, and biologists, botanists, and evolutionary theorists alike all come to view his success and learn how to replicate it.

This is quite enough complexity already for an interesting novel, but Orwell adds that the book was intended as an allegory for constitutional monarchy: after all, is the true feat with Jones, who only leads and waters, or with the animals who serve him, who did all the evolutionary work of spontaneously generating chloroplasts?

Animal Farm is notable for originating the now-popular phrases “Mitochondria good, chloroplasts better!” and “All animals are plantlike, but some animals are more plantlike than others.”

Although odd in parts, Animal Farm is, overall, an enjoyable and informative work. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Lamarck, talking animals, or powerful political allegories.