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.


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.


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

Lies vs. Fiction

Hello and welcome to another week of regularly-scheduled lies here at Factually Deficient! Please remember that you can send us questions to answer with lies at any time of the day or night, awake or asleep, through any method of communication known to human- or plant-kind. This week, we will answer a question posed by an individual¬† using the name “Alsworth.” Alsworth asked:

What’s the technical difference between a lie and a fiction?

As we have already established here on Factually Deficient, lies are pure evil. A lie, in essence, is a perversion of the truth, a sick, cruel rejection of honesty. Lies have no redeeming qualities.

Fictions, however, are another matter entirely. On the surface, they seem to be yet another set of vile, pernicious lies. Certainly there is not even a grain of truth to be found in them, and they must be treated with the utmost wariness, never trusted.

However, there is an important distinction. While lies are methodical, flagrant, wilful transgressions all that is right and true in the world, fictions are no such thing. Liars are evil people who set out to deceive; not so fiction writers.

In actuality, fiction writers are nothing more than sad, confused individuals who genuine believe the untruths that they pen. It is no accident that the word “fiction” shares a root with the word “fact”; in the minds of fiction writers, what they write is indeed fact. It is no fault of their own that they are wildly deluded. They are more to be pitied than to be censured.

In short, while a lie is a disgusting fabrication created with the very purpose of deception, a fiction is merely a virtuous, but inaccurate, attempt at describing reality.


Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. Reader discretion is advised.

The Evil of Books

Hello and welcome to another week of unreliable claims and outright misinformation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will be answering a question posed by a genuine librarian, the learned Amber Alice. Amber asked:

Are books evil?

Now, the simple answer to this question is yes, of course they are; all deception in general and fiction books in particular are wholly evil, as previously established here on Factually Deficient.

But the more interesting answer here is what is it that makes these fiction books so evil – because it is not just the deceptions contained within their pages that has so blackened their paper souls. No, these books have taken action on their own to ensure their place on the annals of the most infamous, the most notorious.

Books watch, you see. As you read their pages, staring into them, the gesture is reciprocal; so long as the book is open, it is examining you, eyeing your surroundings, keeping track of your comings and goings and the whereabouts of your possessions and companions.

They strike when you are out, when you are no longer watching them. Small things only: they’ll rearrange the items on your desk so that you cannot find your pen. They’ll disgorge your bookmark, silently laughing when you read the same twenty pages over again. They’ll tip over a glass of water right onto prized paperwork or electronics. And then they’ll return to – not quite where you left them; close enough that you will not suspect foul play, but far enough that you will begin to question your own memory and sanity.

Books are evil – not for what they contain, but for the mischief and the mayhem that they choose to perpetrate.


The above post is a work of fiction. It cannot be trusted.



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.


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


Hello and welcome back to another week of shameless deception and outright lying here at Factually Deficient! A reminder: readers are welcome at any time to send me questions; I guarantee that, eventually, I will answer each one, totally untruthfully. This week, I chose to answer a question submitted by an individual known as Tohrinha. Tohrinha asked:

What is whispering?

Tohrinha’s question is a piercing one. After all, as we all know, whispering is a soft, quiet sound, a stirring, sibilant sussuration that can carry secrets and songs – intelligible language. A sound too low to be pronounced by human voices. Humans cannot make the sound of whispering – but we can hear it. And hear it we do. And we wonder – as Tohrinha does – what it is that whispers to us, in the dark of the night.

It is said that when the Plant King first ascended his throne, he cast judgements upon all those in his kingdom. Those who were irredeemable, he destroyed; those who were unequivocably meritorious, he rewarded. But for those in between – those plants who had done deeds of both good and evil, the slates of whose lives were a cloudy grey – those were given a justice more complex, in fitting with their situations.

It is said that the ivies and the clematis had set up waystations to ambush travellers, and so the Plant King cast them out, forced them into an endless wandering through which they creep to this very day.

It is said that the spider plants would band together, forming thick ropes with which to bind hostages and hold them for ransom, and so the Plant King dispersed them, splitting each plant into dozens or hundreds of thin strands that could not be reunited.

It is said that the thistle grew itself into towering spikes, to fight and torment all who came near it, and so the Plant King cut it down, reduced its height, decreed that it would forever be nothing but a common covering for the ground, to be trampled on and ignored.

And it is said that these in-between plants, who were neither fully evil nor truly good, upon receiving their punishments, began to wail and shriek at what was done to them, crying out in such harsh tones that all their hearers’ ears began to bleed. And the Plant King would not have that, so he took from them their voices.

Feeling this burden to be worse than the last, and harder to bear, the plants wept, silently. They pleaded with soulful eyes at the Plant King to lift their silence, promising good behaviour in surety. He could not trust them yet, but he pitied them in this state, and so he granted them a compromise: not their voices, but an intermediate state, a half-voice, a nothing that could carry their words. A whisper.

And so it has been since those days, if that is truly how it happened then. The punished plants, to this day, whisper their mournful moans to all who can hear, haunting our ears as they bemoan their fate and declare their sentence rightfully served. Who is whispering, Tohrinha? The dregs of the plant world whisper to us. Listen closely, and you will hear their call.


Disclaimer: This blog post is almost entirely false. Not all whispers are made by plants.

Got Any Nails?

Hello, and welcome to another week of delightful duplicity here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed to the general public by my friend Kays. Kays asked:

All my nails on my left hand are wider than the nails on my right hand. Please explain.

With the exception of those who have two evenly-matched cans, many people have two similar, but slightly different, hands: a right hand and a left hand. These two hands, like all body parts split along the right/left divide, have certain traits that are unique to each side.

As Kays’ question regards an apparent anomaly on the left hand, that is the side we will discuss in more detail. The word for the left, deriving from Latin, is ‘sinister’. This is no accident. The left side was so named because people’s left hands, left feet, left eyes, and left kidneys occasionally grow possessed by evil. At such times, the human to whom that hand/foot/eye/kidney belongs is no longer in control of that body part.

Fortunately, evil is weak, and is never able to control these body parts for more than a few moments. Generally, all it can compel someone’s left side to do is to kick someone in the shins without cause, or to glare portentiously with the left eye. This is, in fact, where the expression “the evil eye” comes from – an eye quite literally possessed, for a few brief moments, by evil, glaring at the innocents around it.

In the case of hands, an evil-possessed left hand will occasionally attempt to grow claws, the better to attack someone during its next ephemeral moments of dominance. Evil is not very good at growing claws. Usually, all it has time to do is to broaden the base of the fingernail and lengthen it somewhat, in the hopes that the next time it takes control of that hand, it will be able to build on that foundation – unfortunately for evil, usually, by that time, the owner of the hand has clipped the nail, and the evil-possessed hand has to start almost entirely from scratch (no pun intended).

However, while length of fingernails can easily be attended to, it is much more difficult to reduce width. Thus, the broadening of Kays’ left fingernails suggests a hand that evil has attempted once or twice to gain control of.


Disclaimer: This blog post is composed of spurious lies. There is no recorded case of a left kidney being possessed by evil.

Evil Clouds

Hello and welcome back to another week of untruths and misdirection here at Factually Deficient! This week, I’d like to answer a question asked by my friend Tohrinha, one of our frequent fliers. Tohrinha asked:

Why do clouds choose evil?

First of all, I would like to note that, while we at Factually Deficient take pains to remain neutral on all matters, Tohrinha has here made a value judgement about the relative morality of clouds. Perhaps it would be more even-handed to first ask: are clouds evil?

As we learned last year, the root of all evil is the production of fiction. First we must look into whether this is an activity in which clouds engage.

Clouds, one of the lighter members of the Rock Kingdom, tend to primarily produce precipitation, in three major forms: water, fish, and small domesticated mammals. However, while those are the most common forms of precipitation, clouds will, given the right meteorological circumstances, occasionally rain down small chapbooks or mass-market paperback volumes which are, almost exclusively, works of fiction.

Tohrinha has been vindicated: clouds do, for a non-zero percentage of their time, choose the path of fiction, the path of evil. Her question, though, still remains–the question of why.

The truth is, of all the four Kingdoms of living things, the Rock Kingdom has always had the most checquered past, the greatest inclination toward wrongdoing. Perhaps their cultural history made the temptation to fiction greater for these delinquent clouds. But the problem is clearly deeper than this.

As I mentioned above, these rains of fiction only happen in very specific meteorological circumstances. Clouds have long been engaged in a war between a not insignificant group of freelance climatologists. Those in the rest of the scientific world have been able to glean only precious few of these climatologists’ well-kept secrets, and thus the details of this particular rivalry are unconfirmed. I can only offer Tohrinha–and everyone who has wondered, like her, about the wayward ways of clouds–my best guesses as to the situation.

It is clear that the clouds are not the only party at fault in this war–the question is how much of the culpability is theirs alone. In a scenario which paints the clouds as more innocent, perhaps the rogue climatologists have engineered the circumstances, all but forced the clouds to produce fiction, to what ends I know not; on the other end of the spectrum, in a scenario in which the clouds bear almost all their guilt, they have produced the fiction on their own accord, for the specific purpose of targetting and injuring the climatologists in question.

Perhaps, though, we will never know the truth behind these clouds’ intentions–unless one of us joins the climatologists undercover, in order to learn more about this war.


Disclaimer: A number of the statements in this blog post may be untrue. Many clouds do not choose evil.

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.


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: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

It’s the first of December, which means another round of making up ludicrous lies about something I’ve read. This isn’t a book I’ve read in the month of November, because I spent most of my November doing the writing thing instead of the reading thing, so instead I took a recommendation of a book to review: J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

This book tells the story of the young Harry who is, as his name suggests, learning to be a potter, crafting all manner of functional and fanciful items out of clay. Harry is an average potter and leads an average life, until one day, as he is taking a newly-made goblet out of his kiln, the fire spreads, leaping to the piece in his hand.

Harry is horrified at the lost masterpiece, naturally assuming that the fire has caused the goblet to be all burnt and cracked. But what he sees instead amazes him: the goblet is full of fire, but the goblet is not burned. And out of the fire that swirls within Harry’s own handiwork comes a voice, calling him to action, telling him of a great evil force that he must defeat.

Can Harry’s mediocre skills at pottery help him to defeat this evil once and for all? And will he become a master potter before his story ends?

Goblet of Fire, as the first book in the famed series which follows Harry the Potter, is an excellent gateway to the world, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves pottery, unsubtle Biblical allusion, and epic fantasy.