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.

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

Copy Wrong

Hello and welcome to another rollicking week of unleavened lies and flat fabrications here at Factually Deficient! As always, everyone is welcome to send questions on any topic to Factually Deficient, through any means or medium available to you, at any hour of the day or night – no lie is too large! This week, I will answer a question posed to Factually Deficient by my very own, very real mother. She asked:

Why is there no copyright on book titles?

The lack of copyright on book titles is a state of affairs which has surprised and even appalled many. However, it stems from a whole slew of reasons – each one more reasonable than the last.

The first reason for why there is no copyright on book titles is a fairly simple one. In the recent past – exactly two hundred and sixty-two years ago – there was indeed copyright on book titles. However, this soon proved disastrous in all spheres academic and critical. Students and scholars alike were repeatedly and frequently forced to pay prohibitive licensing fees every time they wrote the title of a work they were discussing. All scholarship threatened to grind to a halt.

To prevent the death of their fields of study, the students and scholars in question grew creative; they began to devise ingenious roundabouts, euphemisms and descriptors to allude to these titles without actually using them. However, the number of words used in these roundabout descriptors soon began to rival, then equal, then exceed the number of remaining words in their scholarly essays – and still the uninitiated would have not the faintest idea which word was under discussion. The problem had gotten out of hand.

Still, this alone would not have been enough to abolish copyright on book titles – were it not for the last reason which coincided with it. Exactly two hundred and sixty-two years ago, publishers the world over decided to move on from the outmoded business model in which authors would be permitted to determine the titles of their own books.

Instead, a far more efficient method presented itself: there had been built a great computer, with the dedicated purpose of combining words, names, and phonemes at random to create book titles. This computer was set to spit out a new book title every seventeen minutes and seventeen seconds, and it was determined that each new book to be published would take its place in a universal queue and be given, with no argument or subjectivity, the next title to be spit out by the computer.

This ensured that each book’s title would be unique, arbitrary, and appropriate to its subject matter. However, it also meant that no creativity whatsoever had gone into the creation of the book’s title – and, in fact, no human mind had laboured over it. With no living person to deserve the credit for a book’s title, all necessity for copyright on book titles was eliminated.

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Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. Not all book titles are determined by computer.

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.

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

 

Most Common Character

Hello and welcome back to another week of deception and manipulation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by our star commenter, Tohrinha. Tohrinha asked:

What is the most common character in the English language?

The answer to this question will be enlightening and of interest to both native speakers and newcomers to the English language, shedding light on the very nature of this tongue. And fortunately, Tohrinha has come to the right place.

The Factually Deficient team has spent over two decades conducting intense research on the nature and properties of the English language, leading me to be able to say with absolute certainty that – while results may vary in different languages – the most common character in the English language is Fred.

Fred has a slight moustache – nothing substantial, hardly more than a shadow over his lip, but enough that he has not kissed his wife in years because she does not like the scratching sensation.

In truth, he never even had a wife.

Fred’s hair is mousy. There are actual mice living in it. They have a den behind his ear.

A bicycle repairmen by trade, Fred has found business to be disconcertingly sparse of late. He hasn’t told his boyfriend that he’s been supplementing his income with a life of small crime, breaking into other people’s stories to steal what won’t be missed. There is a lot of pressure on him, as a transdimensional petty thief, but the hair-mice must be fed. Their young ones are hungry.

Fred has a lot of blood, but if it could be traced, though you went back a thousand generations, you would find pedigree no higher than the fourth-cousin twice removed of an uncle-by-marriage’s great-great-aunt’s grandmother, who was mayor of a village for two days before being impeached on suspicion of embezzlement. Fred still has that cousin’s mayoral badge of office, the pride and joy of the family, preserved in a tank of dry ice.

He is the most common character in the English language.

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Disclaimer: the above blog post is a work of fiction. No freds were harmed in the writing of these lies.

Lies About Books: To Kill A Mockingbird

It has come to my attention that it is currently the month of February, which means that it’s time for another delightfully inaccurate book review! This month, I’d like to talk to you about Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird.

To Kill A Mockingbird follows the adventures of young Scout, her brother, and their neighbour over the course of one summer in their childhood. Left to their own devices for long stretches of time, they make their own entertainment by teaching themselves how to hunt and shoot.

Soon, their self-taught skills gain them acceptance and “adoption” by the local Hunting Club, composed otherwise of middle-aged men. Scout’s precocious observations and keen trigger finger make her a favourite at the Club, as she quickly moves from clay pigeons to real ones, then to bringing down larger game such as hawks, falcons, and even a penguin.

The final test to become a full member of the Hunting Club is to bag a mockingbird, and Scout is determined to be the youngest person ever to reach this accomplishment. But when she and her friends find that the bird’s words are not merely the sign of a good mimic, but evidence that it thinks and feels in its own right, all her beliefs are called into question. She no longer is certain of the right thing to do. Will Scout ultimately bring herself to kill the mockingbird?

To Kill a Mockingbird is a scintillating look into the human psyche, with plenty to delight and captivate the ornithologists among us. I recommend this book to anyone interested in legal procedurals, moral dilemmae, and hunting.

The Truth of Televisions

Hello and welcome back to another week of pure prevarication here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a science question posed by an individual known as Genndy Oda. Genndy asked:

How do televisions work?

Televisions are a complex technological setup whereby people can view various historical records and “fiction” shows play across a screen, frequently in the comfort of their own homes. But how do these devices work?

The word “television” is a compound word, made up of the roots “tele,” meaning psychic, and “vision,” meaning vision. Thus, on a bare, etymological level, televisions are devices which enable something referred to as “psychic vision.”

Televisions, not being a living organism like the internet, need some sort of efficient way of transmitting information from point A – the television network’s headquarters – to millions of point Bs – people’s homes. How do they do this? In the early 1920s, after pneumatic tubes had failed to transmit television shows without lengthy buffering periods, networks began to experiment with piggypacking on preexisting neural pathways in order to broadcast their shows.

In most television networks, while the shows are filmed for posterity, backup purposes, and DVD creation, the primary method of transmission is human, not machine. The network’s dedicated transmitter – larger networks will have a team of transmitters, for greater bandwidth – will watch the actors perform intently, focusing all mental power on storing and sharing what they see and hear.

With these transmitters to boost the signal directly to the television machines, television networks are able to broadcast their shows to their viewers’ minds. The “psychic screen” of the television is just that – while nothing is actually visually displayed on the screen, the presence of the screen assists viewers in forming their own psychic connection to the networks’ transmitters, thus experiencing the entire show as if they were viewing it themselves.

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Disclaimer: This blog post is largely false, and composed of untrue assertions. Many television networks do not rely on psychic power to broadcast their programs.

Lies About Books: You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)

Hello, my dear readers of Factually Deficient! Sunny September is here again, and that means it’s time for another wholly unreliable book review! This past month, I had the pleasure of not only reading Felicia Day‘s You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) but also of meeting the incredible writer herself! She is amazing and it was a wonderful experience but I can say no more about that because none of this is lies.

On with the lies!

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a novel written entirely in the second person, with a fictionalized version of Felicia Day, the narrator, occasionally appearing as a first-person peripheral character. This work of experimental fiction is written like a love letter to the eponymous “you,” describing “your” mottled history of crazed messages by carrier pigeon, paranoid telegrams, and freaky faxes, before “you” found a happy medium when sending messages over the internet.

The book details the growth in grace and decrease in awkwardness as “you” develop your social media profiles–but is this new medium for communication doomed to failure and oddity as all the others? Only time, and Felicia Day’s witty, heartfelt prose, will tell.

The conversational, by turns touching and funny narrative voice easily accustoms readers to the otherwise-jarring novelty of the second-person usage in the novel. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a coming-of-age story–for all of us. I would recommend it to all fans of unusual grammatical construction, genuinely relateable narrators, and Photoshop.

Lies About Books: The Raven Boys

As August begins and the dying embers of what once was summer continue to crumble around us, it’s time for another inaccurate book review! During the month of July, I read the book¬†The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater.

The Raven Boys centres around four ravens, brothers, who live with their flock in the southern United States. Fascinated by a nearby town (and particularly by a human girl who lives there), the birds trade their wingfeathers for the ability to assume human form, and enter the town as teenaged boys.

Armed only with a handful of jet-black feathers, the ability to communicate with animals, and a penchant for collecting shiny things, the raven boys soon find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of intrigue and mysteries. It seems like everything they ever dreamed of in being human-shaped–but when death comes to town, the brothers begin to wonder if they will all survive the adventure. And if they do, will it ever be enough to compensate for losing the power of flight?

The Raven Boys is by turns touching and terrifying; fast-paced, funny, and full of surprises. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Celtic lore, members of the corvid family, or shiny objects.

Lies About Books: Pride and Prejudice

For this month’s Lies About Books feature, in honour of Canada Day, I’ve chosen a book which not only have I recently finished reading this month but which also is particularly Canadian in content: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Pride Montcalm originally came to New France under the Filles du Roi program, but she quickly rose to prominence in the colony for her military prowess. Meanwhile, in nearby British North America, Prejudice Wolfe is a young woman celebrated for her strategic genius.

The two meet by chance, and despite their disparate backgrounds, fall madly in love. But their tumult of heated emotions quickly becomes a sinking feeling as each discovers who the other is, and realizes that they lead armies which are destined to meet each other soon on the battlefield of the Plains of Abraham. They love each other, but they also love their countries.

Can Pride and Prejudice use their love to unite their peoples before they–and the tender feelings they share–are lost forever in the carnage?

Set against the backdrop of possibly the biggest turning point in Canadian history, the little anachronisms of Pride and Prejudice are easily forgiven as Austen expertly weaves together elements of Canadian history with her heartbreakingly accurate knowledge of the human psyche in this historical lesbian romance.

I would recommend Pride and Prejudice to any fans of British inheritance law, romance, or Canadian history.

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.

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