Lies About Books: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

April showers have brought us to the point of another wholly inaccurate review of a book I’ve read this month! During April, I read The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, by Benjamin Alire S√°enz.

Salvador Silva is a prodigious logician. He can logic his way out of any problem. But when a physics experiment goes wrong at the nearby quantum facility, things start happening that don’t make any sense. Time runs backward. Objects appear or disappear. Dreams and memories become tangible.

The precious logic that Salvador has clung to all his life is starting to fail him in the face of all this entropy. And yet, that very logic may be the only thing that can save them all. The question is: can Salvador get his act together in time to logic his way out of this? Or will things keep unwinding until there’s nothing left?

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life will make you laugh. It will make you cry. And it will make you believe, once and for all, that if A equals B, and B equals C, then A truly does equal C. I recommend this novel to all fans of stories about found family, existential crises, or quantum experiments gone wrong.


Lies About Books: All the Crooked Saints

As we approach another end of month which is definitely not a stressful time in any way, it is once again time for me to lie to my loyal readers about a book that I enjoyed this month.

This March, I read All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. All the Crooked Saints opens on a small, wintry, Canadian town. When a childhood snowball fight leads to unexpected disaster, Beatriz Soria sends herself down a different path in life, isolating herself from former friends and developing a fascination, which grows into a research interest and, eventually, several published books, with saints – stories of saints, hidden saints, forgotten saints.

But when an acquaintance who is intricately connected with that childhood disaster resurfaces in Beatriz’s life, now using the name Daniel Lupe and claiming to have the power to read minds, Beatriz is forced to revisit everything she left behind. Who was truly to blame for the results of that snowball fight? Why does Daniel Lupe bear an eerie resemblance to the twelfth-century forgotten saint she is currently researching? And can she ever truly escape her past?

All the Crooked Saints is a gem of a book, full of historical-religious tidbits and reflections on the Canadian countryside. I recommend it to all fans of magical realism, the power of guilt, and research projects.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.