Book Worms

Hello and welcome to another week of outright lies and flagrant inaccuracies here at Factually Deficient! I would like to take this opportunity to remind my loyal readers to be free in sending me any and all questions that strike your fancy, on every topic existing and otherwise, through any method of communication known to plantkind.

This week, I will answer a question posed by my insectoid friend Scarab, who requested:

Please tell me about magical insect infestations in the library

While Factually Deficient is officially a self-employed endeavour, there are those whom our researchers answer to, in order to maintain certain professional associations, and these powers that be would like very much to be informed as to how, Scarab, you came to know that the library is cursed.

The library has always been cursed.

Insect infestations are natural; where there is the sweet smell of ink, or pulpy paper to sink one’s teeth into, or the intoxicating lure of book glue, insects will come. In saner times, this would not be so extreme a problem.

But the library is cursed. The insect infestations take on magical proportions.

The wood lice that gnaw through the shelves sing haunting melodies in long-dead languages. Patrons come in to borrow a book and leave, unable to stop thinking of a tune that they can’t help but feel reminds them of something they have lost. They will never remember what.

The ants seem to come out of nowhere, marching in across the library’s carpet. Librarians have learned to avoid stepping on them near the books, because these ants do not die; they merely burst into flames, only for five more ants to rise from the ashes of one. Rinse and repeat.

There is a species of moth that flutters in the rafters of the library’s ceiling. Its wings are painted with words that were not found in any book, but rather stolen out of people’s memories and thoughts. They are mostly benign, the librarians think. They cannot think of anything that these moths have taken.

There are spiders in the library too, of course, because spiders will turn up wherever there are insects, but they do not catch the magical insects in their webs. Instead, they capture imaginations, spinning threads of shimmering, changing colours that reach across the children’s section. They have taken over Storytime. No one has complained.

_________________

Disclaimer: the above post contains untrue claims. Ask your local librarian for up-to-date information as to whether the library is cursed.

Lies About Books: Fire

As hordes of children take to the streets in their desperate, alliterative quests, it is once again the time of month for lies about a book I read. In the month of October, I read – among other novels – the book Fire by Kristin Cashore.

This book, a prequel to Cashore’s novel Graceling, takes place in a past distant by both time and place, in a society whose members’ names are fluid, representing the most notable thing about the person. Often their discoveries.

The eponymous Fire believes she has invented something that will change the nature of their civilization forever. No more will they eat their food raw. No longer will they slowly die of cold in the winter. Her innovation, her genius of discovery, has the power to overturn and improve every aspect of their lives.

But when a fire rips through several huts in the village, killing their inhabitants, suspicious eyes turn back to Fire, the originator of it all. Will her invention last to revolutionize her world? Or will its destructive properties destroy her, too?

Passionate and colourful, Fire is a compelling, fascinating book. I recommend it to any fans of early societies, literal naming conventions, or mind reading.

The Sunrise and the Dew

Hello and welcome to another week of reliable unreliability here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will address a question posed by my trusty friend Tohrinha. Tohr asked:

Who can take a sunrise and sprinkle it with dew?

There are a number of factors that must be taken into account in order to determine what set of people are capable of taking a sunrise and, as Tohrinha asks, sprinkling the aforementioned sunrise with dew.

First, we must consider the ability to take a sunrise. The sun, as many people are aware, is extremely hot. Certainly to handle it with one’s bare hands would court very serious burns. Rather, one needs special equipment, special training, and a natural ability to withstand heat, in order to handle any sort of sun, including a rising one. This would suggest a particular facility for blacksmiths, whose job requires them to work in and with extremely hot flames.

However, the heat is not the only element to consider when handling that sunrise. There is a popular saying that claims, “It’s always darkest before dawn.” And as we know, the dawn is another name for the time at which sunrise occurs. As such, whoever is up to the task of taking the sunrise must have exceptional night vision, or at that darkest time, he or she will not be able to see the sunrise to take it. Cats are known for their night vision.

The third consideration is the dew, and the sprinkling thereof. Dew is the most delicate of all types of water; forceful handling will cause it to crack instead of sprinkle. In order to sprinkle dew upon a sunrise, or any other substance, it must be treated delicately, preferably held by someone or something as fragile as the dew itself, so as to prevent accidental exertion of strength upon the delicate dew. The younger and smaller the creature, the better.

By now, it should be obvious to my readers who exactly can take a sunrise and sprinkle it with due: any individual small and delicate, with excellent night vision, and an ability to withstand high temperatures. In short, kitten blacksmiths.

________________

Disclaimer: the above post contains numerous inaccuracies. Do not attempt to train your kitten as a blacksmith.

Lies About Books: Fahrenheit 451

Now that the snows have stopped, I’ve gotten the inkling that it might be April, which of course means it’s time for more lies about books! In the past month, I have read the book Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.

Inexplicably titled in the obscure and confusing Fahrenheit system, the title Fahrenheit 451 nevertheless obviously refers to 451 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 degrees Celsius, the temperature at which water freezes.

This becomes significant in a book rife with symbolism of water and ice, a story set in a dystopic future in which ice is outlawed. Prevented from refrigerating or freezing perishable foods, the people in this society are thus kept docile by the government with the necessity of living hand to mouth, eating fresh foods immediately because they will not keep.

But a cold spell, and the snow and ice that come with it, shatters the security of this society. One fireman – whose job it is to melt the ice with flamethrowers as soon as it is discovered – takes a block of ice home with him, putting it to work in his kitchen before it melts.

A chilling look at what we soon become without the technologies we now cherish, Fahrenheit 451 is an excellent book for thinking people – intertextual, intellectual, and interpretive. I recommend it to fans of refrigeration, literary allusion, and flamethrowers.

Fire Works

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient, the only place where dishonesty is always the best (and only) policy! This week, I will address a question posed by my friend Tohrinha. She asked:

What are fireworks?

Many people are familiar with fireworks, also known as pyrotechnics, for the brilliant light displays that result from them, which appear as showers of sparks across the sky, often in circular patterns. But how do they work? What is really going on to create these displays of lights?

There is an element known as Phlogiston which is highly flammable. Intermingled with the particles of oxygen in the air that we breathe, phlogiston is basically the essence of fire–in any conflagration, the phlogiston in the air is what is really burning.

The lights in a fireworks display have their dazzling designs because of a series of very carefully set and controlled fires: a series of disconnected but sequential fires, each confined to one or two particles of phlogiston, arranged in the pattern which we see as light. But how is this achieved?

Let us examine the etymology of the alternate word for fireworks–pyrotechnics–for further clues. Pyro, of course, means ‘fire’. But technics is short for the word “technicians.”

When a person “sets off” fireworks, he is actually launching a phlogiston technician high into the air. When the technician has reached the desired altitude, he (or she) will begin to set carefully selected particles of phlogiston on fire, while completing his arc through the air. If all goes well, the phlogiston technician will land safely just as the atoms burst into flame–in other words, in time to watch the show that he set up.

_______________

Disclaimer: This blog post is a source of misinformation. Antoine Lavoisier disproved the existence of phlogiston in 1783.

The Truth About Barbeques

Hello and welcome back to another week of fun fabrications for the whole family here at Factually Deficient! This week, once again, I’m going to address a topic, rather than a specific question–and, as something new, I’m responding to a need from the general public rather than one person’s request.

I noticed that the topic

#FakeBBQFacts

was trending today on the noted social media website Twitter Dot Com, which suggests that the public is in need of some reliable lies about barbeques–and Factually Deficient is, as ever, on hand to oblige!

As many people know, the barbeque is a device, operated mainly out of doors, which causes raw or lightly cooked meat, vegetables, and sundry other foods to become cooked and particularly good-tasting. What fewer people know is how this works, even though the secret to the truth is hidden in its odd name.

Most people–mistakenly–believe that “BBQ” is a false initialism constructed to shorten the writing of the word “barbeque”–but in fact, the opposite is true. After all, what etymology could possibly explain such a word as “barbeque”? While it’s possible that it can be explained etymologically, such a path would be false, nothing but a folk etymology. In reality, “barbeque” developed from a common mispronounciation and misuderstanding of “BBQ.”

What, then, does B.B.Q. actually stand for? It is an initialism representing the phrase “Braised By Quintessence.” Now, while this does, as I suggested earlier, allude to the true nature of the barbeque, it is also somewhat misleading. After all, quintessence, or aether, is a word used for magic, and while magic is involved in the proper operating of a B.B.Q., it is not the direct application of quintessence onto food.

The B.B.Q. machine contains, under its hood and usually confined to beneath the grille, a very small dragon. It is well fed by coal and scraps of food, and protected from the world by the machine that encases it, and in exchange, it uses its fiery breath to braise–and, indeed, fully cook–whatever foodstuffs are placed on the grille above its home.

For the further protection of the dragons, a name somewhat removed from directly referencing them was adopted for the contraption, so that their homes would not be torn open and their hiding place discovered. I can only hope that my readers will use this knowledge wisely.

___________________

Disclaimer: Most if not all of the above statements are false. Many barbeque machines are fully functional without dragons.

Internet Speeds

Hello and welcome back to another week here at Factually Deficient, where we operate on the corollory to the axiom “Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies.” (Please, ask us questions. We’ll tell you lies.)

This week, I would like to address the following question from Tohrinha:

Why are some internets slower than others?

The simple answer to this would be that no two living creatures are exactly alike, and thus it is natural that different internets will have different speeds. However, I believe that Tohrinha alludes to such differences in speeds as to suggest a reason less glib than this one–and so I shall provide.

First of all, it is important to remind ourselves that the internet is a member of the Plant Kingdom, as we have already capably established here at Factually Deficient. And it is worth noting that plants are by nature very slow creatures (which is both a blessing and a curse when they attempt to stalk and sneak up on their prey; on the one hand, the mark is not likely to notice the plant’s stealthy approach but, on the other hand, too frequently by the time the plant is ready to pounce, its target has already wandered off).

Members of the Plant Kingdom generally can attain higher speeds through one of three ways:

  1. Genetic mutation
  2. Fear of an attacker
  3. Strong positive motivation

The first is one that cannot be fostered or artificially produced; simply know that if your internet’s DNA is somewhat abnormal, there is a better than average chance that it can beat out other internets in a fair footrace.

As for the second, fear, while it is true that very often members of the Plant Kingdom will be eaten by predators due to their inability to escape in a timely manner, on occasion, given a strong enough threat, plants will be able to put on an unusual burst of speed.

Now, of course we at Factually Deficient do not recommend setting a fox on your personal internet–after all, a living creature is an uncontrollable variable. However, if you are frustrated with your internet’s slowness, a controllable but dangerous threat, such as lighting a small fire behind your internet, may do the trick.

The final option is the flip side to the second, preferable to those who wish to foster a warm relationship with their internets and not rely on the power of fear. Just as plants are known to move astoundingly quickly in times of danger, so too they will occasionally race onward when there is a promise of a particularly good reward.

Members of the Plant Kingdom are known to most requently metabolize sunlight and water. Sunligh is difficult to produce or withhold artificially, so we will discard it for this scenario. As for water, water alone is usually not sufficient to inspire great speeds out of a plant such as the internet. However, plants are known for their sweet tooth; if you infuse the water with sugar, then it becomes far more attractive to them. Thus, if your internet seems to be lagging, you may be able to motivate it by sprinkling it with sugar water every time it successfully loads a page.

 

_______________

Disclaimer: This blog post is untruthful to the extreme. The writer does not advocate setting fire to or sprinkling water on your internet.

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.

Is Magic Real?

Hello and welcome back this week to Factually Deficient! I would like to take this space at the top of this week’s post to remind everyone that as much as I love writing wildly fanciful fictions in answer to relatively sane questions, I can’t do it without you! I would be delighted if you all continued to send me your questions about life, the universe, or anything so that I can answer them in a manner best described as “wrong”.

BUT ANYWAY, this week’s question comes from Victin:

How can people cast magic in fantasy books and other media if magic is not real? Shouldn’t that be, like, impossible?

Victin, you are begging the question, an idiom we are already familiar with. Here, you should not be asking “How is magic possible in fantasy books?” but rather, “Is magic real?” The answer might surprise you.

The renowned botanist Arthur C. Clarke or someone once made the following famous statement:

Any sufficiently-advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Many people misinterpret Clarke’s words as a comment on how impressive technology can be. In fact, he is alluding to the little-known fact that much of what we know as “technology” is in fact not technology at all, but magic disguised as such.

But how does magic exist? Where does it come from? Our answer turns back on itself, returning to the realm of science. What is magic most often compared to, or described as? I don’t need to tell you that the answer is fire. Just as fire is a chemical process, once thought to be an element in its own right, so, too, magic is a simple chemical reaction, for all people think of it as an elemental power.

And, like fire, one of the most prominent ways in which we use magic today is for light. My readers may have noticed that today, there are very few (if any) examples of technology which are unexplained enough that the lack of explanation may be due to the presence of magic. However, this is simply because where magic is used, alternate explanations are invented, so as not to alert the general population to the existence of the chemical process known as magic. One can easily identify cases of technology which Mr. Clarke would doubtless have euphemised as “sufficiently advanced” by explanations which seem particularly unusual, or even far-fetched.

A case in point: the fluorescent lightbulb. Now, the incandescent bulb makes sense: the wire is heated, causing it to glow, and it therefore sheds light. In contrast, the story of the fluorescent bulb is full of holes. Are we truly expected to believe that a lightbulb– an item which is found in abundance in every household– would contain in it not one but two kinds of poison? One of which if the glass of the bulb so much as cracks would necessitate the entire building to be fumigated?

No; of course not. The entire business with the phosphor powder and the mercury bead is just a blind, a blind invented to make people sufficiently wary of breaking a fluorescent lightbulb as to negate any risk that the magic will be let out and discovered.

And so too with almost anything you encounter in your daily life. When the technological explanation seems unlikely, more often than not, the process is actually chemical– to be specific, magical.

 

_________________

Disclaimer: Most if not all of the claims in this post are ludicrous fabrications, bearing no relation to the truth. The author does not advocate opening fluorescent bulbs, and recognizes that Mr. Clarke may not have been a botanist.