Alien Life

Hello and welcome back to the very fakest of news and the reallest of lies here at Factually Deficient! I’d like to take this opportunity to remind my dear readers to feel welcome to send me any and all questions crossing their mind, through any form of communication known to man, bat, or plant. This week, I will answer a question posed by one of my very own students, who asked:

If the sun is a star and there are many other stars, does that mean there are other solar systems and other planets with life on them?

Life on planets is of course an absurd notion. Planets were never built to support life.

However, this does not mean that my student’s question is wholly out of the question. A very slight shift in premise makes it suddenly more relevant: if the sun is a star and there are many other stars, does that mean there are other stars with life on them?

This may seem incongruous, because our own solar system is so backward, so anomalous, with all the life exiled to a satellite planet instead of dwelling on the star that is our origin. Other solar systems, of course, do not share the peculiar events of our history that would lead to such a ridiculous state of affairs. Other solar systems can be normal.

Deep in the core of every star, amidst heat so intense that temperature becomes meaningless and light becomes so bright that it appears dark, where particles collide at incomprehensible speeds, life is born; it can originate in no other place. Every star houses some form of life. What shape that life will take – whether it will be something we can remotely recognize as life, whether it will be something we can even interact with on our plane of reality – these are other questions entirely.

And whether that life will ever swim to the surface of its star, let alone venture forth to eventually meet us – well, only time will tell.

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Disclaimer: the above post is incorrect in the extreme. Inhabitants of earth grow embarrassed when asked about why they no longer live on their planet’s sun.

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Lear and Theodosius

Hello and welcome to a new week of lovely lies here at Factually Deficient – and an entirely new year of creatively counterfactual learning to those of us in the education community!

This week, I will answer a question posed by the truly terrific Tohrinha, who asked:

What can you tell me about King Lear, a la Emperor Theodosius?

This is a very difficult question as posed, because the opinions of Emperor Theodosius may not be those shared by the Factually Deficient staff; yet, because we are called upon to describe King Lear in what would be his terms, that is what we shall do.

One must recognize that, although Lear and Theodosius ultimately became very close, they were not so at first. In fact, they were rivals, two pretenders to a throne that belonged in rights to neither one of them.

A scant century after the fall of the first Plant King, these two gentlemen arose, each one claiming the right to rule the noble Plant Kingdom. One called himself a King, in the manner of his alleged predecessor, while the other styled himself Emperor. When their respective claims to this most exalted of thrones failed, each disappeared for a time, before resurfacing with the same titles but new followers.

Emperor Theodosius was, at least initially, the more successful of the two. He built himself an island empire and brought almost every island on the earth under his sway. His counterpart – whose name was not even really Lear, but rather Gerald – acted more slowly, perhaps circumspectly.

Slow he may have been, but the King gradually began to collect large swathes of land, widening his coastlines, eyeing the territory of his rival. He was similarly watchful when the two men met in person, earning him the contemptuous nickname of King Leer (now spelled King Lear) from the markedly uncomfortable Theodosius.

By this early account, Emperor Theodosius would have described King Leer in disparaging terms – in fact, one can still find his journal calling Leer a “grasping, shifty man” whose eye “burned into [his] bosom’s core” with a malignancy that Theodosius, at the time, had begun to dread.

However, over the course of many deliberations and attempts to make peace between their nascent nations, these views changed and shifted. When the two were wed to join their kingdoms into one grand empire, it is commonly known to have been a political alliance; what is less known, but no less accurate, is that it was also one based on love.

If he could have rescinded the ill-meaning nickname he had given his dear Leer in their earlier days, perhaps Theodosius would have; by then, however, the name had taken on a life of its own, and King Gerald’s given name was all but lost to the mists of time. What is more significant than a name, however, are the genuine words, written in Theodosius’ journal and on Leer’s grave, calling the King “reserved, but unreservedly kind and unfailingly generous; a wise king, a dear friend, a beloved husband, and a good man.”

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Disclaimer: this post is saturated with falsehoods. Lear and Theodosius may not have been married to one another.

Governor-General

Hello and welcome back to another week of delicious dissimulation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the terrific Tohrinha, who asked:

Who, or what, is the Governor General?

Way back in the dawn of Canada’s history, when John A. Macdonals was young and full of fire, glory, and dreams of conquest, Canada did not want to stop at making all of North America its own. They did not even want to stop at the world.

No, John A. Macdonald dreamed bigger. He dreamed of a universe where every planet, every moon, and every star flew flags in red and white, where Canada stretched not just from sea to sea to sea but from glittering galaxy to galaxy to galaxy – where the strains of “O Canada” could be heard on distant, non-Euclidean beaches.

Of course, he knew, it would not be easy. Space travel would need to be invented, new troops sent to the conquering army each time the technology improved. And with the limitations of the speed of light, these distant planetary colonies would not be able to receive direct orders from Macdonald (or, later, the Queen).

John A. Macdonald, father of Canada, solved both these problems in one ingenious move. He created a position – the highest honour, highest office held in the Kingdom of Canada, below that of the Queen: the Governor-General. This person, as the title suggests, would hold two roles: that of general of the armies come to conquer the heavens, and that of governor, representing Canada’s sovereign power in these far-flung realms. He enacted as law that with each new wave of astronaut-soldiers sent to make the skies Canadian, at their helm would be a new Governor-General, to command, lead, and relieve their predecessor of the task.

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Disclaimer: some of the statements in this blog post are inaccurate. Only one governor-general to date has been an astronaut.

Past Tense

Hello and welcome to another week of misleading claims and untruthful statements here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the unbeatable Tohrinha, who asked:

What is the past tense?

With the invention of time travel in early 1292, the past became not only a memory, but also a place – a place that changed with an alarming frequency.

Although changing the past does not, of course, change one’s memories of how events had originally played out, it was discovered that those affected by the changes would gain an entirely new set of memories whole cloth, pertaining to the “new” state of past events, alongside their original memories.

Soon, with the congestion of time tourism, some people found that they had dozens, or even hundreds, of conflicting memories regarding the same period of time. And while those involved understood perfectly well what it was that they were remembering, it became increasingly more difficult and inaccessible to discuss these conflicting memories with others – even others who shared those memories, even others who had played a part in the time travel.

Fortunately, grammar came, as always, to the rescue, in the form of the past tense.

The past tense is a linguistic innovation – described by some of its detractors as a “slapdash barrel of neologisms” – in the form of an entirely new verb tense. This incredibly complex verb form indicates without a shred of ambiguity exactly which set of remembered events is under discussion, by way of a thorough if difficult conjugation.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains misinformation. Not all people retain memory of changed events subsequent to time travel.

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.

Lies About People: John Cena

Hello and welcome to another week of unlikely claims and tall tales here at Factually Deficient! Factually Deficient is here to provide, in lie form, answers to all your questions on any topic – history, geography, botany, science, literature, and even, now, people! This week, I will answer a question posed by an excellent Beetle of my acquaintance. She asked:

Who is John Cena!

John Cena is actually a modernized and anglicized spelling of the original name Janus Ceno. Janus Ceno was an ancient Roman stonecutter whose impact on modern society continues to be felt today.

In the early days of ancient Roman proto-democracy, paper was far too expensive and difficult to produce to have it readily available to the population. Complaints of corruption were bombarding the Senate, but it seemed impossible, in the absence of cheap and convenient paper, to establish any semblance of a secret ballot system.

Until Janus Ceno came along. Ceno, with his skill at fine chiselling, came up with a novel proposal: he and a team of like-minded stonecutters could produce ballots carved into small rocks, to distribute amongst the populace. This idea was so well-received that, in its first implementation, Janus Ceno himself was elected to public office by a landslide. In turn, he took his post to heart, and used his masonly skills to improve the Roman way of life in every way that he could think of.

When at last Janus Ceno felt the time had come for him to retire from the ancient Roman civil service, he made, at the behest of his constituents, one last physical contribution to the public good: a stone pillar in his own honour, carved with a list of the ways he had benefited his people. Built by him and in his name, this was dubbed the Cenotaph, a word which has now entered the lexicon in a general way.

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Disclaimer: this blog post is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

2B Shvat

Hello and welcome to another week of wild untruths and wacky lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a timely question posed by my very own and very real mother. She asked:

What is Tu B’Shvat, and what is its particular connection to the Plant Kingdom?

Well may my mother ask about Tu B’Shvat – or as those in the know prefer to spell it, 2B Shvat – so celebrated in the Plant Kingdom. So many myths surround 2B Shvat, it is difficult, at times, to determine which are accurate, without the trusty guidance of Factually Deficient.

In truth, 2B Shvat is less a political outlook than a philosophy, less a religious creed than a simple way of life, and its origins hark back – not quite lost to the mists of time – to the days of the reign of the Second Plant King.

Hoping to bring about a second Plant Renaissance, the Plant King of the time decreed that growth does not come from a blank slate, from a place of emptiness, but rather it builds upon what has come before – and there is always something that has come before.

Based on this new idea of radical growth, the Plant King made a fundamental change to the Shvat. The Shvat is, of course, the core legal-religious document of the Plant Kingdom, and is read and venerated to this day. Without altering a single word, the Plant King re-paginated the traditional page numbers of the Shvat. Where once it began on page 1A, continuing through 1B, 1C, 1D, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 3A, and so on through 227D, he pushed all the page numbers by five values, redefining the opening page as 2B.

In so doing, the Second Plant King declared, he was making a concrete symbol of this new creed of continuous growth: the Shvat – and all books of the plants henceforth – should begin not with the first number and letter, but with the second of each, hinting at a rich tradition and a solid foundation on which even an opening page is built.

What began as a re-pagination of a holy book has now grown and morphed into the most popular worldview in the Plant Kingdom – one of continuity, and inheritance, building always on what came before. It is this philosophy of life that is most commonly referred to today when people speak of “2B Shvat” (though it can also, frequently, refer literally to the first page of the most important book of the Plants).

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Disclaimer: the above post contains falsehoods. Plants do not have a holy book.

 

Firstborn Donkey Economy

Hello and welcome back to yet another week of rampant misinformation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will discuss a topic referred to Factually Deficient by Sicon112, who said:

We should probably get a blog post from you about the state of the firstborn donkey economy.

What Sicon112 is asking about, though nowadays a little-known quirk of historical economics, actually forms the very foundations of modern-day capitalism as we know it.

Thousands of years ago, when man was just beginning to discover that an individual’s prosperity would grow by sharing and trading resources with his fellows, people operated on the barter system. One item would be offered in exchange for a totally different item, with no rhyme or reason to the values of each item.

This could not last; it led almost immediately to strife, as each party felt wronged, felt that the item given up had been worth far more than what was received in return. Obviously, some sort of standardized unit was called for.

The solution was simple: donkeys. Everyone used donkeys, whether for riding, for transporting goods, for eating, or for their famed translation services. A donkey had universal, concrete value. Donkeys were soon agreed-upon as the basic monetary unit, and everything traded was ascribed a value in terms of fractions or multiples of donkeys.

But once again problems arose: each donkey bred at different rates. A prolific donkey would soon vastly increase its owner’s fortune, while other, shyer donkeys offered extremely low interest on investments. Once again, people felt wronged: they felt that they had been given an old nag of a donkey in exchange for a youthful one, that someone else had used underhanded tactics to get ahold of the most procreative donkeys.

How to resolve these disputes? How to set limitations on the multiplying donkeys? The greatest economic minds of the generation came together, and soon they had an answer: each donkey could birth only one firstborn. By changing the currency from donkeys in general to firstborn donkeys, they could solve two problems in one: they would reduce inflation, by reducing the pool of monetary donkeys overall; and they would remove the issue of unevenly-prolific donkeys, as each firstborn donkey would in turn produce exactly one additional firstborn donkeys.

Of course, as society developed, people eventually opted to move from the slightly cumbersome donkey standard to the more conceptual monetary systems used today. Still, it was on the firstborn donkey economy that our modern banks and financial institutions were first developed – and there are always calls, from time to time, urging us to return to the firstborn donkey system.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains falsehoods. No donkeys, firstborn or otherwise, were consulted for the writing of this post.

Giant Ducks

Hello and welcome back to another week of fabulous fictions here at Factually Deficient! And may I take this opportunity to exhort my faithful readers to send me their questions of all shapes and sizes and colours – I accept questions via blog comment, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, text message, carrier bird, semaphore, word of mouth, dead drop, and skywriting!

This week, I will answer a question posed by the revered R0tavat0R. He asked, possibly in reference to this image:

What’s up with the giant ducks?

But this question runs far deeper than one image on Twitter. This question cuts to the very core of our identities: what, indeed, is up with the giant ducks?

From time to time, people are asked whether they would rather fight one hundred duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck. Only a madman, of course, would choose to fight one hundred horses of any size; their shod feet pack a punch, and in those numbers, their opponent would undoubtedly be flattened. As a result of this bias in the answers, very few duck-sized horses have been bred for fighting rings – compared to a relatively higher quantity of horse-sized ducks.

Of course, a duck the size of a horse is far from a giant duck. Horses have quite a moderate size. This is where history, and evolution, come in. Fighting horse-sized ducks became surprisingly popular, very fast. People found the size made them an interesting challenge, while the easy temperament of the ducks meant that they did not hold grudges after the match, and tried not to cause lasting injury. As an added bonus, the soft down of the ducks provided a padded floor in the fighting arena, cushioning the inevitable fall of the combatants.

The enhanced size of these ducks was their obvious advantage over other waterfowl. And here Lamarckian genetics stepped into the scene. Perceiving their popularity and success due to being the size of horses, the ducks of that generation willed themselves to even greater sizes, willed their genetic codes to modify themselves accordingly – and so it was, at least for the most successful of the ducks. Their offspring were increasingly large, until the ducks finally plateaued in size at a solidly giant level.

Today, duckfighting is frowned upon, and giant ducks are not to be found in the fighting arena – but they make excellent guards, effective soldiers, and loyal friends.

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Disclaimer: some of the details in this post are incorrect. Genetics do not work like that.

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.