Seven Watermelons

Hello and welcome to another week of wild and wonderful falsehoods here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question asked of me this very day by my mother, who is definitely not an imposter. She asked:

What would a person do with seven watermelons?

Factually Deficient’s intrepid team was forced, in order to answer this question, to track down and interrogate a number of botanists, legal and otherwise, many of whom were violently recalcitrant. Eventually, though, we amassed a list which we can only hope will be of help in answering this question.

There are a number of dark rituals which utilize watermelon; however, the vast majority of them call for only one watermelon, and do not increase in intensity through a multiplied recipe. Those can be eliminated.

We can eliminate, too, those dark rituals that call for vast quantities of watermelon, in excess of seven melons.

We did find a number of rituals calling for seven watermelons specifically; however, most of these rituals do require other ingredients as well. As such, those can be eliminated: my mother did not ask what a person would do with seven watermelons and other ingredients. Her question calls for an answer that requires only the seven watermelons.

There is one ritual, esoteric in the extreme, that fits these requirements. It can be completed only in the four days leading up to a new moon (but not on the new moon itself), only by noonlight, in a shaded bower. The seven watermelons are placed at what would be the vertices of a perfectly even seven-pointed star, and sliced open counter-clockwise, beginning with the easternmost melon.

Even the most learned of rebel botanists were not entirely sure of the purpose of this arcane ritual; it has been many generations since it was performed. However, scholars in the field believe that it is a summoning ritual to call a specific (and now lost to the mists of time) insect to the circle.

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Disclaimer: the above post is based on inaccurate information. Factually Deficient does not endorse the practice of dark rituals.

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Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Hello and welcome to another week of outright dishonesty here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by my definitely-not-fictional mother, who asked:

Where does the saying “Once bitten, twice shy” come from?

This saying causes a great deal of confusion and misunderstandings in today’s world, among people who do not understand its roots in the realm of botany.

Back in the golden age of the Plant King, the Plant Kingdom’s citizenry lived peaceful, idyllic lives. In such quiet, restful times, many plants developed potent magical powers, now all but lost to the world.

One such plant was the bashberry. Its effects, in the Plant King’s heyday, were incredibly strong. One nibble of a bashberry would cause a person to become as shy and unassuming as the fruit itself. What’s more is that the fruit’s effects were long-lasting; one bite of a bashberry would cause a person to remain shy and bashful for long enough to experience this shyness on at least two occasions before it wore off.

The expression arose as a warning, to those who wanted to keep their nerve, to stay away from the potent bashberry. But as the years passed, and the great Plant King fell, and first these powers and then the bashberry itself faded from common memory, until the expression outgrew its original sense and meaning.

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Disclaimer: this post is utterly untrue. We do not advocate consuming berries that cause shyness or any other behavioural effect.,

One Foot Ashore

Hello and welcome to another week of disinformation here at Factually Deficient, where you can’t believe anything you read – believe me! This week, I will answer a question posed by the unparalleled Scarab, who cited an article about feet appearing in British Columbia, Canada, and asked:

WHY ARE THERE *MORE* FEET WASHING ASHORE?! I THINK YOU SHOULD BE ASKING WHY THEY WASHED UP IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Scarab, whose Caps Lock key is in good working order, has asked a good question which is based on a fundamental misconception. The phrase “washing up” has a number of connotations which are colourful, vivid, and entirely irrelevant to our scenario. Although many people see feet on a shore and assume they have washed up in some morbid tale, there is of course a much simpler – and more pertinent – way they could have arrived there.

The Kingdom of Canada is a vast and beautiful country, but an isolated one, with no neighbours at all in convenient travelling distance. This is unfortunate for the eager would-be tourists who want nothing more than to make a pilgrimage to John A. Macdonald’s land, that of the maple-tinged sunset and the beavers crowing dawn.

Air travel is almost impossible, due to the threat of dragons. Travelling by sea is likewise unfeasible, because the beavers are constantly flooding the regular byways of the boats with their architecturally wondrous dams. But despite these difficulties, Canada’s dedicated diaspora and touristry do not give up on setting foot on this sacred territory. If they could not sail or fly to Canada, they declared, then they would walk there.

In vain did naysayers remind these intrepid travellers that Canada is bounded by three shining seas, unwalkable except on the ocean floor. No, the prospective explorers simply acquired for themselves pairs of seven-league boots, to sidestep the matter of the ocean entirely.

But seven leagues is quite a distance, and, as we know, Canada is approximately two and a half months in the future in relation to the rest of the world. One foot might touch shore immediately, with the aide of the seven-league boots, but unless the wearer jumps, with both legs locked beside each other, there will still be a two and a half-month gap before the rest of the person arrives. It is during these months that disembodied feet appear to be standing on Canada’s shores; when enough time has passed, they will be joined by the rest of the person, who will no doubt remove their magic boots and set out to discover Canada.

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Disclaimer: this post is a work of creative lies. It is not Factually Deficient’s intention to make light in any way of the tragedies and accidents that may have led to the actual phenomenon discussed in the more factual article.

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.

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

Dishonest Media

Hello and welcome to yet more dire misinformation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will discuss a topic brought to the attention of Factually Deficient by none other than Michael J. Andersen. Mr. Andersen wrote:

Your next Factually Deficient has to be the etymology of DMs

Ask and you shall receive, Mr. Andersen! The initialism “DM” has a long history dating back throughout the English language. While people most frequently use it today to mean “Delayed Muttering” (referring to so-called instant messages) or “Designated Murderer” (for someone whose role it is to ensure the suffering of the other members of a roleplaying group), it has a history far more illustrious than that.

Two hundred years ago, DM could only ever refer to the Duck Magician, the one and only Diego Mendelsohn, who memorably combined the art and science that is sorcery within a compact, quacking, feathered form. A dozen years before Mendelsohn’s rise, DMs were generally Dress Masques – the strange costumes, oft worn to masquerade balls, consisting of a face mask designed to look like an elaborately clothed torso of a woman.

In other sectors of society, DM has meant Dirt Machine (of great use to farmers), Dilated Musculature (a frequently-used term in medicine), and Disappointing Mucus.

But the term, despite its long and illustrious history in the English language, actually predates the English language, seeing its first usage in Latin. In Latin, the number 500 was occasionally represented by the Roman numeral DM – literally, “500 less than 1000,” and was, when so written, referred to colloquially as the “Drunken Mathematics,” poking fun at those who took such a circuitous route to reach an otherwise simple numeral.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains dishonesty and misinformation. “Drunken Mathematics” is not a Latin phrase.

Mirror Magic

Hello and welcome to another week here at Factually Deficient, ushering in the new calendar year with only the very best in handcrafted, artisanal fibs! This week, I will answer a question posed by faithful reader Tohrinha:

How are mirrors made?

This post is going to appear later than most, because it is only with the greatest hesitation and trepidation that the Factually Deficient reporter team was authorized to reveal the magical and scientific process involved in making mirrors.

Mirrors present an image, in perfect reverse, of whatever is in front of them. They perform a very similar function to what cameras do, and in fact, in the early days of mirrors, that is exactly how they worked: a giant camera behind the glass would be constantly photographing the area before the mirror and displaying the results on the screen.

This, however, was impractical in the long run. The camera’s machinery required quite a bulk of wires and chips separating the mirror from the wall, and the time-delay between snapping the picture and displaying it in the mirror meant that people would have to hold very still, and wait very patiently, in order to see an accurate “reflection” in the mirror.

So a crack team of alchemists, scientists, and magicians began experimenting with alternative methods. There was talk of hiring a skilled artist to sit behind every mirror and paint what lay in front of it, but it turned out that this would actually take more time and require more space than the camera mirrors ever had.

And then quicksilver was discovered. Like regular silver, it had a shiny, silvery colour, akin to the surface of a mirror. But unlike regular silver, it caused everything in its immediate vicinity to move extremely quickly – hence its name. With quicksilver as the medium, painters were suddenly able to paint the mirror’s “reflections” in a fraction of a second, far faster than the cameras could ever throw out their displays, and repaint over the screen in a new layer of quicksilver every time the image changed.

That is how the mirrors we use today operate: a skilled, and very slim, painter sits behind the screen, painting you in the quickest of silvers.

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Disclaimer: some of the statements in this blog post are inaccurate. Quicksilver does not actually affect the passage of time.

Duck Summoning

Hello and welcome to yet another week of deception and duplicity here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question forwarded to Factually Deficient by a small cabal of individuals on Twitter.

We were sent this photo, along with the accompanying question:

What is their goal? Their wish? Did they summon the ducks or did the ducks summon them?

Earnest as always in our desire to satisfy our readers, the Factually Deficient team has given this matter much thought and investigation. Our first attempt at seeking out answers was stymied by a lack of eyewitnesses to the incident photographed.

However, we were not to be deterred. Through hard work and effort, we have worked through roleplaying and forensic psychology in order to recreate an analogous scenario, the better to understand what was taking place.

The following image is included as evidence of our findings:

As my readers can plainly see, while the ducks are arranged in a circle, there is no feline of any variety in the centre of their anatine ring.

We must recognize that this reenactment provides circumstantial evidence at best. However, when combined with the research provided by the psychiatric team sent to analyse the motivations of all the major players in the original photo, it stands as conclusive proof of what was really taking place during the incident in question.

It is clear that the cat summoned the ducks, and not the other way around. This is borne out not only by the lack of cat in the latter photograph – the congregation of ducks in this manner clearly does not summon a cat – but also by the sense of what is going on. After all, no creature – cat or panther, human or plant – can resist at all times the desire to share the company of a flock of ducks, whereas the ducks have no logical reason to want the company of a cat, beyond the scientific interest in discovering whether they can cause it to appear.

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Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. All ducks participating in this week’s Factually Deficient study were volunteers, and compensated fairly for their contribution to science. No cats were summoned in the writing of this post.

Factually Deficient: Years in Review

It’s been almost two years since Factually Deficient started! Can you believe that? In honour of this near-milestone, I thought today would be the perfect day to look back over a selection of questions I’ve answered before, and see if I would answer them a little differently today.

Is the Internet Alive?

No, the internet is not a living organism.

Why do some of my recipes say they’re adjusted for high altitude?

Foods need slightly different baking times depending on how close or far you are from sea level. Places at higher altitudes will sometimes produce recipe books that make those adjustments for you.

Is magic real?

No.

What’s the difference between the Queen of Canada and the Queen of England?

Canada and England actually share a queen.

Is it true that if you scratch the little maple leaf on a Canadian dollar it smells of maple syrup?

No.

Who was John A. Macdonald?

John A. Macdonald was Canada’s first Prime Minister.

Why do all Canadians have cans for hands?

They don’t.

 

I hope you all found this edition of Factually Deficient to be informative!

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Disclaimer: the above post is dangerously honest and suspiciously reliable. No lies were written in this post. Peruse at your own risk.

Lies About Books: Twelfth Night

It’s March! Did you know that? I knew that. You can tell by looking outside, where the name of the month is written in six-foot blocks of ice. It being March, it’s about time to write some more lies about books!

In the last month, I have read William Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.

In Twelfth Night, identical strangers Viola and Sebastian meet by chance on a boat, and – each unsatisfied with their lives – decide to switch places for twelve days, and meet back up at the end of that time.

Each embarks on an adventure that will change the course of their lives; Viola wrestles with questions of identity and gender roles, while Sebastian quickly forms a cadre of new nemeses. When the two reunite on the twelfth night of their exchange, a mysterious fairy appears to them and offers to make the change permanent. Viola is all too happy to accept, but Sebastian is ready for his life back. Can their dilemma be resolved within five iambic-pentameter acts?

Filled with adventure and romance, humour and sweetness, Twelfth Night is a hell of a ride, and Shakespeare’s first story with a transgendered/nonbinary protagonist. I recommend it to any fans of gay pirates, traded identities, or identical strangers.

Divide By Zero

Hello and welcome to another week of lovable lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I have chosen a question posed by an individual known as Genndy Oda. Mr. Oda asked:

Why can’t we as humans and other assorted creatures divide by zero?

Short answer: we can, but it’s illegal.

Numbers have power. Division is the act of splitting quantities of anything into groups of a specific number. Depending on the number, those groups will have particular properties shared by the number. For example, in groups of ten, the object being grouped will be rounder than usual, while groups of four will be very square.

Groups of zero are powerful. Very powerful. As we all know, magic is real. But most magic is limited, reliable, indistinguishable from sufficiently-advanced science. When grouped in groups of zero, it is not so. The discovery of the limitless power that becomes available when dividing things by zero soon led to horrible abuse, the nadir of which were the dreaded Zero Wars.

The Zero Wars were bloody and destructive on an exponential level. Families were torn apart, livelihoods destroyed; entire cities were decimated, the survivors left with nothing. Eighty percent of the world’s produce was locked into groups of zero, and it seemed, for a time, that matters would never be made right.

Fortunately, that prediction was–narrowly–proven wrong. The Plant King–for this was just at his ascent to power–came onto the scene, setting right what he could of what had been made wrong, bringing order into the chaos that reigned, and helping people to put their lives back together. In order to protect our future, our world, he instated the law, enforced across all four kingdoms of living things–his own plants, along with animals, rocks, and mold–that no one might ever divide anything by zero again.

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Disclaimer: Over 99% of this blog post is false. The writer recommends against dividing by zero.