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.

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Going Bananas

Hello and welcome to another week of laid-back lies and feel-good fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will be answering a question posed to Factually Deficient by my very own, very existent mother. She asked:

Why are bananas yellow?

My mother is actually begging the question here – that is, she is practically begging me to respond to her question with another question. Namely: are bananas even really yellow?

In fact, my mother (and undoubtedly many others like her) is labouring under a common misapprehension; bananas are not yellow at all. I can, however, help to elucidate the phenomenon which leads to them appearing to be so.

We have already established here on Factually Deficient that the default colour of all things is blue. This holds true for bananas as well, which, in their natural state, are as blue as an asphyxiated blueberry.

However, bananas are known to contain high amounts of potassium. Potassium, among its many odd and variegated traits, causes an inexplicable phenomenon of leaching the colour green out of anything it comes in contact with. Now, as we know, green is the gift given by the colour Yellow to the colour Blue. Or, to phrase it as an equation:

Blue + Yellow = Green

Since all equations are commutative, we can rearrange this statement to show what happens when the green is leached – say, by potassium – out of something blue:

Blue – Green = – Yellow

You will note that in order to shift the Yellow to the other side of the equation, it becomes negative. However, since colours, like square roots, are obviously resources which cannot exist in negative quantities, we can safely ignore the minus sign. In other words, our equation means that when potassium leaches the green out of a naturally-blue banana, the fruit appears to be yellow.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains falsehoods. Potassium is not known to leach the colour green out of everything it touches.

 

February

Hello and welcome back to another week of unreliable lies here at Factually Deficient, as we march on with our years. This week, I will answer a question posed by the eminent Tohrinha:

How long is February?

Many, often while embroiled in a never-ending winter, have wondered before Tohrinha just how long the month of February is. Few, though, have ever lived to discover the answer. Traditional research, one will find, yields inaccurate results, and forays into first-hand investigation have frequently led to unexpected bloodshed and an absence of usable data.

Some have tried to use mnemonic rhymes to determine the length of the month – but these, too, will prove disappointing. If you do not know the rhyme, here it is in its entirety – so you, too, can understand how it fails to adequately express the length of February:

Thirty days has September,

Forty-seven has November.

Fifty-two have May and June;

July and April end “two” soon.

All the rest have sixty-four —

Except for February: it has more.

(But when the year leaps,

It adds six to eight weeks.)

As you can see, this rhyme provides us with the following information:

  1. September has 30 days
  2. November has 47 days
  3. May and June each have 52 days
  4. July and April each have only 2 days
  5. January, March, August, October, and December each have 64 days
  6. February has >64 days (an unspecified number greater than 64)
  7. In leap years, February has between six and eight weeks more than it usually does

Naturally, matters such as leap years and groundhogs can affect the length of February. All I can offer Tohrinha with any certainty – all that is reasonable to ask for – is the “base” length of February, the minimum number of days that this colossally long month can hold.

To find this base length, we can actually determine the mathematical pattern present in the other months, and extend it logically:

  • The difference between 2 (July/April) and 30 (September, the next-shortest month) is +28
  • The difference between 30 and 47 (November) is +17
  • The difference between 47 and 52 (May/June) is +5
  • The difference between 52 and 64 (January, March, August, October, December) is +12

This leaves us with an obvious mathematical pattern: 28, 17, 5, 12… Clearly, the next number in the sequence is 20. 64+20 = 84 – therefore, February has a minimum of 84 days.

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Disclaimer: the above post may be deceptive. Please re-check the math yourself.

Absolute Zero

Hello and welcome to yet another week of perjury, pretense, and prevarication, here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the faithful Tohrinha. Tohr asked:

What is absolute zero?

Many people use the phrase “absolute zero” to refer to “the coldest possible temperature.” While this mistake is understandable in colloquial use, it is also, in every way, absolutely wrong.

As those who use the Fahrenheit temperature scale should be aware, the coldest possible temperature bottoms out at about twenty. After that, well…

Numbers are cyclical. If you cycle around in one direction for long enough, eventually you’ll end up on the other extreme. This is demonstrated with the colour wheel – If you travel from red to orange and on for long enough, at some point you’ll come to purple and then red again. Likewise, when one drops down below twenty, one ends up soon at the very very highest of numbers. And in between twenty and the highest number are the numbers from zero to nineteen.

Absolute zero, just nineteen numbers down from the highest possible, is a chaotic number to be at. The goose egg is something of a mathematical misnomer; there is almost everything at absolute zero. At absolute zero, you would be blinded by the swirling lights of every colour within and without the visible spectrum. You would be deafened by the sounds, almost musical in their cacophany, vibrating at every known and unknown frequency and at volumes incomprehensible to humankind.

At absolute zero, the heat is beyond that of the core of the sun. To even imagine the heat of absolute zero is to burn up in an instant, from the inside out, the heat of the very concept to great for a mortal to bear.

Absolute zero is beautiful and terrifying. It is the essence of art, the stuff of songs. Worlds are born in its forges, and die in its passion.

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Disclaimer: The above post contains erroneous information. Absolute zero is colder than indicated here.

Early Release

Hello and welcome to yet another untrustworthy instalment of Factually Deficient! And while this is not what the post title refers to, may I point out that this update comes a whole six days early for next Sunday!

This week’s question comes from Endless Sea, who asked:

Canada Best Buy has the summer Bionicle sets months early. EXPLAIN.

Now, Factually Deficient makes a point, as a rule, to avoid divulging other companies’ proprietary information. However, Endless Sea’s explanation can yet be made available, as the phenomenon pointed out is in fact representative of a wider, more general trend – and this is the trend which we will attempt to explain.

As many people are aware, Canada is an exceedingly large country. It spans a number of time zones, which the Factually Deficient Research* Team estimates as 5 and 1/2. This is more time zones than almost any other country.

What is a time zone? Literally, it is a zone filled with time. Each time zone contains a standard unit’s worth of time; by spanning five and a half time zones, Canada is quite rich in time. Time, naturally, corresponds to time. The more time an individual possesses – has experienced – the greater an age that person has.

This explains why different countries exist in different time periods simultaneously. In practice, Canada’s five and a half time zones convert to roughly five and a half additional months of time. In comparison, the United States are estimated to have only three time zones.

With this information, we can solve a simple equation (5 1/2 – 3 = 2 1/2) to determine a key piece of information: namely, Canada is two and a half months “ahead” of the United States. In other words, from a vantage point in the United States, Canada exists two and a half months in the future. (And of course conversely, if one is in Canada, the United States are two and a half months in the past.)

It is no accident that something seems to be released in Canada months before its American release. What this means is that the two countries were scheduled to release the item on the same date – only that date arrived months earlier in Canada.

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Disclaimer: The above post is composed of lies. Time zone estimates are not necessarily accurate.

How Many Miles to Babylon?

Hello and welcome back to another week full of falsehoods, fictions, and fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question from the eminent Tohrinha. Tohrinha asked:

How many miles to Babylon?

As the common saying goes, “All roads lead to Babylon.” All roads heading to this same destination, it naturally follows that all these roads will be the same length. How long, then, as Tohrinha astutely asks, will these roads to Babylon all be?

It is first important to note that the historical kingdom of Babylon is no longer extant; therefore, in order to travel to Babylon, one will be forced to travel in time. Our unit of measurement to begin, therefore, will be years.

However, Tohrinha asked for an answer in miles. Fortunately, converting from years to distance is made easy by the measurement of light-years, which involve both years and distance. From light-years, it is simple mathematics to transfer back to miles.

We have now a clear method of unit conversion to use in our formula:

miles to Babylon =

(years since Babylon) / (light-years to Babylon’s location) x

(miles) / (light visible on the road to Babylon)

Thus, the years and the light cancel each other out, leaving us with a simple measurement in miles to answer Tohrinha’s question.

For this formula, we are left with only a few missing pieces of information. The years since Babylon, and the single unit of miles, will hold true for all locations and times. And due to Babylon’s position in relation to the sun, there will always be a stable ratio between one’s physical distance to Babylon, and the brightness of the road (the closer one is to Babylon, the darker the road will be, which is why travellers always arrive in Babylon at nighttime). Thus, we really only need one of these two pieces of information in order to determine the miles to Babylon.

The number of miles to Babylon, therefore – as we can see clearly demonstrated in this formula is 23 in the morning, and 2,300,000,000,000 at midnight, and an appropriately scaled integer at any point in between.

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Disclaimer: The above post is deficient in facts. The formula is not recommended for home mathematical or scientific use.

Do The Math

Hello and welcome back to another late-starting week here at Factually Deficient, ever punctual with perversions of the truth and vile calumnies. This week, I will answer a question posed in a comment by JR. JR asked:

Why is Math such a difficult subject?

Math is not by nature difficult. It stands to reason that as much as is known today in mathematics would not be known if the subject were near-impossible; obviously it is possible to succeed. But there is a great obstacle to that success, and that obstacle is the will of the mathematics itself.

As members of the Rock Kingdom, every number can smell fear. They know, instinctively, whether you feel totally at ease or not when you are dealing with them, and if you are not skittish, then perversely, they will buck, and rear, and change in any way they can to make you jump with fright. The numbers do not want you to feel safe.

I say perversely, but perhaps that assessment is not fair. After all, the “perverse” tendency of the numbers, like so many members of the Rock Kingdom, to present themselves as unapproachable, is a naturally developed defense mechanism. While some numbers are petrivores, eaters of harmless rocks, others are numerivores – numbers that eat other numbers. To the relief of the petrivores, this can only take place under certain circumstances: ideally inside a warm brain, and only when both numbers are fully understood.

Therefore, most numbers will try to avoid human understanding, lest they enter the brain and become prime targets as prey to their fellow numbers.

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Disclaimer: The above blog post was entirely fictitious. Math is not always hard.

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.

The Industrious Woodchuck

Hello and welcome back to another week of falsehoods and fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I address a question posed by an individual named Anura, although it is a question that, I suspect, others have considered before him. Anura asked:

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

I find it strange that Anura couches his question with an if-statement, locating it firmly in the hypothetical. Here at Factually Deficient, we do not like to lie about the hypothetical; we prefer to lie about cold, hard fact. As such, I will assume that Anura is asking specifically about how much wood can be chucked by those woodchucks which definitely do chuck wood, if such things indeed exist.

Of course, the idea that a woodchuck, or any other bird for that matter, could actually chuck wood sounds, on the surface, absurd; having only two legs, the bird would have to stand unstably on one leg while swinging the axe with the other. It would hardly be able to chuck any wood at all before toppling over!

And, in deed, woodchucks themselves do not have the necessary body mass to offset this balance issue, and, as such, do not chuck wood in any significant amounts.

HOWEVER, the ostrich, with greater body mass and upper leg strength than the woodchuck, has the necessary requirements for chucking wood, and in fact does so, on a regular basis.

Anura asked about the wood-chucking power of the woodchuck, which is none at all. However, if we expand the question to be about the ability of birds in general to chuck wood in quantity–and then narrow it again to focus on the ostrich specifically–we have a more interesting answer.

There is a simple equation that determines how much wood any given ostrich, on any given day, can chuck; the ostrich’s upper arm strength, in Joules, multiplied by the ostrich’s body weight, in kilograms, divided by the height of the tree, in inches, will give you the amount, in Jkg/in, of how much wood that ostrich can chuck in a day.

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Disclaimer: A great deal of the information in this blog is unconfirmed, untested, or entirely untrue. Consult a local ostrich for accurate wood-chucking data.

Light Years

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient, where we provide you with all lies, all the time!

After several weeks’ sojourn both physically and intellectually in the Plant Kingdom, I turn this week to something completely different, in order to answer a question about science. Krika on twitter asked:

What’s a light year?

Now, there are two different meanings for the word ‘year’. In keeping with the mandate of Factually Deficient, I am going to do absolutely zero research to confirm that I have these definitions correct. The two possibilities are:

  1. The time it takes for a planet to spin all the way around. (For example, when the earth has spun in a complete circle, we have completed one “earth year”.)
  2. A proportional span of time in a given creature’s lifespan. (For example, 1/12th of a dog’s average lifespan is termed “one dog year”.)

Being that light is not a planet, the first definition is impossible. However, knowing that a light year is a proportional span of time in the lifespan of light does not tell us exactly what it is. In order to ascertain that, we need to determine what type of lifeform light is. The answer may surprise you.

Because light is very rarely green, we know that light is not a member of the Plant Kingdom. Similarly, light cannot grow on bread; thus it is not a member of the Mold Kingdom.

What remain are the Animal Kingdom and the Rock Kingdom. Considering that “light” is the opposite of “heavy”– the defining characteristic of the Rock Kingdom– it seems highly unlikely that it belongs to that Kingdom. However, there are no recorded instances of light being kept as a pet, a requirement for membership to the Animal Kingdom. And in fact, despite the misleading name, it is known to be true that light is quite heavy: the Sun, which is made up entirely of light, is the heaviest planet in our solar system!

Knowing that light is a kind of rock, we can determine that in determining the length of one year of its life, we can turn to the common lightbulb, which is shaped like an average rock and therefore a good indicator. A lightbulb, regardless of advertised longevity, will die after at most two years. Assuming, then, two years as the lifespan of a light, one twelfth of that would be two months.

Your answer, then, Krika (and I hope you have all enjoyed taking this mathematical journey with me), is that a light year is approximately two months, a proportionately significant span of time in the life of the average lightbulb.

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Disclaimer: Many of the assertions in this post are untrue. The writer cannot categorically affirm that light is a type of rock.