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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The Building of Worlds

Hello and welcome to another week of sincere insincerity here at Factually Deficient, where you get all the dishonesty of lies with none of the betrayal of being deceived! As always, I remind my readers that I take questions on any topic imaginable, at any time of the day or night, through any method of communication imaginable, except scorpion. Your scorpions will be returned unread.

This week, I will answer the scorpion-free question posed by one Endless Sea, who asked:

WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD AT WORLDBUILDING

We deliberated long and hard about answering this question, because it requires revealing certain secrets of the inner workings of Factually Deficient’s organization. Ultimately, cooler heads, and liar’s integrity, prevailed, allowing us to bring you this answer tonight.

The building of worlds is not hard, if one knows how to do it. True, it can only be done at the dark of the moon. But the moon is dark at least once a month. And true, it can only be done within seven hours of consuming soup. But soup – soup is easily procured at any time of month or year.

However, Endless did not ask how it is that we build worlds. Mr. Sea asked why it is that we excel at it. And we freely admit, those in the upper echelons of Factually Deficient worried and wondered as to how it is that Endless Sea, who has never once flooded our private Factually Deficient offices, knows about the dozen or more planets that we secretly created by the dark of the moon, the taste of corn chowder still on our lips and fully-cooked steaks hanging heavy in our pockets.

But it does not matter how he knows. What matters is that yes, Factually Deficient is incredibly skilled at constructing these celestial bodies, so much so that it seems to happen almost by accident, that planets pile up in our back room until we are forced to rent a storage unit to keep them out of harm’s way.

But we excel at it due to the nature of what we are: liars, and professional ones at that. Lies weaken the boundaries between worlds. They fill the aether with vital energy, and make it easier, given the other necessary conditions, for a new world to come into being. The more lies one tells, the weaker those boundaries, the more energy there is, the easier it becomes to create and imbue a new world, until one is churning them out each month without a thought. Liars beget worlds, which in turn will be filled with liars.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains inaccuracies. Neither soup nor steak assist in the worldbuilding process.

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.

Vernal Equinox

Hello and welcome to another week of lies, calumnies, and falsehoods here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will ask a timely question posed by an individual known as Alsworth:

What are the direct causes of the vernal equinox?

First of all, I would like to remind Alsworth – and all of you – that Factually Deficient is a family-friendly publication, and we would appreciate it if you kept your questions appropriate. However, since this has now already been asked, there is nothing to do about it but to answer.

The vernal equinox refers, of course, to an event which occurs regularly every three and a half years, wherein the seasons reverse course and run “backwards” until the succeeding equinox event. This question is particularly timely, as we are currently experiencing the results of a recent vernal equinox: a winter that fades into spring only for that spring, on the volta of the vernal equinox, to recede back into winter, which will give way only to another autumn before summer comes.

Scientists have striven for centuries to explain the strange phenomenon of this vernal equinox. In ancient times, it was explained by the messy divorce proceedings between the mythical Persephone and Hades of myth. In more enlightened times, it was thought to be caused by an imbalance of the four elements in the atmosphere.

Now, however, we know better. When the sun revolves around the earth to give us our daily light, it does so with an irregular orbit. These ellipses of near and far are what give us our warm and cold seasons – but as the sun weaves between earth and the other planets that it lights up, those other heavenly bodies have their own trajectories. Once in three or so earth years, the planet Jupiter spins so near to the earth that it exerts a gravitational force on the sun, pulling the sun out of its regular path, and only releasing it on the downswing – setting it in the reverse of the spin it had been in before.

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Disclaimer: the above post may be erroneous. The sun does not revolve around the earth.

Lies About Books: Song of Achilles

As we bid farewell to the dying embers of November, it is that time of the month again, time to disseminate lies about a perfectly good book I read this month! During the month of November, I had the pleasure of reading Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller.

Song of Achilles tells the story of a young boy, Patroclus, who is abandoned by the last human outpost on a dying planet. Left with no way to provide for himself and no escape, Patroclus resorts to the one refuge left to him: music. He walks the paths of his barren world, singing to himself of the nation he once had, and of his loneliness.

His shock is unparalleled when he discovers that he is not alone on the planet after all. Drawn out by his singing and by the warmth of the nearing sun (as the planet spirals to its death), a foreign – if not quite alien – species introduce themselves to him. Calling themselves achilles, they are utterly unlike humans, though it seems they have shared a planet long enough that they can understand Patroclus’ language, more or less. He is fascinating to them: both in his alien nature, and in his ability to produce the beautiful music that so enthralls them.

One achille in particular is drawn to Patroclus, and an unlikely friendship springs up between the two. But will their legacy outlive their doomed planet?

Hauntingly lyrical, painfully tear-jerking, and vividly expressive, Song of Achilles is xenofiction as you have never read it before. I recommend it to all fans of ancient Greek literature, beautiful romantic friendships, and alien life-forms.

 

The Melting Point

This morning’s Lies About Books post was not, as I am sure my faithful readers are aware, in lieu of a proper Factually Deficient post, but rather, in addition. Indeed, this evening I bring you a full complement of regularly-scheduled misinformation.

Due to the inclement weather which has of late been plaguing my part of the world, I feel Tohrinha’s question to be particularly pertinent:

Why do people shovel snow instead of letting it melt off?

Tohrinha’s question makes a rather large assumption– namely, that waiting for snow to melt is a viable option– which suggests that she is perhaps less adept at climatology than she is when it comes to rebel botany.

Simply put, it is untrue that snow, given enough heat and time, will turn into water. Snow does not melt. The basis for this absurd misconception is probably a topic for another day, but, in short, snow is a substance entirely distinct from water (and equally distinct from ice), which falls from the sky, makes a nuisance of itself, and only becomes firmer as time wears on. It is a solid at room temperature.

Knowing this, we find the answer to Tohrinha’s question to be fairly obvious: if waiting will do nothing to ease the effect of the snow, then of course it is necessary to shovel it out of our ways.

The astute reader, however, may find cause to yet question this elucidation. Where, then– this reader might ask– does the snow go when it seems to “melt” in the spring? If it continues to fall and never dissipates, why is the world not blanketed several times over by now in snow?

This is a question which once plagued the greatest minds of our world, many years ago when it seemed that we might yet face that very fate. Fearful of an eternal winter which would end his kingdom as surely, albeit bloodlessly, as the awful schism did but a few years later, the great Plant King himself turned his mind to this problem, and, in his wisdom, solved it for all of plant- and humankind.

Each spring, once the snows had stopped for the year and could safely be cleaned away, convoys were sent conveying all the gathered snow that had fallen that season to rest upon a distant planet in the solar system. This has been the system employed since that long-ago decision of the Plant King, and so it shall be, one must assume, until all the planets but this one have been covered in our discarded snow.

 

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Disclaimer: Many of the statements in this blog are untrue. The writer cannot confirm how many planets to date have been inundated with unwanted snow.

Meteorology: Misnomer?

Hello and welcome back to yet another week of delightful deceptions and pleasant prevarications here at Factually Deficient!

This week, I would like to address a question asked by one eli_gone_crazy:

Why is it called meteorology if there are no meteors?

Now, this is a particularly perceptive question, and it seems that Miss Gone_crazy has accidentally revealed herself as a rebel geologist by her tacit acknowledgement in the question that meteors do not exist. In order to answer the question, therefore, we must examine the two parts of it separately.

First, the term meteorology. As many people know, the suffix “-ology” means the study of something– prime examples are zoology, the study of zoos, or zoological gardens; tautology, the study of things that are grouped together and tight, or taut; and pathology, the study of which direction, or path, to take.

I should note, in reference to Miss Gone_crazy’s question, that even in these prime examples, the name of the field is not necessarily always accurate to what it describes. For example, while pathology studies the appropriate route to take, many times, these routes do not involve paths at all. Similarly, tautology more correctly studies close groupings, regardless of how taut they are (or whether they are bound together at all).

As for meteorology itself, Miss Gone_crazy is absolutely correct in her statement that there are no such things as meteors. What are commonly believed to be meteors are universally nothing but very small planets and moons, variously. This misnomer of meteor, however, may shed some key light on the matter at hand.

Meteorology is the study of the weather experienced on our planet. Why, then, is it so called? The answer is now plain. It is absolutely the study of meteors, if one understands that meteor is a term only ever used to describe moons and planets; specifically, it is the study of two particular meteors, Earth and the Moon. Just as in pathology the quickest route may not involve a beaten path, meteorology does not always seem to relate to meteors directly– but it certainly involves our meteor, and the close study of it. I hope you can keep this in mind, Miss Gone_crazy, in your future endeavours, geological or otherwise.

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Disclaimer: None of the assertions in this blog should be unquestioningly believed. The writer cannot confirm the accuracy of the definitions given here.

Factually Deficient: Short Answers

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient! Did you know that Factually Deficient has existed for a whole half a year now? That’s crazy! (But, surprisingly for this blog, true.) In order to commemorate this exciting semianniversary, I’m going to do things a little differently this week only.

It has come to my attention that a number of questions sent to me for Factually Deficient, while not explicitly answered with a dedicated post, have overlapped with other questions that I have answered such that it would be redundant to post with answers to these. My sense of justice is injured by the idea of simply not answering these good people’s questions, and my authorial integrity doesn’t like the idea of redundancy. Instead, I will attempt to cover all those questions in brief, here, with links to the posts that address those questions more fully. Next week I will return to the regularly-scheduled programme of one cohesive pack of lies per week.

Tohrinha asked:

Who came up with the word “cloud”?

Clouds, like many things, were named by a wise and venerable apple (or appele). Although I am not an apple myself and therefore cannot speak with certainty, I believe they were so named because they are very loud; I am not sure about the significance of the ‘c’ appended to ‘loud’.

Ralph asked:

How do they get the neon into the neon tubes?

This is, of course, a question based on an incorrect assumption. As has already been established, the so-called neon tubes are actually lit not by neon, phosphor powder, or mercury, but by a totally different chemical reaction known as magic.

Melissa asked:

Where does this leave my blue spot?

I of course don’t know the details of any specific blue spots, but it is worth noting that blue is the default colour of all things in the absence of other pigment; this may serve to shed light on why a great many spots, stripes, and other patterns happen to be blue.

IslaKariese asked:

Why isn’t Pluto a planet anymore!?

I was extremely alarmed and frightened when I read this question, but then I did some research, by which I mean reread one of my own blog posts, and discovered to my relief that Ms. Kariese is mistaken: Pluto is indeed one of the nine planets in Earth’s solar system, along with the Sun, the Moon, Goofy, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and Saturday.

I hope that these reviews of previously-established facts have helped to shed light on the confusion that plagues so many of my readers, and that you will forgive me for deviating from my established norm this week.

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Disclaimer: Many of the answers given in this blog post have no basis in fact whatsoever. Reader discretion is advised.

 

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.

The Shape of the World

Welcome back to another week of Factually Deficient, where honesty may be the best policy, but nonetheless it is not the one we employ!

This week, I would like to answer a question asked by my friend Annie:

Why is the earth round?

It has been some time since I answered a geology question, and I can only hope that the aspiring geologists among my audience have not yet given up hope, for this answer is rife with geology indeed.

It is a common misconception that the earth is round. Although humanity has passed through several phases, believing it in turn to be flat, chelonian, and flower-shaped, we have now apparently decided it to be round and become complacent with that viewpoint, subjecting it to no further examination or scientific enquiry– with the exception of an elite group of rogue geologists, myself among them.

Labouring for many years aided only with protractors, metresticks, and one small pinhole camera, we have determined that the Earth is under no circumstances actually round. It is easy to understand how many people, armed by neither metrestick nor pinhole camera, have believed it to be so, though it is more difficult to comprehend their unwillingness to probe further for answers for so long.

Mountain ranges have for centuries now deceived people into thinking they were mere topological oddities; in fact, they have formed the edges of a polyhedral world, the adjoining faces seeming deceptively flat. It is difficult to line up the mountain ranges enough to determine exactly how many sides our prism of a planet has; popular opinion among rebel geologists is currently favouring a dodecahedron, though it is admitted that a cubic world would be seductively elegant.

We do not know yet exactly what shape our world is, but we do know why it is that shape: our planet is a box. One day, we will be able to unfold our six or twelve or however-many faces to discover a treasure hidden inside. And on that day, rebel geology– a profession long forced to hide and endure ignominity– will be vindicated at last.

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Disclaimer: Not all of the statements on this page are true. The author cannot confirm how many sides the planet has, or what glorious prize lurks beneath.