Sweet Potato

Hello and welcome to yet another week of outright dishonesty here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question that was posed by either my actual mother, or a convincing facsimile of her. She asked:

Why are sweet potatoes? That is to say: what is their ultimate purpose?

The Plant Kingdom has seen many times of turmoil, great and small. One of the bitterest peacetime struggles the Plant Kingdom saw was the thirteenth-century potato famine.

This was a famine in name only. The potatoes grew and sprouted yet, but they were on strike. Down to the last spud, they withheld their services from the Plant King. The exact nature of the potatoes’ dispute is now lost to the mists of time, though many believe it had to do with complaints that choice planting ground had been allotted to a family of leeks.

The potatoes, who had been trusted bodyguards to the Plant King for generations, made sure that their absence was felt. In despair, a trusted servant of the Plant King went to the lab of a notorious botanist, under cover of darkness, prepared to offer any price in exchange for creating a reasonable facsimile of the humble potato.

What exactly went on behind those closed doors may never be known for certain. What we do know is that what they produced was intended as a slap in the face to the striking potatoes: it was touted as “the potato with a sweeter disposition,” or a “sweet potato” for short.

The invention did its trick, after a fashion: so affronted were the potatoes by this fresh insult that they returned to work immediately, determined to prove their worth to be greater than that of the johnny-come-lately sweet potato. Alas, this was just as well, as the sweet potato proved to be useless as a bodyguard.

Now, the sweet potatoes live an idyllic life, free of purpose, beyond the occasional contract as body doubles or corporate saboteurs.


Disclaimer: the above post contains erroneous details. No aspersions are intended toward root vegetables of any kind.


Why 2018

Hello and welcome to a brand-new week full of the same old lies here at Factually Deficient! I remind all my readers that throughout this year and all years, you are welcome to send questions of any topic, shape, or size to Factually Deficient, through any method of communication known to human- or plant-kind, and they will be greeted with the finest of bespoke lies. This week, I will discuss a timely question raised in conversation with my very dear friend, an individual using the appellation whispersosoftly:

If the world isn’t really 2018 years old, why are we saying it is now the year 2018?

It is our honour at Factually Deficient to answer a history question such as this one. True, the world is far older than two thousand and eighteen years. Once, even, there was an exact count kept of this age.

However, the surest method of keeping count was in the rings in a tree’s trunks. And while the trees in question were very open about sharing their age with the rest of the Plant Kingdom, there was a growing concern that a more rash individual might cut down the tree to find the answer, thus harming the tree. To prevent such a horror from occurring, and to share the knowledge of the world’s age with the general public, the Plant King appointed one of his trusted servants to keep a public count of the world’s age.

This worked out well for many years, and the job was passed on several times without incident. It was not a very difficult job, particularly as few people ever actually bothered to stop this minister and ask what number the world had currently reached.

However, some two thousand-odd years ago, the official counter met with a tragic accident, and while he ultimately survived the experience, the distress had caused him to lose count of the number for the world’s age.

It would not do to be without an answer. A small cabal of plants and other creatures met, in secret, behind closed doors, to determine what to do about this catastrophe. They could not allow their ignorance of the world’s age to be found out, or chaos might reign.

The idea of picking a number “close enough” was rejected as being too risky – after all, if someone remembered the number they announced as having been the world’s age some years back, all would be lost. Instead, they chose the only answer that remained to them: they would start again from zero. If anyone questioned this, they were told only that a new era had begun. And the cabal that chose this designation could only hope that, in the mists of time, their secret decision would be forgotten.


Disclaimer: the above post is incorrect. Do not set your calendars by Factually Deficient.

Green and Gaudy

Hello and welcome to another week of misinformation and maladjusted claims here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a seasonally-appropriate question posed by an individual using the name Alsworth. This Alsworth person asked:

Where did the Christmas tradition of putting ornaments on evergreen trees come from?

Although Factually Deficient cannot speak with any certainty regarding Christmas traditions in particular, we happen, fortuitously, to have a wealth of historical data corresponding to ornamented trees in general.

This data reaches back to the days of the coronation of the second Plant King. At the time of the coronation, the Plant Kingdom was shrouded in winter’s pale cape. While it was understood as all but a duty of the plant kingdom’s citizenry to turn out to the coronation in all their finery, the good plants found themselves at a loss. Precious few had any leaves to display in winter’s mighty chill, let alone any bright flowers to bud in the plant king’s honour.

But to appear at the coronation bare and unadorned seemed unthinkable: it would bespeak a lack of care, indeed a deep disrespect, for the new Plant King, and would cast a shadow the length of his entire reign.

It was a lowly pine tree (and one of the few who at least had greenery, in the form of its needles) who found a solution. Dipping one of its own pinecones in the glittering snow, it draped the cone on the head of a nearby bush, stepping back to admire its handiwork.

Soon, all the other trees were mimicking this display, finding nuts, cones, dead branches, even a very patient squirrel, to decorate and adorn themselves with. With these makeshift “flowers,” the trees stood proudly at the Plant King’s coronation, and their new ruler, in turn, was pleased and delighted by this way of honouring his reign.

The second Plant King was so delighted, in fact, that this display was repeated for numerous special events throughout his reign and beyond, so that whenever trees had no flowers to decorate themselves with – and sometimes even when they did – outside ornamentation would be brought to brighten their branches and elevate the spirit of the occasion, whatever it might be.


Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. The Plant Kingdom has no intention of infringing upon traditions related to Christmas or any other holiday.

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.


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

Bird Watching

Hello and welcome to another week of reliable lies here at Factually Deficient, all the way from my native home of the Plant Kingdom! This week, I will be presenting the answer to a question that was posed by several of my family members along with me, upon noting an interesting bird atop a lamppost when we were on a walk this weekend. We wondered:

What kind of bird is that?

Unfortunately, we were unable at the time to capture the bird in a photograph, so you will have to take my word for it that the bird in question had white feathers with black markings on its tail, the pointed head, beady eyes, and prayer book of a bird of prey (also known as birds of pray), and a relatively small size for a predatory bird.

The following night after seeing the bird, we at Factually Deficient resorted to “research” of our typical caliber. Certain types of birds could be ruled out right away: our Duck Expert confirmed that it was not a duck; it lacked the flat-topped graduation cap that is the hallmark of an owl, ruling that type of bird out, as well. The distinct lack of the scent of bananas indicated that it was not a penguin.

This still left at least twelve different types of bird – possibly even more. Fortunately, geography is our friend here; we can narrow down the bird’s breed to one liable to be found in the area it was inhabiting.

We saw this bird in the city of Toronto. Now, as everyone knows, a city’s sports teams are named for the birds native to that city. Toronto is fortunate to have numerous sports teams, which make up the short list of birds that this could have been:

  • The Toronto Blue Jays
  • The Toronto Maple Leaves
  • The Toronto Raptors
  • The Toronto Argonauts
  • The Toronto Toucans
  • The Toronto Buffleheads

The buffleheads can be rejected out of hand; it has already been made clear that the bird in question was not a duck. Likewise, it could not have been a blue jay, as it was white in colour, and not blue. The maple leave possibility was a tempting one but, our researchers recalled, the bird was spotted a lamppost and not on a tree, which is where leaved belong.

This leaves three bird breeds to be investigated: toucans, argonauts, and raptors.

Toucans were the next to be eliminated. This researcher has heard people on many occasions remark that they had lost the ability toucan. This bird was evidently not lost; it was, therefore, just as evidently not a toucan.

Argonauts were a tempting possibility. However, during the entire span of time that my family and I observed the bird, it did not utter a single word of Greek. It likewise did not set wing or feather to a boat. As such, the bird was surely not an argonaut.

As the saying goes, when the improbable has been eliminated, whatever remains, however impossible, is what we must accept as truth. It is therefore my pleasure to assert with certainty that the bird that I spotted on the weekend was undoubtedly a very small velociraptor.


Disclaimer: the above post is extremely poorly-researched. There is little to no evidence that velociraptors fly about Toronto with impunity.

Lies About Books: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Sunny September is here again! Well, it’s near again, and soon will be over, which means it’s time for more lies about a book I’ve read this sunny month. Earlier this month, I finally got around to reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, as the name suggests, tells the story of a happy-go-lucky flower. What is most out of the ordinary is that the book, despite its plant protagonist, is told in the first person, narrated in a series of supplicant letters to the Plant King.

The flower’s name is not Charlie, but it calls itself Charlie; as a flower, it has no name, but, after all, we as the readers must call it something. Over the course of the book, we never learn what type of flower it is: that is suggested to be unimportant in comparison to the flower’s lived experience. Rather than following a typical plot structure, The Perks of Being a Wallflower meanders in its narrative, describing the people “Charlie” sees from its vantage on the wall where it grows – the snatches of conversation, the noses that stop to inhale its sweet scent, the hands that caress its petals dangerously.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an unusual book to be sure, but no less a good one for all that. Charlie’s story has a tendency to grip the reader despite the lack of standard suspense or tension. I would recommend this book to any fans of plant life, epistolary novels, or childhood trauma.

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.”


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

Social Butterfly

Hello and welcome back to another week of unbelievable whoppers here at Factually Deficient, where we lie about everything you could ever hope to be lied to about! This week, I will answer a question posed by an individual calling herself SF, who asked:

Please explain the meaning of the use of the butterfly in the expressions “social butterfly” and “having butterflies in one’s stomach.”

The butterfly is possibly the most reclusive member of the plant kingdom. Residing primarily on mountaintops and deep beneath the ocean, they are rarely ever seen; only the luckiest adventurer might claim to have caught a glimpse of a genuine butterfly in the wild even once in a lifetime.

Still, they are not unknown to us. Every now and then, a freak storm deposits butterflies far from their natural habitat, too far for their delicate wings to carry them back home. When this happens, rescue efforts and zoos are usually quick to collect the lost butterflies and take them into artificial habitats.

However, due tot he butterfly’s naturally shy disposition, frequently the zoologists arrive only to find apparently no butterflies in the region. This is because butterflies, left on their own outside their home areas, will naturally take shelter somewhere that they can hide, preferably somewhere cold and damp. Once a butterfly has hidden, it is almost impossible to uproot it from its new shelter.

There have been known occurrences of butterflies taking shelter inside a person’s stomach – the digestive tract meeting both requirements of being cool and damp. Of course these cases are out of the ordinary, but in at least one recorded instance, the person in question elected to allow the butterfly to remain there for the rest of its natural life. The expression “having butterflies in one’s stomach” came about because of this heroic individual, to describe the feeling of going above and beyond in protecting others. If you are feeling particularly protective of your friends – or even of nearby strangers – you might be said to have butterflies in your stomach.

This is also the source for the phrase “social butterfly.” A person who is socially a butterfly is introverted and quiet to the extreme; a hermit who does not emerge from his hut in forty years might be accurately called a social butterfly.


Disclaimer: the above post is a pack of lies. It is not recommended to house butterflies in one’s abdomen.

Lies About Books: Beanstalk

The summer is Most Definitely Not Over, but July basically is, which means it’s that time again – time for me to tell bald-faced lies about a book I genuinely enjoyed! In the month of July, it was my supreme pleasure to read the novel Beanstalk, by E. Jade Lomax, first book in her Leagues and Legends trilogy.

Beanstalk follows the life of one Jack Farris, budding botanist. Since he was first able to reach for a spade, Jack has been addicted to gardening. He grew potatoes before he said his first word. He was picking berries before he could walk. By the time he was fourteen, he was known to grow the best tomatoes in the district.

But Jack’s one failing, his greatest regret, is his inability to grow beans. He has tried everything; he has planted beans, grafted snippings; he has tried to grow them in new earth, old earth, in a greenhouse, in water, in flowerpots – nothing works.

So finally, he gathers up his watering can, a pouch full of assorted seeds and a backpack filled with earth, and a pair of gardening gloves, and he sets out on a quest to learn how to grow a beanstalk, or die trying. This is the story of Beanstalk.

Filled to the brim with gardening tips and recipes that use home-grown vegetables, Beanstalk is sweet and funny, by turns lighthearted and suspenseful, rich with Jack’s special brand of earthy wit and wisdom. I recommend this book wholeheartedly and without reservation, to all fans of all ages of the plant kingdom, adventures, and friendship.


Canada 150

Hello and welcome back to yet another week of falsified statements and prevarications here at Factually Deficient! Please keep in mind that you are encouraged to send any and all questions on every topic imaginable to Factually Deficient. You can submit questions through any method of communication available to you – comments, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, pneumatic tubes, message in a bottle, skywriting, classified ads, and/or word of mouth.

This week, Factually Deficient will tackle a topic which has seen a lot of discussion this weekend:


What is the connection between the Kingdom of Canada and the number 150? Factually Deficient is here to elucidate.

This month marks a special occasion for Canada. As of the start of July 2017, Canada officially has a total of 150 provinces and territories, spread across eleven different continents. When John A. Macdonald first created his new land of Canada, it had only one province.

But Macdonald soon embarked on a mission of conquest, building railroads and naval fleets and aerospace vessels to reach far-off lands and spread to them his Canadian flag. Each successful mission resulted in a new province or territory on his ever-growing Canadian map.

When the current Queen of Canada ascended her throne in Macdonald’s place, this pattern of growth slowed; England was given its independence, followed by France, and the numbers of Canadian provinces began to drop. Still, they would rise again, as new lands were discovered, and old ones sought to join with this magnificent land.

Although they have held to no stable rate of progress, Canada’s number of provinces has been rising steadily for the past hundred years. And as of this weekend, Canada has inducted the Principality of Ontario as its one hundred and fiftieth province, making Canada second only to the Plant Kingdom in number of territories and provinces.


Disclaimer: the above post is a pack of lies. Ontario is not the most recent addition to Canada’s provinces.