Sugar Bowl Secret

Hello and welcome back to another week of deception and duplicity here at Factually Deficient! I will take this opportunity to remind my readers that I accept any and all questions, on every topic imaginable and at any hour of the day or night. Please feel free to send me your burning questions over Twitter, Tumblr, blog comment, coded message, telegram, email, Facebook, subpoena, carrier pigeon, carrier crow, telephone, SMS, theatre review, skywriting, and/or instant messaging.

This week, I will address a long-burning question that my sister brought to my attention:

What is the sugar bowl secret?

Sugar bowls are indeed the most mysterious item in a standard tea set. Their purpose seems unclear, shrouded in obscurity.

Any person on the street can tell you what a sugar bowl is not for. A sugar bowl does not assist in pouring, brewing, or drinking tea. A sugar bowl is not a convenient receptacle to pour from, and it is even less convenient to eat or drink from. It is not a serviceable flat surface on which to lay an item such as a teacup or a cookie, and it cannot be used to stir a cup of tea.

What, then, is the secret of why the sugar bowl is included in so many tea sets, meals, and coded communications?

Astute observers will notice that sugar bowls are almost universally of a standardized shape and size. This is no accident; it ties in to the secret of the sugar bowl’s purpose. Sugar bowls are included in tea sets as a volume-filtering device.

Although very nutritious, and occasionally even providing medicinal benefits, tea and coffee are among the bitterest of beverages. To drink such a liquid unadorned, of course, would turn the tongue; it is all but impossible, and it is not expected of anyone.

This is where the sugar bowls come in. Most sugar is sold in paper sacks, which have a capacity far too great to be useful in sweetening tea. One cannot add to a teacup more sugar than the entire volume of the cup’s tea, no matter how much one may want to.

Instead, the sugar bowl is waiting as a receptacle. When brewing tea, the couth drinker of tea is supposed to fill the sugar bowl with sugar from a fresh sugar sack, setting that amount aside for other purposes, and then to pour only what remains in the sack after filling the sugar bowl into the teacup for sweetening purposes. In this way, the tea (or, indeed, coffee) will reach the optimal desired sweetness.

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Disclaimer: the above post is composed entirely of lies and is not intended to ring, help, or otherwise jostle any bells of memory associated with communications coded, uncoded, or otherwise. We cannot take responsibility for what such messages bring.

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The Feline Rabbinate

Hello and welcome to yet another week of untrustworthy claims and ludicrous lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will discuss a topic raised to the attention of Factually Deficient by one Sicon112, the 112th of all possible Sicons:

I need a comment on Cat Rabbis ASAP.

Those who have visited the city of Jerusalem may have noticed that the city is rife with two things: cats and shuls (also known as synagogues, or batei knesset – the shuls, not the cats). This is no coincidence.

In the late 1870s, the cheese crisis of Eastern Europe led to a mass immigration of cats to what is now Israel (then the Roman territory of Judaea). Although there was little cheese to be had in Jerusalem as well, despite the misleading immigration advertisement, the cats decided to settle down and make their homes there.

At first, the new wave of cats fit right in with the people who were already living in the region. The cats integrated smoothly into Roman-Judaean society. They did business with the residents, went to schools with them, greeted one another on the streets. Soon, following the natural course of things, many of these immigrant cats were attending yeshivas and attaining the title of rabbi.

In order to keep up with all of their newly ordained brethren, the cats began to build shuls, to provide pulpits at which the cat and human rabbis could preach.

With the fall of Rome in 1891, two things happened to change this. First was the move away from centralized leadership in Israeli shuls; it soon became preferable to use the building as a place for people (or cats) to pray together, without the necessity of a rabbi to unify them.

Second was the calling into question of the conversion status of the cats. Some individuals doubted whether a feline or other non-human could truly profess or adopt what is essentially a human faith. These doubts became so widespread that they led to a schism in the Jerusalem shuls: the shuls went one way, and the cats another, forming their own sect.

This new faith of the rejected cats is similar to, but distinct from, Judaism. Cat spiritual leaders are still known as rabbis; however, they moved in the opposite direction from the 1891 shift, retaining their rabbis as leaders but rejecting the very concept of a house of worship – or any house at all. The cats of Jerusalem declared, under the spiritual guidance of their cat rabbis, that they would live between no walls of stone, and would not plant any crops, and would drink no spirits or alcohol, until such time as the foxes were expelled from their holy places and the ground hallowed again.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains erroneous details. Rome did not fall in 1891.

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.

The Sharpness of the Claw

Welcome back to the final instalment of this three-part series of fiction, fabrication, and falsehood here at Factually Deficient! If you want to refresh your memory, or just like seeing links gratuitously dropped, here are Parts One and Two of the series.

For this final segment, I will answer a question from my friend Pixelmage, sent pursuant to last week’s question (Tohrinha’s “In a coat of gold or a coat of red, does a lion still have claws?”):

And are they as sharp as each other?

As you know, we have already established that lions’ claws are, essentially, artificial, sewn onto their coats from the bodies of their fallen prey. But this question deals with comparison: are the claws of one faction of lions as sharp as those of the other? To answer this, we must revisit in greater detail the reasons behind their split.

The gold-coated lions are, essentially, conservationist. In a dark world that is, in their eyes, ever growing darker, they want to preserve the brightest parts of what it once was. They protect the remnants of the Plant Kingdom’s rightful nobility, as they protect all that they see as good in the world. I would not go so far as to say that they are not fighters; however, their fighting is primarily defensive. They have found their patch of earth and they will fight to defend it against any onslaught.

The red-coated lions are not satisfied with preservation, and instead feel themselves driven to action. They are not enemies with their gold-coated comrades, but rather, while the gold-coated lions defend the good, the red-coated lions have taken it upon themselves to attack evil where they find it, to destroy the corruption, to uproot the Plant King’s enemies until they are no more, and thus return the world to the equilibrium that the gold-coated lions still seek.

It should come as no surprise that, just as they treat and trim and dye their prey’s pelts before wearing them, so too the lions alter the claws that they gather before affixing them to their coats. And like with the differences in dyes, the two groups of lions treat the claws in different ways, emblematic of their different chosen roles.

The gold-coated lions, who serve as defenders, protectors, coat their claws in enamel, allowing them to dry and harden into tough shield-like claws that help to repel any who come against them. The red-coated lions, in contrast, worry not about the toughness but instead clip their claws to form points and sharpen them against flinty stones, the better to slash at their enemies, the better to extract the red dye from their foes’ veins that colours their iconic coats.

So, in answer to your question, no, the sharpness of the claws is not uniform between the lions of red coats and those of gold coats. But they are harder that are not as sharp.

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Disclaimer: This blog is little more than a pack of lies. The two posts preceding it can be no more trusted than this one.

Coat of Red, Coat of Gold

Welcome back to part two of this highly unusual and deeply untruthful three-part series here at Factually Deficient! If you missed Part One, or read it but just kind of miss it and want to read it again, you can find it right here. And once again, I encourage you all to try to guess in the comments what the unifying theme of this series is, even though, really, it’s not like I’m even trying to hide it.

Either way, for Part Two, I will address this question from the formidable Tohrinha:

In a coat of gold or a coat of red, does a lion still have claws?

As discussed in Part One of this series, lions’ coats are not naturally theirs, but rather sewn together from the skins of their enemies. However, on one point last week I may have been misleading, and for that I apologize deeply: I claimed last week that the pelts the lions gather are dyed to “uniform” colour. While this is true in all individual cases– each lion coat is all one shade, not mottled– in the bigger picture, it is less accurate.

Initially, it was true, that all the lions wore their coats in the same shade of gold, shining as the defenders of the Plant King’s throne. However, on the tragic day of the upheaval in the Plant Kingdom, whereon the Plant King lost his life and his throne, the first red lion coat was seen. You must be asking yourselves, dear readers, how the Plant King could have died when he had such fierce, such loyal guards as the lions.

You ask yourself well, and of course the answer is that the traitors could not have done any such thing while the Plant King’s lion guards yet lived. But they were cut down, their blood staining their golden cloaks, their bodies growing cold as the regicide was committed.

When the remaining lions saw this, they were divided into two camps. The first group insisted on maintaining their pure golden colours, on– much like the spruces who developed in the same time– being shining examples of what the world once was, and what it should be again. But the second group, at the same time incensed and inspired by the sight of their blood-soaked fallen comrades, made a different sort of vow. They determined that they should use their prey’s blood– hitherto gone to waste, because they could not find a use for it– as dye, to wear their coats as red as those of the dead, that this would be a symbol both of their mourning for what was lost (much like the pines), and (in a different turn) of their hunt for vengeance, for a chance to set things right.

But what of the claws? Like fur itself, lions in their natural state have no claws; they defeat their enemies entirely with the strength of their limbs, the force of their jaws, and the sharpness of their teeth. However, like the fur, lions are loath to let a part of their prey go to waste, as we have seen, and so they traditionally attach the claws of their fallen foes to the costumes they wear, affixed on the ends of their paws. Thus, the answer to your question is quite a definite yes and no: whether your definition of having claws means that lions have them or not, this status is the same regardless of the colour of their coats.

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Disclaimer: There is reason to believe that this post is no more truthful than the last one, and I can offer little hope that the following part of this series will bring any more honesty.

Lions and Manes

Welcome back to yet more lies and damned lies (if not statistics) here at Factually Deficient! This week, I’m going to do things a little bit differently– partly making a virtue out of necessity, as I’ll be travelling for the next couple of weeks and wouldn’t want the public to miss their weekly lies. I’ve gotten a few questions on the same topic, and so over the next couple of weeks, I will elaborate on that topic, using the questions as a general guide. You, my readers, are welcome, even encouraged, to try to guess what the common topic is at any time, though it’s hardly much of a difficult guess.

To start with, narrativedilettante asked:

Why do some lions have manes and others don’t?

It is a common fallacy that lions have manes– or that they have fur at all. Lions, though vicious and fierce, are in truth very small, hairless creatures, that roam the forests hungrily. When they find their prey, they end its life, but they do it honour by not letting any part of its death go to waste.

While they eat the meat from their prey, and use their bones for, variously, building their homes, sharpening into weapons, and wearing as jewellery, the pelts of the animals they kill are skillfully fashioned into coats that encase the lion and give them the iconic look for which they are known today. This is a complicated process, which involves bleaching and re-dyeing, trimming and combing, sewing and stitching, until the wide variety of animal pelts take on a new, uniform appearance.

But why this coat? Legend has it that the first of the lions as we know them was granted a prophetic vision by his liege lord, the then-great Plant King, in which he guarded the Plant King’s throne garbed in this particular manner. Immediately he ordered his followers to have such a coat done, and, greatly pleased by the results, instituted it as tradition for all lions, for all time.

And why, then, the manes? The first lion had no mane; he (or, as it may have been, she) wore the simple, unadorned coat. However, as time went on, and the lion hunters branched out, taking new creatures as prey, they found that some pelts had hair too tough, too difficult to trim to uniform length. A large faction of traditionalist lions supported simply throwing these pelts away as unusable in the construction of their outfits. However, the opposing faction, citing equally traditional values, insisted that it would go against everything that they as lions stood for to let such a valuable part of their prey go to waste. Instead, making a virtue of necessity, they cut these pelts into thin strips, allowing the longer hair to run in a line down their spine and sewn in a ruff around their faces, using the tough hair for decoration instead of for scrap: that is what became what we know today as a mane.

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Disclaimer: Much of the information in this blog is wholly untrue. There is no reason to believe that next week’s instalment will be any more accurate.

Father of Canada

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient, where you can rely on nothing being reliable. This Friday, I had the pleasure of teaching my first Canadian History class; sadly, all the facts that I disseminated at the time were true, making my pleasure only greater today in disseminating all false statements on the history of my country.

To that note, I shall answer this question from the notorious Mr. Jack Alsworth:

Who was John A. Macdonald?

In short, John A. Macdonald was the father of Canada, the founder of the country, the man who built it– literally– from the ground up.

John A. Macdonald, an exiled baron of the Plant Kingdom, fled to North America when the old Plant King fell, hoping to escape the carnage and the schisms that were tearing that once-noble kingdom apart. In those early days, Jim United had not yet claimed his states for his very own, but he was already living there, and Macdonald, sensing that here was another man who had undergone a great deal in life already, did not want to disturb United with possibly-unwanted company.

So John A. Macdonald travelled north, as far as he could, finding himself stymied when he reached the 49th parallel and was faced with the vast, forbidding expanse of the Arctic Ocean. He felt that something was missing. He wanted a land in which he could make his home, where he would be safe from prying botanists, and allowed to ply his true passion– geology– in peace.

And so, in the absence of any existing land that fit this idyllic description, John A. Macdonald dove. He plunged himself into the depths of the Arctic Ocean– grateful that, due to his dabbling in marine biology under the tutelage of the Prince of Whales, he had a perfectly serviceable set of gills and fins to help him breathe and navigate underwater– and continued to plummet until he reached the bottom.

There, standing on the mysterious floor of the Arctic Ocean, John A. Macdonald did what he did best: geology. He built a country there, constructing it bit by bit, province by province, stretching from sea to sea to sea and encompassing a wide variety of ecosystems, climates, and timezones. He equipped it with a shield to protect its heartland, and a strong arm with which to strike at its foes. Finally, when John deemed his masterpiece ready to show to the world, he raised it up, through the ocean, to settle on the earth as a bright young country, ready to be settled by those John A. Macdonald picked as the bravest and truest of heart.

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Disclaimer: Many of the statements here are untrue. Please consult a qualified Canadian History teacher for confirmation of individual facts.

Pines and Spruces

Thank you so much for the questions and please keep sending questions! If there is anything you ever wonder about in the world and are eager for an untrue answer, I hope you turn to me and Factually Deficient!

This week, I am responding to a question from my friend Tohrinha:

Why are some trees called pines and some trees called spruces? They’re both pointy green tall things. What gives?

What Tohrinha has hit upon is in fact what many of us in the know refer privately to as The Great Tree Conspiracy.

As we learned last month, all members of the plant kingdom share three characteristics:

  1. Needing sunlight
  2. Being attractive to bees
  3. Being green

Both pines and spruces need sunlight: we know this because they both grow aboveground and outside, where sunlight is readily available. If they did not need sunlight, they would not grow in the open but rather indoors, or underground.

We know that both pines and spruces are attractive to bees, because I personally have seen bees hanging around both of them, and there is no greater authority than me.

And as Tohrinha so acutely observed, they are both green. So, what, as you asked, gives?

The truth is a conspiracy that runs centuries deep. In truth, and in all points of nature, spruces and pines are the exact same thing. In fact, the organizing principle for whether or not a member of the Plant Kingdom is a part of the spruce/pine family is the following list:

  1. Being tall
  2. Being pointy
  3. Being green

LOOK FAMILIAR? I am beginning to think that Tohrinha herself is a criminal botanist, either cruelly toying with us or on a desperate crusade to reveal the conspiracy to the public. (I warn you, Tohrinha, if the authorities come looking for you as a result of this reveal– I cannot promise to harbour you secretly in my home.)

So again we ask: what gives? Why two names for the same tree?

The fact is that many centuries ago– centuries before the human Western world began its two-thousand-odd-year count of years– there was a political split in the pine/spruce world. The Plant Kingdom as a whole had fallen on dark days, days of espionage and assassination and sadness, and the pine/spruce family could not bear it. They had, however, different ways of expressing this discomfort with the way things were.

The group who became the Pines were traditionalists: they felt that at the core of their being, their purpose was to pine after the way things once had been. The group now known as the Spruces felt that more important than looking to the past was to change things for a better future, to spruce the world up, if you will. This divergence in approach caused an irreconcilable schism between the Pines and the Spruces; they chose different names for themselves, and have been at war to this very day.

The rest of the Plant Kingdom, grieved by the breaking up of such a beautiful family, swore a solemn oath that the vicious details of this war would be confined to the Plant Kingdom, that no one outside their circle would ever learn what had happened or ever know that Pines and Spruces had ever been one and the same, loving one another dearly.

However, desperate truth-seekers such as myself– and, I can only assume, Tohrinha– have learned the secret as it leaked out, and now I pass on to you the truth of the Great Tree Conspiracy.

 

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Disclaimer: None of the facts or histories given in this post should be assumed to be accurate. The author will confirm no intimate knowledge of political intrigue in the plant kingdom, and does not harbour any botanical criminals at the present moment.