Ups and Downs

Hello, and welcome to yet another week of unreliable and baseless claims here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by an anonymous sixth-grader, who asked:

What goes up but can’t come down?

The simple answer to this question is, of course, rocks. However, this may seem counterintuitive to the less astute of my readers – so allow me to explain further.

Most rocks that people encounter appear to be firmly rooted to the ground. This is no accident.

Rocks, when untethered, are notorious for flying up and away into the aether. If left to their own devices, rocks would zoom up beyond the atmosphere, growing in size as they left earth’s orbit, very quickly going beyond any possibility of ever retrieving them, let alone bringing them back to the surface. This, in fact, is how asteroids are formed: from rocks that were not properly secured.

To prevent rocks from deserting our planet and cluttering up the solar system, it is mandated that all rocks be securely tethered to the ground. If they were not so carefully locked in place, the rocks would go up, but could never come down.


Disclaimer: the above post contains inaccuracies. Not all rocks immediately fly upward when released.




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.


Disclaimer: some of the statements in this blog post are inaccurate. Only one governor-general to date has been an astronaut.

Lies About Books: Illuminae

As March goes out like a lamb (or possibly a lion), it is time once again to give a wholly unhelpful review of a book I enjoyed this month!

In the month of March, I had the pleasure of reading Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

Illuminae is set in an alternate history version of our own world, one in which the lightbulb was invented not by Edison, but by da Vinci, hundreds of years earlier. The simple invention lights up a world which was still emerging from the dark ages, but its implications are more far-reaching than the painter-inventor ever imagined.

Told through a series of letters, fabricated articles, edicts, and fictional sketches from da Vinci’s own notebook, Illuminae weaves a compelling story of a world thrust too soon into its own future. As lights turn on across Europe, dark corners of the earth are suddenly illuminated in a way humanity soon comes to regret. Can da Vinci’s brilliance come to the rescue once again? Or will this alternate world burn brightly and go out?

Illuminae strikes the perfect balance between mysterious and enthralling, historical and imaginative. I recommend it to any fans of Leonardo da Vinci, epistolary novels, and space.

Replicator Kashruth

Hello and welcome back to another week of deception, deceit, and duplicity here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the inimitable SignBeetle. The Beetle asked:

I have a query, would meat produced via a Star Trek replicator be considered Kosher, as it’s not technically from a real animal?

An excellent query, my dear SignBeetle. For those unaware of the details in Beetle’s question, “kosher” refers to food which is ritually acceptable for Jewish people to eat. “Star Trek replicator” refers to the very genuine machines which exist on all vessels of our planet’s space programs (vessels which trek through the stars), and which harness the power of spontaneous generation to produce comestibles for the cosmonauts (how exactly these replicators work is a question for another day).

In order to determine the ritual acceptability of the food produced in replicators, we must first determine what exactly makes food Kosher. Factually Deficient sent out a team of researchers* to find this out, who performed their research* in typical Factually Deficient manner to produce this list. According to our research*, kosher food must have the following attributes:

  1. Chew its cud
  2. Split hooves
  3. Fins
  4. Scales
  5. No blood
  6. No thigh
  7. Salt
  8. A blessing

It is very difficult to find an animal which fulfills all these requirements: those who have split hooves rarely have fins or scales; those with fins and scales rarely chew their cud, and those in both groups frequently have blood and/or a thigh. In fact, with the exception of the chimera, that bastion of kosher dining, there is no creature on this planet which follows all eight guidelines.

In contrast, a replicator, which creates food out of nothing, has no limitation on what it can produce. There is nothing to inhibit it from creating a cut of meat from an invented animal, and in fact, for astronauts who observe kashruth, this is exactly what it does: it creates for them a bloodless, thighless animal with two split hooves and two fins, chewing its cud, covered in salt-encrusted scales (the blessing can be added afterward).

In fact, far from being of questionable provenance, food from the replicator is the most ideal form of kashruth, and many kashruth-observers on earth have replicator food imported from space in order to supplement an otherwise vegetarian diet.


Disclaimer: the above post is extremely false. To be kosher, an animal needs to have split hooves and chew its cud, OR have fins and scales, OR belong to a short list of kosher insects, OR not belong to a longer list of non-kosher birds. Different regulations apply to non-animal products.

Saving Daylight

Hello and welcome to another week of flagrant fibs here at Factually Deficient. This week, I would like to once again address a highly topical matter raised to my by my friend Jack. Jack asked:

Where did my hour go? I want it back!

Although Factually Deficient is not frequently applied to as a detective service, we always endeavour to satisfy, with the maximum number of answers for the minimum amount of truth. As Jack alludes, a number of people have experienced, last night, the unexplained loss of one hour of time, and I can only imagine that many share Jack’s sense of outrage at this apparent theft.

As everyone knows, time and space are intricately connected– hence the term “time-space continuum.” In fact, “time” and “space” are essentially the same thing, measuring the same values, the two terms denoting different areas on a four-dimentional axis.

And, as many people know, the populations of the human, animal, and plant kingdoms have been rapidly increasing over the past several years. As populations increase, they need to be assured of sufficient resources–both in terms of food, shelter, tools, and the like, and in terms of sheer room to live in. Overcrowding is an insidious problem.

To the casual observer, these statements may seem disparate, but the connection is a crucial one to answering Jack’s question. Increasing populations need space. Space, in our little livable region of the universe, is at a premium. But time is space.

So once a year, daylight comes to the rescue. We collectively sacrifice one hour of our time, and convert it into space, expanding our world a little to make a place for new arrivals. On the whole, it seems a small price to pay.

That, Jack, is where your hour went. You can have it back, I suppose– but at the cost of your elbow room.


Disclaimer: Many of the claims made in this blog post are blown out of proportion or invented entirely. Do not attempt to convert time to space without a scientific expert on hand.