Questions: Meddlement, De Minimis, and Food

Specialist290 asks:

One thing I didn’t really see clarified anywhere else:  What exactly is “meddlement” in the sense that it’s used in Imperial law (and, more to the point, what sorts of behavior would it outlaw that would be considered “business as usual” and beneath legal scrutiny *here*)?

Well, the legal definition is:

To make use of, interact with, or non-destructively interfere with, without engaging in theft, another’s property without the consent of its owner.

So, that, basically. It’s the legal reflection of the concept of coválír, property as extension of self, in which conceptually to them, “my car”, say, is every bit as much a part of them as “my hand” is. And thus and so, even as decent humans in general will refrain from making free with other people’s bodies without their consent…

(Or, alternatively, you could think of it as the personalty equivalent of what in realty terms would be trespass.)

So there are literally all sorts of things that would qualify: if you sit on someone’s chair, use the calculator on their desk, borrow their stapler, access their wi-fi, take a book off their bookshelf and read it, etc., etc., without their consent, you’ve just committed misdemeanor meddlement. (I’d add “help yourself to a drink in their house”, but since you don’t plan on giving the liquid back, that’s actually theft.)

[For efficiency reasons, obviously, certain blanket permissions exist – if you are welcomed into someone’s home as a guest, for example, you receive the hospitality of the house, the offer of which constitutes a blanket consent for some things – make use of the public rooms, get yourself drinks, use the bathroom, access the guest network, read books off the non-private shelves, etc. – albeit not for others – go opening drawers in the private study, use someone’s personal computer – and so forth. For full details, please consult Codices of the Mannerly Symposium, Vol. II, p. 78 et seq.

And in emergencies – well, for example, in a case of defense-of-self-and-others, it’s technically a violation to grab someone else’s gun to use for that in the absence of better alternatives, but in the unlikely event that it were to proceed to litigation, a plea of necessity existed will more than cover it.

But as a general rule: ask before touching.]

Side note:

So far as being beneath legal scrutiny is concerned, a thing to bear in mind is that the Imperial legal system has no de minimis rule. To say that the Curia finds the arguments that support it in our legal system unconvincing is to understate the case, pointing out that to declare such a rule is no more than to declare that society will tolerate an arbitrarily large amount of injustice provided that it’s measured out in sufficiently small individual increments, and, pardon their Klatchian, fuck that shit. No sparrow shall fall, etc., or at least no sparrow shall be pushed without the legal right to redress.

(If it sounds like this implies that some people might be filing and/or responding to their first lawsuits before leaving their kindergarten-equivalents, well, it does. The Courts of Common Pleas and Small Claims are used to that. It’s educational.)

JonS asks:

In the whole “Royale With Cheese” translation, I’ve got a question-

(For those who don’t follow my G+, this was just a phrase I translated randomly probably for reasons including vague feverishness and cheeseburger craving. And if you want the big burger there anyway, you don’t want to order that, you want to order an Equity Lord With Cheese.

Anyway, the translation is:

tralin-runér galráchan ond-mícma


Let’s plop a thousand statistically average Eldrae in a well-stocked, well-appointed food court on Earth with cash to burn.  No chain restaurants, you can get pretty much anything that isn’t completely “off the wall” exotic there, and the food is good.  Not five star great, but a decently good example of the food type in all regards.  Assume everything is labeled (or we provide warnings) to prevent somebody from eating something that they might be allergic or can’t consume.  There is beer, both microbrewery of your particular choice and commercial brands.  There is wine, for meals that go with wine, but no bar.  There is a decent coffee and tea shop, and a very good ice cream/dessert/pastry stall.

On average, what will the Eldrae like in the food court and what would they not like?

Well, that’s a difficult question in the first place, because – short of stacking the deck by carefully selecting your thousand eldrae from the same community or food affinity group, which is not a good way to do “statistically average” in the first place – you’ve got a group large enough to like all sorts of stuff. Not much of a bell curve, either, thanks to the absence of peer norming, except that you might only have the one guy out on the end who thinks lye-pickled fermented hagfish or synthegen B is the absolute epitome of cuisine. Between them, they’ll eat and drink all manner of things.

But maybe I can offer some generalities.

Let’s start with raising three key points of difference, here. The first one is that, culturally speaking, anyone who spent their formative years in the Empire is accustomed to very, very high quality in everything. Their “fast express food” restaurants don’t get the option of substituting speed for quality – they have to solve the difficult problem of managing both, ’cause speed alone sells no burgers.

The second is that they’ve all been enhanced for better chemoception. They can all taste and smell really well, which rewards subtlety in cuisine, and punishes things that you can probably get away with where a human palate is concerned. The difference in flavor between cane sugar, beet sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup is stunningly obvious to an eldrae palate, for example, and anything picked up from cross-contamination or absorbed from packaging is rather more likely to turn out to be a problem.

The third, which probably isn’t all that relevant in this case, is that the portion sizes are too small, especially if this food court is located anywhere that isn’t the US. High-power metabolisms that chew through 7,000 kcal/day make you a big eater.

The good chemoception pushes the favorite things list towards the organic end of the scale – not because it’s organic, specifically, but because less processed foods tend to have, empirically, better and more subtle flavors. (Example, tomatoes: a heirloom tomato has flavor; a regular supermarket tomato tastes like a blob of mostly water.) Also, because some of those additives we mostly don’t taste? Many of those, they absolutely can taste. Which is not a prejudice against synthetics in or as food, note: it’s just that the people *there* working on those were responding to different incentives.

(A similar effect applies to the beer. Microbrews – and even some commercial brews that have some depth to them – will go over well. Mass-market love-in-a-canoe beer on the other hand… not so much.)

That subtlety preference in turn affects choice of styles, when multiple styles are available. For example, given the choice, a modal eldrae will prefer Indian-style curry – in which the subtle complexities of the spicing matter – over British-style curry, which often prefers to eschew sophistication for seeing how big a fire it can light in the eater’s stomach.

The third factor, incidentally, probably makes the Healthy Options portion of the menu unlikely to attract notice. Insufficiently calorific and composed by and large of inferior or watered-down versions of things (low-fat sour cream, imitation foodstuffs, etc., that does not delight the palate). And aren’t extra-healthy in this case – said metabolism can chew its way through a giant steak and hefty serving of whole-fat double-cream cheesecake without shifting gears.

(Also, while you avoided chain restaurants, operating procedures like, say, Chipotle, in which you participate in customizing your food such that you get exactly what you want how you want it will also go over well.)