Because Engineers’ Puns Never Change

bytegeist (n.): Originally a trademark of Epiphani, ICC, the term bytegeist refers to a modular, multi-function, autokinetic accessory for one’s muse (q.v.), providing physical-world interface, scanning, and manipulatory ability independent of those of the muse’s host.

(As was inevitable, earlier single-function muse accessories were immediately rechristened bitgeists once the bytegeist reached the market; likewise, such accessories which work in conjunction with a modern bytegeist are naturally referred to as its “bits”.)

 

Viriaz vs. Carlantanda

Viriaz vs. Carlantanda, District Court of the Lesser Rocks, 4001: In a case arising from an incident in which Viriaz was defrauded of several hundred esteyn by Carlantanda by means of the well-known “shell game“, respondent Carlantanda advanced that by the principle of long-standing custom (as seen in the brawler’s bar), and inasmuch as within delta of every sophont in the galaxy is familiar with the shell game, plaintiff Viriaz consented to play the game in full knowledge of its fixed outcome. Amicus briefs were filed for the plaintiff by the Baranithil Station Guide & Path-Pointer Association, and for the respondent by the Consequential Didaxis Non-Discouragement Faction.

The District Court found for the plaintiff, Justice Víënéra dissenting.

– Curial Summaries: Significant Historical Precedents in Imperial Law

 

Bonfire of the “Elites”

In today’s somewhat morose worldbuilding thoughts inspired by real-world events (in this case, the Harvey Weinstein affair, along with an endless parade of abuse-of-power stories courtesy of Sheriff Joe, the Chicago City Council, the Arizona Dept. of Corrections, etc., etc.), one really does have to wonder what the judicial death toll is among the powerful so-called “elites” when the Empire annexes or protectoratizes somewhere less, um, serious about notions like the rule of law, the equal protection of same, and actually meaning what it says about Liberty and Justice for All.

“All debts must be paid.”
– official motto of the Curia

“I approve this message.”
– Tywin Lannister

 

libertyandjustice

This image inserted to lighten an otherwise serious post.

 

After all:

  • The Ministry of Harmonious Serenity doesn’t care whether you want to press charges or not – it might, assuming you are mentally competent, concede that you have a right to waive weregeld and reparation owed to you, but you can’t forgive a crime against the Contract and the Charter, since you don’t have standing to do so;
  • You can’t bullshit an alethiometer, and its measure of truth has nothing whatsoever to do with your “credibility”, relative or otherwise;
  • The cyberjudicial AI may Know Who You Are, but to its intellect vast and cool and unsympathetic and defined by the predicates of the law, Who You Are means exactly nothing;
  • (You can’t bribe it, either – and even if you could figure out a way to, it couldn’t accept it since its entire decision process is entered into the publically-auditable court record.)
  • Nor does it give freebies based on your career prospects, talents, pretty face, or supposed one-offness of your special crime – or, indeed, any other circumstances. You can plead duress or justification if those apply, which will be taken into account, but the algorithm was written with the Equal Protection and Application of the Law in mind, and Thus Hath No Fucks To Give about anything that doesn’t bear directly upon the events in question.
  • And there is no pardon power to be wielded on your behalf, since – for the same reasons as the victim cannot forgive a crime – it can’t exist; holding office by virtue of a Mandate descending from the Contract and the Charter, even the Imperial Couple and the unanimous Senate in all their majesty and dignity lack standing to pardon crimes against them.

Basically, should you call down upon yourself the attention of the mills of justice, they grind exceedingly fine, and they aren’t terribly slow about it, either.

“What’s the difference between God and the Curia?”
“God forgives.”
– overheard in an Encystment Facility

This is, for those counting non-Utopian features, accounted horrific by everyone who is very keen on Justice in the abstract, but are substantially less so when the prospect of their own actions being judged according to an objective standard of such might actually be realized.

(The Empire finds this position about as eye-rollingly contemptible as that of all the people who are very keen on Liberty in the abstract, as long as no-one actually uses it for anything they disapprove of or don’t understand.)


In terms of more serious dark sides, however, there is one, and it’s called misprision of felony.

For those not familiar with the term in its Earth context, it was a common-law offence making it a crime to fail to report knowledge of a felony to the appropriate authorities; exceptions being made for close family members of the felon and where the disclosure would tend to incriminate the reporter of that offense or another. It’s also currently been mostly dropped except for people who have a special duty to report a crime.

The Imperial version is essentially the same, but without the exceptions – because so far as it is concerned, upholding the law is a duty that comes along with being a citizen-shareholder, and mere sentiment does not foreclose that.

Now, by and large, the Empire has – in its own territories – much, much less of a problem with people coming forward about these things, because the justice system has the reputation that it has for delivering on its promises. (And also because the general public doesn’t have its head wedged firmly up its ass, culture-wise.)

But where and when that doesn’t happen –

Yes, it is possible (and it has happened) for the victim of a crime to be charged with misprision of felony for not reporting it. Because as stated above, you don’t have standing to forgive crimes against the Contract and the Charter, and by allowing the perpetrator to escape justice – and thus be free to prey on your fellow citizen-shareholders – you’re violating the Responsibility of Common Defense.

This stringency is, of course, horrible.

It’s just also… just.

The just heart is always cold.
– traditional, source unknown

Phosphorylation is Murder

Tsingale Light: In most respects, this drift in the central Raidermarch is a typical starship propellant-and-shore-leave stop, albeit one in a bad neighborhood. One should, however, note the curious local law that all corpses on the station are property of the Administration – which exists, based on our writer’s conversations with the drift’s engineers and the purchase of much strong drink, due to the Administration’s reluctance to spend exval on upgrading to a less primaeval phosphate/sulphur recycling system. It would appear that simply tossing the periodic fruit of brawls between unruly belters, privateers, and long-haul freightsophs into the rendering vats is considered a more than adequate and fiscally advantageous substitute – so long as the Administration can also avoid spending money to upgrade security in the vicinity of docks and locks.

For all three of these reasons: Not Recommended.

– Around the Worlds on ¤1,000 per Sol

 

Holy Water

“The hydrarastrum of the Pearl-Bright Ocean is indescribable in mortal terms.

“This is not to say that its qualities cannot be imperfectly described: it possesses the glow of liquid light, the milky iridescent gleam of mother-of-pearl, and both the silver-white shine and heavy fluidity of quicksilver. It is simply that such qualities cannot coexist simultaneously in mortal substance.

“This, then, is your warning that when you set sail upon the Pearl-Bright, you are leaving the Realm of Instances for the Realm of Forms, where domain and entity alike are wrought from ideas in conceptual essence, and may thus prepare yourself to be likewise idealized in the course of your voyage.”

– “Ascending the Spire”, Elune Steamweaver

Snippet: Legality != Approval

“One of the chief problems with some cultures’ attitude towards professionalism is that it prevents their courts from issuing opinions such as – to quote Mandatory Benevolence Association vs. Suld – ‘This court must affirm that the defendant possesses an unalienable derived right to be, if he so wishes, a bigoted sack of contaminated crap.'”

– Presiding Justice Madrasi Koiric, Court of the Beyond

 

Eldraeic Word of the Day: Deléhain

deléhain: A direct translation of the kaeth word harghcha, literally meaning “pleasure-fight”; physical combat in social situations for the enjoyment of both the participants and any onlookers, which is a common feature of the kinesthetic kaeth culture.

Note that neither the Eldraeic hain nor the original cha define a scale without further qualification; the term deléhain can be applied equally well to two children roughhousing, or to Paltraeth’s annual Feast of the Blooding, a tradition compared by most visitors to a planet-wide civil war, albeit one conducted without modern weapons.