Sorry for the hiatus. It appears that many of us took a winter break from our chronicles (while some have gotten back on the wagon, others haven't), but I'm jumping back on the update train. I've done some interesting training since December, and all sorts of interesting things have been happening in the realm of politics and foreign affairs. I'll start by talking about some aspects of the consular training I received, which ought to take a few days. There is a lot of interesting material to cover, including playing with a Kalashnikov and driving a retired police cruiser while mortars flew overhead.
First of all, I'll say that I enjoyed my consular training, which ran from 30 November to 23 January. (It didn't actually consume that many days of training; most people were gone for all or part of the winter holidays.) I'm sure things will be quite a bit more tedious in the field, but the instructors tried hard to keep the class interesting.
Our first module discussed US citizenship and how most people get it (other than through immigration, which is a different story for later on). The easiest way is to be born in the United States, although there are some reasonable exceptions. For example, children born to members of hostile armies occupying the United States don't count. This one is more theoretical than anything else these days, but it does make sense. What amuses me is that being born in our airspace also counts for citizenship purposes - our training manuals specifically note this, as well as the fact that orbital births in US airspace were not considered in the law and that we have no guidance right now as to how we would handle such a case. While I suppose it's not urgent at the moment, one can imagine a point when the exact distance our airspace extends into space needs to be determined. Otherwise there's this cone of American citizenship extending who knows how far into space. Actually, that sounds really cool. There might be Martian Americans!
However, for some strange reasons Americans like to spawn when they're overseas, so there's this issue to consider. There's a host of laws that cover giving these kids citizenship, and (of course) no one bothered to coordinate the newer laws with the older ones. As a result, whether or not a kid gets his parent's or parents' citizenship varies based on when the kid was born, how long the parents have been citizens, how long the parents have lived in the United States, whether the parents are married, the father's financial support for the child, and whether or not the kid is legitimate by the laws of the country where s/he was born. It's ridiculously complicated.
What annoys me most about that is not the complication but the fact that our own decisions - namely, determining someone's claim to US citizenship - are in a few cases predicated on the laws of foreign countries. A child born out of wedlock to an American father in Iceland could be a US citizen very easily, but a child in the same situation in Bolivia might not be entitled to US citizenship under any circumstances short of immigration. It's patently unfair.
Also? Passport lithography and security design is really, really cool. I have always loved looking at dollar bills to read the tiny security text, and it's even more fun to play with confiscated fake passports and see how they were faked. US passports are the most valuable travel document on the market, and good ones can go for upwards of $40,000 in some places. Some of the fake ones we got to see were really obvious - like holepunching through the decade on the DOB information and gluing a sheet of paper with a new number on it underneath the hole. There were others that were indistinguishable from legit documents without consulting the system to see if that was a valid passport number. I don't know if I'll get to do much work in the Fraud Office when I'm in Saudi, but it's something I could really enjoy. It's a puzzle with some very serious inplications.
Up next, in a few days: the other way to acquire US citizenship, by immigration! It's a fun-filled ride through drug usage, communist apparatchiks, and Nazis on the run.