I saw today that the new movie Australia is going to have a large number of hats of the old Aussie type. These were made by Australia's version of the John B. Stetson hat company, "Akubra."

"An iconic Australian company had to research its own history for Baz Luhrmann's epic drama "Australia" starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Sydney-based milliner Rosie Boylan contacted Akubra over two years ago, wanting hats the company hadn't made for some time. Over 20 different styles, ranging from military to period hats of the era, were made especially for the film."

I mostly wear Stetsons, but I do own an Akubra hat, and the wife has worn one as her primary hat for nearly a decade. They're rabbit fur felt (Aussies are always looking for another excuse to slaughter rabbits), and so not very waterproof -- but lightweight, and good desert hats. I may order one of their old military style hats for this deployment, in fact, once the (wet) winter months pass, and the heat starts kicking up. Beaver felt is better for the cold and rainy months, but heavy for the desert summer.

If you're inspired by the movie to want one of these things, the only American company to sell Akubra hats is David Morgan's company on the West coast. Don't buy from him. He charges way too much. Thanks to the miracle of the internet (and easy currency conversion via MasterCard and Visa) you can order directly from The Strand Hatters in Sydney.

If you like Fedora (or Indiana Jones) style hats, they have quite a few of these; as well as some American Western designs, and of course the classic Aussie hats. As long as the rabbit fur felt is adequate for your needs, they're sturdy, fairly cheap, and long-lasting.

- Grim
Greetings from Baghdad

I've been on the ground for about a week. When I look at how much this place has changed from a year ago, I don't recognize it. I'll be primarily working alongside the Human Terrain Team, working with and mapping the tribes and ISF.

AQI is not even a shadow of what it was a year ago. They have no safe havens in this area, only a few bed-down areas they have to run through. The various Shi'a extremists are disaggregated badly. There are still some EFP networks and IED networks that manage to operate, but on a greatly reduced scale. IDF here was daily a year ago; I haven't encountered any, and talking to folks, it sounds like there's little anywhere.

There are still dangers, but what has been done here is amazing. I'll keep you informed as things come into the open sources, and are free to discuss.

- Grim
Yeah. I think Instapundit has this right:


I am now officially entertained.
And in other news, Eric moves to France...

Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to give up her Senate seat and accept the position of secretary of state, making her the public face around the world for the administration of the man who beat her for the Democratic presidential nomination, two confidants said Friday.

The apparent accord between perhaps the two leading figures in the Democratic Party climaxed a week-long drama that riveted the nation’s capital.

Mrs. Clinton came to her decision after additional discussion with President-elect Barack Obama about the nature of her role and his plans for foreign policy, said one of the confidants, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the situation.

Mr. Obama’s office told reporters on Thursday that the nomination is “on track” but this is the first word from the Clinton camp that she has decided.

“She’s ready,” the confidant said, adding that Mrs. Clinton was reassured after talking again with Mr. Obama because their first meeting in Chicago last week “was so general.” The purpose of the follow-up talk, he noted, was not to extract particular concessions but “just getting comfortable” with the idea of working together.

A second Clinton associate confirmed that her camp believes they have a done deal. Senior Obama advisers said Friday morning that the offer had not been formally accepted and no announcement would be made until after Thanksgiving. But they said they were convinced that the nascent alliance was ready to be sealed.

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton fought the most competitive Democratic nomination battle in modern times, one that polarized their party for months and left bitterness in both camps. But in asking Mrs. Clinton to join his Cabinet, Mr. Obama signaled that he wants to turn a rival into a partner, and she concluded that she could have the most influence by accepting the offer.

The decision followed days of intense vetting and negotiations intended to clear any potential obstacles to her taking the job due to her husband’s global business and philanthropic activities. Lawyers for Mr. Obama and former President Bill Clinton combed through his finances and drew up a set of guidelines for his future activities intended to avoid any appearances of conflict of interest should she take the job.

People close to the vetting said Mr. Clinton turned over the names of 208,000 donors to his foundation and library and agreed to all of the conditions requested by Mr. Obama’s transition team, including restrictions on his future paid speeches and role at his international foundation.

As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton will have had a powerful platform to travel the world and help repair relations with other countries strained after eight years of President Bush’s policies. But at the same time, she will now have to subordinate her own agenda and ambitions to Mr. Obama’s and sacrifice the independence that comes with a Senate seat and the 18 million votes she collected during their arduous primary battle.
The Death of Shame

No wonder children don't believe rules matter anymore:

Texas A&M International University in Laredo fired a professor for publishing the names of students accused of plagiarism.

In his syllabus, professor Loye Young wrote that he would “promptly and publicly fail and humiliate anyone caught lying, cheating or stealing.” After he discovered six students had plagiarized on an essay, Young posted their names on his blog, resulting in his firing last week.

“It’s really the only way to teach the students that it’s inappropriate,” he said.

Young, a former adjunct professor of management information systems, said he believes he made the right move. He said trials are public for a reason, and plagiarism should be treated the same way. He added that exposing cheaters is an effective deterrent.

“They were told the consequences in the syllabus,” he said. “They didn’t believe it.”

The six students received F’s and were reported to the school, but their grades may not stand because of Young’s blog post, according to insidehighered.com.

It appears the students were right to doubt that there were consequences for cheating. In this case, the only consequences were for attempting to hold cheaters publicly accountable for their actions:

Young, who also operates a computer business in Laredo, was terminated for violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law that prohibits the release of students’ educational records without consent. But he said he does not believe he infringed on anyone’s privacy.

“You have to hold them accountable,” he said. “If you don’t, you hold a grave danger of having an illiterate society.”

Renita Coleman, a UT assistant professor who taught a journalism course on ethics in the spring, said there are better ways to handle plagiarism.

“I don’t think that it serves anybody well to publicly humiliate them,” she said. “It doesn’t teach anybody that it’s wrong.”

Coleman said each university has specific guidelines for dealing with cheating, and situational factors should be taken into account. She said she has dealt with repentant plagiarists who weren’t punished severely since they said they learned a lesson.

“Admitting your mistake and making an effort to fix it goes a long way,” she said. “Motivations matter.”

Coleman added that privacy should be considered in the instance of plagiarism.

“It’s not the same violation as, say, robbing a house,” she said. “It’s not something that’s an illegal act.”

Without having read the act in question, it's hard to comment on the letter versus the spirit of the statute. I do, however, recall one or two of my professors announcing that anyone caught cheating would be issued a failing grade immediately and that they would also be actively persecuted to the Gates of Hell. I, for one, took that warning quite seriously (not that I was ever inclined to cheat).

This could have been what teachers love to call a "teachable moment". In point of fact, it became one.

I'm not sure the lesson was a positive one.
Well Al-righty Then....

Continuing our bizarre series of posts on the prospective First Lady, Salon.com ponies up with a full length homage to Mrs. Obama's booty. Color us unsurprised:

Free at last. I never thought that I -- a black girl who came of age in the utterly anticlimactic aftermath of the civil rights movement -- would say the phrase with any real sincerity in my lifetime. But ever since Nov. 4, I've been shouting it from every rooftop. I'm not excited for the most obvious reason. Yes, Obama's win was an extraordinary breakthrough and a huge relief, but I don't subscribe to the notion that his capturing the White House represents the end of American racial history. Far from it. There is a certain freedom in the moment -- as in, we are all now free from wondering when or if we'll ever get a black president. Congratulations to all of us for being around to settle the question.

But what really thrills me, what really feels liberating in a very personal way, is the official new prominence of Michelle Obama. Barack's better half not only has stature but is statuesque. She has coruscating intelligence, beauty, style and -- drumroll, please -- a butt. (Yes, you read that right: I'm going to talk about the first lady's butt.)

If the vast legion of pundits infesting the airwaves and pages of our newspapers are to be believed, this election addressed many nagging issues that have long plagued the American electorate. If today's salvo from Salon is to be believed, November 4th was a day that will live in... well, let's just say it will continue to ripple through the American psyche for some time to come.

We believe we'll leave you to read the whole thing, as the saying goes. We couldn't possibly do it justice.


Meeee-ouch, Girlfriend!!!

Grim's Hall Fashion Week

Oh yeah. While Grim's away, the mice will play...

Yikes. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

If Michelle Obama's such a great dresser, what was she doing in this red butcher's apron?

At no time would what she wore be more significant than on the night of November 4 2008, when, win or lose, the eyes of the world would be upon the Obama family as the four of them processed on to the stage in Grant Park, Chicago. If Michelle had dressed herself and her daughters for defeat, she could hardly have chosen anything more saturnine. Seven-year-old Sasha was dressed from head to foot in black: black dress, black hose, black shoes. Ten-year-old Malia was just as black about the legs, but her dress was blood-red. Any colour is better than pink, but these robust choices hardly strike one as girly. The girls' odd outfits were clearly chosen as foils to their mother's dress, which was all black with an eye-burning red panel that splattered itself down the front like a geometrical haemorrhage, held in by a criss-cross sash of black.

The red extended upwards almost to the neckline, and downwards to mid-thigh,
petering out top and bottom in a sort of cast-off splatter. The effect of the strong contrast was to turn a mere frock into a poster in the most disturbing colours known to man, the colours of chaos. The juxtaposition of a rectangle of red on a black field is what we might expect to find on a flag or a shield. Coral snakes and venomous spiders signal their destructive potential by the display of similarly violent contrasts.

For several years, Michelle has been listed among the world's best-dressed people. In the 69th poll run by Vanity Fair to establish the International Best Dressed list for this year, she came top of the women. There is no possibility that her choice of election-night dress reflected mere inadvertence - because in a presidential campaign, nothing is left to chance. Even her decision to wear dresses - as distinct from suits, whether with pants or skirts - was calculated to foreground her femininity. Her kitten heels make sure that her bigger head never out-tops her husband's. Curiously, at the same time as the fashion press is lauding her relationships with designers, Michelle has been at pains to emphasise that she shops downmarket. In June, when she was invited to guest-host an NBC talk show, she chose a Donna Ricco black and white "tank leaf print dress" in stretch cotton sateen, which sold off the peg in selected boutiques for $148 and online for a mere $99. Within a day, the dress had sold out and women were queueing up to place orders for the reissue. In October, Michelle told Jay Leno that the three-piece yellow ensemble she was wearing on his show was from J Crew (total cost about $450).

Historically, Michelle was much less likely to be seen wearing Donna Ricco or J Crew. The purple silk sheath dress that she teamed with a black Azzedine Alaïa belt for her appearance at her husband's side when he won the Democratic nomination was by Chicago-based Maria Pinto. That dress earned universal praise for its elegance, boldness and simplicity, though some jibbed at its sleevelessness.

For election night, Michelle went further upmarket. Her sensational dress was designed by Narciso Rodriguez for his next spring/summer collection. The original is at least eight inches shorter than the Obama version, and the neckline a good six inches lower. The splash of red, rather than pouring halfway down the thigh, ends above the crotch and extends from hip to hip, with a small flare on each breast, avoiding entirely the butcher's apron effect. The Grant Park version of this cute and sexy dress was a travesty.

Rodriguez is saying nothing. We may never know if he agreed to wreck his design by customising it for Michelle - or how he felt when he saw that she was wearing it with a black cardigan. The Obama organisation used to be proud to tell us that Michelle doesn't have a stylist. I bet she does now.

This is just bizarre. Right after the election I thought - for about a second - of commenting on the future First Lady's choice of dress. When I first saw it I was a bit surprised because it evoked the image of a black widow spider so strongly that I was momentarily shocked.

When I saw the original design on Wonkette, however, all I could think was, "Haven't we seen enough ugliness in this campaign?"

I thought the Obama girls looked just lovely. Although I'm not sure I would have chosen those colors, the stores are full of little girls' dresses in black and red these days. Times have changed and it seems odd to expect the Obamas to act differently from the rest of America. This is the culture most people embrace. As everyone keeps reminding us, "This isn't a conservative country anymore." OK. Got it. So why all the criticism from the left and from feminists? Too "edgy"? It's not as though the girls were dressed like Britney Spears - they looked very demure and ladylike. Reading all sorts of dire omens into her choices seems a bit much, and taking snide potshots at two little girls just seems beyond the pale.

I happen to like clothes, rather a lot. I pay attention to fashion on other people, but I was always taught that it was the height of bad manners to make snide comments about the way other people look or dress. Consequently, I can't imagine what makes people think it's acceptable to take swipes at the future first family. Words can still wound, and people don't stop being human beings when they step into public life.

I don't understand where this idea that being trashed goes with the territory came from? I didn't like this sort of thing when it was done to Chief Justice Roberts, and I took exception to it. I didn't like when it was done to the Bushes. I find that despite my political opposition to Senator Obama, I don't much care for people who want to go picnicking on his family.

But maybe that's just me.