No doubt you’ve seen the subject header “ICYMI” in your inbox, probably from a press flak, which stands for “In Case You Missed It.” More likely, one of my coworkers suspects, is that the item is something the flak himself missed. What is really meant then is, “In case you missed it, here’s something I also missed.” So … ICYMIHSIAM? A bit clunky, but so is ISWYDT.
In any event, I’m just catching up on some reading and, if you haven’t gotten to it yet, check out Max Watman‘s review of Three Squares by Abigail Carroll in the Wall Street Journal. As it turns out, our conception of three meals a day, with dinner being the main event, has not exactly been a longstanding American tradition. Compared with their European counterparts, Americans were quite primitive in their eating habits:
Ms. Carroll calls upon the observations of Dr. Alexander Hamilton, a cornerstone of colonial studies (not to be confused with George Washington’s secretary of the Treasury). His travel journal “Itinerarium” cataloged his journey from Maryland to Maine in 1744. Invited to dine with a ferryman and his family, he declined. He described the meal: “They had no cloth upon the table, and their mess was in a dirty, deep, wooden dish which they evacuated with their hands, cramming down skins, scales, and all. They used neither knife, fork, spoon, plate, or napkin because, I suppose, they had none to use.”
By the standards of the age, the ferryman’s repast was ordered: “Only about a third of the families in seventeenth-century Virginia had chairs or benches, and only one in seven had both,” writes Ms. Carroll. Only about a quarter of the early Virginian houses had tables.
Also in the Journal, my colleague Fred Barnes reviews two books on the UCLA men’s basketball team and legendary coach John Wooden. Barnes actually takes on two books, Wooden: A Coach’s Life by Seth Davis and The Sons of Westwood by John Matthew Smith. But it’s the Davis book he especially likes:
Though a modernizer, Wooden coached like a drill sergeant. He was “a hard-to-please, detail-obsessed, hyper-organized taskmaster and control freak,” Mr. Davis writes. Practices were brutal. Wooden emphasized fundamentals down to how players put on their socks (two pair) and shoes (a half-size too small). He treated basketball as an unselfish team sport, not the more individualized game of today. He stressed passing, quickness and conditioning, which allowed his players to outperform tired opponents late in games.
And then there was the zone press, the most exciting and effective of Wooden’s tactics. Two UCLA players would surround—or “trap”—an opponent in the backcourt and prevent him from dribbling. When, in desperation, he passed, UCLA would seize the opportunity, leading to steals and fast breaks over and over again.
If Wooden were still alive (he died in 2010 at age 99), would he have been able to help my Georgetown Hoyas? Perhaps he would have leaned on teachers to give center Josh Smith a pass when it came to his grades. And maybe he’d find a way for the reserves to score more than TWO points against Creighton. But no coach can heal Jabril Trawick’s broken jaw or Craig Whittington’s torn ACL—unless Whittington’s real problem was not an injury but also bad grades. Really, don’t get me started.