11:26 AM, Oct 5, 2015 • By KEVIN TELFORD
This summer, EastBanc W.D.C Partners, a prominent development company, announced the construction of two residential towers with retail space in the West End of Washington, D.C., not far from George Washington University. Included in the development are plans for multiple squash courts. The squash facility, which will go by the awkward appellation “Squash on Fire,” (it rests on top of an old firehouse) will consist of eight courts totaling some 20,000 square feet. At first glance, the inclusion of such a massive squash facility seems odd; isn’t squash an obscure, musty old game? However, reflecting on the demographic change the region has experienced over the past 15 years, it turns out that squash is in fact the perfect sport for the contemporary D.C. denizen.
Like the Washington milieu, squash is international. Originally conceived by schoolboys attending Eton and Harrow in the mid-nineteenth century, squash flourished throughout the British empire after World War I. British Army officers, having been exposed to the game in their university days, brought the game to Egypt and India. Squash reverberated throughout the dormitories of eastern U.S. preparatory schools and Ivy League colleges. It is believed that the headmaster of St Paul’s School in New Hampshire witnessed a game in Montreal during the early 1880s and, upon his return, ordered a squash complex built to replace the then-popular racquetball games played during the time. In a few decades, squash would be professionalized, with the rules clarified and codified.
Squash is played on a 32x21 foot court. The ball may be hit on any of the four walls of the wood-floored room, but not below a lower red line on the front wall (also called the “tin”), nor above the red front and side wall lines at the top of the court. Two opponents stand abreast, facing the front wall, and try to score points by striking the ball against the walls, with only a single bounce on the floor permitted. After the first serve, squash players participate in a rally until one or the other misses. Games are usually played to either nine or 15 points.
The first thing a novice observes in early games is how dead the ball is. A tennis ball this ain’t. One finds himself running across the court, with sudden stops and pivots to adjust to what appears to be a knuckleball ricocheting off the wall. The advanced games, however, are a thing of beauty. While strength and fitness still play a large role, strategy becomes much more important. To be a good player, the path of least resistance must be charted by anticipating where the ball will land relative to the position of one’s opponent. Players immediately manifest different strengths and strategies, with some leaning on their power serves, and others relying on precision shots—“low brow” players simply look to tire their opponent out. Perhaps the best way to describe squash is to think of what a physical manifestation of chess would look like.
Squash has historically been a social game. While originally played among peers at private clubs, the elitism of the sport has long melted away, with squash players constantly on the lookout for new folks to mingle with (business cards of players looking for new partners litter the walls outside courts). The growth in popularity of the sport in the nation’s capital isn’t surprising: Washington is increasingly seen as the cosmopolitan home for the top international strategic minds. The perennially strong expat community has transformed the city from a transit stop in some bureaucrat’s career to an actual home for global thinkers. After the end of the Cold War, the world did not slip into a Pax Americana like many hoped for, but rather faced an uncertain global order. Donald Rumsfeld, an avid squash player, claims the game helped him think of how to redesign the US military for the 21st century. With the usual levers of power and diplomacy seemingly jammed, it should be no surprise a competitive game that rewards creativity and tests endurance would flourish in the capital of our decision-making elites.
Kevin Telford spent over a decade in the energy industry and is currently founder and CEO of Renascentia Capital, a Washington, D.C., investment firm.
'It Makes Economic Sense for a Woman to Have More Than One Husband.'8:22 AM, Jan 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In an article published a couple days ago, Time magazine endorses "Polyandry," which Merriam-Webster defines as "the state or practice of having more than one husband or male mate at one time."
"It Makes Economic Sense for a Woman to Have More Than One Husband," reads the article's headline. The sub-headline reads, "By pooling male resources, polyandry improves household incomes and combats child poverty."
"The character of the citizenry ultimately is always the judgement of any society."12:30 PM, Nov 28, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on the virtues of Thanksgiving and Hannukah.
5:20 PM, Jun 26, 2013 • By JEFFREY BELL
The Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage effectively leave the issue very much alive in state and national politics. The four justices appointed by Presidents Clinton and Obama clearly would declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in a heartbeat, if they were to get a fifth vote.
Explaining the connection between family and religion. Jun 24, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 39 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
'Time was when the whole of life went forward in the family,” the historian Peter Laslett once wrote, “in a circle of loved, familiar faces. . . . That time has gone forever. It makes us very different from our ancestors.” Laslett was writing in 1965, as he lamented the decline of the family over the course of England’s industrial age. But even then, after a century and a half of upheaval, families in Great Britain and the rest of the West were relatively large, divorce was rare, and illegitimacy was frowned upon.
7:32 AM, Mar 27, 2013 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8, which defines marriage as being between couples of the opposite sex. Today they’re hearing them on the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman at the federal level. Like Roe v. Wade, the high court’s decision on these cases is likely to fuel the culture war for a generation or two, at least. Unlike with Roe, the Court seems to understand that it’s been handed an issue of enormous consequence.
1:28 PM, Jan 18, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Perhaps the finest book ever written on the natural complementarity of the sexes and on marriage as the core building block of civil society was written by a Swiss who was then living in France. (The book is Emile, and the author is Jean-Jacques Rousseau.) So when
An American University anthropologist goes rogue.8:45 AM, Sep 13, 2012 • By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
Adrienne Pine, an assistant professor of anthropology at American University (AU) in Washington, decided to bring her cold-stricken baby daughter, too sick for the daycare center, along with her to teach her opening class for the fall semester in "Sex, Gender, and Culture."
4:31 PM, Aug 22, 2012 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
The Washington Post reports that President Obama is running his reelection campaign as a "culture warrior," trying to cast his opponents as extremists on such issues as abortion in the case of rape and requiring religious institutions to pay for contraception. But could Obama's own extremism on abortion come back to bite him?
9:01 AM, Jul 17, 2012 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Over the weekend Jason DeParle had a long, interesting piece on marriage in the New York Times. The gist of the piece is this couplet: (1) Marriage is a key driver of economic prosperity for families and married parents are more likely to have prosperous, healthy, stable families than single parents, and (2) marriage is increasingly becoming the preserve of college-educated whites while non-colle
Can we use technology to pry open closed and semi-closed societies?8:20 AM, Jun 16, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
Over in the New Republic, Jack Goldsmith has an essay that cuts through the fog surrounding the subject of cyber warfare. The piece's occasion is a new book on the subject by Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake that sounds the alarm about the danger we might face one day from a concerted attack on the computer systems that underpin our economic and military infrastructure.