James Lileks is a lovely chap, but someone should have mentioned to him that, notwithstanding occasional American usage, what you see in the picture below is not 'plaid'. Plaid is a type of garment, and the pattern of the (properly woven) fabric is known as 'tartan'. The particular pattern of tartan is known as a 'sett' (see my tartan designs in the Decorate section of this website).
I know that there is a red and black basic check that is often called 'Buffalo Plaid' -- but I'm not the only one that thinks this is inaccurate. Before Christmas, Pottery Barn was selling an item in this pattern, and called it 'Buffalo Check'. The difference between 'tartan' and 'check' (or 'gingham') by the way, is that check is usually the most basic pattern of criss-crossing stripes, in one or more colours, while tartan involves a few colours (six or seven is about the tasteful and practical limit), and varying thickness of stripe, which creates a more sophisticated and eye-catching sett.
In any case, the book is good if eye-watering fun -- a brave look at the worst of 1970s interior design suggestions -- which shows that not everything is getting worse with time!