Robert McGinley Myers writes about audiophile creep and the placebo effect on his blog The Anxiety Machine. Myers is what you might call a “recovering audiophile” - he spend thousands of dollars on audio equipment over a few years of fascination with pre-amps, rewired iPods and fancy headphones. While he was doing it, he could swear he could tell the difference. But could he?
The question extends to wines, as well - if many people can’t even tell the difference between red and white wine when blindfolded, why buy fancy wine? And what about alternative medicine? Little of it has demonstrated effects beyond placebo.
But Myers argues that placebo is nonetheless an important effect. Enthusiasts get real emotional benefits from their connoisseurship, even if it’s hoakum. And for many health problems, placebo effects are a Godsend, important in reducing stress and improving health.
It made me think of those of us who love menswear, and what our enthusiasm means for our lives. It’s worth considering whether you’re spending yourself into the poor house, whether you’re getting benefit from your time, and whether you’ve got a stable balance.
Andy has plans for WKRP.
Charlotte Grimes, 64, Fayetteville, N.Y.
Professor of journalism at Syracuse University
"I was in the eighth grade in Andalusia, Ala. 1963 was a tense, emotional time in the South. George Wallace made his stand in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama against black students’ enrolling. President Kennedy had mobilized the Alabama National Guard to get Wallace out of the door and the students through it. To say that Kennedy was not beloved in most of white Alabama would put it mildly. When our principal announced Kennedy’s death, what I remember most clearly is an outburst of celebratory shouting from some students in my school’s hallway. I remember seeing boys running up and down the hall, some shouting, ‘The South’s gonna rise again!’ I think that’s my clearest memory because I was shocked that people could be glad of anyone’s death, much less the president’s death. It was just so jarring."
Tom Brokaw, 73, New York
Special correspondent, NBC News
"I was the morning news editor at KMTV in Omaha. I walked back into the newsroom from the studio as a colleague burst through the door shouting something about “shots being fired at the president in Dallas.” I raced to the now clanging wire machines, ripped off Merriman Smith’s memorable dispatch and broke into local programming — a garden show. Nebraska was not Kennedy country, and after I read the first dispatch, I ran into a crusty old technician who never hid his conservative views. He asked what was going on and I said, ‘Someone shot the president.’ He said, ‘It’s about time someone shot that S.O.B.’ I lunged for him, but a calmer colleague got me back on my job. I continued to update until the network took over. It was a day that ended my innocence.”
“On the plane back to Washington, in her pink Chanel suit, caked with her husband’s blood, Jackie Kennedy resisted all suggestions from aides that she clean herself up. Instead, she just said, “Let them see what they’ve done.”
But for the half century since John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, the most famous artifact from that day, one of the most recognizable articles of clothing ever worn, has been seen by almost no one. Now preserved by the National Archives in a climate-controlled vault outside of Washington, it is subject to Kennedy family restrictions that it not be seen for almost a century more .
If there is a single item that captures both the shame and the violence that erupted that day, and the glamour and artifice that preceded it, it is Jackie Kennedy’s bloodstained pink suit, a tantalizing window on fame and fashion, her allure and her steely resolve, the things we know about her and the things we never quite will.”