So many stories
A look inside my Trello account, and my brain. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
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The idea file
People sometimes ask me: Hey Murph. Where do you get your ideas?
To be honest, the problem isn’t finding enough ideas; it’s winnowing them down and throwing out perhaps 95% or more of them.
Of course, some days are easier than others. One trick is to take notes constantly—everything from articles I read elsewhere, to studies and research on things that I think will resonate, and stories from forgotten history that might be interesting to dive in to.
I wish I were more organized, but I do have a giant Trello board with future ideas. Sometimes, I’m even smart enough to slot the idea for a specific date, where there might be a logical tie-in.
As an example, that’s how I wound up writing about Elvis Nixon visiting Nixon (and Pat Sajak’s Vietnam Nixon-related Christmas experience).
Same thing as Homer Plessy (of Plessy v. Ferguson), which I wrote about in June 2020 and then again recently. I had that story on my calendar for months ahead of the anniversary of when he conspired to get himself arrested to challenge the law in New Orleans.
Another of my favorites: the story of Julia Sand, who wrote some cringey letters to then-President Chester Arthur in the 1880s, only to have Arthur become intrigued enough to literally show up at her house, unannounced. That one was on my “to-write” list for months.
But, often, things just don’t pan out. Sometimes they get bumped from the calendar and never get rescheduled. Sometimes I just lose interest.
Here are a few that have been on my ideas list for quite some time:
Something on Steve Rothstein, whose lifetime, first-class AAirpass ticket on American Airlines was revoked for alleged abuse, with apparently significant repercussions in his life.
The head of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society, who says Fitzgerald’s most-quoted line—“there are no second acts in American lives”—has been completely misconstrued (and actually meant the opposite: that second acts are in fact very common).
The strange story of Rose Mackenberg, who worked undercover as an investigator for 20th-century magician Harry Houdini, exposing phony psychics.
And I have quite a few notes about various studies and research: why class clowns turn out to be more intelligent, what it’s like to have no visual imagination, and a host of other health and fitness-related ones.
Honesty, I go back and read these now and I think: Wait, why didn’t I write them? Maybe I will at some point in the future.
Anyway, for a Friday comment thread, I’d like to invite you to help me be the world’s assignment editor.
Are there stories you know about that you think would fit Understandably and haven’t been told, or haven’t been told in a while, or in a unique way?
Of the specific things I listed above—are any more or less interesting to you?
And…OK, I can take it: What are the things I write about that interest you least?
Let us know in the comments. Also, you can always go to this link to pitch good ideas.
We only have one of these today! Next week, I’m going to take a day to solicit your thoughts—about ads, perks, content (beyond what I just did above). In the meantime, if you’re interested in running an ad, just reply to this newsletter and I’ll send the details.
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7 other things worth knowing today
“The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its sweeping vaccine-or-test requirements for large private companies. But the conservative-majority court allowed a vaccine mandate to stand for medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments.” (CNBC)
The Justice Department escalated its January 6 investigation by bringing seditious conspiracy charges against 11 defendants, including the leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes. (CNN; full indictment is here as a .pdf)
Two Senate Democrats said they won’t support changing the filibuster rule to allow voting laws to pass with a simple majority, seemingly putting the final nail in the coffin of the idea of federal election legislation this year. (Axios)
Queen Elizabeth stripped her son, Prince Andrew, of his remaining royal roles and honorary military titles, amid his ongoing legal battles over alleged sexual assaults. (BBC)
According to the Red Cross, the US is facing its worst blood shortage in a decade. Here’s how you can help, whether you can donate or not. Among the incentives: a chance to win free Super Bowl tickets. (NPR)
An album made entirely of endangered bird sounds beat Taylor Swift on Australia’s top 50 charts. (NPR)
Pinterest predicts that one of the major design trends of 2022 will be “barkitecture”–rooms or even homes designed with pets in mind, from luxury dog rooms to spacious indoor/outdoor catios. (Pinterest)