Hey, look on the bright side

Russell Brand, Marine Corps basic training, 100s of emails, and 7 other things worth your time

I had an article idea, and I was excited about it. But then, I went down a rabbit hole and changed my mind.

The idea was to find people and businesses that have identified opportunities or advantages as a result of the coronavirus. I don’t know what I thought I was going to find, but, when I sat down to really go through my notes after doing some reporting, I decided it’s just way too soon.

All I could think of was actor/comedian Russell Brandt showing up for work at MTV on September 12, 2001 dressed as Osama bin Laden. Supposedly (I’ve never found a recording), he went on air saying something like:

“What? Oh my God, again? We literally spent all day yesterday talking about this!”

He got fired. Rightly so, although almost 19 years later it’s probably okay to chuckle.

On Tuesday however, I learned what’s going on with Marine recruits currently as basic training at the recruit depots Parris Island, SC and San Diego, CA.

By sheer timing, and yes we can say it — good fortune — they managed to go through boot camp during a time of social distancing.

Even if you’ve never been in the military, I’m sure you’ve seen the movies what Marine Corps basic is like. And I was thinking: Here we have it, a group of young men and women who can definitively say that their lives are a little bit easier as a result of COVID-19.

According to Marine Corps Times:

[T]he depots are trying to implement social distancing guidelines when possible.

That includes spacing out bunks in the squad bays aboard Parris Island to allow six feet of separation or assigning a recruit to every other bunk at the San Diego depot, according to statements from both Marine recruit depots.

But, does it mean that drill instructors can’t quite get in recruit’s faces, like in that amazing photo from a few years ago? (If you don’t see the photo, you really should enable images.)

Well, not quite. The article says that “drill instructors [still] tear into recruits on the daily.”

But the recruits can look on the bright side: They just have to do it from six feet away.

Oh, and the mail is coming through, too.


At least 150 of you emailed me yesterday after I vented a bit about having so many unsubscribes in one day. There were a lot of very kind sentiments.

I’m still reading through them all, and I will try to reply to everyone within the next day or so. And sincere thanks also to everyone who told friends about this newsletter!

Overall, I think I have to admit that I let emotion get the best of me a bit. Being confined to home like this is probably not unrelated. It’s disorienting. I’m sure some of you are in the same boat.

Speaking of which: Next time there’s a global pandemic and I might wind up under a shelter-in-place for a few weeks, could somebody remind me to get a haircut first?

We’re 10 days into this, and I’m already at the “so bushy I have to wear a baseball hat anytime I leave the house” stage.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me, and for being there when I needed a little pat on the back.

Comments Welcome


7 other things worth your time

  1. I’m going to keep pushing this: the Defense Production Act. Here’s a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston explaining just how woefully undersupplied we are when it comes to ventilators, how thousands of Americans will likely needlessly die, and how this federal law and a massive mobilization to build them quickly is needed. (NYT, should be free)

  2. New York City, 10 miles from me: A “cacophony of coughing” in packed emergency rooms. “Beds squeezed in wherever there is space. Overworked, sleep-deprived doctors and nurses rationed to one face mask a day and wracked by worry about a dwindling number of available ventilators.” (Associated Press)

  3. India, with 17.7 percent of the world’s population, is under lockdown for three weeks. (Yahoo News)

  4. The World Health Organization says the U.S. could soon become the epicenter of the pandemic. (Reuters)

  5. Bill Gates: The U.S. needs a shutdown lasting six to 10 weeks. “We did not act fast enough to have an ability to avoid the shutdown. … It’s January when everybody should’ve been on notice.” (CNBC)

  6. President Trump said in a Fox News town hall that he wants America “back open by Easter” with “packed churches all over the country.” Later in the day he seemed to walk that back, saying the decision to reopen will be "based on hard facts and data … This is a medical crisis, this isn't a financial crisis." (CBS News)

  7. The Senate reached an agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus bill. I’m writing this just after they announced a deal; hopefully this article will have more details by the time you read it. (Politico)

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