Several unrelated news items caught my eye recently. One about Russia. Another concerning Major League Baseball. Then there was Joe Biden’s vacation. And two more: one featuring ghost peppers and the other involving a man and a shark.

As to the first one, it seems as if the Russian army is having some problems putting bodies in uniforms as the battle in Ukraine continues apace. Reports are there are billboards and ads on buses and trains saying, “Heroes are wanted.” I wonder if some of those enticements include the face of Vlad the Mad, channeling Uncle Sam from the 1940s, who pointed his finger and commanded, “I want you.”

Apparently, quite a few current Russian militiamen are saying “the heck with this,” and are not only refusing to continue the battle but are actively seeking ways to get out of the military. Those recruitment ads seemingly aren’t all that picky as to whom they entice to join up. Men through age 50 with a middle-school education are eligible for cash bonuses once they sign on the dotted line and are whisked off to Ukraine. The continued lack of new recruits has become so acute that it seems prisoners in some Russian penal colonies are being offered amnesty if they agree to suit up with the soldiers already in Ukraine. That would pose quite the dilemma for many, I would think. Let’s see, do I stay here and rot in the gulag, or do I want to get shot at every day?

Meanwhile, back in the good ol’ U.S. of A., Major League Baseball is attempting to entice men (and women) to join an entirely different field of battle where the odds are also usually stacked against them. MLB recently proclaimed its support of a California initiative that would authorize online sports betting in that state. Proposition 27 is technically called The California Solutions to Homeless and Mental Health Act. Apparently, its passage would legalize online betting, and a percentage of the revenue from such activity would be dedicated to fighting the homeless crisis in the Golden State. Pretty clever, eh? Someone in marketing should get a raise for that brainchild.

One report I read said MLB “remains committed to protecting the integrity of its games and creating a safe experience for fans who wish to wager on those games.” Uh-huh. Perhaps it’s just me, but the whole idea seems akin to the what-could-go-wrong scenario of a late-night teenage beach party with hundreds of kids in attendance and no adult supervision.

Next on the hit parade is the announcement last week that Joe Biden is on holiday. I heard one wag say, “From what? Does the White House even know he’s gone?” Even his most steadfast stalwarts would have to admit that the President isn’t Mr. Dynamic. But every Chief Executive deserves time away from Washington. For the past few decades, August has been R and R time for presidents. Congress generally adjourns for a few weeks as summer winds down and members leave the capital. Presidents take the opportunity to get out of town too. Trump went to his New Jersey resort. Clinton and Obama hied off to luxury digs on Martha’s Vineyard. Bush 41 went to Maine while Bush 43 relaxed on his Texas ranch. Reagan rode horses in California.

Many of our presidents enjoyed a round or two of golf. Dwight Eisenhower had a putting green installed on the White House lawn and played at Augusta National so many times he has a cabin named after him. Trump, Obama, and Clinton definitely enjoyed the sport. George H.W. Bush loved the game but not the time involved in playing it. He reportedly played as fast as possible, often completing 18 holes in the time it usually would take to play 9. So far, Biden doesn’t seem to share his predecessors’ passion for the game. But rumor has it he could put away more chocolate chip ice cream than all of them combined.

And on the subject of food, it seems a California man broke the Guinness record for eating the most ghost peppers in one minute. To put this feat into culinary perspective, ghost peppers can register one million or more on something called the Scoville Heat Units (SHU) measuring scale. A jalapeno pepper registers between 2,500 and 8,000 SHU according to the report. No word on the condition of the record-holder’s stomach.

Finally, there was the video of a man wrestling a Tiger shark on a New York beach. He had it by the tail at the water’s edge as it thrashed about trying to get back into the blue. The Darwin Awards committee has been alerted.

It’s been an eclectic week, to say the least.

©MMXXII. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer