Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On China And Aircraft Carriers

This was a real doozy. You can read the article and my post here if you wish. The story at hand is about the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (yes, that's what it's called) launching their first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, a refurbished Soviet-era Kiev-class carrier that had been sitting abandoned in a Ukranian shipyard since the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Okay, let's do a little fact-checking here. This vessel (Liaoning) and the carriers the Chinese gov't plans on building for the People's Liberation Army Navy (yes, that's what it's called - seriously) pose little threat to the national sovereignty of the US or any of its allies in the Pacific Rim. But let's break down some more facts here.

1.) How many are they building after Liaoning? Most reports I've come across say that the PLA Navy will launch a second conventionally-powered carrier in 2014, and a nuclear-powered carrier in 2020. That gives them three decks. For the record, the US Navy operates ten carriers (CVN-78, USS Gerald R. Ford will launch in 2015, replacing CVN-65, USS Enterprise) three times the size of Liaoning. The best guess is that Liaoning's future sisters will be of roughly the same size and utility.

2.) What will they be used for? While the minor territorial disputes the Chinese are involved in, such as the Senkaku and Spratly Islands are more about resource development than national pride (both island chains are in close proximity to large undersea oil deposits) are first on the agenda, those could likely be solved either through diplomacy or by the Chinese making a financial offer that their owners would be foolish to refuse.

3.) Then what? Well, this is where things get interesting. The real enemy here, from the Chinese perspective, is India. The Indian navy has its own Soviet-vintage carrier (INS Vikramaditya, the former Admrial Gorshkov), as well as an old British Centaur-class light carrier (INS Viraat), and is developing the Vikrant-class carrier to replace INS Viraat and supplement INS Vikramaditya, with a larger version of Vikrant (INS Vishal) to follow. India and China have been fighting on-and-off for nearly 60 years now, over territorial disputes in the Himalayas as well as Tibet.

And then there's Russia. The Chinese and Russians have never been all that friendly either, going back to Soviet times. Perhaps as a response to China's growing naval strength, the Russian gov't announced earlier this year that they would embark on a plan to build six new carriers. The only problem? The announcement stated that the last carrier wouldn't enter service until the middle of the century.

4.) Is this a threat to the US? In terms of an absolute existential threat, absolutely not. A single USN carrier group could easily engage and defeat the entire PLA Navy well away from American shores. However, Chinese intervention in terms of smaller, limited engagements with other nations could cause a substantial destabilization of the global economy. That would be trouble for the US, but it would also be trouble for the Chinese as well, since you can't sell stuff to dead people.

In summary, the launching of the Liaoning does little in and of itself, since the PLA Navy has already said that it would be little more than a trainer. However, it is fueling an arms race in Asia that we will have to keep an eye on. But believe it or not, there is a positive to this new arms race - the growing Indian and Chinese navies could theoretically take some of the burden off of the US and NATO navies in peacekeeping efforts, such as off the Horn of Africa dealing with Somali pirates. And it would be about damn time that they did.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Another Political Rant

This started out as a Facebook post about the national debt, then I kinda got fired up.

#####, both parties are plenty responsible for the national debt, but here are some facts. During the Clinton Administration's eight years, budgets were balanced, revenues increased, spending decreased, with budget surpluses the end result, and the national debt declined. Then came the eight years of Bush 43. Spending went through the roof, while revenues declined. On top of that, the economic bubble caused by a combination of thirty years of lax regulation and enforcement of those regulations still in effect on Wall Street finally burst, wrecking the global economy. Only at the very end of Bush 43's second term is when anyone started doing anything to fix the problems, something the Obama Administration has continued.

Now, BHO's tenure so far has seen the American auto industry saved , Wall Street reined in somewhat, and the economy has been slowly recovering since 2009 thanks to the stimulus, while by comparison most of Europe continues to suffer economically by choosing the path of austerity over stimulus. Could we have done better? Sure, if both parties were actively involved in getting things done. Congressional Republicans have refused to budge on anything, and have admitted that their stance over the last three-plus years is about one thing and one thing only: making Obama fail. Does the country matter? No, he must fail. Do jobs matter? No, he must fail. Do people's lives matter? No, he must fail. In the last three-plus years, the Republican party has shown that they simply don't care about anything other than removing one man from office by any means necessary. And the irony is that BHO has tried to engage Republicans every step of the way. What was their response?

Anyone remember "You lie!" from Rep. Joe Wilson (Asshole-SC)? That pretty much sums up the collective Republican response to BHO's attempts to reach across the aisle and find compromise. He must fail - nothing else matters. And now that all the Republicans' cards are on the table, that there must be more spending, less taxes, less regulations on business and more on people's private lives, it's clear where things stand now. It is no longer a choice between Left and Right - it is a choice between right and wrong, good and evil.

The Party of Lincoln is now a shambling zombie of phony hyperpatriotism and Xtianity (the fake Christianity that slavishly quotes the Bible at every turn while utterly failing to actually live up to those words - humility replaced by hubris, charity replaced with profligacy, love replaced with hate), devouring all in its path without any regards for consequence. All that matters to today's Republicans is the acquisition and maintenance of wealth and power for themselves and their backers, regardless of the cost to others. Because of them, we are now on the brink of a second Gilded Age, where far too much of the nation's wealth is in the hands of far too few people.

The choice is simple enough now - those who would make America better, or those who would make themselves better. I choose America. I choose Barack Hussein Obama.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An Open Letter To Republicans

Sorry that I've been neglecting this blog for so long. This post started out as a response to a Republican friend of mine on Facebook. If you decide to de-friend me after reading this, that's fine with me. You can't argue with a stone, after all.

The people have had enough of being lied to. Yet R-Money and his mini-me continue to belch forth the same old Reaganomics trope that if taxes are cut on the richest Americans and 'the shackles be cut away' from Big Business, that prosperity for all will come forth.


You people don't get it. It didn't work then, it isn't working now, it'll never work. And trying to fix the mistakes of the past thirty-plus years is not somehow 'socialism'. Regulation - as in making corporations play by the rules and be responsible, respectable members of society - is not 'socialism'. It's just right, as it was when more honorable Republicans were President, like Eisenhower for example. Ike would never have suggested dismantling Social Security and Medicare into voucher systems that essentially turn working people's money into more gambling money for Wall Street. It is deregulation, the dismantling of seventy years of regulations – enacted after the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression – that caused the economic collapse we are still experiencing today.

The irony is that our current President is essentially what used to be a moderate Republican - careful, patient, prudent, fairly conservative yet willing to compromise for the betterment of the country as a whole. Yet today's Rethuglicans call him a dictator, a tyrant, question his faith and nationality, and continue to do so despite having no proof whatsoever to their claims. Some even make veiled statements that should he be re-elected, it may be time to create a 'Second Amendment solution' to remove him from office. In other words, they're calling on their followers to assassinate the President. Why?

There has been no effort to curtail gun sales in the last three-plus years, and the Supreme Court rejected – and rightly so – the attempt to ban handgun sales in Washington, DC. Yet if you listen to the echo chamber, you'd think that the President is going to personally kick in your door and take your guns away from you - preferably while forcing your children to have gay sex and abortions at the same time. Why?

There has been no attempt to raise marginal tax rates on the wealthiest American to the levels that existed in the Fifties (well over 80%), yet even trying to let the top marginal tax rate of roughly 33% go back to 38% by letting the Bush tax cuts expire has been met with cries of 'class warfare' and of course, 'socialism'. Why?

The answer to all three question is simple – racism. Today's Rethuglican party has moved so far to the right, that it now gives tacit endorsement to voices and opinions that thirty years ago would've been the realm of lunacy and madness. Now it's the mainstream – the uneducated, violent, ugly mainstream. Just below the veneer of phony hyperpatriorism and their even phonier form of Christianity (let's just call it Xtianity) lies everything that Christianity stands against – racism, sexism, greed, hatred – are you getting the picture? That racism is what's driving minorities to vote Democratic in droves, effectively freezing the Rethuglicans out of meaningful inroads to Black and Latino voters who might otherwise be copacetic with other tenets of the party's social conservatism. And I have two words for you as to why women will vote Democratic: Todd Akin. Need I say more? Oh, I do need to.

The people are sick of being lied to. Yet the lies flow unabated from the politicians and hate-talk-radio spewers, aided and abetted by billions – yes, billions – of dollars from those who would seek to consolidate their wealth and power, and create a second Gilded Age, where the country's wealth is controlled by no more than a few hundred people who place themselves not only above society, but from the law. What ended the Gilded age was Progressivism – led by, of all people, a Republican. Theodore Roosevelt was the first Progressive President, remember? No, I'm sure you don't. Today's Rethuglicans would call Teddy a commienazisocialistlibrul – just like they do President Obama.

And here's one more thing that ought to really get your knickers into a twist – R-Money has no chance. Hell, he might not even make it out of the Convention. Y'see, despite his best claims to being a 'true Conservative', a lot of people in the inner workings of the Rethuglican Party aren't buying his bullshit, and plan to make their feelings known at the Convention. At the State level, many Rethuglican party organizations have been taken over by Ron Paul supporters, aka 'Paultards'. The Paultards want their man on top, and they see Romney as a fraud. Which is entirely accurate. The truth is that Romney is also a moderate Republican, yet forced to kowtow to the hate-mongering base of the party that wants war instead of compromise.

And should he make it out of the Convention as the nominee, he still has no chance. While national polling suggests a neck-and-neck race to the finish, national polling is utterly useless. State-by-state polling shows Obama winning the Electoral College by a wide margin, by winning the largest, most populous states easily (for example, Obama's constant lead in California polls is so wide that neither campaign is bothering to make any stops there) and taking enough swing states to make the difference. That's why the President has come to Reno (where I am right now) twice in the last four weeks.

In the end, it comes down to this: what would you rather have? A more equitable society, or a more inequitable one? It's very clear who would bring that equality, and who wouldn't.

That's why I'll vote for a second term for my President, Barack Hussein Obama. And if you don't like it....


Monday, May 28, 2012

On Minor League Soccer In The South

This is from an exchange I had with Dave Clark, who runs Sounder At Heart, a most excellent independent blog on Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer. The basis of this post was the divergent paths of two minor-league soccer clubs that faced each other in 2007 for the USL First Division (aka USL-1) Championship - the previous incarnation of the Sounders, and the Atlanta Silverbacks. The Sounders were given a de facto promotion to MLS shortly after that match, where they've led the league in attendance, made the playoffs every year since joining the league, and also won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup every year since joining MLS. Meanwhile, the Silverbacks have struggled both on and off the field, even going inactive for two seasons while the USL First Division endured a rebellion by several clubs (the Silverbacks being one of them) which led to the creation of a new second-division (according to FIFA - soccer's international governing body - MLS is the First Division league for both the US and Canada, and USL-1 was merely the top flight of that organization) league that took on the mantle of North America's previous top professional soccer league, the North American Soccer League, while the USL dropped out of the second-division altogether, and took the USL-1 clubs that remained and formed the third-division USL Pro League. Here's why I thought the Silverbacks were failing while the Sounders flourished:

Blame Atlanta.

"Atlanta is widely considered the worst pro-sports market in the US in terms of fan support. Even the NFL is second- or third-fiddle to college football and NASCAR there, the Braves and Hawks don’t get noticed until the postseason no matter how well they play, and they’ve given up on the NHL twice. And Atlanta’s previous history with pro soccer is spotty at best – its greatest impact was felt in, of all places, South Africa."

AUTHOR'S NOTE: That effect was the formation of Kaizer Chiefs FC of the South African Premier Soccer League, formed by former Atlanta Chiefs (NASL) player Kaizer Motaung. Ironically enough, another former NASL player from South Africa, Jomo Sono, took inspiration from Motaung's formula, and created Jomo Cosmos FC, who also play in the South African Premier Soccer League.

After Dave responded and asked about all the other minor-league clubs that failed, I came up with this:

"I stated that Atlanta was a terrible market for pro sports of any stripe or spot. But in general, minor-league sports have always been a fly-by-night-affair in North America. Even Minor League Baseball isn't entirely immune. Look at the recent movement in the PCL, with teams moving from Tuscon to Reno, and (thanks to PTFC) Portland to.... somewhere. The San Diego Padres' AAA affiliate is a refugee at this moment, temporarily based in Tuscon while the Padres' owner is shopping the team around after failing to get a stadium built in Escondido.

What can cause a club to fail is pretty straight forward. Let's focus on ownership first. You either have owners with money but no understanding of what they've gotten into (who often spend themselves into oblivion), or they have the understanding, but not enough money to survive in the long run (who run shoestring operations that eventually peter out unless another owner can be found). And unlike major-league sports, the odds of being able to sell a club for a profit is very small.

Then there's the market that club is located in. Is there really enough interest in that area to sustain a full- or semi-professional squad? In the South there are pockets of interest large enough to support PDL, USL-PRO and NASL sides, including some with significant history (like the resurrected Tampa Bay Rowdies) and with good money (like Orlando City SC and Fort Lauderdale Strikers - the latter being owned by the American division of the Brazilian sports-media conglomerate Traffic) but is there really enough interest to sustain the sport at that specific level for the long term?

The landscape is littered with the remains of failed minor-league soccer clubs - anyone remember the Columbus/Ohio Xoggz, for example? The problem is that the game itself still needs to be sold to populaces that still don't quite get the idea of professional soccer at any level, let alone the grassroots level needed to support and develop the future generations of talent. And even now there's still some hostility towards the game - google 'soccer + socialism' if you think I'm kidding."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sausage Party

I think I got the ultimate compliment last night when my mother told me that I really needed to write down the recipe for what I made - my riff on Italian Sausage and Peppers. So here's the recipe:

Joe's Kinda Sorta Italian Sausage and Peppers


1 to 1.5 lbs. Italian sausage, or 6 links - I use a large link sausage I get at Costco, but any good sausage will do.
1 medium onion, halved then sliced thinly, but not too thinly
3 green bell peppers, cut into matchstick-sized slices
12 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half lengthwise
4 - 5 cloves garlic, minced
2 15oz. cans of tomato sauce
2 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. grated Romano cheese


(It's optional to break up the sausage if you have links, but not necessary.)

Add one tablespoon olive oil to a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, then brown the sausage and remove the sausage. Add the second tablespoon of oil to what oil is still in the pan, then add the onions, peppers, and olives, and cook until the onions have become translucent - about 6 to 8 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the garlic has begun to take on a little color. Return the sausage to the pan, then add the tomato sauce and cook for a few minutes. Add in the Italian seasoning and balsamic vinegar, and cook just until the sauce begins to bubble up. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, then add the Romano cheese just before serving.

Recipe should make six servings.


If you broke up the sausage, I'd serve it on top of a noodle pasta like fettucine, or perhaps a tubular pasta like penne. If you kept the sausage whole, a good idea would be to warm up some good rolls in the oven, then split them and brush the inside of the roll with some melted garlic butter (quick recipe: melt a stick of butter in the microwave, then add a teaspoon of garlic powder, and give the mixture a few minutes to let the garlic permeate). Drop a sausage in the bun, top it with the sauce and a little more romano cheese, then enjoy with a nice salad or coleslaw on the side.


Monday, April 23, 2012

How To Make A Bomb In Your Kitchen

A Mighty Bacon Bomb, that is.

There are really three ways of making a Bacon Bomb, otherwise known as a bacon-wrapped meat loaf. The simplest method is to just take your own meat loaf recipe, and before you put the loaf in its pan, layer the bottom of the pan with slices of bacon (otherwise known as rashers), and lay a few more on top of the loaf should the rashers on the bottom of the pan not be able to reach all the way around. Other than maybe adding a few more minutes' cooking time, you can follow your own recipe pretty much to the letter.

But here's how I make the Mighty Bacon Bomb.


2 - 2.5 lbs. lean ground beef
1 lb. pork sausage - for even more bacony goodness, try Farmland's Pork & Bacon Sausage
1 twelve-ounce package of bacon - preferably not thick-sliced
1 medium onion, finely diced (optional: 1 green bell pepper, finely diced, or a can of diced green chilis)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 - 1.5 cups Panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) or regular unseasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs

Barbecue Sauce/Glaze
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 - 2 dashes of the hot sauce of your choice (Tabasco or Sriracha work best)
A few drops of liquid smoke


Set aside the bacon. Combine all the other loaf ingredients in a large bowl and knead together until the mixture is relatively homogenous, but don't over-mix.

Here's where things get interesting. Since this is such a large recipe, a regular loaf pan may not work all that well. Usually, I put the loaf into a large rectangular (8" x 11" or so) casserole dish. Then I lay down rashers of bacon on top of the loaf, lengthwise. Then I weave the remaining rashers into the lengthwise strips - basically making a mat of bacon. I snip off the excess of the second set of rashers, and use them to fill in any gaps in the mat and make it look relatively even.

But tonight, at Joy's behest, I tried using a regular loaf pan. What I did was line the bottom of the pan with bacon like I mentioned at the top of this article, put the mixture inthe pan, then covered the top with more bacon. The loaf went into a preheated 400-degree oven. Because of the thickness of the loaf, I wound up taking nearly 90 minutes to cook it through to an internal temperature of about 160 degrees, and dropping the oven down to 350 degrees to keep the outside of the loaf from burning.

From here on out, we'll go back to using the casserole dish for our example. After putting the loaf mixture in the casserole dish and assembling the mat, cover the loaf in a layer of tinfoil and place in a 400-degree oven for 45 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine the barbecue sauce ingredients in order over medium heat and cook until the sauce just starts to bubble up, about eight to ten minutes or so. Drop the heat to low and let the sauce simmer.

When the timer on the oven goes off, take about half a cup of your sauce and put it in a ramekin. Pull the loaf from the oven, and drain off as much of the fat as possible to a suitable container. (NOTE: You may have to do this more than once during the cooking process. A good safety measure would be to have a cookie sheet under the cooking vessel to catch any fat that drips from the cooking vessel.) Bring the loaf up to the stove top, remove the foil, and brush the loaf with the sauce in the ramekin. Return the loaf to the oven without the foil for another fifteen minutes, or until the loaf hits an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Pull the loaf out of the oven, and let it stand for a few minutes before slicing it thin for serving. This recipe should serve five or six adults, with leftovers for sandwiches the next morning.

Here's what my loaf looked like tonight in a regular loaf pan:

Just a big ol' nasty mess, ain't it? But damn it, it tastes good! This is family cooking for the family that just loves food, and is willing to work that Mighty Bacon Bomb off later that night, or the next day. In fact, I think I'll take a nice walk...... once the Mighty Bacon Bomb coma wears off. Cheers!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Soccer In The South?

Sorry if I've neglected you here on this other side of my brain. Nothing has really grabbed me that much, enough to put it into this blog. But as I wrote this post on the comment threads at ESPN's website, I realized that I had a good blog post here, so here's what I wrote:

What nobody is really talking about is why there won't likely be any expansion in MLS beyond 20 franchises. It isn't a matter of what cities would make good homes for potential franchises. It isn't stadium issues, dilution of talent pools, promotion/relegation, or anything like that. Here's what the issues are, in no particular order.

1.) FIFA is mandating that domestic first-division leagues limit themselves to no more than twenty teams, in order to ease schedule congestion for clubs and national teams alike, and to ease demands on players. This mandate came up about a year or two ago, and didn't get noticed much beyond a few press reports. In theory, MLS could potentially expand beyond twenty teams because of the multinational nature of the North American soccer structure - MLS, NASL, and USL clubs represent five FIFA member nations (US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and Antigua & Barbuda) - therefore requiring a need to expand beyond twenty first-division teams to encompass those nations. But I don't think MLS would want to risk incurring the wrath of FIFA over the issue and risk penalizing the leagues and national teams. FIFA has already been pushing MLS to move to a traditional (fall-to-spring) schedule for several years now as it is, and its quite likely that had the Russian FA not offered to, and did move its top two divisions from their usual summer schedule to the traditional fall-to-spring schedule, FIFA may not have awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia.

2.) Past failures loom large in the MLS front office. Remember, the entire concept of MLS as a single-entity organization instead of an alliance of like-minded individual organization is because of the spectacular flameout of the original NASL. The structure of the league was created with the specific purpose of spreading out financial losses and gains as widely as possible, so no single organization could either dominate or decimate the league as a whole by its financial superiority or lack thereof. And MLS' folding of Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion FC was arguably the league's nadir, when nobody was really sure if the league would last much longer - even those within the MLS front office. Since then, the league has improved, largely due not only sound leadership, but to the number and quality of investor/operators (don't call them owners) brought into the fold, people who understand the game and understand that success doesn't just come overnight - unless you live in the Pacific Northwest, of course. That said, there really hasn't been that much interest from the kind of people who can afford things like MLS franchises in the Southeast, outside of Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who has publicly stated that he was interested in joining MLS and bringing a franchise to Atlanta. Fans can say whatever they want about what city is most deserving, but fans can't pony up the US$100m expansion fee MLS is supposedly asking for the rights to that 20th franchise.

3.) Here's the big one for me: Can an MLS franchise draw in more than just the hardcore soccer fan in the Southeast? You might think I'm full of it with my other points, but we can all agree on this - in the Southeast, SEC football and NASCAR are king. Even the NFL plays second- or even third-fiddle to the SEC and NASCAR in most of the South. If you think I'm crazy, I've got two words for you: Jacksonville Jaguars. Miami and Tampa Bay have had attendance problems as well, and the only reason New Orleans and Atlanta are succesful in the stands is because they're successful on the field. (NOTE: I'm not really including Carolina here, because as past commenters have noted, North Carolina is really more mid-Atlantic than Southern, though NC is the heart and soul of NASCAR) What I'm getting at is this: would an MLS franchise in the Southeast be able to lure in the average sports fan, a man who's heard of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo from SportsCenter, but likely wouldn't be able to pick either out of a lineup of Buddhist monks?

To close, MLS returning to the Southeast reminds me a lot of the NHL's expansion into the Sun Belt in the 90's. While it's worked in some markets, like Dallas and Tampa Bay, it's been a miserable failure in others (I'm looking at you, Phoenix and Atlanta). It will have to take the right owner in the right city. For the time being, my money is on none of the above. the more likely option for the Southeast won't be getting a 21st or 22nd franchise - even if MLS chose to expand that far. MLS returning to the Southeast will also not likely be something along the lines of its recent expansion, cherry-picking the most successful second-division clubs from the NASL and USL - if that were the case, either Rochester or Charleston would be in MLS by now. Instead, it'll likely mean an existing franchise moving to an Atlanta, New Orleans or a Florida market. I'll go out on a limb and say that Atlanta would be the best place, with ownership and facilities already in place.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pro Bowl Blahs

Sorry that I've been neglecting this blog for so long. I need this blog for my thoughts that aren't necessarily music or band-related. And now that I have my very own laptop, I can blog pretty much anytime, anywhere. So here's some random blathering that I typed up a few hours ago:

I'm watching the NFL's Pro Bowl today, and while I'm glad that the league decided to return their annual all-star game to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawai'i, it still doesn't seem all that big a draw for the local audience from what the TV cameras show. Hell, the only reason a lot of those players are even there is because the League is compelling them to be there, by not excusing players from skipping the Pro Bowl for any other reason than injury, legitimate emergency, or for playing in the Super Bowl the following week.

The problem I see with the Pro Bowl is that for the most part, it's the same guys playing the same game at the same time every year. With the system in place for choosing players (a combination of fan and player balloting), it sets it up that once a player reaches the level of being one of the best two or three at their position, inclusion to the Pro Bowl becomes almost automatic for the remainder of that player's career. And after a while, going to Hawai'i right after the conclusion of the season may – as crazy as it seems – get boring for them. So what I think the NFL needs to do to spice up the experience for the players is quite simple: take the Pro Bowl on the road.

So where would you take the Pro Bowl to? Last year, the NFL moved the game to the site of that season's Super Bowl (Miami-Dade, FL), where the response was..... well, it was kinda meh. Let's face it, while Miami is a great place, it's just another NFL city to the players. So here's my thoughts on where the Pro Bowl should go: ANYWHERE BUT AMERICA. Here's some ideas:

First off, Canada makes a good place to start. With large domed stadia in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, the game would be pretty much weatherproof. Other pluses to having a Pro Bowl in Canada would be adding the Canadian Football League's All-Star Game to the Pro Bowl festivities, and having the game in Toronto would also help gauge that area's support for a possible NFL franchise in Hogtowne, be it either an expansion franchise or an existing franchise (with the Buffalo Bills the most likely candidate). The downside would be well, going to Canada in the dead of winter – probably not most players' idea of fun.

The next idea would be Europe, specifically the cities with past association to the NFL's World League of American Football (WLAF)/NFL Europa, with those cities being London, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main, and Berlin. Taking the Pro Bowl to Europe would bring a whole new level of excitement to American Football fans in Europe. Oh, you don't think there are NFL fans in Europe? Then why was it that any time I saw Dusseldorf's Rhein Fire playing at home (that being either Dusseldorf's Waldstadion or the aufSchalke Arena in the suburb of Schalke), there was always a huge, and most importantly local crowd there to support the home team? More over, staging Pro Bowls in Europe would give the NFL a barometer towards future expansion in Europe.

But in my opinion, the best route for the Pro Bowl would be taking it Down Under. If you're going to send these players someplace, why not send them someplace they've really never been to? And it wouldn't hurt to have the game in a Southern Hemisphere summer. Why not Melbourne or Sydney? Why not Auckland, New Zealand, or Cape Town or Johannesburg in South Africa? Hell, why not go completely off the proverbial grid and stage a Pro Bowl in Rio? Sao Paulo? Buenos Aires? Why not Tokyo, Beijing, or even Dubai? The NFL has long stated a desire to become a truly global entity, so why not take that next step, and take the Pro Bowl truly global? Why not create a continental rotation, where the 2013 game would be in Melbourne, then the following year in London, Cape Town the year after that, and so on?