Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jane Fonda discovers New Media and Twitter

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Generally we hear and read about "older folk" pooh-pooing blogs, websites, and Twitter. So it's refreshing to find someone 71 years old taking to New Media with all the zest of a 20-something. That is the legendary Jane Fonda. I literally stumbled over her blog post as I'm one of her 45,000 (as of this writing) followers on Twitter and had to take time to check it out.

Ms. Fonda's site and blog also contain her videos, Twitter updates, and other information. You can even buy her famous fitness tapes. But I think she needs to go a step further and have video channels on YouTube,, and other services to better distribute her images. Also a page of Mp3's of interviews and music, and a widget like the one I have would be cool, too.

That way her fans can have her content on their blogs!

In her 70s it seems the Atlanta dweller has rediscovered her youth but isn't trying to be young. Indeed, Fonda says that "sex gets better with age" and is coming out with a book detailing her views on this called "The Third Act: Entering Prime Time". Trouble is she's so busy living life she's behind schedule with the book! I can't wait to see what she does in her 80s!

Oakland's Lake Chalet has some Oakland Council haters

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Now that the long-awaited Lake Chalet is open, one would think everyone in Oakland's happy that it's done and the boathouse is restored. But no. I'm told some Oakland councilmembers are still upset over a vote that took place three years ago. So much so they won't even set foot in the Lake Chalet!

Let's go back three years to 2006, when San Francisco restaurateurs Lara and Gar Trupelli, known for the Beach Chalet and Park Chalet restaurants, were selected over the always good and very popular Everett & Jones Barbeque, in Jack London Square. The Oakland City Council was deadlocked four in favor of the Beach Chalet proposal and four against it.

Specifically, Nancy Nadel (Downtown-West Oakland), Oakland Councilmembers Larry Reid (Elmhurst-East Oakland), Desley Brooks (Eastmont-Seminary), and Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel) against the Beach Chalet proposal. Then Oakland Council President Ignacio De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale), Vice Mayor Jane Brunner (North Oakland), Councilmember Patricia Kernighan (Grand Lake-Chinatown) and then-Councilmember Henry Chang Jr. (At-Large) voted for it.

It was left to then-Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown to cast the tie-breaking vote, selecting the Beach Chalet proposal. Why? Because the Trupelli's proposal called for them to spend $2 million of their own money to create the new eatery, a sum Ms. King could not match at the time (her proposal called for $1 million in spending.

The City of Oakland's plan was to use $12 million to refurbish the boathouse; some councilmembers believed that expenditure should be coupled with "capacity building" an Oakland business, in this case, Everett and Jones.

The outcome caused King to charge that racism was the reason for the vote outcome, and that then-Mayor Brown promised to give her the lease if she would defend him from charges of racism; Brown vehemently denied King's claim calling it "crazy". Councilmemeber Reid also disagreed with King's claim, stating that race was did not play a role in the vote outcome.

The controversy also helped to cause the petition drive that caused Ron Dellums to run for Mayor of Oakland. Because De La Fuente voted against King, it was believed by some that he would not be supportive of African American business interests. He lost to Dellums, who's now Oakland's mayor.

King was not notified of the competition

King said she learned about the restaurant competition after seeing it advertised at the boathouse and called Mayor Brown. The submission deadline had past, but the process was restarted to give her time to submit the appropriate documents and review her proposal. In all, 10 proposals were considered; the Trupelli approach won.

It's over; enjoy the result

It's sad to learn that some councilmembers can't even bring themselves to visit the Lake Chalet and congratulate Gar and Lara for the work they've done. It's an incredible place with great food at the right price. We've always talked about increasing investment in Oakland, but when it happens, some of us seems to take pleasure in finding something wrong with the result.

If those councilmembers are so concerned with building the capacity of women and minority businesses in Oakland, they need to set up a program that does just that. But what's happened historically is Oakland gives out loans - not grants - to such businesses then makes public examples of them when they can't pay them back.

The City of Oakland needs to put its money and effort where its mouth is rather than pay lip-service to a problem that needs to be addressed and indeed should have been a long time ago.

Oakland Raiders must fix run defense ASAP

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When I learned the Oakland Raiders hired John Marshall to be the defensive coordinator, I held out hope that he would repair the Silver and Black run defense, which was 24th in the 32-team league against the run in 2008.

In preseason so far, the Raiders have given up 5.1 yards per rush, and made 49ers rookie runner Glen Coffee look better than he may really be. That's too much already. The objective is to be at or below 3 yards per rush average per game. (If you say, "Well, it's preseason", that's doesn't make a difference. Formation structure and technique remains robust through preseason and regular season. What may change is what's done out of the formation.)

In the past three years, the defense has been gouged by several elite NFL runners, most notably LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers.

And who's up first on the Raiders' 2009 schedule? The same Chargers.

The problem with the Raiders defense is not with personnel. They have two capable defensive tackles in Tommy Kelly and Terdell Sands. Their linebackers are swift to the ball, led by Kirk Morrison and Ricky Brown, who had an interception in the 49ers game yesterday. No, it's not people; it's scheme.

The NFL's best defenses were all known for a special approach. 1985 The Chicago Bears used the then-new "46" defense. The 2000 Baltimore Ravens employed a hybrid of that system to keep offensive lineman off Ray Lewis, their talented middle backer. The Dallas Cowboys under Tom Landry used the "Flex Defense", a kind of zone defense against the run. The Tampa Bay Bucaneers under Tony Dungy as their head coach used a variation of the Steelers Defense under Head Coach Chuck Noll and Defensive Coordinator Bud Carson.

Defensive experimentation wins even in high schools. This is the 46 "Gambler Defense" by Coach Steve Calende at Conrad Weiser HS, Robesonia, PA.

I think you get the idea. The best defenses have innovative design approaches to accomplish the objective of stopping the run. Not so the Oakland Raiders defense. The 2009 Raiders' four-man-front defense spreads the linemen out leaving giant bubbles that can be exploited by a smash mouth offensive team. That's what the 49ers did on Saturday and even what the Cowboys did in their loss against the Raiders a week ago when they averaged 4.4 yards per rush.

Fixing the Raiders Defense

To stop this problem, the Raiders need to go back to the basic 4-3 "over" and "under" alignments but with a twist. This is where one defensive tackle is over the center, and the other is over either the strong or weakside guard. But the "twist" is that the other defensive tackle would angle toward the center rather than the guard thus double-teaming the center with the other defensive tackle. The defensive end would fill the guard-tackle gap on that side; the opposite defensive end would maintain a position outside the offensive tackle.

The objective is to stop the strong or weakside off-tackle run and force it to the outside. Of course, getting the right defensive call requires homework on opposing offensive tendencies, but with this, even if the running play is to the opposite direction, the placement of the defensive tackles will allow the middle linebacker to flow to the ball and make the play and the defensive end stationed outside the offensive tackle will place him in a position to get the runner or funnel the runner inside to the middle backer. The outside linebackers remain in their positions to stop the runner from going around the end.

Another adjustment here would be to bring the strong safety up to a place on the opposite side of the defensive tackle double-team and essentially give the defense a "four-four" (four linemen and four linebacker) look. We would blitz the safety from that set.

This defensive design would immediately solve the Raiders run defense problems. Right now, the Silver and Black don't seem to be concerned with defensive design and it shows up in the terrible post game statistics we've seen over the years.