Thursday, January 20, 2011

Miss Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant In Oakland, CA

Vietnamese Restaurant ? Oakland? In Oakland it's hard to top the food at Miss Saigon Restaurant, at 3345 Grand Avenue.

A local favorite since 1998, Timmy Nguyen, its owner, and his staff consistently serves good, fresh, and lovely-to-look at Vietnamese food, and well into the night. On all week nights except Wednesday, Miss Saigon is open until Midnight.

What this blogger recommends is a combination of the Spring Rolls, a Claypot dish, a Chow Mein dish, noodle soup, steamed rice, and a glass of red wine and a glass of water. Ordering all of that for two, including two glases of wine, is about $50. Want to cut down the price? Order water, only.

But regardless of your budget, you really can't go wrong at Miss Saigon. And, yes, I paid for my meal in full, no comp.

Is Google's Larry Page For Eric Schmidt As CEO Mark Zuckerberg Envy?

In an Internet splash, Google made a change at the top at the right time, just as Google revenues grew in the last quarter of 2010, and the overall future for the giant search firm looks bright. Google Co-Founder Larry Page (in photo) takes over for CEO Eric Schmidt in a move that starts April 4th, 2011.

The basic reason given for the announcement is that Page is ready, or as Schmidt's own tweet reported, "Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed!." Here's what Schmidt's blog post reads:

For the last 10 years, we have all been equally involved in making decisions. This triumvirate approach has real benefits in terms of shared wisdom, and we will continue to discuss the big decisions among the three of us. But we have also agreed to clarify our individual roles so there’s clear responsibility and accountability at the top of the company.

Larry will now lead product development and technology strategy, his greatest strengths, and starting from April 4 he will take charge of our day-to-day operations as Google’s Chief Executive Officer. In this new role I know he will merge Google’s technology and business vision brilliantly. I am enormously proud of my last decade as CEO, and I am certain that the next 10 years under Larry will be even better! Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead.

Reading between the lines, this blogger thinks the rise of Mark Zuckerberg, right in Google's San Francisco Bay Area Silicon Valley backyard, has a lot to do with it. In other words, the move is pure and simple Mark Zuckerberg envy.

Look, every entrepreneur, from awful ones like myself to great ones like Steve Jobs, want to be known as the face of their product. And that desire is increased manyfold when the product is something you made by, in this case, programming hand. That's true for Google, for Apple, and for Facebook, and while far less so for Yahoo, which Co-Founder Jerry Yang allowed to spin so far beyond its original identity it may be impossible for it to recover, it's still basically so.

It's ego.

Larry Page wants to be seen as the face of his company Google again. When we think of Facebook, we think of Mark Zuckerberg. Period. That was true before The Social Network, and its more true today after the success of the movie. Google has no such flick about its formation and its early years. Moreover, Facebook has grown faster than Google has over an equivalent amount of time, and is now equal in Internet influence to Google. It's only a matter of time before Facebook extends its reach into consumer electronics.

All of this is Mark Zuckerberg.

While Larry and Sergey share duties with Eric Schmidt, Zuckerberg calls the shot in a business staff that's part friends, part family, and certainly more compact. Over this time, the triplets of Larry, Sergey, and Eric have done some extraordinary things with Google. But over that same time, the "face" of Google was more Eric than Larry or Sergey.

Now, in a full nod to Mark Zuckerberg, who calls the shots at Facebook, Larry Page's calling the shots at Google.  Round One of this epic Internet business cage match has begun.

Stay tuned.

Eric Schmidt Steps Down as Google CEO

CNN Money reports Eric Schmidt stepped down as Google CEO three days after Steve Jobs announced he was taking medical leave. Schmidt announced that he would hand over the CEO job to Google co-founder Larry Page.

Business Insider posts this as their chart of the day:

CNN reports that Schmidt will still be an executive chairman for the company after leaving his role in April, but he will be focusing on deals and partnerships, as well as acting as an advisor to the other two co-founders.

On Twitter Schmidt wrote:

Things seem to be positive though: Google has added more than 1,000 employees and now employs over 24 thousand people.

Anthony Batts, Oakland Police Chief, And Fear Being Of Backstabbed

The advantage of living in Oakland off and on since 1974, and the experience of having worked for two mayors of this town, is that one gets to know a lot of people, and they talk a lot, especially about Oakland City Hall.

The topic of the week, aside from Mayor Quan's trip to The White House with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, is the possible departure of Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts.

Frankly, this blogger can't blame Batts for seeking an escape hatch from the City of Oakland. His police force has been cut down to 656 officers (and it could go lower once the new deficit information hits the streets). The overall civic regard for Oakland's police force is at an all-time low. The Oakland Police Department is looking at a possible Federal takeover (due to issues with its compliance with the consent decree related to The Riders Case).

Oh, and, on top of all of that, Oakland now has a mayor in Jean Quan that many Oakland Police officers - those remaining - just don't trust, or like.

Just telling it like it is.

And "like it is," is that while Oakland City Councilmembers have said nice things about Chief Batts, long-time Oaklanders know that such words only last until someone else can be found to replace him, and the climate to have that happen has developed.

That's called backstabbing: if you have a high profile in Oakland, they love you until they replace you. You'll seldome see it coming and it happens all too often in the City of Oakland.

(Just look at how many execs the Oakland Coliseum has went through. Between SMG and the elected officials, implementing the business plan crafted in 1996 (and never updated) has been almost impossible.)

Chief Batts was and is smart to seek an escape hatch.  Until the Oakland City Council offers a pledge of support for him via resolution, rather than just pointing to his contract, Batts is going to have one eye out of Oakland.

This is where Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid, now President, has to fight.  Historically, Larry has been the gentle lion, allowing the political bulldog that is Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente to set the political agenda, especially in the face of now-former Mayor Ron Dellums.

But can Larry, who's said that maintaining Chief Batts is a priority, actually do that?  Can he withstand the desires of Mayor Quan, who has no problem replacing Batts with someone else?  

This is where we will see if Larry Reid can make his title of President mean more than just words.

Stay tuned.

As the NFL lockout approaches, the average fan is clearly unaware of all of the issues

As the NFL lockout approaches, the average fan is clearly unaware of all of the issues
By Dr. Bill Chachkes-Executive Editor-Football Reporters Online
(Eds. Note: this was first published last week @ Football Reporters Online's main website and Tumblr page, and on the NFL Business Blog)

As I sit here writing this at 4:30 am on the 12th day of January 2011, we are 49 days away from the first job action in professional football in 23 years. The “labor peace” that so many worked so hard for over the last 30 years to keep in place is about to go up in a puff of smoke like the $12 cigars that Madison av. money men favor. But this time, the formula for this impending action comes out of 280 Park Avenue, the headquarters of the NFL itself. I’m not saying this is directly the result of anything that Roger Goodell has done. If anything, he is trying to affect the quickest possible resolution to the problem. Except that mr. Goodell’s authority is limited by the owners who run the NFL. A small fraction of these owners want to see a ”correction,” like the stock market take place in pro football.

Yes folks, this is the doing of a small group of owners who could care less about the players health and general well being. All the more saddening is the fact that the owners in question have more to loose then they realize, and the league has gotten big business and the TV networks to play along.

Although I have been paying attention the last few years to the goings on, I took part in the NFLPA media conference call yesterday with Assistant Executive director (for external affairs) George Atallah and player executive board members Dominuqe Foxoworth (Baltimore Ravens) and Scott Fujita (Cleveland Browns). Most of the questions revolved around the current health and safety issues and the Leagues’ launch of a new website to address these issues. Underneath it all is the countdown to when players will be “Locked Out” of their teams’ facilities (March 3rd).

While most would paint this as a “Millionaires vs. Billionaires” fight, the players in this case are getting the short end of the stick. Players’ rights have never been more at risk now then in all the time since Bernie Parrish helped lead the drive to organize in the 1950’s.

It’s true I subscribe to the “more football is good” theory, but when it’s cast about as a way to get around very real concerns about player health issues, then we have to look deeper. The owners want to add 2 regular season games to the schedule: great, right? Get rid of two pre season games, shorten up the time frame with regard to OTA and mini camps.

Players feel this is the major sticking point in getting a deal done. Not who makes more money, the owners or the players. "To me, right now, as things stand, 18 games, the way it's being proposed, is completely unacceptable. ... I see more and more players get injured every season," said Fujita on yesterday’s call.

Atallah informed us that 352 players were on injured reserve for all or part of the 2010 season, a record high, and just about 1/5th or 20% of the total number of active players this year.

Foxworth added "We put our bodies on the line and produce a lot of revenue, and we get five years (of post-retirement health insurance), And then they want to tack on two more games ... which is just going to multiply the injuries and the ailments that we're going to see after we go into our 40s, 50s, 60s -- 70s, if we're lucky”. ... Foxworth, like so many players, has a growing family, and considers a two thousand dollar a month COBRA payment a steep cost to keep health insurance active while locked out. While some players could probably afford to pay it, most of the younger players with less then 3 years of service in the league would probably have to seek temporary employment at something else to help pay that cost.
"We're not willing to budge on health and safety, and we'd like to gain some more ground in ways we can protect former players and current players." Foxoworth added.

I had a conversation at the 2010 draft With Kevin Mawae, who until this September was the players’ association president. “It all comes down to money, plain and simple. The owners had more then the players until the last agreement. The owners want it back now because the economy took a bad turn, so they want to make up for the outrageously high contracts they give to rookies, which add up to more money then most current vets will ever see, Not that I’m saying that a Bradford shouldn’t get every cent he can. You can die or be paralyzed at any time on the field of play” He was very open and candid about what many players see as a travesty in the making.

This is not to say that the financial issues aren’t important, and that the NFL and it’s workforce don’t need to agree to mutually beneficial terms to insure the survival of the great game of football. They do, and soon. But when you want to force a bad deal down one side’s craw as management is trying to do, I have to question what the owners (at least some) are doing here. If you were truly concerned enough to install and reinforce rule “tweaks” to the game this year to prevent more head to head contact injuries, why would you cut off players’ access to health care during a job dispute? Why have the TV networks agree to pay you money even if no games take place in 2011? Why threaten to lay off or furlough up to 50 percent of League and team staff?

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones recently said on a 60 Minutes interview segment that “it wouldn’t be so bad if the lockout went to the 11th hour before something got done” That doesn’t sound like a man who cares about his players or their families does it? Fujita doesn’t think so either, calling those comments irresponsible.

What the NFL owners don’t see here is beyond costing both sides a great deal of money and anguish. They are going to kill off the popularity of the game, that the NFL won when professional baseball struck in 1994. I’d want to know why I’m getting charged how ever many thousands of dollars for my tickets next year if there won’t be football played, if I still had season tickets. As my fellow writer David Levy points out many times over in his article series about the fan experience these days, Most average people have been priced out of going to see the game they love. If the owners love this game so much, why do they want to kill off it’s popularity, esp. when this past weekend’s “Wild Card Playoffs” broadcasts averaged over 32 million viewers per game.

This is what people should be asking of the NFL.

Yakking Jets Need More YAC in Pittsburgh

Yakking Jets Need More YAC in Pittsburgh
By Jon Wagner-Sr. Writer-Football Reporters Online

Mark Sanchez’s first pass set the tone last Sunday in New England.

It was a short, 2nd-and-6 pass to the left for wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who turned the reception into a 16-yard gain to the New England 48 yard-line.

And, on just the second play of the New York Jets’ monumental divisional playoff upset win over the New England Patriots, the Jets had moved into New England territory for the first of four straight times to start the game.

The Jets sorely needed that, after suffering an humiliating 45-3 embarrassment on the same field just six weeks earlier.

As Important as linebacker David Harris’ interception breaking Tom Brady’s NFL-record streak of 339 consecutive pass attempts without a pick on New England’s opening possession, the Jets simply being on the Patriots’ side of the field so often to begin the game was a definite tone setter and collective a psychological lift for Gang Green (even though it took the Jets until their fourth drive to finally get on the scoreboard).

Cotchery’s first catch was a foreshadowing of just how important the “Yards After the Catch” stat would mean to the Jets as the game unfolded.

After all, it was Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady and his group of dangerous receiving threats who were supposed to make most of the big plays in the passing game. The Jets’ passing game? A mere afterthought, by comparison.

Yet, as the Jets’ defense did a remarkably good job of closely blanketing Brady’s receivers all game, it was the Jets’ receivers who turned into the game’s biggest playmakers, especially after catches were made.

Unexpected, but actually pretty fitting for a team that boldly talked trash all week, leading up to the game.

Yes, the team that likes to yak, winning with YAC.

Sanchez finished that fourth possession with another short swing pass to the left, this time for running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who in his tenth season, finally scored on his first career postseason touchdown catch with what else? YAC.

After taking the screen pass, Tomlinson eluded a tackler en route to seven-yard touchdown to give the Jets a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.

YAC later came into play again, as the Jets made the Patriots pay for a bad gamble, after New England, still trailing just 7-3, with only a 1:06 left in the first half, failed on a fake punt from its own 38 yard-line.

Four plays later, wide receiver Braylon Edwards, taking a short pass that was really intended simply to move the chains on 3rd-and-4, dragged tacklers with him into the end zone on a key 15-yard score that gave the Jets a 14-3 lead by halftime and had New England playing catch-up for the remainder of the game.

Then, in the fourth quarter, with all of the momentum on the Patriots’ side after a touchdown and a two-point conversion drew New England to within 14-11, came the biggest YAC play of all.

The Jets needed to respond. A three-and-out after the Patriots scoring might have ultimately led to a New England rally and spelled doom for the Jets’ season.

But, on 2nd-and-6 from the Jets’ 29 yard-line, with Gillette Stadium rocking the as loud as it was all day, Sanchez again found Cotchery, this time, over the middle, for what appeared to be a routine first down gain.

But nope. The YAC attack, again.

Cotchery turned the play into a backbreaker for the Patriots, moving across the field to the right, and up the right sideline for the longest play of the game – a 58-yard reception to the New England 13 yard-line.

Three plays later, wide receiver Santonio Holmes reminded everyone of his spectacular tip-toeing grab to win Super Bowl XLIII for Pittsburgh, with a similar touchdown catch that put the Jets ahead 21-11, with 13 minutes left.

New York still had to hold on from there, and the Jets even needed another score off of a good onside kick return to put the game on ice. But, Cotchery’s big YAC play was the final key turning point toward one of the biggest victories in Jets’ franchise history.

Ironically, Holmes will now have go through his former team – as will the rest of Sanchez’s targets -- on Sunday to help the Jets reach their first Super Bowl in 42 years.

Strangely, as those receivers prepare for New York’s biggest game of the season, the usually talkative Jets have so far, become suddenly quiet and even respectful of the Pittsburgh Steelers this week.

Whether or not the Jets revive their yakking as Sunday’s AFC title game draws closer, remains to be seen.

But, if the Jets are to finally return to the Super Bowl this year, their YAC-ing must continue.

Kat Von D Engaged

Sara De Boer/Startraks; Inset: Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage
According to People Magazine online Kat Von D and Jesse James are engaged. Kat was seen with a four-carat-plus platinum diamond ring made by star-favorite jeweler Neil Lane.

She sported her new bling at the 16th annual L.A. Art Show Opening Premiere Party held at the L.A. Convention Center on Wednesday night.

Celebrity Rehab 4 Finale

Wednesday, January 19 at 10 p.m. EST Celebrity Rehab on VH1 came to an end. Although this is not on my list of shows to watch every week there have been a few episodes throughout the season viewed and the finale seemed to reflect on the rest of the season, boring. It just seemed uneventful.

That sounds terrible. It's rehab, but it's also reality tv. Remember when Tila Tequila was supposed to be on that show? Maybe if she was on that show it would have been more interesting; it would also have been more annoying and seem more like a joke than a real show, but still.

It's unclear whether the purpose of this show is to really help these celebrities. Dr. Drew Pinkski is an amazing man who really does want to help and who does try, but are the viewers of VH1 really watching this show to see how to go through the recovery process? Or are the viewers more interested in the drama of reality tv that includes celebrities? Is it really a process that should be recorded for VH1? I guess that's controversial.

Here are six of the cast members
It was reported during the summer that they had a hard time finding a cast (hence why they wanted Tila Tequila), but the end result cast was not that bad. There was Janice Dickinson who has been all over reality tv within the past five years (I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, America's Next Top Model), Rachel Uchitel, who is only a celebrity because she is famous for being a Tiger Wood's mistress, Jeremy London who I remember from 7th Heaven, but he was also kidnapped earlier this year and has had a lot of interesting things, Jason Davis - who is Brandon Davis' brother and Brandon is known for being with Paris Hilton and calling Lindsay Lohan a "firecrotch." Jason's an heir like Paris, because of his grandfather being part of the oil industry, Jason Wahler from The Hills and Laguna Beach was on the show, and the rest of the cast includes Eric Roberts, Leif Garrett and Frankie Lons.

Few of them agreed to go onto sober living afterwards - which basically defeats the purpose of even being in rehab, right?

If Dr. Drew wants to be taken seriously, because he is a great man, he should get a show on TLC or another channel instead of VH1 - (he has also appeared on Chelsea Lately as one of the comedians). So please, VH1, do not let their be another season of this show - I'd rather see Celebrity Fit Club make a comeback.

Celebrity Rehab Reunion show next week; maybe it would be worth watching how the stars have been since.

P.S. Jersey Shore is on tonight on MTV at 10 p.m. so expect a blog post in the morning along with a video.

Carlina White Kidnapped, Reunited With Family After 23 Years

Imagine if you were Carlina White. 23 years ago, she was a 19-day-old infant who was kidnapped from a New York City hospital after being admitted their for a fever. Now, after a frantic search by her mother, Carlina White has been reunited with her.

That's right: 23 years later.

Carlina White was at Harlem Hospital at the time of her kidnapping, according to New York Daily News. She was taken on this blogger's birthday, August 4, 1987. Ouch.

Now, in Atlanta, and named Nejdra Nance, she was spotted by a woman who thought she thought was Ms. White, and told her she knew the woman who is her mother.

Soon, all were reunited.

What's not explained in any of the reports on this story, is just what was going on at Harlem Hospital to allow a baby to be stolen?

Or who kidnapped her. One clue rests in these sentences from the NY Daily News:

A Bridgeport woman named Mary Pettway confirmed that her daughter, Cassandra, had raised Carlina. She refused to discuss the relationship further.

Cassandra Pettway lives in Georgia, and Mary Pettway said she and Carlina were with her at Christmas.

Reached by The News on her cell phone, Cassandra declined to discuss the family history.

"Are you serious?" she snapped. "What do you think my relationship is with her? Mother? No, that's why I won't talk to the media. They have it all wrong."
Clearing Decks On The Story,

The Huffington Post version of the story is wrong as of this writing.  It has Nejdra Nance as two people, rather than the new name of Carlina White.  The NY Daily News is the originator of the story.

What happened was that Carlina White started to realize her mother wasn't really her mother around her 16th birthday.  When she asked, Cassandra told her that she wasn't her mother.  It's not clear how she became Carlina's mother, and she's not talking.  In the New York Daily News story, Carlina refers to her as "the lady."

At that point, Carlina started a search for her Mom, and found the 1987 missing persons report online. She then contacted authorities, who helped her track down her Mom.

Sad, wild, and it's over.

Greta Gerwig On David Letterman Talks Of Harassing Laurence Fishburne

This is one segment I didn't like: Actress Greta Gerwig was just on David Letterman and talking about not just the movie she's in No Strings Attached, but what odd jobs she had in college.

Like bothering Actor Laurence Fishburne.

The jobs were about what you'd expect, until she got to the one where she said she was paid to go to bars and start trouble. Greta Gerwig says she was playing a lesbian in these situations. Letterman asked her if any famous people were involved in this, and she said her co-worker and she got into a fight with Laurence Fishburne.

Uncomfortable laughs from the audience.

Gerwig went on to explain that her co-worker sat down at Fishburne's table and drank right from his bottle, then looked at him as if to say "Yeah, I did that. What are you going to do?"

I'm watching this and thinking "Why did they pick on him?" I also thought that it's a safe bet Laurence Fishburne was one of the few black men in this establishment in Manhattan. Would they have bothered a white actor, someone they were attracted to?

I'd bet not.

Yeah, they're supposed to be Lesbian, but that's an insult to Lesbians. You know? In fact, it's an insult. It's saying that only someone Lesbian would do something like what Greta Gerwig and her co-worker did.

By the time she finished, I was waiting for the interview to end. Thankfully, it did.

Greta Gerwig owes Laurence Fishburne an appology.