Tehee: Restaurants, e-books and net neutrality

The Fresno BeeJune 4, 2014 

Here are several stories I've been following this week — straight from my social-media feeds.

Net neutrality gets a bump

In mid-May I wrote about the Federal Communications Commission's proposed net neutrality rules and the possible effect on Internet use. If I had waited, I could have just posted a transcript of John Oliver's explanation of things.

Oliver is a comedian, satirist (and Jon Stewart protégé) who worked on "The Daily Show" prior to getting his own HBO show in April. His take on net neutrality, which aired during his show Sunday, is 1) hilarious; 2) totally on point and 3) a perfect example of the power of politics-couched-in-comedy.

Oliver urged viewers (and Internet trolls) to let the FCC know how they felt. When video of the segment went viral (it's closing in on 2 million views on YouTube), it caused so much reaction that the FCC's comment site slowed to a crawl.

The full video is posted on our blog site at Fresnobeehive.com.

A digital swearing-in

Those fearing that e-readers will one day replace books outright got a taste of the coming bookpocalypse (a term I coined just now) last week when Suzi LeVine was sworn in as a U.S. ambassador to Switzerland.

In a first for a U.S. government official, LeVine swore her oath on a digital copy of the Constitution she had loaded on her personal e-reader. (No, it wasn't any sort of super clever product placement.)

LeVine gave several thoughtful reasons why she chose to go the digital route before heading off to her post, the least of which being: "It was what I had."

I lived through the transition from VHS tapes to DVDs and from DVDs to streaming media. This kind of technological evolution shouldn't be shocking. It should be (and is, I suppose) exciting and full of potential.

Still, I'll stick with the cat-chewed copy of David Byrne's "Bicycle Diaries" that I'm reading now.

Side note: The Tower Free Library project will soon have eight "little free libraries" placed outside businesses and residences in the Tower District for those who like analog reading. The bird-house-like boxes will be stocked with "free" books to borrow and return.

Downtown eats

Well, this is something new in downtown eating — options.

A half dozen new restaurants and cafes are open or plan to open on Fulton Mall in the next few months. That includes a crepe place, an Indian restaurant, a burger joint and and a quick-to-go pasta shop.

Downtown revitalization is happening.

Here is proof that there is interest in Fulton and entrepreneurs willing to place a bet on its potential, even against people's negative perceptions.

Still, it points to a major unresolved issue that is key to true revitalization — keeping people downtown after dark and bringing them on weekends.

The majority of these new businesses will cater to the many government and office workers, operating limited hours and only during the workweek.

That makes practical sense.

But it's frustrating for those of us who live (and work and play) downtown and are eager for a vibrant, urban community that includes life after 5 p.m. on Fridays.

 

The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6479, jtehee@fresnobee.com or @joshuatehee on Twitter and Instagram. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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