This week’s House of Cards essay will expand on last week’s piece, “The House of Cards Vision of Infidelity: More Fact than Fiction.” Yes, unfortunately we remain stuck with this slimy theme of infidelity. But instead of pegging our nation’s male moral-offenders, this week let’s talk about the women.
Men have had a leg up in the world, especially in the workplace. Females are still trying to catch up. Salary comparisons and lack of women in certain fields will underline this fact. Unfortunately, Some women feel like they are faced with two options: be ruthless and work really hard to achieve their goals at the risk of the “ice queen” label or take an easier route and use other means… Some women do decide to hark back to medieval methods (think Anne Boleyn in the Tudor days) in order to succeed in the workplace… and this is all too evident in big cities like Washington, D.C.
Women have employed method #2 for centuries — men have as well. But dabbling in this kind of currency can lead to two very different ends: career destruction or the attainment of dreams. In our foray into the Little Black Book of Washington, D.C. last week, we talked about how scandals tend to be both concentrated and magnified in The District. The cutthroat culture here seems to breed an underground marketplace of give-and-gets with scandal as the most likely outcome. Ultimately, Washingtonians must decide if they are going to enter that market — or try and forge their own way up the ambition ladder.
* …Spoilers on coming pages…*
I am going to play off of the article written by Hannah Sternberg on bike week and talk about driving. Is there a “drive to work” week? I guess every week is “drive to work week,” or, in Washington, D.C., “try not to die while getting to your place of employment” week.
Washington, D.C., has the great honor of being one of the worst places to own a car and to navigate in a vehicle. Getting in and out of the city is something akin to Frodo’s quest to destroy the one ring in Mordor. Here is my list of the four most annoying things D.C. drivers encounter on the road.
*Also, these are not in a specific order as all of them are equally annoying.
1. Herds of tourists
There are so many people and so many cars on the road in D.C., it typically takes 20 minutes to go four miles. As a D.C. resident, you get used to ridiculousness like this, but in order to get to your destination, you need to be a little aggressive–like zooming through greens and even using yellows to get through intersections. If you don’t, you may never get home. I understand that tourists want to take the “prettiest picture ever” of that monument or that cherry blossom tree, but you can’t walk out into the middle of the road to do it. You also can’t stand with 50 of your underage friends in the crosswalk and re-recreate the Harlem Shake when you are blocking traffic. The drivers trying to obey the traffic lights want to get home–and you and your “I LOVE DC” t-shirt are the only thing between them and their goal…you better move it.
Government loans, grants from the Department of Energy, and private parties, pooling money in hopes of creating the next “Apple” of autos have flooded the “green vehicle” market with a motley crew of “earth-saving” cars. There was Fisker. There is Tesla — as well as an array of “EV” models added to mass-market brand portfolios… everyone and their cousin is jumping on the wagon to create an electric car. In the midst of this scramble, a historical EV maker has been revived.
It’s almost been two months since the new and improved Detroit Electric was relaunched to the world. Albert Lam, former Group CEO of Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars in England, is the mastermind behind this historic company’s revival. The original “Detroit Electric” (also Anderson Carriage Company) produced electric cars from 1907-1939 but eventually went bankrupt due to the stock market crash of 1929 and its inability to keep up with the battery’s main competitor: the combustion engine.
While the American dream supports Detroit Electric’s pursuit of happiness (and success), I am not 100% sold on what D.E.’s niche will be… what will make them stand out compared to its competition? The start-up EVs tend to be super-cars on a veggie diet… or electric sports cars. Tesla has its sporty Model S and now we have, essentially, an electric Lotus Elise in the Detroit Electric SP.01. Keep in mind, buyers also have another luxury option in the electric BMW ActiveE.
The hybrid super-car competitor for Tesla and Detroit Electric, Fisker, is currently exploring bankruptcy and Tesla just made a profit (after 10 years). Do we really need another electric sports car? It sounds like something isn’t working… and it think it’s the price-tag.
Editor’s Note: Click here for Part 1 in Becky Graebner’s dissection of how Netflix’s House of Cards series compares with real life in the political jungle of Washington D.C. And drop by PJ Lifestyle each Wednesday for new installments in the series.
The topic of infidelity isn’t exactly funny—or a subject that many T.V. producers and writers can write into their plots without making the audience completely hate the characters engaged. House of Cards’ writing involving the marriage and unfaithfulness of Frank and Claire is subtly genius and creepy–because the audience doesn’t necessarily come to completely dislike either characters for their moral derailment. This might mean that the writing is so genius, the audience is tricked into not judging the cheating characters, or it might simply shed some light on the moral condition of D.C. and greater society. I think it is a little bit of both.
When people gain power, they start to feel untouchable. And when they think they are untouchable, they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. They are also more likely to become a target for those who also seek fame, power, and wealth. Celebrities and politicians frequently fall prey to a false sense of indestructibility, as well as to power-hungry, attention gremlins…and some are lead astray from their marriages.
Infidelity is not a phenomenon specific to Washington, D.C.—it occurs from sea to shining sea–but the sinful game has higher stakes in The District. Due to the nature of the cheating players’ jobs, their environment, and media coverage, unfaithfulness seems to be both concentrated and magnified in D.C. History is full of famous “D.C. wanderings.” It’s pathetic that I have so many to choose from. Let’s start at the top…
“She’s a show stopper…she’s a jaw dropper…she’s burning hot like fire! She’s my Miss America!”
Tesla is on fire right now! (And I mean that in a good way). If cars had a Miss America pageant, Miss America Electric Vehicle 2013 would definitely be the Tesla Model S. She’s got the personality and the looks. Also, Tesla, the ten-year long shot, made a profit—this is better than the underdog winning the Miss America pageant! Consumer Reports recently gave the Model S a glowing review: “[the Tesla Model S] performed better, or just as well overall, as any other vehicle—of any kind—ever tested by Consumer Reports.” She also received a score of 99/100. Wow. She must have nailed that dance routine. Electric vehicles (EVs) have had some trouble getting out of the gate the past few years—so this review bodes well for the start-up and gives some hope to the EV cause.
The Tesla Model S is still very expensive and does require some more infrastructure planning in order to make it a serious “every-day American driver,” but the sedan is starting to look like the “It girl”–oops, I mean car–of green transportation. So what is different about the Tesla that is making it eclipse other EVs? How did Tesla clinch such a great review and why is she taking the auto world by storm? I’m not an engineer, thus I will not regale you on its potentially superior features that blow its competitors out of the park, but I would like to talk about Tesla’s design.
I grew up in a small town and went to college in the Midwest, got my first “real” job on the east coast, and moved to Washington, D.C. I’m sure the Washingtonians could smell fresh blood the moment I stepped out of the car. Although I have been here for a few years, I always find Washington, D.C. hard to describe—it isn’t a normal city and it doesn’t play by normal rules. Manners are rare and the smile exotic. If the district had a “state” song and a “district” animal… it would be “Money” by Pink Floyd and the indestructible cockroach.
Yes, Washington, D.C. is gorgeous and a lot of good people work and live here; the picturesque bridges over the Potomac river, the utopian dream that is George Washington Parkway, and constant influxes of young, bright-eyed people who want to change the world. However, despite its white, marble buildings and shining waters, D.C. is not all that it seems. Rules have been suspended within the 68.3 sq miles of The District. In fact, D.C. becomes a sort of alternative universe compared to the rest of the country.
A lot of television shows are set here, most recently, the political-thriller House of Cards (HoC). Why is D.C. a popular “show” location? Probably because any ridiculous plot line can work here—anything can happen and be believable. As a Washingtonian watching HoC, it is easy to say that its “fiction” is more similar to reality than one would like to admit. Be afraid. The following are three HoC characters you would meet in D.C.—Washingtonians know them well.
SPOILER ALERT: for those of you who have not seen all of House of Cards, season one, be warned.
We have a new rivalry: the Google self-driving car vs. the General Motors “Super Cruise.” The tech world is all revved up about autonomous cars; it’s like Minority Report meets Back to the Future! But before we start singing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, we need to take a step back and evaluate the feasibility of the implementation of the technology.
Cars are already available with semi-autonomous features: cruise control, automatic breaking (for objects that enter the car’s sensor fields), parallel park assist, and new features that guide cars back into their lane if they veer too much. The new Cadillac “Super Cruise” is attempting to one-up these features: it can steer the car within the lane, and will make the driver’s seat vibrate if the car veers out of bounds. It can also brake and accelerate to maintain a “selectable distance” between the car and those in front of it. Proponents of semi-autonomous, and future (fully) autonomous, cars argue that this technology will lead to safer roads, less accidents, better gas mileage, and less need for mistake-prone humans to be driving. I disagree. What about the imperfect nature of our new chauffeurs: computers?
We are the land of the free, home of the brave, and a country proud of the red, white, and blue. However, the color green also seems to be working its way into the fabric of America in the form of eco-conscious automobiles. Although an increasing number of Americans are buying electric vehicles, I am skeptical that Americans will completely make the switch. It isn’t America’s own cautious nature delaying the transition into electric cars; we have real reasons to be dubious that electric cars can fully accommodate our needs. In short, electric cars are not ready to meet the needs of American drivers.
1. “Reliability” is not its middle name.
As consumers have sought relief from climbing gas prices, interest in electric vehicles (EVs) has increased. In turn, rising sales have put more pressure on EV-manufacturers and dealers to expand service and offer more reliable cars… creating headaches and growing pains for the fledgling industry. Electric cars are still a new idea; thus, not all the bugs have been worked out. Case in point: Tesla.
Many car companies are adding EVs to their lineups, but only one company can call itself “all electric.” Tesla, the flagship of high-end electric vehicles, is a rising star in the EV world. Its cars are cool and offer some of the longest-range batteries available. Also, uch to the joy of taxpayers, it is set to repay its Department of Energy loans ($465 million) back five years early. Cha-ching! Despite its success, this rising “Michael Jordan” of the automotive world has stumbled. Tesla’s VERY profitable Model S was the unfortunate subject of a negative article that appeared in the New York Times a few weeks ago — the writer’s Model S was plagued by low battery, was described as having to limp from charging station to charging station, and supposedly broke down due to cold-weather effects on the battery. A group of electric car owners, literal Tesla “roadies,” got together and decided to clear the name of the Tesla Model S. Their successful trip mirroring that in the Times article, and a foray into the computer of the journalist’s Model S, cast some major doubt on the authenticity of the article; however, it also cast some serious doubt on the capabilities of the Model S and other electric cars.
If batteries start on fire due to salt-water exposure or are possibly compromised due to more extreme air temperatures, electric cars are going to be fighting an uphill battle to prove their usefulness. In fact, in some areas of the country, they might not be possible to operate. To those who live in hurricane-prone areas, the “mini- arctic” in the north of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and the oven-like states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas — you live in EV nightmare-land. State-by-state analysis of EV viability isn’t going to fly; these cars need to work everywhere — otherwise, why buy them?
There is an age-old question that will probably plague human curiosity (and laboratories) until our race perishes: when it comes to X, are men or women more capable? There have been multitudes of studies on perception, reaction times, pain-thresholds, physical, mental, emotional capabilities, etc. on both sexes to determine who is better equipped to do certain activities. Research conclusions that sought to divide the sexes by suitability have been refuted as both men and women have defied science and stereotypes. Worlds that have been traditionally “male-dominated” or “female-dominated” have collided and our stereotypical thinking has been challenged and overturned. Dangerous sports, such as racing, still seem to be firmly rooted in the “male-dominated” category, but women have slowly begun to infiltrate the paddock walls.
We oooh and ahh over females on the racetrack, but women in fast cars are not new. In fact, in the past few decades, several female racers have set records and taken top honors:
1. Shirley Muldowney was a pioneer in drag racing and the first woman to obtain a license from the National Hot Rod Association. She has a resume of accomplishments and awards that reads like a menu from Bubba Gump Shrimp. She was a real oil-burning lioness.
2. Janet Guthrie was the first female to qualify and compete in both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 and to drive in a NASCAR Winston Cup superspeedway race. In 2006, she was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
3. Lyn St. James started in the Indianapolis 500 seven times (Danica Patrick is currently tied with her record). She has two wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona and one at the 12 Hours of Sebring. She also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice.
Automobiles are everywhere, so it might come as a shock to some that the culture surrounding their creation and appreciation is dying. America has a long, rich history with the automobile — to the extent that you could call it a love story. Many a man and woman have been bewitched by the thundering horses under the hood, the smell of rich leather, the pulsing power felt underfoot, and the consequential adrenaline rush from a short spin around the block. The automobile is an essential piece of the cultural fabric of America. We helped to invent it, fine-tune it, unleash it… and, in the end, we fell in love with it. Owning a car became a source of pride, as well as a symbol of success and freedom. What’s more American than the image of a green, 1940s Chevy pick-up driving down a stretch of Route 66, a tan arm resting on the rolled-down window, fingers feeling the wind? It makes you want to yell, “America!” and go drink a Coke on the 4th of July.
Unfortunately, I’m not so sure this vision is a reality anymore. The vibrant love between car and man that inspired an entire culture of auto devotees now seems to be dwindling. The gear-head enthusiasts will always motor on, I am sure, but what happened to the average American? Simple respect and appreciation for the metal beast has shifted to sheer disinterest in cars. The following is the sad, draft-obituary of America’s car culture…