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Heroes

The weird, secret history of the electric car and why it disappeared.

Did you know the very first Porsche ever designed was electric?

Ferdinand Porsche might have founded his famous car company in 1948, but he designed his very first car all the way back in 1898, when he was just 22 years old.


Imagine this chassis with two racks of seats on top and you'll see Porsche's vision. Image from Porsche.

Officially the 1898 Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton, Porsche's first car is more affectionately known as the P1. Incredibly, it didn't need a single drop of gas — the P1 was powered by a small electric motor.

Yep, that's right. It was an electric car.

So yeah, electric cars are actually super old. Like, as old as cars themselves.

An electric car in England, 1896. Photo from Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

The first practical electric car was invented in 1884, back when we as humans were still, you know, figuring out what the heck a car was.

In fact, by 1900, more than a third of all vehicles on the road were electric. (Gas-powered cars made up just 22%, and the rest were steam-powered.)

Just like today's electric cars, the electric cars of a century ago had some major advantages over early gas-powered vehicles.

Early gas cars were clunky, loud, and dirty. Worse, drivers had to physically wrestle with the car to get it to move — every gear shift or hand-cranked start-up involved essentially arm-wrestling an ornery, hateful robot.

Thomas Edison posing with an electric car, 1895. Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images.

Electric cars, on the other hand, were easy to start, easy to drive, and quiet. They weren't exactly fast or long-range vehicles (they only went about 20 miles an hour), but this wasn't a problem in cities, where cars were primarily used. Plus the roads outside the city were pretty bad, and no one wanted to drive out there anyway.

These early electric cars had some major fans, too. The famous entrepreneur Thomas Edison backed electric cars, and even Henry Ford explored them as an option.

If electric cars had so many great benefits, why didn't they catch on? What went wrong?

Today, Texas is known for its gigantic crude oil production — but back around the turn of the century, we were just really starting to drill, baby, drill. Then, on Jan. 10, 1901, the Lucas No. 1 well in Spindletop blew its top, dramatically ushering in an era of cheap, readily available gasoline for America.

The Spindletop gusher, Jan. 10, 1901. Photo from John Trost/Wikimedia Commons.

In 1908, Henry Ford dealt a second blow to electric cars when he unveiled the gas-powered Ford Model T.

Largely thanks to Ford's use of an assembly line, the Model T was much cheaper than any other cars out there, costing only about a third as much as a comparable electric car.

A later model of the super-cheap Model T, the Model T Couplet, way back in 1914. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Plus, with the advent of the highway system, people wanted fast, cheap, powerful cars that they could use anywhere.

It's hard to imagine now, but at the time we also just didn't have the infrastructure to support electric cars. Today, you can get electricity pretty much anywhere. Before 1910, however, a lot of urban homes weren't wired for electricity, meaning people couldn't charge their cars at home. And electric cars certainly weren't an option for anyone living in a rural area where electricity wasn't even a thing.

Weirdly, sexism may have also played a role in the success of gas-guzzlers.

Electric cars were cleaner and easier to operate, and were therefore often marketed specifically toward women — gaining a reputation as being a woman's car.

I wish I were joking. Image from Rmherman/Wikimedia Commons.

This may have scared men away from purchasing them, driving them to buy gasoline-powered cars and, ugh, history, really?

Anyway, between weird marketing stigmatization, the low cost of crude oil, the much more affordable Model T, and the introduction of the highway system, by the 1930s, electric cars were pretty much gone.

Today, though, the advantages to electric cars are largely the same — and a lot of the disadvantages are a thing of the past.

Electric cars of today are still cleaner and quieter than gasoline-powered vehicles, and we're quickly solving a lot of the issues like cost and driving range.

Electric cars have historically been more expensive, but both Tesla and Chevy have announced they'll be producing electric cars in the actually-kind-of-affordable $30,000 range. Plus we've learned that while gasoline has been cheap, our exuberance for burning it and other fossil fuels has been writing the entire planet a massive bill — to the tune of over $1.9 trillion a year by 2100.

That just leaves infrastructure for charging electric cars, which, it turns out, has been growing up right under our noses.

We're still lacking a lot of the infrastructure we'll need to make electric cars truly ubiquitous, but it's slowly starting to appear.

A Tesla Supercharger in Fremont, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Tesla has been building a gigantic network of Superchargers, and ChargePoint claims to have more than 28,000 chargers ready for public use. Many non-car-related businesses like Walgreens are starting to provide charging stations in order to entice customers as well.

There are even services that let people with charging points at their homes rent them out to other electric car owners. One company, Fisker, even had an idea for a hybrid car that could charge via solar panels on the roof, meaning even needing to find a charging station may one day be a thing of the past.

To bring this story full circle, guess who's getting back into the electric car game?

That's right: Porsche.

A rendering of the Porsche Mission E concept car. Image from Porsche.

118 years after Ferdinand Porsche designed the P1, Porsche announced an electric car of its own: the Mission E. Originally just a concept car, Porsche has finally decided to put it into production.

Electric cars aren't a new fad — they're intimately tied to the very history of automobiles.

While there are some things they'll never do quite as well as gas-powered cars — like revving your engine before a big race — it's awesome to see that we might finally be entering an era where gas and electric cars are sharing the road again.

Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.


I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.


Ask yourself: Could I live on this small of a full-time paycheck? I know what my answer is.

(And note that the minimum wage in many parts of the county is STILL $7.25, so it would be even less than this).

paychecks, McDonalds, corporate power, broken system

One year of work at McDonalds grossed this worker $13,811.18.

assets.rebelmouse.io

This story was written by Brandon Weber and was originally appeared on 02.26.15

Family

Husband is certain wife’s baby name will cause too much pain for their child. Is he wrong?

"It's going to cause him major problems with passports and ID as well as job and college applications."

A father can't handle the name his wife chose for the baby.

It’s one thing to debate with your spouse over giving your child a name that is so unique it could cause them trouble. It’s another to fight with your spouse over giving your child a name that is so incredibly common it’s used as a placeholder when an unidentified man has passed away.

This was the problem a Reddit user (The_Doeberman), whose last name is Doe, faced when his wife wanted to name their baby boy after her grandfather, John.

“My wife is six months pregnant and wants to name our future son after her grandfather, who died of cancer in September. His name was John,” the husband wrote on the AITA forum

“I liked her grandfather, and I know he and my wife were very close, but I won't even consider it, not even for our son's middle name,” he continued. “I feel that's just setting him up for a world of problems, especially when he grows up and has to apply for jobs. Nobody's going to believe ‘John Doe’ is his real name.”


The wife thought that the husband was being difficult for vetoing the name and claimed he was “exaggerating” the issues the child would face.

But he has a pretty strong argument. The name John Doe is synonymous with the unclaimed dead body that someone finds in a roadside motel in the middle of nowhere or an anonymous victim of trauma that can’t be named in court documents. It’s also often used as a placeholder, which could cause the child problems when applying for college or a job.



There is no exact answer to why John Doe was chosen to represent the “everyman,” but it has been used in the UK for hundreds of years. It’s believed because John Doe was a popular name at the time. Later, in the US, unidentified females would come to be known as Jane Doe.

The husband used Reddit’s AITA page to ask whether he was in the wrong and the commenters were overwhelmingly supportive of him.

One commenter thought that "John Doe" was a bad idea but gave a solution that could work for the wife. “People will think it's a fake name. It's going to cause him major problems with passports and ID as well as job and college applications. He may have issues with medical stuff etc.,” they wrote. Instead, they suggested using an alternative version of “John” from another language.

“As an example only: Look for other languages' version of John. For example Eoin is the Irish way of spelling Owen. Eoin in itself is the Irish version of John…” they wrote.


Another commenter was blunt about their objection.

“I'm not superstitious, but I'd feel uncomfortable having a kid whose name basically stands for ‘found dead in the park, stab wound to the chest, no ID,’” they added.

One commenter noted all of the legal troubles that could come with having the name John Doe.

“I imagine a lifetime of getting stopped by the TSA for enhanced screening, of job applications being tossed for being fake and just everything being harder than it should be because you have a fake name,” they wrote. “If giving him the grandfather's name is so important, why not give him the grandpa's middle name?”

In the end, it's touching for a mother to name their newborn son after her grandfather, but according to the father and a legion of people online, “John Doe” simply carries too much baggage and would be more of a hindrance than a tribute. The good news is that there are many ways that the wife can pay homage to her grandfather that won’t make her son’s life more difficult.

Pop Culture

Middle class families share how much money they have in savings and it's eye-opening

"I transfer money each paycheck but always end up needing to transfer it back."

Many middle class families are sharing that they have nothing in savings right now.

According to an April 2024 Gallup poll, 54% of Americans identify as part of the middle class, with 39% identifying as "middle class" and 15% identifying as "upper-middle class." That percentage has held fairly steady for years, but for many, what it feels like to be a middle class American has shifted.

Notably, inflation caused by the pandemic has hit middle class families hard, with incomes not keeping up with cost-of-living increases. Housing costs have skyrocketed in many areas of the country, mortgage interest rates have risen to levels not seen since the pre-Obama era and grocery bills have increased significantly. One government study found that cost of living has increased between around $800 and $1,300 a month depending on the state since 2021, putting a squeeze on everyone, including the middle class.

One woman shared that her family is just getting by and asked other people who identify as middle class to "chime in" with what they have in their savings account.

"I swear, every paycheck I am putting money into my savings, but needing to transfer it back within a few days," shared @abbyy..rosee on TikTok. "My registration is due. My husband's registration is due. He needed two new tires, even though they had a warranty. That's $300. My oldest needs braces, he needs a palate expander, that's $120 a month. Not to mention groceries are $200 more a week. Forget about feeding your family great ingredients because who has $500 a week to spend on perfect ingredients to feed your family?"


@abbyy..rosee

somethings gotta give #savings #middleclass #relatable

She explained that her husband makes enough money that they should be able to live comfortably, and that she quit her job because the cost of daycare was more than she was making.

"At some point, something has to give," she said. "What is going on? How do I save money?"

People in the comments chimed in with their savings account totals and it was quite eye-opening. Many people shared that they have $0 saved.

"We make the most money we ever have and have zero savings. We live paycheck to paycheck and every month I don’t know how we get by."

"I think the middle class is 1 personal disaster away from bankruptcy."

"Y’all got savings accounts?!?! 😂"

"I used to freak out if I had under $10k in savings, now I’m happy when I have over $150. 😫"

"We make almost 100,000 a year with no savings!!!! It's always something!!"

"I'm lucky if we have $500-$1K for an emergency. every single time we start saving something happens. the vet, the cars, the kids... something."

"Savings account? I transfer money each paycheck but always end up needing to transfer it back. My husband makes great money too but we are scraping by."

"$803 but we have to pay a $750 deductible this week b/c my Husband hit a deer soooo… back at it 😭 It’s exhausting. Constantly draining it, refilling it, transferring."

Some people shared that they do have some savings, but several said it was because they'd had an inheritance or other chunk of money come their way. Many people shared that their savings has dwindled as increased costs have taken their toll. Some people gave lifestyle advice to save money, but most agreed that just the basics have gotten so expensive it's harder to make ends meet much less put extra into savings.

Thankfully, the inflation issue appears to be waning, but even just plateauing at their current financial reality isn't ideal for many American families. Middle class is supposed to be a comfortable place to be—not rich, but well enough off to feel secure. That's not how many middle class folks feel, though. Most Americans don't have anything close to the amount of money saved that is recommended across the age spectrum, but at least hearing that others are in the same boat is somewhat comforting.

It can be vulnerable to put your financial reality out there, but it's helpful to hear what other people are doing and dealing with so we all feel less alone when we're struggling. Perhaps if people were more open about money, we'd all be able to help one another find ways to improve our financial situations rather than lamenting our empty savings accounts and wondering how to change it.

A kind nurse offers a flower.

As the old saying goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” Sadly, this hard truth becomes increasingly evident as we reach our final days. The things we take for granted today, such as our health, relationships, and time itself, become much more precious when we know they are about to end.

How much happier would we be every day if we lived with the perspective of those who are experiencing their final days?

Julie McFadden, known to her hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, as Hospice Nurse Julie, helps people appreciate their lives by regularly sharing her experiences with those who are living their final days.

Recently, she stopped by Rob Moore’s “The Disruptors” podcast, where she shared some of the big lessons she’s learned from the dying. Moore is a public speaker, entrepreneur and bestselling author of “Life Leverage.”


Given his background as an entrepreneur, Moore assumed that when people reach their final days, they regret the amount of time they spend working. "People definitely say that. 'I wish I didn't work my life away. I wish I didn't wait until retirement to do the things I wanted to do,'" McFadden said. However, there is another big regret that many share. “The main thing people say, that I don't hear a lot of people mention, is ‘I wish I would have appreciated my health,’” she added.

“I think the biggest thing I hear from people [who are] dying is that they wish they would have appreciated how well they how well they felt before,” she continued.

It seems that when people’s health begins to decline, they miss the vitality they never fully appreciated.

"I think most people take for granted things that have always been,” she told Moore. “You know, it's really easy to forget. We're so lucky to be alive in this moment. We're taking a breath right now. We're here on a rock that's like soaring through space. I mean, that alone can blow your mind."

McFadden believes that her profession reminds her to be grateful because dying is just as natural as living.

“I think because of my job, it's easier for me to see how once-in-a-lifetime this is. The fact that everything works together in our bodies to make us live and grow and I see that in-depth, too. I see how our bodies are biologically built to die,” she said. “That, right there, is so fascinating. We literally have built-in mechanisms to help us die. Our body can naturally do it. That's wild."

To get the most out of the miracle of life, McFadden writes a gratitude list every night so she’s sure to appreciate everything she has. Because, in the blink of an eye, it can be gone. “I like the fact that I can breathe, I'm walking around, I can feel the sunshine – little things like that,” she shared.

Our lives are filled with incredible gifts, whether it’s the people we love, the amazing things our bodies can do, or the places we get to see. But without gratitude, these beautiful gifts can easily go unnoticed and unappreciated. Practicing gratitude allows us to cherish these moments, so we’re fulfilled by what we have, instead of disillusioned by what we don’t.

Pop Culture

What is 'Generation Jones'? The unique qualities of the not-quite-Gen-X-baby-boomers.

This "microgeneration" had a different upbringing than their fellow boomers.

Generation Jones includes Michelle Obama, George Clooney, Kamala Harris, Keanu Reeves and more.

We hear a lot about the major generation categories—boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z and the up-and-coming Gen Alpha. But there are folks who don't quite fit into those boxes. These in-betweeners, sometimes called "cuspers," are members of microgenerations that straddle two of the biggies.

"Xennial" is the nickname for those who fall on the cusp of Gen X and millennial, but there's also a lesser-known microgeneration that straddles Gen X and baby boomers. The folks born from 1954 to 1965 are known as Generation Jones, and they've been thrust into the spotlight as people try to figure out what generation to consider 59-year-old Vice President Kamala Harris.

Like President Obama before her, Harris is a Gen Jonesernot exactly a classic baby boomer but not quite Gen X. Born in October 1964, Harris falls just a few months shy of official Gen X territory. But what exactly differentiates Gen Jones from the boomers and Gen Xers that flank it?


"Generation Jones" was coined by writer, television producer and social commentator Jonathan Pontell to describe the decade of Americans who grew up in the '60s and '70s. As Pontell wrote of Gen Jonesers in Politico:

"We fill the space between Woodstock and Lollapalooza, between the Paris student riots and the anti-globalisation protests, and between Dylan going electric and Nirvana going unplugged. Jonesers have a unique identity separate from Boomers and GenXers. An avalanche of attitudinal and behavioural data corroborates this distinction."

Pontell describes Jonesers as "practical idealists" who were "forged in the fires of social upheaval while too young to play a part." They are the younger siblings of the boomer civil rights and anti-war activists who grew up witnessing and being moved by the passion of those movements but being met with a fatigued culture by the time they themselves came of age. Sometimes, they're described as the cool older siblings of Gen X. Unlike their older boomer counterparts, most Jonesers were not raised by WWII veteran fathers and were too young to be drafted into Vietnam, leaving them in between on military experience.

Gen Jones gets its name from the competitive "keeping up with the Joneses" spirit that spawned during their populous birth years, but also from the term "jonesin'," meaning an intense craving, that they coined—a drug reference but also a reflection of the yearning to make a difference that their "unrequited idealism" left them with. According to Pontell, their competitiveness and identity as a "generation aching to act" may make Jonesers particularly effective leaders:

"What makes us Jonesers also makes us uniquely positioned to bring about a new era in international affairs. Our practical idealism was created by witnessing the often unrealistic idealism of the 1960s. And we weren’t engaged in that era’s ideological battles; we were children playing with toys while boomers argued over issues. Our non-ideological pragmatism allows us to resolve intra-boomer skirmishes and to bridge that volatile Boomer-GenXer divide. We can lead."

Time will tell whether the United States will end up with another Generation Jones leader, but with President Biden withdrawing his candidacy, it has now become a distinct possibility.

Of note in discussions over Kamala Harris's generational status is the fact that generations aren't just calculated by birth year but by a person's cultural reality. Some have made the argument that Harris is culturally more Gen X than boomer, though there doesn't seem to be any record of her claiming any particular generation as her own. However, a swath of Gen Z has staked their own claim on her as "brat"—a term singer Charli XCX thrust into the political arena with a post on X that read "kamala IS brat." That may be nonsensical to most older folks, but for Gen Z, it's a glowing endorsement from one of the top Gen Z musicians of the moment.