Tag Archives: power

On statues and awards and the naming of things

The Edmund Pettus Bridge
Statues and awards and the naming of things (schools, hospitals, museums) are about many things, but first they are about power. Those with political or organizational or financial power decide what names go on things, what statues and monuments go where, and who should get awards. Sometimes it is simple, and an award or a thing gets named after someone or something powerful as a direct result of their power. Other times it is subtle, and the award or the statue or the naming of a thing reflects the values of those with power.

When people want to tear down statues or rename things or revoke awards, there is an outcry. That outcry is because of a group fearing their loss of power. You won’t hear people talk of it in those terms: you will hear people talk about values instead. But the change is the result of a shift in power. History isn’t erased because something is renamed or revoked or torn down: anyone who wants to know the history can know it in other ways. And history isn’t changed by putting up more statues or naming things differently.

Of all the ways of understanding history, objects are the worst. They are a crude reminder that a history exists, and they are put in place by powers that be or powers that were. As a place changes, the statues should change, the awards should be redistributed, and the things should be renamed. And this will indeed happen, and it will happen due to the new people in power.

Why do Apple’s Macbook chargers cost so much?

Simple: they are a complex piece of technology. The photo above shows a Macbook charger from Apple on the left: the charger on the right is from another company. You can clearly see that the one from Apple has a lot more technology packed in there. And for good reasons. To understand what those reasons are, see this piece:  Macbook charger teardown: The surprising complexity inside Apple’s power adapter. It was surprisingly interesting, from an engineering and design perspective.

Thanks to Tom Plaskon for sharing this on Twitter!

Some thoughts on power and empowerment

In reading on empowerment, the key assumption in many of them is the form a person’s power takes. I can see how this happens. If you believe that money is the ultimate source of power, then you would assume that empowerment has to do with controlling amounts of money. If you believe control and influence over others is a source of power, then how much control and influence you have indicates how much power you have. Or personal autonomy: you may assume that the more control you have over your life, the more power you have. There are other forms of power as well, but you can see just from these three how someone could be seen as both empowered and powerless. You could be wealthy, but a recluse struck with a terrible disease. You could be poor individual, but have all the freedom you want and great influence over others around you and beyond.  The poor individual and the wealthy recluse both are empowered and powerless, depending upon the lens you use to examine their lives.

There are tradeoffs we all make in these areas of empowerment. I might work a certain job because it gives me greater power over some aspects of my life while restricting me in others. Same with being a parent.

Everyone makes tradeoffs to achieve the power they need.  You may not respect their choices, you may find the sacrifices they make to be wrong, and you may not see the power they seek as one that is worthwhile. Despite that, they are trying to gain some form of power over someone or something to achieve a greater good. They are empowered or becoming empowered to achieve that.  We can disagree that their goals are not good ones, but we cannot say they are not empowered. If they are on the way to achieving what they want, they are empowered.