When I was a kid, we used to sing Merle Travis's Sixteen Tons in the car on long trips: it's a poetic masterpiece, capturing the clash between a worker's proud and indomitable spirit and his impossible, inescapable poverty trap (chances are you've heard Tennessee Ernie Ford or Johnny Cash perform it).
The plight of the worker indebted to a company store analogizes regrettably well to the current student debt crisis: to get paid, you have to incur debt, but the debt is titrated so that it always exceeds your wage, so that you have to work as hard as you possibly can just to keep from sinking. And since student debt is the only debt that can't be discharged in bankruptcy and the only debt that can be charged against your Social Security, it will literally haunt you until the day you die -- and then come back to make claims against your estate.
So Steven Brust (previously) and Mark Hall's student-debt remix of the lyrics, "Sixteen Credits," is particularly apt, in a ha-ha-only-serious way.
Some people say a man is made out of gore
Well a student is just a credit score
A credit score and a mind that’s spry
A future that’s bleak, a bank account that’s dry
You take sixteen credits and what do you get?
Close to your degree and deeper in debt
St. Peter don’t you call me cuz I must stay
I owe my soul to Sallie Mae
Enrolled one morning, it was drizlin rain
“Get a degree” was the school’s refrain
Should I study English, or should it be Math?
Decades of debt was the only path.
You take sixteen credits….
Sixteen Credits [Steven Brust and Mark Hall/Dreamcafe]
Ten years ago, Apple released the Ipad. I was in a hotel room in Seattle, jetlagged and awake at 4AM while my wife and daughter slept.
Last year, the EU adopted the incredibly controversial Copyright Directive (it passed by only five votes, and afterwards 10 MEPs said they'd got confused and pushed the wrong buttons!): now, EU member states have to create rules that require online platforms to filter all user-generated content and block it if it matches a secret, unaccountable […]
Back in 2017, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) approved the most controversial standard in its long history: Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME, which enabled Netflix and other big media companies to use DRM despite changes to browsers extensions that eliminated the kinds of deep hooks that DRM requires.
Gather round, young and old — and hear tales of bygone days. Back in olden times, citizens would mass at a house of coffee, wherein skilled java alchemists would concoct special blends and apply artisanal wizardry to make each steaming chalice an appointment for the taste buds. Granted, said wizards, once known as baristas, were […]
The last few weeks have given us all a lot to think about. As we watched stores close, Costco lines snake through parking lots and items like hand sanitizer and toilet paper disappear everywhere like they were Lady Gaga tickets, there’s one significant takeaway it’s safe to say we all can agree on. We should […]
Whether it was Bach or Chopin, Ray Charles or Jerry Lee Lewis, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Alicia Keys or Norah Jones, there was someone whose mastery on the piano made you think, wow, I wish I knew how to do that. It’s a singular, almost timeless skill — and if you love music, there’s no […]