May 3, 2005

the echoes of the laugher still remain


They get things right in the Netherlands: Picture on the road near a World War II cemetery at Margraten, Monday, May 2, 2005. US President George W. Bush will address a veterans' ceremony at the cemetery in Margraten on Sunday, May 8, to honor war victims.

* R2D2 enjoyed filming the new Star Wars film more than any other:

"Diminutive Star Wars actor Kenny Baker stopped complaining about his discomfort inside robot R2DT during filming for the sci-fi saga's final episode - because the film crew plastered its interior with pictures of naked models.

"The 70-year-old star dreaded filming the first five Star Wars films because the awkward metal outfit was unbearable, but his work on the sixth installment, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith was more tolerable because he shared the costume with pornographic images.

"He explains, 'The lads surprised me one day by sticking a load of Page Three pictures inside R2D2's head. I got inside and wondered what the heck was going on.'

"'I got cross-eyed looking at everything in front of me. But it was rather nice. It made it a lot more bearable.'"

* New York Times. excerpt:

"As he moved into the home stretch of his 60-day Social Security road show last week, it became clear that President Bush had saved the worst for last.

"Mr. Bush endorsed a proposal that would take a huge bite out of the Social Security retirement benefits for the middle class, claiming that would close some 70 percent of the system's financing gap. That figure is almost certainly overstated. Under the proposed reductions, young workers who now earn about $36,000 would face a 16 percent cut; those earning about $58,000 would face a cut of 25 percent, and those earning $90,000, 29 percent. People not yet in the work force would face even larger reductions."
...
"Politicians also have to face the hard truth about taxes. Raising the payroll tax by a mere three-tenths of a percentage point - starting 10 years from now and adding tiny increments over the succeeding 20 years - would be fair and lucrative, without being too steep or too sudden. It would also be fair to raise the cap on wages subject to the Social Security tax to about $150,000 from the current $90,000.

"President Bush's overall approval rating and his marks for his handling of Social Security have declined since he put privatization at the top of his agenda. The American people are trying to tell him that there are better ways to go. He obviously can't hear them, but we hope Congress can."

* "Remember, information is not knowledge; knowledge is not wisdom; wisdom is not truth; truth is not beauty; beauty is not love; love is not music; music is the best." --- Frank Zappa

* In DC? Tonight the Mountain Goats at the Black Cat.

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