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Bob Baker

Robert Baker comes from a Midwestern farm family. He love books and enjoys the pursuit of knowledge. He likes to make his family laugh. Bob embraces what Russell Kirk called the "permanent things."

"I value my faith above riches and my word is my bond. Of course I am a technophile. If it hums, glows, or blinks I want it, especially if it computes."

    Just My Take
    by Robert Baker

    July 14, 2003

    I was out walking the other day when a question just moved in and took squatter's residence in my mind. I wasn't struggling with the big questions - you know the kind - Superman or Bat Man? Coffee or Tea? Leno or Letterman? That kind of thing. Nevertheless I was a prisoner to the thought that wouldn't say goodbye. So like any person troubled by insomnia and desperately seeking closure I decided to share my inner struggles with you. By the way, it is so kind of you to volunteer.

    With that preamble here is the question: Is the world upside down or am I standing on my head? That is a serious question that deserves sober reflection. I am old enough to remember the 1960s when Time magazine reported the death of God. That article was strange reading but it had a logic to it if you looked at it in a certain way. After all, God didn't seem to be making as many house calls as in past centuries. But what followed pretty much confirmed that Time must have it right. If one of God's functions was to act as a check for the human tendency toward absurdity then it was clear that if He wasn't dead He was out getting coffee. Just think back over the last year. How many times after watching a news report or reading a news story have you turned to someone and said, "the world has gone mad."? It reminds me of the joke about the two Quakers overheard commenting on the state of the world. One says to the other, "Everyone is crazy but thee and me and I am not so sure about thee."

    Just to convince you that this is a serious issue let me present a few questions from the RBN Psychological Profile. This test is administered to all new RBN job applicants. Are you ready?

    Directions: Applicants should consider each question carefully before responding. Remember not to roll your eyes or shake your head while taking the test as it could cost you a position with the company. Take as much time as needed to be thorough. Do not listen to your mp3 player during the test. There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. Please do not seek clarification from personnel. The test is designed to get a glimpse into your universe. Since there are no breaks allowed during the test go to the bathroom first. Turn off all pagers, cell phones, PDAs, and laptops. If you choose to answer some questions with mathematical proofs a handheld calculator is permissible. Sorry no spell checkers permitted. BEGIN

    Q: If you had to choose would you rather be Dan Rather or Rush Limbaugh? (If you need more space for your answer ask personnel for additional paper.)

    Q: Who is more trustworthy? (Answer truthfully and don't laugh aloud.)
    A: the New York Times
    B: your local Congressman
    C: any Berkley, California city councilman
    D: Jesse Jackson
    E: your RBN supervisor (It doesn't matter if you have never met.)

    Q: What would you do if you overheard your two daughters fighting over who got to play Maureen Dowd? (If you don't have two daughters skip this question.)

    Q: Do your pets have health insurance? (If your answer is yes, please give the name of your agent to the Personnel Director, she's desperate.)

    Q: If Bill Clinton asked your advice on defining his legacy what would you say?

    Q: Do you have a personal blog? (If you don't know what a blog is don't try to fake an answer, just get up and leave now.)

    Q: Who is your favorite super hero? (Please limit your choices to those who have had movies released in the last decade.)

    Q: Compare and contrast the following religions.
    A: Islam (the religion of peace)
    B: Right-wing fundamentalist Christianity
    C: New Age (as expressed by the various California sects)
    D: Eastern religious thought

    Q: Give five reasons why talk radio is destroying American politics?

    Q: Was the White House travel office really corrupt?


    Well you get the idea. The test goes on for another twenty questions or so. Some of the answers to those questions were, to coin a term, flabberstunning. Still skeptical? Give the test to your friends at your next party. It will not only liven up the party, I guarantee that you will never look at your friends the same way again. (If you need the complete copy of the test send me a note. Just don't tell anyone. It is supposed to be confidential. I think RBN paid a consultant a lot of money to design this test.)

    Well not to belabor the point but there was a time when the 'deep' question was: Should I listen to or ignore the advice of my pastor, priest, father, mother, or analyst? Now the question is: Which politician or pundit is getting the story right? Personal opinion has now become the town crier of the universe. God, if He is alive (see Time magazine), has been reduced to a bystander. When people talk about truth today they are really talking about perspective or opinion or fancy not some universal unchangeable virtue. Bill Clinton may have been right. It really does depend on what the meaning of 'is' is.

    © 2003 Tocqevillian Magazine