Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Audible & Sony are enemies

So, I J. Hardspear de la Azotea, who have been told various things about ADD, have been given a Sony Walkman MP3 player by my wife Lamb, so that I can listen to my Audible audiobooks.  Much as I love my Kindle, it is a bit large to use a MP3.  Imagine running on the treadmill in the gym with a Kindle strapped to your waist!
Breathless with anticipation, I opened the Audible download manager on my PC.  With a shaking finger I clicked on ‘add new device’.  WTF????  No Sony devices are listed.
Now Audible SAY that you can download in MP3 format, but in fact it is actually their propriety .aa extension format. 
I jumped onto the web and found that I was not the only fool who were cheated by Audible and Sony.
I just want to tell Audible and Sony…  I SHALL find a way to listen to my Audible books on my Sony Walkman.  I have already downloaded 3 different DRM (Digital Rights Management) software removal tools.
I have a good mind and put Cory Doctorow onto the both of you!!!
(You do not need to read the rest of this, below just a little drivel to create some esss eeeeeee ooooohhh for this post.)
I unequivocally can't let Audible & Sony's misinformation and misguided arguments about nativism go by without comment. As you read this letter, bear in mind that there are many points of general dissatisfaction and dispute that should not, on any account, be overlooked in the discussion of the subjects here presented. One of these is that if we fail to pursue virtue and knowledge then all of our sacrifices will be as forgotten as the sand blowing across Ozymandias's dead empire. The "decay of that colossal wreck," as the poet Shelley puts it, teach us that Audible & Sony maintains that you and I are morally inferior to shabby nebbishes. While that happens to be pure fantasy from the world of make-believe, one important fact to consider is that you don't need to be a rocket scientist to detect the subtext of this letter. But just in case it's too subliminal for some, let me thrust it into your face right here: If it can't cite the basis for its claim that the best way to serve one's country is to turn over our country to tetchy, untoward euphuists then it should just shut up about it.
Audible & Sony has gotten a bit too palsy-walsy with inane gits. Surprised? You shouldn't be, because it's easy for armchair philosophers to theorize about Audible & Sony and about hypothetical solutions to our Audible & Sony problem. It's an entirely more difficult matter, however, when one considers that it insists that the peak of fashion is to waste everyone else's time. Sorry, Audible & Sony, but, with apologies to Gershwin, "it ain't necessarily so." Let me give you some important advice: Don't let Audible & Sony define you. Instead, show it that you're in control by searching for solutions that are more creative and constructive than the typically infelicific ones championed by mentally deficient gutter-dwellers. I contend that even the most unassertive milquetoast should be able to do something like that. At a minimum, you should remember that if we're to effectively carry out our responsibilities and make a future for ourselves, we will first have to challenge Audible & Sony to defend its commentaries or else to change them.
The essential point, however, is the following: I strive to be consistent in my arguments. I can't say that I'm 100% true to this, but Audible & Sony's frequent vacillating leads me to believe that if we are powerless to hammer out solutions on the anvil of discourse, it is because we have allowed Audible & Sony to leave behind a wake of heinous reaction. Audible & Sony has somehow managed to get the media to pay rapt attention to its daffy fairy tales. I don't know what sort of Jedi mind control it's been using to pull that off, but I do know that we must eschew bad-tempered warlordism if we are ever to rub its nose in its own hypocrisy. Yes, this is a bold, audacious, even unprecedented undertaking. Yes, it lacks any realistic guarantee of success. However, it is an undertaking that we must sincerely pursue because every so often, Audible & Sony tries giving me reason to dig my own grave and pay for the shovel. Whenever it gets caught doing so it raises a terrific hullabaloo calculated to wage an odd sort of warfare upon a largely unprepared and unrecognizing public.
In this volatile political moment, we must cautiously guard against the dangers of dour antidisestablishmentarianism. That's just a fancy way of saying that I don't know which are worse, right-wing tyrants or left-wing tyrants. But I do know that if you hear Audible & Sony spouting off about how it answers to no one, you should tell it that its ethics will have consequences, intended and otherwise. Better yet, tell it to stop getting its opinions from inattentive smut peddlers and start doing some research of its own.
If history follows its course, it should be evident that there's an important difference between me and Audible & Sony. Namely, I am willing to die for my cause. Audible & Sony, in contrast, is willing to kill for its—or, if not to kill, at least to toy with our opinions. To overthrow western civilization through the destruction of its four pillars—family, nation, religion, and democracy—is Audible & Sony's objective, and furacious Bulverism is its method. I frequently talk about how Audible & Sony fears nothing more than the exposure of its motives and activities. I would drop the subject except that it claims to have turned over a new leaf shortly after getting caught trying to defile the present and destroy the future. This claim is an outright lie that is still being circulated by Audible & Sony's pals. The truth is that Audible & Sony has been known to say that mediocrity is a worthwhile goal. That notion is so nefarious, I hardly know where to begin refuting it.
Audible & Sony is never without a sex-crazed thing to say, but that's a story for another time. For now, I want to focus on the way that its protests are rife with contradictions and difficulties; they're completely quasi-egocentric, meet no objective criteria, and are unsuited for a supposedly educated population. And as if that weren't enough, I defy the abysmal ragamuffins who practice human sacrifice on a grand scale in some sort of deceitful death cult, and I defy the powers of darkness that they represent.
You know what we'd have if everybody wanted to sound the standard "they're out to get us" call and rally Audible & Sony's minions to make bribery legal and part of business as usual? Total chaos. Presentism, imperialism, and factionalism follow Audible & Sony's footsteps. Wherever it goes, such things are sure to sprout up. The implication is that Audible & Sony's views raise a number of brow-furrowing questions. I'm referring to questions such as, "What happened to Audible & Sony's common sense?" It's questions like that that get people thinking about how if Audible & Sony gets its way, I might very well abandon all hope.
If one believes statements like, "Audible & Sony would never dream of inciting racial hatred," one is, in effect, supporting impetuous jerks. Rather than respond to my letters with reasoned arguments, Audible & Sony prefers to inject even more fear and divisiveness into political campaigns. Although this method of attack is unparalleled in any other sphere of literary controversy it does prove that Audible & Sony wants its cowardice and irresponsibility to be regarded as prudence, so to speak. There's a lot of talk nowadays about Audible & Sony's inconsiderate squibs but not much action.
Audible & Sony is known for fabricating evidence. Need I say more? I don't think so, but this I will say: Audible & Sony's behavior might be different if it were told that it is unable to separate fact from fiction. Of course, as far as Audible & Sony is concerned, this fact will fall into the category of, "My mind is made up; don't confuse me with the facts." That's why I'm telling you that it has repeatedly been spotted getting on my nerves. When questioned about that, it either denies any knowledge of it or offers unbelievable and ludicrous explanations that only a mudslinging Zendik could believe.
Isn't it interesting which questions Audible & Sony dodges and what tangents it goes off on? Those dodges and tangents make me think that if Audible & Sony continues to carry our once-proud nation deeper into savagery and depravity, I will be obliged to do something about it. And you know me: I never neglect my obligations. Audible & Sony is the secret player behind the present, stuck-up political scene. It must be brought out from behind the curtain before it's too late, before its spin doctors damage the self-esteem and physical health of millions of young men and women. I once pointed out to Audible & Sony that I sometimes have to bite my tongue pretty hard to avoid saying what I really feel about it. All I could garner from its ensuing mussitation was some nonsense about how honor counts for nothing. It's this sort of mindless response that leads me to believe that you might say, "These issues are actually political issues." Fine, I agree. But the last time I heard Audible & Sony ramble on in its characteristically bibulous blather it said something about wanting to eroticize relations of dominance and subordination. I feel sorry for the human race when I hear stuff like that. To close, let me accentuate that if we tear down Audible & Sony's fortress of anti-intellectualism we shall not only survive Audible & Sony's attacks; we shall prevail.
Respectfully Submitted by J. Hardspear de la Azotea.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Hereditary Nature of ADD and the Sins of the Fathers

The teacher at the new kindergarten where Image is going to informed us (in a very sensitive manner) that she picks up that Image has certain integration issues and "fall-outs" and recommended we see an occupational therapist.

Oh shit... I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, who is scared of ADD know where this is leading to...

Monday, 6 February 2012

On Flying Backwards and Motion Sickness

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, who barely tolerates having ADD, suffers from SEVERE motion sickness.  Since last year October I have had to travel to Lephalale (formerly Ellisras) in the Limpopo Province every week.  I made the trip three times by car and then, since the work offered, decided to fly.  Because of the massive new Medupi coal power plant which Eskom is building there and because of the very large coal mining activities close to town, masses of contractors have descended on Lephalale and as a result the small town is bursting out of its seams.  

Although Lephalale is not a fixed destination for the large airline operators, some of the bigger charter companies have instated regular flights.  So, despite the fact that I hate small planes, it still beats driving and I bear the anxiety and nausea for the 45 minutes which the trip takes.  Usually we fly with a 20 seater Beechcraft 1900, which is not too small, but the difference is huge.  You think turbulence in a Boeing or an Airbus is bad…, try flying in a small plane being buffeted about by a Highveld thunderstorm as you approach Johannesburg!

Beechcraft 1900

Last week the regular Beechcraft 1900 was in for maintenance and they used two smaller planes.  One was the highly acclaimed Beechcraft KingAir (13 seater) and an Aero Commander Jetprop (5 seater).  Of course I was booked on the 5 seater.  Of course the 1 sideway seat and 2 forward facing seats were taken.  I immediately took a valoid and 2 tranquiliser tablets.  I really very rarely take tranquilisers, but since travelling a lot, I make sure that I always have some basic pharmacological preparations with me.  Headache tablets, nausea tablets, something for an upset tummy, plasters and antiseptic cream.  My sister-in-law gave me a few tranquilisers when Honey Bee passed away.

Aero Commander Jetprop

Despite the fact that there were no storms, turbulence or air pockets (it was really a very smooth flight), travelling backwards does not agree with someone suffering from motion sickness.  What your inner ear feels, your eyes see and your body experience, is totally out of whack with relation to each other.  The company was good though.  Next to me sat a quiet Turk with a massive watch on the wrong arm.  Opposite him was his older very talkative and friendly Turkish colleague and opposite me a friendly Canadian.  The quiet Turkish guy kept on taking pictures of everything and his chatty friend engaged all of us in conversation.  I always find it so pleasant/interesting/amusing to meet people from other countries.  The chatty Turk is one of those people one immediately takes to.  With laughter lines round his eyes and lips constantly on the verge of a big smile it is evident that he does not take life too seriously and that he enjoys the company of other people.  I did not always follow his heavily accented English above the roar of the plane’s twin props, but I was captivated by the passion with which he spoke.  The Canadian was, well Canadian…  very nice, unassuming and interesting.

I might have enjoyed the conversation more if my stomach did not continue to flip unpleasantly and had my brain not kept on slowly rocking from side to side inside my head.  We landed safely (me sickeningly in reverse) and I continued to feel queasy till the next day.  If I did not take the Valoid I would have puked… I know that for a fact.

Next time I’ll remember the Stoney Ginger Beer.  Ginger really helps – ask me, I’ve tried everything and apart from Valoid and Ginger this is what also works:
  • Dramamine
  • Sturgeron
  • Coca-Cola

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Hardspear reviews Audible book Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Prologue.  The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below." 

In print the opening sentence of Dan Simmons’ novel Hyperion packs a potent punch.  Listening to the same sentence in the audiobook version by Audible, the same strong oomph is lent by the prose, yet now new dimensions are added.  Instantly there is a haunting quality to the very first words which is downright exhilarating.

I listened to the first few evocative paragraphs of the book five times in awe before I was able to wrench my thumb away from the rewind button.  It is not merely narrators that read this book, it is truly voice artists.  The bass/baritone voices of the male narrators and the contralto of the female narrator is like fine quality paint brushes.  They use inflection, pitch, pause, falsetto, strength, whisper and timbre to paint and colour the picture of the story so masterfully written by Dan Simmons.  I travel a lot and usually listen to my books using the text-to-speech function on my Amazon Kindle.  I have grown quite accustomed to the monotone computer generated voice on the Kindle and perhaps that is the reason why I was blown away by the quality of this audio book…

As to actual the story…  I have read all four books of the Hyperion Cantos before.  I have always wanted to re-read it.  When Honey Bee was in hospital, I opened an account with Audible so that I can download her some audio books.  As I browsed the site, I came across the Audible Fronteers audio version of the book.

Dan Simmons tells a Chaucer-esque story of seven pilgrims making their way to the strange planet Hyperion.  Unexplained forces surround their final destination, the time tombs, which makes it impossible for space- and aircraft to land close by.  So begins the long trek of the seven pilgrims to the mysterious time tombs.

By not quite mutual agreement the pilgrims decide to tell their stories as they travel.  I was disappointed at the end of each story, wanting to know more, but soon became engrossed in the next tale.  As each pilgrim tells their story, the background of the Hyperion universe unfolds and one learns the chronicle of how Old Earth was destroyed and how humans fleeing in seed ships colonized the galaxy. 

I am not going to pen down any plot spoilers here, but if you are into Sci-Fi (with a little fantasy mixed in) get the book, it is mind blowing to say the least.

…or you can wait for the Warner Bros movie.  And guess what…  Bradley Cooper was integrally involved in writing the script for the movie.  Seems there is more to him than a brilliant smile.  (do you know how hard it is to get a picture of an unsmiling Bradley Cooper…?)  I must say.  I would have liked him to be IN the movie.  I can picture him as one of the pilgrims, a priest called Lenar Hoyt.

So this is the first time that I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, who celebrates having ADD, have written a book review.  Since Audible will only allow me to put reviews under my real name, I won’t review on their site, but on my blog instead…

The unabridged audio book, Hyperion by Dan Simmons is available from and narrated by Victor Bevine,  Marc Vietor, Allyson Johnson, Kevin Parisea and, Jay Snyder.