I have discovered torrents and I have used mininova to search for audio book torrents. I am using µTorrent as my p2p client. My taste does not intersect much with the tastes of those sharing their audio books, but I have found a few good things.
The best that I have found are BBC science, math, history and technology audio files that have the added advantage of having been released to the public by the BBC, so I think that they are legal to download. An example is their series about Infinity that had Rudy Rucker quotes and was very entertaining. I have downloaded a dozen of them and I am hoping for more.
I found Will Durant’s book The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time to be dry and laking in interest. I had read some of Durant’s histories over the years and found them to be full of facts, and reasonably well written, but I was not as inspired as most people are by his writings. The audio book that I downloaded was a series of magazine articles, popularizations and speeches that he had given over the years. I had had the opportunity to buy the tape used for $4 at a flea market and I am glad that I passed it by. I found that I was daydreaming while listening to his various top ten or greatest hits lists. There seemed to be little new in them other than they were the great Will Durant’s opinions and therefore must be of value.
I listened to some of Jung’s Man and Symbols, and I am not finding it very inspiring. Being a firm believer in Freud’s conclusion that psychological analysis does not work on those of us of Irish extraction, the writer in me is still fascinated with his concepts of symbols and his broad definition of dreams. I have a much more mechanistic view of how the mind works – it is basically a meat computer. In my view the operating system employs a shell program that sometimes recasts the evidence of the various subsystems. The brains subsystems can present data that is not in general agreement with the supervisory program’s views and this can cause conflicts. Jung seems to be able to quantify this process well, but he uses the language of dreams and symbols to skirt around the more logical conclusion. I may listen a little more.
As far as fiction goes, I already own a huge audio library so there is little out there that I don’t already own. My friend bought the last Harry Potter book and the last CD was damaged so I downloaded the book for him and cut a better copy of the last CD. I paid good money for the tape, so I feel that Rowling has already gotten her royalties from me. I have found very few commercial recordings that I want to download.
There are versions of several novels that were originally recorded for the blind. These are not commercially available. The problem with them is that the quality is just awful. I tried listening to Andre Norton’s Witch World and found it badly read and poorly recorded. It was full of pops, ticks and muffled sections. I got about 20 minutes through and erased it. I have a couple of Heinlein novels that are recordings for the blind and they vary greatly in quality. I have tried listening to them, but I have yet to finish one. I have read the books so many times that I find the bad recordings ruining the experience.
I listened to Smith’s Skylark of Space that I haven’t read in 40 years. I found it to be a stupid novel, even though it had been obviously updated and all reference to the Ether has been removed and I think some of it was altered to make it more politically correct. I don’t remember it being that bad, but I was 15 or 16 when I last read it. Again, the production standards were very poor and the reader less then enjoyable. I own the 1920s Amazing Stories magazines where it originally appeared so I may go back and read those to see how it has changed over the years.
I’ve been downloading Blues, but I have not yet found any music that I don’t already own on cassette. It is convenient to listen to Muddy Waters on the Ipod Clone, but I don’t feel bad because over the years I have spent hundreds on Muddy’s CDs, Cassettes and LPs.
I have found that many audio downloads are not MP3 at all but FLAC files (an alternative audio format) and I am using a little VB program to decode them to WAV and reencode them to MP3. This takes hours to do, but it takes many hours to download anything and I don’t want to waste the files.
So far the little Inoi MP3 hard disk is very convenient and I like that it is small enough to carry around with me and easy to break out when I am stuck in line somewhere. I don’t like the ear buds that I have. I want to find something that fits my ears better. I am still looking for something worthwhile to put on the Inoi. I saw the complete discography of Tom Waites out there and I may go for it.
This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.
Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)