August has been an oddly uneventful month. Work was slow, and I took two weeks off, with one of the weeks dedicated to myself, and the other dedicated to spending time with my partner. Played way too much BattleBit Remastered (grinding until level 130 only to find out the sniper rifle everyone is hyping isn’t actually all that good sucks), worked on a project I should potentially write about, painted a few miniatures. Oh, and I read books:
“Visual Threat Intelligence - An Illustrated Guide for Threat Researchers” by Thomas Roccia; I read this on recommendation by a few acquaintances, and it lived up to my expectations. I’m not really the target audience anymore, with the book covering the absolute basics of cyber threat intelligence, or analysis work in general. But I still enjoyed the read, it’s something I will probably recommend for coworkers starting out in their career, or getting interested in threat intelligence for the first time.
“Operationalizing Threat Intelligence” by Kyle Wilhoit and Joseph Opacki - similarly, this was a book recommended, and because I was already in the mood to read on the subject, I got this as well. And I’m a bit torn about my conclusion. On one hand I don’t want to be harsh, because I’m suspecting that parts of my criticism are based on personal preferences that the book is not meeting, which would be subjective criticism and thus at least a bit unfair.
But on the other hand, it does suffer from the same issue a lot of titles from Packt Publishing suffer (in my experience, your mileage may definitely vary). It gives a high level summary of relevant topics, then throws in some step-by-step manual on to set up certain tools, and how to use them (in the sense of being able to navigate through interfaces or read the output), and that’s it.
It feels like the book is giving you some things, some information that could be used as a building block for further learning, work, or research. But it doesn’t really give you any hints on where to go next. Or even recommendations on what to do about deepening the knowledge and understanding you acquired from the book.
I could work around this, because I both knew most of the stuff the book contained, and because I’ve read my fair share of books by Packt Publishing by now. But I feel like that’s not the experience I should get from a book.
“Rote Kapelle - Spionage und Widerstand” by W.F. Flicke is an old book I got at a flea market shortly before the pandemic started. Home-grown espionage networks in Germany during WW2 are a topic that has been fascinating me since I was a kid, and since I haven’t really read all that much about the Rote Kapelle, I was looking forward to this one.
Well, this book was very much not what I expected. This wasn’t a factual, historically correct book on the subject. It was fiction, in the style of a novel. Pretty much telling the story of how the group was eventually broken up, peppered in with a lot of parts that were borderline revisionist. This book contained the most generous, whitewash-y description of the Gestapo I have ever seen. The only reason I finished it was because it was morbidly fascinating. Avoid, avoid .. avoid, avoid. Seriously.
“The Dark Heart of Italy” by Tobias Jones; a few years back I was intensely interested in the Italian subculture of “Ultrà”, of fanatical football support. This subculture has spread throughout Europe in above since it becoming a thing in the 1960ies, and its expression varied from country to country, but the “motherland” was always especially fascinating to me. Tobias Jones was a journalist that often came up in English-language documentaries at the time, because he was one of the few British journalists permanently living and working in Italy at the time. So his name was not entirely unknown to me when I stumbled upon this book at an .. alternative source for literary publications on the Internet a while ago.
This book isn’t about football per se, it’s about Italy, in general. Modern history, politics, food, society. It’s a fascinating read, even for someone literally living next door to the country in question. It’s a window into a culture that’s seemingly vastly different to mine. It’s probably a bit dated by now, given that it was released in 2005, but a quick look at news about Italy suggests that things probably haven’t changed all that much.
There’s a concept called “Bücherfahrrad” where I live. It’s a place (sometimes a literal bicycle, sometimes an old phone booth, sometimes a modified bench, ..) where people can place books that they don’t need anymore, so that other people might pick them up for their enjoyment.
Obviously, the mixture of books you can find in them varies wildly. Often it’s books that are outdated and old, but not yet ripe for selling them to an antiquarian. Sometimes it’s books that were given out by employers or political parties decades ago.
But sometimes you find really cool stuff in there. That’s what happened when my partner and I hit the local Bücherfahrrad during an evening walks. Apparently, someone had decided to get rid of parts of their collection of WW2-books. I was glad to finally find a replacement for my British biography of Rommel I got gifted as a kid, which was already falling apart when I got it, and hasn’t improved since.
But the most interesting (in a slightly hilarious way) book was “The Secret Life of Adolf Hitler” by a guy called David Lewis. When I saw it I both knew that it was a horrible, sensationalist, most likely almost entirely fictional, and that I had to take and read it.
And my, oh my .. it was even worse than I thought. Given that it was a book about the sexuality of Hitler that was published in the Seventies, at the height of the “sexploitation”-wave of both books and movies, I was expecting quite a bit. But the author managed to somehow make Hitler out to be sexually deviant, homosexual, celibate and a womanizer at the same time. Also somehow he magically grew a testicle during the course of the book, only for it to vanish again when the Soviets looked at his alleged body.
That book was a wild ride, and I definitely do not recommend it for anyone seriously interested in sexuality during the Nazi dictatorship. For that I’d recommend “Sexuality and German Fascism” and “Sex after Fascism”, both by Dagmar Herzog. But if you’re looking for a light, hilarious and absolutely bonkers read - sure, give it a go.
While my purse might not be too thrilled about it, I was happy that I managed to come up with the energy to branch out with my selection of music again this month:
“kintsugi - life in death” was recommended to me by the Bandcamp-frontpage. I’m usually not one for the backstory behind music, but for whatever reason, I found this one to be very touching. The artists are two brothers, utilizing music to deal with the loss of their mother and grandmother - and without knowing either them or their relatives, the beautiful instrumental tracks evokes memories I can’t realistically possess. I’ll definitely have this one on repeat for a while.
“DJ Kid Slizzard - Murderbells of Mempho” is a release that I’d expect a lot of fans of modern hip-hop to laugh at. And if you take it at face value, there’s indeed a lot of not-that-good things about it. The recording quality is pretty abysmal, and the rhymes show their age, the technique severely lacking at times.
Nonetheless, it’s an excellent representation of Memphis Horrorcore, the niche subgenre of Rap that eventually gave birth to one of the dominant subgenres today, Trap. I’ve always had a soft spot for that type of grimy, somewhat pure Rap. This isn’t an exception.