Ben Crowder

Prints 1.6

Welcome to Prints volume 1, issue 6.

Table of contents: Reading • Watching • Making • Links


Less reading than usual this time, thanks to work-related eyestrain and headaches that started a couple days after the last issue. Reading still hurts my eyes a little. Hoping it clears up soon! (If it doesn’t, I will of course be getting myself to an ophthalmologist.)

Recent nonfiction reads

  • I read about half of Barbara W. Tuchman’s The Guns of August but then the headaches latched on and started shredding my reading life. What I’ve read of the book so far is good, though the minutiae of troop movements did not hold my interest very much. I’m not sure if this is because I haven’t read much military history or if war books aren’t my thing. Haven’t decided yet if I’ll pick the book up again after my eyes feel better.
  • My Broken Language, by Quiara Alegría Hudes. I’d never heard of her before buying the book, but the combination of Puerto Rican heritage and theatre intrigued me. (My grandfather was from Cuba, and around fifteen years ago I wrote a number of short plays, got several of them produced, directed a couple, and took all of BYU’s playwriting classes.)

Recent fiction reads:

  • Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler. Whew. Post-apocalyptic books stress me out more than I want to be stressed out when reading. (I didn’t know this was post-apocalyptic when I picked it up. But I figured that out pretty quickly and yet kept reading, so…yeah.) It was well-written and compelling, at any rate. I still need to go back and continue the other series of Butler’s that I’ve begun.

Books acquired since last issue

  • Genghis Khan and the Quest for God: How the World’s Greatest Conqueror Gave Us Religious Freedom — Jack Weatherford
  • Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House — Peter Baker
  • Cuba Libre!: Che, Fidel, and the Improbable Revolution That Changed World History — Tony Perrottet
  • Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS — Joby Warrick
  • The Honours — Tim Clare
  • Warship — Joshua Dalzelle
  • Winston’s War — Sir Max Hastings
  • Gulag: A History — Anne Applebaum
  • The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas — Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Wireless Wars — Jonathan Pelson
  • The Last Winter: The Scientists, Adventurers, Journeymen, and Mavericks Trying to Save the World — Porter Fox
  • Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat — Bee Wilson
  • The Billionaire’s Apprentice: The Rise of The Indian-American Elite and The Fall of The Galleon Hedge Fund — Anita Raghavan
  • Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s “Girl Stunt Reporters” — Kim Todd
  • Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man — Dale Peterson
  • Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 — Jim Donovan
  • The Expert System’s Brother — Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • The Expert System’s Champion — Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements — Sam Kean
  • Say Her Name — Dreda Say Mitchell, Ryan Carter
  • Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home — Boyd Varty
  • Juniper Wiles — Charles de Lint
  • The Wind in His Heart — Charles de Lint
  • Memory and Dream — Charles de Lint
  • Jack the Giant-Killer — Charles de Lint
  • The Little Country — Charles de Lint
  • The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann — Ananyo Bhattacharya
  • Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future — Pete Buttigieg
  • Margaret Fuller: A New American Life — Megan Marshall
  • Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World — Steven Johnson
  • A Spindle Splintered — Alix E. Harrow
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built — Becky Chambers
  • Istanbul: City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World — Thomas F. Madden
  • Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping — Matthew Salesses
  • Refuse to Be Done: How to Write and Rewrite a Novel in Three Drafts — Matt Bell
  • Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower — Roseann Lake
  • Sync: How Order Emerges from Chaos In the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life — Steven H. Strogatz
  • On Stranger Tides — Tim Powers
  • A History of Violence: Living and Dying in Central America — Oscar Martinez
  • Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement — Tarana Burke
  • Toscanini: Musician of Conscience — Harvey Sachs
  • Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? — Robert Kuttner
  • The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography — Simon Singh
  • The Cunning Man — D. J. Butler & Aaron Michael Ritchey


We watched Rob Gardner’s Lamb of God concert on BYUtv. Enjoyed it — it’s similar to his Joseph Smith the Prophet, which I also like a lot. Realized during the end credits that the woman who plays Mary (the mother of Jesus) is a college friend from my undergrad years.

We’ve also been watching more BYU volleyball (huge surprise, I know) and the new season of Relative Race. And last night we saw Turning Red. Really liked it. The making-of documentary was also good. (I am such a discerning and nuanced and detailed media critic, if you haven’t noticed.)

Because of my eyes, I ended up spending more time than usual watching movies. Free Guy was popcorn for me — kind of fun, but the implausibility of software acting that way may have left enough of my disbelief on the ground to make the overall impression a little meh.

I don’t remember much of No Time to Die (already! it’s been less than a week!) but I think I liked it?

A Quiet Place Part II was another post-apocalyptic that was too intense to be enjoyable. Decent catharsis at the end, though. (I guess that’s the point. Still, it’s not something I really want to subject myself to very much. The premise of Old sounded interesting, for example, but then I watched the trailer and lost all interest in seeing the actual film.)


The eyestrain and headaches put a damper on things here as well.


A designish/artish thing:

Africa I
Africa I. My first attempt at doing an alternate geography map. Used Inkscape to draw the new outlines, then blurred and thresholded to make it look more analog.

Current projects

Salviana (working title): Making progress! I gave the characters some unique traits which had the unforeseen but in hindsight very understandable effect of bringing them to life in my imagination. It’s making all the difference. I’m tightening the outline and trying to make sure each scene is interesting and compelling. (And bemoaning how long this is taking me. I really need to reinstitute a daily quota goal, either word count or time. Without a goal, I never end up writing.)

Religious art: On hold for now. (Trying to keep my brain in writing mode.)

Alternate geographies: Also on hold.

Letters of Cortés: Also on hold.

The Princess and the Goblin: Also on hold.

Distressed PDFs: Also on hold.

Wesley on How websites die. Something I think about relatively often as well.

Cal Newport’s post on Brandon Sanderson’s advice for doing hard things. Good advice. (Also, Brandon’s announcement was crazy, and whew, that Kickstarter. His writing sadly doesn’t appeal to me anymore, but I admire his work ethic.)

N. K. Jemisin on book revisions. Planning to adopt her revision blueprint idea.

NASA is planning to drop the ISS into the ocean by 2031. Wow. Sad.

Quordle is a bit much, so I haven’t really played it after finding it.

Nerdle is also a bit much.

Semantle is brutal. I’ve tried two days in a row and haven’t managed to beat it.

Matt Webb on read-write science. Loved this.

Maggie Appleton on ad hoc reading groups. (It’s down near the end.) Definitely interested in something like this.

Derek Sivers on plain text files. Something near and dear to my heart even though I don’t really practice it.

Endurance22 found the wreckage of Shackleton’s ship. I still need to read Alfred Lansing’s book.

Matt Webb on inventing new wheels with weird new physics. Loved this.

Financial Times video on the Raspberry Pi. This made me want to take the couple of Pis that I own and finally do something with them.

Surma on WebGPU. I admittedly skimmed a lot of this, but it’s intriguing and I plan to come back to it later.

Tom Critchlow on the architecture of blogging. Enjoyed this.

Microsoft’s proposal for type syntax in JavaScript. Removing the need for a build process for this would indeed be nice.

Nilesh Christopher and Faisal Mahmud on village cooking channels on YouTube. Fascinating on several levels.

“Giant spiders expected to drop from the sky across the East Coast this spring”. Sheeeeeeesh.

Linus Lee on his Monocle personal search engine. Right now I’ve got several apps that each have their own searches (journals, notes, reading log, etc.) but consolidating search into a single unified place sounds very appealing.

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