Ben Crowder

Prints 1.7

Welcome to Prints volume 1, issue 7.

Table of contents: Reading • Making • Links • Thoughts


I recently checked out Standard Ebooks again and was pleased to see that they’re still going strong. I’m going to try reading older books exclusively on my Kobo, to see if that helps me finish them at all.

Recent nonfiction reads

  • Stretching the Heavens, by Terryl L. Givens. I heard about this biography of Eugene England via my friend Liz’s blog. Great book. Loved it — especially the theological parts — though England’s difficult relationship with the Church and with BYU was sad, particularly the end of the book.
  • On All Fronts, by Clarissa Ward, an international correspondent at CNN. I hadn’t actually heard of her when I saw her memoir on sale, but I love reading about journalism. This did not disappoint.

Recent fiction reads:

  • Last Argument of Kings, by Joe Abercrombie. Earthy and gritty (content warnings galore), but dang, this man can write. A satisfying conclusion to the First Law trilogy. I’ve already bought all his other books and look forward to them.
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune, by Nghi Vo. A novella. This was initially harder to read, but once I slowed down it was fine. I liked the attention to the material world with the descriptions of items at the beginning of each chapter. Overall, though, it wasn’t compelling enough for me to want to read the next in the series.
  • Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Also a novella, with an interesting dual point of view (sci fi from one, fantasy from the other). Liked it. Looking forward to reading the rest of his books, many of which I’ve already bought because I liked Children of Time.

Books acquired since last issue

  • The Knowledge Gap: The hidden cause of America’s broken education system—and how to fix it — Natalie Wexler
  • Hitler: Downfall: 1939–1945 — Volker Ullrich
  • The Historian — Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Broken Room — Peter Clines
  • The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley — Jimmy Soni
  • Daughter of the Wolves — K. S. Villoso
  • Jaeth’s Eye — K. S. Villoso
  • Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America — Annie Jacobsen
  • Gridlinked — Neal Asher
  • The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer — Neal Stephenson
  • Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas — Stephen Harrigan
  • Writing Your Story’s Theme: The Writer’s Guide to Plotting Stories That Matter — K. M. Weiland
  • Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration: Learn to Nurture a Lifestyle of Creativity — K. M. Weiland
  • Deepsix — Jack McDevitt
  • Polaris — Jack McDevitt
  • Zodiac — Neal Stephenson
  • House — Tracy Kidder
  • The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies — Ben Fritz
  • The Essential Scalia: On the Constitution, the Courts, and the Rule of Law — Antonin Scalia
  • Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom — Carl Bernstein
  • The Kingdom and the Power: Behind the Scenes at The New York Times: The Institution That Influences the World — Gay Talese
  • Empire of Silence — Christopher Ruocchio
  • Tolstoy: A Russian Life — Rosamund Bartlett
  • The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Letters from Father Christmas — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Book of Lost Tales, Part One — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Return of the Shadow: The History of the Lord of the Rings, Part 1 — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Treason of Isengard: The History of the Lord of the Rings, Part 2 — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The War of the Ring: The History of the Lord of the Rings, Part 3 — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Sauron Defeated: The End of the Third Age: The History of the Lord of the Rings, Part 4 — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Children of Húrin — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Beren and Lúthien — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Fall of Gondolin — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo — J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles — Beth Pickens
  • A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift — Kate Griffin
  • In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin — Lindsey Hilsum

(In case you’re wondering, there was a sale for Tolkien Reading Day yesterday.)



Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength II
Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength II. I’d been wanting to do a new version of this idea, and the new style seemed like it would be a good fit. The white cross of negative space at the center was unintentional but I like the extra symbolism.
He Is Risen II
He Is Risen II. I wanted to do this idea in the new style as well. I like it, but I worry that it looks too much like “CO” (I should have had the left circle go all the way round, I think).
Faith, Hope, Charity II
Faith, Hope, Charity II. Confession: my brain always makes me think of an owl when I see this piece or its predecessor.
Tree of Life III
Tree of Life III. I’ve done other Tree of Life pieces in the past but not quite like this, and I liked the idea of doing a new one in this style — making it bright instead of dark.
One Eternal Round
One Eternal Round. I’d been wanting to do a one-eternal-round piece for years and it finally clicked. Quite happy with how this turned out, both conceptually, texturally, and color-wise.

Current projects

Salviana (working title): I’ve been making slow progress on the rewrite. Lately I’ve been aiming for 20 minutes of writing a day, and while I haven’t always hit it (especially the last few days when I’ve been on call at work), this seems to be the only way I really make progress on writing. Also, I need to finish this piece and start something else, seriously.

Religious art: I have a couple pieces I’m working on. Lately I’ve mostly been rehashing earlier work, which certainly has its place, but I’d like to come up with more original ideas that I haven’t done before. At the same time I feel like maybe there isn’t much room left for exploration in this space. I’m probably wrong in that.

Other: I’m thinking about doing another picture book, probably all black and white this time. Also thinking about doing a series of some kind in Blender, though I have no idea what yet. Still planning to do more alternate geography pieces. Typesetting old books (like the Letters of Cortés project) no longer seems like it’s providing all that much value, since the books are already out there and fairly easy to access. And work has been intense enough the past couple months that spending even more time building software after hours (projects like Bend and Marks) isn’t super appealing. I don’t expect that to last forever, though.

Vittoria Elliott and Bopha Phorn on Cambodians using Facebook Messenger’s voice feature. Rest of World (the publication here) is intriguing.

A study from Elinor Amit, Shai Danziger, and Pamela K. Smith on pictures signaling less power than words.

Daniel Riley on the fifty best literary journalism books of the 21st century. The books on this list that I’ve read have all been great. Looking forward to the others.

Stephen Kell on some being meant for C (PDF). I admittedly haven’t read all of this yet, but it was interesting seeing an argument in favor of C since usually it goes the other way round.

Jeremy Wagner on using boring tech to build the web. Agreed.

Lincoln Michel on the one rule of fiction writing. Liked this. Remembering that you can do anything in fiction is hugely liberating and tends to make me excited to write. (Someday I will actually finish a piece again, I hope.)

Mike Crittenden on his stress list. I’ve been trying this and I think it’s working?

Nicole Nguyen on 5G draining your iPhone’s battery. Switched 5G off and we’ll see how it goes.

John Calhoun on building a calendar with a Raspberry Pi and an e-ink display. I keep wanting to do something like this — something related to reading — but haven’t yet figured out what. If refresh speeds were better I’d probably already have started.

Sculpteo does online 3D printing and laser cutting. (They were referenced in John Calhoun’s blog post.)


  • iOS 15.4 fixed the issue with the keyboard going missing in my PWAs! I was beginning to think it would never be resolved. The issue has admittedly resurfaced twice since I upgraded, but rebooting my phone fixed it each time.
  • I removed the watching section because it really isn’t that interesting to me.
  • With the recent news about the Moderna vaccine for kids under five, it’s looking like we might be able to get our two youngest vaccinated by mid-May instead of mid-July like we were expecting after the Pfizer delay. Alleluia.

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