Howard Camping & the Apocalypse That Never Happened

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When will the world end? What do you imagine the apocalypse will be like?

Howard Camping dedicated his life to these mind-bending questions, predicting that the world would end and Jesus would return to the earth during his lifetime. The would-be prophet passed away last weekend. He was 92 years old.

You can read many of Camping’s books for free at the Family Radio website, including Adam When? A Biblical Solution to the Timetable of Mankind (cover image embedded above). In his most famous prediction, Camping thought that the Christian rapture would occur on May 21, 2011, marking the return of Jesus.

The Kernel described his campaign:

“So taken in by the fervour were his listeners, that the campaign to save the world cost around $100 million. Through the sale of television and radio stations, Camping’s followers financed a marketing campaign that rivalled promotional work for Hollywood blockbusters. Many of his listeners chose to donate their own money to the cause, often mortgaging their homes or slipping into financial difficulty. For his listeners, getting into debt was not a problem. After all, it would all be gone by May 2011.”

His Family Radio Network raised millions in a campaign to tell everyone, but the apocalypse never occurred. He also predicted that the world would end on both September 6, 1994 and October 21, 2011, but missed those dates as well. The religious leader finally posted this message in March 2012:

“we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong. Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God’s divine plan. We were even so bold as to insist that the Bible guaranteed that Christ would return on May 21 and that the true believers would be raptured. Yet this incorrect and sinful statement allowed God to get the attention of a great many people who otherwise would not have paid attention … We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement. We are so thankful that God is so loving that He will forgive even this sin.”

If you are looking for more apocalyptic inspiration, you can download a free copy of the Book of Revelations, the book of the Bible that has spawned centuries worth of predictions about the end of the world.

Free Philip K. Dick Stories for His Birthday

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Today is the 85th birthday of the late and great author, Philip K. Dick.

You should read every story in his Paycheck and Other Classic Stories collection, but you can sample his work online. If you follow the links below, you can read five free digital versions of Philip K. Dick stories from that collection at Project Gutenberg…

The Variable Man

Mr. Spaceship

The Defenders

The Gun

Piper in the Woods

In the introduction to Paycheck and Other Classic Stories, Dick described exactly why luminous concepts inspire us:

the true protagonist of a science fiction story or novel is an idea and not a person. If it is *good* science fiction the idea is new, it is stimulating, and, probably most important of all, it sets off a chain-reaction of ramification-ideas in the mind of the reader; it so-to-speak unlocks the reader’s mind so that the mind, like the author’s, begins to create.

Beyond science fiction, our world is filled with momentous ideas in psychology, physics, philosophy, theology and other fields. I have spent the last ten years writing about authors, creativity and inspiring ideas, but I joined True Pictures for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to lead a story investigation department and build a new online community.

In the passage quoted above, Dick paraphrased Dr. Willis McNelly, a California State University professor who loved these big ideas as well. With the help of a community of readers, McNelly wrote the Dune Encyclopedia about Frank Herbert’s legendary science fiction series.

Dick reminded me why community matters as you create stories or movies about life-changing ideas. He explained:

We who read science fiction (I am speaking as a reader now, not a writer) read it because we love to experience this chain-reaction of ideas being set off in our minds by something we read, something with a new idea in it; hence the very best science fiction ultimately winds up being a collaboration between author and reader, in which both create and enjoy doing it: joy is the essential and final ingredient of science fiction, the joy of discovery of newness.

This blog will document our quest to discover the life-changing ideas at the foundation our films. I will edit this new site, featuring the work of great writers who explore these diverse disciplines.

Amazon Drone Delivery Fiction

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What would the world look like if unmanned drones delivered our packages every day?

Someday soon, the sky could be filled with drones carrying our packages. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the idea of delivering Amazon packages with unmanned drones this week. The company has been working on an experimental program, hoping to deliver packages with drones by 2015.

Follow this link to watch a drone delivery in action. The company described the new process:

It looks like science fiction, but it’s real. From a technology point of view, we’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles … One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today. We hope the FAA’s rules will be in place as early as sometime in 2015.

The initiative could produce a whole new genre of Amazon Drone Delivery science fiction.

The company stressed “Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards,” but readers speculated about potential problems online. We’ve collected a few reader responses below, but what do you think? What could happen in a world filled with unmanned delivery drones?

At deviantART, you can read more about drone art.

The Strange Future of Wearable Computers

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What if you could wear your computer or smartphone as a neck tattoo someday?

Motorola has patented the concept of an “electronic skin tattoo” for your throat, equipped with an “embedded microphone” and “a transceiver for enabling wireless communication.” This futuristic tattoo would help you communicate with smartphones, personal computers or other “mobile communication devices.”

Check out the complete patent application at this link:

“Electronic tattoo, which can be applied to a region of the body via an adhesive, is further comprised of a controller, a personal area network (PAN) transceiver, audio circuitry, a power supply, and a signal processor … Controller of electronic tattoo can be configured to execute programs or instructions to enable communicative coupling of the electronic tattoo to external electronic devices such as a smartphone, a gaming device, a tablet computer, a wearable computer, for example.”

The application also hinted at the lie-detecting possibilities of this tattoo, as it could potentially include a “galvanic skin response detector” that could measure and reveal your body’s physical reactions.

The Atlantic senior editor Alexis Madrigal explored the implications of such a device:

The User could have a screen on his throat that turns orange when he starts sweating because he’s a liar. Everything will be clear to his business associates and loved ones, from the timber of his voice to the content of his character. Who would not want to live in this world?

Melville House’s Dustin Kurtz wrote about the implication of this truth-telling tech for writers:

“Our most effective social lubricant, the falsehood, would become so much grit in the wheels. Only psychopaths could be politicians. What relationship could survive? But of course the most adversely affected, as with all big inventions, would be the poor novelists.”

What do you think? Would the convenience of a wearable computer outweigh the potential privacy issues of this theoretical device?

The Big Idea

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What is the best mind-bending concept you ever discovered in a book or movie?

Ever since I was a little kid, I obsessed over mind-bending ideas I discovered in books. In the introduction to Paycheck and Other Classic Stories, the great author Philip K. Dick described exactly why these luminous concepts inspire us:

the true protagonist of a science fiction story or novel is an idea and not a person. If it is *good* science fiction the idea is new, it is stimulating, and, probably most important of all, it sets off a chain-reaction of ramification-ideas in the mind of the reader; it so-to-speak unlocks the reader’s mind so that the mind, like the author’s, begins to create.

Beyond science fiction, our world is filled with momentous ideas in psychology, physics, philosophy, theology and other fields. I have spent the last ten years writing about authors, creativity and inspiring ideas, but I joined True Pictures for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to lead a story investigation department and build a new online community.

In the passage quoted above, Dick paraphrased Dr. Willis McNelly, a California State University professor who loved these big ideas as well. With the help of a community of readers, McNelly wrote the Dune Encyclopedia about Frank Herbert’s legendary science fiction series.

Dick reminded me why community matters as you create stories or movies about life-changing ideas. He explained:

We who read science fiction (I am speaking as a reader now, not a writer) read it because we love to experience this chain-reaction of ideas being set off in our minds by something we read, something with a new idea in it; hence the very best science fiction ultimately winds up being a collaboration between author and reader, in which both create and enjoy doing it: joy is the essential and final ingredient of science fiction, the joy of discovery of newness.

This blog will document our quest to discover the life-changing ideas at the foundation our films. I will edit this new site, featuring the work of great writers who explore these diverse disciplines.

But we can’t do it alone. I look forward to sharing luminous concepts and learning along with you.

You should read every story in Paycheck and Other Classic Stories, but you can sample some of the stories online. If you follow the links below, you can read five free digital versions of Philip K. Dick stories from that collection at Project Gutenberg…

The Variable Man

Mr. Spaceship

The Defenders

The Gun

Piper in the Woods

(Image via “Mr. Spaceship“)