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photograph by Kevin Van Aelst

Fast Company Recommended Events: December-January 2008

Coming in December and January: a "chip tunes" fest in New York, the World Economic Forum, and National Pie Day.

Demember

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Week 1

mon, december 01
Hope
2008 UN Climate Change Conference
Poznan, Poland

UN chief Ban Ki-moon declared in August that political leaders have a mandate to find solutions to climate change. Haven't they tried before? At last year's conference, in Bali, they could agree only that a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol is needed by 2009. (The Bali meet was also roundly criticized for its carbon footprint — 100,000 tons of CO2 just to fly everyone there.) Ban hopes Poznan will be a "bridge toward Copenhagen," the site of 2009's conference. In other words, better luck next year! — Clay Dillow

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thu, december 04
Groove
Blip Festival 2008
New York

Some people grow up playing the violin, tuba, or (poor boys) piccolo. Josh Davis makes sweet music on a video-game console. "Chip tunes" are played on devices such as the GameBoy (the instrument of choice for Davis, whose nom de musique is Bit Shifter). Chip tunes are "not a viable career," he says, but they did inspire this music-and-video festival. And all those beeps may be more familiar than you think. Nelly Furtado's 2007 hit "Do It," produced by Timbaland, had an unauthorized sample of chip musician Janne Suni's "Acidjazzed Evening" that still has chip tuners grumbling. We want to hear their protest song. — Anne C. Lee

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thu, december 04
Discuss
International Seminar on Business & Human Rights
Paris

Immigration, fair trade, universal health care — at this symposium on how business can help protect human rights, no topic is too big. Execs from firms including Coca-Cola, HP, and Novartis will join reps from politics, NGOs, and organized labor at the two-day event, which also marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Program director Kathryn Dovey says the goal is a "global debate" that includes as wide a range of companies and countries as possible. Language should be no barrier, at least in understanding the declaration: Now available in more than 250 languages, it is, according to Guinness, the world's most-translated document. — Sara D. Anderson

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fri, december 05
Drink Up
75th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition

Only one constitutional amendment has ever been ratified to get rid of another: the 21st, which in 1933 repealed the 18th and ended America's 14-year dry spell. We all learned in civics class that two-thirds of the states must ratify an amendment into law of the land. The state to which we owe a round for giving us the magic number: Utah. (Who knew?) Cheers! — jeff chu

Week 2

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tue, december 09
Say No
International Anti-Corruption Day

Bribing foreign officials wasn't illegal under U.S. law until the late 1970s, and it took another 26 years before the UN Convention Against Corruption was formed to fight graft, embezzlement, and the like. We're not sure about the UN's cheesy ad campaign — "Corruption: Your 'No' Counts" — but some action is clearly needed. According to the World Bank, "bribery has become a $1 trillion industry." And Transparency International says that corruption is worsening in Britain, France, and Russia, due to misbehavior in both the public and private sectors. — ACL

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sun, december 14
Go Green
Shrek: The Musical
New York

Envious of Disney's stage successes with The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid — we dare you to find a fanny-packed tourist who didn't heart that roller-skating mermaid — DreamWorks greenlighted Shrek: The Musical. Having already milked William Steig's children's classic about a green ogre for three films and $2.2 billion at the box office, it decided that this derivative would be a fine investment. Oh, and there will be more: Marvel brings Spider-Man to the Great White Way in 2009, with music by Bono and the Edge. — Kate Rockwood

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sun, december 14
Innovate
ISPIM Innovation Symposium
Singapore

The International Society for Professional Innovation Management's first-ever symposium will focus on how to stoke more innovation. Singapore is an intriguing choice for host. For the past three years, the World Bank has rated it the world's easiest place to do business. But it's also seen as the world's premier nanny state, which does things like order people to innovate. "Our economy ... has to be driven by creativity, innovation, and enterprise," declared minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew a few years back. And lo, it has been done. — Sean Ludwig

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Week 3

tue, december 16
Spell
scrabble's 60th birthday

Alfred Butts, an unemployed architect, invented Scrabble, tinkering with early versions Criss-Cross Words and Lexico for more than a decade. But it took entrepreneur James Brunot to rebrand the game and find a distributor. More than 100 million households worldwide now own a Scrabble board. But its owners, Hasbro (in North America) and Mattel (everywhere else), could use fresh marketing ideas after they alienated millions of Facebook users by ending Scrabulous. So what's on the board for the game's big six-oh spell-a-bration? Special box labels and folding deluxe game boards. Talk about a disappointing P-A-R-T-Y (10 points). — KR

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Week 1

thu, january 01
Elevate
Ellen Kullman becomes CEO of DuPont
Wilmington, Delaware

Cue the pyrotechnics. DuPont (originally an explosives manufacturer!) is getting the first female CEO of its 206-year history. Ellen Kullman, a 20-year company vet and Wilmington native (pictured right), takes the helm of the $29.4 billion chemical giant. Under her leadership, DuPont's safety-and-protection division posted record revenue gains of 64% over four years. But she's not claiming sole credit for her success as an executive. In the 2005 book Mother Leads Best, Kullman, 52, attributes the development of her team-building skills to her kids. — SDA

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sun, january 04
Play Ball
florida gets Powerball

Hold on to your pacemakers: Sunshine State residents can finally squander their cash on a one-in-many-millions chance to win a multistate jackpot. After more than 10 years of debate, Florida is joining the Multi-State Lottery Association, becoming the last of the nation's 42 lotto-playing states to add an interstate game. The appeal is obvious: Powerball's average jackpot is $140 million, compared to $10 million in Florida Lotto. Florida lottery secretary Leo DiBenigno says he's not worried about cannibalizing state-lottery sales: "The only focus is that our bottom-line net sales increase." Powerball is projected to boost sales by $143.6 million in the first six months. — ACL

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Week 2

thu, january 08
Exhibit
AVN Adult Entertainment Expo
Las Vegas

This may be hard to explain to the frat boys of America, but according to many participants at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, there's just too much free porn online. With the rise of illegal file sharing and booming YouTube-like sites that flood the Web with often-pirated content, porn prices have plunged toward zero. Still, "compelling content is flourishing," says Scott Rabinowitz of the ad shop Traffic Dude. The question at AVN, the industry's largest annual event, will be whether anyone can figure out how to get people to pay for it. — Michael Estrin

fri, january 09
Sail Away
London international Boat Show
London

Oh buoy! The superyacht market is still bullish. In 2008, 916 of these luxury cruisers, which measure 80-feet-plus and start at $4 million, were being built, up 18% from 2007. So expect this show to be flooded with recession-oblivious oligarchs coveting the ultimate water ride. One favorite: the 37M Trideck, a 121-foot, five-bedroom beast from the British firm Sunseeker. For just $18 million, you even get digitized stabilizers designed to minimize seasickness! Barf-prone billionaires, this one's for you. — TB

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sun, january 11
Sputter
North American International Auto Show
Detroit

The Detroit motor show is turning 21, but this year's edition of America's top car expo won't feel like much of a party. "Manufacturers are looking at the economic situation and asking, 'Can we get through this?' " says Joe Serra, the show's senior cochair. The biggest buzz is expected to come from foreign makers including Honda, which will be showing its Insight hybrid. Maybe Motor City should make like most 21-year-olds and head for the nearest bar. — Clayton Neuman

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Week 4

thu, january 22
Swab
World Biobanking Summit
Palm Springs, California

Biobanks — genetic repositories mined for research — are burgeoning. "The biggest problem in this field is that it's expanding so quickly," says biotech analyst Enal Razvi, a speaker at this new mini-summit, an addition to the Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine World Congress. Hot topics will include the spread of cord-blood banks and spit parties, where guests deposit DNA to be screened for things like freckle prevalence. The summit's star: Paul Downey, a director at the U.K. Biobank, where the DNA of half a million Britons is being studied. No word yet on that stiff-upper-lip gene. — KR

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thu, january 22
Shred
Winter X Games 13
Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado

What started as an alternative Olympics for fringe snow sports now airs 19 hours of coverage on ESPN and ABC over four days. Viewership grew 17% in 2008, with especially healthy gains among the coveted demographic of guys aged 18 to 34. And regulars like Tanner Hall and Shaun White are now global brands. The result of this wintry mix: an opportunity for sponsors to hit a key target with precision, a trick even the squarest exec must admit is pretty sick. — CD

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fri, january 23
Eat
National Pie Day

We're not judging. But who in the world thought it was a good idea to put National Pie Day less than a month after the binge that is Christmas? Turns out it was originally tied to the birthday of the founder of the American Pie Council, which claims that the occasion gives pie sales a needed post-holiday boost. We think that's the sugar talking, but pies are a $700-million-a-year business. Lately, apple has slipped; just 19% of American pie eaters rated it their fave, down from 25% in 2004, though it's still No. 1. Pecan has shot up to 12%, quadrupling its 2004 showing. And another pie product that has risen in popularity: packaged single slices, available in a range of flavors including pathetic and sad. — ACL

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Week 5

wed, january 28
Hobnob
World Economic Forum
Davos, Switzerland

With a name like that, there isn't much the forum could focus on this year other than world economic turmoil. But the economy has stayed pretty buoyant in Davos, the WEF's ski-town host. Researchers at the University of St. Gallen calculated that last year's meeting injected some 33 million Swiss francs ($29 million) into Davos's economy, up about 50% over the past six years. This miniboom is, perversely, the silver lining to another 21st-century cloud. After 9/11, "the number of security personnel needed increased," says WEF COO André Schneider. "With more people comes more food and more lodging." — SL

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fri, january 30
Deck the Halls
Christmasworld
Frankfurt

We're not a month late — we're 11 months early! Last year's tree may have barely hit the chipper, but already the über-efficient Germans are planning Christmas 2009. This festive-decor fair, which draws 100,000 retailers and window dressers, will showcase the latest in lights, baubles, and gyrating snowmen. According to Christmasworld's trend-spotting elves, it's time to say auf Wiedersehen to red and green: Next Yule's coolest trimmings will come in violet, steel gray, and turquoise. — TB

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photograph by Kevin Van Aelst

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