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Illustration by Reena de la Rosa

Now September 2009

September

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Week 1

tue, september 01
Plug In
AD:TECH
Chicago

If Ad:tech's sleek Web site (ad-tech.com) doesn't con-vince you that it really is "the event for digital marketing" — as its tagline boldly claims — spend a few minutes brows-ing its blog, YouTube videos, Flickr pics, and Dopplr map. Then join its more than 2,400 fans on Facebook and 4,800-plus followers on Twitter. With Ad:tech presentations also available online, that just leaves us to mix a drink and ask, Why bother attending in person? — Dan Macsai

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wed, september 02
Ring
MLIFE CONFERENCE
Barcelona

There are more than 4 bil-lion mobile phones in the world, and two-thirds of them are in developing countries. This gathering explores how mobile technology can trans-form communities. In Chile, for example, farmers rely on text mes-sages for reports about growing conditions. TB patients in Thailand receive mobile phones, then get daily calls reminding them to take their meds. And in the Philippines, the poor are opening bank accounts via cell phone. Those are innovations worth calling home about. — Abha Bhattarai

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thu, september 03
Ride
NATIONAL CORVETTE CARAVAN
Bowling Green, Kentucky

If you're one of America's 750,000 Corvette owners, start your engine: 25 caravans — with cars and drivers from every state in the Lower 48 — will mark the National Corvette Museum's 15th anniversary by converging on GM's Corvette plant in Bowling Green. The event will be unparalleled this fall in fuel burned and miles driven. There may be smarter ways to celebrate, but we can't think of one that would be more red, white, and blue. — Kate Rockwood

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sat, september 05
Build
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION FOR HOUSING AND PLANNING WORLD CONGRESS
Berlin

Each year, this global group asks the next generation of urban planners to take on a design challenge. This year's is to imagine a future for the site of Berlin's historic Tempelhof, the ridiculously central airport, below, that closed last October. The 400-hectare spread offers architects and landscape designers the rare chance to create something big, new, and noteworthy — a park? a community? a mall? all of the above? — in the heart of one of the world's great cities. Luckily, the students are working in the land of make-believe, where the local passions and politics that often bedevil even the most ingenious plans and planners are a nonissue: In June, 5,000 Berliners, fearful the land would be sold to luxury-housing developers, clashed with police after trying to storm the old airport terminal. — Jeff Chu

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Week 2

mon, september 07
Read
IN CHEAP WE TRUST
By Lauren Weber

America may be 233 years old, but really, she's a teenage girl with bulimia. In this fascinating account of our nation's binge-and-purge cycle of spending and sacrifice, Weber, a second-generation cheapskate — her father reuses a tea bag up to 12 times — traces thrift's evolution from bedrock principle of the Founding Fathers to behavior that's demonized as harmful to today's consumption-driven economy. She takes surprising, insightful turns into the birth of home economics, the way we financed World War I on personal savings, and Freud's theory that being a tightwad is rooted in unresolved potty-training issues. Weber ultimately makes her case for what she calls "ethical cheapness," embracing sustainability and social responsibility to cloak frugality in virtue again. Try not to take it too far by deny-ing yourself the pleasures of this engaging, uniquely American story. — David Lidsky

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tue, september 08
Sprout
WORLD SEED CONFERENCE
Rome

The execs, scientists, and policy makers at this meeting have much to celebrate: The seed busi-ness is having its best year in decades. Thanks in part to the recession and the new frugality, seed retailers say U.S. sales have jumped by as much as 75% in the past year. It's not hard to see why. According to Philadelphia-based seed titan Burpee, a $50 investment in seeds and fertilizer can produce up to $1,200 in fresh vegetables. While seeds may seem low tech, those levels of productivity are the result of intensive R&D — they must pass tests for things such as purity and disease resistance. Just goes to show (we can't help ourselves) that you reap what you sow. — AB

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wed, september 09
Program
GOV 2.0 SUMMIT
Washington, D.C.

Now that we have a president with a BlackBerry addiction and at least 70 members of Congress who tweet, naturally we have to have a conference to talk about how tech is transforming government. The Gov 2.0 Summit, hosted by O'Reilly Media and TechWeb, is about more than simply using social media. "It's about how you think the government should interact with citizens, how it should create and enact policies, and how administration should happen," says conference general manager Jen Pahlka. The key word, we note, is should. — Anne C. Lee

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wed, september 09
Jam
THE BEATLES: ROCK BAND

"We had to create these 3-D avatars that to the world say the Beatles," says Harmonix creative director Josh Randall, who led the team that produced the new game The Beatles: Rock Band. "We were like, we cannot screw this up." To get it right, Harmonix didn't ask just anybody for help — it called the world's foremost Fab Four experts: the Beatles and their families. "Olivia Harrison pored over photos of George at their home, Yoko Ono came to the studio and gave us a bunch of direction about John, and we actually got to sit with Paul and Ringo and show them what we came up with," says Randall. The game already has one big fan: Harrison's son Dhani, 31, who was clearly born to play. He's been challenging the Harmonix team by sending them iPhone pics of himself racking up high scores. — Zachary Wilson

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thu, september 10
Blitz
NFL KICKOFF WEEKEND

"How do we bring back casual fans?" Mark Waller, the NFL's SVP of marketing and sales, asks rhetorically. Well, are you ready for some football ... and some event-driven marketing? Kickoff Weekend is a clever marketing construct designed as much for the NFL's partners as for fans. Sure, there's the something-for-everyone concert (Keith Urban and Usher performed last year) and marquee games (the defending Super Bowl champ Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Tennessee Titans in the season opener). But it's the big brands that are pulling out their new playbooks. EA Sports, for example, will be pushing its new Madden NFL 10 video game, and Coors Light will debut its fall/winter ad campaign. And if 70 million to 80 million fans tune in as expected? Touchdown! — DL

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thu, september 10
View
SHCONTEMPORARY '09: THE ASIA PACIFIC CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR
Shanghai

When it comes to contemporary art, "Made in China" may be a good thing. The spring auctions of Chinese art in New York and Hong Kong delivered mixed results — some significant works went unsold, but several beat presale estimates handily. That's good news in today's "flat is the new up" market. The organizers of this fair, one of Asia's largest, are staying upbeat: "There's still a lot of excitement and interest among and beyond collectors," says spokeswoman Eva Altosaar. She cited a new initiative to help institutions reach potential buyers, called the Asia Pacific Collector Development Program. Yet if the market were truly excited, one wonders whether it would need such a program — or, as we call it, stimulus plan. — ACL

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thu, september 10
Delight
D23 EXPO
Anaheim, California

Mouse House enthusiasts can listen to Radio Disney, watch the Disney Channel, play at Disney World, relax aboard Disney cruise ships, and scramble Disney Eggs (which have Disney characters printed on the shells). And now they can celebrate the whole $38 billion empire at D23, Disney's first-ever fan expo. (The name alludes to 1923, the year the company was founded.) Organizers expect more than 10,000 attendees, each of whom will shell out at least $30 to watch Disney films (Sleeping Beauty, The Shaggy Dog) and see performances from "chart-topping Disney talent" (Miley Cyrus, please!). We'll be there, with Tinkerbells on. — DM

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fri, september 11
Eat
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOOD STAMP

Fifty years ago, Congress passed a bill authorizing the creation of the federal food-stamp system. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was president at the time, wasn't interested. It was not until 1961, under President John F. Kennedy, that the federal government launched a pilot program offering low-income citizens the opportunity to buy — yes, buy — discount coupons that they could exchange for food. First in line: a West Virginia couple who bought $95 in food stamps to feed the 15 people under their roof. Their initial purchase was one can of pork and beans. — AB

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sat, september 12
Visit
2009 ASSOCIATION OF ZOOS & AQUARIUMS CONFERENCE
Portland, Oregon

Thanks to the rise of the staycation, attendance at the nation's 218 accredited zoos and aquariums has been holding steady. Ahead of its annual industry meetup, AZA spokesman Steve Feldman is trying to maintain his optimism: "We're multigenerational and affordable," he says. Going to the zoo "is about the price of the movies, but it's a longer experience." But that price is typically subsidized by donations, and that revenue has been falling. One cost-effective solution: low-maintenance temporary exhibitions that may even include fake animals. Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, for instance, has installed animatronic dinosaurs that require no regular feedings, just a steady supply of electricity. While we have nothing against the roaring, spitting Ruyang Yellow River dinosaur, it does lack the one thing you want to see when you go to the zoo: life. — ACL

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sun, september 13
Play
ABC KIDS EXPO
Las Vegas

This kiddie-products expo — which will draw more than 5,000 wholesale buyers perusing items from some 900 manufacturers of everything from diaper bags to organic mattresses for children — has been based in Vegas since 2003. If you think it's odd that a trade show featuring kids' products would be held in Sin City, you're not alone. "We get that question a lot," says organizer Eric Seemann, laughing. "But let's just focus on this: We're moving to Louisville in 2011." Oh, baby. — DM

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Week 3

mon, september 14
Store
CARBON CAPTURE AND SEQUESTRATION SUMMIT
Washington, D.C.

The average American generates 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Researchers are trying to figure out where to put all of it, since the atmosphere has turned out to be a less-than-ideal place. One notion is to sequester CO2 in forests or underground — Norway and Britain are working on a way to put billions of tons under the bed of the North Sea. Since most projects are only small-scale and at demo stage right now, this year's CCSS focuses on how to accelerate and commercialize the technologies. Skeptics note that we can't be sure that carbon sequestration will work in the long term — you can store CO2 in trees, for instance, but they'll die eventually too. Frankly, though, other than cutting our gas guzzling, we don't have any better ideas, so let's just call that an inconvenient truth. — ACL

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tue, september 15
Read
THE LOST SYMBOL
By Dan Brown

Cryptografreaks and booksellers, rejoice! Brown's newest novel, which covers a 12-hour period in the ever-puzzling life of Da Vinci Code protagonist Robert Langdon, hits shelves with an initial print run of 5 million. That's only half the run commanded by a Harry Potter sequel, but it should be enough to boost flagging spirits at Random House. The largest trade publisher in the world saw sales slip 6% last year, and it's hoping The Lost Symbol will mean found revenue. — KR

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fri, september 18
Watch
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (3-D) AND CHRIS MILLER
Directed by Phil Lord and

The last time kids paid to watch crazy things fall from the sky, Disney's Chicken Little gobbled up $135 million stateside. We think that bodes well for Sony's Meatballs, the latest in the genre, in which a goofy scientific experiment goes awry, and the world gets hamburger rain and pancake tornados. But for a more informed take, we called Brandon Gray, president of BoxOfficeMojo.com. He predicts "it could mirror an animated film like Open Season," another September kiddie release, which grossed a respectable $85 million. Palatable. — DM

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Week 3

mon, september 21
Discover
DEMO
San Diego

Seventy products. Six minutes each. No PowerPoint. "Those are the rules," says DEMO exec Neal Silverman. "We're looking for real products, not canned presentations." For almost 20 years, this Gong Show — style approach has helped investors find and fund hundreds of innovations, including TiVo and JavaScript. Thirty "alpha" companies — most working from business plans or prototypes — will also give 90-second pitches at this year's three-day fete. But the real party, Silverman says, is on the first night, when attendees "rock out" during a free-for-all jam session. For better or worse, it's not limited to six minutes. — DM

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mon, september 21
Forecast
IEEE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CLOUD COMPUTING
Bangalore, India

Outlook for Bangalore: Cloudy. Experts on cloud computing — that fancy term for using supercomputers and amped-up servers for remote services — will gather in India. Ahead of the meeting, we called Ramnath K. Chellappa, the professor who coined the term in 1997, to ask for his outlook. He says that cash-strapped midlevel firms may "begin moving to a cloud-computing-type scenario" to cut costs, replacing pricey software bundles with "on-demand mixing and matching." In other words, this cloud has a much-needed silver lining. — AB

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wed, september 23
Design
MIAMI 2009 PROJECT INFUSION MIAMI

Conference organizers of the world, pay attention: The Industrial Designers Society of America is schooling you in how to put together a convention. Let's start with a little surfing in the morning, then lunch in a gallery, and then a beach party. Oh, and good-bye to those long ho-hum lectures. The poobahs at this industrial-design meetup have decided on 10-minute presentations and free-flowing discussions, all in the spirit of the South Beach vibe and the "Project Infusion" theme: "The act of pouring in and infusing good principles in the mind," explains IDSA deputy executive director Larry Hoffer. Which is nice, but we'd settle for topping off our tans. — ACL

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thu, september 24
Toast
ARTHUR'S DAY: THE 250TH BIRTHDAY OF GUINNESS BEER

Thanks to Richard Branson, one lucky fellow will tap the malty brew's semiquincentennial with a Virgin Galactic flight and a zero-gravity pint. (We're buying everyone a round if the winner says, "One two-step pour for man, one foamy head for mankind.") The rest of the Diageo-organized, St. Paddy's Day — style celebrations honoring Arthur Guinness will be earthbound, taking place everywhere from Dublin to New York to Lagos. (Nigeria is Guinness's No. 2 market behind Ireland.) Concerts will be simulcast to pubs — the Black Eyed Peas headline in Kuala Lumpur — and at 17:59 local time, everyone will hoist one. Urrrrrrp. — DL

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sun, september 27
Grease
WORLD CONGRESS ON OILS AND FATS
Sydney

We have a big oil problem. As demand for olive oil has soared over the past decade, the trade in the commodity has become unfortunately slippery, says congress chairman Rod Mailer. Shady dealers have been mislabeling and diluting the real thing, and in recent years, Italian authorities have seized thousands of liters of fake or fraudulently labeled oil. The market, alas, may be taking care of the problem. The price of olive oil, which is relatively more expensive than other oils, has slid some 20% this year. The less lucrative it is, the less fraudsters want to fake it. — Genevieve Knapp

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Illustration by Reena de la Rosa

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