Now: October 2010

Events, conferences you don’t want to miss this month.

Now: October 2010



Week 1

Sat, October 02

The Irresistible Gluten-Free Foods Show

Gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley, is found in everything from beer to bread to vitamins to licorice. But all manner of rice-flour doughnuts and quinoa pasta, once relegated to specialty shops, are now invading mainstream grocers, and will be on display at this Melbourne, Australia, expo. Sales have surged 28% annually for the past five years, to $1.6 billion in 2009. That voracious appetite is thanks to wider testing for celiac disease and gluten intolerances, and a growing vogue for wheat-free diets. Trust us, it’s not the taste of sorghum sandwich bread luring folks in.
–Kate Rockwood

Week 2

Mon, October 04

Supreme Court’s First Argument of the Season

Swatch wants to clean Costco’s clock over U.S. copyright infringement. Medical schools want the IRS to categorize residents as students to skirt Social Security and Medicare taxes. In other words: business as usual for this year’s docket. Sure to garner national attention is Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria, a case challenging the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which requires businesses to verify workers’ documentation and punishes employers for “knowingly or intentionally” hiring undocumented immigrants (an estimated 10% of the Arizona workforce). –Rachel Arndt

Mon, October 04

How Did I Get Here?

Mon, October 04

International Conference on Design and Emotion


From 2008’s heady theme, “Dare to Desire,” to 2010’s “Blatantly Blues,” what a depressing difference two years make. But this gathering of design researchers and practitioners is less a pity party over lost luxe and more a cross-disciplinary meditation on designing in a time of diminished resources. “It is celebrating the zeitgeist, the economic times,” says Judith Gregory, one of the organizers. Live Chicago blues provides the perfect backdrop for talks on interactivity and emotion, whether gazing into the face of a robot or the screen of an iPad. –Michael Silverberg

Tue, October 05

World Business Forum

It’s no secret global commerce is stuck in the doldrums. Worldwide, economies are expected to average 3.5% growth over the next few years, compared with the 4.7% clip enjoyed from 2003 to 2008. Developed economies will do well to muster 2%. So you might think a conference obsessed with global trends would be something of a downer, but if anyone can find an upside it’s the 4,000 VP-and-above business leaders and all-star speakers converging at the WBF in New York to talk about the future of business. Case in point: Joseph Stiglitz waxes economic over coffee, Al Gore discusses sustainable capitalism before lunch, and James Cameron dishes creativity in the evening. And that’s just on Wednesday.
–Clay Dillow

Tue, October 05

Listen Up
Music App Summit

Music, music app, tomato, tomahto? Seems so, lately. Artists from Metallica to Mariah Carey have created apps, offering insider information or employing voice-recognition software to rate users’ singing ability (Mariah Carey-oke, anyone?). I Am T-Pain, a top-selling $2.99 download that allows users to mimic the singer’s voice through Auto-Tune, has been purchased 1.8 million times by fans and nonfans alike, something that will have this San Francisco conference buzzing. “That’s the value of this platform,” says Antony Bruno, Billboard‘s executive director of digital content. “It’s a way to create new fans and introduce them to new music.” Sounds noble enough … but Carey-oke? Really? –Stephanie Schomer


Wed, October 06

Building Healthier Workplaces

It’s not your imagination: Work is making you sick. As companies do more with less, stress and subsequent mental-health issues are on the rise, affecting 25% of workers and costing employers $80 billion a year. Catherine Thomas, chairperson of this Ottawa conference, reminds us that big change can start small: “Do not check your email when you go on vacation. The office will survive.” And those 14-hour days? They’ve got to go. “It becomes physically impossible to be productive,” says Clare Miller, director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health. “Go home, have a life, be a whole person.” On your way out the door, might we suggest leaving this advice on your boss’s desk? –Stephanie Schomer

Wed, October 06

Jatropha World 2010

Could a homely succulent save the planet? Maybe. Oil squeezed from the Jatropha curcas plant helped fuel a train from Delhi to Mumbai and a 90-minute Boeing jet ride in Houston last year. Some scientists grouse that years of eco-optimism have yet to domesticate the drought-resistant plant, which can’t survive North America’s cooler climes and has fickle yields. Jatropha fans gathering in Rotterdam, though, remain undaunted. “The plant’s toxicity, getting more harvest out of it, that’ll all be worked out,” says David Skole, professor of forestry at Michigan State University, as biofuels investment in (frost-free) Africa and Asia soars. Helping lead the charge: GM and the U.S. Department of Energy, which partnered this spring to test the plant in India. –Emilie Luse

Week 3

Tue, October 12

World Congress of Neurotechnology

Ah, the 1950s. The war was won, populations were populating, and babies boomed. But six decades later, a new specter haunts Europe and North America: age. In America, more than 5 million baby boomers suffer from Alzheimer’s, costing the nation $172 billion annually and siphoning productivity from 10.9 million unpaid caregivers. And cases of age-related neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and stroke are expected to spike. Rising to meet this threat is the first-ever World Congress of Neurotechnology, in Rome, which aims to turn often-disparate fields of neuroscience — neurosurgery, neuropsychiatry, neuro-oncology, and so on — into a unified tech-driven force for creating potent new weapons in the upcoming battle for the brain. –Clay Dillow


Tue, October 12

Old Farmer’s Day

“Taxpayers are told subsidies help small, struggling family farmers — but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Don Carr of the Environmental Working Group, which calculated that the wealthiest 10% of American farmers receive roughly 74% of subsidies. “We need transparency.” But transparency has been trimmed, right along with the USDA’s budget: The agency deemed its centralized database of subsidy recipients too expensive to maintain, at $6.7 million, though it doled out $15.4 billion last year in subsidies and the database enabled watchdogs like the EWG to weed out undeserving recipients. On the range, they might deem that penny wise and pound foolish. –Austin Carr

Wed, October 13

London Film Festival

Most filmmakers toil in obscurity for years before getting the chance to premiere at a world-class event like the London Film Festival. Not so for the winner of Unilever’s Consumer Creative Challenge, a contest in which amateur moviemakers build a 60-second ad (filmercial?) around one of 13 brands in the conglomerate’s portfolio — Close-up toothpaste, say, or Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The contest is not unique to London. Mofilm, which manages the Unilever competition, also does so for festivals from Tribeca to Cannes to Shanghai, with brands including Pepsi, Visa, and HP. “I’m always surprised at how much time people spend on their ads,” says Unilever VP Babs Rangaiah. One entry for Unilever’s detergent brand Omo, by Tamara Rosenfeld, a 25-year-old recent film grad, so inspired the company that it commissioned “sequels” set in China, Brazil, and France. –Jennifer Vilaga

Wed, October 13

National Fossil Day

Hiking, kayaking, camping — gawking at stegosaurus bones? Dinosaur fans are no strangers to museums, but at least 228 national-park areas offer a different view: “fossils in the ground, in their natural state,” says Vince Santucci, chief ranger for the National Park Service. To get the word out — and help continue the recession-fueled 3.9% uptick in annual visitors, now that the economy shows signs of bouncing back — the park service announced the first National Fossil Day. The only downside to museum-worthy sites in the great outdoors? No velvet ropes mean grabby tourists take home bits and pieces as souvenirs. In fact, in 1957, Congress had to close South Dakota’s Fossil Cycad National Monument after people stole all the surface-level fossils of the cycad, a dinosaur-age plant. Let’s keep our hands to ourselves, people. –Rachel Arndt


Wed, October 13

150th Anniversary of the First U.S. Aerial Photo

Renaissance painters used principles of perspective to imagine what cities looked like from above, but no one knew for sure until photographer James Wallace Black went up over Boston in a hot-air balloon in 1860. The military saw beyond the entertainment factor, and northern photographers in hot-air balloons were soon tracking Confederate troops. Black’s fascination with lofty views proved prescient: 150 years later, Google has taken a similar adventure via Google Earth, the satellite-imagery program that lets you view aerial scenery of the entire planet — and the moon, too. Sadly, Black’s next innovation lacked that staying power. He became the authority on the candelight-powered projector, a forefather of the slide projector. –Brigid Sweeney

Thu, October 14

Go Micro
BlogWorld & New Media Expo

Twitter dominated talks big and small at last year’s BlogWorld — and the conversation landed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Attendees at the Las Vegas social-media mecca were challenged to tweet the hashtag #beatcancer, and it spread, setting a record for the most tweets (700,000!) in a 24-hour period, and raising $70,000 for cancer research, thanks to corporate partners eBay/PayPal and MillerCoors Brewing Co. This year, attendees will aim to smash the record and raise $140,000 for the same cause, in between discussions of how (or whether) to follow the Federal Trade Commission’s new regulations that bloggers disclose all free goodies and gifts when reviewing products. May we suggest the hashtag #beatFTC? –Amy Wilkinson

Week 4

Mon, October 18

Convention on Biological Diversity

Back to calendar


Tue, October 19

Shock of Gray

The immigrant in Spain who tried to auction her virginity to fund the care of her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother. The caregiver in Japan who gives respectful “last baths” to the dying elderly. The Florida doctor arrested for operating on an aging patient seven times for nonexistent skin cancer. In 20 years, there will be 1 billion people over the age of 65, and China Inc.‘s Ted Fishman has found the current examples that, along with an inexhaustible supply of demographic trends, illustrate the knotty — and at times terrifying — issues of global aging that await us. A must-read for young and old alike. –Jennifer Vilaga

Wed, October 20

Pinball Expo 2010

Pinball’s popularity has declined since its pre — Pac Man heyday, but its last remaining manufacturer isn’t giving up without a final flip. Stern Pinball, which presents at this Chicago event, has partnered with big-ticket movie studios to create games themed around titles such as Iron Man and Avatar. It’s also developing a mobile app that lets users save their scores on one machine, and “bump” them into another. So far, the full-tilt strategy is working: Sales of Stern contraptions, which cost up to $5,000 a pop, are on track to exceed 12,000 this year, up 20% from 2008. –Dan Macsai

Fri, October 22

The Company Men

The angst of white-collar men and their families in the age of corporate layoffs — sound familiar? Up in the Air rode the downbeat theme to $163 million at the box office and the 2009 Golden Globe for best screenplay. Now Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, and Tommy Lee Jones want in on the pathos with The Company Men. Affleck’s character, Bobby Walker, is forced to trade in his country-club lifestyle and take up construction work after losing his executive position. With U.S. unemployment hovering above 9% for the past year, the timing may still be ripe, but was Clooney more believable as a disillusioned downsizer than Affleck is hauling plywood? We still remember those matching velour jumpsuits, Ben.
–John Dorman


Week 5

Thu, October 28

Ferrari World Opens

If we were opening a Ferrari World theme park — complete with a 149 mph Formula Rossa roller coaster and kiddie driving course with small-scale F430 GT Spiders — we’d probably pick Abu Dhabi as our location too. In terms of millionaires per capita, only Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Kuwait, and Qatar rank higher than the United Arab Emirates. Millionaires’ playground, indeed. –Emilie Luse

Sat, October 30

Veg Out
100th Anniversary of the Cathode-Ray Tube