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FastCompany’s July/August 2008 Calendar

What’s happening in July and August, from the G8 get-together to Bill Gates’s last day on the job.

FastCompany’s July/August 2008 Calendar
Now: July/August 2008 Now: July/August 2008



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Week 1

tuesday, july 01
Log Off
Bill Gates relinquishes daily duties at Microsoft
Redmond, Washington

He led his company to global tech domination and made himself richer than any other person on the planet. If we were Bill Gates, we’d quit now, too. At this year’s CES, Gates noted wistfully, “This will be the first time since I was 17 that I haven’t had my full-time job at Microsoft.” But it’s not as if he is, at 52, really retiring. He’ll still be MSFT’s chairman. And he’s taking on a bigger role at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The world’s biggest charitable foundation is, you might say, the Microsoft of philanthropy — and overseeing the distribution of $55 billion sounds like a full-time job to us. — Ellen Gibson

tuesday, july 01
Glendale, Arizona

Not even the spectacle of Sanjaya Malakar could save last year’s A.I. concert tour from being a bomb (a bomb, Randy Jackson, not the bomb). And this season’s TV ratings were soft. But America isn’t quite ready to give up idolatry yet. Early ticket sales this year were nearly as strong as in record-setting 2006. One show in Utah — home of runner-up and human squeeze toy David Archuleta — sold out in 14 minutes. — Jeff Chu

thursday, july 03
By Iain Gately

Iain Gately, the author of Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization, turns to another vice cum big business, decanting a meticulous, 560-page history of how alcohol has been made, consumed, vilified, and celebrated throughout the centuries. He traces the roots of the gin and tonic; visits ancient bacchanals and medieval alehouses; and weaves together Prohibition rumrunners, Spuds MacKenzie, and Bridget Jones. Gately even explains the alcoholic genesis of some popular phrases; for instance, quality bootlegged rum gave us “the real McCoy,” which is not a bad way to describe this intoxicating book. — Beth Adams

Week 2

monday, july 07
Toyako, Hokkaido, Japan

For the second year in a row, climate change tops the agenda. Last year in Germany, the rich-country leaders agreed to “seriously consider” halving emissions by 2050. This year, we expect they’ll pledge at least to “portentously ponder” it. Next year, they might at last act: This is George W. Bush’s last G8 Summit — sayonara! — and both parties’ White House hopefuls have talked a bigger green game. — JC

tuesday, july 08
Sun Valley, Idaho

Locals regard the media bigwigs’ yearly invasion with “laissez-faire,” says Carol Waller, head of the Sun Valley visitors bureau. The town would be chockablock with tourists anyway, so the economic infusion isn’t “radically different.” But she says the biz-reporter hordes deliver media exposure worth more than $200,000 to the community. And the value of being linked with regular attendee Warren Buffett or first-timer Mark Zuckerberg rather than Demi Moore, who calls the area second-home? Incalculable. — JC

thursday, july 10
Cast a Spell

Law students, your reading list is about to get 4,195 pages longer. At this academic conference on Harry Potter, Karen Morris, a professor and judge from New York, will explain how the fantasy series can improve our understanding of real Muggle law. “J.K. Rowling has woven legal issues throughout her books,” says Morris. “I believe that she loves the law.” Morris’s lecture will touch on issues including the enslavement of house elves, which, she argues, offers valuable lessons on real-world workers’ rights. File that under the Department of Elf and Safety. — Theunis Bates

friday, july 11
Starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Clive Owen, and the music of ABBA

Mamma mia, here we go again. My, my, how can we resist you? Knowing me, knowing you, there is nothing we can do. — WITH ONLY MILD APOLOGIES TO ABBA

sunday, july 13

Predicting aircraft turbulence. Detecting cardiac abnormalities. Crop planning. “The real world is dirty, and that’s what IAAI deals with,” says Mehmet Goker, chair of this four-day conference, which will spotlight 22 AI applications that are already helping to tidy things up. Ogle the apps before geeking out on robot soccer, AI scavenger hunts, and human-versus-computer poker tournaments. We’re betting on the bots — last year, humans barely eked out a victory, and technology only keeps getting better, right? — Kate Rockwood

Week 3

monday, july 14
Farnborough, England

Let’s hear it for the little(r) guys. The aviation biz’s biggest meeting is usually dominated by noisy competing announcements from Airbus and Boeing. But with Airbus’s ginormous A380 and Boeing’s ballyhooed 787 Dreamliner suffering costly production delays, the spotlight this year will shift to smaller manufacturers. The show’s biggest debut is likely to come from Canada’s Bombardier, which is expected to formally launch its 110- and 130-seat CSeries passenger planes. Qatar Airways and Lufthansa have already expressed interest in the jet, which burns up to 20% less fuel and emits 23% less CO2 than other similar-size aircraft. — TB

tuesday, july 15

Happy birthday, Mario brothers! In the summer of 1983, a new game system called Famicom hit the Japanese market, and within two years, it had become a hit in the United States as well, where it was redubbed Nintendo Entertainment System and sold under the tagline “Now you’re playing with power.” A quarter century of Zelda and Tetris later, Nintendo has led the latest evolution of game consoles with the Wii, which, ironically, was introduced by designer Shigeru Miyamoto with the declaration “Power isn’t everything for a console.” — Clayton Neuman

Week 4

thursday, july 24
Geek Out
San Diego

In case you were wondering just how many geeks still read comic books, we can tell you: a lot. Last year’s Comic-Con — the annual industry mega-convention that draws publishers, writers, movie execs, and of course plenty of fans dressed up in superhero tights — sold out for the first time ever, with attendance of 125,000. “It’s a challenge,” says David Glanzer, marketing director for Comic-Con. “We have a contract here until 2012, and our revenue has plateaued” at $60 million. He’s not complaining too much. “Comics are finally being recognized as viable art,” he says. And with the medium’s visibility rising (exhibit A: the smash big-screen success in May of Marvel Entertainment’s Iron Man), “it’s only going to grow.” — CN

Week 5

tuesday, july 29
Blast Off

Celebrated in its Cold War infancy and sobered by the Challenger disaster in its twenties, NASA has lately been in a slump. The number of missions has dwindled. Budgets are tighter. And despite the space agency’s flashes of glory — such as the Mars Global Surveyor, which has sent back spectacular images of the red planet — the public doesn’t seem to care much anymore about leaps, great or small, into space. How to reclaim that early energy? Perhaps a space-shuttle launch on July 29, the date President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed NASA into being? Nah. Instead, there’s a yearlong lecture series! And a closed-to-the-public gala! And panel discussions on the future of NASA — which we have to hope will generate some better ideas for getting us interested than … panel discussions. — KR

Week 6

sunday, august 03
Search for a Cure
AIDS 2008
Mexico City

This year’s conference marks two milestones. It’s the midpoint of the 2010 Global Target on Universal Access for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment — alas, we’re not on target, due to a paucity of health-care workers in developing nations. It’s also the first time the meeting will be in Latin America, where more than 1.6 million people have HIV. The largest conference devoted to one global health issue, AIDS 2008 isn’t crucial just for scientists and policy makers. With inevitably heartbreaking tales of lives lost and families broken by HIV, it’s also a teachable moment for the public. Repeat after us, people: Sexo seguro es muy caliente. — KR

Week 7

thursday, august 07
San Francisco

Think of Linux as your invisible yet ever-present friend. “There’s not a single person in the modern world who doesn’t use it,” says Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “When you run a Google search, use an ATM, get GPS directions, set your TiVo …” To support this proliferation of Linux-dependent activity, the number of developers has doubled in the past two years. Thousands of these coding geeks will pack the room when Zemlin moderates a panel on two Linux-related trends: the future of mobile computing (see Google’s new Android platform) and demand in the United States for cheaper computers. In November, Wal-Mart sold out its entire stock of $200 Linux PCs in two weeks. — EG

friday, august 08
Go Bullish

While foreign firms seek to cash in on the Olympic effect (see our cover story), Chinese investors hope the Games will bring boom times back to the country’s stock markets. UBS analysts Louis Shan and Michael Huang wrote in a research note last summer that the host nations of the last 11 Olympics saw their benchmark indices rise by an average of 25% in the year before their Games. So far, China is bucking precedent; three months before the opening ceremonies — set for August 8, auspicious because the Chinese word for eight rhymes with the word for prosperity — the Shanghai Composite was down nearly 22% from last August 8. Don’t blow out your torch if the Chinese market doesn’t return to 2007’s heights before the Games. Olympic history suggests hope. In each of the past four Olympiads, the benchmark indices of the host nations gained in the year after the Games as well. — JC

saturday, august 09
Floor It
San Francisco to Beijing

A decade ago, Maximillion Cooper gathered his A-list friends and their exotic autos for a rally across Europe, but his goal was more than a car race. “I wanted to create a brand they could all aspire to no matter how successful they already were,” Cooper says of his celebrity mates, including Xzibit, Adrien Brody, and John Mayer. Today, you can measure Gumball’s success by its status as a global brand aspiring to being a lifestyle — it has spawned films, clothing lines, concerts, events, and perhaps most important, general revulsion among those who can’t afford it. The rally is still the main (road) show — this year’s features champagne-fueled parties across California (take that, emissions standards!); a rock concert in Pyongyang, North Korea; and a finale at the Olympics. While fame isn’t required to rally, money is; participants need Maserati-like transportation and $120,000 to burn. And, yes, Cooper really does spell his name Maximillion. — Clay Dillow

Week 9

saturday, august 23
San Diego

Execs — and of course pharmacists — from more than 150 retailers representing nearly 80,000 stores and $207 billion in drug sales will gather to talk industry trends (what do the growing numbers of aging baby boomers mean for business?) and strategy (what to do about the nationwide shortage of pharmacists?). Do not attend this conference if you are a layman or operating heavy equipment; side effects may include drowsiness. — KR

Week 10

friday, august 29
Go for Broke

Jacko is finally hitting the big five-oh, but we’re feeling that this midlife crisis has been unfolding for decades. He almost lost Neverland Ranch, his Santa Barbara casa/carnival, after defaulting on his loan payments. (Colony Capital, a large real-estate investor, no doubt populated with Thriller lovers, stepped in, bought the loan, and agreed to renegotiate the terms.) And he has already leveraged his other (considerable) holdings to the breaking point — chiefly his 50% stake in a 251-song Beatles catalog. For Jackson, the 1-2-3s have never proved easy. It’s hard to fund a lifestyle akin to that of a deposed Third World dictator purely on private-sector funds, and he hasn’t produced a studio album (read: new income) in seven years. We can’t believe we’re saying this, but there may be one thing that Michael Jackson — or at least his brand — could really use: a face-lift. — CD


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