An air traffic controller explains why flights are often delayed#

The reason is as old as it is simple -- greed. Airlines can make more money selling 70 airplanes worth of tickets per hour than they could if they limited themselves to the 60 airplanes per hour that the runway can handle. In fairness to the airlines, it's not in their interest to limit themselves. It is easier to sell the tickets and blame the delays on the weather or the antiquated air traffic control system. Especially if the flying public doesn't understand runway capacity limits and therefore fails to notice that the antiquated air traffic control system is delivering more airplanes to the runways than the runways can handle.

A nice read.

Audi R8 Super Bowl commercial#

By far, my favorite commercial of the evening (and I'm not just saying that because I'm obsessed with all mechanical things German ;). The Godfather reference, the sinister-looking R8, the "Old luxury just got put on notice" line -- brilliant.

While there were a few other good ads, most of them were boring and forgettable; luckily, it was actually a decent game (OK, you're right, but the fourth quarter was fun).

Macworld reviews the MacBook Air#

As a longtime fan of small laptops, I embraced the MacBook Air with some trepidation. But once I slipped that three-pound laptop into my backpack and threw the bag over my shoulders, I realized that sacrificing some storage space and some processor power was ultimately worth it for me.

An exhaustive assessment, but nothing you haven't read before if you keep up with this sort of thing. If interested, Ars Technica's review is also worth a read.

Relatedly, my MacBook Air should be in my hands no later than Tuesday. I can't wait!

Google launches Social Graph API#

With so many websites to join, users must decide where to invest significant time in adding their same connections over and over. For developers, this means it is difficult to build successful web applications that hinge upon a critical mass of users for content and interaction. With the Social Graph API, developers can now utilize public connections their users have already created in other web services. It makes information about public connections between people easily available and useful.

Gartner says Mac market share to double by 2011#

By 2011, Apple will double its U.S. and Western Europe unit market share in Computers. Apple's gains in computer market share reflect as much on the failures of the rest of the industry as on Apple's success.

This doesn't surprise me at all -- the snowball has been gathering speed and girth for a while now.

Jalopnik reviews Microsoft's Sync#

The final word is that I would recommend the system. Once you get over the initial setup and learning curve hurdle, the Sync pays for itself in terms of convenience and functionality.

See also parts two and three (actually, skip part two).

Artificial letters added to life's alphabet#

Two artificial DNA "letters" that are accurately and efficiently replicated by a natural enzyme have been created by US researchers. Adding the two artificial building blocks to the four that naturally comprise DNA could allow wildly different kinds of genetic engineering.

LOST in 8:15#

An absolutely brilliant summarization of the first three seasons of the show.

Tool use is just a trick of the mind#

[Researchers] conclude that when learning to use a tool, the pattern of neuronal activity is somehow transferred from the hand to the tool, "as if the tool were the hand of the monkey and its tips were the monkey's fingers."

Second Rotation#

Second Rotation is building the easiest destination on the Web for people to sell consumer electronics and gadgets. We’re also impacting the problem of e-waste. By buying unwanted gadgets and putting them into the hands of people who still value them we help extend the useful life of items that would otherwise end up in landfills. If an item has no market value, Second Rotation will ensure it is recycled responsibly.

Questioning consciousness#

In the case of consciousness, we cannot simply change our perspective to see the solution. We are all stuck with the first-person point of view. So, the result is we persist with questing for the qualia as such.

Yet if consciousness is a trick, then of course this quest is a fool's errand. It will make no more sense to try to explain the existence of qualia than it would to explain the existence of the impossible triangle. What we should be doing instead is trying to explain just how we have been set up—and why.

Genes can recognize similarities in each other#

Genes have the ability to recognise similarities in each other from a distance, without any proteins or other biological molecules aiding the process, according to new research published this week in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B. This discovery could explain how similar genes find each other and group together in order to perform key processes involved in the evolution of species.

Rethinking the meat-guzzler#

Global demand for meat has multiplied in recent years, encouraged by growing affluence and nourished by the proliferation of huge, confined animal feeding operations. These assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests.

The moral instinct#

Evolution has endowed us with ethical impulses. Do we know what to do with them?

The most interesting article you'll read all week.