Category: Blog

The online journal of Nico Mara-McKay.

I read a fair bit. Perhaps not as much as Sarah Weinman, but she’s a professional reviewer with the luxury to spend all her time reading, and by day I serve as a senior business analyst. Still, I do ok.

Inspired by Weinmen, and a few friends who track what they read, for the first time in my life I’ve started keeping a list. It only includes books I’ve finished reading, and while I’m listing the graphic novels, I’m not counting them. Not because they’re not “real literature” (though that may be debatable), but because they’re so short. As of today I’m at 25 for 2009.(1)

I tend to read several books at once. Some books make great subway reading. Others prefer a quiet afternoon and a nice cup of chai. Others still keep me up all night wondering what’s going to happen next, when they’re supposed to lulling me to sleep.

While I’m not a career reviewer, I do write reviews for websites and magazines,(2) and also to better organize my thoughts, interpret and integrate what I’ve read.


  1. Plus 7 graphic novels, for those interested. []
  2. A dozen or so publishers regularly send their latest books and catalogues to my postbox. []

Titled with a with a cute wink the apocalypse, The Four Horsemen features Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. On September 30th, 2007 they sat down together and filmed a two-hour unmoderated discussion. It’s a wonderful thing.

While I’m an atheist,(1) this isn’t a requirement to appreciate four brilliant men philosophizing brilliantly about religion, atheism and the state of the world.

I’ve read a couple of Dawkins’ books (namely The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker)(2) and two by Hitchens (Why Orwell Matters and God Is Not Great), but this is the first time I’ve really heard any of them speak.(3)

The video, filmed by Josh Timonen, has been provided by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (what a name!) and has been available on YouTube for about a month in two, one-hour segments.

Naturally, with their genius so well publicized, they require no introduction, but for the uninitiated, from left to right they are Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.


  1. Please don’t read this self-important essay I wrote five years ago. []
  2. My responses to reading The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker. Ah, early, earnest posts. Was it only a year or so ago? []
  3. I don’t have cable. []

An alarming number seem to be misinformed about the beverage known as “chai”. This little essay aims to clear up some of the confusion.

Please feel free to share this link with your friends if they’re under the dreadful misapprehension that there is such a thing as “chai latte”.(1)

The truth about lattes

Latte is simply Italian for “milk”. According to The Internet, caffelatte is a contraction for caffè e latte, or “coffee and milk”, similar to the French café au lait.

A later American corruption repurposed this sensible designation to signify a specific beverage “typically prepared with approximately one third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk, with a layer of foamed milk approximately 5 mm (¼ inch) thick on the top”.(2) Absurd, but so it goes.

Notice that neither the Italian original nor the American corruption refer to tea. Lattes remain a beany sort of thing.


  1. Note: The image on the left comes from the blog Cooking The Ideas, which has an excellent recipe for masala chai here. []
  2. See Wikipedia: Latte. []

The inaugural post on my latest website,, new home to all things Nico. Though if you’re reading this, you’re…