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Coffee House The Spectator Podcast

The Spectator Podcast: Fear and loathing

5 October 2017

5:39 PM

5 October 2017

5:39 PM

On this week’s episode, we discuss the tragic events in Las Vegas and wonder if there’s anything we can do, or should be doing, to stop it happening again. We also be look at the contentious Catalan referendum, and ponder what makes the perfect pub quiz.

First up: This week, a deranged gunman opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 and injuring more than 500. This has reopened age old debates about American gun control, but are we in danger of doing more harm than good with this gawping? That’s what Lionel Shriver writes in this week’s magazine and she joins the podcast along with Rod Liddle. As Lionel writes:

“To my embarrassment, ever since my novel We Need to Talk About Kevin was published in 2003, I’ve been a go-to girl regarding American mass murders. I’m embarrassed because my credentials are so poor — I’m only an expert on a school killer I made up — and because I’ve so little to say. That’s one of the standard reactions to these things, whose scale seems only to escalate: being struck dumb. That’s why Sky News and the BBC ring me up. They’re desperate, you see. They have nothing to say either.”

Next: With Catalonia’s long disputed independence question heading for its most contentious moment, Daniel Hannan writes in this week’s magazine about how Madrid’s violent tactics will only push Catalans towards independence. He joins me now from Strasbourg. As Daniel writes:

“Last Sunday’s violence will push Catalans towards independence. Public opinion in the rest of Spain, as much as the letter of the law, won’t allow Madrid to move. What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Catalonia issues a UDI; Madrid imposes direct rule and cuts off the Generalitat’s funding; the Generalitat rushes to put a tax system in place; the stock exchange collapses and the euro crisis is back with a vengeance. Brexit may soon be the least of the EU’s problems.”

And finally: What makes the perfect pub quiz? That might just be the hardest question of all, but it’s one that Mark Mason has endeavoured to answer this week. Mark, who has written a new book Question Time about quizzing, and Andrew Hunter Murray, presenter of No Such Thing As A Fish, the QI podcast, join the show. As Mark writes:

“You’d have thought that smartphones would have killed off this British institution. A pub quiz, with the answer to every question in the world just a fumbled, sneaky glance away? Surely cheating would become rife, rendering the whole exercise pointless? But that hasn’t happened. There’s something about a quiz that returns us to our pre-smartphone mindset, where if we didn’t know something, we didn’t know it. In fact we like being in this position. We love, to borrow Donald Rumsfeld’s phrase, a ‘known unknown’. There is a joy in for once having to wait to find out. In a world of instant answers, the pub quiz shows that we still have the capacity to delay our gratification.”

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