Anarcho-futurist manifesto

August 8th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The futurists had all the best manifestos.

Here’s an entrancingly over-the-top Ukrainian anarcho-futurist manifesto from 1919:

The Children of Nature springing from the black soil kindle the passions of naked, lustful, bodies. They press them all in one spawning, pregnant cup! The skin is inflamed by hot, insatiable, gnawing caresses. Teeth sink with hatred into warm succulent lovers’ flesh! Wide, staring eyes follow the pregnant, burning dance of lust! Everything is strange, uninhibited, elemental. Convulsions – flesh – life – death – everything! Everything!

Such is the poetry of our love! Powerful, immortal, and terrible are we in our love! The north wind rages in the heads of the Children of Nature.


That “North Wind” bit is presumably because they anarch0-futurists also gave themselves the even more wonderful name “anarcho-hyperboreans“, people of the mythical land in the distant north:

Long live the international intellectual revolution!

An open road for the Anarcho-Futurists, Anarcho-Hyperboreans, and Neo-Nihilists!

Death to World Civilization!




August 6th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

We’ve just (re-)launched Aleph, the project I’ve been working on with OpenOil. It’s a specialized search engine for oil, gas and mining, aimed at helping activists, journalists and government officials make sense of the torrent of regulatory and financial information that comes out of those industries.

Julien Bach made a beautiful video to explain what’s going on:


Big thanks also to Friedrich, whose work with OCCRP supplied a huge proportion of the underlying code.

Speed dating in Iran

July 15th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

I don’t 100% believe this, but it tickles me anyway.
Supposedly, car-based flirting in Iran avoids the (potentially illegal) need to be alone with a member of the opposite sex:

Rules of the game? Pile in a car and head with your same sex possie to one of the city’s flirt strips, cruise up and down until you spot a likely target, being careful to pick a car that’s broadly your car’s equal and then aggressively use tail lights, fog lights and rear windscreen wipers to initiate the courting ritual. A response is equivilent to a pick-up and the cars cruise side by side to arrange later rendezvous through open windows and over the sound of preferred music tastes.

The advanced version involves engineering an accident as an excuse to get contact details.

Downside: it’s only a matter of time until the Pick-Up Artists get hold of this and start systematically rear-ending girls’ cars.

Tracking dots in printers — a history in government documents

May 5th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

For twenty years, many color laser printers have included a hidden tracking code on each page they print. Made of microscopic yellow dots, the code can reveal to the police the unique identity of your printer.

An example of the yellow-dot tracking pattern

The EFF and others have reverse engineered a few of these codes, shedding light on how the system works technically.

What they have not explained is how it happened. How do twenty governments and an entire industry collaborate to build a secret tracking system, in the total absence of any public discussion?

This is an attempt to piece together the history of the yellow dots. It’s based almost entirely on government documents — some obtained from the US Federal Reserve by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, others made available by the European Union.

The response to technology is surveillance

It begins in the early 1990s. The central banks of Europe are scared. Technological change is making color printing, once limited to large-scale professional enterprises, accessible to small businesses and even homes. When color printing reaches the masses, it won’t be long until the masses begin printing fake banknotes.

The printer manufacturers are also scared. If their products become tools for counterfeiting, their entire industry might be shut down, or regulated into insignificance.

So they look for a compromise. It turns out, you can have both fancy printers and secure currency. The only cost is the creation of a subtle system of mass surveillance — but if you don’t tell anybody about that, they won’t complain. The yellow dots are born.

Letter from the SSG-2 group of central banks to Alan Greenspan, chair of the US Federal Reserve, 21 July 1995

To understand the document trail, we’ll need a bit of jargon. On the government side, the Europeans are running the show, through a “Special Study Group” on color copying within the European Banknote Printers Conference. Soon reformulated into the “SSG-2” to accommodate Japan and North America, this will be the clearing-house for negotiations with manufacturers. The industry, being at this point almost entirely Japanese, works through something called the Japan Business Machine Makers Association (JBMA). Non-Japanese manufacturers are also represented here, with Lexmark reportedly joining in 2008. The yellow dot arrangement will be called either BITMAP or the Tracing System.

A “voluntary arrangement”

The JBMA propose a “voluntary arrangement” – though this is clearly the kind of volunteering you do to avoid ever finding out what compulsory looks like. Each manufacturer rigs their copiers and printers to put those microscopic dots onto each page. Every year they send a list of codes to the JBMA, which compiles them for the law enforcement agencies.

This system seems to come into operation in 1993.

Some of the 23 countries who received the printer-dot decoding software

The anti-counterfeiters aren’t expected to look at fake banknotes with a magnifying glass. The manufacturers cook up something they call BITMAP – a software package to match the code to the printer. All you need is a standard PC and a scanner. And a floppy disk drive – this piece of secret spy tech comes on floppies as late as 1998. You fire up BITMAP, scan your counterfeit, and it tells you the manufacturer of the machine it was printed on.

Fingering your customers: a free after-sales service

The BITMAP software appears to only tell you the manufacturer. To find out the specific machine, you need to go to the manufacturer. “Copier manufacturers”, according to SSG-2, “will continue to provide assistance in identifying specific copiers at no additional cost”.


Working with the manufacturers

So each of the manufacturers is deeply involved in this process through the nineties. Canon, Xerox, Konica — all have a designated contact person, responsible for secretly responding to police requests to identify their customers. BITMAP comes with a list of their names and contact information, one per manufacturer.

Admittedly, not all manufacturers play along with full enthusiasm. By 1997 the SSG-2 was collecting information about which companies were dragging their feet.


Division of responsibilities — and payments – for the tracking system

One set of minutes asks members to “let the SSG-2 Working Group know if they encountered problems with getting information front any individual copier manufacturers”. And the US Secret Service were instructed that “concerns with the response time for providing copier information, should be referred to the JBMA”.
Grumbles aside, the system worked. By 1998, some 23 countries were receiving their BITMAP floppy disks from Japan.

A European model of surveillance

European countries were among the first to push for printer tracking dots, and they have continued to be enthusiastic users of the system. In 2000, Europol reported early work towards euro-centralisation of printer tracing:

Work progressed on the European Union Counterfeit Currency Situation Report, as well as on the bitmap register for the collation of information on counterfeit currency produced by traceable colour copiers.

By 2003 they had persuaded the Council of the European Union to fund a centralised printer-tracing service within Europol:

setting up a BITMAP intelligence centre at Europol. This common database should contain bitmap related information and it could serve as the Bitmap co-ordination centre in the European Union. The database shall contain the relevant (technical) data on decoded bitmap-information, investigative data including personal data of companies and persons related with the bitmap subject. EU Member States are asked to supply, in accordance with their national legislation, all existing Bitmap data to the Bitmap intelligence centre

It’s not clear how fully the Council were informed about what they were agreeing to fund. The document used the full force of bureaucratic vagueness to describe BITMAP, explaining it as being “based on an identification of offset processes that are used, inter alia, for counterfeiting banknotes”.

By 2009, Europol described its work on “centralising and processing” printer-tracking requests:

This service provides requesting countries with swift and relevant
information on equipment being used by counterfeiters. Europol is
also in a position to offer in-house decoding of bitmap as well as
relevant training.

The training took place extensively, with events in Brussels, Lisbon and Romania. Germany’s police forces are apparently Europe’s top experts on printer surveillance. The BKA, the federal police service, was intended to provide advanced (“second level”) training to the rest of Europe.

Europol’s BITMAP services have not been limited to EU member-states. According to experts within the Czech police, Ukraine and Turkey have been among the countries most frequently asking for Europol’s help. Even the Russian police received BITMAP trainingsupported by instructors from the Europol’s Forgery of Money Unit

And by this point, Europol’s BTIMAP activities were not limited to cunterfeiting. Although the system had been developed to identify banknotes, there was no technical reason not to use it to trace back any color-printed document to the source. By 2007, Europol were handling more requests relating to documents than to forged Euros. This off-label was never part of the original justification of the tracking-dot system. It’s just a typical example of how surveillance tends to expand within institutions, especially in the absence of any public constraints.

Unintended Consequences

This whole history is an example of what can go wrong when small groups of experts try to solve their own problems, without reference to the wider political context.

A large-scale surveillance system was built as the solution to a technical problem. There was never any public debate, and no evidence of elected officials considering the pros and cons of the system. Senior officials were given vague descriptions of what was being developed, without enough information for them to understand its dangers.

Police and central banks, governments and manufacturers, all worked together across the world and over two decades — but at no point did anybody consider asking the public whether they wanted their printers monitored.

Some of the more important documents on the printer tracking system are:

Medieval Death Metal

February 28th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Metal is the true cultural heritage of Scandinavia. Proof is the Arab merchant who visited 10th century Denmark and reported:

“Never before I have heard uglier songs than those of the Vikings in Slesvig (in Denmark). The growling sound coming from their throats reminds me of dogs howling, only more untamed.”

[This is the immediate source, though it seems to be one of those too-good-to-be-true quotations that floats round online]

Manhattan is not burning

October 9th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Reminiscences of New York in the 70s, and how it came to be that way. Broke, with the Federal government out to destroy it, and where the police were handing out leaflets entitled “Welcome to Fear City“:

One consequence of New York’s forty-year transition from junkie to preppy overachiever is that our stereotypes are out of date. Hence the continual problems for location scout Nick Carr — directors want to film in the rough parts of New York, but there aren’t any left

The designer was undeterred. “You know what I mean – the bad neighbourhoods! Burning barrels! Trash everywhere! Homeless people in the street! Where do we find it?”

That’s when I realised we were looking for something that only exists in the movies.

Some MoD FOI responses

August 21st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m enough of a FOI nerd to occasionally delve into the collection of released information at What Do They Know. Here are a few that caught my eye from the MoD:

Objects on trial

August 19th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

Wikipedia’s article on In Rem Jurisdiction is a thing of beauty. It’s about the situation where the defendant in a court case is an object rather than a person. Some of the case names are poetically bizarre:

    • United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins
    • United States v. Thirty-seven Photographs, one of many obscenity cases prosecuted in this way
    • United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola, one of my favourites. The prosecutor tried to argue that Coca-cola was ‘poisonous or deleterious’ because of the added caffeine, and that it was misbrande because it didn’t contain cocaine. This case is likely part of the reason that coke still includes coca leaf extract, to avoid charges of misbranding
    • United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries, in which the US tried to seize birth control from the mail on the grounds of it being “obscene matter
    • United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls

Sharon Stone, Leon Trotsky, and a lobotomy

August 18th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Recently I realised how far Trotskyism has fallen. Two smart, educated companions failed to associate an ice-pick with Leon Trotsky. Instead, they associated the ice-pick with Basic Instinct.

Comrades, not only have Trots been obliterated, but the world has forgotten to associate mountaineering tools with a thousand tasteless Stalinist jokes.

Unfortunately, sexy Hollywood homicide isn’t a direct replacement for communist infighting. Sharon Stone, it turns out, used the wrong kind of icepick. It turns out that fancy-pants Americans don’t even call an ice-pick an ice-pick, lest they confuse it wih a silly thing for cutting ice.

Icepick, Trotsky version

Icepick, Basic Instinct version

This other icepick, though, did at least lead to me reading some shudder-inducing articles about the icepick lobotomy. The name alone makes it sound horrific, but the reality was even worse:

transorbital lobotomy involved taking a kitchen ice pick, later refined into a more proficient instrument called a leucotome, and hammering it through the thin layer of skull in the corner of each eye socket. The pick would then be scrambled from side to side in order to damage the frontal lobe. The process took about 10 minutes and could be performed anywhere, without the assistance of a surgeon.

Over the years, Freeman developed a reckless enthusiasm for the operation, driving several thousand miles across the country to carry out demonstrations at asylums and hospitals. An instinctive showman, he sometimes ice-picked both eye sockets simultaneously, one with each hand. He had a buccaneering disregard for the usual medical formalities – he chewed gum while he operated and displayed impatience with what he called ‘all that germ crap’, routinely failing to sterilise his hands or wear rubber gloves. Despite a 14 per cent fatality rate, Freeman performed 3,439 lobotomies in his lifetime.

The establishment endures

July 31st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

The establishment in Britain shows no signs of dying out. Here is an FT article, written by an Oxbridge-educated man, about how Oxbridge-educated men find themselves in positions of power without really needing to exert themselves or show signs of brilliance:

My caste produces the opinions that most British people are expected to swallow. However, the one topic we seldom discuss honestly is our own rule. So let me try to describe how it looks from up here.

We didn’t have to work very hard to get here. Luckily, the British establishment doesn’t demand workaholism, except for a few months around exams. The gentleman dilettante is still honoured (see David Cameron).

Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed — book review

July 25th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Jon Ronson has made a career from taking important topics, and finding the ridiculous element within them. It works pretty well for getting us to pay attention to what he has to say — I certainly look forward to reading his books, in a way I wouldn’t for a drier treatment of the same topic.

In the past he’s looked at extremists, psycopaths and conspiracy heorists. Now he’s looking at online shamings — at how twitter users form into global mobs, piling to humiliate anybody who transgresses the social order.

We are living through “a great renaissance of public shaming“, Ronson argues. We have formed ourselves into a new global public, and there is nothing we like more than humiliating people:

After a while it wasn’t just transgressions we were keenly watchful for. It was misspeakings. Fury at the terribleness of other people had started to consume us a lot. And the rage that swirled around seemed increasingly in disproportion to whatever stupid thing some celebrity had said. It felt different to satire or journalism or criticism. It felt like punishment. In fact it felt weird and empty when there wasn’t anyone to be furious about. The days between shamings felt like days picking fingernails, treading water.

Ronson, with his uncanny ability to persuade anybody to talk to him, manages to arrange interviews with many victims of online shaming. There are Lindsey Stone and Justine Sacco, who achieved online ignominy by tweeting off-colour jokes about veterans and AIDS victims. Or Jonah Lehrer and Mike Daisey, who falsified quotations for print and radio respectively. Or Max Mosley, whose sin was to enjoy S&M while being the son of nazi sympathisers.

Ronson’s light touch doesn’t stop this being an entirely damning attack on a brutal new culture. He puts it in the historical context of justice systems moving away from shaming as being too brutal, even in comparison with torture or capital punishment. “ignominy [being] universally acknowledged to be a worse punishment than death“, wrote one of the founding fathers, “it would seem strange that ignominy should ever have been adopted as a milder punishment

If public punishments used to contain some nod towards justice, the new mob is startling in its obliviousness. When Ronson talks to the perpetrators of public shaming, they seem baffled by the idea that their targets could be seriously hurt by it. They assume that they are ‘punching up’ against victims powerful enough to shrug it off.

The victims, though, seem near-uniformly broken. Months after whatever outbreak of online hatred brought them down, their lives are still shaped by it. Unemployed, plagued by depression and self-loathing, they are ceaselessly reminded of whatever minor infraction they committed. None of Ronsons interviewees have killed themselves, but you feel that’s mostly a matter of luck.

Ronson points out that this shaming is inherently a conservative force. It didn’t seem that way at first, because the early adopters tended to be liberal. As the attacked homophobes and jumped on the cruelty of the Daily Mail, it was possible to believe that the twitter mob would be a force for good.

But now that everybody uses social media, online shaming will simply replicate the views of society. Worse, it will emphasise the conservative tendencies, because the nature of the shaming process is to punish people who are different:

We see ourselves as nonconformist, but I think all of this is creating a more conformist, conservative age.

‘Look!’ we’re saying. ‘WE’RE normal! THIS is the average!’

We are defining the boundaries of normality by tearing apart the people outside of it.

Cargoes, revised: the declining trade in cigarette holders

July 19th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

The World Customs Organization has the unenviable job of trying to categorize everything that is traded across borders.

Every few years they update their classification system, adapting to the development of new products and changes in trade patterns.

Poignantly, this means the elimination of archaic goods. The list of categories eliminated between 1992 and 2007 is a record of a lost world:

    • cigar or cigarette holders
    • bow ties
    • headgear of furskin
    • vinyl record players
    • magnetic tapes

Snails narrowly escaped the cut — obviously a good decision, considering that international snail movement is significant enough to feature on this very blog. So did opium, dictionaries & encyclopaedias and silver tableware — items you could imagine sitting in the baggage compartment of the Orient Express, alongside the cigar holders and the fur hats.

Among new commodities: the ape-trade, immortalized a century ago by John Masefield, is belatedly recognized with classifiation 010611: live primates.

RIP John Ball

July 15th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Things cannot go well in England
Nor ever will
Until every thing shall be held in common

Those are the words of John Ball, who on this day in 1381 was hanged for his leadership of the Peasants Revolt.

The Peasants Revolt, unlike almost everything else in the 14th century, feels comprehensible. There is one side who are obviously in the right, and there is the dreamy interest of wondering what might have happened had they not been so thoroughly obliterated.

Paul Foot captures some of that, in a speech from the 600th anniversary of the revolt. It’s appropriately biased and passionate. If he turns the peasants into proto-socialists that’s because, well, they came out with such tantalising rhetoric that the teleology is all but unavoidable.

And the situation does demand a certain degree of righteous indignation:

The fifth member of the gang, the monopolist who joined them, was a man called Richard Lyons. He had discovered (mathematics was very in vogue at the time) that if he paid for the king’s wars, he could get the monopoly over the buying and selling of wool, and that there would be a big profit in it. I’ll explain it, because these things are complicated, He bought the wool for six pounds by order of the king, and he sold it for fourteen pounds by order of the king, and therefore made a profit. Only a few people in society could understand that sort of subtlety, but Lyons made himself extremely rich by this process.

Huxley on machine art

July 14th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

There were, it is true, certain Cubists who liked to paint machines or to represent human figures as though they were the parts of machines. But a machine, after all, is itself a work of art, much more subtle, much more interesting from a formal point of view, than any representation of a machine can be. In other words, a machine is its own highest artistic expression, and merely loses by being s[implified and quintessentialized in a symbolic representation.

— Aldous Huxley, from an essay on Piranesi

Inadvertantly, Huxley is making a strong argument for the artistic potential of computer games. He’s right, I think, that a painting of a machine can only be a shadow of the thing itself. But a game can let you be the creator of the machine, or a cog in the mechanism, to feel from every viewpoint the interconnections of the parts and the necessity of everything being as it is.

[To be fair, Huxley is only talking about still images. Film has a natural affinity for machines — just look at Eisenstein’s fetishism of industry, or even that first Lumiere brothers image of the train arriving. And, as Benjamin points out, there is good reason for this:

…our factories appeared to have us locked up hopelessly. Then came the film and burst this prison-world asunder by the dynamite of the tenth of a second, so that now, in the midst of its far-flung ruins and debris, we calmly and adventurously go traveling. With the close-up, space expands; with slow motion, movement is extended. The enlargement of a snapshot does not simply render more precise what in any case was visible, though unclear: it reveals entirely new structural formations of the subject.


Potemkin villages for the unemployed

July 3rd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Potemkin companies staffed by Europe’s unemployed, going through the motions of running a business in the hope they will one day be able to flip from the imaginary to the real economy.

These companies are all part of an elaborate training network that
effectively operates as a parallel economic universe. For years, the aim
was to train students and unemployed workers looking to make a
transition to different industries. Now they are being used to combat
the alarming rise in long-term unemployment, one of the most pressing
problems to emerge from Europe’s long economic crisis.

The justification for this bizarre system is only partly about training. It’s also about deflecting the malaise of a worker forbidden to work:

being in a workplace — even a simulated one — helps alleviate the psychological confusion and pain that can take hold the longer people go without a job.

I do have a lot of sympathy for this. Certainly I become gloomily restless whenever I don’t have enough to do, and I’ve never been unemployed for a serious length of time.

Still, it is treating the symptom rather than the cause. The cause is a society where identity and social value are determined by employment, where the unemployed are treated as failures. If the system didn’t treat unemployment as disgusting, perhaps people wouldn’t need office play-acting to as psychological band-aid.

And you can’t help wondering if, lurking somewhere under this stone, is a fear that, given more time to themselves, some of the unemployed might start to cause a bit more trouble to the system.


June 28th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

Alex has an uncanny ability to find things that grab my emotions. Most recently, this poem, about which I can’t say anything other than that I love it:

Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsichord pavane by Purcell
And the racer’s twelve-speed bike.

The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcell’s chords are played away.

So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante’s heaven, and melt into the air.

If it doesn’t, of course, I’ve fallen. So much is chance,
So much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsichordists prove

Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.

Michael Donaghy

Nevada, Imogen Binnie (book review)

June 25th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Nevada is a novel that’s psychological in a delightfully straightforward way. No need to reconstruct a character’s psyche from meaningful silences and Freudian cliches. Just swoop in with first-person brain-dumps, stream of consciousness that has been tidied up and wrangled into coherent paragraphs.

This does require fairly introspective characters, but we are in a world where oblivious stoicism would be bafflingly strange. Maria, our protagonist, is self-aware to a fault. She’s a web-nerdy, book-nerdy transwoman, a transplant to New York from nowhereville. Working a deadening bookstore job, not quite able to leave a girlfriend she doesn’t love, twitching for something to shake up her bad-but-bearable life. The secondary characters — the girlfriend, the buddy, the ingenue — are drawn slightly less convincingly than Maria, but still highly self-aware.

Reading Nevada feels like reading Livejournal, and I mean that in an entirely positive way. It’s somebody showing you their head in the most straightforward way possible, within a lightweight road-trip framework that’s only really there to keep the self-analysis trudging along.

Other reviews: one, two, three. Author’s website

How to make a Parisian intellectual stop talking

June 22nd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m reading Jon Ronson’s latest book, a tour of the twitter-fuelled renaissance in public shamings by a self-righteous mob.

Along the way there are, as you’d expect from Ronson, some wonderfully bizarre historical excursions. One looks at Gustave le Bon, grandfather of the study of “crowd psychology”. Le Bon was a wannabe intellectul in late 19th-century France who, after his previous works were deemed too racist and sexist by the Parisian elite (!), finally made his name with a diatribe about the madness of crowds. Then success got to his head…

The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind was, on publication, a runaway success. It was translated into twenty-six languages and gave Le Bon what he’d always wanted – a place at the heart of Parisian society, a place he immediately abused in a weird way. He hosted a series of lunches – Les Dejeuners de Gustave Le Bon – for politicians and prominent society people. He’d sit at the head of the table with a bell by his side. If one of his guests said something he disagreed with he’d pick up the bell and ring it relentlessly until the person stopped talking.

There’s something horrifyingly believable about this. You’ve finally made your way into the elite, and the immortals are begging to join you for dinner. What a power trip to be lord and master of the entire assembly, free to silence anyone who displeases you.

[there’s more here, in the unlikely event of anyone wanting to delve into the sordid history]

The Talented Mr. Ripley, Snail Smuggler

June 21st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

…or if not Mr. Ripley himself, at least his creator.

Patricia Highsmith, creator of fictional con-man The Talented Mr. Ripley, preferred animals to people. In particular she loved snails.

This caused her problems when she moved to France. Aside from the coals to Newcastle aspect, snail trafficking was illegal. This is what dragged the crime author into sins worthy of her characters:

When she later moved to France, Highsmith had to get around the prohibition against bringing live snails into the country. So she smuggled them in, making multiple trips across the border with six to ten of the creatures hidden under each breast

[from Mason Currey, Daily Rituals]

Camelot’s sneakiness

June 20th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

State-promoted gambling is a grim idea at the best of times. But the UK national lottery is scraping the barrel of dishonest promotion.

They’ve just announced some changes. Take a look at that page and see if you can work out what’s going on.

The important bit is in the smaller print, under “Other Changes”:

More numbers to choose from

You will now be able to choose 6 numbers from a total of 59 rather than 49.

Yep, that’s their way of saying “we’ve just dramatically reduced your chances of picking the winning numbers“. Each ticket now has a 1 in 45 million chance at the jackpot, rather than the oh-so-reasonable 1 in 14 million chance beforehand.

They’ve tried to muddy the waters by adding a free ticket prize tier, so they can offer “a better chance of winning a prize“.

All in all, it just makes lotto look like an even more underhanded way to con people out of their money.