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The triumph of the 'me generation', the tidal wave of money, the emergence of the underclass, the dumbing down of culture by the electronic media . . . What is missing from this list of the big ideas of the last half century? The Lottery of course, that born-yesterday behemoth that is a bigger idea than any of them, and has not only blotted out all memory of the rest of the twentieth century but has the twenty-first in a grip that grows firmer with every passing day.