A slight move off topic, if I may. It's that time of the year again when the Eurovision Song Contest takes place, accompanied, as always, by the sounds of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth from the losers, who always try to find anything to blame apart from their own performances or the quality of their songs.
One of the most common complaints is the idea of block-voting, accompanied by a rather embarrassing lack of geographical knowledge. This year's Dutch song is doubtless very suitable for, and popular in, the local pubs of The Jordaan in Amsterdam, but is hardly material that will be popular elsewhere in Europe. Inevitably it failed to get through the semi-final. René Froger, one of the Dutch singers, immediately complained that this was due to block voting: "it's so strange that all the Balkan countries are through to the final", he wailed. And worst, no report I've seen pulled him up on it, seeding and strengthening the myth that everybody hates us/loves them.
Grabbing a pencil and a scrap of people, it took me no time at all to work out that six Balkan countries indeed made it to the final. And five did not. Not quite "all", and certainly no evidence of the great conspiracy so many profess to see. He'd have done better to point to the Nordic block, or the Caucasus block, or the Mediterranean block. If anybody should complain, it's the Central Europeans, none of whom got through.
Back to school, René!
For a map of those through, check Wikipedia here