Tuesday 21 May 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'Early-onset Silly Season 2019'

 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Photo: Joe Klamar
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Photo: Joe Klamar
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Environmental boffins have discovered an unexpected new side effect of climate change. "Not only are we getting milder winters, but the actual timing of seasons is changing too," said Prof Norbert Von Nomates, chair of Irish Climate at the University of Utrecht. "Looking at the data over the past 20 years, it's clear the Irish Silly Season is coming earlier each year. For example, last week we saw a story about a deer on the Dart. I wrote a short 'funny' letter to The Irish Times to ask if this is a record, and it definitely is. Usually quirky wildlife stories don't occur until later in May, though people will recall that it was almost exactly at this time of year that the Ennis Goat story kicked off the silly season last year."

Environmental boffins have discovered an unexpected new side effect of climate change. "Not only are we getting milder winters, but the actual timing of seasons is changing too," said Prof Norbert Von Nomates, chair of Irish Climate at the University of Utrecht. "Looking at the data over the past 20 years, it's clear the Irish Silly Season is coming earlier each year. For example, last week we saw a story about a deer on the Dart. I wrote a short 'funny' letter to The Irish Times to ask if this is a record, and it definitely is. Usually quirky wildlife stories don't occur until later in May, though people will recall that it was almost exactly at this time of year that the Ennis Goat story kicked off the silly season last year."

Dr Von Nomates also noted that ''seagulls attacking people for bags of chips'' stories arrived earlier than usual this year, suggesting fundamental changes in the migratory patterns of seagull stories.

He did admit, however, that there were certain unique conditions this year that caused people to switch off earlier. Once the high pressure zone around Brexit receded before Easter, people opted out. He puts this down to general exhaustion around Brexit. "Irish people all became experts in British politics in a very short time," he said, "Much like they all became economists very quickly after the financial crash, and experts on the US after Trump's election. There is a very definite pattern here that when people really get into something and a storm blows up around it, it tends to blow out quite suddenly too."

He also pointed to other signs of early-onset Silly Season last week. For example, he says that though we are in the run-up to the most important European elections ever, nobody is paying any attention. "The big stories out of the Euro elections," he says, "were Leo singing with a busker, farmers shouting at Leo, Leo pretending to be a butcher, Mairead McGuinness in a bath and a former Rose of Tralee seemingly threatening to shoot Mairead McGuinness."

He also points out that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, who has sophisticated algorithms to determine when Silly Season begins based on the purchasing of barbecues and kayaks on his site, chose last week to announce that he will be sending people to live on the Moon. "So now we have a space race between Bezos, another mad billionaire Elon Musk, a ''handsy'' rich guy from England - Branson, and a ''handsy'' President of America. If that's not Silly Season then I don't know what is," says Prof Nomates.

Nomates says the arrival of the good weather this weekend and the hurling kicking off will only exacerbate the situation. He says to expect the first Healy-Rae rhododendron story any day now.

Sunday Independent

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