Silly and not so silly
The silly season is now slowly coming to an end. But not all the stories that we have read and heard over the past weeks have been silly at all.
If you are not sure what the silly season is exactly, Wikipedia says that "the silly season is the period lasting for a few summer months typified by the emergence of frivolous news stories in the media".
During the summer, parliament is not sitting, and schools and universities are on holiday, as are many employees. Magazines tend to get thinner because advertisers don't want to spend their money talking to smaller audiences. And as a result of the dearth of political stories, the media turn to, well, less weighty topics to fill their pages and timeslots.
There are many different terms around the world for the silly season. According to Wikipedia, it is also called the "slow news season" (North America), the "dead season" (France), and the "news drought" (Sweden). In Spain, a silly-season story is known as a "summer snake", apparently a reference to the Loch Ness Monster and other mythical creatures who get more publicity when the news is slow.
In many countries (Norway, Denmark, Poland and others) the silly season is called the "cucumber time". Some sources claim this has to do with the fact that tailors were historically less busy during the cucumber season. Now, that itself may just be a silly story, but it is one that is too good to let the facts get in the way of.
This summer hasn't been as silly as usual, however. Indeed, the past weeks have been dominated by many very serious stories, most notably the large numbers of asylum seekers in the EU and elsewhere.
Other serious stories have included the economic slowdown in China and the crash on the country's stock market, the continuing efforts to find a solution to Greece's economic problems and the threat of further warfare on the EU's border, in Ukraine.
But the silly season is not completely dead. Recently, for example, I heard a story on BBC Breakfast News that a panda in Britain had not given birth. Wow, you don't say!
But the silliest stories of all this summer have been those about the (relatively minor) ups and down in the value of the euro. These proclaim either (a) that the euro is falling so low that it is in danger of disintegrating, or (b) that it is going so high that it is a serious danger to the eurozone's recovery.
The truth is that for the past six months, the euro has oscillated between about $1.05 and $1.17 and is currently in the middle of that range (see here). To suggest that those sorts of fluctuations are serious is just silly, silly, silly.
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