The receptacle is not switched and no wiring or other electrical work has been done since the house was built in 2001.
For my own edification what is a "dead short"?
The same as a regular short with an extra word added in for emphasis. It may have some definition I don't know but it effectivly means the same thing. When current can make a complete circuit without going through any resisting load, aka, wires touching or something hooked up wrong
Ah, i guess they do have different definitions. A short circuit is just when current is able to go on an unintended path. This doesn't necessarily mean it is a 0 resistance path. This could be as simple as a small amount of current leaking to ground. A dead short is what we normally think of as a short. When there is a direct path back, with negligible resistance.
I just spoke to my wife. The electrician has come and gone.
Apparently there were two wires touching in one of the light fixtures. It looks like some electrical tape had come off. The good news is there are no raccoons or squirrels in the roof chewing through my wiring and the builder had done everything properly (including having each fixture connected to its own box - a step apparently some omit).
It appears to be pure coincidence that this came to light at almost the exact moment I hooked up the new TV.
Thanks again to everyone for the advice. Much appreciated.