Now that's an odd fault. I can only think of one extreme long shot:
I once installed ceiling lights with poor quality edison lampholders. The bulbs won't stay in the holders, but come out a fraction, causing arcing between the bulb and the lampholder rather than good contact.
It doesn't cause any real problems with the ordinary bulbs, except possibly a risk of fire.
Low energy bulbs and flourescent tubes produce some noise when turned on. Anything that makes a noise must have made some movement. Therefore, I presume that low energy bulbs move sligthly when turned on. If the lampholders are the arcing crap described above, I would think that the power to the "bulb" goes on and off when this happens, causing flicker or strobo-effects and ultimately failure.
As I said, this is an extreme long shot...
[This message has been edited by C-H (edited 11-06-2002).]