Things That Make You Go Hmmm - The Game Of Sovereign KerPlunk!

Now that formal newsflow has officially replaced the Onion's funny pages, it is only fitting that the reality of politics and finance be reduced to a board game. Enter Grant Williams, to whom the last days of the Ponzi unwind are nothing more or less than a game of KerPlunk!: "When playing KerPlunk!, the early straws are easy to pull out without causing any dislocation amongst the marbles. Consequently, there is a period when players spin the tube with abandon and yank straws from the bottom of the pile with the kind of carefree attitude one normally only sees on the face of a Fed Chairman about to be interviewed by CNBC, but as it goes on, almost imperceptibly, the  game changes and tension begins to creep into the face of each and every player. The shift normally happens when one stray marble drops as a straw is pulled out without the requisite attention being paid to the ramifications of doing so. The sound of that one marble hitting the plastic floor of the tube is normally enough to concentrate the minds of the players for a minute or two, but pretty soon, as a few more straws get pulled out without further consequences, players relax again. It’s about this time that the game changes completely. Without any warning, the remaining tangle of straws suddenly looks precarious and finding a straw to pull out safely requires extreme focus...Each of the straws is virtually guaranteed to dislodge some marbles when pulled out – no matter how much care is taken – and while there are still a few straws which will cause minimal problems, certain straws, when pulled out, will cause a small avalanche. By this stage in the game it is abundantly clear to all the players that the point of no-return has been reached and in no time at all - and indeed at any moment - all the marbles will end up tumbling down; the cacophony of noise created by the echo in the plastic tube jarring to one and all."

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Hmmm Jul 03 2011