Podcast - This Is Only a Test

Episode 183 – Ode to Ballmer – 9/5/2013

Jeremy Williams joins Will and Norm to discuss PAX Prime and Dragon*Con, Ballmer’s departure, Microsoft’s Nokia buy, Google Play as the new Android, smart watches, the Nintendo 2DS, and KitKats. Enjoy!

Comments (24)

24 thoughts on “Episode 183 – Ode to Ballmer – 9/5/2013

  1. Haven’t listened to the whole thing yet, most importantly the end.

    However, right of the bat, just want to express my disagreement with Will about the PAX “controversy”.

    I fully support Mike and feel I’m not in the minority by far with that sentiment.

  2. Maybe you or someone else can fill me in on what happened. I’m familiar with the old Dick Wolves controversy, but did Mike Krahulik drag a child out on stage and rape them? There’s so much vitriol surrounding him again I can’t imagine anything else happening.

    Sorry, I’m on my crappy feature phone using Opera mini, so it’s hard to type. Maybe someone else will do it.
    On the other hand, I myself need to read more on the Dragoncon stuff, the only thing I was aware of was the Rebecca Watson stuff, which is a completely idiotic fabricated issue. The thing Norm mentioned acctualy sounded serious.

  4. I’ll wait till I get to the end of the podcast then, but if it’s just more “Well, this dickwolves thing, and people talked about it again” then I’m just tired of it.

  5. The Automatic car app sounds interesting. I manually entered into my spreadsheet for two years, but data wasn’t worth the effort. So i stopped. This makes it easy, but the data will in their system.

    I will still get one someday, but no more pre-order for me, Fitbit, Pebble, etc. etc.

    Here is the link below.


  6. Thanks for the link. That’s a great video on the site, but I don’t know how I feel about the part where the music gets slightly dramatic and they describe how I’ll get in such a bad accident that the phone will have to call 911 and my family itself. I guess they’ve thought of everything, morbid bastards.

  7. I think Mike is probably a poorly socially adjusted guy who sometimes lashes out, and his apology run fairly true to me. I get the same vibe as after Ryan’s outburst during the last lantern run. Having the entire internet scrutinizing everything you say for what it could mean at all times leaves little wiggle room for what something was supposed to mean.

    Given that in the past people who attend PAX might not have a place or con they could go to, I think it ultimately is a net positive.

  8. I agree with Norm, it is far too late for them to distance their personalities from the convention. They need to realize that their behaviour and personality directly impacts how people view the personality of the event itself.

  9. It’s funny you mention wanting a “camera that’s like looking through a telescope but digital”, because they have had dedicated astronomical cameras for years that are (mainly) just camera sensors. There are also adapters for attaching your camera lenses directly to the sensors.

    Here’s a full frame sensor http://www.atik-cameras.com/products/info/atik-11000 and here is a nice adapter http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p2836_Geoptik-T2-Adapter-fuer-CANON-EOS-Objektive—mit-Stativanschluss.html

  10. Comment from a Wired article on the PA controversy:

    “I was raped. Twice, before I was even 17 years old. Each experience was horrific, terrifying, dehumanizing and remains in my memory and nightmares eight years later. I was raped.
    And I still didn’t have a problem with the Dickwolves because the point of the Dickwolves “raping” the little dude was to evoke that horror and revulsion even in people who have never experienced it. It did so. If other people who have been raped cannot even look at the word rape, they need to spend their energies on healing and counseling – not on ripping someone for a comic. There are lots of people who don’t like gays – but Green Lantern is still gay. There are lots of people who don’t like transfolk – but Barbra Gordon’s roommate is still trans. There are lots of people who don’t like lesbians – but Batwoman is still a lesbian. We defend the creators of these heroes – why not defend Mike’s right to create a monster?
    I don’t support rapists, and Mike & Jerry don’t either. You’re no more likely to get raped at PAX than SDCC or any other large, public gathering. You’re no more likely to get raped because of a single two year old comic strip than you are because of 14 years of Law & Order: SVU.
    My point is that your rape need not control your life. If you were raped, please get help and learn to function in a world where there are jokes and offense and dickwolves.”

    and from the same poster:

    However, I guess I can also understand Mike’s desire to defend his creation against people that didn’t get it – the people that read the original comic and took personally something that was meant to be a blanket repulsion for the purpose of commentary. It IS bigger than the original comic… but it shouldn’t be. Mike himself has said that he made some really stupid choices with the situation.

    With that there to represent my ideas rationally, I present my angry rant at the idiocy of the internet:

    The idea that simply saying the word “Rape” is fucking sexist or inappropriate is stupid, and anyone who is offended by that kind of thing is stupid, and anyone actually disturbed by it needs to get help, and probably makes up a very, very small percentage of the people who are unhappy about the situation.

    There is a huge difference between making a joke that uses a concept to make a point but is BY NO MEANS THE CRUX OF THE JOKE, Mr Will Smith (The joke was all about player behavior, the rape mention was there to freakin’ point out how silly it is that the player wouldn’t help.), and a joke that is laughing at an actual tragic event. For example, joking about the death of a soldier is not the same thing as joking about war. At no point have the PA folks A) “fostered rape culture” or B) made any jokes about specific events or leveled against rape victims.

    It was in no way a fucking rape joke AND the idea that it has anything to do with fucking rape culture is LUDICROUS. First of all, that whole idea of “rape culture” is a shock value phrase designed to scare moms and pops. It’s completely inaccurate Second of all, most of the people bitching about it A) are calling it sexist when the person talking about getting raped is a fuckin’ male, and B) would be fine if the joke was about being gay or murder or any number of not completely PC/family friendly/super positive concepts.

    As someone who knows actual victims of rape, I am fucking TIRED of the entitled little snots on the internet making this kind of shit out to be awful, and dragging people like Will into what seem like pretty uneducated perspectives (the terms you use just play off of the zeitgeist instead of just being original thoughts).

    And the idea that a comedian on a stage should have different freakin’ standards that those on a website is just STUPID. It’s another example of the details being looked at all freakin’ wrong.

    I’m tired of people getting offended over something they’ve never experienced, never been a part of, or even been around. I’ve been in the position of being the person someone confided in about these things. I’ve been in the position of going against that person’s will for their own well being to make sure the proper actions were taken to prevent it from happening again. It’s not something to just stir up on the internet and circlejerk to.

    But that doesn’t mean the entire concept should be completely off limits. In fact, the way that rape is treated in society is a hinderance to people who are actual victims because it makes it harder for them to come forward, harder for them to get help, and easier for the fuckers to get away with it.

    Penny Arcade is in the business of telling jokes. Not once have they encouraged the act of rape, not once have they actually said anything negative about transgenders (He said that males are males, females are males. It’s a pretty surface level opinion that shouldn’t matter to any self respecting transgender, and is also just a plain freakin’ fact), or homosexuals, or anyone. In fact, they’ve been SUPPORTIVE of those communities and even pointed out very simply how ludicrous the gaming industry treats female characters.

    I’m sorry to get so worked up about this but it needs to fucking stop. If anyone actually used the term “rape culture” in front of me I’d either punch them in the face or just walk away and never speak to them again. It doesn’t help freakin’ victims any more than censoring comedians will. It isn’t an accurate term. There isn’t a fuckin’ rape culture there is a troll culture. And acting like a few misogynistic thoughts or statements that have nothing to do with rape are a part of that “rape culture” just adds to the bullshit of the entire concept. It’s a shock tactic coming from overzealous feminists and dumbasses that have no idea what they are talking about because they’ve never even been CLOSE to a situation involving any kind of sexual harassment.

    Yeah, Mike can be a bit of a dick in response to utter bullshit. But you know what? It doesn’t matter what his response is, because it won’t change anything for his critics. They will continue to act like idiots.

    As a homosexual who’s dabbled in gender roles, cross dressing, and who’s had to deal with the fallout of rape and been sexually harrassed, I can safely say that I support Mike completely. He’s never said anything about ANY of my “oddities” that suggests he thinks any less of me that I am aware of. He’s never said anything to suggest that any sexual harassment is okay, that I am aware of. Not giving a shit that a bunch of people on the internet over-reacted and over-analyzed something isn’t being an ass, it’s being smart. And being a tiny bit of a dick? Yeah, there are probably better ways to handle it if he wants to save face, but the guy clearly only cares when it starts to impact his company, he doesn’t mind a few crazies on the internet thinking he’s a bit of an ass because it’s cool to.

    I’ve been going to PAX for years and I’ve ALWAYS felt safe and secure there. Granted, I’m generally not one to feel otherwise elsewhere, but still. I’m going to keep going, because it makes me happy to go, and because I generally really like the PA guys.

    Yes, even after that gay robot bit at Acquisitions Inc. That had me laughing so fucking hard the entire time, the only issue I have with those guys is maybe that I almost peed myself laughing at that silliness. Because at the end of the day, they always approach that stuff from the ludicrous side. Sort of like Saints Row. It goes so far beyond reality that if you take a bunch of as far as I can tell male slaves getting raped up the ass by, and please read this carefully, Dickwolves seriously, you need a fucking check on reality, not an apology.

    It’s a fuckin’ concept guys. The word rape being mentioned doesn’t just call up every line of the universe’s code on every damn rape that has ever occurred and imply application to each of those cases. It’s a vile crime the same way murder is. At least rape is something many people can overcome. Murder just ends a life.

    And to think you people watch shows like The Daily Show and this is what pisses you off. Jon is more of a leader of minds than the PA guys ever will be. Mike is all about the laughs, Jon occasionally actually tries to inform and sway the public a bit. If Jon Stewart has yet to offend you, you have no place being offended by Mike Krahulic. And I could replace that with a number of comedians, many of them excellent, many of them who’ve given shit right back to idiots who act offended over a joke that isn’t even at their expense.

    Hell, a good friend of mine was abused and has always had a part of themselves that pulled them towards being a comedian. They aren’t offended at the mention of the word rape, and have managed to move on with their life to the point where they can accept its mention and yes, even it’s use in a ludicrous and small part in a joke.

    TLDR: Fuck all of this uninformed, uninvolved, hypocritical bullshit. It’s not sexist against women, the freakin’ comic had no females in it! It wasn’t saying “yeah, fuck women, lets all go and rape them!” it was saying “Wow, what a dick, we are suffering in this horrible (and ludicrously so) way, and you won’t help because you checked off your list already!”

    It makes me livid that idiots on the internet are preening their karma by whining about a joke that wasn’t even about rape, and only even mentioned the concept, never even in the slightest (and in fact doing the opposite) suggesting that rape is in any way a good thing when they could be doing something to actually help.

    The dude was a dick to a bunch of people over-reacting. Maybe not the most mature response, but he’s not an evil asshole for it.

    Seriously though, if you can’t hear the word “rape” without being disturbed (not offended, disturbed, ie if it brings up issues because you personally suffered from some form of abuse, that isn’t healthy, and you should seek some psychological help so you can overcome that. I’m not saying you should be able to laugh it off, but if you are so disturbed by it that you feel the need to speak out, you really should get some help. I’ve seen first hand how that can help. It’s not about not criticizing someone, it’s about taking care of yourself. The more you can move on from tragic events and look back on them without pain, the better. That goes for anything in life pretty much. You can’t go around telling people not to joke about drinking and driving just because you lost a friend to alcoholism. It’s not good for you to drag that shit up and put yourself through it. Move through the tragic events of your life and come out the other end with a life to live, instead of letting shitty circumstances in the past dictate your days. I can speak from experience with this. It’s no good. And moving on with your life, though difficult, is vastly better than dwelling or becoming a victim.

    Mike and Jerry, keep making me laugh, grin, and giving us an awesome weekend once (or more!) a year. I promise a few of us still retain enough sanity and grip on reality that we don’t assume you’re the masterminds of the male super race of rape-ville.

    See? I made a rape joke. And it’s okay. Because I’m being silly and ridiculous. Clearly there’s no way a bunch of dudes could mastermind an entire male race with it’s own damn city. Based on the act of rape. Plus, it’d be hard for that to be sexist when it’s just a bunch of dudes. It’s not like I went over to Jane Doe and said “HAHA YOU GOT RAPED BITCH.” Nor did Mike, at any point, and he and Jerry made it very clear that neither of them support rape or harassment in any way. Just like Mike doesn’t care what gender you are or aren’t or want to be or whatever.

    Now that I’m done being a grouchy asshole…

    Otherwise, awesome podcast! He might be my favorite guest too Norm! :3

  11. It may just be the nostalgia kid in me, but I kinda want Nintendo to stay on it’s own platforms. That and the fact that gaming on phones is terrible. The DS and 3DS are fantastic and not all games would translate well to a touchpad or touch phone. I know it would be smart for them to, but I just don’t want to see their stuff only on smart phones, especially since I don’t have one!

  12. If anyone is curious about the full history of Dickwolves, there’s an excellent timeline here (part two here).

    My concern is with how the situation was handled on both sides and the toxic environment that has surrounded PAX. There were cheers and applause from the audience when Mike said the biggest mistake Robert Khoo made was pulling the t-shirts. There were cheers and applause and a single person shouting bring the t-shirts back (which was shot down by Mike and Robert). PAX is a big con, I’m hearing there was at least 90K in attendance this year (though numbers seem to be jumping between 80K-120K depending on who you ask), so it’s sadly unsurprising you have assholes in the bunch (I was hearing some pretty sad stories about theft and greed while standing in lines at PAX this year). At that panel, there was a crowd that felt safe enough to voice their approval at the statement.

    Let’s go back to January 2011. This is when was created in defense of Penny Arcade and Dickwolves (there was also DickWolvington, but it seems the account is gone). In February, they organized a flashmob (follow up image, can’t find the original tweet) for PAX East. I have no idea what the attendance of that flashmob was, but here was a group of people willing to band together and make a show of something at PAX.

    From the recent article at Wired

    Sampat also has firsthand experience with the dangers of criticizing Penny Arcade. This week, she posted an impassioned condemnation of Penny Arcade and PAX, outlining the company’s history of inappropriate public comments and behavior, as well as its failure to address the harassment and alleged assault of a volunteer by another volunteer at PAX East. Since then, she has received thousands of angry comments, including rape threats and death threats directed not only at her but at her children. (In 2010 and 2011, critics who wrote about the original dickwolves incidents were similarly flooded with harassment and rape threats.)

    (Mike did ask for harassment to stop on both sides back in 2011, but the post is gone.)

    What do all of these have in common? There is a vocal group that is willing to harass people and create a toxic and unsafe environment at PAX and they are not being called out on it. Mike had an opportunity to say something against the cheers and applause on Monday. He did not. He had a chance to say something in his recent apology on the website. He did not.

    We don’t aspire to be role models, just normal people, but we try to do what’s best with the platform we have. I can’t promise I won’t piss you off again at some point.

    That’s a quote from Mike from the apology mentioned above. They may not aspire to be role models, but as it stands, they are important members of the industry whether they like it or not. Look at the popularity of PAX. Look at Child’s Play. In 2010, Time listed them among the world’s top 100 influential people. They have a fan following, people listen to them. So that they aren’t using their platform to call out their fans on their harassing behavior is saddening. They may say PAX is an inclusive environment, but as long as they allow their fans to continue bullying others unchecked, that statement is untrue.

  13. Rape “Culture”, Will? Really?

    The PA guys may be jerks, there’s no better proof for that than destroying that one PR guy’s career.

    But prescribing such levels of maliciousness to their actions is just stupid and reactionary. Some people even claimed they were encouraging rape and that PAX was not a safe place for women. I mean WHAT???/

    And OF COURSE they reacted poorly to criticism. Because the criticism, in their eyes and I agree, was completely unfounded and overly sensitive.

  14. I have to say I’m a little disappointed that and are buying into the zeitgeist and sensationalist “journalism” around the dickwolves thing. The detractors are seriously making a mountain out of a mole hill and taking a single word way out of context just to get pageviews.

    Forget all the crap surrounding it and all the words that have been put in Mike’s mouth over the past few years(especially those since this year’s PAX) and go back and read the comic. Now ask yourself if that comic in anyway supports rape or a “rape culture”.

    The comic isn’t about rape at all, it’s about the ludicracy of MMO quest lines and the morality of the so called “heros” we play as, if anything the comic points rape out as a HORRIBLE thing that people should be saved from.

    Mike has described the mistakes and issues surrounding this many times but as you will know the trolls who are loudest and post the most influence opinion more than the actual facts. Read Mike’s posts about the issues, you’ll see that it’s all just a big misunderstanding and the recent comment about not removing the shirts was simply because it added more fuel to the fire. People were and are wrong on both sides here, it’s really just a lot of misunderstanding, putting words in peoples mouths, overreacting and beings dicks, for everyone involved not just Mike,

    It was a silly joke blown out of proportion and context.

  15. Norm’s enthusiasm for Dragon Con is great to hear. Also a big fan of podcast themes as I think it helps cement the mood and theme of a show. I’ve caught myself humming Tested, Giant Bombcast, Retronauts, and many others over the years.

  16. They may say PAX is an inclusive environment, but as long as they allow their fans to continue bullying others unchecked, that statement is untrue.

    PAX is very very different from the twitter people. PAX has always been (whenever I’ve been there and that I’ve ever heard from any attendees) an open place. The people on twitter may or may not attend PAX, and Mike has made it clear that the kind of harassment that happened isn’t good. It’s also a continuous stance that they take whenever people in the industry are hit with it. It’s also echoed by their news outlet at PAR. Those kinds of threats aren’t good for the community and are a general no-go for Penny Arcade.

    Mike’s been on the receiving end of his fair share of death threats and “I hope you die”s on Twitter as well. Without directly attacking any particular side he not only ended up with dozens of death threats but also somehow ended up being labeled and “Trans-phobe”, which wasn’t represented in his tweets. He also got his fair share when the whole dickwolves controversy began in the first place (along with some wrongly ironic “I hope you get raped” comments as well). It seems important to make it clear that it isn’t just people who openly support or oppose PA who get threats, it’s damn near everyone of any notability who even opens twitter and speaks openly.

    So, one of the important things I feel needs to be pointed out is this. Jerry wrote the first and second comics, Erica, Robert, Kiko and Brian created the shirts and pennants, and Mike was the one who signed off on taking them down when Robert came to him. In general Mike gets the flak because he’s “the bad one”, but everyone at the company took part. When Mike and Robert talked about taking the merch down as being a regret, it was because doing so re-engaged the conversation and was seen as them engaging in the debate about it. It had nothing to do with supporting any side of the argument any more than putting them up did. It was a merch opportunity, and that’s it.

    PA tries to take a hardline stance on not-engaging in the controversy they’re accused of. Mostly because no matter what they do, no matter how they act, and no matter what they say, the controversy will never turn around and no one driving controversy on the internet is interested in forgiveness or letting it go. There’s no end to it, and there’s a good reason why PR people just end up getting fired when they make a social media mistake. It’s because there are no second chances on the internet and it’s easier for a company to say “It was all [PR Person]’s fault, and we’ve fired them now”. Once there’s controversy on the internet, it just isn’t going to go away until the internet has a sacrifice.

    Every single year, at every single PAX, at every single Q&A since the merch went down someone asks about dickwolves and if they’ll come back. Every time Mike and Jerry reply with some version of “Hell no”. Yet there’s no end to people asking, and no end to people not wanting to drop either side of the controversy. Mike may have only told those particular twitter harassers to stop. He may have told everyone that it isn’t cool each time it happens no matter who it’s directed at. But if he doesn’t take every moment to tell people to stop, tell everyone that trying to turn rape into the main force of the comic is wrong on many levels, and tell people that he doesn’t support the raging side of the debate that say they are on “his side”, then he is forever going to be the a-hole of this subject, even though he’s already done all of that before.

    I just skimmed your response because I didn’t want to read 2200 words on Sunday night. My problem isn’t with the initial joke, but with how they responded to criticism. Selling merch about a joke that made people that uncomfortable is questionable. Encouraging users to come to a con wearing that shirt is wrong when their rules explicitly prohibit harassment.

    As I said earlier, I hadn’t read Mike’s response, which was posted just as we started recording. The reports we’d read up until that point seem to have misrepresented Mike’s intent, if not actual events on the panel Monday. If what Mike said is correct, it seems like this whole thing was blown way out of proportion, which is why I’m glad I said that I hadn’t formed an opinion yet, but if we’re going to talk about PAX, we need to acknowledge this.

    I also didn’t fully explain the comedian comment–a comedian on a stage responding to a heckler is a very different situation than a person a site like theirs responding to criticism on their site (which is huge), Twitter, and the like. The expected level of response is different based on the different venues.

    The entire thing is on Twitch.tv/PAX (as is the equal parts sad and hilarious Cards Against Humanity Panel you were on)


    Start around 2:12:17)

    Also worth pointing out how the crew reacts to the “r” word in the Pitch Your Game Idea panel (including 1 PA staffer, 1 guy who offices with PA, and 1 guy who is a regular friend of the PA crew). They flat out tell people that anything involving or nearing that word can just get out.

    Also as to the degree that Mike and Jerry control PAX, they don’t. PAR, Child’s Play, PAX. They don’t exercise any control or degree of direction towards what happens with these phenomena. They like to push forth the point that they don’t even control how many, where and which ones they will be attending. All that goes through the super-computer that is Robert Khoo. Khoo is the central pillar of Penny Arcade. Mike and Jerry are there to pitch Robert ideas and let Robert make them happen. Robert then does just that, and sets each up so that they run separately from Mike and Jerry but report back to Robert. So, Penny Arcade is still in control of PAX, but Mike and Jerry are not.

  17. You put it so much better than I could have, thanks for making that comment.

    I don’t comment on Tested at all normally, but this whole situation has frustrated me whenever I’ve seen it come up.

  18. Getting away from the controversy.

    I have a pebble. I like it because I don’t always have my phone on me, often wear headphones to listen to music and play games, and the pebble lets me know when people are calling me in a more noticeable way. I’ve missed calls even when I have my phone in my pocket, and the pebble is much more noticeable when it’s vibrating.

  19. This is easily the most reasoned conversation I’ve yet seen on the ongoing saga of PA offense. It’s nice to have a site where reading the comments isn’t always a source of regret.

  20. I strongly disagree with Norm and others who keep expressing this fervent desire for Nintendo to give up their hardware exclusivity and develop for Apple devices. 5 minutes with a jailbroken device and virtual controls, or with the vast majority of the bad only-touch controlled DS games, should be enough to kill this fantasy.

    Nintendo making this move would represent the same thing as a company going public and from then on having to explain all its future business decisions to cautious, manipulative shareholders, just to get a short term payout. Nintendo doesn’t need to do that, at least not anytime soon. They have 3 hit devices in their recent history, and only the Wii U as a failure. Some of their biggest successes have been based on wild hardware gimmicks. And most of all, having any of their major franchises available on Apple would badly hurt the marketability of their next portable and console.

    I think if people want Apple to have real games, that’s great. Maybe then Apple should give some serious consideration to designing actual controls on just one of their phone models. Maybe they should make first party games to establish the audience, if they want to attract third parties. Maybe they should not be so heavy handed on censoring adult content if they want real games, as opposed to mostly encouraging kid friendly games. Maybe they should consider more robust quality standards for the games available on their giant store if they want people to think of it as a place to buy premium $40 plus software, which is what Nintendo makes.

    Apple is just not making any of these decisions to encourage traditional gaming on their mobile devices. They historically have not cared much about gaming, it’s peripheral to their business model, as well as somewhat at odds with the Apple brand lifestyle. If they did make it a focus, then maybe Nintendo and others could afford to invest their limited development resources and brand reputation in those devices. Certainly they could make a stack of cash in the short term, nobody disputes that. But why should they do that? They don’t need short term gains, and they’re a very old company at this point, with few failures.

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