Air Time: WikiLeaks Julian Assange, Hellish Gordon Ramsay

    The fact that Julian Assange, the now widely-known founder of WikiLeaks, looks like Bill Maher without the hair slicked back, did initially catch me off guard.

    Gordon Ramsay
    He developed a style of mentoring that makes an army drill sergeant look like a newborn penguin - AmericaWay article on celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay
    Gordon Ramsay
    "He developed a style of mentoring that makes an army drill sergeant look like a newborn penguin" - AmericanWay article on celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay

    I wondered how the TED audience would react to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and his quest for “freedom of speech.” Would they be receptive to his views, and his ability to influence global politics? Then there’s that crazy guy in the kitchen: Gordon Ramsay. As I learned in an AmericanWay article, the penchant for profanities “appears built straight into his DNA.”

    So what do both of these celebrities of the moment have in common? They both pre-occupied part of the flight from SFO-ORD, as I head to Ottawa for a vacation with my parents.

    Once again, TED downloads did me big favors. Start watching these clips, and you might wonder why the flight was so short. I always–yes, always–find them engaging and intriguing. But more on that and Julian Assange in a moment.

    I always thumb through the in-flight magazine, and since August just hit there was a fresh copy of AmericanWay. Like a lot of print magazines these days, it’s toned down; in fact, I’d suggest it looks slightly unhealthy. There’s usually a good article or two. Unlike United, I find them less travel-oriented (e.g. favorite restaurant?! favorite hotel?!) and focused on celebrity and slightly more in-depth content. Choose your poison… just depends on the mood. It matters less these days — my in-flight entertainment normally comes from iPod Touch anyways.

    But what is it with Gordon Ramsay, another hot-head (at least on television) in the increasingly crowded field of celebrity chefs?

    Turns out, AW Editor Adam Pitluk is not exactly enamored with his PR team. At least I surmise that Pitluk was referring to Ramsay in his editorial (“Honor at the End of the Day”) which rails against a celebrity who’s PR firm wanted final editorial control over the copy. This, explains Pitnuk, is a journalism no-no, as it gives the subject the ability to write the story. Instead, he had a research assistant send over 26 facts that Ramsay’s PR team could verify. Again, note that Pitluk never specifically states that this is Gordon Ramsay’s team, so I’m making a big assumption here. However, all signs point to yes. Regardless if it was Ramsay or some other celebrity, however, I find it presumption (and annoying) that a celebrity would put a media outlet through these kinds of hoops, knowing full well the rules of engagement in advance.

    The article itself on Gordon Ramsay, by Nicole Alper, was interesting to read if only because I’m trying to figure out why the unrelenting fascination with chefs and cooking. It’s quite astonishing. Cooking shows are everywhere, and most, sadly, employ a rehashed, taudry reality formula. I did get a kick every time Ramsay refers to rival celebrity chef Mario Batali as, “Fanta Pants!”

    TED – Julian Assange

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

    The fact that Julian Assange, the now widely-known founder of WikiLeaks, looks like Bill Maher without the hair slicked back, did initially catch me off guard. However, there were no punch lines to be found. Instead, this TED presentation was actually an interview… the first I’ve watched using that format. And it worked well. The crowd was subdued, listening intently and occasionally watching graphic video (an Apache helicopter strike in Afghanistan) as Assange explained why these leaks were necessary and unlike real secrets, such as patient-doctor records.

    The ramifications of his tiny volunteer organization are huge, and geo-political. Election outcomes are transformed because of a well-timed leak.

    How does he get this information?

    Documents are mailed (the old fashioned way), emailed, and sometimes handed to people from the organization. There is a strong element of snakes and ladders that leads me to believe this business is not for the feint of heart.

    He received overwhelmingly positive support from the TED audience, including a convincing standing ovation.

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