BY CHARLES MEMMINGER – Who would have thought that with all the really cool Hawaiian words like “Aloha,” “Mahalo,” and “Humuhumunukunukuapua’a”, that the humble “wiki” would become the most famous Hawaiian word in the world?
I mean, I would have put my money on some dynamic, longer, more vowel-fortified words like “Kaaawa” (ka-ah-ah-va), “muumuu” (moo-oo-moo-oo) or “Banzai Pipeline” (ban-zai pee-pay-leen-aye) to break out on the international stage.
But it is the humble “wiki” on everyone’s lips from Baghdad to Moscow to Washington D.C. “Wiki” means “quick” and wiki raced across the globe faster than a mongoose on kava.
First “wiki” appeared with that Internet font of sometimes questionable information called Wikipedia, the ubiquitous free encyclopedia.
Wikipedia quickly became the fastest and most popular way to find out anything about anything, even yourself since you basically can go on Wikipedia and submit an entry glorifying your personal history as a three-time Nobel Prize winner, two-time Canadian curling champion and one-time ruler of a small, unknown country AND NO ONE WILL KNOW YOU MADE IT ALL UP! Do you know how hard it is to slip a personal biography into the Encyclopedia Britannica? They are just soooo picky. (And, thanks to Wikipedia, going out of business.)
Wikipedia has become the primary source of information for high school and college students writing term papers and the subsequent cause of a spike in C-Plus grades. (Professor’s Note: “Nice try, Billy. But Hannibal Lecter he did NOT ride elephants over Alps.” )
The word “wiki” has most recently become famous, or infamous, in connection with the website WikiLeaks, an evil net portal run by a James Bondian villain by the name of Julian Assange. Unlike 007 bad guys like Dr. No and Goldfinger who were out to take over the world, Assange’s goal seems to be just to tick people off by releasing secret documents to the general public. While Bond’s adversaries like Odd Job and Pussy Galore were dangerous people, Assange’s claim to fame is simply being annoying on a global level. It’s not Assange’s fault that he figured out how to turn computer geekiness into an international security threat – it’s his parents’ fault for naming him “Julian.” Julians never come to any good. It’s a sissy name and when given to an obvious sissy like Assange, it’s going to create severe psychological loopiness. Assange is the kind of guy who, as a young boy, likely wrote computer programs that pulled virtual wings off of virtual flies and set virtual fires to virtual squirrels. I don’t know how he handled the virtual bed-wetting.
Anyway, Assange, who as far as I know is not a Hawaiian language expert, nevertheless named his website Wikileaks and proceeded to quickly unleash “document dumps” on the public of secret government cables, e-mails, missives and sleazy stuff jotted down at embassy cocktail parties on iNapkins. (Professor’s Note: Are they leaks or dumps, Julian? You gotta pick one, son.”)
I’ve been reading some of the released documents and some are quite entertaining. I particularly like Saudi King Abullah’s recommendation to U.S. counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan on how to track released terrorist detainees: Implanting electronic chips in detainees and tracking their movements on Bluetooths. This was done with horses and falcons, the King pointed out. A Kuwaiti minister had a better idea. He suggested the U.S. should release Gitmo detainees back into Afghanistan where they could be killed in combat. I’m not making either of those up.
I have no idea why the U.S. government didn’t act on these seemingly quite reasonable ideas. I suggest we combine the two and call it the Gitmo Aloha and Mahalo WikiRelease Program.