* Winner: When it comes to computers, Utah (the Wasatch Front, anyway) tops the nation - at least in terms of the number that are in homes. According to a recent study, almost 65 percent of households in the Salt Lake area have home computers, compared with the national average of 49.4 percent. Salt Lake even has a higher percentage of computers than Silicon Valley itself - the San Francisco area ranks second on the list at 63.8 percent.
There also is the strong possibility that a number of computers in Salt Lake are used primarily for genealogical research. Wonder where the San Francisco folks rank in that area of use?Loser: If you're looking for the Grinch who stole Christmas, look no further than the NCAA. Displaying its uncanny ability to look foolish and to make institutions mad, college sports' governing body solidified its dubious reputation by refusing to accept a form decrying playing sports on Sunday a few minutes after a self-imposed 5 p.m. Monday deadline.
A total of 100 petitions would have automatically overturned a rule having championships in various sports on Sunday. The NCAA had 99 petitions in hand when one by Boise State arrived close to the deadline. There was confusion as to whether Boise State even had a chance to send it in on time. The NCAA after a special meeting decided to hold fast (more petitions arrived the next morning).
Don't be shocked, NCAA, when schools get together for their own special meeting and put you out of business.
* Winner: It's a bird, it's a plane, it's . . . Actually, it's a flightless bird, New Zealand's takahe, thought to be extinct until its rediscovery 50 years ago. Thanks to researchers who are raising them by hand at New Zealand's Fiordland National Park, the takahe is edging away from the brink of extinction. The takahe, unique to New Zealand, became a flightless bird due to the abundance of food and absence of ground-dwelling mammals in the remote bush land in the southernmost region of New Zealand. As they say, a bird in the hand. . . .
Loser: Federal prosecutors lost a routine plea-bargain tactic when the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled U.S. attorneys cannot offer anything of value in exchange for a defendant's testimony. Government lawyers hoping to bolster a case with cooperation of inside sources will now have a more difficult time doing so.
The Denver appellate court said when testimony is "purchased" through such methods, "the judicial process is tainted and justice cheapened." That seems an unusual argument for tactics regularly used to settle a case. One wonders if this more pure form of justice will also result in more guilty parties getting off the hook as the leverage of prosecutors is weakened.