Loser: We're not quite sure about the motives of an international security group — a bunch of hackers, actually — who exploited a flaw in AOL's Instant Messenger program recently and then wrote a program that could be used to take advantage of the flaw. One of the group's members is a 19-year-old student at Utah State University.
Using the flaw, someone could virtually take over a remote computer that was using Instant Messenger, delete files or do anything else imaginable. AOL said it would have liked notice of the flaw before the program was released. Many of the rest of us, who aren't nearly so computer literate, are left wondering if one day our computers will turn on us.
Winner: Students at the University of Utah are discovering the new TRAX line that heads to the school, and that is good news. Preliminary estimates are that about 5,000 people use the line each day, which is higher than what the Utah Transit Authority originally predicted. It may be too early to get an accurate read, however, because the semester hasn't gotten into full swing yet.
But the new line, which ends at Rice-Eccles Stadium, is sure to relieve some of the enormous parking pressures on campus. Then, of course, there is that 2 1/2-week thing called the Olympics, which will benefit from the line, as well.
Winner: For years, leaders in South Salt Lake have been struggling to rid the city of sexually oriented businesses, which tend to lower property values and increase crime. They may not succeed in actually closing down such places, but a ruling by 3rd District Judge Dennis Frederick this week helps them keep things under control. Frederick ruled that requiring dancers to be partially clothed, with G-strings and pasties, does not violate their constitutional free-speech rights. It is, he wrote, "a minimal restriction," which allows the dancers to still convey their message, whatever that may be.
Well, of course it is. The wonder is that courts have not allowed cities to impose even greater restrictions.
The attorney for the strip clubs plans to appeal to the Utah Supreme Court. We trust the justices will see things as Frederick did. The naked truth is that strip club owners are less concerned with free speech than they are with cash.
Loser: Last year was a record-breaker for murders in Utah, and this year didn't start out too promising, either. Police reported four separate shootings around Salt Lake County just after midnight on New Year's Day. None of the victims was killed, fortunately. Just before the new year came, another man was stabbed at a local convenience store because he came too close to the assailant's car. He, too, is expected to recover.
Unfortunately, the days of a declining crime rate in this area may be over, which could place further burdens on police, the courts and other public institutions.