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The winners and the losers

Winner: The Salt Lake City School District held its second sale in two weeks Thursday. Surplus computers — only four or five years old and complete with operating systems — went for $25 apiece. But only for low-income families. Everyone else had to pay $100.

The idea was to help low-income families with kids in school to afford computers, which have become essential for research and communication. It's a great plan, and district officials ought to be commended. Our only hope is that the kids won't follow some of their more advantaged colleagues and spend all their spare time from now on playing games.

Loser: A week from today, the seagull statues that have adorned downtown Salt Lake City for several weeks will "fly away." The Seagullfest, which was designed to help charities, was a great idea — a good way to celebrate a bird that has deep and unique significance to many Utahns. But the way many people reacted to the birds has been, to say the least, disturbing. They've been vandalized, dumped on, sprayed with graffiti, stolen and broken. This has been done by what officials called ordinary, ornery people.

We don't pretend to understand it, but we hope the orneriness settles down before the cricket sculptures show up a year from now.

Loser: Americans were getting healthier and healthier, reducing disease and heart attacks — until about 1990. It's been pretty much all downhill since then, and mainly because people eat poorly, don't exercise enough and are overweight. That was the message Dr. Kenneth Cooper, a presidential physician, brought to Utah in a speech at Brigham Young University this week. This generation, he said, may be the first one with a shorter life-span than the previous one.

It was a sobering and timely message — enough to make you think about stocking up on vegetable platters, rather than cookies, for the upcoming holiday season.