The winners and the losers

Published: Saturday, Dec. 7 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

This photo provided by NBC shows, from left, Sophia Ann Caruso as Brigitta, Ariane Rinehart as Liesl, Michael Nigro as Friedrich, Grace Rundhaug as Marta, Carrie Underwood as Maria, Ella Watts-Gorman as Louisa, Peyton Ella as Gretl, and Joe West as Kurt, in "The Sound of Music Live!" airing Thursday, December 5, 2013, on NBC.

Will Hart, Associated Press

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Winner: NBC is to be commended for dedicating three hours to a live production of The Sound of Music during prime time on Thursday. Yes, we’ve read the criticisms and agree the production was not flawless, but it has been so long since television produced anything worthy of a family experience that Americans may have been unsure how to react. The production garnered a strong viewership. Early indications are it was the network’s largest audience since 2004. We hope this means more live-theater family friendly programs are on the way.

Loser: The Oxford English Dictionary garnered attention recently for making “selfie” the word of the year. A “selfie” is a photograph one takes of one’s self, most often with a cell phone or other small device ideally suited for such a thing. While there is nothing inherently wrong with self-portraits dotting the Internet landscape, self-absorption in modern life seems to be reaching epidemic proportions. That’s the opposite of the spirit we would like to see, especially this time of year. We like the idea of the “unselfie,” espoused by organizers of the recent Day of Giving. This involves taking a photo of someone else doing an unselfish act. Unlike with selfies, these kinds of photos aren’t likely to come back to haunt you years later as you sit in a job interview.

Winner: It’s been a long time since the monthly jobs report from the Labor Department made people happy. November’s figures, released Friday, did just that. The unemployment level fell to 7 percent and 203,000 new jobs were added. Analysts, ever anxious to keep the rest of us from getting too excited, speculated that the figures may have been exaggerated by the return to work of federal employees temporarily laid off by the partial government shutdown. But the figures do represent a continuing trend of increasing payroll numbers that may signal, finally, a resurgent economy.

Loser: Privatization is not always the best answer. The folks in Cottonwood Heights learned this the hard way during a recent snowstorm. The private company the city hired to plow the streets, Terracare Associates, didn’t get the job done. After fielding complaints from residents, Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore called it one of the city’s top five failures since he first was elected in 2004. We hope they get the problem solved soon. Winter shows no signs of giving up.

Winner: A century ago, Salt Lake City had one of the finest networks of streetcar lines anywhere in the nation. A combination of factors including strategic purchases by tire, petroleum and automobile companies, urban sprawl and the popularity of affordable automobiles put an end to those days. Today the city finally is opening a new streetcar line, which will run from the Central Pointe TRAX stop to Sugar House. We wish the project well. It will be interesting to see whether ridership on the line, which will feature slow-moving, frequently stopping trolleys, will justify the expense and begin a trend that turns back the clock to an earlier time when gas prices and repairs didn’t take up so much of a family’s budget.

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