The state of Utah is expanding its air quality alert system to include six colors instead of three. But for the average citizen, the only important color is blue, which is what you turn when you no longer can breathe.

At higher pollution levels, people will be encouraged to avoid outdoor exercise. From my observations, this is no problem for the vast majority of people, even on clear days.

We're happy to do our civic duty and remain sedentary. Would it help if we ate some chocolate, too?

Utah's valleys are the reason Santa Claus has to carry fog lights and specially designed reindeer oxygen masks on his sleigh.

Why is it that when the government spends more money than it has, we call it a fiscal cliff and say it threatens the economy, but when Black Friday comes and average people spend more than they have, we cheer and say the economy is recovering?

If a majority of Americans think it's time to tax the rich more in order to solve the nation's problems, why did so many people go ga-ga last week over the lottery, the only tax scheme that tries to fool the poor into giving up their rent money?

The Powerball produced two winners last week. The bad news is they instantly went from the 47 percent to the 1 percent, which means, if Democrats get their way, they soon will be paying 39.6 percent. Got that?

I don't want to say negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" in Washington are discouraging, but you might want to ask Santa for some rappelling equipment this year.

A congressional committee held a hearing last week to consider getting rid of dollar bills and replacing them with coins. When asked their opinion, millions of holiday shoppers paused with their credit cards and smart phone payment apps in hand and said, "What are bills and coins?"

Switching to dollar coins would save billions each year. Switching to thin air, which is where most of your money goes anyway, would save even more.

Here's an alternative for those who want to keep paper dollars: Reduce their size each year commensurate with the inflation rate. That would save paper and ink costs, and when a dollar becomes the size of something your paper shredder might produce, people will clamor for coins.

You could hardly blame The People's Daily in China for thinking The Onion was serious when it named North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the "sexiest man alive" last week. Say what you want about Western culture, we don't generally joke about such things.

Jay Evensen is the associate editor of the Deseret News editorial page. Follow him on Twitter @jayevensen.