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Bloomberg.com reports that while economists have overwhelmingly ridiculed the idea of suspending the gas tax over the summer, Hillary Clinton has continued to stick to her guns. Clinton, after hearing that the economists thought the idea was ridiculous, stated:

I’m not going to put my lot in with economists

Ya know, it’s perfectly fine to say that you’re not going to listen to a consensus of football players giving you advice on filling out your taxes. Or a large group of lawyers giving you advice on how to paint your house. But generally, if you’re untrained in a subject, and practically an entire professional field gives you advice on the subject they specialize in, you should probably listen. And if you’re not going to listen, you’d better have a darned good explanation beyond “I know where you’re coming from, small folk,” for why you’re deviating from trained professionals. So Hillary (and Mr. McCain): if it makes sense to suspend gas taxes, please come forward and explain why rather than giving the same old pandering political speeches about how you’re trying to help “the little guy.” Call me an elitist, but I would rather that economic decisions follow the advice of trained professionals than “the little guy,” who hasn’t learned a thing about economics in his entire life.

But this isn’t even about elitists versus “the common folk.” This is about whether we want to help the country or hurt it. If I had a choice between having a mechanic fix my car or a random neighbor, why the heck would I pick the neighbor? And if I have a choice between having Hillary Clinton or John McCain making economic policy based on hunches or someone who is going to defer to a trained professional, I’m surely going to pick the person who defers to the trained professional.

This proposal to suspend the gas tax sickens me. This is why I hate politics so much.

Please note that this is not an endorsement of Barack Obama. He’s got plenty of problems, too, the gas tax is just an area where he pseudo-shines.

Update 5/6/2008: Greg Mankiw writes:

Why, then, are candidates proposing the holiday? I can think of three hypotheses:

Ignorance: They don’t know that the consensus of experts is opposed.

Hubris: They know the experts are opposed, but they think they know better.

Mendacity with a dash of condescension: They know the experts are opposed, and they secretly agree, but they think they can win some votes by pulling the wool over the eyes of an ill-informed electorate.

So which of these three hypotheses is right? I don’t know, but whichever it is, it says a lot about the character of the candidates.

Update 5/7/2008: From The Wall Street Journal

John McCain and Hillary Clinton want to send cash-strapped consumers on holidays from the federal gasoline tax. But the law they can’t rewrite — the law of supply and demand — suggests it would backfire. Lower taxes would encourage people to drive more, meaning more demand that would push prices higher again.

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My Story:

Three years ago, I noticed my left middle fingernail began turning white instead of its normal healthy pink. I did not know what was going on, but after a few weeks, the entire nail became white and flaky. At first I did not think much of it, but then I started getting regular questions along the lines of “what the heck is wrong with your nail, you freak?” Subsequently, I decided to go to the doctor.

After a short appointment, the doctor told me I had “onychomycosis,” which means nail fungus in regular-person language. He said that I needed to take a medication called Lamisil for two months. That sounded easy enough. But there was a catch: I needed to get a blood test to make sure that my liver could handle the medication.

At that point, since I like my liver, I asked the doctor if I had any other options. I told him I understood the medication was probably more convenient than the other options, but that I would much rather see if I could try a solution that didn’t involve damaging my liver. He told me this was my only option, and that if I did not take the Lamisil, my nail would grow thick and I would get frequent fingernail infections and live with constant fingernail pain. He then wrote me a prescription for Lamisil, using a pen with the Lamisil logo, and I walked out of his office dreading what might happen to my finger if I did not take the drug.

After I picked up the medication, I drove home and googled Lamisil. According to Lamisil’s own website, the pill has a number of side effects. Besides the fact that the drug is tough on your liver, the side effects of Lamisil include:

Headache, which occurred in 12.9% of patients, gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea (5.6%), upset stomach (4.3%), taste disturbances (2.8%), nausea (2.6%), abdominal pain (2.4%), flatulence (2.2%), rash (5.6%), itching (2.8%), hives (1.1%), and abnormalities in laboratory tests of liver enzymes (3.3%).

People who have taken Lamisil have reported a number of other side effects as well. Personally, my life was pretty hellish during my two months on Lamisil. Why? Because I didn’t sleep hardly at all during those two months. The entire time I was on Lamisil my heart was racing. When I tried to lay down in bed I could feel the bed shake because my heart was beating so hard. But nevertheless, I finished my two month medication, in hopes that my fingernail would look better. Alas, even six months after finishing the medication, it looked like this:

My fungus fingernail
My fingernail six months after Lamisil and before vinegar treatment

The medication did me no good. When I finished taking it, I noticed a tiny sliver of pink, healthy nail growing in to my fingernail. However, within a year my entire nail was white again. Thus, I decided to seek out alternatives to Lamisil. It turns out, the doctor who prescribed the medication to me was not entirely honest. There are alternatives to Lamisil, and I found out that at least one of them works extremely well, as long as you’re willing to commit to doing it every day until the fungus is gone.

What This Article is About:

I am writing this article because there is very little information on the internet about how to cure fingernail fungus without resorting to Lamisil. After lots of research, and personal experience, I discovered one solution and have found some other solutions that look promising.

Solution #1: Vinegar. Put vinegar (or Nonyx Gel) on the base of your infected nail (where the nail begins) in the morning, after you shower, and at night until the entire nail is pink and healthy.

I am convinced that I cured my fingernail fungus with this remedy. This remedy consists of applying vinegar or Nonyx gel to the base of your infected nail in the morning, after you shower, and at night, every day until your nail is completely clear. The rationale behind this remedy is that fungus cells can’t stand acidic environments, and vinegar is acidic, so it can stop the fungus from spreading on your nail. Technically, you’re not killing the fungus, you’re just preventing it from growing, and as the nail grows out, the fungus gets clipped off. Here is how my nail looks right now:

IMG_1545
My fingernail, almost completely healed after vinegar treatment

I discovered this remedy via a website called Ask Dr Stoll. Basically, Dr. Stoll recommends that people buy distilled white vinegar and use an eye dropper to drop two drops on the base of the nail (where the nail begins), every morning and night. I recommend putting vinegar on your nail every morning, after you shower or get the nail wet in any way, and at night.

The only problem with using simple vinegar is that it easily rolls off your nail and does not soak in very well. Thus, I bought this stuff at the pharmacy called Nonyx. It is essentially vinegar and xanthan gum. I like it because it makes the vinegar into a paste, so you can apply it to your nail, and as long as you don’t rub your nail against stuff, it will dry and the vinegar will have more time to soak in to the nail. After using Nonyx for several months, my nail is almost entirely clear and pink. Instead of dropping vinegar on my finger, I just squeeze out a bit of the Nonyx gel, rub it onto the nail using the tip of the bottle, and go on my way. The only downside of the Nonyx is the bottle is $20, which is a lot for vinegar paste.

Nonyx
Nonyx

If you have toenail fungus (I have that, too), you can put Nonyx on even if you are going to wear socks. After you put the Nonyx on your nails, roll your socks before you put them on so your toes don’t touch any part of the sock except for the part they will touch while you are wearing the sock, then unroll the sock up your foot so the vinegar doesn’t rub against the rest of the sock.

Some people say you need to use an emery board every night to file down your nails and a hair dryer to dry them off to discourage fungal growth. I never did this, although I am sure it helps speed up the process.

Until you have cured the fungus, do your best to keep the nail dry as much as possible. It’s a pain sometimes, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. The fungus likes moisture, so the less moisture you give it, the better. I get it wet in the shower, but try to keep it dry elsewhere.

The one problem with this remedy is that it takes quite a long time to completely cure the fungus. I have spent about five months applying Nonyx to my nail every single day. Based on what I have read online, you need to do this until the nail is completely healed, and you need to do it every day. But if you’re willing to stick to the plan, the results are fantastic.

Solution #2: Soaking in Vinegar/Hydrogen Peroxide, Followed by Soaking in Bleach, Followed by Using a Topical Antifungal Creme, Followed by Filing with an Emery Board.

I discovered this remedy via the Earth Clinic website. Basically, every night, you soak your nails for 20 min in a 50/50 vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, then afterward, soak your nail for a minute in a 3/2 bleach and water solution. After that, you apply a topical antifungal creme, and every once in a while, use an emery board to file down the nail. I tried this remedy, and I was having some success, but it was extremely time consuming and uncomfortable. Plus, I was starting to get bleach burns on my finger from the bleach. If you do this, make sure you do a couple of things. First, don’t soak your finger in bleach for too long – it can really burn. Secondly, always soak in vinegar first… if you soak in bleach first the vinegar burns a lot. Finally, make sure you have a paper towel nearby, because you don’t want to spill vinegar or bleach on the carpet or wipe it on your clothes.

Failed Attempts:

The following are things I tried to do that yielded no results or I gave up on, but might be worth a shot:

  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Vick’s Vapor Rub
  • And check out some of the other Earth Clinic remedies.

If you have personally had any success with fingernail or toenail fungus remedies, please share in the comments.

Disclaimer:

Please try these remedies at your own risk. I believe that using vinegar to get rid of fungus is safer than using Lamisil, but I am not a doctor. I am only a moderately proficient googler who cares about his liver.

Also, some people tell me there are different kinds of nail fungus, and apparently vinegar might not work on all types of fungus. Therefore, I cannot guarantee any one of these solutions will work.

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Hulu.com is the coolest website ever.  On it, you can watch full length episodes of a ton of TV Shows and some full-length movies for free.  They have lots of popular shows like The Office, The Simpsons, etcetera, but they even have one of my favorite obscure shows of all time: Jack of All Trades!  The website just launched today, but based on my test viewing of one episode of Jack of All Trades, it runs really smooth and is very easy to use.  When watching, the only interruption is a commercial once every 10 minutes or so, and the commercials are only about 25 seconds each, which is not bad at all.  I highly recommend checking Hulu out.

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Mar/08

10

Awesome Fuel Economy

If you want to get good fuel economy, sit ten feet behind a tractor trailer.  You barely have to touch the gas.  I just filled up my Toyota Camry and averaged 36 miles per gallon, after driving in tons of wind, and 1/3 of that tank city driving.  I average 36, but if you net out the city stuff and the wind, and the fact that the drive had a net elevation climb of a few thousand feet, I was probably in the mid 40s.  All hail gigantic trucks that get 2 miles per gallon that allow commoners like me to draft off of them.

P.S. I swear it’s safe.  I mean, think about how long it takes a truck to brake.  Even if you’re close to the truck, unless you fall asleep at the wheel you won’t crash into it when it starts to slow down.

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Here are my 2007 New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Reduce Personal Road Rage: I’m not an angry person, except when I’m in the car.  When someone shines their high beams in my eyes, or cuts me off, or if I take a wrong turn, it drives me up the wall.  I hope I can calm down a little bit in the future, so I’m putting this on the resolution list.  In order to accomplish this goal, I’m going to leave a little bit earlier for my destination every trip, and I’m going to use the GPS my girlfriend gave me for Christmas when I’m going somewhere new.
  2. Take Personal Responsibility More Often: I’m not a huge complainer, but every now and then, I make excuses for why things didn’t exactly go my way, and the fact that I do bugs me.  I’m going to make a bigger effort to take responsibility for ALL of my own actions.
  3. Become More Confident in Law School: I oftentimes feel like I’m just trying to keep my head above water in law school because everyone else is so smart.  Well, I was admitted there, too, so it’s not like I’m deficient compared to my classmates.  I’m going to stop being in awe of my peers.
  4. Stay Fit: I’ve always been a fitness nut, but at the end of last semester, before finals, I really let up on my training.  I resolve to stay on top of my running and try to run a few races this upcoming year, at least.
  5. Become More Efficient: Although I am an efficiency nut as well (I was an Econ major in undergrad), I don’t consider myself to be a very efficient worker.  I hope to find the time to implement a more efficient schoolwork schedule, perhaps by implementing David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” program, which I frequently hear good things about.

Post your New Year’s Resolutions, gimme-five’s two readers!

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