Washington resident John Lockwood was wandering through Borders bookstore at 18th and L streets NW, where he couldn't help but notice that a prankster had carefully placed a copy of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" on the "Noteworthy Fiction" shelf.
"A bookstore is seldom a place where one meets with temptation, but I underwent just such a trial," Mr. Lockwood admits. "I was mightily tempted to leave it where it was. After all, there was Al on the cover, wearing that look of earnest self-satisfaction ...
"But no, I was a good citizen and put it back in its proper place."
Paint it white
Our "Huff and puff and ... " item about former President Bill Clinton encouraging homeowners to skip the tar and shingles and lay sod roofs on their homes and offices generated considerable reaction -- even from as far away as Guam.
Mr. Clinton recently told a Washington audience that to be more energy-efficient, America must engage in "relentless home improvement," including resorting to sod roofs, which are far cooler than tar roofs in the summer.
"Sounds great doesn't it -- a 'sod roof.' It will be a hoot mowing it," writes a South Carolina building contractor. "Whatever happened to people just dealing with the heat of hot days using fans to circulate the air inside and wearing light, loose clothing during hot months, and [in winter] heavier clothing in and out of the home and heating with wood-burning stoves? (Less polluting than oil.) We've become a nation of spoiled brats."
Meanwhile, an employee of Halliburton Energy Services writes: "Do you have any idea how much dead weight sod would add to your roof joists? At least at on, and then that would at least double in weight after the first rain. At which point you will find your new sod roof sitting on your floor in the kitchen and bedroom.
"There is a simple alternative, which I have done to my own house: Paint your roof shingles white! I live in Houston, which is even hotter in the summer than up north in Washington, D.C. After I painted my asphalt shingles white,the temperature drop was dramatic.
"Years ago, commercial buildings had already traded black tar roofs for white or light-gray coloring. In the last couple of years, yellow school buses(with no air conditioning) are now seen on our streets with white tops. It's simple: white color reflects solar energy better and cheaper than anything else."
Finally, Loretta Werres of Ocean View, Del., wonders: "Did anyone in the audience ask Mr. Clinton how his sod roof was performing?"
Build it strong
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have brought something good to Louisiana after all -- the proposed creation of a National Hurricane Museum and Science Center in southwest Louisiana, which following a voice vote now has the support of Congress.
Among other museum highlights, the future center will chronicle and showcase all U.S. hurricanes of record, memorialize all victims and preserve artifacts and personal histories of those who suffered, interpret the effects of hurricanes on land, people, culture and heritage, and showcase improvements in meteorology.
The presidency of Franklin Pierce is about "to emerge from the fog of history, and on the eve of the 2008 election," book publicist Jayme Simoes tells Inside the Beltway.
Why is the timing significant?
Author Peter A. Wallner concludes that much of what transpired during the administration of Pierce, uniformly ranked among the nation's worst presidents, is relevant 150 years later as he, too, confronted proposed restrictions on open immigration, threats to individual liberties and the "unchecked" growth of presidential power, particularly in time of war.
"Franklin Pierce: Martyr for the Union," due out in the coming weeks, recalls Pierce's friendships with Nathaniel Hawthorne and Jefferson Davis, and his encounters with Dorothea Dix, Stephen A. Douglas, Winfield Scott, William H. Seward and Abraham Lincoln.
Just the facts
Washington Times senior investigative reporter Jerry Seper, who focuses on federal law enforcement, terrorism, homeland security and immigration, has been chosen to receive the 2007 Hodding Carter Journalism Award, to be presented later this month by the Northern Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA).
"He continues to do an outstanding job in focusing on the critical and important issue of immigration and border control," says Karen L. Bune, executive council member and chair of the ASPA awards committee. "He keeps the issue in the forefront of public awareness by presenting the facts objectively and completely."