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James Hoban knew the White House Well

He was born in Ireland in 1758 and died in Washington, DC in 1831.

He did important architectural work in the Mid Atlantic and Southern states.  

He was the designer and architect of the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Mr. Hoban also supervised the restoration of the White House after it was destroyed in the War of 1812. 


by Richard Sheehan

for Mago  Bill


New Political Organization

Many in the US and elsewhere are considering brand new political organizations.

They want organizations capable of working with large numbers of active citizens effectively. They want to do that which effectively furthers their aims right now. We might analyze those aims into organizational aims and platform aims, but here I will just offer the first draft of a "to do" list. The items on our list might be helpful to any organization, but I offer them as an aid to a new political organization.

To do now:

  • Restate clarified (party) goals and aims.
  • Arrange to have each member to help in achieving those aims.
  • Arrange to take care of all business promptly.
  • Arrange for the ongoing education of all embers.
  • Make each member an educator.
  • Keep in mind that teaching on another is important. Outside help is seldom as good as that which we do for ourselves. As we teach, so we learn.
  • Demonstrate abundant and appropriate trust for each member.  
  • The fewer secrets the better and "no secrets" is the best policy.
  • Be inclusive. Help anyone and everyone who wants to be a member, to be a member.
  • Let each member know that he or she is important to building and maintaining the organization, its philosophy, and its dongs.
  • Lay out clear steps for important and doable goals and plans of your organization.
  • A goal must not only be important and doable, but also a truly attractive, challenging, big deal.
  • Set out two or three goals/doings to be worked on today. You will want an organization wherein there are happenings right now.
  • Every member needs a job they can do right now.
  • Make clarifying the "grand vision" of your organization an ongoing activity. (Learning and teaching participatory, democratic, self-governance would be an attractive "grand vision" for me.)  
  • Aim to govern yourselves by practicing self-governance. Begin with teach-ins.


May you find that my early hints lead you to thoughts of your own organizational plans and actions. I wish you active citizenship.



by Richard Shehan  

for Mago Bill

From Taoist Writers of Around About 1700

I find something attractive about a philosopher who laughs with me. I have enjoyed the humor of certain Chinese Taoists. I find much of their writing witty and accessible. Much is also wise and usable.

Their use of a phrase like the following has moved my thinking and perceiving in useful ways:

  • Accept the reality of the available freedom.
  • Easy does it.
  • Attend to your energy reserve.
  • No regrets.
  • Set your burden down and enjoy the water. 
  • The door is not locked.
  • Peacefully rejoice in reality.
  • Know the joyful security wandering where there is no path.
  • Enjoy your wit and romantic adventures.
  • Is it really so?
  • Great knowledge and long life.
  • How do you know that it is so?
  • Be little moved by praise and blame
  • Discriminate.
  • Be clear about the nature of honor and disgrace.
  • Small self, little vanity.
  • Know the rule without ruling.
  • Know you
  • Be willing to know the quality of your perception.
  • Let go of the clutter and the trivia.
  • Nothing is useless.
  • All is useful.
  • As you smell the roses, hear the music.
  • Nothing depends on your point of view.
  • As you speak, be aware of how little you know.
  • Your opinion is changing at this instant
  • Let them be.
  • How can we understand it all in one day?
  • Clarify your understanding today,
  • Embrace reality.
  • Day-dream and smile. 

I guess I need to learn some taoist jokes. I did not include much humor here. Still, you might be moved to smile or laugh as you contemplate one of the phrases. 



by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill

Your "revolution" and Napoleon's

Napoleon Bonaparte, a leading republican of Europe, was willing to become Emperor of France. Most of Republican France welcomed Napoleon as Emperor! There may be a lesson or two to be learned from that bit of history.

Napoleon did bring reforms to Europe in the fields of education, science, and in a variety of cultural areas. Some of those works of his could be called republican. 

The legal system called the Napoleonic Code influenced most of Europe and much of the Eastern world. Much of the law of the U.S. state of Louisiana was founded on Napoleonic law.

Napoleon was a warrior. a leader of armies. Some say he won a war against Russia. To attack Russia, he left home with half a million men, the largest army to be assembled in Europe until that time. He returned home with about 20,000 men and "the shirt on his back."

He met his Waterloo in a battle against Prussia and GB, in which Prussia saved Britain's bacon. 

After Waterloo GB, Spain, Prussia, Russia, Austria, and others joined one another for suppressing liberal movements throughout Europe.

Lessons might begin with questions like:                                                                                                               

  • Why do the histories of so many revolutions seem revolting?
  • Why might a republican be willing to become an Emperor?
  • What could be the responsibilities of the citizens of a republic?
  • Where might your revolution be headed?


by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill




Grasslands of South America: some short notes

In North America, there are prairies and plains. In South America there are pampas and llanos. All four are relatively level grasslands.

In the south of South America one often hears the word pampas. In the north of that continent, one more often hears the word llanos. All of these wide grasslands have their stories. The following may be taken as a kind of appetizer for those stories. 

Only 10,000 years ago people were killing and eating doedicurus not far from the present location of the great Argentinian city of Buenos Aires. I case you are not well acquainted with the doedicurus, they are a kind of glyptodont. You might  want to call those doing the killing and eating, America Indians.

In the late 1500s Spanish Americans began to settle the pampas. By 1833 there were about 40 million (million!) head of 'wild' cattle on the Argentinian grasslands. These cattle were the offspring of those bought and "lost" by the earlier explorers and settlers. Sounds reminiscent of happenings in North America, doesn't it? During the increase of these heards on the Pampa there was a decrease in the numbers of Native Americans there. Between that 'increase' and 'decrease' one might imagine an interesting story or two.

Heading to the north of the continent we could learn about Laneros, men and women of the llanos. Llaneros formed most of Bolivar's cavalry. That cavalry did much to overthrow Spanish rule over the people of the continent in the 1820s.  Descendants of those Llneros can still be found in the llanos of Colombia and Venezuela. Some of them now resist the dominion of "Yankee Capital and Imperialism." I famous old song contains the refrain, "Sobre mi caballo, solo yo; y sobre yo solo mi sombrero" Its about liberty and freedom. In English, it might go "Over my horse, only me; and over me, only my hat." 

Among the first noted horsemen to explore the llanos were German "conquistadors" who's patrons had loaned vast sums of money to Spanish royalty. What did influential Spaniards do with the wealth they gained from their "new world" colonies? What did influential Americas do with the enormous wealth they gained from the great America empire? The sponsors of the three German groups sent to South America gained little wealth from their ventures. Still, Spaniards were able to pay their much of their debts, and Germans profited from starting and running the first South America airlines.

About 270 years after the first Germans were allowed to explore the llanos the Spanish allowed another prominent foreigner into South America and its llanos. That person was the baron Alexander von Humbolt.  Every educated American and European ought to know that name. I do not think that he began his travels as baron, but I choose to call him so. The baron was a Prussian naturalist and much more. He would become the father of modern geography and.... except for Napoleon ... the best known European of his time.

I think that Humbolt told the story of a camp on the llanos where his host was so disturbed early one night, that the baron too felt the disturbance. Unknown to either of them, in the dry packed earth directly beneath his host's hamaca, a very large alligator-like animal was hibernating through the dry season. Just as his host was composed for sleep, something disturbed the crocodilian. To the surprise of all, it erupted from the earth noisily. However it soo left; with an evident air of disgust; one imagines to, to find a more peaceful resting place. The camp too was soon resting peacefully.   



by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill 






Colombian Environmental Notes

Colombians are supporting practical plans to:

  • restore the native riparian vegetation along streams. They want cleaner water in the mountain streams and cleaner water for agricultural settlements.
  • develop decentralize networks for supplying many megawatts of renewable energy with the many efficient small generators now available. 
  • improve shipping strategies so as to use less packaging and less fuel.
  • establish reliable methods for measuring progress in emissions reduction.
  • increase local food production in urban greenbelts and elsewhere.
  • encourage foot, bicycle, and public transit use with practical design and inventiveness.
  • devote more (60%) of new city development to green space.


Others elsewhere can, and are,  supporting similar practical plans.



by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill III