A Poetic Thought Upon the Eve of a New Year

This poem by Jim Moore was written during the pandemic.  It references those experiences that give hope as we navigate the “light and darkness of our days and nights.”   A meditation for entering the New Year.

The Need is So Great

Sometimes I just sit like this at the window and watch
the darkness come. If I’m smart, I’ll put on Bach. 

I’m thinking now of how far it always seems there is to go.
Maybe it is too easy that I speak so often 

of late last light on a December day,
of that stubborn grass that somehow still remains green 

behind the broken chain link fence on the corner.
But the need is so great for the way light looks 

as it takes its leave of us. We say
what we can to each other of these things, 

we who are such thieves, stealing first
one breath and then the next. Bach, keep going 

just this slowly, show me the way to believe
that what matters in this world has already happened 

and will go on happening forever.
The way light falls on the last 

of the stricken leaves of the copper beech
at the end of the block is something to behold. 


A Resolution for 2023

From the Fool in King Lear:

Have more than thou showest,
 Speak less than thou knowest,
 Lend less than thou owest,
 Ride more than thou goest,
 Learn more than thou trowest,
 Set less than thou throwest;
 Leave thy drink and thy whore,
 And keep in-a-door,
 And thou shalt have more
 Than two tens to a score.

Trow (v.) think, expect, believe


AI Vs. the Author’s Joy

Randy Karnes served as CEO of CU*Answers and its multiple offspring in four decades.   He led during multiple technology revolutions.

He posted these comments on the role of AI and machine learning in general, responding to yesterday’s blog written by Playground.

AI and the Author-Artist’s Return on Work

Automation will be able to replace the delivery of such things by emulating the output from stored themes, patterned phrases, and just like students of millions of expressions of facts AI will simply string output together – a modern day scribe, typist, or plagiarist.

But while the output of work product for the economic return on work – the real return is for the author’s joy – the pride in the intellect on display – the heart in the translations of life’s learning and ideas interpreted. AI is a long way from capturing personal returns on being the owner of the work.

It will still be to the artist to generate the  moment of insight that sparks a genuine response amongst the noise of billions of expressions generated by endless data, tireless machines, and endless networks.

For all the noise it is the simplest of silence inspired thoughts–for thought that lights the soul on fire.

The Challenge for Today’s Technology Managers

But I am not sure many consumers today love the work to be the authors or manufacturers of value beyond telling machines to pump it out.

When you considered that my career changed from tech that readied the day for humans to interact around financial service delivery to one that where no humans are needed for 80-90% of the transactions or advice, you can see that less and less value generators or authors of ideas are needed.

Thinkers and dreamers no longer need apply.

Financial Tech was an exciting space of invention, creation, and innovation but more and more it is becoming simply a world of operation, maintenance, and tweaks.

Human workers are simply the lubricant of established systems today and mesmerized to overvalue the tech to be consumed and their role in supporting it – inflated on both sides of the artificial templated transactions.

The Fastest Blog I Never Wrote

What are the events to pay attention to going forward  in 2023?

1. Economy: The global economic outlook for 2023 is uncertain due to the continuing effects of the COVID19 pandemic. Depending on the speed of the recovery, inflationary pressures, and the effectiveness of monetary and fiscal policy, the economy could experience a slow recovery or a rapid rebound.

2. Possible Recession: It is difficult to predict whether or not a recession will occur in 2023. However, many economists are predicting that the global economy could be in for a slow recovery.

3. Domestic and International Uncertainties: In 2023, there will be a number of domestic and international uncertainties that will impact the global economy. These include the Brexit negotiations, US-China trade tensions, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. Additionally, the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely have an effect on the global economy.

4. War in Ukraine: The war in Ukraine has been ongoing since 2014, and there is no end in sight. In 2023, the conflict is likely to continue, with both sides.

A Brief New Year Poem

The New Year‘s here and it‘s time to go,

New things to try and places to go,

The future‘s filled with so much hope,

Full of chances and a brand new scope.

A New Brand

What does Washington’s NFL football team’s new name,  Commanders, suggest?

The nickname for a team called the Commanders suggests that the team is strong, organized, and in control of their destiny. It evokes the idea of a unified group working together to achieve a common goal.

The Source for this Commentary

What is the new AI site Playground and how can a person can test out its capabilities for their use?

Playground is an AI development environment that enables users to create, train, and deploy machine learning models. It provides an intuitive, interactive interface that enables users to easily explore and experiment with machine learning algorithms.

It includes a wide range of examples and tutorials to help users get started quickly. With Playground, users can quickly create, train, and deploy machine learning models without having to write code.

The platform also provides an integrated development environment (IDE) that enables users to easily code and debug their machine learning models. Additionally, users can leverage the platform to create custom datasets and evaluate models using statistical metrics.

Playground also offers a library of community-contributed models, so users can test out models from other users and get inspired.

The final words:  These are is the only words of mine for this post.  Playground did the rest in response to my requests.  The examples are intended to show the site’s versatility and realism.  Now you can go write your own blog or use to post a comment below.





Is Santa Real? The Most Famous Letter to an Editor

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” is a line from an editorial by Francis Pharcellus Church in the New York newspaper The Sun on September 21, 1897.

The exchange became so well know that The Sun  republished it during the Christmas season every year until 1950, when the paper ceased publication.  The writer’s  response outlives the event and his paper.

Is there a message beyond this recurring seasonal query?

Here is the letter:

September 21, 1897

Dear Editor, I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.”

Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

The Editor’s Reply Excerpted ( The full letter can be read here)

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. . .

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. . .

Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.  . .

Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. . .

A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10 thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Are Credit Unions for Real?

At a point every movement founded on goodwill will have sceptics.  Even credit unions.

Some today see the cooperative credit union model as only nostalgia.  Similar to listening to sports on radio, two-a-day newspapers, and created in an era when congregations were standing room only on Christmas eve.

Those times are gone.  Today the future for cooperatives is to match their bigger, stronger and more influential competitors.

These sceptics put their faith in numbers, the higher the better.  The idea that members should share in the first fruits of their collective effort is seen as naive in a competitive market.

Whether large or small, the founders’ belief that credit unions  should serve the well-being of all-even those who have the least or know the least about finances-is passe.  Especially when AI based lending can do it all–faster, cheaper, and more fair.

The Most Real Thing

The editor’s response describes a different reality.

Members’ faith and loyalty create trust, the foundation of any sustainable relationship-whether commercial or personal.  Credit unions empower with service that “makes glad the heart.”

Uplifting peoples’ and communities lives can be “the highest beauty and joy. This purpose  ignited tens of thousands of founders, differentiates still  and will be  relevant “a thousand years from now.”

Santa’s commercialization and consumerism is just one side of the story.  It invokes an image  to put a shiny veneer on profit making.

The editor’s letter  presents why this character’s symbol continues to fascinate children of all ages.

And that same understanding is what will make credit unions, at their best, a “real and abiding” movement for future generations.


Christmas Eve with No Peace

Jeremiah 6:14

For from the least of them to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; from prophet to priest, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of My people with very little care, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace at all.

Patrick Henry 1775: Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

National Cathedral, Washington DC, Spring 2022

Volunteers prepare to defend Kiev

War and civilian injuries

A defender at the Azovstal iron and steel works in Mariupol

DNIPRO, UKRAINE – JUNE 3: The funeral ceremony for 27 Ukrainian serviceman who died fighting with the Russians in the eastern front-line, in the military part of Krasnopilske cemetery in Dnipro, Ukraine, on June 3, 2022.

A relative knees by the body of a teenager who died in a Russian missile strike at a bus stop in Saltivka, a northern district of the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on July 20, 2022 amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
KYIV, UKRAINE – OCTOBER 17: A Ukrainian soldier rests on the sidewalk after the Russian attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine on October 17, 2022.
BAKHMUT, UKRAINE – DECEMBER 5:  A Ukrainian soldier, heavily wounded in conflicts within Russian-Ukrainian war, waits to receive medical treatment at Bakhmut Hospital in Bakhmut,

Kiev meal with only lantern light December 2022

Washington National Cathedral, Christmas 2022

Two Perspectives Approaching Christmas

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was a prolific writer of essays, novels, short stories, and poems. His Catholic faith and love of literature permeates through all his works. This poem is a  meditation on Advent and Christmas “for our wonder and our war.”

               Christmas Poem

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wife’s tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Hallelujahs Interrupt Commerce

Joy and goodwill emerge at the sounds of Christmas-in Macy’s.

May these be blessings beyours this special Day.


The Power of Traditions: Balancing the Old and New

Holidays remind us of past practices, events and stories that have made us who we are as individuals and a country.

But they can be confusing.  For some may view these breaks from the working calendar as simply nostalgia, irrelevant to the present, without  the correct lessons to carry us into the future.

Traditions are hard to maintain. That’s why holidays can help. People and cultures change. The song Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof presents this challenge “keeping balance” between past and present mores within a family and in society.

Credit unions were constructed around tradition.  The founding stories tell of the sponsor group of employees, in a community,  or with members of church drawing  upon their existing “common bond” to create a novel way to improve their collective lives.  In the process they evolve their separate institution, forming a culture of service and a reputation of trust.  They develop their own traditions.

Holidays Recall Stories that Matter

The current holiday season is always special. We rewatch movies that capture the Christmas spirit.  The Inn on 34th Street, Holiday Inn (introducing the song White Christmas), the movie White Christmas, and Frank Capra’s classic, It’s a Wonderful Life have a staying power sometimes missing in contemporary Hallmark channel versions.

Whatever a film’s lasting  artistic expression  they all still share the same human story of redemption.

Literature classes in school recite Twas the night before Christmas, or Christina Rosettee’s poem in The Bleak Midwinter (set to music and now widely sung anthem by Gustaf Holst), or other works such as Ring Out Wild Bells from Tennyson and Old Christmas by Washington Irving.

Dickens story of Scrooge is staged again in cities large and small throughout the US. Its themes of personal hardship and insensitive wealth accumulation still speak to us.

Christian religious services begin with Advent.  These four consecutive Sundays’ candle lightings celebrate love, hope, joy and light all in preparation for Christmas day.

Commerce rebounds. It starts with Black Friday. Retailers from department stores to car dealers all offer specials to draw in consumers. The holiday is filled with special sales offers.  Giving Tuesday reminds that life is more than just getting.

The Power of Traditions

The faiths celebrated at Christmas and Hannukah from which these literary and secular manifestations emerge, are stories of ancestors defining their beliefs in actions that inspire current generations.

These faith practices and commercial activities create traditions repeated over  generations. From the lighting of the National Christmas tree to attending midnight mass, people remember.  Whatever their circumstances they  honor the values, spirit and sacrifices that are meaningful in their lives now.

These holiday traditions, sometimes with public parades and spectacles, reinforce meaning and renew hope. Or they  can become a neglected past unrelated to current purpose.

Credit Unions Coping with Traditions

The story of who the credit union is, is communicated by its culture and in the marketplace via a brand.  The founding story is summarized on web sites showing the pioneers who began with no capital, only a desk drawer with founder’s shares, and the desire to serve members with loans.

Every organization must  innovate and move away from prior practices to refresh or sometimes “start over” to remain relevant.  New churches are founded outside current denominational structures to offer a different expression of faith practice, or recover what some feel is a faith lost.   In movies this commercial effort is called a sequel.   Even Scrooge’s stage story has been adapted to 21st century business settings with contemporary casting.

When Traditions Are Discarded

Both religious practice and commercial organizations must grapple with the reality of remaining relevant and potentially losing the power of their story.

Credit unions compete in open markets.  No more protected FOM’s. Members change, so do their needs.  Markets go through cycles.

In most coops the majority of funds are held by older generations, long standing members, many of whom do not borrow.   Management seeks new members often with no previous connection to the credit union and its distinction versus other financial options.  Just another consumer choice, perhaps attracted by price.

Examples are “indirect” lending for autos, student loans, and commercial participations where the business borrower may not even be in the credit union’s geographic market.  No local advantage needed,  just price.

Sometimes this balance of change and tradition is political.  Some wish to conserve the best of the past versus progressives who believe that success was built on limits and concepts that no longer reflect current needs and market realities.

Choices and Beliefs

There is still one commonality whatever the balance between past and present circumstance. The choices each of us make in our professional or personal lives express our values, the beliefs we hold about life’s purpose.

Whether religious, commercial or just lifestyle driven, traditions are efforts to connect within oneself and externally, with others, through shared experience.

Whatever business strategy or “innovations” are introduced, and prior efforts ended, the results are presented as the new rituals for success.

The biggest error is erasing past connections.  It is becoming more common today upon merger or the launch of a market expansion effort to rebrand and to reject past names, associations, and even partnerships in the search for growth.

To dismiss the past as no longer relevant to present circumstance negates shared purpose. Past experience no longer lights the future.  It is stepping off a cliff not knowing how far down is; or taking Christ out of mas.  This may appear a necessary and innovative relaunch for future success; but more likely not. Without a past, there can be no future.

Rebuking tradition without principles is a dead end. For values are the core of cooperative design. With no past, the future becomes a shot in the dark. Survival becomes nothing more than a financial contest attempting just to stay up with overall trends.

Washington Irving’s Old Christmas stories from 1876 remind us of the binding power of tradition.

“Of all the old festivals,” Irving wrote, “that of Christmas awakens the strongest and most heartfelt associations. There is a tone of solemn and sacred feeling that blends with our conviviality and lifts the spirit to a state of hallowed and elevated enjoyment.”

This “solemn and sacred tone” is accessible all year round to those who respect the legacy of  prior generations that established their current opportunities.

It also adds to  life’s enjoyment.