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A weekly newsletter about stars, humans and art,
from Akira G. Sternberg.


Monday again —
for the end of the week
four Mondays more
Akira G. Sternberg

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Dear friend,

I am happy to present you with the fourth issue of THE SANGUINE HERALD.

This time, there are no further changes. I must say that I am quite happy with the format and, may I say, with the content.

I hope you will find this issue interesting and enjoyable.

If that is the case, please feel free to send it to your friends and advise them to subscribe. Your support means a lot to me.

Looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Yours sincerely,

Let us live a story
of tobacco, wine and romance —
life is too short, my love
Akira G. Sternberg


Old terror.

A 392 year old shark was recently discovered in the Arctic Ocean. Here it is in a pose characteristic for a shark:

Greenland shark.
This handsome shark was scourging the arctic fish since the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).

Amongst the vertebrate species, Greenland sharks have the longest known lifespan, estimated between 300-500 years.

Due to adaptation to living at great depths, its meat is toxic. Although, as usual, humans have found a way to treat the meat and reduce the toxin levels, and turn the Greenland shark into a delicacy.

The Greenland shark is most often blind due to a parasite attaching itself to the sharks eyes.

What’s more, the shark doesn’t hunt humans.

Old money.

Speaking of old sharks, let’s move on to banks. Granted, banking is not the oldest job in the world, but it is old enough to make a fine addition to my cellar. A controversial job, to be sure, but for all the wrong reasons.

The Hoare family coat of arms, owners of the C. Hoare & Co bank.
The Hoare family coat of arms, owners of the C. Hoare & Co bank.

Anyhow, here is a list of the 10 oldest banks (both private and central) of the world, that are still in business today. There are hyperlinked in case you admire a good old business as I do and you want to pay them a visit (pun intended).

High peaks.

Mount Everest is said to be the highest mountain on Earth. That’s not absolutely exact. One should take into account the sea level and the curvature of Earth.

Here is an image that puts things in perspective:

Highest mountains of the world.
Highest mountains of the world.

Mount Everest, located in the sub-range of the Himalayas Nepal, is Earth’s highest mountain above sea level.

Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii, is the tallest mountain in the world, measured from its base underwater.

Mount Chimborazo, located in the Andes, Equador, is the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center, given that it is located along the planet’s equatorial bulge.

Darwin’s birthday.

Charles Robert Darwin, (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882). English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his theory of evolution. The theory was first published in his study On the Origin of Species (1859). Evidence for the theory were observed and collected during a two-year voyage of Darwin with the HMS Beagle.

His theory of ‘evolution’ and ‘natural selection’ changed the scientific world and humanities self-understanding for ever.

Charles Darwin.

It has often and confidently been asserted, that man’s origin can never be known: but ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871), Volume I, Introduction.
Shop owner —
door sign reads ‘we’re open!’
lips wide shut
Akira G. Sternberg


To fly free in space.

Astronaut Bruce McCandless II floating free in space, at about 100 meters away from the cargo bay of the space shuttle Challenger. A distance greater than anyone had ever been before.

Astronaut floating in space.

McCandless and fellow NASA astronaut Robert Stewart were the first to experience such an “untethered space walk” during Space Shuttle mission 41-B in 1984.

Pale blue dot.

The following photograph is a revised edition of a photograph taken on 14 February 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe. In it our planet, Earth, appears as a dot, with the size of just a pixel.

Pale blue dot.

At the time the Voyager 1 had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System. NASA, at the request of Carl Sagan, commanded the probe to turn its camera around and take one last photograph of Earth. The distance was about 3.7 billion miles or 6 billion kilometers or 40.5 AU).

Sagan coined the term “Pale Blue Dot” in his reflections on the photograph’s significance, documented in his book Pale Blue Dot:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

Carl Sagan

Facing the sun.

The Solar Orbiter is a mission to the Sun with the purpose of examining the physics of our star from a great proximity. The operation is an international collaboration between the ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA.

The launch took place on Sunday, 9 February, at 11:03pm ET, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Facing the sun mission launch.

On Monday, mission controllers at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, received a signal from the spacecraft indicating that the solar panels had successfully deployed.

The spacecraft will provide close-up observations of the Sun.

Here you can find a very beautiful PDF file with all information about the mission and the Sun (big file).

The four horsemen of discoveries.

The Four Horsemen of Revelation were harbingers of the Last Judgment. The four horsemen of discoveries are heralds of NASA’s Discovery Program.

NASA has selected four Discovery Program investigations to be examined for becoming official missions. After evaluation, two will continue development towards flight. Final selections will be made next year.

The proposed missions are to shed light into targets and science not currently covered by other active missions.

The solar system.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate said:

‘These selected missions have the potential to transform our understanding of some of the solar system’s most active and complex worlds. Exploring any one of these celestial bodies will help unlock the secrets of how it, and others like it, came to be in the cosmos’.

The four prospective missions are:

  • DAVINCI+: Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus. DAVINCI+ will analyze Venus’ atmosphere to understand how it formed, evolved and determine whether Venus ever had an ocean.
  • IVO: Io Volcano Observer. IVO would explore Jupiter’s moon, Io, to learn how tidal forces shape planetary bodies. Io is heated by the constant crush of Jupiter’s gravity and is the most volcanically active body in the solar system.
  • TRIDENT: Trident would explore Triton, a unique and highly active icy moon of Neptune, to understand pathways to habitable worlds at tremendous distances from the Sun
  • VERITAS: Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy. VERITAS would map Venus’ surface to determine the planet’s geologic history and understand why Venus developed so differently than the Earth.

To learn more about the Discovery Program visit the official NASA dedicated page.

Last morning dewdrop
sliding down my window’s glass —
may my wish come true
Akira G. Sternberg


Numbed by apathy.

Western culture is in steep decline. Every aspect of what makes the social fabric and character is in decline. It looks as if Western countries are in a self-destructing procedure, in a spiral of death, until they dissolve into nothingness.

All the while, some parts of that society, with limitless capacity to make themselves heard, are singing and dancing — enjoying and even praising the procedure. This sorry situation is regrettable.

What lies in the root of that fatal decease is nihilism and moral decadence. Well, the verb ‘lies’ is unfortunate. We are not talking about a passive cause, but about something that is actively working towards its ends.

The ‘nihilism’ we are referring to here is not the academic nihilism. A kind of scientific worldview that tries to understand and explain the world with the utmost objectivity and impartiality.

The decline of western societies.

Propagating life and living is the core purpose of society, not explaining or understanding the world.

The ‘nihilism’ we are referring to is the dissolution of moral principles, and the reinforcement of ethical relativity.

Society is not just a sum of individuals.

Society is an extremely complicated construct. It may consist of individual members, but its overall character is not a mere average of its parts. Most of the times there is a stark difference between the two levels.

For instance, on the personal level, people in a society can be hard, strict and rigid. But the overall effect on the society as a whole is rather beneficial, making the society benevolent and good.

Contrary to that, as is the case nowadays, delicate and sensitive individuals can produce a society that is overall ultimately indifferent and apathetic.

Being part of a society means that you have obligations and restrictions. That you lead your life with purpose and dignity. Only demanding your ‘rights as a human being’ with a sense of entitlement without responsibilities has awful consequences.

This Valentine’s Day
no flowers, no chocolate —
just embrace of love
Akira G. Sternberg


Wear your scars beautifully.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The word means golden joinery and is also known as ‘kintsukuroi’, meaning golden repair.

Kintsugi cup no 1.

Philosophically speaking, the theory behind the technique is to treat breakage and repair as part of the history of an object. The occurring scars are not to be disguised or hidden. Rather they should be made more prominent.

Kintsugi cup no 2.

The result of the process is to make the object even more beautiful than it originally was.

Kintsugi cup no 3.

The whole concept, characteristically Japanese in its essence, is related with the feeling of mottainai and mushin. Expressing regret when something is wasted and acceptance of change, respectively.

Poetry: the geometry of words.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (22 February 1892 – 19 October 1950) was an American poet and playwright. In 1923 she became the third woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

The other day it happened to read a short poem of hers about, who would have thought it, Euclid, the Greek geometer. The opening line is extremely well crafted and beautiful: “Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare”.

Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.
Let all who prate of Beauty hold their peace,
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, the while they stare
At nothing, intricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage; let geese
Gabble and hiss, but heroes seek release
From dusty bondage into luminous air.

O blinding hour, O holy, terrible day,
When first the shaft into his vision shone
Of light anatomized! Euclid alone
Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate they
Who, though once only and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on stone.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Another beautiful poem of Millay is the following. The opening line is again both strong and beautiful: “Time does not bring relief; you all have lied”.

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

You can read more about on the detailed article of Poetry Foundation, where you can also find some of her poems.

Behind deadpan masks
their disguised dark desires, but
urges in plain sight
Akira G. Sternberg

Did you enjoy the haiku in this issue? I observe the one-haiku-per-day discipline, so you’ll be getting seven haiku with every newsletter.

I’ve also penned a haiku collection: “The Stargazing Frog: A poetry collection of 366 original haiku about nature, humans and stars,” which you can find in Amazon.

The Stargazing Frog cover

One last haiku, before you go:

War is a father
war is a gifted teacher —
foul vultures above
Akira G. Sternberg

I’ll be happy to keep in touch and I am eagerly waiting for your comments:


Until next time…

May the Force smile favourably upon you.

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