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The Andromeda Strain
Commander Tregreal was sent forth in a shell ship to explore the outermost reaches of our galaxy. He was the only man aboard and was equipped with hypnotics and computers to provide him with the illusion of a crowd of friends. The ship itself was managed by a central computer while Tregreal slept in suspended ainmation and was only awakened when the need for human intelligence arose. Tregreal awoke from time to time, did his work and then went back to sleep. He felt that he had been gone from Earth only a few months. Months indeed! He had been gone more than a subjective 20,000 years when he met the distress capsule.
From the capsule, Tregreal got the story of Andromeda. The story was conveyed telepathically by the rich personality of a wonderful woman with a contralto voice. The story was false. The owner of the voice was not even a woman. The story was true in part. The appeals were real, in parts. Tregreal was brave, intelligent and romantic and the voice appealed to all three of these qualities. He fed the message into the computers, turned his ship into hyperspace towards Andromeda without a moment's hesitation. He must have figured himself as a knight in shining armour. If he had known the truth he would have fled.
Now everybody knows the story of Andromeda. Mankind cannot meet the Andromedians without the Andromedians following them home bringing with them a grief greater than -grief, a craziness greater than mere insanity, and a plague more terrible than all plagues. The pdople of Andromeda had became unhuman. They sang songs exalting their own deformities and praised themselves for what they had so horribly become. They knew what they were and they hated mankind and they pursued it. Perhaps they are still looking for us.
The Andromedans were settlers. They had gone from earth in large shell ships. The settlers were frozen as they pursued their dreams across the sky until the ship found a suitable planet. Then the ship landed earth animals and plants were planted and when the people woke up, they could hear the sound of earth birds singing and knew that earth fishes had adapted themselves to the oceans. These shell ships were the answer to the overpopula.tion that the earth and her daughter planets could not support. These ships took the bold, the reckless, the romantic, the wilful and the criminals among the stars.
Mankind often lost track of them only to rediscover them in distant planets.
Andromeda looked like a good world to the men and women who landed there. Beautiful beaches, fertile soil, two moons and the sun not too close. It promised a good life. Things went on well. This was the truth.
This was, thus far, the story by the capsule.
But from here they diverge. "And then," the voice continued, "the Andromedan sickness hit us. Do not land. Stand off. Talk to us. Tell us about medicine. Our young die. Our farms are rich, our rich fields are plenty. Everything does well here except people. Our population is dying off. People, do not forget us! Man, whoever you are, come quickly, come now, bring help!"
Things had gone well for the Andromodans for the first twenty years. Then came disaster but it was not the tale told by the distress capsule. They could not understand it. They did not know why it happened to them or why it waited twenty years, four months and ten days. But their time came.
They had doctors, they had hospitals, and they even had limited capacity for research. But they could not research fast enough.
Every woman on the planet developed cancer. It came in many forms but the end was the same. There was something about the radiation which reached through into the human body and which made a particular form of desoxycorticosterone turn into a suo form - unknown on earth - of pregnandiol which infallibly caused cancer. The advance was rapid.
Baby girls began to die. Wives tried to say goodbye to husbands and sons. If the sun was killing all female lifeforms, the only escape was for the female to turn male. And so they did with large quantities of testoterone. Men worked in the fields with their bearded former wives and sweethearts. Many committed sucide during that period. They were smart. The researchers worked out a new genetic system. Tissues from parts of the men's bodies were transplanted into the abdoman just outside the peritoneal wall, crowding against the intestine - an artificial womb and with the aid of artificial insemination made it possible for men to bear children. Out of these emerged a new breed of hard core Andromedans who were savages, homosexuals and united in their hatred of mankind and their aim to destroy it.
When Tregreal awoke it was too late. They, the men-women of Andromeda were walking all over his ship chanting "In, in, in, in, in.." His computers told him the terrible truth as he dressed. As he hurried to the control room, he knew what he had to do. He could not destroy his ship because he feared that should the ship be improperly destroyed, it would lead the Andromedan back to Earth. He reached into his arsenal. The moons of Andromeda were inhabitable. His ships carried the sperms and ova of every species on earth and also lifebombs that could surround any form of life with at least a chance of survival. He went to the bank and. took out the cats, felis domesticus. He coded them. He coded into their molecular structure these messages.
Invent new chemistry
You will serve man
You will serve man.
They were changes in the genetic code that went with these cats. Thus did Tregreal commit his offence against the laws of mankind. He used his chronopathic device and sent these cats 30,000 years into the planet's past to the moons. The Andromedans were cutting through the hulls. He did not have to wait.
The cats attacked. They attacked with 30,000 years of civilisation behind them. They recognised Tregreal's vessel and shouted, "Oh Creator, oh maker, we have come at your bidding. We will serve man".
Tregreal then made his escape leaving the men-women to fight against the cats.
During the trial, the Overcouncil stripped Tregreal of his rank. Then they stripped him of life. Then they stripped him of his name and finally they stripped him of death.
That's the story. Perhaps somewhere the Andromedans still breed their boyish young, deliver their babies always by Caesarean and feed them by bottles. And perhaps the Andromedans, who had no ideas what the word 'mother' meant, spend their crazy lives fighting the cats.
That's the story.
Furthermore, it isn't true.
Leong Yoke Keen
A moth am I,
Lim Poh Ann, Form 3C, 1970
The choppy waters of the Dindings Channel beat against the hull of the motor launch. On the deck, my family and I scanned the clear, tropical waters towards the island of Pangkor. The launch, surging with power, rose and fell slightly on the waves. It literally sliced through the waves, churning a trail of foam. Behind us, the town of Lumut in the mainland was already disappearing from our view. Thus began our day long picnic in the picturesque and exciting island of Pangkor.
There is seldom a sea resort as this, where wide, golden stretches of beaches enchant the visitor. In all the coastal fringes, except when punctuated by jutting promontories, these beaches are there to pamper the visitor or holidaymaker. We chose as the place for our picnic the Golden Mile, situated on the western fringe of the island. Pangkor is unique; it is no ordinary sea-resort. Although it is one of Malaysia's most popular sea resort, each group of holiday makers can actually have the privilege of having a sizeable portion of the beach for its own enjoyment. In short, it means that the beaches are not dotted by holiday makers everywhere.
We set our things under a shady casuarina. My mother unpacked the food and drinks and carefully laid them down on a large mat. However, there was nothing more enjoyable than to have a swim in the clear, cool waters first. My brother and I splashed, dived and swam in the sea. We could actually see shoals of ikan bilis swim past us, for the water was clear enough to enable us to see our toes and the sand under the water. Along a rocky coastline, we discovered oysters and barnacles clinging onto the rocks. Colourful fishes came in between the rocks to spawn. A more exciting discovery was abalone, a rare sea food, which was confirmed with some tourists.
Before long midday had crept past. It was only then that we trekked back to our picnic site for our lunch. As I munched on a conventional sandwich of sardine, tomatoes, and cucumbers, I found that I could digest my food many times better than at home. I asked for more and more helpings. So did other members of my family. It was not something really fascinating. The sway of the stately, coconut palms, the pleasant roll and toss of the waves, the caress of the sea-breeze - bringing in the saltish taste of the sea - were all there to whet our appetites. Even after a whole-hearted swim and walk on the beach in the evening, we were quite reluctant to get back. However, at five o'clock we had to pack up and go.
How interesting and exciting it would be if we could make more trips to this scenic island in future. Whenever I think of this, I would hold a spiral sea shell to my ear. And the humming sound of the shell would remind me of the waves, sand, and breeze of Pangkor.
A Survey of Victorian Types
Victorians are often placed in a good light by outsiders. The general impression is of a person with an intellectual look and a high scholastic aptitude. This may mean that we are seen as narrow-minded squares and dengus. (perhaps Victorians do not possess that honour now). Observing and discerning from behind the lines, we can see that, just like any other institution, we have our own bunch of characters and certain types seem to be dominant.
The ones who attract our attention most are, of course, the boisterous ones. In class, they compete with the teacher for the ears of the students and argue openly about anything and with anyone for as long as they can. They have an empty sense of humour which is often broadcast to the whole class without permission. They indulge in their own company, telling 'grandfather's stories' among themselves and laughing out suddenly at the smallest joke. Making a bongo drum out of the desk and indulging in chalk throwing battles seem to be favourite pastimes when the teacher is out of sight. Their blatant behaviour is not limited to the classroom but follows them elsewhere. During assembly, they sometimes lead the school in chorusing their discontent when an announcement made by a prefect is inaudible. In other places, we often hear them before we see them.
Then we have the bookworms. More often than not, they look through a pair of thick lenses and have a serious look about them, a sort of no-nonsense look. They keep very much to themselves, though occasionally we can see them break into a smile over a joke with some friends. Except for one or two, these erudite people are seldom found on the field, but more involved in society work.
Next come the chatterboxes. They talk with the speed of an electric train from subjects ranging from the teacher's dress to why Joe Frazier lost to George Foreman. Never alone, they always have a victim beside them whom they bombard with facts of all shapes and sizes. They are the rumour mongers and gossips. It is sometimes interesting to listen to their eloquence when there is nothing better to do. In class, they are great irritants and pests to teachers but there seems to be no pesticide potent enough to counter their activities.
Being relatively famous for sports activities, we have a number of sportsmen around. With muscular legs, broad shoulders and heavily-tanned skins, they walk with a springy step and an upright back showing off their anatomy. Brusque in manner, they appear to be well-known and popular with the pupils. Sad to say, these people rarely bring in new honours to the school, or perhaps there are too few of them. If so, then it is time the school selects more competent pupils to be shaped into our future sportsmen.
And there are some pupils who are extremely indifferent to school life. Come to school at 7.30. Go home at 1.10. No games. No societies. No nothing. This type of nonchalant attitude can prove detrimental to a progressive school.
We have our pack of vandals too. Beautiful shoe marks can be seen on the walls of the lavatory. They are said to be the work of the Bruce Lees of the V.I. Well, who are these people? Are they small-eyed, sinewy and rugged? No, you can be assured that they are not. Some of them look just like normal VI boys. Perhaps you may spot them when they show their belligerence in their ripostes towards the prefects.
The society of VI has its share of conceited and egoistic people. Very conscious of themselves, their uniform is immaculate and their hair slants across their forehead, hair which they never tire putting into place. Their best friends must be the two mirrors in 206. They walk slowly and with an air of caution - possible reasons: to keep the hair in place, to prevent creasing in their uniform and to ensure that other people can see them in their most presentable form.
Among our more mature colleagues, we have a few playboy characters. Some, who possess cars, drive around the school at 40 m.p.h. and honk at girls playing hockey. They often appear in the midst of the company of girls, talking vociferously. Their flamboyant behaviour makes them very prominent in the school compound.
Which category do YOU belong to?
Where are we going?
Carolyn Tan, Lower Six C
Where are we going?
Or is it all pretence?
The Life we need
Is this life we lead
Where will it end?
What can we see
Beyond the morrow?
Does it really matter
To whom we will go?
Where are we going?
With prices rising
Is Life just a period
Between Birth and Death -
To be filled with work and play
And then - another day?
A vicious circle, nothing more?
Is there Someone who really cares
Someone who knows
What it is all about?
Is He so very far away
Or is it just that
We have left Him out?
Do we try to fill
What only He can fill -
Our hunger and loneliness
Which creeps up
Whenever we are still?
Do we block Him out
With our Science and Maths
Trying to live
On sordid calculation?
Do we try to ignore,
With all our pride,
Knowing there's something
He was without
But now is within
Giving me strength
And joy and peace,
Lifting me up
When sadness abounds
Loving me so
My turmoils cease.
How do I know
Where I go?
What do I see
Beyond the morrow?
How do I know
He really lives
Friend, I know -
He lives in me.
Rain before, rain after
Khoo Kong Beng
I see the birds fly,
I would like to try,
I see the waving grass green,
I catch sight of a falling bean.
I see flowers on the ground,
Fallen inert without a sound.
Ants, crawling among stones barren,
Ants, dragging some nameless burden.
Sugar canes, arching and all
Papayas, ripe, ready to fall,
With buds like beads
A wandering peaceful duck
Wandering in search of luck;
Panicky dog with black fur spots
Running from the pin prick dots?
Pin prick dots of roadside sand;
Black clouds gathering over land
Pin pick dots that smear the ground
It's raining, I, to my surprise, found.
Rain drops fall, thunder clashes
Windy gusts, lightning flashes;
The sandy road
Is pocked under the needle load;
The wet sound of a watery hiss,
Rivulets skipping, merry as you please
Dissolving dust on perking leaves
Sleeping flowers awaken from slumbering peace;
Squashing feet, glistening plastic coasts,
Flooding drains carrying swirling boats;
Chattering raindrops with staccato fury
Crying like some vicious jury
Falling rain, half-insane
Falling rain, on window-pane
Until................. clearing sky
Fly birds, multiply
Gurgling drains, tinkling brooks
Silver pools, haunting croaks
Crystal clear, daisy fresh
Butterfly in flirting dash
Gleaming gems on drooping boughs
Dripping drops from blue-green boughs
Waiting............ waiting for the peeping sun
To move on its unchanging run.
UNDERSTANDING THE GENTLEMAN'S GAME
Few people are really able to grasp the rudiments of the game of cricket. Some find it dull because they cannot unravel the complex phraseology of the game. However, since cricket is as old as the school, let us not live in ignorance of the game.
Cricket is known as the gentleman's game and is basically very simple. Wickets, innings and stumps are confusing, but once you get a grasp of the game, it is as plain as peanut butter.
A team fields eleven men, all dressed in white. A coin is tossed and the captain of the winning team decides whether his team bats or fields. If his side bats, two batsmen of his team stride into the field and take up positions at opposite ends of the pitch while the rest of the team relaxes in the shade. The fielding team puts in all eleven players at various positions around the field.
The bowler swaggers up opposite one of the batsmen and pitches the ball down the pitch at the poor soul in front of the stumps. The batsman may block the ball if he thinks it is going to hit the stumps. Otherwise, he may hit it, preferably along the ground. Only his legs, hands and abdomen are padded. Nevertheless, sometimes the ball may hit him and, as a result, he may carry a lump around for days. If it misses him altogether, the wicket keeper behind him catches it with his giant- sized gloves. When the bowler has bowled six balls - an "over" - the wicket keeper crosses to the other end of the pitch. A different bowler then bowls from the other end.
Let us imagine that the poor soul batting is Donald Bradman. The ball may have been hit (Bradman seldom misses) out of the reach of the fielders around the wicket. Sir Donald and his partner, Gary Sobers, run from their own end of the pitch to the other end. If they exchange positions, they score a point or run. If, on reaching the opposite end of the pitch, they manage to run back, they score two runs. But the batsman is out if the ball thrown by a fielder hits the stumps before the batsman can cross a line called the "crease" in front of the stumps. This is called a "run-out." If the ball rolls across the boundary line (a line drawn around the field) 4 runs or a "boundary" is scored. If, sometimes, the ball is hit into the air and drops beyond the line, then 6 runs are scored. If the ball cannot be found within the boundary 8 runs are scored.
If Sir Donald scores a single run, his partner finds himself facing the bowler. The crowd is then treated to a display of precision batting by Gary Sobers. The pair go on collecting runs till they are dismissed. This can happen in a number of ways. The ball, bat, body or even the cap of the batman may knock into and remove the "bail" (the two short sticks placed horizontally on the top of the stumps). Or an alert fielder may catch the ball hit into the air by the batsman. A fielder or wicket-keeper might remove the bails with the ball while the batsman is out of his crease. The umpire may dismiss a batsman, if in his opinion, the batsman uses his leg to block the ball that is going to hit the stumps. This is a "Leg-Before-Wicket" or an "lbw" decision.
Sir Donald Bradman is eventually dismissed. As he walks back to the pavilion, another member of his team takes his place with Gary Sobers as partner. The team is then said to be one wicket down. (A wicket is lost when a batsman is dismissed). A cricket game thus lasts until ten wickets have fallen. (Not eleven, since the last player would not have a partner and thus will not be out.)
When all ten batsmen have been dismissed, an "innings" is over. The batting team now fields and the fielding team bats. In school cricket, a team is usually given three hours for an innings, after which the teams change position irrespective of whether ten wickets are down. But in higher level cricket, there is no time limit and a single innings may stretch for days. (A Test Match usually takes five days or more to complete).
During the game the players, like true gentlemen, take time out for lunch and tea. In fact, this is the one of the "greats" of cricket - free lunch and tea!
There are usually two umpires in the field, one behind the bowler and the other behind the batsman who is batting. They are the sole arbiters of the game and ensure that the rules are administered accordingly.
Scoring is simple. If the Victoria Institution scores 265 for 3, it means that they have scored 265 runs with three wickets down. "A bowler takes 6-128" means that he has dismissed 6 batsmen, giving away 128 runs.
This is cricket! Now, is it really that difficult to understand?
Last update on 5 October 2000.