At a glance they could be any 50 or so Irish kids, fair, some of them freckled, running sack races and raising holy heck at a July picnic north of Dublin. Look closer, though, and a different picture emerges. They speak not English but Russian. Some of them suffer physical afflictions: Alexei Shmarlovski, 2, has only a right eye. His left was blinded by a baseball-sized tumor—benign but dangerously close to the brain—that was removed in February 1996. Vitaly Gutsev, 12, has a useless left arm and runs with a limp. Others have more insidious troubles—thyroid cancer and immune disease. Why are they romping in a park 1,500 miles from home? Sergei Nedloviko, 11, later sums it up: “There’s no radiation here.”
My reporting and writing on science, health, learning, parenting and other subjects has appeared in many publications including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American Mind, Parents, and Redbook. Here are some selected articles ranging from my latest work to a few old favorites.
In 1974, British college student Tony Blair walked into an Oxford University dorm room to audition for a rock band, the Ugly Rumours. “What we really needed was a front man,” recalls bass player Mark Ellen, now a London editor. Blair, it turned out, was perfect. The shaggy-haired undergrad had all the necessary assets for an aspiring ‘70s rocker: a bright smile, even brighter red trousers and a few Jagger-esque stage mannerisms. In a break with Rumours tradition, Blair had even managed to learn the lyrics of the songs they performed. “For us, rehearsals had been about getting together with a six-pack,” says Ellen. “But Tony thought there was no point in being in a band unless it was good.”