God Made Dirt, So Dirt Don't Hurt

When I was a kid, I played outside. It's not like I hated video games or anything, but given the choice between Contra and a skateboard (or a bike trail), I'd always choose the later. It was the mid-1980s, and, during what seemed like perpetual summer, I was keen to brave the sandy, chaparral-topped hills of inland Orange County-at least those that hadn't yet been completely developed, gated, and housed. The play usually involved the construction of a fort or bike-ramp, and, at some point, a bloody knee or an all out bike-crash face-plant. I can still taste the dust and grit that coated my mouth from one of my more spectacular wipe-outs. Needless to say, I'd come home filthy.Interestingly, that same grime that grieved my mother during rounds of laundry might have helped me grow into a healthier adult. This recent Times piece expounds on the benefits of allowing babies (and kids) to encounter all sorts of dirt (and even worms) as a means of building stronger immune systems. It's worth a read, and feels like a nice addendum to Morgan's exploration of playgrounds ("Fall Down, Go Boom") from last year.[Apologies to anyone who thought this post was going to be about intelligent design. However, on that subject, the science personality David Attenborough recently delivered a daft rejoinder to some creationist hate mail. Warning: it's not an endorsement of intelligent design.]