All is Fire

Photo by Olivier Ffrench

Scholar, former Wall Street trader and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb is in his native Lebanon this week shopping for olive groves, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal (enter “Taleb’s Pessimism Lures CIC” in Google to get around the pay wall). Taleb explains, “Healthy investments are those that produce goods that humans need to consume, not flat-screen TVs. Stocks are not a robust investment. Make sure you have a garden that bears fruits.”

Amen to that. Taleb’s book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable along with Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic and the fragments of Heraclitus are what I point people to when they ask, “so why do you do these things, gardening, pickling, brewing etc.” Invoking these stoic philosophers both ancient and modern is along winded and perhaps pretentious way of saying that I believe, along with Taleb, that the “highly improbable” is more probable than we think and that it’s best to do the things within our power to do and not worry about what’s going on beyond what we can change.

That China’s Sovereign-Wealth Fund is considering investing in the bearish (to put it mildly) investment fund Taleb advises worries me. Time to turn that RiteAid parking lot into an olive grove! I’ll rent the jackhammers–any volunteers?

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6 Comments

  1. Amen! I’ve been working on this tack for awhile now, and still have things to order and get into the ground. And bees and chickens to get started. This past winter it was getting eight apples, three hazelnuts, three almonds, two cherries, two Italian plums, a currant, seven blueberries, five boysenberries, and twenty raspberries in the ground. The lemon and lime are finally on order, and I still need a couple of peaches and a load of strawberries. Maybe a bay laurel in a pot (they get really BIG). I’m trying to figure out where in my yard I can stash a couple of olives.

    I’ll look into Taleb’s book; that sounds right up my alley.

  2. IMOO you don’t want a jackhammer in that arid climate, but a diamond hole saw.

    Work with the grade designed into that parking lot to put down half-inch-high berms that divert rainwater into the sawn holes, and if it absorbs into the soil beneath, it can stay for a long time.

    Lots of organic mulch on the newly bare soil, maybe some added gypsum if the soil was heavy clay before, and a constant rotation of deep-rooted plants to put organic matter under the pavement, and you’ll have an irrigation-free, low-weeding, no-till farm.

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