Ken Burns takes a break from recounting Hornsby’s statistical brilliance — the three seasons he batted over .400, the two MVP awards, the second-highest lifetime batting average, etc. — to tell us a story about an umpire’s wit. This is the charm of Burns’s 1994 documentary series Baseball. The viewer is regaled for more than 18 hours with not only box scores and controversy but also the quips of those who populated the game. But a funny thing happens midway through the last two-hour episode, which covers the game from the ‘70s to the ‘90s: The wit disappears. It happened right as we stopped referring to teams as ball clubs and started calling them “organizations” and brands.
The Bed of Procrustes takes its title from Greek mythology: the story of a man who made his visitors fit his bed to perfection by either stretching them or cutting their limbs. It represents Taleb’s view of modern civilization’s hubristic side effects—modifying humans to satisfy technology, blaming reality for not fitting economic models, inventing diseases to sell drugs, defining intelligence as what can be tested in a classroom, and convincing people that employment is not slavery.