Book of the Week: “Strange justice: the selling of Clarence Thomas” by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson

There was in fact much to doubt about the character of Clarence Thomas and his denial of Anita Hill’s accusations during the riveting and fractious Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

“Drawing on hundreds of interviews and scores of documents never seen before, Mayer and Abramson demonstrate that the political machinations that assured Thomas’s ascension to the Court went far beyond what was revealed to the public: Several witnesses were prepared but not allowed to testify in support of Anita Hill’s specific allegations about Thomas’s pronounced interest in sexually explicit materials; Republican Judiciary Committee members manipulated the FBI and misled the American public into believing that Hill was fabricating testimony during the televised hearings; Clarence Thomas mythologized certain elements of his upbringing and career to draw attention away.”

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1994
Call Number: 340(73) HEIA 44623


Jill Abramson will be present at the Institute, on Tuesday, 29 May,  for the conference Women’s Voices in the Media: Changing the World

Book of the Week: “Weapons of math destruction: how big data increases inequality and threatens democracy”

A former Wall Street quantitative analyst sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life and threaten to rip apart our social fabric.

“We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives — where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance — are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.

But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: if a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.”

Publisher: London: Penguin Books, 2017
Call Number: 384 HEIA 120998

Film of the Week: “I am not your negro” by Raoul Peck

“Master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, Remember This House. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material.”

“I Am Not Your Negro is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.”

Publisher: Black Out, 2017
Call Number: 973 IAM