China Punishes 27 People Over ‘Tragically Ugly’ Illustrations In Maths Textbook

Chinese authorities have punished 27 people over the publication of a maths textbook that went viral over its “tragically ugly” illustrations. The Guardian reports: A months-long investigation by a ministry of education working group found the books were “not beautiful,” and some illustrations were “quite ugly” and did not “properly reflect the sunny image of China’s children.” The mathematics books were published by the People’s Education Press almost 10 years ago, and were reportedly used in elementary schools across the country. But they went viral in May after a teacher published photos of the illustrations inside, including people with distorted faces and bulging pants, boys pictures grabbing girls’ skirts and at least one child with an apparent leg tattoo.

Social media users were largely amused by the illustrations, but many also criticized them as bringing disrepute and “cultural annihilation” to China, speculating they were the deliberate work of western infiltrators in the education sector. Related hashtags were viewed billions of times, embarrassing the Communist party and education authorities who announced a review of all textbooks “to ensure that the textbooks adhere to the correct political direction and value orientation.”

In a lengthy statement released on Monday, the education authorities said 27 individuals were found to have “neglected their duties and responsibilities” and were punished, including the president of the publishing house, who was given formal demerits, which can affect a party member’s standing and future employment. The editor-in-chief and the head of the maths department editing office were also given demerits and dismissed from their roles. The statement said the illustrators and designers were “dealt with accordingly” but did not give details. They and their studios would no longer be engaged to work on textbook design or related work, it said. The highly critical statement found a litany of issues with the books, including critiquing the size, quantity and quality of illustrations, some of which had “scientific and normative problems.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Linux Random Number Generator Sees Major Improvements

An anonymous Slashdot reader summarizes some important news from the web page of Jason Donenfeld (creator of the open-source VPN protocol WireGuard):

The Linux kernel’s random number generator has seen its first set of major improvements in over a decade, improving everything from the cryptography to the interface used. Not only does it finally retire SHA-1 in favor of BLAKE2s [in Linux kernel 5.17], but it also at long last unites ‘/dev/random’ and ‘/dev/urandom’ [in the upcoming Linux kernel 5.18], finally ending years of Slashdot banter and debate:

The most significant outward-facing change is that /dev/random and /dev/urandom are now exactly the same thing, with no differences between them at all, thanks to their unification in random: block in /dev/urandom. This removes a significant age-old crypto footgun, already accomplished by other operating systems eons ago. […] The upshot is that every Internet message board disagreement on /dev/random versus /dev/urandom has now been resolved by making everybody simultaneously right! Now, for the first time, these are both the right choice to make, in addition to getrandom(0); they all return the same bytes with the same semantics. There are only right choices.

Phoronix adds:
One exciting change to also note is the getrandom() system call may be a hell of a lot faster with the new kernel. The getrandom() call for obtaining random bytes is yielding much faster performance with the latest code in development. Intel’s kernel test robot is seeing an 8450% improvement with the stress-ng getrandom() benchmark. Yes, an 8450% improvement.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.