Palermo 1216
Palermo 1216

Sicily entered the history books when the Greeks founded Syracuse in 733 BC. The Greeks had Sicily pretty much to themselves until the Carthaginians invaded in 410 BC. The Romans took a dim view of a Carthaginian outpost so close to their own patch and so in the course of the ensuing Punic wars, Sicily became Rome’s first province in 227 BC. Archimedes was killed in his home town of Syracuse when that city fell to Rome in 212 BC during the closing stages of the Punic wars.

Sicily became Christian along with the rest of the Roman empire around 325 AD.The Vandals invaded in 440 AD and ruled Sicily until the Ostrogoth’s took control in 476 AD. In 535 Sicily was annexed to the Byzantine empire.

A major Arab invasion was mounted from Tunisia in 827 and Sicily remained under Muslim control until Norman mercenaries got stuck into them in 1017 and subsequently ruled all of Sicily until 1194.

The German Emperor Henry VI of Swabia took Sicily from King William III of Sicily in 1194 thus putting an end to the Italo-Norman dynasty.

Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, King of Spain and ruler of much of western Europe, became King of Sicily in 1568. Sicily was ruled by various European monarchies until finally being annexed to the new kingdom Italy in 1861. More recently, the allies took control of Sicily from the axis powers as a prelude to the defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII.

None of the many invaders completely supplanted their predecessors and this led to a a complex layering of multi-ethnic cultures still visible today in a unique synthesis of art and architecture.

McDonalds arrived in Palermo only last year but it is too early to tell as yet if Sicily will survive this latest invasion.

Here are photos of Palermo and Cefalu taken in 2016 AD during my invasion of Sicily.

Voter Fraud

Source: Washington Post article

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called supporters in Grand Junction, Colo., to watch the polls in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Chicago, as he continued to allege that voter fraud is rampant in communities across the country. (Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

Washington Post

October 19, 2016

“Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”

–Donald Trump, post on Twitter, Oct. 17, 2016

“Go sit there with your friends [at polling places] and make sure it’s on the up and up. Because you know what, that’s a big, big problem in this country and nobody wants to talk about it.”

–Trump, campaign rally, Sept. 30, 2016

Trump has made several claims alleging a “rigged” election system. We looked at two of the Republican presidential nominee’s claims: that there is widespread voter fraud, and that undocumented immigrants are voting and swaying elections. We’ll rate the two separately, starting with the first claim.

The Facts

The Trump campaign pointed to a 2012 Pew Center on the States study of ways to make the election system more accurate, cost-effective and efficient. At an Oct. 17 rally, Trump cited the three main findings of the speech to back up his claim that voter fraud is common across the country:

  • About 24 million (1 in every 8) voter registrations were significantly inaccurate or no longer valid because people moved, had died or were inactive voters.
  • More than 1.8 million records for people who are deceased, but whose registrations were still on voter rolls.
  • About 2.75 million people were registered to vote in more than one state. This could happen if voters move to a new state and register to vote without notifying their former state.
  • Outdated technology, shrinking government budgets and paper-based registration systems contributed to inaccuracies and inefficiencies.

But the study does not say that these problems indicated signs of isolated or widespread voter fraud. Yet Trump used the 1.8 million figure to inaccurately claim at the rally: “More than 1.8 million deceased individuals right now are listed as voters. Oh, that’s wonderful. Well, if they’re going to vote for me, we’ll think about it, right? But I have a feeling they’re not going to vote for me. Of the 1.8 million, 1.8 million is voting for somebody else.”

The campaign pointed to three instances of voting irregularities — in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Virginia. But they were isolated instances that do not amount to widespread voter fraud — and do not show they are as common as he says they are.

Trump’s campaign then sent lists of nearly 300 instances of voting irregularities between 2004 and 2016. Some of the cases involved indictments and guilty pleas of actual voter fraud, where someone illegally mailed an early ballot or cast a ballot at a polling place to defraud the system.

But the lists also included unsupported allegations of fraud, investigations into potential fraud and reports of less nefarious activities, such as people voting incorrectly and voting machines malfunctioning.

Even if all 300 instances were confirmed cases of actual voter fraud, they would make up such a small portion of total ballots cast in that 12-year period that it would be preposterous to call voter fraud a widespread or a “big, big” problem.

More than 1 billion ballots were cast from 2000 through 2014. There were 31 incidents of specific, credible allegations of voter impersonation at the polls, according to research by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, who has been tracking such data for years. So the problem that Trump is warning his voters to watch for at the polls — to make sure things are “on the up and up” — happens at the rate of 31 out of 1 billion ballots cast.

Out of 2,068 allegations of fraud cases in 2000 to 2012, there were guilty verdicts in 159 cases, according to an analysis by News21, a journalism project of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education.

Coordinated voter fraud has happened, but on a much smaller scale. In 1994, a federal judge invalidated the results of a state Senate race. Democratic campaign workers forged absentee ballots, which ultimately tipped the election by 461 votes. Democrats on the three-member elected board of elections intentionally failed to enforce the election law, even though they were aware of the fraud.

But it would be certainly nearly impossible to do something like that to tip a presidential election, our colleague Sari Horwitz found. We’re talking about a nationwide effort of local, state and federal election officials colluding to commit a felony. Lawyers for both major parties and every poll watcher would have to be in on it.

A handful of people have tried to vote on behalf of dead people — usually their family member or spouse — but there is no evidence such voter rolls are being manipulated on a large scale. And there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud with people double voting.

The Pinocchio Test

Trump uses “voter fraud” has become a catchall phrase for all voting irregularities. Confirmed instances of actual voter fraud do exist, but Trump makes a totally unsupported extrapolation of these isolated cases to say they are indicative of a widespread fraud in the U.S. election system. We wonder whether it ever occurred to Trump that “nobody is talking about” the “big, big problem” of voter fraud because that “big, big” problem doesn’t exist. Trump earns Four Pinocchios.

Four Pinocchios

Genius Not!

Look for the patterns
Look for the patterns

The key to most of these puzzles is to recognize that they are not equations and that they have very little to do with mathematics other than simple arithmetic.

Take the first so called “equation”; 7+3 does not equal 41021, but 7+3 does equal 10 and note that 10  appears within the string 41021.

Does this result hold for any of the other “equations”? Yes it does. The result of adding the two numbers on the left hand side is embedded within the string on the right hand side for all the “equations”.

Back to the first “equation”: 7-3 = 4, the difference between  the left side numbers appears as first number in the right hand string. This holds true for all the equations.

We are almost home: the product of the left hand numbers appears at the end of the right hand string in every case.

The right hand string is constructed by concatenating  the difference, the sum and the product of the two left hand numbers.

Test on the final equation.

17-8 = 9, 17+ 8 = 25, 17*8 = 136 giving us the string 925136