Georgia: Why so many counties?

When the Romans came to Great Britain, they built a bunch of forts called castra, which was Anglicized to chester. So, English cities whose names end in -chester, -caster and -cester were once Roman settlements, places like Manchester, Cirencester and Worcester.

When the Anglo-Saxons arrived in England, they divided the land into shires, which is why so many English place names end in -shire.

Finally, the Normans invaded England in 1066, and they subdivided the land into counties, from which we get the title of “Count”.

Of course, English settlers to North America brought the county system with them. And thus, every state in America is subdivided into counties, except for Louisiana (which is divided into parishes based on an old Spanish system) and Alaska (which is divided into boroughs).

Texas, being one of the largest states in the Union, has the most counties with 254. But Georgia, inexplicably, has the second-most with 159. Texas is huge, so one can easily understand the need for so many subdivisions. But why does Georgia need so many counties?

The short answer is that it doesn’t. But how the largest state east of the Mississippi River came to have 159 counties is pretty interesting. It involves philanthropy, corruption, war, genocide, urban legends and Progressivism.

*     *     *

Georgia’s history begins with an English politician named James Oglethorpe. Born on December 22, 1696 in Surrey, Oglethorpe attended Corpus Christi College at Oxford before leaving early to become aide-de-camp to Prince Eugene of Savoy during the Austro-Turkish War of 1716-1718. Afterwards, he returned to England, where he was elected to Parliament.

There Oglethorpe took an interest in the state of London’s prisons. What he found shocked him, but he became especially distressed at the plight of debtors. As hard as it might be to believe, people who owed debts were often thrown in prison back then. Oglethorpe understood how the threat of prison worked as a motivator for people to pay their debts, but he also knew that bad debts often happened to good people. It was manifestly unfair, he thought, that a hardworking, yet down-on-his-luck family man should be locked up with murderers and thieves.

This gave Oglethorpe an idea, the idea of a colony in North America where “worthy debtors” would be given farmland to grow silk or indigo. The colony’s trustees would then take the crops and sell them, paying down the colonist’s debt. Eventually, the debtor would be debt-free, and would have a productive farm to show for it.

Continue reading “Georgia: Why so many counties?”


I’ve loved desktop widgets since Konfabulator was ported to Windows. But then Yahoo! bought Konfabulator, and Yahoo! Widgets have spiraled out of control with bloat and frequent updates. Windows Vista shipped with the Windows Sidebar, which allowed widgets to exist in a bar on the side of the screen. Windows 7 improved on that by allowing widgets to live anywhere on the desktop. But come on… the Microsoft widgets just suck.

Like a lot of folks, I really like the old-school clock widget on HTC devices. So imagine my joy when I found HTC Home, a free app which adds a similar looking widget to the Windows desktop:


It’s pretty, it’s easy to install and use, it’s well-behaved, and it even has nifty animations (lightning bolts and thunderclaps during storms, for example).

Don’t like the HTC look? That’s cool. The same folks also offer Metro Home, a similar widget based on Windows Phone 7’s interface. But I’ve been kickin’ HTC Home for some time now, and I really like it.

HTC Home (and Metro Home) are free and require Windows Vista or Windows 7 (32 or 64-bit). Microsoft.NET Framework 4 is also required.

COOL APP: Lazy Droid

Have an Android device and a Wi-Fi network at home? Then I’ve got something nifty for you! It’s called LazyDroid, and it gives you access to much of your phone from your desktop computer!

How does it work? Click the LazyDroid link in the last paragraph from your Android device (or just search for it on the Android Market). Install the “server” software on your device and start it up. You will be given the IP address and port number you need to access your phone. So you then go back to your desktop computer and enter that IP and port into the address bar… and you’ll see this:

(click to embiggen)

From here, you can do all sorts of nifty things. “FileManager” is a Windows Explorer-type file manager that allows you do upload, download, delete or rename files on your device’s internal storage or SD card. “SMS” lets you read or send text messages from your phone via your desktop. “Contacts” lets you add, remove or edit any contacts on the phone. “Camera’ lets you take pictures from your desktop. “Clipboard” adds a needed cut-and-paste feature to the OS. And “Sensors” lets you muck around with the GPS and accelerometer settings of your phone. What’s more LazyDroid offers pop-ups for events like SMS messages and phone calls. If you have LazyDroid running on your phone and a Bluetooth headset when you receive a phone call, LazyDroid will pop a message up with the caller information so you can decide whether to answer or not. Similar capability exists for text messages, making LazyDroid a kind of convoluted instant messaging client.

Continue reading “COOL APP: Lazy Droid”

Quote of the Day

“Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result – eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly – in you.”

– Bill Bryson
A Short History of Nearly Everything

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-05-15

  • @heyred704 Tell that to Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir! #
  • @BelmontRocks It's FEWER misspelled words! :p #
  • I'm doing a LIVE Internet radio show tomorrow night! Details here: #
  • Not an Obama fan by any means, but THIS pisses me off in a big way: 🙂 #
  • Driving home today, I saw a guy who looked EXACTLY like Gary from "Bachelor Party". The hair, the 'stache, the clothes… everything! #
  • The news said Bin Laden lived in that compound with 3 wives and 19 kids. Jesus, he probably BEGGED the SEALS to shoot him! #
  • The news says Bin Laden lived with 3 wives and 19 kids at that compound. Jesus, he probably BEGGED the SEALS to shoot him! #
  • You know you're getting older when you stop adding the phrase "for an older woman" to comments. Dana Delany is just "hot" now. #
  • Lisa: "Is he gay?" Me: "He's singing Nina Simone. What do you think?" #
  • On the way home: Lisa: "OMG! You're NOT playing Katy Perry!" Lisa then sings every word of "Teenage Dream" and "California Gurls" #

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Quote of the Day

About Obama’s healthcare reforms:

“Well, my friends in the Obama Administration aren’t going to be very happy with me, but I really, I don’t think it solved any of the important problems that we’re facing with healthcare. So virtually every economist will tell you that there were two things you needed to do to healthcare reform to materially improve the situation. The first was to break the link between the provision of healthcare and employment. And that is just an archaic element of our healthcare system, which really makes no sense. And yet because of tax subsidies, it’s the way most people get their healthcare — through their employer. It shouldn’t be. There’s no good economic justification for it. And yet, if anything, I think this healthcare reform bill actually strengthened that link.  … [Healthcare] is virtually the only part of the economy where I can go out and get any service I want—cancer treatment, open heart surgery, have a wart removed, whatever it is—and I pay $3 for it or $5 for it or nothing, even if it costs $50,000 or $100,000. I mean, imagine if you had the same situation with automobiles. Where I could show up at the car dealership and I could say, ‘I want the Mercedes for free.’ Well, people say, ‘You can’t have the Mercedes for free. You have to pay $50,000 for it.’ You say, ‘Why not, I have an inalienable right to free healthcare. Right? Why don’t I have an inalienable right to a free Mercedes?’”

– Steven D. Levitt,
economist and co-author
of Freakonomics

He said much more about healthcare reform. Go to this page to listen to or download the podcast.

Absolutely Icebox: The BONUS TRACKS!

I did my radio show on Tuesday night (info and download link here). But after the show was over, I went through my notes and found at least two dozen songs I’d really wanted to play, but had either forgotten about, or got lost when I took the show in a different direction.

I promised to post a special “BONUS TRACKS” podcast with some of those songs, and here it is (albeit much later than I’d wanted – thanks for nothing, Duke Energy!). Here is the download link. It’s a zipped 128kbps mp3 file that’s around 60MB in size.

NOTE: Please wait until after 4:30PM on Saturday, May 14 to download this, as the file is still uploading.

The playlist is available after the jump.

Continue reading “Absolutely Icebox: The BONUS TRACKS!”

Quote of the Day

“There is a master key and a spare key for the office. Dwight has them both. When I asked, ‘What if you die, Dwight? How will we get into the office?’ He said, ‘If I’m dead, you guys have been dead for weeks.'”

– Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly
The Office

Absolutely Icebox: The Aftermath!

Hey everybody! A big THANK YOU to everyone who tuned in to the show last night! It was a big success, and I was surprised that most of you who showed up averaged almost 45 minutes of listening time! Awesome!

As promised, here is a Dropbox link to download the broadcast. It’s a 128kbps mp3 file that’s 222MB in size. The file is zipped, because when I tested the original link, Internet Explorer tried to actually play the mp3 file. Since the file is almost 225MB, it didn’t work that well. You’ll need WinZIP (blech), WinRAR (awesome) or 7-Zip (crappy UI but free) to open. Most flavors of Windows can also open ZIP files; here’s how.

Also as promised, you can find the complete playlist after the jump.

Lastly, there were SO MANY songs I wanted to play but didn’t get a chance to that I’m contemplating doing a short download-only “bonus tracks” podcast. Look for it within the next couple of days!

Continue reading “Absolutely Icebox: The Aftermath!”

Absolutely Icebox… LIVE!

A few years back I hosted one daily and two weekly radio shows on the (now defunct) Ars Crew Radio Network and the (also defunct) I had a lot of fun doing the shows, and have been getting an itch to do it again.

Therefore, I’ve decided to host a special, one-off edition of my flagship show, Absolutely Icebox! Tune in and you’ll hear great new tunes from the best Indie, Lo-Fi, Shoegaze and Dream Pop bands, as well as many New Wave and Classic Rock favorites!


DATE: Tuesday, May 10, 2011
TIME: 21:00 EDT (9:00 PM) until ????


Unfortunately, a web-based player is not available for this broadcast, so you’ll need to use a media player installed on your computer to listen. Here are instructions for the most popular players:

Windows Media Player

1) Right-click near the top of the WMP window and select File >  Open URL.
2) Cut and paste (or type) the following address into the box that pops-up:

3) Click “OK”.


1) Right-click anywhere on the main WinAMP window and select Play > URL.
2) Cut and paste (or type) the following address into the box that pops-up:

3) Click “OK”.


1) Click Advanced > Open Stream.
2) Cut and paste (or type) the following address into the box that pops-up:

3) Click “OK”.

Other players might be supported; please check your player’s help file.

In all cases, be sure to add the “:8080” bit at the end of the address. If you enter the address without this the link won’t work!

Continue reading “Absolutely Icebox… LIVE!”