Monday, January 11, 2016

US Time Zones: A Modest Proposal

It’s hard to believe, but there once was a time when the US didn’t have any time zones. Every little town had their own clock.  One little burg, say, might be at 12:30. The next town over then might be at 12:31. The next one over from that might be at 12:31, or maybe 12:32, or even 12:30.

Railroads were the impetus behind changing this state of affairs to something a little more reasonable. And that makes a lot of sense. Can you imagine the hell this created with time schedules?

It was 1883 when the railroads got together and carved up the country.  There were a number of changes after that over the years, but this is how it all ended up:


So, I can definitely see some logic to this scheme here. But what I want to know is, what the heck’s going on with Idaho, or Oregon, or Indiana, or Michigan, or all those states along the 104° line? I was assuming the zones would follow state borders where they can (but maybe break up long states that seemed to straddle two zones, like Kentucky and Tennessee). What the heck’s going on here?

I mean, take a look at Australia, another big country with multiple time zones. They make it look pretty simple:


Notice how the time zones go right along the borders of the different territories. There are no little towns in Queensland that are in the time zone of the Northern Territory, no little enclaves in Western Australia that don’t follow Western Australia time, no yellow territories that aren’t in the same time zone as all the other yellow territories. The borders themselves go pretty much up and down. Why can’t we be more like the Australians?

So, let’s take a look at the different states, and see how illogical things actually are.  I’ll go from least egregious to most egregious.


8.  Texas

Texas is a big state. So. it’s not too surprising that it takes in two time zones. It’s also not too surprising how they’ve actually gone about dividing those two time zones up …

In the far western tip of Texas is the major city of El Paso. Now, it so happens to be to the west of MT cities like Denver, and Santa Fe, and Cheyenne. Actually, would you believe El Paso is actually closer to San Diego than it is to Houston? Yup, we’ve definitely got an MT city here.

Now, there also so happens to be very little happening east of El Paso. There is, however, quite a lot going on just southwest of the city, across the border in Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, which just so happens to be on Mountain Time as well.

So, not  too bad an idea …


I’m not totally sure why Hudspeth decided to go along for the ride (or that little bit of Culbertson), but there you have it.

Thanks to the Houston Chronicle for some of this info. 

VERDICT:  Sure, why not?  


7.  Kentucky / Tennessee (tie)

You’re going to have to divide these two at some point.  There really aren’t any other states that are long and skinny like these guys … and run right across two time zones. So, the only question is, where are you going to draw that line?

Kentucky actually does a pretty good job. The line they’ve drawn separates two distinctive regions – the Cumberland Plateau and the bluegrass region – from the rest of the state:



Note that the time zone border gives Louisville a little bit more of a buffer, as well as nipping off that little wedge of Mississippi Plateau. Nice work!

As for Tennessee, that’s not too bad either. It looks like they’ve basically taken the mountains, the Valley, and the Cumberland Plateau and given them to ET, with the rest of the state given to CT.



I might move those 5 border counties – Fentress, Cumberland, Bledsoe, Sequatchie, and Marion – over to ET, but otherwise it’s not bad.

VERDICT:  I’m not sure KY needs to change anything. TN should probably move those 5 counties over though.


6.  Indiana

Indiana reminds me a little of Texas. Both have some big cities in the corners of their states. In Texas, it’s El Paso. In Indiana, it’s Evansville in the southwest, and Gary in the northwest. 


Evansville makes some sense. There is that little wedge that the Wabash River creates as it meanders over to the southwest. The line they’ve carved out also matches up pretty well with the line that goes through Kentucky. On the other hand, though, there is no big neighbor to the west here, like Ciudad Juarez … or Chicago.

Yup, though the border in the northwest is all right angles, Chicago makes a lot bigger splash than Ciudad Juarez. Heck, Gary’s really just a suburb of Chi-town, right? Makes a fair amount of sense, at least  to me.

VERDICT:  I can live with it. You know, what would really be cool, though? Just move the whole darn state over to CT.


5.  Idaho

The Panhandle of Idaho (called North Idaho by the natives) is only tenuously associated with the rest of the state. Number one, it’s just too far away. Number two, there’s all those mountains separating it from the main part of the state, which basically makes up the Snake River Valley. Number three, there’s Spokane, a city of half a million, right across the border in Washington.

So, this one makes a lot of sense. Where it all falls apart, though, is the line they actually draw across the state. Now, their hearts do seem to be in the right place – they basically simply follow the Salmon River across the state.


In fact, they actually follow it rather religiously – which means that the border follows a really crazy loop in the western part of the state:


Now, of course, nobody actually lives in that loop, but why not just cut right across? That’s what they do in the eastern part of the state.  Could work here too, right?

You know what would be even more straightforward though? Why not just put the border along the county line? 


That’s Idaho County that getting split in two, by the way (one of only a handful of counties where that happens). You know, you could have the time zone include the county, or exclude it. Whether you use the county’s northern border or southern border, though, the integrity of the county line would remain intact, and the line would at least seem to be a little more practical.

VERDICT:  Makes sense, but I really don’t like it. Make me happy and use that county line, though okay?


4.  Oregon

Alright, this is just plain goofy. You’ve got one county, Malheur, that just doesn’t want to play along with the rest of the state. Just to make things even more interesting, though, the very southern part of the county doesn’t seem want to play along with the rest of the county!


So, what’s this all about? The only possible reason I can think of is proximity to that major metropolitan region of Boise, ID. Turns out this is actually the case, especially as the majority of Malheur’s population is in the northern part of the county – right across from Boise. Also, there’s not a whole lot to the west, in Oregon, until you get Bend, and then Eugene, and then Portland.

VERDICT:  I kind of get it, but this is just ridiculous. Make all of Oregon PT. In fact, let’s just tidy things up and have a nice, clean, logical line like this:



3. Kansas / N. Dakota / S. Dakota / Nebraska

This one could have been so perfect. There’s a nice vertical line, around 104°, that divides up ND, SD, NE, OK, and TX on one side, and MT, WY, CO and NM on the other. It also looks like a pretty darn clear place to throw that time zone border as well.

So, what's all that crazy stuff going on in Montana, and, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and Kansas? Why does a little piece of each of those states have to move over to Mountain Time? Wouldn’t it have been just so much easier to follow each state’s borders? If nothing else, it would have dealt a serious blow to the irony of having those four extremely flat states having anything to do with the Mountain Time Zone. 

Okay, let’s look at these losers one by one …

North Dakota’s just doesn’t seem make any sense. South Dakota’s, on the other hand, does at least seem to split the state in two. Nebraska? Haven’t a clue. Kansas? You got me.

I do know, though, that Kansas is – without a doubt – the most egregious of the four:

What were those four counties thinking? It’s not like there’s anything over the border. Or any difference between those four and any other county within 100 miles.

VERDICT:  This is just lame, guys. Color within the lines, would ya?


2. Michigan

Those poor Yoopers. They must feel less a part of their state than the North Idahoans are of theirs.

Now, I was figuring that these guys are either gonna go with Michigan’s ET, or with Wisconsin’s CT. They're kind of right on the border between the two. But noooo. We’ve got to try and do both now, don’t we?


Yup, all the counties that border Wisconsin are CT, while all the rest are ET. Why? I have no idea. It’s not like there any big cities over that border. 

So, what we’ve got here is an area with two time zones but only one area code. That just doesn’t seem right.

VERDICT:  Let the UP go CT. 


1.  Florida

On the surface of it, this one makes a lot of sense. The Panhandle makes Florida – like Kentucky and Tennessee – one of those longer states that straddles ET and CT.  Further, the line between the two is a fairly natural one – the Apalachicola River. Additionally, that river also functions as county line for no less than 6 counties, from the Alabama state line to the Gulf of Mexico. Finally, that line is almost directly below the Alabama – Georgia border, an almost vertical line that separates ET and CT all the way up to Tennessee.


All well and good. But here’s where it all falls apart:


Let me explain … The river actually hits the gulf at the town of Apalachicola. For some reason, though, the time zone (that little dotted yellow line) zips up a little tributary to the northwest, goes through Lake Wicomico, travels along a canal, hooks up with another little river, hits State Road 386, then follows 386 south to the Gulf. WTF???


How did this all come about? Well, would you believe it was some rich guy who wanted his offices, in Jacksonville, and his paper mill, in Port St. Joe, in the same time zone? Well, that guy was one Ed Ball, one of the most powerful men in Florida, and that company was the St. Joe Paper Company, which is still around today.

And, yes, I’m afraid that one is too good to be true. Sounds like it might have actually been the Apalachicola Northern Railroad instead. Turns out that line ran right along the ET – CT border, with just a teeny, tiny little jog at the end over to St. Joe’s.


Thanks for that great info, Orlando Sentinel.  

VERDICT:  You really messed it up, guys. If it wasn’t for the St. Joe’s thing, you guys could been #8. You definitely gotta move that thing back.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The True Kings and Queens of Great Britain

Would you believe that Elizabeth II is not the rightful heir to the British throne? Yup, it’s true.

Three-hundred-some years ago, Parliament decided to stiff the rightful Catholic heirs and recognize some German – and Protestant – princeling instead. That guy would come to be known as King George I.

Given the terrible history of Catholic-Protestant relations at the time, this all made a fair amount of sense. What would the monarchy have looked like, though, if the rightful heir had ascended the throne – whatever their religion?

James III (1701-1766)

James’ father, James II, was actually King from 1685 to 1688. A staunch Catholic, he would be deposed in the “Glorious Revolution.” This was basically a coup by the Dutch William of Orange, who had married Mary, James’s Protestant daughter. James II would live until 1701, dying in France. He would lead one abortive attempt to recover his throne, landing in Ireland.

The man who would have been James III was born in 1688, in London. Raised in France, he would later live in Avignon and Rome, both as a guest of the Pope. Like his father, James III would try his hand at reclaiming the throne – this time landing in Scotland. James would die in 1766, and be buried in St. Peter’s, in Rome (as would his two sons). He would come to be known as “The Old Pretender.”


NOTE: Supporters of the Catholic succession are known as “Jacobites,” from the Latin form of “James.”

Charles III (1766-1788)

James III’s eldest son, who would have been Charles III, was born in 1720, in Rome. His mother was a Polish princess, Maria Clementina Sobieska.

Charles would grow up in Italy, but soon move to France, where he would scheme to invade Britain once again. On his second try, he would actually be fairly successful, taking over Scotland and marching as far as the Midlands. He would suffer a crushing defeat, however, at the Battle of Culloden, with his subsequent escape back to the Continent becoming the stuff of legend. 


Charles would return to Britain once more, but this time incognito. The French would also support an additional invasion, during the Seven Years’ War, but would end up being defeated soundly at sea. 

Back in France, Charles would spend the rest of his life drinking and consorting with a number of mistresses. Though he produced several royal bastards, he would not produce a legitimate heir with his wife, Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern.

Charles III would come to be known as a man of many nicknames – The Young Pretender, The Young Chevalier, and Bonny Prince Charlie. He is undoubtedly the most romantic of the Jacobite figures.

Henry IX (1788-1807)

The second son of James III, Henry would outlive his brother by almost 20 years. Like his brother, Henry was born and raised in Rome. He would also follow Charles to France, to help him plan his invasion.

Afterwards, though, Henry’s life would take a very different turn. He would return to Rome, become a priest, and then a cardinal. As befitting a man of the cloth, he would show no further interest in invasions or intrigues. Needless to say, he did not produce any heirs either. 


The House of Savoy

At this point, the Stuart dynasty runs out. There were no remaining male heirs.

Jacobites would have to go back over a hundred years, all the way back to a sister of James II, to find their next monarch.


That sister, Henrietta Anne (1644-1670), had married Phillipe, a member of the French royal family, producing two daughters. The surviving daughter, Anna Maria (1689-1728), would subsequently marry Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia. They in turn would have a son, Charles Emmanuel III (1701-1773), who would in turn have a son himself, Victor Amadeus III (1726-1796).

Only at this point would Henrietta Anne’s line finally catch up with the Stuarts.

Charles IV (1807-1819)

As the eldest son of Victor Amadeus III, Charles would also become Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia (as Charles Emmanuel IV). When Henry IX died in 1807, Charles should also have become King of England – as Charles IV. 

Charles was born in 1751, his mother being the Spanish Princess Maria Antonia. He would in turn marry a French Princess, one Marie Clotilde. They would not, however, have any children.


Charles was something of a bust. He inherited his throne in 1796, right in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars. As a result, he was deposed in Savoy and fled to Sardinia. When Clotilde died in 1802, Charles decided to abdicate in favor of his brother, Victor Emmanuel. He would eventually retire to the Jesuit novitiate in Rome, passing away in 1819. Interestingly, he and Henry IX were actually friends.

Personally, Charles may have been the victim of too much inbreeding. Small and sickly, he was also most likely epileptic. He and his wife were both extremely religious. 

Victor (1819-1824)

Victor would have inherited the throne of Great Britain on the death of his childless brother, in 1819. Unfortunately, he would not have reigned long, passing away himself seven years later, at the age of 64.

Much like his brother, Victor (as Victor Emmanuel I) would abdicate the throne of Sardinia, with Victor doing so in 1821. (A famous reactionary, he would be chased out by more liberal forces.) Victor would then retire to Nice – at that time, part of Savoy. Dying in 1824, he would be buried in Turin, resting beside his brother.


I’m afraid I couldn’t find that much about Victor as a person. It sounds like he may have been healthier than his brother, as well as less religious. 

It was Victor who was on the throne when Savoy was finally restored, by the way. Interestingly, though, the next Jacobite monarch would lose both Savoy and Sardinia.

A Royal Separation

The House of Savoy is a Salic dynasty. That means that only a male can inherit the throne. 

Great Britain, however, is not. Hence the current monarch, as well as such major figures as Elizabeth I and Victoria, along with such lesser ones as Anne and Mary. 

Now, here’s where things get interesting …

Victor Emmanuel I actually happened to be quite prolific, having no less than four children who lived to maturity. Unfortunately, they all happened to be daughters. So, though that may have been a total non-issue with the British, the Savoyards had to look elsewhere for their next monarch.

In fact, they would have to go back to a great-great-great-great grandfather before they could trace a male line forward again to their next king. That king, Charles Felix, would inherit Savoy and Sardinia, but not Great Britain.

Mary II (1824-1840)

Victor Emmanuel’s oldest daughter – and, thus, rightful heir to the British crown – was one Maria Beatrice, born in 1792. Her mother was Maria Theresa, an Austrian and Hapsburg princess.


Maria Beatrice would marry Francis IV, Duke of Modena, who also just so happened to be her maternal uncle. Somehow or other, they would manage to have four healthy children. Maria Beatrice died at the fairly young age of 47, of a heart condition, and was buried in Modena. I’m afraid I couldn’t find much about her personality-wise.

The House of Hapsburg

Though Mary II was of the House of Savoy, she would also be the end of the line. Subsequent heirs would be of the House of Hapsburg, the line of her husband. These heirs would also be Dukes of Modena as well. 


Imagine that – a little piece of Italian territory flying the Union Jack. Unfortunately, that would only last until 1860, when Modena would become part of the Kingdom of Italy.

Francis I (1840-1876)

The eldest son of Mary and Francis would be another Francis, born in 1819. He would rule Modena, as Francis V, until 1860, when the Duchy was dissolved. 

Francis would marry a princess of the Kingdom of Bavaria with the rather unusual name of Adelgunde. They would have a daughter, but the poor little thing would live for only a year.


Without a throne, Francis would retire to Vienna, where he would later die (in 1876) and be buried. Interestingly he would leave most of his estate to his cousin Franz Ferdinand – yup, the same Franz Ferdinand whose assassination would spark World War I.

On the personal side, Francis seemed to be a decent chap, kind and sensitive. As a ruler, he was popular and had a common touch, but also seemed to be rather weak and indecisive.

Who knows how he would have fared as King of Great Britain. He certainly would have been on the throne for awhile, from 1840 to 1876, a full 36 years.

Mary III (1876-1919)

As Francis would die childless, the Jacobite line would have to go back up the family tree to find the next heir. Though Francis’s brother Ferdinand was not a contender (he passed away in 1849), he did leave a daughter, one Maria Theresa (her mother, Elizabeth Franziska, was an Austrian Archduchess). Born in the year of her father’s death, Maria Teresa would survive until 1919.

As Queen of Great Britain, she would have lasted even longer than her uncle Francis. On the throne for 43 years, her reign would have extended from 1876 to 1919. 


As it turns out, Maria Teresa actually did become a queen, though of the much smaller Kingdom of Bavaria. She and her king, Ludwig III, would have a happy marriage, producing no less than 13 children, ten of whom would live to maturity.

Maria Teresa would pass away in 1919, not quite 70 years old. She’s buried in Munich. 

On the personal side, Maria Teresa appeared to be unassuming, charitable, and patriotic. She also had a gift for languages, speaking German, Hungarian, Czech, French, and Italian.

The House of Wittelsbach

The Jacobite line would now enter its fourth dynasty. Mary’s husband was a Wittelsbach. Thus, their future children – and all future claimants to the British throne – would share the odd Germanic name as well.


Note, though, that they would not add Bavaria to the British Empire. The Kingdom of Bavaria would, in fact, come to an end with Germany’s losing World War II and becoming a republic.

Robert (1919-1955)

The eldest of Mary’s 13 children, Robert (Rupprecht, in German) was born in 1869. He would, thus, have ascended the British throne at the fairly advanced age of 50. Incredibly, though, he would have reigned for another 36 years, passing away at the very ripe old age of 86.

Robert was known primarily as a soldier. During WWI, he would be made Field Marshall, controlling a good number of the German soldiers on the Western Front.

Though his father, Ludwig III, would die in 1921, Robert would never become King of Bavaria. After 700-some years, Wittelsbachs would no longer rule the southern German state.


Robert would marry twice. His first wife (and second cousin), Marie Gabrielle, would provide one surviving heir, but die at the very young age of 34. After WWI, Robert would marry Princess Antonia of Luxembourg, 30 years his junior. They would have six children.  

Robert and Antonia were strong anti-Nazis, and Antonia and the children were actually imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau. The experience would break Antonia’s health, and she would die a year before Rupert, at the fairly young age of 54.

Robert was a very popular figure among Bavarians. I’m convinced he would have made an excellent king of Great Britain as well.

Albert (1955-1996)

Albert (German Albrecht) would also be long-lived, reigning for 41 years and passing away in 1996 at the extremely ripe old age of 91. (He would be buried in Munich, like his father before him.)

Born in 1905, Albert would see all but a few years of the 20th Century. Unfortunately, this included seeing his family deposed, fleeing the Nazis, and being imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau.


His marriage to Countess Maria Draskovich de Trakostjan was somewhat controversial dynastically, with some Wittelsbachs arguing that a countess was, basically, not good enough for their Albrecht. His father ruled otherwise, and the Jacobite line would proceed unimpeded.

Albert was a famous hunter, slaughtering almost 3,500 poor, defenseless animals, as well as authoring a couple of books on the “habits of deer.” I really don’t know what he was like personality-wise. I do know, though, that he looked surprisingly like the colonel on the Fawlty Towers TV show.

Francis II (1996 – current)

So, here he is – the rightful King of Great Britain. He seems like a pleasant chap and would, I’m sure, make a fine monarch.


Born in 1933, Francis would have inherited the throne at the rather advanced age of 63. He’s still going strong, though, at 82. 

Growing up, Francis would – like his father, mother, and siblings – spend time in Nazi concentration camps. After the war, he would study at the University of Munich. He would also become an avid collector of modern art. A gifted linguist, Francis speaks German, French, Hungarian and … English! He divides his time amongst several Bavarian palaces and castles.

Interestingly, there has been some talk about Francis becoming the king of an independent Scotland. Both the failure of the referendum on independence, as well as the refusal of Francis to even consider the idea, have effectively squashed those plans.

The Jacobite Succession

Because Francis never married, his heir is his brother Max. As Max, at age 78, is only a few years younger than his brother, chances are the next monarch might well be from among Max’s children (I also have a very hard time imagining a King Max). 


Interestingly, he and his wife, The Swedish Countess Elisabeth Douglas, have – once again – produced plenty of children, but all daughters (and five of them, no less). The eldest is Sophie, born in 1967. She married Alois, the heir to the Principality of Liechtenstein, in 1993. 


They managed to produce a male heir, Joseph, who was born in 1996. Thus, Joseph will eventually become Prince of Liechtenstein ... as well as (Jacobite at least) King of Great Britain. He was actually the first Jacobite heir to be born in the UK since the 17th Century. He would also be the first Jacobite heir to become an actual head of state since Francis, who was Duke of Modena. Finally, he would also be the first of another new dynasty, that of the House of Liechtenstein.