No problem! It does look like you got to the bottom of the "how did that counter get there?" question, so I'll not comment further on that. As for your other questions:
Opinions vary wildly on that, but I suppose my opinion is as valid as any others', so since you asked, I'll share mine. "Statistical counters" of any kind, in 2007, are , if not actually a "Bad Thing"(tm), at least an amateurish and unprofessional thing. They actually provide little useful or reliable information (are easily manipulated by site owners), don't generally reflect accurately the number of "visitors" ("hits" are a different thing), and have generally fallen out of fashion on modern websites.
Often, if the functionality is benevolent and understood, users will elect to knowingly allow the cookie. A cookie, in and of itself, is not necessarily evil - it's all about how you use them. Does that help at all?
All of this, of course, is "just my opinion" and YMMV ...now all those that disagree with what I've said can "open up" and join the conversation!