Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hitler and invading Britain

Kevin Myers has an opinion piece in the Indo today in which he says "Everything people believed about Hitler's intentions toward Britain was a myth created by Churchill". I personallty think he's got what it was possible for Hitler to decide to do and what was actually likely to work mixed up, as I said in this comment:

The more-or-less unarguable fact that Hitler's invasion plan for Britain was deeply flawed needs to be considered in the context of the level of authority Hitler had and the way he made decisions. The first thing is that nobody had the authority to override Hitler and very few were willing to even question his decisions. So the opinons of the senior military lesders within Nazi germany were only relevent to their own careers, and not to the decisions of the Fuhrer.

The second thing is that Hitler had repeatedly succeeded with moves that were successful because they were so unexpected - common sense and orthodoxy ruled out trying to move his army through the ardennes so when he did it he took the entire world by surprise. Over time it would become apparent that Hitler was far from a genious, but in 1940 this had not become obvious.

As a result Hitler had developed an undeserved reputation as a strategic genius, which meant that invasion paranoia was an entirely rational response, especially when you have aerial photos showing the preperations for an invasion.

Had Hitler given the order to invade history would have changed - if Britain had succumbed he would have been free to turn his hand to Russia until the completion of both the Manhatten project and ultra long range the B36 bomber by 1947 created existential problems for his regime.

The the other possible - and far more likely outcome - would have been a failure of the invasion, which would have in turn raised questions about the wisdom on taking on Russia that even his own generals might have been unable to ignore

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rental Car Pricing Weirdness II - CDW on Arrival...

In my last post I pointed out how Hertz pricing differed radically based on which web site you used.

Here's another example if weirdness relating to CDW/LDW:

Neither Thrifty nor Dollar will tell me how much CDW/LDW is in advance. Instead I'm expected to wait until I am at the counter before finding out. So I'm being asked to commit to a rental which could be up to US$30/day more expensive. Given the base rental rate is roughly that amount already it's a ridiculous thing to do. From my viewpoint it's not my money I'm spending and since I'm not in the habit of entering my employer into potentially unlimited spending commitments I think I'll pass. Note that did the same thing when I checked.

Rental Car Pricing Weirdness I ... Hertz likes Irish drivers...

Living in Ireland and thinking of renting a car in the US? It pays to shop around. Even when dealing with the same vendor

I had to rent a car in Washington DC and was doing the rounds of the rental websites. I discovered this somewhat startling anomaly:

Depending on whether you use or you will be offered different prices for the exact same rental.

Since this is more than a bit odd I have screenshots of both offers of a rental at Washington Dulles:

Using I was offered US$2674.80:

And the same rental at was EUR1387.72:

Even assuming a back of the envelope exchange rate of 1.25 that's still only US$1734....

From what I can tell the issue is with the additional insurance(s) that I selected - CDW or LDW.

My guess is it works like this:
  • Almost all US rentals are domestic. works on this assumption.
  • US Drivers almost always insure rental cars on their own car insurance.
Those who don't/won't/can't are either:
  • Too rich to care (price insensitive)
  • Don't own a car (A bit of a red flag from an automobile insurance viewpoint...)
  • Don't pay attention (ditto)
As a result Hertz's US site prices LDW/CDW aggressively, even if the prospective renter needs CDW/LDW because he's not a US resident and his car insurance won't cover him there. But the dot ie website '' makes the starting assumption that anyone looking to rent in the US must be an Irish driver who will need CDW because his insurance won't cover him outside Europe and is thus a reasonable risk compared to Americans who need LDW/CDW.

Note to People who know about this as opposed to having opinions: Am I right? If not, correct me!

So if you're Irish consider this: The next time you spend 8 hours on a plane into Dulles, get to the rental counter at around 2am Irish time, rent a car and  trundle nervously out of the Hertz lot in your Buick Zipcode or whatever-the-hell-it-is-they-are-renting-this-week while  simultaneously trying to disarm the radio which is stuck on something called the 'Kojo Nnamdi Show', get the mirrors to show something other than sky without opening the trunk (again), identify which of the 12 different Marriotts in your destination city you are actually staying in and find your driver's license for the dude at the exit  consider this:

Hertz corporation regards you as a safer bet  than a US driver who buys CDW....

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rathgar's Runaway Reptiles...

"Floerentine", a local Tortoise attracted significant media attention after doing a runner from home. The Irish Times published my helpful idea:

Sir, – The owner’s of Rathgar’s runaway reptile (Home News, May 8th) could learn a lot from recent reports of a lost budgie in Tokyo that was returned to its owner because it had been trained to recite its entire address. While teaching Florentine to talk would probably be an insurmountable problem, his shell would still have plenty of space to write his full address. There may even be space left for sufficient postage to cover his return home. – Yours, etc, DAVID ROLFE, Leinster Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6.