Saturday, June 30, 2012

Jesus Loves Me

this I know...
...'cause the Constitution tells me so!

What fresh hell is this?

Honestly, the Founders really did this nation a disservice by not rounding up the damn snake-handlers and bible-belters and Christiopaths (along with the Tories) and shipping their lame, nonreasoning, paste-eating asses to Acadia.

Idiots. Faaagh.

Mister B. Natural

One of the most hilarious bits ever done by one of the funniest shows ever made;Mystery Science Theatre 3000 varied from amusing to friggin' murderous, and this is truly brilliant. Of course, they had a lot to work with.

And I can't just leave you Mister B. Natural without adding this; the character was played by a dancer and (oddly...) opera singer named Betty Luster. Betty seems to have been just one more of the gajillion pretty girls consumed by popular entertainment in the Forties and Fifties.

According to Wikipedia, she first turned up as something called "Miss Lake Mowhawk" in '37. (Her IMDB bio says she was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1922, so this seems to have been the Lake Mohawk in Jersey).

She seems to have gone to England for a while in the late Thirties (where she appeared in an early Beeb TV show!) but was back in the States by 1940, and was a chorine on Broadway and Miami Beach and sang at the Philadelphia Opera through the Forties. In 1950 and 1951 she was in Hollywood doing TV work for a game and variety show, and she's known to have been back on Broadway in the mid-Fifties.
(Betty's on the right, in the toe shoes, BTW)

So far as we know Mister B. was her last role. She got married some time in the late Fifties to one Edmund Astley Prentis the Third, who was - get this - a geotechnical engineer! Dude, we effing rock!

At least his obit says his firm, Spencer, White and Prentis Inc. "specialized in underground and underpinning construction. Among its projects were the underground areas of the White House, the World Trade Center and sections of the New York subway system."

So Ned got the hot crossdressing b-natural babe, and she, apparently happily, became his spouse, helpmeet and baby-mama and never trod the boards again.

Instead, she became - I shit you not - a "world-class croquet player".


Did you even know there WAS such a thing?


Here's the Nedster himself, croquing away or whatever the hell you call it, from his Croquet Hall of Fame bio.

Oh, and it says there he typically played dressed in "Panama hat, white shorts, white knee socks with red flashers, and the occasional bush jacket" which, frankly, would have been enough put me off my stroke just looking at him, but, then, that's world-class croquet for you - it's a blood sport.

So there's a Croquet Hall of Fame.

And Betty's hubby is in it.

What a world we live in, eh?

Anyway, seems like Ned and Betty were a pretty happy couple. They had four kids, a brace of each gender, and a fistful of grandkids, and lived in croquet-lathered luxury (did I mention that he was also a big-game hunter and one of those sports fisherman that flies around to places where you can catch ginormous fish you can't eat, like marlin, and that they lived in West Palm Beach, which is serious Rich People Land? Did so.) until Ned went to the Big Wicket in the Sky in '97. Betty lived on at their home in West Palm Beach, presumably skinning benjamins off the noobs at the West Palm Croquet Club, for almost fifteen more years until her own death a year ago.

And that was that, the end of Mister B.

You knew you read this blog for stuff just exactly like this, didn't you?

Damn straight.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Really Bad Ideas

Did you ever - when you were a kid or, more likely, when you were a teenager or a young adult - get an idea that you knew was reeeeeeally stupid?
I don't mean your casual idiocy, the sort of thing that you drive by every so often when you're mentally joyriding and look over before moving on. I mean your truly, deeply, invasively moronic dumbfuckery. Genuinely weapons-grade stupid? The kind of complete-lack-of-electrical-brain-function thing that gets people maimed, or killed, that topples governments, that ends up with things exploding, or burning down, with people in full body casts or tipped into a shallow pit along with a Folger's tin full of gasoline and a lit cigarette?

Remember how - since you're here reading this, obviously - you gave this dumbass thought some consideration, weighing the potential enjoyment of whatever goofy thing you would have tried to do against the nearly dead solid certainty that doing it would unerringly, inevitably, as-directly-as-a-pup-to-its-dinner-consequently end up with you in some sort of mental, physical, emotional, and moral shithole?

And how you then either a) chose not to even try it or b) modified the actual act so as to reduce the odds of becoming a Darwin Award nominee, or c) actually tried it but managed through some incredible combination of pure dumb luck, timing, the intervention of a kindly God, and possibly fast reflexes survived?
Assuming you took options a) through c) you are still more intelligent and better adapted to human existence than the Republican Party of the United States and the vast majority of its minions, apparatchiks, hangers-on, bootlickers, and enablers who consider themselves things like "libertarian" or "independent" but still reliably vote Republican when the drapes to the election booth close.

Because, really...what the hell has the GOP produced, intellectually or physically, since 1865 that has been worth a half-dram of warm spit?

The last time any Republican president made any sort of sense was back in Eisenhower's time. And the breed that the Party of God has been producing since Nixon's time makes the droolingly inbred spawn of Mitteleuropean minor nobility look like the result of crossbreeding of Albert Einstein and Marie Curie.

Honestly. Try and think about the last time a Republican - elected official or candidate - proposed or supported an idea that was genuinely beneficial to the average U.S. working man or woman. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Hard to come up with even one, innit?

And yet, like the sort of gopher-brain-quality stupid we started talking about, the sheer volume and appalling stench of the Himalayan mountain-chain of ignorant crap the GOP has either formulated or recommended is childishly easy to bring to mind. It's like most of the crap that comes out of Michelle Bachman's brain is as sensible as playing tackle football in your undies.
I mean, makes you wonder.

And I'm not talking about the REALLY whack stuff, the Glenn-Beck, Pawlenty-Google-Test sort of idea or pretty much anything Rand Paul or his kid say. That's just the endpoint, the feces-scrawl of the ones in the canvas sportjackets with the wraparound sleeves that are kept safely locked away most of the time. The sort of Terri Schaivo-God-guns-and-gays shinola the GOP uses like the Amazing Kreskin uses a shiny object to keep the rubes morons Teabaggers nodding in unison.
That stuff is just the by-the-by sort of bullstuff that any good con man uses to keep the mark from noticing that the "weather seal" he's paying hundreds of dollars for the crew to put down on his driveway is really nothing but used motor oil that will run into his gutter the next time it rains.

That stuff is just there to keep the truly ignorant - the "Reagan Democrats", the feeble-minded scions of bible-bangers and white-flight suburbanites - from seeing the Big Con that's busting their unions, raping their health insurance, cramming down their wages while shipping their blue-collar jobs to Singafuckingpore.
That's just a bagatelle.

Nope. I'm talking about the "legitimate", mainstream planks of the generic Republican platform.

Foreign policy based on ignorant fear, propaganda, estimates of intent rather than capabilities, hubris, wishful thinking, and somebody's grade-school memories of British imperial justifications.
The economic theory of the Robber Baron era of crony capitalism spiced with delicious Randian sauce, in which unfettered "job creators" create...ummm...stuff...without actual proles to...ummm...physically "create" it. Dagny Taggart's superrailroad has no engineers, brakemen, yard managers, switchmen, mechanics, middle managers, shop foremen, surveyors, track inspectors, or janitors. Howard Roark's buildings go from his plan set to steel and concrete without drafters, CAD guys, carpenters, masons, general contractors, plumbers, pipefitters, boilermakers, concrete truck drivers, and the gal who pulls up outside the job site at noon in the taco truck.


Free trade?


Medicinal insurance and health care?




Corporate "personhood"?

Seriously. When was the last time you heard a Republican open his cakehole on one of these subjects and thought; "Gee...that'll REALLY help me out!"? The whole business is like the old story about banks; when was the last time a large commercial bank did something that "helped" you, that made your day simpler, easier, that helped make your life better?

Credit default swaps? Zero interest loans? Suuuuuuure.

The ATM is the last thing I can think of, and it still pisses me off that we PAY for something that allowed the damn bank to lay off a human teller and save all of the expenses thereof in return for something that gets hoovered out every morning.

Don't get me wrong; the U.S. Democrats are a bunch of clapped-out gutless pussies running terrified from the New Deal, the single most powerful moment in the history of the U.S. working class. They're as useless as a tampon in a typhoon and I'd be hard pressed to walk across the street to spit down their throats if they were on fire.

But the Republicans?

Their batshit, bugnuts, whackadoodle, teabag-hat, pining-for-feudalist-19th-Century idiocy has managed to take what for most of the middle of the Twentieth Century had been a comfortable place for a decent majority of Americans - the white, straight ones, anyway - and go a hell of a long way into returning it to the openly corrupt oligarchy it was in 1888.
And so long as at least a third of my fellow citizens are willing to give them a pass on their arrant nonsense there is no hope of returning any kind of sense to the discussion. It's like trying to have a logical argument with the friggin' Branch Davidians. In fact, it's impossible to HAVE a logical argument with someone who thinks that requiring someone to buy private health care insurance is the political equivalent of the Gulag Archipelago.

This country has become a huge live edition of Jackass with nuclear weapons.
And I honestly have no idea what to do about that.

Except this; if you're reading this, try and remember it the next time you step into that voting booth. Who do you want making decisions for you, the sort person who, while he or she might be a squishy soft, emo-coddled liberal, is at least trying to keep your grandma from living off cat food and sleeping in an old cardboard box, or the sort of person whose ideas for running your and grandma's lives are pretty close to yours that night you stopped off at Lucky's Elbow Room, drank fourteen vodka-and-Red-Bull shooters, and came up with the idea for "Naked Slip-n-slide" into the 7-Eleven parking lot across the street?
Just think about it.

All I'm sayin'.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I hear the pole gymnastics team is good, though...

So my friend Janelle forwarded this photo on Facebook:
and I have to give one of her pals (whose name - since I want to give him credit but not compromise his privacy - will call "Will") huge credit for what I thought was the top comment:

"Sure, you can get a degree from Girls Gone Wild University, but then you just end up with massive amounts of student loan debt, a job market still trying to bounce back and probably an STD. Start off with Girls Gone Wild Community College. It's just the smarter play."

And just think how much further your G.I. Bill would go there. Pay for a lot of Natty Light and see-through community college logo tank tops. Though I hear the GGWU "drunken limbo" team is offering a full ride. So, your call.
Personally, I hope my daughter finds a good trade school...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Battles Long Ago: Clatsop Plains 1942

Clatsop Plains (The Shelling of Ft. Stevens) Date: 21 JUN 1942

Forces Engaged: Empire of Japan - B1-type (Otsu-gata) fleet submarine I-25; 17 x Type 95 "Long Lance" torpedoes, 1 x 5.5"/50cal deck gun, 94 officers and enlisted crewmen under Commander Tagami Meiji

United States of America - Units of the Coast Artillery, U.S. Army., manning the harbor defense guns emplaced at Fort Stevens, Oregon.

So far as I can tell the batteries at Fort Stevens were heavily manned on the night of 21 JUN. The garrison consisted of most of the 1st Battalion, 18th Coast Artillery (U.S. Army) and the 249th Coast Artillery battalion, Oregon Army National Guard in federal service.

C Battery, 1/18th CA appears to have been detached with 4 x 12" railway mortars to Brown's Point further up the mouth of the Columbia River in January, 1942, but the remaining batteries; HHSB, A, and B, 1/18th CA and HHSB, A, B, and C 249th CA (ORARNG) were on duty at Ft. Stevens that night. In addition the cadre of a new Coast Artillery unit, the 267th CA, had arrived on 12 JUN to prepare for the arrival of the remainder of the unit in August.

The strength report for 30 JUN 1942 lists 129 officers, 5 warrant officers, and 2,194 enlisted men. Of these, the most closely involved were the artillerymen manning Battery Russell under one CPT Woods; which unit was crewing the guns I have not been able to determine.

Battery Russell, which faced the Pacific, mounted two M1900 10" rifled cannon on what was known as a "disappearing" carriage. This contraption was basically a set of folding legs that could be lowered to load the cannon and then raised above the emplacement parapet to fire, making the gun difficult to hit with the low-angle, flat-trajectory naval guns typical of the turn-of-the-19th-century when the cannon were manufactured.

The total armament of Ft. Stevens that night consisted of:

Battery Russell's two 10" cannon;
A total of eight 12" mortars: 4 x M1918 mortars mounted on railway cars and another 4 M1890 type emplaced in Battery Clark, and
Battery Pratt's two 6" M1897MI cannon.

The commander of the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia River was one COL Doney, CA...

...and all of this military might was part of the U.S. Army's Ninth Coast Artillery District commanded by MG Wilson far away and safe in his bed on the night of 21 JUN...

The Campaign: It's frankly hard to call the events of 21 JUN 1942 much of a "battle", much less as part of a "campaign". I wanted to tell the story as a curiosity and as a favorite part of Oregon history that is usually forgotten. It was an oddity in an odd moment in the Great Pacific War, but one that was serious enough to the people who lived through it, and so perhaps I should give the moment a bit of historical context.

But here's the problem.

The events of 21 JUN 42 make absolutely no frigging sense to me from a military standpoint.

Let's walk back the spring of 1942 a bit, shall we?

The two enemies had very different strategic objectives, and their military plans reflected that.

The Japanese needed the U.S. Navy off their ass so they could complete the subjugation of the Philippines and the seizure of the "Southern Resource Area" otherwise known as the Dutch East Indies colonies and the lovely petroleum hidden thereunder.

The United States needed to hold off the Japanese in the central Pacific until the Pacific Fleet could recover from the beating the received at Pearl Harbor, keep their lines of supply to Australia open (and that country un-invaded, although the Japanese had no real plans to do so the U.S. couldn't be sure of that), and then figure out how to pry open the Japanese defensive network that the Empire had flung out across the southwestern and western Pacific beginning after the First World War.

The wild card was the U.S. strategic intelligence gathered through various codebreaking schemes, which enabled the U.S. to anticipate the Japanese plan to stage a decisive engagement with the U.S. carriers in the central Pacific. This engagement went off as planned, but as we all know the decision was against the Kido Butai, which lost four fleet carrier decks and hundreds of talented fliers in the course of several days in June.

You would think that a Japanese fleet submarine would have been gawdamn busy in the month of June; scouting for the Combined Fleet, harrying the U.S. convoys supplying it's Midway task forces, sinking American carriers or some damn thing that supported Yamamoto's Operation Mai tactical plan for Midway.

But you'd be wrong, neh?

Instead of hunting Yankee sailors, in June '42 the I-25 and her crew were farkling about off the Northwest coast, because...

Would you believe - the Dolittle Raid?

The most common explanation I've read for the overall mission of the I-25's Third War Patrol was to commit mayhem along the U.S. Left Coast in retaliation for the audacity of the gringos bombing the Imperial homeland.

I'm not sure if I believe it. Except for one thing; the overall strategic fucktardry of the 大日本帝国海軍 (Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kaigun)'s submarine forces.

And that was with a hell of a submersible force at the beginning of the war; the IJN had a total of 63 fleet subs on 8 DEC 41, including some of the most powerful in the world at the time.

Even a web page about Japanese imperial submarines has to admit that "(g)iven their (advantages in) size, range, speed, and torpedoes, Japanese submarines achieved surprisingly little."

The common explanation is that the Japanese had no real idea what to do with their subs other than throw them at enemy warships. And they did a fairly decent job of this in 1942.

But pitting slow submerged submarines (and remember that WW2 subs were really "submersibles" - they were actually pretty damn poor at doing anything submerged outside of running slow and silent for a damn short time until their batteries ran down and fumes and lack of oxygen overcame their crews, not to mention the incredible stench from the bilges where who-the-hell knew what awful swill floated - at least by 1942 most navy subs had actual heads, unlike the WW1 varieties where the crewmen used the bilges for a shitter) against sonar-equipped escorts is a mug's game.

And - remember, the WW2 subs had to spend a LOT of time on the surface - the U.S. naval air arm and long-distance reconnaissance aircraft got real good real fast at pickling off a depth charge or eight on whatever hapless Japanese sub they could find, and they found a lot of 'em.

But for the rest of it, the Japanese widdled their submarine force away in all sorts of pointless missions; resupply, snoop-and-pooping, lurking outside U.S. naval bases hoping to sneak a torpedo up the skirt of some careless Yankee...and, I suspect, this mission.

And the Third War Patrol really was pretty pointless. Listen, here's the itinerary for the I-25's 1942 West Coast Tour;

11 MAY 42: Departs Yokosuka.

27-30 MAY 42: Recons Kodiak, Dutch Harbor and USN units in Alaska in support of the Operation AL, the Aleutian diversion for the Battle of Midway. But the submarine is nowhere near the Aleutians during the actual operation - she's en-route to Oregon

14 JUN 42: On station off the coast of Oregon. I-25 is reported to "have launched a number of false bamboo periscopes to confuse the ASW vessels in the vicinity". Frankly, the bamboo-periscope thing sounds like a piece of slap-a-Jap racism except it's almost too bizarre for that so it may well be true.

Okay, pay attention, here's the odd bit, now:

18 JUN 1942: The web page listing I-25's movements during this time says: "ComSubRon 1 (RADM Yamazaki) orders the I-25 and the I-26 to shell military targets on the American west coast."
Frankly, that doesn't make sense to me if the point of this patrol was Revenge! for the Dolittle Raid. This seems like the kind of brilliant fucking idea some staff pogue comes up with for the combat types to try out. I wonder how the phrase "Trust me! This'll go slicker'n water of a cat's ass!" translates into Japanese? I think this entire operation was some REMF's idea of a killer career move. But that's just me; your mileage may vary. What do you think?


20-21 JUN 1942: torpedoes a British freighter northwest of the mouth of the Columbia, and attacks two other vessels, sinking none.

21 JUN 1942: fires 17 rounds of 5.5" at Fort Stevens on the N coast of Oregon, but inflicts no significant damage. (One dud shell landed near the golf course on Delaura Beach Road and is now a memorial) The Japanese actually intended to shell the "American submarine base at Astoria."

11 July 1942: Returns Yokosuka.

And that was that.

So I'm not sure if there really was much of a "plan" involved here. I think some staff puke attached to Submarine Squadron One got a wild hair up his ass after hearing about the fiasco that was Yamamoto's brilliant Midway operation and wanted one of his guys to kill some Yankees, ANY Yankees, goddamnit.

So Commander Meiji got his orders and the boys at Battery Russell got a rude awakening on a Sunday night.

The Sources: The usual; official records, war diaries, personal accounts, letters, newspapers, all the literary appurtenances of living in a literate society.

Of the written sources in particular I'd like to recommend Panic! at Fort Stevens by Bert Webber; a nice little illustrated account of the night, and probably the single volume specific to the event. Available from the Columbia River Maritime Museum (a pretty terrific place, as well...) here.

There's several good on-line places to read about the night of 21 JUN. The Wiki entry is perhaps the worst place to begin. It's a great example of "bad" Wiki; sparse, missing the Webber primary source, and contains a reference to a supposed B-17 attack that I frankly consider unlikely.

Somebody named Dale Fehrenger has a nice account of the evening featuring quotes from CPT Wood, the Battery Russell commander, and other participants. There are a handful of what look like factual inaccuracies (the B1 submarines are listed at 94 crew, not 108...but, then, wartime units tend to find places for people and equipment they're not "supposed" to have, so, there...)

An outfit called the "Coast Defense Study Group" has a great site for information on Fort Stevens here. Well worth a look, especially the terrific pictures.

The Engagement: The round tale of the night of Sunday, 21 JUN, is quickly told. But indulge me; I want to set the table a little bit.

First, the defenses.

The coastal guns at Ft. Stevens in 1942 - in fact, all around the mouth of the Columbia - were still largely sited and their fields of fire planned with the Spanish-American War parameters of naval architecture in mind.

The forts around the river mouth; Ft. Stevens on Clatsop Spit to the south, Ft. Canby on the south end of the Long Beach peninsula to the north, and the smaller Ft. Columbia just southeast of Chinook, Washington (also on the north bank) were designed engage an enemy force actually entering the harbor. Look at the fields of fire for the active Ft. Stevens batteries. Here's Battery Pratt's 2 x 6" guns;

And here's another pair of 6-inchers, these mounted on Battery Murphy at Ft. Columbia:

The real smashing was expected to have been done by the high-angle fire of the 12" mortars crashing down through wooden decks; as you can see, these weapons had considerably better arc of fire, although their range was not much longer than the much smaller 6-inchers:

(These diagrams are all from an archived 1937 document titled Annexes to Harbor Defense Project, Harbor Defenses of the Columbia viewable at the Coast Defense Study Group website) There is nothing listed in this annex for Battery Russell - since in '37 the battery was officially out of service - but the maximum range for a 10" M1900 is listed as 14,000 yards. So the arc of fire of Russell would have probably looked something like this:

You'll notice the red circle?

That's I-25's 5.5"/50 deck gun. Designed twenty years after the M1900, with half the size it has almost half again the range; 21,600 yards.

We'll get back to that in a moment.

So it must have been a pretty lazy Sunday night for the boys at Fort Stevens. Astoria, Hammond, and Warrenton - the closest towns - were still pretty rural places in '42, lots of fishing, clamming, and crabbing. Some saltgrass sorts of agriculture and dairying. The waterfront bars were known to be tough, and you were likely to get into a fight if you used the wrong look at some Finn pissed off from a long day and no fish. Or a different sort of look at his daughter.

But the lucky few were back from pass, probably telling the usual lies GIs have always told about the drinking and fucking heroics, while the post settled into the early lights-out routines. Sentries shook their heads and squinted into the dark of a June night. The busy day noises died away and the nighttime sounds took over; the distant surf booming and hissing, the sound of crickets and the whine of mosquitoes, occasional sounds of cars or trucks on the Coast Highway out in the eastern darkness.

Out in the greater darkness of the Pacific Ocean I-25 had surfaced some time before 2330. I could find no record of her course or speed, but I suspect that she was probably cruising slowly southwards, for reasons I'll explain later.

It must have been a nerve-wracking moment. The enemy's landmass, presumably loaded with pantsloads of scary dangerous aircraft, soldiers, and sailors lay less than 4 miles to port. The sub had used the local fishing fleet to slip through the sea mines and past the guardships, but there was no disguising the danger. The gun crew presumably had their helmets strapped on tight and their kapok vests over their summer whites as they cranked the cannon around and elevated the muzzle.

The number one man jammed the first round into the breech and the assistant gunner slammed the breech closed. The gun captain probably looked up at the bridge, and someone, possibly even the captain himself, barked 暖炉!

Open fire!

The crewmen said later that they didn't bother to use the 5.5" gunsight; their target was blacked out, anyway, and, besides, it's hard to miss the ground with a shell.

A long tongue of flame strobed the night, the first round spiraled out of the gun muzzle and then the crew waited impatiently until the bloom of fire announced the first enemy cannon round to land on a continental United States fortification since 1865.

Let's let CPT Woods take up the story.

Things went pretty crazy in the first moments under fire. Troops ran to their guns half-dressed or undressed, sirens screamed, one of the searchlight flicked on and raked the water only to snap off after an officer threatened to shoot it out for giving away the emplacement's position. Battery Russell was loaded and ready to fire within several minutes and CPT Woods requested permission to open fire from the central fire direction center at Main Post.
"While waiting for the order to return fire,"
the Fehrenger article runs,
"Captain Wood and his men considered their options. Since they couldn’'t tell exactly where the shots were coming from, they decided to focus on the flashes from the submarine and fire their guns over and under the flashes, like field artillery pieces. If they weren'’t able to hit the sub, that approach should at least scare it away.

Eventually a response was received: “Do not fire. – I say again; do not fire.

Wood’s men were unhappy. There was grumbling from soldiers at the guns and in the ammunition rooms below. Richard Emery, who was a soldier at Fort Stevens that night, said, “"We were frustrated. There was a lot of anger. We felt that we should have been able to fire back."
Apparently the combination of darkness and a target that consisted of a moving series of flashes had resulted in a poor plot in the FDC; I-25 was plotted as out of range of Russell's 10-inchers, and if Battery Russell couldn't hit her none of the Stevens batteries could.

But given the reported elevation of I-25's deck gun and the strike of the rounds it's likely that the submarine was no more than 13,000 to 15,000 yards away; possibly out of range, but possibly not. The lack of radar guidance for the older cannons was shown to be a critical flaw. The U.S. batteries remained silent.

At 2345 I-25 fired the last of 17 rounds. Her gun crew secured the cannon for dive, and the deck crew went below save for lookouts and the conning party. The submarine turned west, heading out to sea, and back to Japan. She slipped past several small boats, presumably fishermen, and, diesels thumming, began to pick up speed as she headed for home.

The cannonade of Clatsop Plains was over.

The Outcome: Utterly trivial; a minor Japanese tactical and propaganda "victory", if you will, but meaningless outside of an exciting evening for the participants and a black eye for the Coast Artillery Corps.

The Impact: Physical? Well...some craters on the beach, shell fragments all around Battery Russell, including damage to the backstop of a baseball diamond about 100 yards away.

A near-miss on a beach house where three kids peed themselves for the first time since toddlerhood.

A power line was scored, eventually rusted through, and broke.

That powerline, by the way, was on Delaura Beach Road, some considerable distance south of the initial impacts around Russell. See?

Which is why I suspect that I-25 was cruising slowly south as she fired; a random MPI like that doesn't make sense unless she was drifting south, in my opinion. No matter, really, except the site is monumented today:

But emotional?

For all that the actual military damage that I-25 did that night, the real impact of her attack (and the September aerial bombing by her E14Y1 "Glen" floatplane) was in the minds of Americans, who saw one more damn Jap attack after another (given the shelling of oil facilities in southern California in February, and now this...) The shelling probably contributed to the fear that imprisoned thousands of Japanese-Americans all over the West Coast, and helped fan the overall ruthlessness that characterized the Pacific War.

Mind you, the Japanese could do ruthless. And did.

For all that this was just a ridiculous and silly scrap, overall it was a pretty goddamn awful war.

Oh, and interesting - note that in the World's Probably Even Then Worst Newspaper the number of shells is listed as nine. Other U.S. eyewitnesses said eleven; almost no one said 17. Chances are that over a third of the Japanese shells landed in the water, or the soft ground typical of Clatsop Plains and didn't explode.

But perhaps the most significant fatality of that night was the Coast Artillery itself.

The inability of the coastal forts to keep off their insignificant attacker was a painful remainder that the era of naval gunnery was all but over. Aircraft would patrol the coasts from now on, and by 1944 almost all of the old batteries at Ft. Stevens were abandoned.

A pair of newer 5-inch guns were installed and quietly decommissioned within a year.

Ft. Stevens, Ft. Canby, and Ft. Columbia were all leased or sold within the next several decades; there are no active coastal defense installations in the United States.

The Coast Artillery Corps itself, which had been split off from the Field Artillery only in 1907, lived only another eight years and was merged back with the redlegs of the FA. Ironically, several old Coast Artillery posts were used in the Fifties as sites for CIM-10 Bomarc launchers, perhaps the last true heir to the fortified cannon defenses.

In a moment of panic fear of yellow hordes swarming ashore a renewed energy was applied to coastal defenses along the West Coast, however, including another layer of barbed wire entanglements along the beach.

The wire is said to have been buried under sand or washed away within a year and was never repaired or replace as it became starkly clear that the Japanese weren't going to visit.

What did remain tangled in the wreck of the Peter Iredale, however, and is said to have remained a hell of a nuisance for several years.

Ft. Stevens has been turned into a state park, where on nice summer days you can drive around the old concrete batteries and hear about the excitement of the night of 21 JUL. Oddly, the popular attraction of late has become the restoration of the older earthwork, built during the Civil War, and the swarms of black powder reenactors who show up to fight impossible blue-gray battles over weekends in July.

Battery Russell stands empty amid the riot of salal and Oregon grape that has grown up and through the silent flash doors to the magazines.

A plastic and wooden replica of the old M1900 cannon sits in simulated ferocity in the slowly decaying concrete of one of the revetments,

While timber grows from the old formation area, and in defiance of first sergeants long gone the walls are stained and scribbled with names and declarations of love, foolishness, and ferocity.

CPT Woods command post still looks out on the restless Pacific, the only Japanese vessels within its gunsights now the immense slab-sided car carriers bringing Mitsubishis whose intent is purely harmless. In the cool woodlands outside the zeeee of the hermit thrush echoes the whisper of the nightfire of seventy years ago.