A new computer virus is spreading throughout the Internet. Named Strunkenwhite, after the authors of a classic guide to good writing, it returns e-mail messages that have grammatical or spelling errors. It is deadly accurate in its detection abilities, unlike the spell-checkers that come with word-processing programs. The virus is causing something akin to panic throughout corporate America, which has become used to the typos, misspellings, missing words and mangled syntax so acceptable in cyberspace. The CEO of LoseItAll.com, an Internet startup,said the virus has rendered him helpless. "Each time I tried to send one particular e-mail this morning, I got back this error message: 'You dependent clause preceding your independent clause must be set off by commas, but one must not precede the conjunction.' I threw my laptop across the room." A top executive at a telecommunications and long-distance company, 10-10-10-10-10-10-123, said: "This morning, the same damned e-mail kept coming back to me with a pesky notation claiming I needed to use a pronoun's possessive case before a gerund. With the number of e-mails I crank out each day, who has time for proper grammar?" A broker at Begg, Barow and Steel speculated that the hacker who created Strunkenwhite was a "disgruntled English major who couldn't make it on a trading floor. When you're buying and selling on margin, I don't think it's anybody's business if I write that 'i meetinged through the morning, then cinched the deal on the cel phone while bareling down the xway.'" Strunkenwhite is particularly difficult to detect because it doesn't come as an e-mail attachment. Instead, it is disguised within the text of an e-mail titled "Congratulations on your pay raise." The message asks the recipient to "click here to find out about how your raise effects your pension." The use of "effects" rather than the grammatically correct "affects" appears to be an inside joke from Strunkenwhite's mischievous creator. The virus has left government e-mail systems in disarray. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget can no longer transmit electronic versions of federal regulations because their highly technical language seems to run afoul of Strunkenwhite's dictum that "vigorous writing is concise." The White House speechwriting office reported that it had received the same message, along with a caution to avoid phrases such as "the truth is" and "in fact." The virus can have an even more devastating impact if it infects an entire network. A cable news operation was forced to shut down its computer system for several hours when i discovered that Strunkenwhite had somehow infiltrated its TelePrompTer software, delaying newscasts and leaving news anchors nearly tongue-tied as they wrestled with proper sentence structure. Meanwhile, bookstores and online booksellers reported a surge in orders for Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style."