Bashing the Balrog: economic war with Russia. Where is autocorrect in Word 365?

View 841 Wednesday, September 03, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


Yesterday was mostly a discussion of the man sent to a mental ward for writing a science fiction novel. my tentative conclusion was that this was more a case of bad reporting than anything else.

Dr. Pournelle,

Even though reassured by the better-sourced articles you’ve linked and commented upon, I’m still a little concerned that the McLaw situation could easily turn out to be Gulag-style thought crime persecution, and perhaps even more so than the recent seizure of a basketball team. We seem to only still have the authorities’ version of events.


I hope you’re wrong, and I do believe that enough concern was aroused that competent reporters – there are still a few left in the journalism establishment – will discover the truth. As far as I can tell this was bad reporting, not malicious officials.  There do remain some good people in local government.  If we don’t believe that, we must conclude the the experiment begun in 1787 was a failure, and we could not keep the republic.  It degenerated into democracy and downhill from there, as the Framers feared it might.


But I just got tonight:   McLaw speaks!


Today’s LA Times Editorial Headline is “HOW TO PUT VLADIMIR PUTIN IN HIS PLACE.” The painless remedy, the TIMES tells us, is sanctions against Russian financiers and private companies. Another term for economic sanctions is economic warfare.

Today’s Daily Tech headline is Russian Hackers Hit Home Depot with "Massive" Credit Card Theft

Previously we had in the New York Times::

JPMorgan and Other Banks Struck by Hackers

A number of United States banks, including JPMorgan Chase and at least four others, were struck by hackers in a series of coordinated attacks this month, according to four people briefed on a continuing investigation into the crimes.

The hackers infiltrated the networks of the banks, siphoning off gigabytes of data, including checking and savings account information, in what security experts described as a sophisticated cyberattack.

The motivation and origin of the attacks are not yet clear, according to investigators. The F.B.I. is involved in the investigation, and in the past few weeks a number of security firms have been brought in to conduct forensic studies of the penetrated computer networks.

According to two other people briefed on the matter, hackers infiltrated the computer networks of some banks and stole checking and savings account information from clients. It was not clear whether the attacks were financially motivated, or if they were collecting intelligence as part of an espionage effort. Aside from JPMorgan, it was also not immediately clear which other banks were infiltrated.

JPMorgan has not seen any increased fraud levels, one person familiar with the situation said.

“Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyberattacks nearly every day,” said Patricia Wexler, a JPMorgan spokeswoman. “We have multiple layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels.” Joshua Campbell, an F.B.I. spokesman, said the agency was working with the Secret Service to assess the full scope of attacks. “Combating cyberthreats and criminals remains a top priority for the United States government,” he said.

The intrusions were first reported by Bloomberg, which indicated that they were the work of Russian hackers. But security experts and government officials said they had not yet made that conclusion.

We have also had attacks on Target, Walmart, and other major consumer outlets.

I have seen no allegations from official Washington that Russian hackers are encouraged by their government, but I do notice a decided lack of vigor among Russian cybercops in pursuing these plausibly deniable computer experts.

So we are to put Putin in his place with economic warfare. I am reminded of the filk song “Bashing the Balrog.” Perhaps we need a new verse.

It would indicate that once you start bashing the balrog, the balrog gets to bash you. Economic warfare, like any war, is costly to all the participants. There is real damage. Most of it is to property, and the casualties are profits and bank accounts, but the damage and casualties are quite real even so; and most economic wars end with no real winners, and a great deal of residual resentment. There are no established rules of engagement or laws of economic war, and no clear paths to victory; and we have little experience in ending an economic war.  About forty years ago, RAND Corporation published several studies on the theme of “hostile trade”, mostly about Japanese foreign policy during the Shogunate. I presume there are later studies of economic war, but I’m not familiar with them. It does seem a hazardous venture.  Russia needs Russians, or Slavs who speak Russian, and needs them badly; Russian population decline is an existential threat to Putin’s nation, and his power to do something about it grows less with time.  The US possesses neither the means nor the will to prevent Russia from increasing its influence over, and probably eventually annexing, the Don area of the Ukraine.  Making what Russia sees as a vital interest cost a great deal more than it would without our economic war effort will not be ignored.

Bashing the balrog is an adventurous undertaking.

Perhaps this is what the President meant by a “reset” in relations with Russia? An economic Cold War?


An even stronger view:

‘Russia’s intervention in Ukraine isn’t madness; it’s a rational, realist response to what it correctly perceives as a geopolitical threat right there in its own backyard.’



Roland Dobbins

In fact, as we have consistently argued on spiked, the crisis in Ukraine owes far more to Western meddling than Russian. In fact, for the past 20 years, Western leaders have thoughtlessly, blunderingly provoked and frightened Russia over Ukraine. They have tried to pull Ukraine into the orbit of the EU, if not the EU itself. They have issued the half-baked offer of NATO membership to Ukraine, while simultaneously withdrawing it. And they have persistently, and self-aggrandisingly, talked of ‘promoting democracy’ in Ukraine and promulgating ‘Western values’. And what has made this so dangerous, what has led the region to the precipice, is that those selfsame Western actors pushing this policy-triad in the Ukraine don’t even recognise their intervention, their meddling, their clueless interference in Russia’s neighbour and one-time ally, for what it is: a provocation and a threat to Russia. 

It is in the American national interest to protect the Baltic Republics; but the Ukraine situation is very nearly an operational definition of a territorial dispute in Europe.  Some kind of federation within the Ukraine would make sense, but the West has shown no signs of understanding or encouraging that. It is not likely that a US economic war against Russia will benefit anyone at all.


I tried using Word 365 on my Surface Pro 3, and it was a disaster.  I am a sloppy typist, and one remedy to that is autocorrect: I change things like he3lp to help in autocorrect, and never have to worry about them.  The Surface Pro 3 keyboard is pretty good for a portable keyboard, but I still hit more than one key at a time, or get the wrong one, more often than I should.  Sometimes I just have to live with correcting the mistakes, but some of them are unambiguous, and thus good candidates for autocorrect. Over time I have built up a good set of autocorrections that go with the keyboard of that particular machine, and it works well.

But with Word 365 I can’t find autocorrect.  I can’t even find the ‘Word Options’ button that’s on the bottom of the drop down menu that comes when you click the big colorful button up in the upper left  of the Word screen – and for that matter I can’t find any big colorful button. for some imbecilic reason Microsoft has changed everything, and I intend to uninstall Office 365 from the Surface Pro and put in Office 2007 or something of the sort.  I don’t intend to learn a whole new word processing editor.

I’m asking for two opinions:  does anyone like Office 365, and whether you like it or not, how do you find Word Options, Proofing, and Autocorrect in Office 365?  When I try searching for them, I get page after page of add ins I can buy that will restore the old command structure of Word.  I don’t really want to do that.  I’d rather just uninstall 365.  But apparently the people who pay for search placement have so taken over the search business that it’s darned near useless: how can you trust a commercial offer to fix a problem when you don’t know what it’s replacing? 

In Word 2007, you hit the big colorful button; find Word Options; select Proofing; select autocorrect; and finally type in what is to be corrected (or paste it in) and what it is to be corrected to.  But with Word 365 I can’t even find the big colorful button, and when I use Google or Bing to ask where the hell autocorrect is, I get page after page of offers to buy something to fix the problem, but nothing about how to find the proofing or autocorrect feature.  Does anyone have any help?  I see mysterious hits on how to add features to the quick access too bar or something, but I can’t find the features in the first place.  Has Microsoft lost all semblance of sanity>


Thanks to all you readers who pointed out to me that in the old WORD the big Colorful Blob up in the upper left corner was in fact called FILE although it did not show that name, and that in Word 365 you can manage by fooling around to get a big blue thing to pop up that contains the word FILE.  In fact now that I have it I can’t make it go away, but I’ll figure that one out.  It has a long list of stuff including the word ‘options’, not WORD OPTION as it used to be, and that list contains proofing, and that will lead to autocorrect as before.  I still find it incomprehensible that Microsoft wants me to relearn use of a program I have been using since 1988, but perhaps I am merely being surly.  I seem to have developed some new pains today, and I’m back up here because I can’t sleep.  So I suppose that has solved the problem, and perhaps I just didn’t know what I was looking for.  I thought I was looking for the word FILE as a menu, but for the life of me I couldn’t find it.  Now it won’t go away, but better that than vanishing.


My great thanks to all those who took the trouble to tell me something that they must have thought obvious.  I really did look for FILE, and I didn’t see it.  I am also told by long time readers that Word 365 is actually better than Word 2007, and doesn’t take all that long to get used to; which is a comfort.  Thanks to all of you.


One more thing.  This tale will be in the column I am preparing.  At there is a very readable exposition on using autocorrect, with good instructions.  It is very worth your while if you do a lot of typing and you use Word 2000 or later.

I have two more questions:  Does anyone know how to make autocorrect work in Windows Live Writer?  I suspect there is no way, but I would appreciate knowing for certain;  Second, where is the autocorrect dictionary stored? Is it transferable?  I understand there are ways to make up autocorrect options that will be used only in a particular document, but I doubt that the entire autocorrect list is incorporated in the saved document file. In any event I would appreciate knowing if the autocorrect list can be transmitted to copies of Word on other machines. Thanks!



And we have this on the global warming data: which looks pretty dramatic. I have always been concerned with the particulars about average temperatures accurate to a tenth of a degree C. I don’t know how to get the average temperature of my house – some rooms air conditioned, some with fans, some just closed off, and do we include the two9 attics? – to a tenth of a degree C at any given time, much less a daily average, or a weekly, or a yearly average to a tenth of a degree C.  I am unsure how one would do that for the County of Los Angeles for the year 2015, and I am darned sure there is no reliable way to get the average temperatures of Los Angeles County accurate to a tenth of a degree C for the year 1915, much less for 1815.  I can understand that we have records of when ice formed and broke up on certain streams and rivers, but that doesn’t translate precisely into degrees C, much less tenths of a degree C.  As for the entire nation, I can’t understand why anyone would pretend to know the average temperature of the Continental United States in, say, 1840 to a tenth of a degree C – whether as an annual average or as a temperature at any arbitrarily chosen moment in time.  Estimates from tree rings and vegetation deposits are possible, but temperatures to a tenth of a degree?  Yet the rise in global warming is shown in tenths of a degree.


refer to caption


The above image is from Wikipedia.  Note that it shows a rise of about 0.8 degrees C from 1880 to the year 2000.  Now we know that the temperature is rising: in 1814 the Thames froze over hard enough that market sheds were constructed on the ice.  In 1776 Colonel Hamilton brought the cannon captured by Nathaniel Green at Ticonderoga to General Washington on Harlem Heights across the frozen Hudson.  We know those events happened, and they argue much colder winters in London and New York 150 to 200 years ago, so the temperature has certainly been rising.  How much is not so certain.  Growing seasons are longer now then they were then, so we can easily infer a warmer climate, but how much warmer is not so easy to determine.

Now Australia seems to be inquiring about data manipulation.  And I have yet to see a straightforward discussion of the data “smoothing” and “averaging” and other such measures that allow anything like tenth of a degree accuracy of annual global temperature.



McLaw speaks!



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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