September 2005 -


UW People and Places

Nate Robinson

The Alter-Nate

Why in the world did Nate Robinson spend the first half of June 28—NBA draft day—sending out résumés? For one thing, he’s not that Nate Robinson. He’s Nathaniel Joseph Robinson, a bespectacled white kid from Bellevue. And unlike the former Husky point guard, whom the New York Knicks acquired midway through the first round, this Nate Robinson has chosen a field that’s truly difficult to break into: editorial cartooning. “It’s ridiculously competitive,” says Robinson, who for the past three years has tickled readers of the Daily with his quirky “Natetoons,” as well as his name. “I read an article recently comparing it to the NBA, interestingly enough, and it said that cartooning was actually harder to break into, because there are fewer jobs.” Indeed, there are only about 85 editorial cartoonists employed full-time by newspapers in the United States, making pro basketball roughly five times as promising as a career prospect. Regardless of the long odds, Robinson is off to an impressive start. His panels have already appeared in the Seattle Times and, through a summer internship with the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, about a dozen other papers around the state. A journalism/political science double-major, he’s currently on track to graduate one or two terms early, despite the dual distractions of drawing for the Daily and fielding phone calls intended for the other Nate Robinson. “I’ll tell you right now,” he says, “I will not miss the 7-o’clock-in-the-morning calls bitching me out for no apparent reason.”

Bad Check

Sandeep Krishnamurthy has three words for Microsoft’s grammar checker: Physician, heal thyself. Earlier this year, after becoming fed up with error-riddled student papers that had somehow survived the Word program’s built-in grammar check, the UW Bothell professor decided to call some public attention to the tool’s failings.Bad Check He e-mailed evidence to friends, colleagues, and the media, and created a Web site full of downloadable documents. One, a mock-e-mail message that had passed its grammar check, includes the sentences “Know sweat. I can due tomorrow, but I knead to leaf by 1 p.m.” The problem, according to a statement issued by Microsoft, is that the grammar checker is designed to catch common, easily overlooked errors, not outrageous ones. Krishnamurthy agrees. “I am convinced that this feature works well for good writers and not for bad ones,” he notes on the Web site. “This is, clearly, a problem.” Krishnamurthy’s campaign did get the attention of some news outlets, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and even MSNBC. Most memorable was an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education with the Onion-esque headline “Microsoft Word Grammar Checker Are No Good, Scholar Conclude”—a sentence that, according to an editor’s note, had itself cleared the grammar checker.