journalistic rigor in… the blog?

President Obama said in 2009:

I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding.

Is this fair?


It’s true that there is a lot of chaff out there: some estimates put the number of blogs in the tens of millions, with the number of new posts a day at 500,000. Not all of these are active of course — many blogs don’t survive past the first few months of their existence. Of those that do, most are of limited interest to anyone but the creator and his or her friends and relations. And for those few that actually do get a decent following, a good portion are escapist — humour, celebrity gossip, TV-show fansites, and the like. I have no quarrel with any of that: give me a good dose of Crappy Pictures (crappy baby!), Hyperbole and a Half (love pathetic dog), Go Fug Yourself (“look into pants“), or The Bloggess, (“knock, knock, motherfucker“) and most days I’m perfectly happy.**

But I think Obama has it completely wrong. Bloggers are upending journalism and research in ways that truly benefit the consumer of content on the internet.They are the new fact-checkers, in a journalistic environment where news desks are being cut, where consumers expect real-time news, and where a timely story is valued more highly than an edited one.

Consider the following.

News-analyst bloggers

Blogger Carol Waino of mediaculpa discovered and exposed the alleged plagiarism of Globe and Mail star columnist Margaret Wente (among others). Her side-by-side comparisons of Wente’s “work” and the work of others are astounding. It hasn’t resulted in Wente losing her job (yet), but it did prompt the Globe to suspend her, issue an apology (of sorts), put its content behind a pay-wall, and block commenting on some of its articles. The CBC removed Wente from its Q Media panel. So why wasn’t the Globe‘s editorial desk taking care of this sort of fact checking, the sort of fact checking that someone with free time, some motivation, and an internet connection can do with ease? Waino has stepped into a vacancy at the Globe all right, but she’s not being paid for it, and she’s certainly not being thanked for it. On the contrary, in her words, the Globe’s response to her work has been “frosty.” But as news consumers, Carol, I tell you: we are grateful.

And an example of a blogger unearthing even more important and embarrassing falsehoods: During the 2004 American presidential election, Charles Johnson and other bloggers exposed documents regarding purported irregularities in George W. Bush’s service in the National Guard as forgeries.


Mark LibermanRosie Redfield, and Ben Goldacre analyse and critique scientific studies and scientific journalism, usually by actually looking at and evaluating the data and research methodology.

Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania and co-helmsman of the popular Language Log blog, a makes mincemeat of scientific “scholarship” on a near-weekly basis. His blog includes countless examples of this sort of investigation; a recent one is his skeptical assessment of claims that young people today are less empathetic than those in a bygone age.

Redfield, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia and author of the RRResearch blog, is an open-science advocate who entered the public eye when she made a justified stink in the #arseniclife affair, which cast serious doubts on NASA claims  to have discovered arsenic-based lifeforms on Earth.

And Goldacre, a medical doctor from the United Kingdom who has used his BadScience blog to expose sloppy (at best) and near criminal (at worst) research methods and reporting, has done an enormous amount to educate the public on how to assess what they read in scientific journals and the popular press. See what he has to say about Andrew Wakefield and the MMR-autism hoax, for example.

This is not “all opinions”

This is not “all opinions.” This is not “people shouting at each other across the void.” On the contrary, this is careful and considered work that holds traditional journalists and researchers accountable. It gives consumers some assurances that someone is taking a look. And, most importantly (I think), it shows us that regular people can take a look too…. we learn from writers like Waino, Liberman, and Goldacre how to read critically.

Time to reflect in a time of instant information?

Why have bloggers taken on this role? It might have something to do with the rise of Twitter and Facebook — platforms that allow for people to communicate an instant reaction to events around the world. This means that the traditional journalists have to get content together in a real hurry too — the competition for a scoop, the race to get there first, must be brutal in this digital age. And, unfortunately, it’s at the expense of quality. (“Report a Typo” forms are de rigueur these days –– news sites expect you to find mistakes. Think about that for a moment.) In contrast, bloggers can take their time. They can read the tweets, the status updates, the hastily-put together news articles, and reflect. Analyse. Fact-check.

In a 2010 piece for Wired, Clive Thompson states

[Twitter and status updates have] already changed blogging. Ten years ago, my favorite bloggers wrote middle takes—a link with a couple of sentences of commentary—and they’d update a few times a day. Once Twitter arrived, they began blogging less often but with much longer, more-in-depth essays. Why?

“I save the little stuff for Twitter and blog only when I have something big to say,” as blogger Anil Dash put it. It turns out readers prefer this: One survey found that the most popular blog posts today are the longest ones, 1,600 words on average.

What do you think of this? What blogs do you read? How do you rate blogs against more traditional news outlets like The Globe and Mail or the New York Times? Have bloggers influenced the way you read? Add your thoughts to the comments below.


** I only wish that The Bruni Digest were still active. Believe me, it’s worth reading the archives.


25 thoughts on “journalistic rigor in… the blog?

  1. Unfortunately I do not have an objective answer to this as I have never really followed blogs longer than a week. This is not intentional, I just find that with time restraints reading for pleasure is at the bottom of the priority list right now. Of the blogs I have read, I do find them to be insightful in regards to child rearing, women’s issues and health and fitness. I have found them to be educational, positive and entertaining.
    Presently it is easier and more convenient for me to scan The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star online. I do understand Obama’s point though as there are numerous people out there who believe everything they read and that many blogs likely promote ideas that are not conducive to mutual understanding. I bet there are some really hateful blogs in existence since anyone can write them. I don’t, however, agree with a sweeping statement about blogs as I think the content, the intended audience and the writer all need to considered in order to determine if a blog is a legitimate source of knowledge and information.

  2. I love reading a good blog post but don’t have any that I regularly follow – if someone links one on Facebook or Twitter, I click and read and then often bounce around and read others but then it drifts out of my mind and I tend not to go back and check. I should subscribe.

  3. I don’t read any blogs regularaly – other than yours. I like to hit up The Bloggess (who doesn’t?) but I actually don’t go to blogs for news, so I may taint your sample here.

  4. I do regularly read blogs on New Scientist and Scientific American for in depth science news or analysis, and a few mountain bike blogs for opinion and personal viewpoints. Blogs that continue to uncover how sleazy and corrupt our Teflon coated federal government appears to be just raises my blood pressure, because they are never held accountable for anything they do anyway. Same with the eco blogs that continue to show that oil sands, pipelines and climate change get no traction in the mud filled minds of the general public, it just raises my blood pressure.

    I think you’re right, the same instinct that makes people want to blog is often the same instinct that makes some people good investigative journalists, and sometimes the training and skills and opportunity collide and create some really good investigative bloggers. But I also think the percentage of good bloggers to all the bloggers is about the same as good journalists to all journalists. There’s a lot of tin foil hat bloggers, a lot of narcissistic people that just like to hear their own voice, and a lot of bloggers with nothing of import or interest to say. Finding good blogs is often a matter of happenstance since they aren’t always associated with mainstream news sites, or even alternative news sites. So that’s the downside of the blogosphere, it’s not an easy to place to navigate or discover worthy content.

  5. hmmm. I think the blogs I read are much more for entertainment purposes. I still haven’t wholly bought into the idea of voluntary rigor (it’s the academic in me), and still don’t quite ‘get’ blogs. You make a good point though, that our offical media outlets seem to have stepped away from the task, so why can’t it be picked up by people that both have the desire AND the means to fact-check. Our thirst for instant news is feeding the poor quality of information out there, but is apparently stronger than our demand for accurate facts, or well-written news. Conversely, I know people that do rely on blogs and twitter of reputable researchers to share their rigorously pursued work on a timeline that is more condensed and less formal than the traditional academic communication. I have to believe that there can be a moderate ground between the masses and their demand for instant tantilizing news and gory pictures and the academics with their implied culture of rigor. How do you get people to re-value the quality and reliability of the information they consume?

  6. I don’t follow blogs in general (no time), but I have read quite a number of them (articles, that is), and followed blogs linked from other sites for background information and such. There is indeed a lot of misinformation out there, but there is also a lot of true reporting. The ones I’ve gone to have more often turn out to be correct (or at least has valid arguments) than not, and have rather extensive backings to their claims. I would say that Obama does have valid concerns about the blogosphere, but, just like reading newspaper articles, which can be equally heavily biased or of poor quality (depending on the newspaper and/or reporter), it’s a matter of “reader beware”. Basically, if the subject is important enough for you, do your own further research.

    One thing that the blogosphere is better for, though, is that it should allow for faster Darwinian-style “natural” (reader, rather) selection. (I didn’t come up with this one, nor have I done the footwork to confirm that this is, in fact, true, though it does happen with other non-blog sites.) The ones that get things the most right become the most trusted, and the most read and referenced to. The ones that are nonsensical or are most often wrong will get more and more ignored and eventually just wither away. That doesn’t mean that all the bad ones get sifted out, though, so, as before, reader beware. (This last one I can at least confirm myself.)

    Also, as you mentioned above, blogs are a fast medium for spreading information. We can get instant insights into the goings on in closed countries where atrocities are happening, but are cloaked behind national public relations efforts. (Again, an argument I got from somewhere else – a Thomas Friedman book, I believe.) We get to hear what goes on in the world as soon as it happens and can react to it faster (not necessarily a good thing, mind you). This is why a lot of powerful people want the internet tightly controlled, and why we can’t let that happen. We can also make wiser decisions on, say, major purchases without having to spend weeks for research.

    All in all, I’d say it’s all a lot like newspapers, really, just a lot more out there and a lot more accessible and quick. It’s subject to the public, rather than individual editors, like you said, and, as such, is edited by the public’s critical eye, which would be more capable of sift out the bad information, I think. Plus, there’s more access to capable, talented, and/or passionate people who don’t work for newspapers, aren’t able to, or just don’t capture the interest of mainstream media.

  7. Sadly I lean towards Obama’s observation that “the news” is all “opinions”. How many times have readers railed out loud at “reporting” (or perhaps more accurately opinionating) in the “news” media be it online or otherwise, that is so clearly one-sided or subjective that it hardly qualifies as gossip let alone “news”. Yes, many bloggers are providing considered and balanced reporting on issues of import, but many aren’t, in fact I think they’re in a minority.

    But I also don’t believe we should shut those sources of information down. They have their place. We just need to have a population of readers who are able to hold them accountable for their opinions.

    Our most challenging task is to teach ourselves and our children, as we’re bombarded with information of all stripes, to be able to manage it, and assess it’s reliability and credibility. Sadly, if the comments sections of most online news agencies are any indication, we should be assessing ourselves an F on both counts.

  8. I follow a number of blogs in addition to writing a blog of my own. If I am writing on anything other than personal experience I very much like to be sure that I have all my information in order. I don’t like to stir controversy for any reason, especially if it is because I have presented incorrect information.

    Some bloggers write though to stir controversy and to push their ideals on others. I feel that blogs, or any media for that matter, need to be taken with a grain of salt. There are always cracks in the information when they are presented with a bias.

    I think it is also a person’s duty to do their own fact checking. Just because it is said in a newspaper, or in a magazine, or online in a blog, doesn’t mean it is fact. Trouble occurs when people don’t consider the information they read. Sort of similar to buyer beware, reader beware.

    I am a consistent reader of both Macleans and Canadian Business magazines as well as a few other random publications. However, I am finding more and more articles are becoming opinion based as opposed to fact based in print media as well.

    I agree that Obama is wrong. I feel his comment is more based on the fear of what blogs can lead to. Blogging provides an outlet for freedom of speech and while we have that “right” it scares the powers that be.

    My brain is slightly scattered today so I hope all my comments make sense. Great Post!!!

  9. I love blogs. I don’t read a lot of them but the ones I do I really enjoy.

    There are two subjects I believe I have some level of expertise in: Cyber security and atmospheric science. Mainstream media’s treatment of these topics is not only shallow and uninteresting, but frequently inaccurate if not completely wrong. There are bloggers, on the other hand, that are not only accurate, but whose passion and vision for the subject matter they write about abounds with insight, inspiration, and facts, oh lovely, facts (even with references).

    Dr. Jeff Masters writes for the Weather Underground. He is one of the world’s top experts in hurricanes and writes on this and various topics of weather and atmospheric and oceanic environmental change.

    Bruce Schneier writes about security in general. He started in cyber security as a mathematician writing encryption algorithms. He moved into cyber security, and in the late nineties to security as a whole.

    Both of the above writers offer something visionary and more thought provoking than anything I can get from the Globe or the Washington Post. It’s interesting that most people I talk to have other areas of expertise that they feel are poorly treated by mainstream media. It makes for a scary model when you extrapolate it. I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to be in Obama’s shoes, but I suspect he needs to be “informed” on nearly every subject imaginable but an expert in none. It is not comforting for me to think that people who are influencing policy at a national level may be doing so based on their ankle deep understanding of a subject from mainstream media.

  10. So here’s the thing… social media (you say Facebook and Twitter; I say also blogs) have been a factor in the slow death of traditional news reporting, which includes the elimination of copy-editors, the slashing of foreign desks, the demise of full-time investigative teams, and the gradual conversion of many papers (see for instance the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” section) into… well, into blogs.

    And then, you say, blogs come to fill in the void that they themselves have helped create? Well, maybe, and maybe in some fields more than others. You can add to your list political blogs (Guido Fawkes in the UK, for instance) statistical blogs (Nate Silver, now incorporated as part of the NYT) and a few other fields, too. (Sports, probably.)

    But I think there are whole swathes of terrain that used to be covered by the traditional media, that are covered badly (if at all) by blogs and the new, increasingly bloggified media. Take the British Newsnight affair. It propagated at “the speed of blog” (and Twitter; by the way I don’t agree that blogs are generally a place for slow reflection), without any real fact-checking or thought. As Ian Jack notes (, this probably wouldn’t have happened twenty or thirty years ago. But as the BBC also struggles to compete with the blogosphere, then it too gets sloppy… to the detriment of all.

    So yeah, all hail the blog and its power to undo some of the damage… that it itself has wreaked.

  11. So… I am, depending on one’s definition, either a very busy man or a very lazy one. That said I listen to “news” with a skeptical ear and rely on bloggers and others to do the fact-checking, and then I wait for the “news” to report what the bloggers learned. This is putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop to be sure, but it’s normally the best I have the time to do.

  12. I think Obama has a point. A journalist, who is paid by a newspaper, has a responsibility (if they are doing their job) to try to report the facts in an unbiased fashion. If they make too many mistakes, their employer (the newspaper) can be found liable. Most bloggers have no such restraints. Obviously if they slander someone they can be forced to remove the offending content, apologize, etc., but there is no onus on them to fact-check or to look at all sides. They can rant as much as they want. Without the traditional newspapers, a lot of bloggers would not have access to the news on which they rely for their posts.

    That’s not to say that there is no place for blogs. You’re right to suggest that in some cases blogs can act as whistle-blowers. I also think there is a place for them to disseminate information that might not be otherwise easily accessible (I’m thinking especially here of scientific discoveries that might not be reported anywhere outside of journals read only by specialists in the field). But I think we are kidding ourselves if we think even for a moment that blogs can take the place of true newspapers. And I think there is something to the suggestion made by a previous commenter that the weaknesses that are all-too-apparent in newspapers today (the Saturday Globe & Mail, to which we subscribe, is absolutely littered with typos these days. It is astonishing.) have in some ways been brought about by blogs, twitter and internet culture. When every website can update instantly to bring you the latest happenings, newspapers are in the unenviable position of trying to get a story out quickly with all of the overhead costs that are no longer being covered because their revenues are falling. If they take too long with the story, they are scooped by the blogs. If they publish too quickly, they are held up for criticism for getting their facts wrong or littering their stories with errors (whereas people will skip from a blog reporting something to a newspaper’s site to make sure it is true). It is not an easy situation, and I do blame the blogs for some of it.

    I read a fair number of blogs, mainly on infertility, parenting, finance and horses. But I also subscribe to the Globe and Mail on Saturdays, have it set as my homepage, and subscribe to Macleans. I don’t use blogs for news. I use them for fun.

    (Do not get me started on Margaret Wente. Her “I read a book or talked to two of my friends so it must be true” style of opinion pieces really is better suited to a blog. How the Globe and Mail has rationalized not firing her is beyond me.)

  13. I like the interactive nature of blogs and blogging as such. Read something happening…feel a strong response…..then traditionally you have to keep it to yourself…or grab someone who is not interested in that subject and try to have a discussion. It is a chance to have an interest in a specialized topic or to think more fully about a fact.

    I really do not think that blogging can ever take the place of hard copy because it is sometimes limited to a narrow focused discussion. It is important to have a baseline of facts in order to somewhat “blog”. I may have a baseline of facts which is the springboard to read a blog. But I love to see how the thread of an idea develops over time, and how ideas are influenced by the differing interpretations of facts. Blogging is important because ideas become limitless to some extent. We all influence each others perceptions, so a blog somewhat has a life of it’s own.

    I like to read what a journalist has discovered, uncovered, tested, and checked. Then of course, I like to have my response and hear the response of others especially from other countries, ethnic backgrounds, and of course sometimes, gender.

    Blogging takes time….that most people…especially those who cannot express themselves in writing usually never do.

  14. Coupla thoughts:
    – Distinction between blogs and ‘traditional media’ is blurred by fact many ‘dead wood’ journalists also choose, or are obliged, to blog. Is the blog of, say, the economics editor of BBC ‘traditional’ or new? And what of things like the Huffington Post? Strikes me that the important distinction is basically between publications that can be sued and those that can’t be, a question of accountability.
    – If you really want to know about something in detail, a newspaper is almost never the place. Even when the reporter knows their stuff, the readership dictates dumbing down in a way that isn’t necessary with a decent blog. So that’s fine if you want an overview, but then blogs come into play when you really want a proper understanding.
    – So for me, ‘traditional media’ is about setting the agenda, and then blogs about fleshing it out. The BBC may have a piece about some space travel development, for instance, and I’ll be grateful for the pointer if it piques my interest, but I’ll only expect to get to the nub of it – and have it put in proper context – through looking elsewhere.
    – Standards of newspapers have been destroyed by going online and TV. Speed has won over accuracy (and aesthetics). And of course money plays a part – Britain’s best-subbed paper used to be The News of the World, which made plenty of money but still the owners decided to cut back heavily and made it much less good than it was. [And the other stuff was history, yadda yadda.]
    – Twitter and Facebook are the best things to happen to blogs, as you allude to, since they have sucked the feeble-minded away from trying to blog and there’s now a good chance that anything over 140 words [still more, 140 characters] will probably be worth reading, since idiots’ brain farts are these days kept to Twitter and other social media.
    – Traditional media piss me off with the now-customary formula, for many, of having the second third of a story referring to the blogosphere’s reaction to the events. It’s the new vox pop, and as pointless as ever. It also means that ‘traditional media’ are now more full of ‘opinion’ than good blogs.
    – The big thing in future is not blogs v traditional, etc, but how outfits like Reddit etc can help aggregate and sort all the mess. Which is basically the problem of the web full-stop, at the moment. When a company finds a way of getting the news (blog or traditional, although, like I say, the distinction is kind of artificial) that matters to them but which isn’t part of an inane 2.0 loop (there was a good book on this circularity, the name of which I forget) we will be in interesting times.

  15. Another example of “professional blogging” are the economics blogs. There are four that I follow regularly: Brad DeLong (Berkeley, senior Treasury official during Clinton admin), Mark Thoma (prof at Oregon), Worthwhile Canadian Initiative for some good Canadian policy commentary (Gordon and Rowe, profs at Carlton and McGill respectively IIRC), and of course, the mighty Paul Krugman (who won some kind of Swedish award a few years ago that is apparently prestigious).

    How does some economically illiterate ink-stained wretch on a deadline stack up against these guys? It’s no contest. (in fairness, PK keeps his blog at the NYT, so the line is a little blurry….you could argue he *is* a journalist). These guys write great commentary, and also link to other high quality pieces on the net. Journalists can’t do more than “he said, she said” style reporting, but bloggers interact, criticize each other, and hold each other accountable in ways that journalists don’t have the time, knowledge, or mandate to do. These bloggers are all tenured academics, writing for free; they’ll never be made to toe the line by an editor holding a pink slip over their heads.

    All hail the bloggers!

  16. A followup thought: To do real investigative reporting, you need a budget, which a blogger may or may not have. Economics blogging works well because, by and large, economists don’t do “investigative reporting” in any way…. 99% of economics is the interpretation of economic data from various government statistical agencies and other sources. Everyone gets the same set of facts to work with (for free, in most cases).

    • I slightly disagree, since I think that proper investigative reporting needs *time* rather than a budget, per se. It’s not all about bugged hotel suites, etc. However, time translates into money for the traditional media, which is why investigative newspaper teams don’t exist any longer. Most newspaper hacks are expected to turn out so much copy each day/week that proper investigative journalism isn’t really possible. But for a blogger, time is more a function of enthusiasm, so actually investigative work *is* possible. The problem, though, is that bloggers often don’t have the status needed to get people to play ball – a nudge from someone at a serious-ish newspaper may get someone to cooperate on a story who won’t if they think the most that will come of it is some unread piece on

    • PS: I agree re the economics and data, but am reminded of the scary afternoon when a trial subscription to a service by Moody’s or S&P (I forget which) ran out and I got an email saying that my visa payment for several grand hadn’t gone through. Turned out it was a glitch with their system and I had indeed cancelled in time so wasn’t liable for the money, but it wasn’t fun.

  17. You are fortunate to live in a country where news outlets are prohibited from outright lying. We have Fox News, in comparison to which merely incompetent fact-checking pales. Spell-check has replaced living editors, so there’s no one to note the difference between complement and compliment or reins and reigns, never mind point out that a certain statement has a bit of hyperbole about it. And then, there are the sins of omission–leaving out the inconvenient facts. I treat my intake of news the way I do food: knowing that eating too much of any single food or class of food can be hazardous, I eat the widest variety of foods available lt me, and avoid the most heavily processed foods. Likewise my news intake includes NPR, NY Times, BBC, Guardian, Al Jazeera, Globe and Mail, WSJ (for my right-wing feed), and other web-only news sites and a lot of news blogs. (Obviously not all at one sitting). And when something smells a bit off, I go looking for a primary source.

  18. As per request, copying from Facebook, with one addition – scanning the comments on the blog and going with my own experiences on non-political message boards with an “open chat” (i.e. I’m on a hunting board, a 4×4 board, etc.) what we consider the fringes of both political left and right trust the bloggers and whatever you call “quasi blog news sites” ( etc.) more than the media. Of more concern/interest to me is that bloggers now seem to be more “connected” than regular reporters ( )

    On to the facebook post:

    My internal thesaurus is on the fritz, so excuse the lack of proper wording (and I suck at properly linking). What I’m about to say has been said more eloquently across the web.

    What is the phrase??? People are looking to “news” to re-affirm their existing beliefs not to actually educate or enlighten themselves (see Fox News and others). Bloggers seem to affirm this (see Red State and others).

    I also bemoan the lack of reporting in the mainstream media and the shift to op/ed. Noone seems to want to report the news anymore, they seem to want to opine on it. Actual investigative reporting is even harder to find. I do think a small sub-set of bloggers fulfill this role and sadly the mainstream media seems more than happy to pilfer their work without accreditation (edit ).

    Lastly there is education and being educated. The Obama birth certificate thing may have been a reasonable request for education – was the President born in the USA? But once the education was given, people refused to be educated – the tinfoil hat syndrome of the interwebs – insisting on forgeries, conspiracy theories and Donald Trump’s hair. I again think that bloggers affirm/feed on this.

  19. Forgot to mention – one of my involvements in the blogosphere is to ghost blog posts for individuals, sometimes on their corporate website or as ‘guest’ posts on other sites. The ‘writer’ won’t necessarily even read the thing some of the time. I expect this is pretty widespread, at least on business and finance blogs.

  20. I’ve laughed and enjoyed your blogs suggestions, but I don’t follow any myself. But I think I could get into that. I finally got my own laptop last year and this has dramatically changed the way I use the computer. It’s available anytime and I have a quieter, better-lit place to use it. I now use it for reading projects that last days and weeks. So why not a blog or two?

    Why not, indeed? I have three suggestions:

    1.) It could be that the embarrassment of blog choices leads me to not choosing. You already know this.

    2.) Maybe the traditional press is fighting back and winning in my case. CBC and CBF radio incorporate a lot more interactive elements now, including references to various blogs, and this element encourages me to listen more often. I also read those free Vancouver Suns they give out on public transit and now buy the paper more often so I can follow certain columns or stories.

    3.) I am impatient. I help people all day to try to express themselves in English, so in off-work hours I am often too frazzled to read something really personal and rambling.

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