[Edit: This isn’t new–the statement quoted here was released almost ten years ago–but it’s new to me, and it’s very relevant to current events.]

This isn’t exactly related to the major topics of this blog, but I can’t let it slip by unmarked. It’s too great.

I spend a lot of time wondering if what I’m doing right now matters. Generally I don’t see much day-to-day proof that it does. But occasionally something like this happens that goes a long way to making me feel better about myself.

Scholarship isn’t irrelevant. And it can, when properly motivated, add its voice to positive social movements.

Rock and roll.

The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.


The wild, wild west

So, I’m very late to this particular party, but Red Dead Redemption is a brilliant game. I’m closing in on the end of the original campaign, and will start the Undead Nightmare spinoff pretty soon. I won’t bother with a full review, at least not yet; but I’ll say that the game is fantastic, high on my list of all-times, and it easily ranks up there with Mass Effect. The  environments alone are brilliant, and you spend much of your time traversing them on horseback a la Shadow of the Colossus.

“So, this is the office of an anthropologist named McDougal. He was thrown out of Yale for degeneracy.”


Ah, anthropology/cocaine. And bowties. The country was built on ’em. (G4TV)

McDougal acts as a sort of interpreter and mediator between the feds and the local natives.

“They see him and presume we’re all academic idiots.”

What, we’re not?

McDougal is interested in the “natural characteristics” of different human groups (i.e., race theory). He quips that protagonist John Marston is clearly a white man, “but, but, but, with a savage spirit.”

Somebody at Rockstar really did their homework.

McDougal also does cocaine, which he claims helps with his scholarship.


Interestingly, McDougal tells Marston that his latest research has revealed an astonishing thing: that the blood of white men and “savages” is exactly the same. He’s also interested in Dutch, Martson’s old gang buddy, who is now living with natives and thus exhibits what McDougal suggests might be called “regressive acculturation.”

I swear, Rockstar must have an anthro person on staff. Someone there knew more about disciplinary history than any normal person should.

I’m tempted to just go on quoting the dialogue between Marston, McDougal, and the native informant Nastas, which is a hilarious indictment of early anthropology as well as American expansionism in general. But I’ll content myself with giving this game an A+ for blasting academia, and rightly including it in a larger critique of American cultural policy in the early 20th century.

Seriously though, fantastic game. Play it, if you haven’t already.