Bronwen Clark public
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Them’s the Rules is a society and culture podcast trying to wrap its head around the perplexities of human behavior, one rule at a time. Laced with existential mirth, each episode explores the historical, cultural, and philosophical context of a different rule or system of rules, from our social institutions to our New Year’s resolutions and everything in-between. By exposing the universal fault lines that run beneath everything we do, Them’s the Rules offers a new way of engaging in convers ...
 
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show series
 
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? In the pits of winter, millions of people hoping to leave their past failures behind them set a goal for themselves in the New Year – to be healthier and happier, to travel more and Instagram less, to spend more time with friends and family or to snag that promotion at work. But studies show only 8% of those wh…
 
Rock, Paper, Scissors…shoot! Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) is an ancient game known around the world for the unambiguous rules: rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper, and paper beats rock. In this episode, Bronwen takes a multilevel look at this deceptively simple hand game, from a wacky, costumed subculture to the expensive world of high art, soc…
 
In this episode, Bronwen explores the history and cultural significance of the so-called “Rules of the Internet,” a humorous, yet dated, list of axioms, catchphrases, and memes of what the internet is and how users should behave on it. Spawned by the infamous 4chan Image Board, these “rules” are not enforceable by any official authority. Rather, th…
 
We all know the rhyme: finders keepers, losers weepers. It ruled the playground, granting us permission to take ownership of lost property without having to deal with moral consequences. But this unwritten rule isn’t just a childhood relic—society historically has maintained its philosophy across every sector, including the legislation, technology,…
 
We owe the humble pirate a depth of gratitude. Sure, they terrorized the seas for hundreds of years—pillaging, plundering, raping, torturing, and murdering—but violent legacy aside, they gave us the foundation for democracy! In this episode, Bronwen uses historical record to contextualize pirate code, breaking down the complicated economic situatio…
 
To mask, or not to mask, that is the question... In this episode, Bronwen tries to understand the reasons why people refuse to follow preventative measures to contain the coronavirus. Desperate to understand, she channels her unconditional positive regard for the human condition and looks at the situation from the "other side's" point of view. This…
 
What are the do’s and don’ts of proper warfare? Just like hosting a formal dinner party, hostile conflict must be proper, well-planned, and scrupulously compliant with customary codes of behavior. In this episode, Bronwen is joined by Major General (R) Allen Harrell to discuss the strict rules of the battlefield—and the challenges presented by mode…
 
How will sheepdogs save the world? In the episode, Bronwen explores the pastoral pastime of sheepdog trials (think Babe) and inadvertently stumbles into the complicated world of "swarm robotics." Long been baffled by the sheepdog’s amazing ability to herd large flocks of unwilling sheep, scientists have finally discovered the "two rules" the sheepd…
 
When is it “appropriate” to move out of your parents’ house? Are you “behind” in life if you haven’t gotten married by the time you hit thirty? Why is it so hard to balance career and family, and what does it say about us if we can’t? In Part 2 of Clock-Blocked, Bronwen continues to examine how social rules are impacted by cultural orientation to t…
 
Are you always working “against the clock?” Do you prefer to “go with the flow?” Every society around the world has a unique perception of time — in some, “time is money,” life moves fast, and productivity is given priority over leisure. In others, time has no value beyond the present moment, so you should seize the day and enjoy it! Cultural orien…
 
The Golden Rule is widely accepted as the standard for ethical conduct. In Western society, it is often linked to Christianity, but its principle of treating one another with kindness is a tenet found in every religion and culture around the world. You’ve probably heard, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” or “Do not do unto others…
 
Have you ever had the experience where the worst possible thing happened at the worst possible moment and tried to find some solace in the words 'Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong?'. In today’s episode, our host Bronwen discusses Murphy’s Law, one of the most well-known and oft-quoted eponymous universal truths in popular culture. We expl…
 
One of the most controversial topics over the past few years has been immigration. The U.S immigration system is riddled with complexities, biases, blind spots, confusing criteria, and conflicts of morality. Rather than just sharing dull facts and figures, which don’t shed any light on the lived experience of what it is like to navigate this overwh…
 
Today, we are talking feng shui and its perplexing rulebook of metaphysical measurements, methods, and machinations. Is feng shui just a fancy Chinese system used by western hipsters to make you feel dumb? No, but you would be forgiven for thinking that. Based on western tendencies to commodify objects, practices, and philosophies from other cultur…
 
Coming at you from the forward operating base that is her home office, Bronwen is joined today by the highly decorated Major General Allen Harrell. Now retired, he is an experienced commander, officer of intelligence, skilled infantryman, field artillerist, disposer of explosive ordinances, trained parachutist, and US Army Ranger School alum or, as…
 
The “five-second rule” of food hygiene states that any food dropped on the floor is still safe to eat, provided that it is picked up within five seconds. Maybe you’re thinking that this common piece of playground wisdom is just a silly line of inquiry, but food safety is a major health burden in the United States. And this is a rule that people act…
 
As open conversations around the topic of mental health become less stigmatized, it is also important to hear therapists’ points of view. In today’s episode, Madeline, Bronwen’s close friend who happens to be a therapist-in-training, joins us to talk about ethics and therapy. We hear about how Madeline’s own experience being in a treatment facility…
 
Although none of us want to think about being kidnapped, it is a more common crime than many people realize. So, what can you do if you get kidnapped? In today’s episode, Bronwen shares some top tips on how you can be as safe as possible, along with how you can return safely if you have been kidnapped. Before this, however, we hear about the differ…
 
Weather modification might sound like a superpower a fictitious character may wield, but that is far from the case. Altering the weather is very much a human activity that has been used in a variety of ways. In today’s episode, we dive into weather modification and warfare, a topic Bronwen came across through lucky happenstance and fiber optic inte…
 
The majority of conversations in Western culture start with, “Hello, how are you?” which is more often than not followed by, “Fine thanks and you?” Did you know that this pleasantry we so regularly exchange is called a phatic expression? These expressions are unwritten rules in our society which make social interactions easier, maintain communicati…
 
Welcome to the first episode of Them’s the Rules, a show that reasons you have to know the rules in order to break them. In this episode, Bronwen sheds light on Oregon’s very specific gas pumping laws. As one of only two states in the country that does not allow people to pump their own gas, Oregonians are in a very unique position. We hear about s…
 
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