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No. 674: Baby Bust

No. 674: Baby Bust

📅 Today, Davis talks about fertility rates and Megan breaks down the discussion around Rep. Gino Bulso's flag bill.

Good afternoon, everyone.

Why aren't we having more babies? This seems to be a persistent question without an easy answer. There's a growing anxiety around global birth rates: yesterday, South Korea, which possesses the world’s lowest birth rate, announced it had sunk even lower. Again.  

What do we blame? Is it feminism? The destruction of the family? The loss of religion? The economy? No one seems to know, but an essay by Guillaume Blanc published by Works in Progress last year makes a compelling case worth relaying. 

Blanc's research focuses on France and shows that the country's baby bust began in 1760, almost a century before other European nations. "In 1700, almost 1 in 25 inhabitants on Earth, and one in five in Europe, was French," observes Blanc. "Today, less than a percent of humanity is French."

Consulting genealogical records, Blanc makes the case that declining fertility in France is due not to economic forces but cultural ones. His findings conclude that France's baby bust directly followed the declining influence of the Catholic Church in the decades leading up to the French Revolution.

To emphasize how radical a turn this was, at the height of the revolution, the Cathedral of Notre Dame was renamed the Temple to the Goddess Reason before becoming a warehouse for wine. It is from this era that we receive the word vandalism, which Henri Grégoire coined to describe the revolutionaries’ destruction of monuments such as Notre Dame, comparing it to the sacking of Rome by the tribe of Vandals in 455 AD. 

I'm unsure how this information could clarify South Korea's problems because I know next to nothing about that country. But it does have some valence with concerns over fertility here in the US, where anyone can see the church’s influence over culture is declining, if not entirely absent.




From Megan Podsiedlik

During this year’s General Assembly, Rep. Gino Bulso (R-Brentwood) introduced a bill that would prohibit public schools from displaying “flags other than the official United States flag and the official Tennessee state flag.”

On Monday afternoon, Bulso’s bill passed the House on third reading, with one approved amendment brought forward by Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis), which both broadens the types of flags public schools may display and allows parents to file civil action should there be a violation of the law.

“There is an attempt here to change the issue,” Bulso said after an exhaustive floor discussion earlier this week. “They’re trying to redefine what we’re doing. Remember, what we’re doing is making sure parents are the ones who are allowed to instill in their children the values they want to instill.”

As the amended bill makes its way through the Senate, let’s revisit what actually occurred during that discussion.


“Members, as I mentioned a moment ago, under current law each school system across the state is required to display the United States flag,” explained Bulso. “This bill, if adopted, sets forth a list of other flags that school systems may display.”

Rep. Sam McKenzie (D-Knoxville) asked if the change Bulso invoked may allow a school to display a Nazi or Confederate flag, to which Bulso retorted, “Your presumption that somehow this bill would allow some schools to display a Confederate flag in a manner that the law does not already allow is simply incorrect.”

“What this bill does is narrows the gap to only allow certain flags. That’s the problem with this bill,” McKenzie rebutted. “What this bill is doing, per your words, is saying things like the LGBT flag are now barred.” 

Following McKenzie, Rep. Torrey Harris (D-Memphis)  asked  Bulso to clarify whether the bill would leave the punishment of an infraction up to a school board before asking him to explain his reason for bringing the bill forward. “The cause was a concern by parents in my district,” Bulso replied, explaining that some faculty and staff were displaying pride flags “in the classroom and on [their desks]” despite parents’ objections. “I agreed to help them.”

When Harris asked if any group of young people might be affected negatively by this legislation. Bulso answered in the negative, before noting that “the very bill that established our current public school system… required each school to display the United States flag, which is the most inclusive flag we have.”

After a heated exchange during which Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville) threatened Bulso with the wrath of retaliation from marginalized groups, freshman Rep. Aftyn Behn (D-Nashville) added her two cents: “Merely displaying a flag doesn’t inherently constitute indoctrination.” A distraught Behn then raised the subject of  Nex Benedict, the nonbinary two-spirit student from Oklahoma who was “brutally and viciously beaten inside a bathroom.” (Police reports reflect that Benedict’s death was not caused by trauma.) Benedict’s death, Behn said tearfully, resulted from a lack of inclusiveness, something she claims this bill would only intensify.

Throughout the discussion, multiple attendees shouted interruptions down to the floor, resulting in their removal from the gallery.


Tennessee’s tourism department tries to close public records with Super Bowl bid on the horizon (Lookout) Tennessee’s tourism department wants state lawmakers to grant it authority to potentially permanently close off public access to any records it sees as confidential, right as officials are readying a bid to host a future NFL Super Bowl.

Tennessee college fund program provides $1,500 per kid (Tennessean) Tennessee families that meet income limits can receive four times their money for a maximum of $500 per year for each child through a state program called Tennessee Investments Preparing Scholars (TIPS). The program gives out a lifetime maximum of $1,500 per child.

Nashville's NoBaked Cookie Dough breaks into national retailers (tennbeat) DashMart, DoorDash’s digital convenience store, is the most recent retailer to say “yes” to NoBaked. The ready to eat raw dough is available for purchase in all 36 cities the app serves. Kroger also picked up her product. The Cincinnati born supermarket is selling the uncooked dessert in its Tennessee and North Alabama locations.


  • 22-Story Music Row Tower Reaches Final Planning Phase In Nashville (Now Next)
  • Hall Management Group plans second restaurant for Broadwest (NBJ)
  • Pie Town building to be razed related to planned project (Post)
  • Lower Broadway building listed for $66.5M (Post)
  • Broadwest tower slated for restaurant (Post)


View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.


🎷 Jack Silverman Quartet @ Vinyl Tap, 7p, Free, Info
+ Nashville jazz with a psychedelic rock twist

🎸 Pale Lungs @ The End, 7p, $12, Info

🎙 Live Jazz featuring Allison Young & The Accords @ The Blue Room, 7p, $12.95, Info

🍀 Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info

🎸 Kelly’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info

🎸 Open Mic @ Fox & Locke, 6:30p, Free, Info
+ vet community here

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 673: “Will you please stop?”
📅 Today, Davis delivers the quote of the day, Tyler reviews God & Country, and Megan examines how often MNPD plays the fall guy.
No. 672: Rents coming down?
🏘️ Is rent decreasing · Latest on the fairgrounds speedway · Mark Green changes his mind · Much more!
No. 671: Just Look at the Numbers
📅 Today, Davis talks about making numbers go up, Miles explains the NCAA vs. UT case, and Megan looks at what’s behind Vision Zero.
No. 670: Off for the Weekend
📅 Today, Davis preps you, Jerod reviews May December, and Megan looks at a bill addressing juvenile crime and the governor’s proposed budget.
No. 669: Justin Jones’ Endless Summer
🌴 Rep. Jones’ long vacation from divinity school, a look at the upcoming school board races, a Nashvillian on Shark Tank, and much more!


  • ⛪️ Rob Reiner's documentary on Christian Nationalism completely misses the mark (Read)
  • 🇸🇻 President Nayib Bukele’s historic transformation of El Salvador (Read)
  • ☢️ A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • 🤡 Metro Arts launches initiative to 'return land, money, and resources' to 'Indigenous, African, and Asian peoples' (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.