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If you’ve heard of Ellen Browning Scripps, you might not know much more than this: She was the rich and generous old lady whose last name is just about everywhere in these parts.

But there’s more to Scripps than that. She was a steely and smart woman who refused to follow society’s expectations. “She dresses really simply, she wears old hats, she just doesn’t care,” University of San Diego history professor Molly McClain tells us in this weekend’s Q&A feature. “I think that’s why she loves San Diego because it just doesn’t matter out here.”

McClain, who’s writing a biography about Scripps, has this city in her blood. A ninth-generation San Diegan, she only recently realized that her family goes back to 1769 when Father Junipero Serra arrived in town.

We’ve run a number of stories about local history over the past few years. Among the topics: a jailbreak, hoaxes, a mammoth flood, baseball, a tombstone graveyard, brothels and a presidential first. (The last two, sadly, are not connected.)

In other news:

• Word came late Friday that the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court — a step below the U.S. Supreme Court — refused to allow participants in today’s World Naked Bike Ride to legally drop their drawers in public. A local federal judge last week told them to keep their pants on, but the organizer appealed.

The 10-mile ride, in Hillcrest and downtown San Diego, will go on as planned. But organizers aren’t advising people to bike in the buff.

Elsewhere:

• The NCT has a tragic story that’s still unfolding: “A 33-year-old letter carrier died earlier this month after a Rottweiler lunged at him along his route in Oceanside, causing him to fall and suffer a fatal head injury, a postal official said Friday.” The attack happened in May, and details remain publicly unclear.

• The news service Reuters had me at its headline: “U.S. scientists design smart underpants that could save lives.”

Oh do go on, Reuters.

A professor at UCSD is designing the underpants, which could include a sensor that will detect injuries and direct drugs to heal and relief pain. The U.S. military may be the first to test such a device.

Such “wearable sensors” could also detect things like blood alcohol levels.

In a related story, Lindsay Lohan just felt a cold shiver go up her back. 

•••

What We Learned This Week

A Mayor Maintains His Muscles: San Diego voters decided not to hand the mayor a major demotion and, instead, made the strong mayor form of government permanent. Scott Lewis pointed out that the mayor now has every bit of reason possible to think he has a mandate to risky important things to fix an ailing city.

Incumbent, Inschmumbent: So you’re in office, eh? We’ll see about that, local voters declared on Election Day.

Sure, some incumbents did just fine, like the mayor of Chula Vista and a couple San Diego City Council members. Others, including two county supervisors and a San Diego school board member, had some near-death experiences.

And one, San Diego school board member Katherine Nakamura, might be down for the count. She’s a Democrat with a recent independent streak, and if politics teaches us anything, it’s that people on the fence often end up with a pole up . . . oh never mind.

No Fun Run This Time Around: Since 1998, running for county supervisor has been about as easy as getting a sunburn on an August day. No candidate has failed to sway a majority of voters in a primary.

So much for that. The streak ended this week as Bill Horn (who represents North County) and Ron Roberts (parts of San Diego) failed to reach 50 percent plus one. They’ll each face an opponent in November.

Who’s weaker? Horn has enough baggage to fill a 747’s cargo hold, but he’s a conservative in a conservative district. Roberts is less controversial, but his district is also overwhelmingly Democratic while he’s a GOPer.

Labor’s Labors: Win One, Lose One: Most people don’t think of San Diego as a union town, but local labor groups still have a fair amount of influence. They pushed for term limits on county supervisors and won easily, even though that could come back and bite them if there’s ever a supe they really like who gets booted.

But unions failed to convince Chula Vista voters to turn down a ban on labor agreements in government construction projects.

They Fought the Law. . .: And the law won.

Few would have predicted that Sheriff Bill Gore would take his two opponents, including a former sheriff’s son, to the woodshed. But he did just that and won not only easily but overwhelmingly

Even the Assessor’s Race Was Intriguing: No, seriously.

•••

The Coffee Collection (well-written stories to help you wile away a Saturday with a cup of java)

No More Second-Class Students: When many of us were kids, schools separated “gifted” students from the others. What would you call those others? Regular? Non-gifted? Ordinary? Some of them have come up with names for themselves: “stupid,” for one.

Now, a Point Loma middle school is bringing those two groups of students (the gifted and the whatever-the-heck-they-are) back together. Is it working? We find out.

Happiness Is a Warm Pool: Our monthly People at Work feature profiles a swim teacher who’s especially attached to life underwater.

•••

Quote of the Week: “The paradigm for that district for years and years and years has been family loyalty. Guess what? Hard work means something.” — Political consultant John Kern on San Diego’s Council District 8, where two candidates with famous South Bay family names — Hueso and Inzunza — lagged behind another rival.

Note: This post has been updated with corrected story links.

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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