Vince Levesque tries not to name his octopi. Or sharks or jellyfish.

The aquarist takes care of all the sea creatures at the Birch Aquarium, but in an event-filled stroll through the aquarium with Randy Dotinga, he said he has to be careful.

“Our visitors and volunteers get too attached if we start naming things,” Levesque said. “We want to make things as natural as possible, and we have to help them understand these are not pets per se.”

They did, however, get close enough to a grouper to name him Harvey and brush his teeth. We also learn why those groupers are smart, at what size an octopus tentacle becomes dangerous and more mysteries of the sea in this week’s Q&A.

Photographer Sam Hodgson, for one, thinks aquariums are awesome and has a bunch of photos from the trip to Birch.

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Fact Check Help!

The Fact Check blog has been a one-and-a-half year experiment. It’s popular, gets tossed in the middle of controversy, and leads to some of the more spirited internal conversations in the VOSD offices as we try to figure out in which of the six ratings a statement fits.

We’re taking a step back now to reflect on what’s working and what isn’t. Send us your thoughts. Politifact, which inspired us into the fact check game, recently changed its Barely True rating to Mostly False after getting lots of complaints about it.

A Camp Pendleton Beach Hosts Nudism Battle

In California, we’re used to dealing with the difference between state and federal law when it comes to marijuana. Next up: nudity?

Nudists say park rangers have harassed them, following them onto federal property at Camp Pendleton, near a popular nude bathing spot, to enforce the state’s coverup laws. The state parks department dismisses the charges. (Los Angeles Times)

“I think they’re exaggerating their plight,” a spokesman said.

Bringing Aliens to Life on Earth

The day is coming soon when chemicals in a test tube will come to life, say chemists and biologists trying to find that “Frankensteinian spark.”

Or, as The New York Times puts it in a story from the Scripps Research Institute:

“Here in a laboratory perched on the edge of the continent, researchers are trying to construct Life As We Don’t Know It in a thimbleful of liquid.”

Garrick Pleads No Contest to DUI

Marty Garrick, the Republican assemblyman from Solana Beach, has pleaded no contest to DUI charges. A judge sentenced him to 48 months of community service, suspended his license for four months and gave him $2,400 in fines. (Union-Tribune)

What We Learned This Week

Schools Trustee Has Some Questions to Answer: Our reporting raised questions about whether San Diego Unified board member Shelia Jackson actually lives in the district that elected her and whether Jackson has failed to report gifts from a school administrator. The story raised five potential problems, as we spelled out on a broadcast with the help of NBC7 San Diego. The school board president has requested that its attorney tell them whether they need to look into it.

Are You Ready for Some … More Nonspecific Football Stadium Talk?: The NFL labor meltdown has been avoided, and the season’s back on. So what does that mean?

For one, the city of San Diego won’t be saving money like it would’ve by not hosting football.

Two, it means the major hurdles that were stalling a financing plan for a new downtown football stadium are out of the way. That doesn’t mean, however, that a stadium plan has any real momentum. A vote might not take place in 2012, as the team had hoped.

Sometimes Greenbacks Equal Grassroots: A GOP party official paid at least 50 people to act as supporters at a Chula Vista City Council meeting of a measure allowing mobile park owners to raise rents on new tenants. The head of the county Republican Party hinted that the mobile-park owners likely provided the cash. (Union-Tribune)

Our Murder Respite Is Over: San Diego celebrated a remarkable drop in murders last year. It doesn’t look like that will last.

Storylines Abound in San Diego’s New Political Lines: The new proposed boundaries are out (but not yet finalized). Blacks in southeastern San Diego maintained their electoral edge. Asian leaders didn’t get the district they wanted. And there’s a rift between Kensington and Talmadge over the neighborhoods’ include in the City Heights-centric new district. And we have a look at the big picture, with maps.

(Insert Smoke-Related Pun Here)

The state of the city of San Diego’s medical marijuana shops didn’t gotten any clearer after the City Council revoked its own regulations in the face of a ballot challenge by medi-pot advocates.

Horns on a Plane! And a Chargers Tax

Scott Lewis tells us the odd story of running into a certain county supervisor on a plane shortly after bringing down the hammer on him in a fact-check odyssey. And he breaks down the new place the Chargers might look for stadium financing. (Hint: hoteliers.)

Number of the Week


— The number of years Escondido’s Stone Brewery has been in business. This week the brewers celebrated their anniversary.

Quote of the Week

“That’s where I do live. I’m sorry,”

— School board trustee Shelia Jackson, abruptly changing her answer when asked where she lives.

I’m the editor of VOSD. You can reach me at or 619.325.0526. Follow me on Twitter: @AndrewDonohue.

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