We learned a thing or two from briefings around town.

– White House spokesman Jay Carney has a sister, and today is her birthday. He announced it from the podium. “I spoke with her this morning, and we are very close.” LIBYA-USA/

– State Department spokesman Mark Toner is interested in the Georgetown basketball game. “Anybody got the latest score on Georgetown?” he asked, to break up some of the back-and-forth with reporters on questions about Libya.

– Republicans have noticed that Vice President Joe Biden hasn’t been around. House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy complained that Biden is supposed to be lead negotiator in government funding talks and no one will say who is filling in for him. “The vice president is out of the country. We’ll have to prepare for another two weeks but that’s not where we want to go.”

Apparently no fill-in needed when a telephone call will do. Biden spoke with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell from Moscow. The vice president “will continue to stay in close contact with congressional leaders on the budget negotiations throughout the week,” an aide said, according to the pool report from his trip.

For a look at what the public thinks about spending cuts, see Donna Smith’s story on the Reuters/Ipsos poll finding that a majority of Americans prefer cutting defense spending to reduce the federal deficit rather than taking money from public retirement and health programs.