Oh, bleep!

"What next?" wondered Conservative member of Parliament Ann Widdecombe. "You don't improve something by allowing it; you improve something by discouraging it." It, in this case, is the newly announced decision by administrators at the Weavers School in Wellingborough, England, that when the academic year opens next week, students may curse their teacher to his face. And, yes, the vilest expletives will be permitted (if not condoned). There's a "but," however: only five #@&%s per period. After that - and a running tally will be kept on the blackboard - the class will be given a "talking to." The rationale: Many young people already use profanity, and the experiment may make them think twice about it - and perhaps clean up their language. As for those students who exercise restraint and don't swear, their parents will be sent "praise postcards."

Bean-counting as you look for a house? Try Lima (Ohio)

The prices of single-family houses in many American cities and towns have become so high that police officers, teachers, nurses, and other service-providers aren't able to buy where they work. Among others, this concerns the National Housing Conference, a coalition that advocates for affordable housing. According to the latest report by the conference's research affiliate, the Center for Housing Policy, the median price for a home rose 20 percent in the last 18 months - to $225,000. That's beyond the reach of many low- and moderate-income families. But the center has found some places where housing remains a relative bargain. The most affordable cities, with median housing prices in each, according to the center:

Lima, Ohio $75,000
Buffalo 85,000
Waterloo, Iowa (tie) Youngstown, Ohio 86,000
Saginaw, Mich. 88,000
Davenport, Iowa (tie) Mansfield, Ohio 89,000
Beaumont, Texas 90,000
South Bend, Ind. 91,000
Fort Wayne, Ind. 93,000

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