Orders for big-ticket durable goods, excluding the volatile defense category, shot up 1.8 percent in November, the best showing since August, the government reported Thursday. The Commerce Department said total durable goods orders edged up only 0.1 percent to $122.89 billion last month, but the overall figure was held back by a sharp 17.6 percent drop in military orders. Excluding the defense decline, total orders would have risen by 1.8 percent following a 0.2 percent increase in October.