Set 'em up, Uncle Sam. An appeals court has ruled that the federal government cannot be sued for a fatal motorcycle crash caused by a minor who was served liquor at a California military base. The court ruled that only the holder of a state liquor license can be sued for serving liquor to an obviously intoxicated minor who caused a crash. The federal government is exempt from state liquor licensing.

A 16-year-old muscular-dystrophy victim who may have only a short time to live has pleaded guilty to playing hooky. Education officials in Columbus, Ohio, say he could be removed from his home because his mother tolerates his truancy. Michael Flynn says he'd rather spend his time with his family than in school. Doctors told the youth four years ago that he had two years to live. His father died of muscular dystrophy in 1977. David Schiff, a school attendance officer, intones, "I can empathize with Michael, but it seems like he should try to improve his mind." Michael counters that considering his family history, "I don't feel I'll live as long as everybody thinks."

Don't feel too sorry for retired California public employees struggling to make do on meager pensions. At the new Public Employees Retirement System building in Sacramento, visitors are greeted by receptionists at $4,750 desks, wait in $2,000 love seats, and glance at magazines placed on $2,000 granite-topped coffee tables. Altogether, the fancy furnishings for PERS offices in the $72-million building cost about $450,000. PERS provides retirement and health benefits for 750,000 state and local government employees.

The snobs are at it again. The same people who complained that roof-top TV antennas would mean the aesthetic downfall of civilization are now concentrating their forces against satellite dishes. A Vermont state senator has proposed a bill to require that new dishes be invisible from highways, or be covered with wire mesh, or painted in dark colors to blend with natural surroundings. Oddly enough, an official in the state Department of Community Affairs is on the side of freedom this time. William Mitchell notes that many Vermonters live in "dead zones" for TV reception. "If I had the money, I'd buy a dish," Mitchell says. "When everybody has them, they'll be accepted. The restrictions on dishes are a snob issue. An awful lot of zoning is."

Register statists, not spray paints! As a way of combatting graffiti artists, Cleveland City Councilwoman Artha Woods wants hardware stores to register anyone who purchases spray paint. The books will be available to the police, of course. The working stiff who buys the paint for his backyard lawn furniture is the one to bear the brunt of this law. But why stop with paint? How about a law requiring registration of toilet paper to help wipe out the teen-age prank of "wrapping" houses and yards, another heinous crime against humanity?

Poetic Justice Dept.: A strike by 12 researchers and clerks against the AFL-CIO was honored by more than 400 other union employees who stayed off the job in solidarity. The strikers, several of whom hold graduate degrees but earn only an average of $16,000 a year, want parity with other workers at union headquarters. The big union's main office building in Washington was staffed only by management during the strike. AFL-CIO spokesman Rex Hardesty, who spends most of his time bashing corporations, crossed the picket line. He says those workers who honored the strike would be docked a day's pay. Spoken like a true robber barren.

Someone at the Chicago-area Anti-Cruelty Society must have swallowed the Congressional Record before designing its pet adoption form. The four-page application includes questions designed to make the most ardent animal lover sorry he ever saw that puppy in the window. "Do you intend to let your animal exercise outdoors? Where will your dog be kept when it is left alone? Are you planning to move soon? What is the name of your vet?" And the ultimate in investigatory techniques. "Finish this sentence: I decided to get a pet because…" (Hint: "to perform medical experiments on it" is the wrong answer).