? Businesses must go to some pretty ridiculous lengths to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits these days, and the Massachusetts Civil Justice Reform Alliance held a contest to find out how ridiculous. It picked the most absurd warning labels that firms place on their products. Among the winners: a warning on a can of pepper spray that the user shouldn't spray it in his own eyes; a cigarette lighter cautioning users to point the torch away from the face when igniting; and a bottle of drain cleaner with a warning not to reuse the bottle to store beverages.

? Speaking of offensive lawsuits, here's one from Norway. A University of Oslo student is going to court to defend his right to reek. The man was barred from classes because his strong smell and tattered clothes drew complaints from staff and fellow students. The man claims that avoiding soap gives him a better understanding of astrophysics. (That's what he was studying.) He says his expulsion violates his "right to a private life" and "right to an education."

? You may not have to worry about your dirty laundry being aired in Lawrence, Massachusetts, but airing your just-washed laundry is another matter. The city has made it illegal to hang laundry anywhere but on a backyard clothesline. The city council member who introduced the law said she was tired of seeing people's shorts and socks hanging from fences and from railings in their front yards.

? Here's proof that you don't have to be a diplomat to work in the State Department. Gregory H. Staunton, a State Department lawyer, tried to return a videotape to a McLean, Virginia, store. When the clerk told him the tape was late, Staunton was enraged. The clerk offered to waive the fee, but an angry Staunton allegedly stalked out of the store with a copy of another video that he hadn't paid for. The clerk followed him outside to stop him, police say, and Staunton hit him over the head with the video. Then he rammed the clerk with his Cadillac, sending the man flying through the window of a restaurant next door. Staunton backed up and tried to run the clerk down a second time before driving off.

? When a buddy got a speeding ticket, Garrett Burris thought a real pal would help him fight it. So Burris got a stack of books on traffic law and radar detection and accompanied his friend to court. Burris helped his amigo question the trooper who cited him. But during a recess, the prosecutor asked Burris about his credentials, and he admitted he wasn't a lawyer. His buddy had to pay a $50 fine, but Burris is charged with practicing law without a license. He faces a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.