“This game is totally killer.”

“This game is totally killer.”

ADVERTISING GAME ON Remember that Pizza Hut/Pepsi/Doritos/ Reebok product placement scene in the movie Wayne’s World? Well, Marathon Ventures, a company specializing in Digital Brand Integration (or digital product placement, if we want to be a bit more honest), has figured out a way to digitally place various products into a TV show after it has been shot and edited. New digital technologies like TiVo are quickly changing the way corporations advertise, so advertising agencies are coming up with sneaky new ways to stick brand names in your face. But I have good news: I just saved a bunch of money by switching to Geico.

GAME ADDICT Are you “playing electronic games to the point of sleep deprivation, disruption of daily life and a loosening grip on reality?” According to an article in the Washington Post (May 27), you’re a computer game addict. I recently had to sell my copy of World of Warcraft as I noticed these first two symptoms, and apparently just in time. According to the article, 10 people died in South Korea in 2005 from this addiction. How many more would be dead if they hadn’t opened a treatment center in 2002? This year the Asian country opened a game addiction hotline, and hundreds of private hospitals and psychiatric clinics already treat the problem. Let me put this in perspective: More people died last year in South Korea from videogames than avian flu.

“Dude! Where’s my land?”

SAVED BY THE SMS But technology can save your life as well, if you’re smart. Three Australian men were stranded at sea in a 15-foot fiberglass boat for 22 days in April and May after a cyclone disoriented them. Without fuel, they drifted, sharing a meal of a single raw squid, drinking water caught in their boat from the storm and wearing metal buckets over their heads to protect them from the sun. They kept their cell phones switched off, occasionally turning them on to check for a signal—and when they finally got one, they text messaged their family and were rescued.

WHAT CONSTITUTION? Many Americans were outraged when Cisco Systems and Google censored their Chinese search engines, Microsoft’s MSN shut down a sensitive Chinese blog, and Yahoo! turned over e-mail that led to the imprisonment of a Chinese dissident for 10 years. Now we hear about a secret room at AT&T that collects millions (that is seven digits, plural) of U.S. citizens’ records for the National Security Agency. This is the kind of stuff that brought Nixon down. According to an article in USA Today, it seems Verizon and BellSouth are handing over records to the NSA as well. Are e-mail, text messages, IM and other forms of communication safe from “unreasonable searches”? (The Fourth Amendment of our Constitution used to protect us from this.)