Communication is constant in my life -- phone calls, hundreds of e-mail each week, voice mail on my office phone and cell phone, Web sites, televisions at home and in the office, talk radio, NPR. It makes you savor the few quiet moments when not interrupted. That's about to change, at least for men.



A new product called Wizmark is becoming more popular in the public restrooms of many businesses. Upon approaching a urinal and using it, men will hear a message about whatever is being advertised and possibly even see a flashing light display, according to the product's Web site.



"The results of this unique interactive action is the effect of calling immediate attention to your ad incorporated within the waterproof 3.5 inch viewing screen," the Web site states. "After the initial announcement the display will automatically reset itself in anticipation of the next viewer."



Just what the world needs, don't you think?



The company obviously believes it has a marketing niche unlike any other. Every one has to go the bathroom, and more often as you get older. No one is going to trash the device because no one is going to pick it up.



We're now subject to another annoyance, adding to the constant stream of voices and sales pitches. Women might complain about waiting too long for toilets, but at least they don't talk back to them.



It looks like Congress is moving ahead with a tobacco buyout plan that won't require the federal regulation of tobacco and will use revenue from the current excise tax to pay the $10 billion cost. Instead of acting on a bill introduced last month, the House of Representatives has folded the plan into a corporate tax bill. It now goes to the Senate.



Prior to Thursday's action by the full House, I spoke with Mark Berlind, a lawyer for the parent company of Philip Morris, which has been pushing for cigarette regulation by the Food and Drug Administration.



"We remain convinced the best way to ensure enactment of a buyout this year is to retain linkage with FDA regulation," he said.



The company believes regulation also would reduce the import of counterfeit cigarettes, which is a big problem for Philip Morris, which makes the world's most popular cigarette, Marlboro.



Philip Morris officials don't care so much about how a buyout is funded, but various health groups say using revenue from the current tax on cigarettes will take away funding from other needs or add to the deficit.



It seems to me the House is trying to avoid any hard decisions on this issue

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