But when you go off our website, the destination may use them -- so be informed.
Consider yourself disclosed.
Every website that has Google ads on it does the same thing, so we are just going with the flow.
If you don't know what a cookie is, here is Google's definition.
If you want to know more, Google also has a neat search engine that will give you over 500 million web pages discussing the subject. To save time, I would suggest the Wikipedia article on cookies. It's actually a very informative article, and to Google's credit, it is the first entry in those 500 million+plus search hits.
We gather web statistics from our web logs. These contain a lot of information, which can not be traced back to you except through your Internet Service Provide (ISP), who normally does not release the information without a subpoena. The logs allow us to know a lot about our readers in aggregate, without knowing who you are. For example. We can know that during a certain month 20,000 of you visited our website, looked at an average of 2.7 pages, and spent an average 4.65 minutes on the website. But we can not pick you out amongst the 20,000 others. If you want to know more about web statistics, I like the description on the Analog website (the program we use to analyze our web logs.) Analog 6.0: How the web works
We also place a snippet of script at the bottom of each page that lets the Google Analytics program report on web usage. Again, it is in aggregate and not tied back to you individually.
You can also find more information in the Wikipedia article Web Analytics which describes the two major tools, logfile analysis and page tagging. We use both, Analog 6.0 for logfile analysis and Google Analytics for page tagging.