...I know I'm nervous and I shouldn't be:
Somebody's got their eye on me,
Perhaps we should invite them up for tea.
(Thompson Twins: We Are Detective)
In this case, it's the engine that targets adverts to match recent keywords on the computer. Following today's post on the shortcomings of Virgin Trains, I am being bombarded with offers of railcards or - optimistically, given my finances - the Orient Express, while a post on Forest Lawn cemetery produced an invitation to 'memorialize a Loved One's ashes' in a glass paperweight.
And it doesn't stop there; post on holidays and up pop cruises and villas, post on cars and you'll be invited to test drive half a dozen possibilities. Not as nerve-wracking as the assorted government agencies who drop in when you've mentioned, say, Dubai - Hi guys! Yes, it's me again! - or arms deals, but there's something depressing about tailored marketing.
And I'm starting to wonder whether the same thing applies to television advertising. After all, we're already familiar with the concept of ads targeted for viewer profiles - hair products during 'Skins', Lynx during football matches or Steradent during 'Countdown'.
And, according to the Urchin, those hyperactive music channels with presenters who go 'Yeah!' a lot regularly treat their viewers to ego-crushing advert breaks crammed with commercials for deodorant, spot cream and online dating.
As I write, the Artful Dodger is watching 'The Day of the Jackal' and, every twenty minutes or so, has been invited by a variety of rival concerns to open a new bank account, buy a fast car or travel abroad - enough to wonder whether the same inquisitive software is following the plot.
As the Dodger points out, should he decide to adopt the profession of hit-man after graduation (after all, there will be precious few job opportunities out there) he is now amply supplied with ideas for getaway vehicles and where to stash his ill-gotten gains.