Yesterday Was

Article excerpt

a good day for:

Cautious sado-masochists, with the news that the new Dutch prostitutes' union, Prosex, intends to set higher regulatory standards for client safety, including a nearby key for all handcuffs and an insistence that all bondage equipment can be unfastened in 30 seconds.

a bad day for:

The unnamed newly-wed in Kuwait who was rushed to hospital, with back pain and exhaustion, "pale, powerless and unable to speak," according to friends, after making love to his 17-year-he Birdwoman of Holloway), there has been little comment on how the pigeons of Purley felt about it all.

There has been a great deal of research on pigeons' homing abilities and a splendid paper by D Porter and A Neuringer ("Music discrimination by pigeons"; Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1984) which showed that pigeons can learn to discriminate between flute music by Bach and viola music by Hindemith with 80 per cent accuracy. But what about little old ladies with bin-liners full of bread?

A recent paper by HS Terrace, S Chen and AB Newman, "Serial Learning With a Wild Card by Pigeons (Columba livia): Effect of List Length" (Journal of Comparative Psychology, 1995, Vol 109, No 2) supports the argument that if Mrs Knowlson had kept the bread in five differently coloured bin- liners, and taught birds to eat from them in a specified order, then she might even have received a research grant. The paper shows that given five stimuli in a specified order, a pigeon is capable of learning to discriminate that order from others. …