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Monday, December 16, 2013

Shaken not stirred

James Bond author Ian Fleming
By Pablo Toledo
For the Herald

Did 007 have alcoholic tremor?

He may have a license to kill, but is he sober enough to shoot?

British doctors who carefully read Ian Fleming's series of James Bond novels say the celebrated spy regularly drank more than four times the recommended limit of alcohol per week. Their research was published in the light-hearted (1) Christmas edition of the medical journal BMJ on Thursday.

Dr. Patrick Davies and colleagues at Nottingham University Hospital analyzed 14 James Bond books and documented every drink Bond had. They also noted days when he was unable to drink, such as when he was hospitalized, in rehab or imprisoned.

The academics found that the spy also known as 007 drank about 92 units of alcohol a week; more than four times the safe amount recommended by the British government.

One unit is about eight grams of pure alcohol. A pint of beer has three units of alcohol, about the same as a large glass of wine.

Bond's drinking habits put him at high risk for numerous alcohol-related diseases and an early alcohol-related death, the authors write.

“The level of functioning (2) as displayed in the books is inconsistent with the physical, mental and indeed sexual functioning expected from someone drinking this much alcohol,” the authors conclude.

Davies and colleagues also suspect Bond's trademark order that his martinis be “shaken, not stirred” may have been because he had an alcohol-induced (3) tremor and was simply unable to stir his drinks.

They noted his biggest daily drinking binge (4) was in the book, “From Russia with Love,”” when he downed nearly 50 units of alcohol. They also suspected alcohol may have been a factor in “Casino Royale,” when he knocked back (5) 39 units before getting into a high-speed car chase, lost control and crashed the car.

The authors recognized that Bond's high-stress job may have also driven him over the edge.

“Although we appreciate the societal pressures to consume alcohol when working with international terrorists and high stakes (*) gamblers, we would advise Bond be referred for further assessment of his alcohol intake,” they concluded.

Written by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer

Light-hearted (1)

Something light-hearted is the opposite of serious – funny, amusing, entertaining and without problems. The opposite metaphor is also used: when you are worried or sad, you have a heavy heart.

Functioning (2)

To function is to do the action that you are supposed to perform.

Induce (3)

When something is induced by something, it is caused by it.

Binge (4)

To binge is to eat or drink too much too quickly, without controlling yourself (Christmas Eve dinner, anyone?). Especially used in phrases like binge-drinking or binge-and-purge (when someone with an eating disorder eats a lot and then induces vomit to empty the stomach).

Knock back (5)

To knock a drink (especially alcoholic) back means to drink it very quickly.

Stakes (*)

First of all, a clarification: stakes and steaks are pronounced the same, but are two very different things! A steak is a thick slice of meat (usually beef). A stake can be a pointed metal or wooden post like the ones used to hold down tents (or burn martyrs like Joan of Arc!).

But a more productive meaning of stake is your particular interest in something. Your stake in a company is how much of that company you own, and when you have a stake in a business or plan it means that you have something to win or lose in it, and therefore that it is important to you and you want it to be successful.

Stakes are also used in gambling to refer to the money you can win or lose in a race, card game, etc. – the money that you have “at stake”. A high-stakes game is a game with high bets – interestingly enough, this has extended to the academic world, where a high-stakes exam is one whose results can have a major outcome in a person's life (IELTS, GCSEs and SAT are all high-stakes tests).

And this is when we get to an almost untranslatable term which is a favourite in social sciences and politics: stakeholders are all the people who are involved or have something to win or lose in a particular project, plan, policy, organization, etc.

Produced by Pablo Toledo
for the Herald
@destierrado

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