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Actor Russell Crowe

A few days ago, actor Russell Crowe criticised the ritual of circumcision on his Twitter account by branding it “barbaric and stupid”.

The topic of male circumcision– the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin (prepuce) from the penis- has remained a contentious debate for centuries.

People choose to circumcise their children for cultural and/or religious reasons and is one of the world’s oldest surgical practices.

The religious history of circumcision in Judaism can be found in the Hebrew bible whereby according to the book of Genesis, God told Abraham to circumcise himself, his household and his slaves as an everlasting covenant (agreement between God and His people) in their flesh [Genesis 17:10-14].

In Islam, circumcision is widely practiced and is considered to be sunnah- a practice taught by the Prophet Muhammad that fulfills religious rites and the molding of life according to the will of God.

Circumcision is also customary in most African and West Indian cultures.

During his rant, Crowe, who uses the twitter ID @russellcrowe asked:

“Who are you to correct nature? Is it real that GOD requires a donation of foreskin?” 

Personally, I have nothing against male circumcision as long as it’s carried out when a child is a baby. In fact, I find the thought of an uncircumcised penis a little cringe-worthy.

I remember one of my work colleagues telling me about when he was circumcised at the age of 8. Originally from the Philippines, he triggered his memory back to when he was on holiday there and being against the idea of having a little bit of his pee pee snipped off. His parents had made numerous failed attempts to persuade him to agree to have the procedure and eventually resorted to tricking him to go to the hospital. He described the pain as “excruciating” and told me he wished it had been done when he was a baby so he wouldn’t remember the intensity of the pain. He also talked of the embarrassment he faced having to go out in public only with a cloth wrapped around his lower body for a few days in order to help with the healing. As a common practice in that part of Asia, everyone in the street knew what had happened to him, however, despite going through all of this, he says he’s happy that he was circumcised.

Ancient Egyptian tomb painting of circumcision

One of my husband’s friends had a baby boy late last year. Out of curiosity, I asked the father if he would be getting his son circumcised and his response was “Of course”. ‘Nuff said, I thought and probed no further. Sure enough, within three months the little bubba was foreskin-less. I remember speaking to the mother about it afterward. She, understandably, seemed to have found it quite traumatic herself, let alone the baby. “I couldn’t stay in the room as it was done”, she admitted. “He cried so much. I just wanted to hold him. Luckily he healed within a few days”. She then jokingly remarked: “But now he has a pretty penis”. I couldn’t help but laugh at her latter comment.

The British Medical Journal has published numerous articles concerning the link between male circumcision  and HIV. Medical studies have shown that when carried out by a qualified practitioner and alongside other precautionary measures (such as using condoms etc) circumcision reduces the risk of contracting the HIV virus.

Other independent medical studies conclude that the procedure may decrease the risk of infections, penile irritation as well as cancer of the penis.

Self-studies by circumcised men indicate less sexual dysfunction and an easier ability to maintain penile hygiene, making it cleaner and far more attractive.

In response to a suggestion about circumcision from one of his Twitter followers, Crowe later facetiously wrote: “Hygienic? Why don’t you sew up your ass then?”

Those who are vehemently opposed to circumcision believe that it is a violation of human rights and regard it as a form of mutilation.

Some medics say that circumcised men have a reduced sexual sensation compared to those who haven’t had the procedure because the thousands of fine touch receptors and other highly erogenous nerve endings in the area that is cut off are lost. I think many circumcised men would beg to differ on this.

Other arguments against male circumcision include:

  • If you thoroughly wash daily no hygiene issues should arise;
  • If you’re born with it, it’s meant to be there;
  • Babies can die from the procedure (18 out of 100,000);
  • It’s a traumatic event for your baby that can affect breastfeeding, sleep, and even maternal bonding;
  • It’s outdated and on a steady decline.

After realising that his comments had not only caused offence to thousands of his followers but had also been reported by the media, Crowe issued an apology.

It’s safe to surmise that he hasn’t been circumcised and that has largely shaped his opinion on it but what’s your take on the whole matter? Do you agree with Russell’s comments? Do you prefer your partner to be circumcised or does it make no difference to you?

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It’s that time of year again where some men frantically rush to their local Interflora, Thornton’s and Clintons Cards store to show their other half (or potential other half) that they  “really care”.

Today, a male Twitter buddy of mine wrote: “Just coined a pretty insightful piece of philosphy. Was moaning about the cost of flowers (£45 for 12 roses!)… I’d rather pay the money than pay the price”.

I can’t help but think that Valentine’s Day is more a day for singletons, new couples or more conveniently for people in the doghouse with their partners. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against it but, apart from Christmas, never have I seen such unnecessarily ridiculous amounts of money spent on very impractical gifts: humongous teddy bears for grown ass people (??!!), intoxicating amounts of eau de toilette, days worth of fattening chocolates (not so mmmm), and flowers that will start to wither in three days max.

The history of Valentine’s Day varies depending on the source. Some experts say that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine”. And so, February 14 became the day for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers who marked the day by exchanging poems and simple gifts of affection such as flowers.

But the purpose of Valentine’s Day- demonstrating true affection through actions and consideration- has somewhat been engulfed by the giving of expensive material possessions. The day has become so commercialised that even some restaurants change their menu prices for the evening. A three course meal out for two that is normally around  £60 will cost you near the region of about  £80 to  £120 on the day. Why not just take a trip to your local supermarket to do some grocery shopping, stay indoors and together prepare a lovely candle lit dinner? You’ll find that you probably not only enjoy the meal a lot more but enjoy the time you spent together making it- and it’s also much better value for your money.

For some however, V- Day ends up being more like D-Day with many people actually deciding to break up with their partner on this particular day … leaving cupid unhappily taking back his arrows. Aaaawww.

My fiancé and I don’t really feel like we need a special day in the year to express our love for one another- we do so all the other 365 days of the year and I’m sure many other couples feel the same way. Having said that, I suppose it’s always nice with the chaos of life to have a day that you really take time aside to think just how lucky you are to be loved and how equally important it is to demonstrate love.

However you’re spending this Sunday evening, whether it be alone with a microwave ready meal, out with your single mates that were unfortunate enough not to get a valentine or canoodling with your partner, have a lovely Valentine’s Day. Or as the case may be for some, just have a nice day!

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Like millions around the world, I woke up on Tuesday (12th January) morning this week to the news that a devastating earthquake had hit Haiti. The disaster is the worst of it’s kind to strike the country in 200 years.

The Red Cross estimates that 50,000 people have died and 300,000 have been left homeless, with up to three million people injured – a third of the country’s population.

Former Fugees rapper Wyclef Jean’s (above) charity text appeal for victims reached $1m in just a matter of days, with over 200,000 Twitter followers donating to the cause.

Desperate survivors, increasingly frustrated with the delay of international help have turned their anger into to scenes of violence and looting on the streets.

Watching the news has almost become unbearable: seeing so much human suffering and heartbreak. The highly emotive images of dust covered survivors and covered bodies on the side of the roads will be etched in my memory for a while yet to come. I cannot even begin to comprehend what the people of Haiti are enduring, simply because their experiences are not my reality. I only wish that I could physically be there to do my bit for humanity and help.

An acquaintance of mine on Twitter made a very valid point. Haiti gained independence on 1st January 1804, making it the first Black nation-state of it’s kind in the world and 153 years ahead of the next independent Black country 1957- Ghana (it’s even older than some European states). Yet Haiti is one of the most under developed countries of the world and now that it’s infrastructure is virtually destroyed, rebuilding lives will prove to be a painstaking task.

I was totally disgusted by the comments made by famous American televangelist Pat Robertson‘s insensitive comments. According to him the people of Haiti “swore a pact to the devil” and have been “cursed” by his god, and that the Island of Haiti has been cursed by “one thing after the other”, that is why they deserved the quake.

As evangelical pastor Rick Warren quite rightly responded via Twitter:

Labeling any natural disaster as God‘s judgment is nonsense. True “judgment begins with God’s family” 1Peter4:17, not others

My thoughts and well wishes go out to the sufferers of the disaster as well as those involved in the rescue operation.

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Well, by popular demand, 2010 (to be said as twenty ten- NOT two thousand and ten-  as a friend vehemently warned me) has arrived! Ooohh! How exciting!

My night consisted of a near collapse walking up Hamstead Heath, street mongrels and a marvelously greasy chicken and chips binge!

After much deliberation whether or not I was going to stay in, go out, stay in, go out, I decided on the latter. But not by free will. I was dragged out to be precise.

Now, if you’ve ever been to Mile End (East London) during the day, you’ll know it’s an area filled with scum. Now imagine it on not just any night, but on New Year’s flipping Eve. That’s right amigos, cue Who Let The Dogs Out. As I was walking to the bust stop, some crackhead, foaming at the mouth -who probably had rabies– jumps out at me (randomly) and shouts “What! What! What!” While his friends pull him back and apologise to me for his less than gentleman-like behaviour, I, unstartled, give the disgraced fool a blank stare. “Hmmm. Someone doesn’t want to see 2010”, I thought to myself before continuing my journey as if the incident was nothing but a daydream. I hadn’t even got to my destination yet!…..

The fiend in me loved seeing people running for the bus and missing it (that’s only because I was all snug and warm on the bus, of course). Hehehehe!

New Year’s Eve bus services are just like night bus services. The drivers show no mercy. If you’re not at the stop by the time the bus gets there or don’t request for the driver to stop , best believe your ass is being left behind.

I go jogging at least three times a week but for some reason, it felt like my heart was failing me just trying to get up the dam hill. When I finally got to the top of the Heath I felt like Rocky in that famous training scene. Da da daaaaa! Da da daaaaa!…

It was actually a very beautiful sight when I reached the top. The whole of London lit up to welcome the new year in! People were setting off lanterns into the night sky (on my way back home,some woman thought they were UFOs and took the liberty of filming them on her phone *shakes head*). “Who has the actual time in seconds?” A man shouted, “Freddy does” a random female voice replied. I looked at the Freddy she spoke of. He was conked out already. Great! Well, the key was in the wheel- the London Eye, that is. While some people had reached three in the countdown, others were still on 30. Sigh. The fireworks were nice, nothing particularly special or different. Glad I wore my wellies, though! I was not a fan of that mushy grass!

En route back home, I observed that Camden was full of people in a right state! My sober self loved it!….There was a plethora of scantily clad women walking about the streets of London. “Warm are we?” I shouted at one girl shivering as I put on my ever so warm gloves.

On the bus some drunk Asian guy shouted to a poor lady, who was minding her business “Hey, white girl! Would you like to see my dick tonight?” How romantic. I actually wanted to throw up! That’s nasty!

Belly grumbling and ten quid in pocket, I risked getting food poisoning by going into my local chicken and chips shop. Packed, I pushed my way forward and made my order of 2 pieces of chicken, 3 hot wings chips and a can of coke. New Year’s healthy diet= fail. Some guy took out his student card, hoping to get a discount. “No discounts tonight, mate.” the server said. “But I got one here this afternoon!”, he protested. What? You’re telling me that in the space of 24 hours, you’ve eaten this rubbish twice? Tut!

Anywho….This festive cheer will last for what? A good two, three more days? Then people will be back to normal: screw-facing, bitching et cetera et cetera!  One thing that will definitely be carried on into the new year is this cold weather! Brrrr!

All that’s left to say is, Happy New Year to the three of you that read my blog (my, myself and I). Hope it’s a year that’s filled with amazing experiences, accomplishments of new heights, few- if any- regrets, and most importantly growth. Whoop!

What did you get up to last night? Do tell!

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OK, so it’s a Monday evening, and I’m free as a bird. “What to do, what do?”, I ask myself as I tilt my head at two o’clock.  I know! (lightbulb moment) Go see that movie that’s been a trending topic on Twitter for the last week. “Avatar is friggen awsome” wrote one tweeter! Well, if it’s friggen awsome, I had better get down to the cinema to check this bitch out!

Now, I haven’t been to the movies for like, what, at least six years (don’t judge me!) so had no idea how much it cost anymore or even where the nearest one (projecting in 3D) to where I live is. So, as you do, I let Google do the talking and hey presto! Information at my fingertips! I could rant on about my reaction when my eyes beheld the actual price to watch the film (lawd! is that how much they charge these days?) but, that’s another blog entry all together. All I will say on the matter is five syllables: day-light-rob-e-ry!

So, I get there, queue up and wait to be served. To my misfortune, rowdy teenagers (I say that as if I’m an old foegey but I’m  really not much older than them) in front of me start giving me a damn headache before I even purchase my tickets.  They started debating about whether they should watch it in 3D or 2D. “2D blud, 2D!” said one attempting to convincingly pull off some swagger. I’d be ashamed to say that out loud. Why on earth they’d want to see it in 2D instead of 3D was beside me (truth be told, the cheapos just didn’t want to pay extra!). Why would that even be up for discussion? It’s like saying would you like to have your eyes to watch the movie? Erm, yes, please. ‘Twould help the viewing experience tremendously, no!? Then: “Wait!”, one of the girls proclaimed patting her impressively well gelled down side fringe “We can’t go in screen three cos it says ‘ere there’s no heating in there doe!” Is she being serious? Madame should have put on some clothes rather than taken them off before she left the damn house!

And talk about seeing a Z list celeb. Well, I suppose it’s debatable whether he’s even a celeb. No, I lie. What am I saying? It’s not debatable at all. Queuing up was Victor Ebuwa from Big Brother 5 (don’t ask how I remembered that, or him!) I almost didn’t recognise him with the extra dozen (OK I’m exaggerating a tad bit) pounds he’s put on. He ‘aint no celeb…Pahahaha! Ahem…

Finally, I hear the two words my ears were eagerly anticipating: “Next please”. About damn time (I’m kidding, I’m actually a very patient person, *coughNOTcough*)! After being corrected by the sternly obstinate guy at the ticket booth on how to pronounce Avatar, I developed somewhat of a dislike for the place:

Can I have two tickets to see Avaiter (that’s how I pronounced it) in ther-ree dee, please”, I said enthusiastically with an admitedly cheesy smile.

He inched closer to the glass, raising his immaculately plucked right eyebrow (which for some unknown reason,I couldn’t take my eyes off as he spoke). “You mean Av-at- ar!”, he said

As much as I appreciated him correcting me, my smile disappeared faster than a can of beer left alone in a room with an alcoholic. I replied in an aloof manner: “Oh, OK. Whatever the film’s called. You know which one I’m talking about.There’s only one that sounds remotely like what I just said”.

Well, excuse my ignorance but I’m not really into computer games so I had no idea it was an actual word, like in the actual dictionary:

Avatar /ˈævətɑː(r)/ DJ /’ævəˈtɑr/ KK:

a picture of a person or an animal representing a person on a computer screen, especially in a computer game or chat room.

Of course it all makes perfect sense to me now, 160 minutes and a consumed tub of popcorn later!

After finding a seat and tripping up a lady with my bag (accidentally, of course), who almost flew down the stairs and let out a squeal (Ratatouille is on DVD, love. Wrong movie. Should’ve stayed at home), I was ready to be sucked in with the masses to enjoy the spectacle (mind you, that lady should have watched where she was going).

And what visit to the cinema would be complete without a latecomer who insists on making you get up so they can sit in the few empty seats in the flipping middle of the row? They must have been eating their carrots because I don’t know how they spotted those seats in the dark! “Excuse me, please.” One of the pests whispered. “You’re excused”, I whispered back shooing her away. Fine! I got up. “You gonna give me back- in currency preferably- the 2 minutes I just missed?”, I thought. I kissed my teeth as loud as I could to express my disgust with their lack of punctuality but the popcorn in my mouth wasn’t having it and it sounded more like a slurp!

Anyway, I digress…. The film, directed by James Cameron (the same guy who directed Titanic), is about an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. It’s set in the middle of the 22nd Century on a distant plannet called Pandora. Here, earthlings mine a rare mineral and try to maintain civil relations with the indigenous 10 feet tall, blue skinned people called Na’vi, who are understandably very protective of their sacred lands.

The earthlings have modeled organic avatars on Na’vi DNA which are controlled with a human consciousness. Cue (the ex-marine) Jake Sully (Australian actor Sam Worthington). Out of inquisitivity and sheer luck he gains access into the most suspicious of the local tribes. The earthling feel that  by setting up schools and teaching them English they will win the natives’ trust.

If Jake’s avatar can persuade the Na’vi into leaving their jungle home, then the situation would be a very amicable one. And so the adventure ensues…

There’s a Star Wars meets Lord Of The Rings vibe to the film, which is a good thing if you liked one or both of those films, a bad thing if you liked neither of them.

In all honesty, it took me about 45 minutes to get into it and for my eyes to adjust to the 3D projection. At first I was unconvinced of it’s greatness, thinking “Is this what I paid my money for?”, but to my delight, I found soon myself immersed .

I loved how at night, Pandora’s reinforest seemed to be transformed into a coral reef with phosphorescent glowing plants and the ground beneath their feet lights up as the Na’vi take each step (I couldn’t help but think of Michael Jackson‘s Billie Jean music video). Beautiful, I thought.

The film is jam-packed with the typical binary oppositions of good versus evil, consumer wealth versus spiritual wealth, human versus alien and there’s a love story in there too!

The only criticisms I have are that 1) the 3D enhances the viewing but isn’t anything spectacular. and  2) The plot is kind of  lightweight, and slightly clishé. It’s typical of your standard bad guys with big machines trying to take over helpless indigenous people’s land narrative. In fact, it’s pretty much a blueprint of the film Dances With Wolves. Sorry, I had to say it.

I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen it yet but in it’s entirety, it’s a pretty darn good movie and I’d recommend it to anyone. Yes, it delivers on the hype and I can gladly say that it was worth my money. Every penny. Oh, and don’t be put off by the two and a half hour running time because it’s so good you won’t be clock-watching.

I give Avatar 8 pearls out of 10. I’d expect nothing less, considering it cost almost a quarter of a b-b-b-billion dollars to produce!

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Let the film’s trailer below wet your appetite

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