iDrone About iPhones

Children seem to have grown out of the simplicity with which their forebears could be amused. Since ancient times, in nations from Africa to Asia, through empires Byzantine to British, simply rolling a hoop along the ground with a stick was a popular pastime, or even sport, depending on the culture.


To somebody whose childhood hand-me-down book on technology could only predict the telephonic watch, this is thankfully still imaginable. It’s as charming as it is inspirational to behold how creative children become in conjuring their own games, as my mother once did, by persuading her sibling to jump on ‘dried’ cow poo, or as my mate did by blowing up big piles of the stuff with petards on our a Grammar School French exchange. (Why those were the first two examples to come to mind I do not know.)

As things advance, childhoods are changing. I daresay they are becoming more sterile—maybe for the best, moo-poo considered. Quite magically, but very literally, at the flick of a finger we can read about and watch and learn to play any game or instrument ever made on a bloomin’ watch. All of the information and all of the potential in the history of the world, yet the upcoming generations will find this sort of thing so normal as to be unworthy of comment, much like the mobile phone today. It’s a sad paradox, the iPhone, it contains an infinitude of potential but produces a uniformity of outcome. Give a boy an iPhone at eight, and it’ll give you the man.

Much as it nauseates me to have noticed, it is a standard procedure to satisfy/subdue the curiosity of pram-dwellers with iPhones. Confining the blossoming consciousness of a child to five-inches of screen showing some banal software developer’s creation seems to me to be as much expedience as entertainment. But that’s coming from somebody who has implicitly favoured exploding excrement to Angry Birds.


Children aren’t changing, per se, but childhoods are. That many will grow up glued to screens, increasingly right from the get-go, will have an effect on society, one we can plainly see already. Everyone is aware of it, because (almost) everyone is on the bandwagon. As we ‘progress’ to buying the newest iPhones for the youngest members of the family, the formerly taboo becomes tiresomely normal. But I still reckon or hope that most my age would or should agree that it is rude to repeatedly use one’s phone in company (let alone the new normality of photographing and filming and Facebook-flicking). Who wants to go to a meal, a birthday party, a wedding, at which people constantly refer to their phones, as if to something more important, more meaningful, more interesting?

I found myself at a festival last year, sporting my great-grandmother-in-law’s floral peach of a dress, more flustered by cameraphones than flattered by compliments. Then I knew something was up. Kids filmed me unelicited for social media rather than talk to me for chirps. Then they watch the acts they’ve paid to see through said phones. Why not save yourself the money and watch it on a bigger screen and with nicer toilets at home? Your facebook feed’ll be full of twats like me you might have missed on your snapchat spree.

iPhonerism is as stark a reality at university. When hacking my first hungover lecture in first-year, I receded to the back of the hall to rot out of eye-and-nose-contact. This gave me a panoramic view of the attending students below: all phone and laptop screens, undoubtedly more looking at them then not. Given, some of the laptops would be used for taking notes. But, even then, really? I don’t complain just because my bugbear of hearing rat-a-tat-tat-tat when trying to listen to a lecturer. Knowing that these feckless wretches are costing themselves and their parents several tens of thousands of pounds to watch videos on facebook and play stick-man games—that bugs me more.

Distracted is what we are becoming. Overwhelmed by understimulating bollocks. We become distracted to the point of becoming distant. This distance is almost absolute here in English society, though it is rumoured that talking to strangers persists among the savages up north.


Maybe you’ve noticed this distance at work, or with friends, or even in your family. You definitely won’t struggle to remember the last time you spoke to somebody whilst they were on their phone. You probably won’t have thought it abnormal, either. It wouldn’t make sense to say, “What is so feckin’ urgently interesting that you can’t suffer granting me your undivided attention for the sake of an afternoon/meal/conversation?”

It’s two years since I deleted Facebook. I never wrote about it because, who am I to preach? So I shan’t. (Now. Much.) But it opened my eyes to things and I made meaningful decisions thereafter. I was clocking myself still thinking things like, “That’ll be a good picture/status,” and, like a tic, whipping out my phone and going for facebook. I thought to myself—really thought, different to thinking whilst distracted—that this is actually sad. Can you not enjoy XYZ on its own account, instead of feeding it through facebook? I will understatedly term it an epiphany, which I can’t and won’t do justice by attempting to summarise it here. I will try, with a question. Am I going to die thinking, “Oh boy, do I wish I’d spent more time in my one and only life on this dear phone!” Don’t die thinking precisely the opposite. My dear phone now remains mostly at home and on flight-safe mode. The queer relationship that I had with it, unnecessarily and excessively posting/texting/photographing, was terminated; life is better, brighter and simpler because of it.

Yet it is smartphones that make life simpler, so they say. But I don’t reckon life is better, brighter or simpler for kids who are growing up in intimate relationships with them. Life’s not better if one can’t suffer company without referring and reporting to social media, it’s not brighter experienced through a camera lens, and it certainly isn’t simpler if your online persona, ‘likes’ and text messages come to matter as much as real relations with people.

I said I shan’t preach (much!), but—dare you look up long enough to see that this is actually happening?


My partner—fiancée!—and I returned to our hostel in the woods outside of Münich after a long day walking and whiskeying about the place. I cooked up some grub and and we went to the wreck room with some vino, presumably to eat and drink alongside other happy holidayers. The room was large, with loads of seating, a ping-pong table and music. There were twelve humans in total and including us. Ten were on their God-forsaken phones. A sofa of young guys manning the music station, all heads bowed down, a sofa of young girls the same. The place was without chemistry, and if not for the music, would have been quiet. It would not have sounded as eerie as the scene looked to me. A Spanish teacher, to whom we were talking, shows us some funny videos on YouTube. It’s rude of me to not to look. He tells us that his job is unthinkable without technology; all of his students use iPads. An older American couple, who had been to the wonderful English Gardens in the city that day, grunted at each other without looking up.

Looking back at the scene, I can hardly help but think—perhaps they would have all had more fun by simply going outside, and playing in cow shit.


As I’m not on social media, my writing is only read as much as it is circulated by readers like you. So if you liked this piece, please share and share alike, it would be greatly appreciated. Liam.


A Mythical Madcap Marxist Missile

Discussing and dissecting the national news was a first-daunting but wholly enjoyable way to spend the fourth week of my final first-year semester of study. Below you will find 300 (requested, a few more written) words that: “Compare the treatment of the same news event in two different newspapers published on the same day.”

Perhaps for not having read any news since the new year, the first and only headline that pounced to service I recalled from walking into an offie back in January: it practically barked at me, so I indulged in more than my usual few seconds glance and was generously rewarded … Enjoy:

The headlines discussed in this piece represent views expressed by Jeremy Corbyn on 17th January 2016: confirming his personal convictions in respect of nuclear weapons (ideally, unilateral disarmament), the British colonial territory off the coast of Argentina (bilateral discussion with a view to deal-making) and the then-burgeoning threat of the ‘Islamic State’ (wildly, proposing attempts at discussion before bombing).


The Sun’s headline, which earned hard(ly)-reserved laughter when tabled on the BBC News, depicts Jeremy Corbyn’s head within the warhead of a missile tellingly emblazoned with a radioactive sign on its side (Corbyn’s cheek), a flat cap sat atop its peak (a sign of the proletariat, thus left-wing politics); with a consonant subheadline of ‘CORBYN’S LATEST BOMBSHELLS’ (assumedly a continuation) and headline, ‘OFF HIS WAR HEAD’.

Irony and paradox sit comfortably on the page: the potential of the ideas in Corbyn’s head are tied to a warhead (classic Sun pun), signifying the danger they pose as tantamount to that causable by a nuclear bomb. The ‘cherry on the cake’ is the hat atop the (his) warhead, correlated to and indeed ‘topping’ the apocalyptic power of the bomb with a sign of his relatively left-wing political orientation. The Sun’s ideological alliance sees it crudely parry paradox by painting him as posing thermonuclear danger when his goal is antipolar: the doublethink required: to correlate the danger of nuclear armaments with his wacky idea of nuclear disarmament.

The Sun’s headline smacks of friendly or familial fear: declaring in a colloquial, innocent manner that the guy’s just plain mad. The ‘evidence’ proffered underneath (‘Take nukes off nuke subs/Do Falklands deal with Argies/Start talks with I.S. fiends’) settles the a priori condemnation of his views, represented in statements that, unlike the headline and sub, are framed in such a way as to appear his. In the words of Roland Barthes (Mythologies), the Sun here “…mimics silliness in order to make the public protest in one’s favour, and thus carry it along advantageously from complicity in helplessness [‘I don’t know the first thing about the ramifications of armament or disarmament…’] to complicity in intelligence [‘…but I know this guy is nonsensical and dangerous, a veritable dalek]… The reality behind this seasonally professed lack of culture is the old obscurantist myth according to which ideas are noxious if they are not controlled by ‘common sense’ [‘nukes off nuke subs’ is nonsensical!] and ‘feeling’ [the man’s a fecking missile]: Knowledge is Evil, they both grew on the same tree.” The gross simplification and misconstruance of his suggestions shreds nuance for maximum effect: this guy is a loose cannon, a ticking bomb, a ‘madcap leader’ who just (well, back in January actually) ‘blew up Labour’s last traces of credibility’.


Then there’s The Daily Telegraph, shunning pretty pictures and punny funnies for barebones business and politics: thus, ‘Corbyn’s big idea: Trident subs with no nuclear arms’.

Flattering the readership by delegating them the task of decoding the senselessness of the proposition all by themselves (nuke subs – nukes = nonsensical), it provides more mature misdirection from engagement with the proposition and its justifications and invites them to juxtapose the magnitude of upkeeping a subaqueous transcontinental thermonuclear arsenal with clueless ole Corbyn, and his ‘big idea’ to decouple ‘nuclear arms’ (notice the premium double-barrelled terminology) from the subs. The dismissive and disparaging referral to his ‘big idea’, plus the wholly unnatural suggestion of separating a sub from its nuclear cub, is all the Telegraph reader requires: they decode that he may well be off his bloddy (war)head.


Apathical Politaphy – Apathy and the Impenetrability of Politics

I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate – it’s apathy. It’s not giving a damn ― Leo Buscaglia

We may have found a cure for most evils; but we have found no remedy for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings ― Helen Keller

Hailing from an island as small and sheltered as Guernsey has its pros, most of which I acknowledged without having fully appreciated until flying the nest, and it has some subtler perks that one mightn’t notice without travelling or living abroad.

One such pro is the high standard of living, providing a vantage point from which one can easily discern the cons of foreign lands.

One such con of the UK – and I stick with the term ‘con’ for good reason – is the endemic political apathy, especially among its youth; that young adults live lives void of political engagement cannot be by anything but design.

The disinterest is at least as strong in Guernsey, but almost unperceivable: the role played by the supremely cushy lifestyle lived by many on the island negates the will and need to politically engage oneself. The (informed) cynic in me says that this is deliberate; the optimist (or apologist, as the oh-so informed cynic in me calls him) says that Guernsey’s too plush a place for politicking to be popular – what grave injustice would there be to rail against?

Guernsey Seafront

(The first article I ever wrote was of Guernsey’s chronically politically disinterested youth but, being politics, I had to water it down (and down and down) to a meaningless mush.)

But for the sake of, say, a biannual lesson in politics, I mightn’t have made it past my teens without knowing the name of a politician in my own island, let alone on the world stage (assuming Bush, Obama and Blair don’t count of course!). This mightn’t matter on an island that can and does squander money as if it were a perishable product, but when you live in a society as unequal, unfair and uninterested as the UK, it starts to make sense that political apathy isn’t remediated…



Politics is an Asshole.

I take my own political engagement for granted. I’m so far departed from the hours spent trawling through Wikipedia trying to make sense of wars as depressing as WW1, issues as complex as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and terms as opaque as ‘austerity’ that I forget just how much of an asshole politics is to a person – any person.

It’s because of this that too many people don’t know of the greatest threat to the UK today: it’s not immigration, it’s not ‘the terrorist threat’ and it’s definitely not Jeremy bloody Corbyn – it is political apathy and the corollary poverty of political engagement.

To be blunt: politics is important but it is effing boring.

If apathy wasn’t this endemic disease we see today, we mightn’t be the only Western European charging tuition fees, the highest fees in the industrialised world  (currently capped but due to be uncapped à l’Américaine); or have a secret spy agency known to be snooping (unlawfully) on its citizens whilst the Home Secretary pushing for increased powers; and, I’d like to think, we wouldn’t have a Conservative government if people had any clue what that entails, and has entailed, in reality.

uk poverty


The apathetic seem staunch, immune, even – they’re not.

Without a catalyst and cause, the apathetic will remain politically disengaged.

Example: your uncle Roy has always been on the large side, but thought nothing of it – why would he?

Since retirement last year, Roy has ballooned and suffered for it in terms of his health, self-confidence and mobility. So, Roy educates himself as to the reasons behind the issue: he identifies his diet and lack of exercise as causative and takes action in respect of such, overhauling his relationship to food and upping his physical activity accordingly.

Before his life was made uncomfortable, internet-searching ‘how to lose weight’, swapping his breakfast baguette for an omelette and taking a brisk walk every evening had never occurred to him. Old uncle Roy might’ve taken the mick for you suggesting so.

Such is human nature: to not give a fiddler’s feck about something that doesn’t directly affect you. We’re selfish. It’s not a ‘damning indictment of society’ to say so, as ole uncle Roy so aptly demonstrates. It’s simple: if you don’t know better you don’t know better.

apathy grafitti


Why would you willingly involve yourself in politics?

It is not the case that people only get ‘into politics’ because they fancy it or feel they should, though many obviously do. Some are born with a parentally proffered political education. It’s difficult to be politically apathetic if politics is a constant topic of familial discussion, though danger lurks where parents paint their offspring a political stripe without allowing them to decide their views independently – political self-discovery is a (if not the) crucial component in becoming politically engaged.

Oftentimes political activists only become such due to a political activation: scores of formerly comfortable families collectively looked up from their iPads, leaving unfinished rounds of Angry Birds to go and get real-life angry at the ‘tough decisions’ taken by the Etonion automaton looking to slash benefits of employed, unemployed, abled and disabled alike. (Such is the Conservative slant on equality: an equal shafting for all… but the richest few.)

Some emancipate themselves from political apathy with self-education. People want to find out more about what their politicians are doing in their name with their tax pennies. Again, danger lurks with the advent of freely available information: the forces of extremism and reaction are ever present (see Islamic State media strategy) and mis-, dis- and non-information is as freely available as information – a veritable minefield of dangerous ideas and plain bullshittery.

Others are enlightened by higher education. Sixth-Form colleges, or what’ll be left of them anyhow, offer A-Levels in Politics (so I’m told, though I don’t doubt they teach as biased a narrative as is taught in secondary school History) and the option* of a university education (*still at the bargain rate of £9,000 per annum!) is available to those willing to learn. And financially enslave themselves.

tuition fees protest

(The humanities (politics, philosophy, art, etc.) – for which funding has been pulled completely by a Tory government hell-bent on quashing free thought – looks to cultivate the critical thought that challenges dogmas, promotes political engagement and therefore menaces the Establishment’s monopoly on knowledge and power.)

There are worse examples of (pseudo-)political activation, often spurred by a mainstream media that should have other priorities but know better than to broach sensitive issues that might actually matter to their readership, such as the legion of newly self-declared animal rights activists that inundated social media in the wake of a lion being killed in a legal hunt when, perhaps and in my opinion, the British press should’ve had other priorities. [Disclaimer: I by no means endorse or condone big game hunting, it’s barbaric and deplorable, I just think the mainstream media might’ve done better to focus on any one of the plethora of crises affecting millions of their readership instead of distracting them with a big Zimbabwean cat.]

Many will continue to live lives void of political impetus and they can, to an extent, be excused for doing so: modern society is designed in such a way that the least interesting thing just so happens to be the most important thing.

If you’re preoccupied and/or comfortable (distracted), why willingly enter a world in which regurgitated catchphrases are impenetrably articulated by insufferable nonpersonalities, sporting vacuums where their hearts and faces should be, claiming to represent the people without a fucking clue what constitutes reality for the overwhelming majority of their countrymen?

The most important thing is packaged and delivered as the least interesting thing.

A general view of the House of Commons, London, as MPs gather for the first time since the General Election.

Emancipation from Apathy: Political Engagement

How does one escape apathy and become a ‘politically engaged person’?

Why would one willingly engage themselves in politics? I don’t pose the question purely for rhetorical impact – think how unappealing a proposition this is.

Why aren’t there more people politically engaged? Aside from the clear governmental interest in preventing political engagement and its action in suppressing or misdirecting such, what’s stopping people from just waking up and doing something?

What are politically engaged people doing to engage the apathetic? Or, should that be, why aren’t politically engaged people doing something?

I shan’t be attempting to answer these questions in this piece, thought I intend to so in a future piece.

So, let us wrap up these woolly uncertainties and finish with a hard and hateful truth: Kanye West and Taylor Swift (or any other vacuous, meaningless, manufactured celebrity) matter more to more young people today than the future of humanity does.

celebrity obsession

Please, please don’t read this as an uppity and holier-than-thou know-it-all railing against ‘the youth of the day’ (I’m flitting between watching boxing on a laptop, reading click-bait on my BlackBerry and writing this) – just take a second, think. Is it appropriate that iPhones and Frozen are ‘bigger’ than, say, the irreversible destruction of our planet, rampant but rectifiable inequality, unnecessarily extreme poverty and perpetual war perpetuating all of the above? Think.

A slightly softer truth: it’s not their fault they’re ignorant. In the same way it’s not old uncle Roy’s fault. Apathetic people comprise but one component of the institution of apathy – they (and we) are victims of a social construct contrived to preoccupy every second of our lives with work and consumerism rather than reflecting on the humanity as a whole, showing solidarity or entertaining any prospect of actually changing things for the better (of humanity, just not ourselves and/or the West).

More than one and a half thousand years ago, Aristotle wrote ‘that man is by nature a political animal’. He’s right. We’re just distracted; politically neutered. It’s no coincidence.

It’s no coincidence.

The onus is on the government to ensure inclusion and engagement, but that’s clearly never going to happen. So, on falls the onus to the politically engaged: to shove a political firework up the apathetic asses of family, friends and peers alike.


You can’t be apolitical. It will come and get you. It’s not that you shouldn’t be neutral. It’s that you won’t be able to stay neutral ― Christopher Hitchens



I’m a skint student without the money or contacts or resources to further my work significantly; liking, commenting and sharing this piece is a massive help and hugely appreciated gesture – if you liked the piece or perhaps know somebody who would, like and share away please! 🙂

Thanks in advance and have a very merry Christmas x

Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Warplane – My Tuppence-Worth

Russian Warplane
The Russian Sukhoi SU-24 in question.


A Russian warplane cruised the fringes of Syrian airspace yesterday, as has become ordinary since Russia jumped on the Syria bomb-wagon some weeks ago, but attracted an extraordinary response from Turkey.

Official Turkish military sources provided the following account: after warning the jet “10 times in five minutes” to exit Turkish airspace, which it hadn’t yet violated, the Russian SU-24 jet then entered Turkish airspace for a total of 17 seconds before reentering Syrian airspace, where it was then intercepted by Turkish F-16s.

Turkish warplanes violated Syrian airspace in their pursuit, firing upon the Russian jet 1km departed from the infringed territory, causing it to crash some 4km from the Turkish border. Both pilots ejected: one was rescued, the other killed by (Turkish-backed Turkmen) Syrian rebels.

Russia contests the Turkish account: it denies that its jet ever encroached on Turkish airspace and claims never to have had contact with Turkish military authorities, by way of warning or otherwise, before the jet was downed.

NATO’s Secretary General has (unsurprisingly and somewhat unconvincingly) confirmed that Turkey’s account is consistent with “assessments we have got from several Allies” and Obama has voiced his nation’s support of Turkey’s “right to defend its airspace”.

The official Russian reaction was unbridled: President Vladimir Putin branded it “a stab in the back” knowingly committed by the “accomplices of terrorists” and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has since told Russian TV that it “looks very much like a planned provocation”.

Let’s retreat from the heat of the event and see if there’s a backdrop with which to contextualise this incident.

Minor, short-term violations of NATO members’ airspace is a Russian thing: there were 39 violations in an eight month period last year alone (notably without any such incidents). Turkish airspace has been no exception since Russia (overtly) entered the Syrian war. Turkey has complained, Russia has apologised; it’d all been quite considered and cordial. Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davtoglu even declared that, “Russia is our friend and neighbor. There is no tension between Turkey and Russia in this sense.”


Russian infringement of Swedish airspace (captured from a Swedish fighter jet cockpit).


In point of fact, Turkey is big on airspace violations itself: US cables released by WikiLeaks have exposed the “inflammatory” inclination of Turkey to impress its power over Greece by flying up to “40 aircraft a day… to make its political point”.

Three years ago Turkey lost one of its own warplanes over the Syrian airspace it was coolly violating, causing Prime Minister Erdogan to proclaim: “A short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack”.

In view of the above, we can discern Turkey’s motive for responding in such a fashion isn’t because Turkey feels the Russian infringement is extraordinary and/or threatening. We know that Turkey doesn’t give a flying shit about international law in respect of airspace (or anything else for that matter). And Erdogan put himself firmly on the side of the Russians some time ago as the above quote shows. So why the double standard?

Inspection of Russian military actions in relation to Turkey’s interests may reveal agenda-driven justification/s for shooting the bomber:

  • Russia is providing airpower for Assad. Turkey wants Assad gone.
  • Russia is bombing Sunni militias. Turkey is predominantly Sunni with a despotic Sunni leader that directly and indirectly provides many such Sunni militiamen, their weapons and other supplies through its porous border.
  • Russia is bombing ethnic Turkmen Sunni militiamen. Those of Turkmen ethnicity are seen as de facto citizens (Russia takes a similar view with Russophones in its former and current spheres of influence – see Ukraine).
  • Russia is bombing on behalf of a Shia government backed by the Shia regional power, Iran, which Turkey fears for its growing influence in Iraq and Syria.
  • (Oh, and Turkey imports 90% of its oil, 60% from Russia. The same Russia that’s currently bombing Islamic State convoys exporting oil on the cheap to Turkish companies (allegedly including companies owned by Erdogan’s son) – just sayin’.)


Islamic State oil exportation in Russian crosshairs.


This is the first time a NATO member state has shot down a Russian plane since the height of the Cold War in the 1950s – at no point in the last half century has any NATO member broken rank and done so. Erdogan doesn’t care for 17 seconds of airspace ‘violation’: this was a premeditated play – “Russia, back the fuck off.’” Why else would he not apologise?

At the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, Turkey put its cards on the table: it wanted Assad gone and it put a motherload of resources in to securing that prospect. That prospect has become little more than a wish, now we’re half a decade in to the definitive clusterfuck of civil, proxy and religious wars all multiplied and magnified by the War on Terror. Russia is hurting Turkish interests on several fronts and Erdogan, in that unfathomably stupid and excessively violent way of his, is likely sending a shot across the Russian bow. Perhaps it seems too obvious?

One mightn’t have ever conflated good’ole Turkey with the theocracies and reactionary elements of the Middle East: Turkey has a(n alarmingly thin) secular and democratic guise, NATO membership, shiny American-made warplanes and explicit US backing in situations such as this – Turkey’s ‘legit’.

Only it’s not: Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey is a repressive, authoritarian and ruthlessly ambitious regional power that’s overflowing with the ideological bedfellows of Islamic State (and the other detestable Islamic states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar) in government and society.


Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s more than prone to recklessness.


To consolidate the point: when thinking Turkey, one shouldn’t think NATO and Europe and freedom and rule of law, one should think what NATO and Europe purport to fight against.

NATO champions freedom of speech, supports the Kurds in their heroic struggle and is fighting a war against the Islamic State and other regional fuckwits.
Turkey, just somewhat antithetically, is comprehensively repressing free speech at home, indiscriminately bombing Kurdish territory and tacitly supporting the Islamic State and Jahbat Al-Nusra (AKA Al-Qaeda).

Hell, let’s just fucking say it: Turkey is in large part the reason behind the Islamic State and the reason it manages to continue fighting multiple fronts in Syria at all.

It beggars belief that NATO should count its tyrannical Eurasian garrison among its members, let alone excuse its reckless provocations and turn a blind eye to its sponsorship of the current NATO bogeyman. Read that back: Turkey is all but the enemy here, but of course, isn’t.

Sort of.

Well, at least a fitting alliance in a nondirectional and ultimately, as is, pointless war of power plays in which, as fucking usual, the innocent have, do and will continue to suffer the most.


Happy Wednesday x