The Lord of the Rings Mythology Explained


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The Lord of the Rings has lots of different kinds of people: elven people, dwarven people, tree people, half-sized people, even people people.

There's like a million pages of background explaining this world that goes much deeper than the books or the movies, but if you don't want to read it all here's a four minute summary, starting with Wizards:

It's easy to mistake the wizards as humans trained in magic, like elsewhere.

But in the Lord of the Rings, wizards are low(ish) level angels. They're called Istari (get ready for lots of names in this video) and there are five of them -- Sauroman the White, Gandalf the Grey, Radagast the Brown, and the two blue wizards.

Their power comes mostly from being supernatural and not so much from book learnin'.

They're sent (by who? We’ll get to that in a second.) to help the people of world stand against evil -- not wildly successfully either. Sauroman, the leader of the five with a mind of metal and wheels gets corrupted, Radagast, gets distracted by all the pretty nature, the blue wizards just kind of fade into the East -- possibly starting cults of magic and it's only Gandalf that stays true to the quest.

Now, where there's angels there’s a god and in this Universe that's Eru Ilúvatar.

In the beginning there was naught but Eru and the infinite timeless nothing, which is rather boring so he created lots of angels to keep him company.

Ilúvatar 's angels are called the Ainur and are divided into two groups The Valar (Guardians of the world of which there are fourteen or fifteen depending on who you want to count) and their servants The Maiar.

The Wizards are the Istari a subset of the Maiar, which serve the Valar, all created by Ilúvatar.

Ilúvatar and all his angels sang together to make the world. The harmony started out great But there was one Valar named Melkor, and just from the name Melkor, you know what's going to happen, even before learning he's also the smartest, and the most powerful of the angels. And also a bit of a loner.

Melkor didn't want to just be part of the chorus like his dimmer Valar co-workers, he wanted his own song and creations and so his voice became discordant from the others and... created all the suffering and evil in the world.

But Melkor's song also attracted some Maiar to his side including the balrogs. Which means the balrog is a low-level angel making him on the same level of the power org chart as Gandalf: which explains why an old man can hold his ground against a giant lava monster.

Through his discordant singing Melkor also created some of the evil creatures in the world such as the dragons and trolls. Which finally gets us to things that aren't angels.

Other Valar, also made their own non-angelic creations, though in a cooperative spirit with Ilúvatar.

Manwë makes the Great Eagles.

Aulë made the dwarves and his wife Yavanna made all of the animals and plants in the world before capping off that minor task with the Ents, her own race of sentient creatures.

While Ilúvatar seemed happy to leave it to his Valar to make most of the stuff -- he did personally create men and elves which makes them special and kind of above all the other living creatures. (Sorry Dwarves)

And of these two, the men are Ilúvatar 's favorite children: and he show's this by giving men shorter lives than everybody else and also the gift of death? Thanks a lot, Dad. But their short lives set them apart from the other creatures and they aren't tied to the music of creation and the world like everyone else and so are the able to forge their own futures. These qualities make them the get-stuff-done species of middle earth.

Elves, on the other hand, are so connected to the world they're practically made of nature. Same with the Dwarves in their own way, and the Ents of course. These species all but follow the flow of nature and it's partly why the humans have such a hard time getting them to do anything.

Even when faced with armies of Orcs, which brings us to Orcs. Melkor was powerful but couldn't make his own creatures as great as the elves and men and so cheated by corrupting some of them in the beginning and selectively breeding them over the generations into these creatures.

This business Melkor was up to of torturing elves, making monsters, recruiting angels from the other side eventually, but unsurprisingly, led to a war that Melkor loses and got him banished into the void.

All of the conflict in the Lord of the Rings comes long after the epic good vs. evil fight of that universe. Sauron, the Big Bad who caused all of the trouble in these books was just one of the Maiar, though an unusually powerful one, who started his career as Melkor's lieutenant -- after the war he did make a ring to focus his strength, but that's a story for another time.

Last, but not least, we have the hobbits. Even though they seem related to dwarves, what with the living underground and the vertical challenge, hobbits are a subspecies of men. For such an important and pivotal race there is little written of their origin other than the phrase 'related to men.' Turns out with a million pages you still can't talk about everything, just like in a four minute video.

Internet Citizens: Defend Net Neutrality

Tell the FCC to reclassify broadband internet as a title II common carrier telecommunications service:

Discuss this video


Hello Internet,

Enjoying your Internetting session? Perhaps watching this video with lots of tabs open and full of interesting things to check out. The Internet is amazing and that's because of the rules which govern how it works, an important one of which is Net Neutrality: treating all data equally.

But some Internet Providers want to ditch this rule to insert themselves betwixt you and your data as the most meddlesome middlemen in human history -- to their benefit and our detriment.

How? Well think of the Internet as a series of pipes. Some are ocean-and-continent spanning pipes through which vast rivers of data flow.

You don't get access to those -- they're very expensive, and you couldn't handle it anyway.

But you do have a little pipe that connects to the big pipes, through which you can pull down and send out data. Your pay your Internet provider to maintain this pipe.

This rule means that your little pipe, cares not what flows through it: cat videos, discussion forums, calls or games. Whatever you're doing, you're using the whole pipe to do and no website gets preference over another.

Everyone wants faster Internet, but that requires more metaphorical pipe in the ground, the building of which is slow and expensive.

Now you may have heard your Internet provider on the news talking about how this rule prevents them from building 'fast lanes' for special kinds of data -- they want you to think they're expanding your access to the information superhighway. But removing this rule also gives them the power to speedbump the existing roads and charge more to use the 'fast' lane that was just what you had before.

The power to preference some data over others is the power to favor one video site over another and to limit a tiny part of the pipe for the video you're watching right now or trying to anyway.

We've been through this before: and constrain other companies in similar ways. Take the electricity. You pay for a certain amount and when it arrives in your house you can do with it what you wish. The electricity company doesn't get to decide that rather than build more power plants it's going to dim your bulbs and then offer a 'brighter bulbs' monthly subscription. And so it should go with the Internet. Watts are watts and bits are bits and we'll always need more and more.

And preserving this rule for the Internet has much wider impact than just if some company takes more of your coins. Not to be overly dramatic here, but preserving data equality may be one of the most important issues in a generation. Because without this rule Internet providers could cripple competitors they don't like.

Ever notice the same company that sells you internet also sells Cable TV and Landlines -- stuff The Internet totally replaces? Without data equality your Internet Provider could narrow the pipe for competitors until they either go out of business, pay the meddlesome middleman, or both.

It's like if one store in town super-promised to pay for fast roads everywhere as long as the town gave them absolute power over all the roads no backsies. If you agree to that deal don't be surprised when years later all traffic to them is fast and free while the roads elsewhere are slow and neglected.

This town is basically the Internet without net neutrality which some Internet Providers would love, but actual Internet citizens, not so much.

Having the pipes treat all data the same lets one guy with a good idea and a bit of programming knowledge make something today that's seen by millions tomorrow. But only because his data is treated equally with everything else in the pipes.

An Internet that treats data equally is an internet that continues to shower us with wonder. But an Internet where middlemen pick and choose what comes through the pipe is an Internet of stagnation for all and profit for few. Which is why some Internet providers will always want that control, so the cost of preserving our awesome Internet is eternal vigilance on the part of good citizens to defend Net Neutrality.

This Video Will Hurt

Special Thanks:

Total Philosophy

Saylor Fielder

Julian Yap

Ardalan Moazeni

Dr Clifton K. Meader

Dr Fabrizio Benedetti

Max Ramsay - @maxafax, The Soden Family, Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ), Kira Lanier, Lisa Marie Terry, Dave Roberts (the Best Dad ever),, Carine Frsch, Mauceri76, David Benko, Team Fluger, A.Manning, Smuffie00, Robert English, @jwvdiermen, Laura Saura Maura Watiker, Nicholas Hartikainen, M Go Blue!, @chrisaiello, @Bad1z, Kuffer Sam

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Thyroxine: anatomy of a health scare