I'm reading Casanova's Memoirs right now. I thought this was really insightful -
The theory of morals and its usefulness through the life of man can be compared to the advantage derived by running over the index of a book before reading it when we have perused that index we know nothing but the subject of the work. This is like the school for morals offered by the sermons, the precepts, and the tales which our instructors recite for our especial benefit. We lend our whole attention to those lessons, but when an opportunity offers of profiting by the advice thus bestowed upon us, we feel inclined to ascertain for ourselves whether the result will turn out as predicted; we give way to that very natural inclination, and punishment speedily follows with concomitant repentance. Our only consolation lies in the fact that in such moments we are conscious of our own knowledge, and consider ourselves as having earned the right to instruct others; but those to whom we wish to impart our experience act exactly as we have acted before them, and, as a matter of course, the world remains in statu quo, or grows worse and worse.
Casanova likens learning morals before getting real world experience to reading the index of a book before the book itself. You get an idea of what's going to be in the book, but you don't really "get it."
It's kind of subtle, but I laughed a lot at him saying everyone feels the need to against what they were taught, have things go badly because of their choice, but then they feel consoled that they can now teach others. Hilarious stuff.
I'm enjoying Casanova's Memoirs. Interesting book. It's out of copyright, and thus free at Gutenberg.org - here's the first section in plain text - http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2951/pg2951.txt
I saw the article "Memoirs of a Bullied Kid" on the site Single Dad Laughing. It's written by a guy named Dan Pearce, and he seems like a hell of a guy. He's talking about raising his son, about accepting yourself, dealing with conflict, things like that. Pretty inspirational and good stuff.
The Memoirs of a Bullied Kid article must've taken a lot of guts to write, and I massively respect that. That said, I disagree with his conclusion on how to deal with violent bullies. So I want to send some praise and respect in his direction, but also some significant disagreement.
I originally wrote this as a comment for Hacker News, but it came out to about a normal post's length. Tone is more discussion site level than blog post level, but you'll get the gist of it -
"Son, as soon as someone puts their hands on you..."
This comment will be controversial, especially for North Americans and Western Europeans. I ask you to read it and think about it a moment before reacting, and comment if you disagree. I believe what I'm about to say is true, and I'm not trying to get a rise out of people - I want to fix some problems with society.
What started out as my exploration of an age-old question: whether total nerds have a chance at snagging highly desired women ripples into a topic that permeates into a thorough exploration of everything regarding the enigma we call 'love' and how it may not be as magical as we first deem it to be.
Reupdate: 3/14/13 Didn't really mean to update on Valentine's Day but there we go. I rescind my 51/49 soul/body split I mentioned in the 3/13 update after responding to Zach's post on Sebastian Marshall's blog http://sebastianmarshall.com/dont-underestimate-biochemistry. I now believe it is a dynamic split that changes based on situation.
Update: 3/13/13 In yet another update of this post's evolution the original question has been staked in the heart by Tynan's latest post Not that kind of person. I am now more convinced than ever that there are no 'pre-sets' in life and the only barriers we put up are the ones of our own making. Not everyone starts on even-footing and some have advantages over others but in the long run for most things we are self-defined. For the longest time I've tackled a deeper philosophical question - is the body a victim of biological processes or are biological processes controlled by the body? (ie can we use willpower alone to induce biological change) Are human personalities just a sum of biochemical reactions or is the human persona a product of the 'soul'? I now believe that we have a lot more power than we give ourselves credit for and even though our bodies and higher aspects (mind/soul) may often conflict with one another ultimately the higher aspects are in control.
Admittedly hormones and such play a big role in our day to day feel/function and have enough weight to throw us off course . Starting out I think we may be a 51/49 split of mind over matter but with self discipline and proper care of the human vessel in my experience that ratio only goes up to pass more control to the higher self.
Update: 9/6/12 Figure I'd clean this up and add in a shortcut to help anyone trapped in the loop of pining for women - most of what is considered "love" doesn't exist just sex. Read the end of this post for the explanation why. Otherwise original post below...