Seconded. I've read some stuff from Mark Manson and a lot of the stuff sounded very reasonable and insightful, didn't give me bad vibes. It goes to show that seduction does not have to be an adversarial process.
The second paragraph as well – tastes vary, and a certain typology may embody the ideal of some kinds of people, but fail to resonate with others. In particular, among people and especially among women who like to think of themselves as intellectuals, the loud-mouthed hunk is a bit of a shorthand for low intelligence, whereas less aggressively masculine features like a mild-mannered demeanour, introversion, glasses, long hair, and unassuming clothing can function as signals of high intelligence. The same thing for, let's say, bimbo types is code for wimp. (That's the judgment people pass before even having their first conversation with you.) In a sense, by projecting a certain outward appearance (including demeanour) you self-select for the kinds of people you have chances with.
More generally, it might be worth remembering that men's ideal masculinity is a bit, well, more masculine than women's. We factor in the features that make us respect another guy, whereas the same features might cross the border into indicators of threat, for women. (Or at least that's my anally extracted explanation of it.) This image exemplifies this (there's a female analogue of it too). In short: know thy market.
Like an engagement ring? "Oh, you don't want to marry me, that makes you the perfect wife!"
You surely are hoping that's what it means, eh?
No, I'm afraid someone's attractiveness doesn't take them out of the set of people whom it is immoral to emotionally abuse. From an outside perspective, you not getting laid is morally neutral. You reaching into your Jedi mind trick toolbox to get laid at the cost of lowering someone's life quality is very much not morally neutral. Why should she suffer more to get a worse deal? When she could enter a healthy relationship with someone who's attractive and ethical enough not to resort to dirty tricks to get her to stick around? Because it's you offering the deal, and I'm supposed to cheer for your side since I'm talking to you? No, I'm sorry, it doesn't work like that.
This is not that kind of country.
You're doing humanity, women, and your own immortal soul... ehh, moral character a disfavour by listening to that drivel. If you want to get laid, do what everybody else is doing – look good, have lots of friends of both genders, and go to parties where people get very drunk. Tried and trusted. Responsible for 100% of my sexual activity. Buy one today and get one free.
I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine, in which he said he didn't care about looking good for women or catering to them in general. Coupled with the fact that he often complained about not being able to get women, the whole situation seemed rather pathetic. Something about a lost license to complain, methinks.
When I look beyond my own grooming habits, the problem seems widespread. By contrast, and this is essential, there are industries upon industries dedicated to enhancing women's appearance, to which they are drawn irresistibly, often well past the point of diminishing returns. If this were an arms race of attractiveness, women won before the race even started. If we are to get even a little closer to the ideal of everybody being paired with someone in their "league", either both genders get preoccupied with enhancing their looks, or neither does. In fact, if we are to factor in the fact that men seem more needy, sexually, they should be the ones trying somewhat harder to look attractive. Remember, in most species ornamentation belongs to the male gender.
Looks matter. Whoever is telling you that the end-all-be-all of male attractiveness is position in a dominance hierarchy is bullshitting you and probably has an appetite for domination higher than is optimal or moral himself.
tl;dr Women's beauty industry has a distorting effect on average attractiveness for each gender, this might explain part of the discrepancy in standards, and men might need to pay more attention to their looks than the cultural standard if they want to "stay competitive".
You gawk a lot at people and develop an eye for what attractiveness means. Don't ask people, that's almost always useless, unless you happen to run into an expert on this. See what your eye responds positively to. Then evaluating yourself is as easy as keeping a reference feature in your mind up for comparison when you look at yourself. Keep in mind that attractive people are not all identical; there are attractive and unattractive versions and combinations of any trait.
There are also some things you could do to get an eye-opening perspective of yourself – ever looked at yourself through a second mirror forming an acute angle to the first mirror, so you can see yourself from the side view? I guarantee that the first time you do it you'll feel very surprised. Same thing when you're filmed talking and then watch the footage. Images that are flipped horizontally relative to your mirror image also help you notice asymmetries. The point is that the eye notices a lot more when the image is even slightly unfamiliar.
I know a lot less about it than you might expect. I'm able to recall various tidbits about people's life and culture in who-knows-what historical era, but the "big picture" is very low-res. I don't want to keep having surprises like, "oh, these peoples existed", "hey, Afrikaans sounds Germanic, what's up with that", "I've been listening to a song about this guy for months, but I don't know wtf he did" etc.
Here's, for example, a textbook I was looking into: World History by Duiker & Spielvogel. The table of contents looks pretty much like what I was seeking, though there's less focus on geopolitics and more on the civilisational "big picture" than I would have liked. (Edit: and perhaps if it were thrice the page count it would have been closer to the level of detail I was trying to get.) I was interested in getting a comparison between, for instance, this book and others of the same type.
What I'm trying to remedy is a very poor knowledge of the most basic, boring kind of historical data: who ruled when, what were the major battles and their dates and locations, what political entities and subdivisions existed and when were they founded and ended/conquered, what major reforms were made, what people produced and traded etc. I too have and can find books on very specific historical matters, and take pleasure in reading them, but they would fit better in an understanding of the hard facts and data relevant to those historical circumstances.
Does anyone have a recommendation for a comprehensive history textbook, covering ancient as well as modern history, and several geographical regions? Just something to teach me about major events and dates, wars, rulers & dynasties, interactions between civilisations, etc., without neglecting the non-geopolitical aspects of history. College-level, please. (A dumbed-down alternative to what I'm asking would be to start looking for my old high school textbooks, but obviously that wouldn't be very satisfactory.) Comprehensive accounts of single civilisations in a single period could work as well, but I'm looking for a book that is mainly didactic in purpose and with a broad subject matter.
Also: should I supplant whatever I'm studying with Wikipedia, so that I have the option of going in as much depth as I like? Or is it too unreliable even for basic learning purposes?