A few years ago, a friend asked me to describe my personal “ethos” with just a few words.
Now, judging by that question, you can tell that I hang out with some pretty smart friends. And in this case, I knew my answer needed to be appropriately thought out to satisfy my friend’s curiosity. At first, I thought this task would be difficult. Yet after just a brief period of reflection, I answered with the following three words…
Focus. Integration. Celebration.
Naturally, my friend demanded I amplify this answer, and so I went about explaining these “three pillars” of my personal ethos so that each concept would be simple and easy to understand. So, with your permission, I would like to do the same here.
Focus. The first pillar here is the most essential, as it also serves as a basis for all information processing, and for the application of the two other pillars of my ethos. The term focus here means much more than just concentration. By focus, I mean focus in the wider, philosophic sense. Perhaps a quote here from my favorite philosopher and my favorite novelist, Ayn Rand, will explain what I mean by philosophic focus:
“In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort. Thinking requires a state of full, focused awareness. The act of focusing one’s consciousness is volitional. Man can focus his mind to a full, active, purposefully directed awareness of reality — or he can unfocus it and let himself drift in a semiconscious daze, merely reacting to any chance stimulus of the immediate moment, at the mercy of his undirected sensory-perceptual mechanism and of any random, associational connections it might happen to make.”
So, when I say “focus” is the first pillar of my personal ethos, I mean it in this sense. I mean it in the sense that whatever it is I am doing, whether it is writing, speaking, analyzing companies, reading, composing and playing music, horseback riding, weight training, martial arts, combat marksmanship, driving a race car, walking a dog or just petting my cat, I do it in a state of full focus. I do it with the full, volitional and conscious awareness of reality — in the moment.
You’ve no doubt heard about the importance of “living in the moment,” as it has become somewhat of a cliché in the self-help movement. So, let’s avoid this cliché, and just say that living in the moment requires that you live each moment in full focus.
Integration. The second pillar of my ethos comes after you’ve focused your mind on the facts and sensations of reality. Through the process of mental integration, you can categorize the facts, sensations and feelings you’ve experienced in that state of full focus, and you can begin determining what they all mean and how they fit into your broader, and deeper, philosophic premises such as the things you value.
For example, let’s say you focus your mind on something that is on the surface mostly a physical pursuit, weight training. Yet is it mostly a physical thing? While the actual performance of the movements might be primarily physical, what you’ve likely already integrated before you even decide to begin weight training are the facts that challenging your muscles with progressive resistance loads is a good thing for your physical well-being.
Indeed, the integration of higher-order concepts of “well-being” requires a long chain of philosophic integration that has to do with the value you place on your existence, your health, your appearance, the maintenance of your functional ability, etc. The wider point here is that the ability to focus on facts and integrate those facts into your philosophic matrix is the necessary second pillar of a rational ethos, and it’s one you must be consciously aware of if you are going to engage in the third pillar of this ethos.
Celebration. Once you’ve focused on reality and integrated those facts with your personal worldview, i.e. your personal philosophic premises, then and only then can you rationally indulge in the most pleasurable pillar — celebration. For me, celebration is the result of the focused integration of the concretes of reality and what they represent in my life. Staying with the weight training example, I know that a focus on facts means I need to weight train to stay in good physical shape.
Staying in good physical shape is a value to me because I’ve integrated the virtue of good health and the absence of disease in my life as rational values for me to pursue. And despite being on the losing side of my fifties, I am for the most part in excellent physical condition, largely free of disease and strong, flexible and fully functional. It is this combination of focused integration that permits me to celebrate this circumstance.
You see, when you live a life in full focus, and one in which you integrate the ideas and values that really matter to you, then and only then can you rationally celebrate your existence. It is this celebration, in all its glorious forms, that make life worth living.
Whether that celebration is the pleasure of watching your children grow up, or whether it’s staring into the eyes of the person you love most and feeling that love come right back to you, or whether it’s something as simple as performing a set of intense barbell curls — when you live a life of focused integration, you can justly celebrate life in all of its forms.
For me, the three pillars of focus, integration and celebration comprise the basis of my personal ethos. And thanks to my friend’s question some years ago, these three pillars also represent the consistent themes running through my lifestyle website and podcast, Way of the Renaissance Man.
If you want to hear more about the various ways I and others focus, integrate and celebrate life, I invite you to check out the articles, interviews and podcasts available right now at WayoftheRenaissanceman.com.
P.S. Would you like to find out more about my stock and options trading service Bullseye Stock Trader? If so, I invite you to check out The Mad Hedge Traders and Investors Summit, August 24-26, 2020. Like so many events this year, this meeting is “virtual.” So while you can’t come see me in person, you can log in and check out my presentation outlining the nuts and bolts of how I identify trading opportunities in my “BEST,” a.k.a. Bullseye Stock Trader advisory service. For more details on this event, and how you can reserve a slot, simply click here.
ETF Talk: Accessing Chinese Health Care Companies
(Note: third in a series on pharmaceutical ETFs)
It seems like health-care-related topics and stocks are all the rage these days.
After all, the world is still battling the COVID-19 surge, and everyone is trying to predict which biotech company will be the first to cut the Gordian knot and develop a safe and effective vaccine against the coronavirus. Meanwhile, even though the status of domestic health sector stocks is well known and has been well covered by analysts, foreign health stocks are less familiar to Americans.
One country’s health care stocks have particularly fallen by the wayside. I am, of course, speaking about Chinese health care stocks. While China’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic may be a large part of the reason for this shunning, it is also important to note that the country has several traits that will continue to make it one of the fastest-growing health care markets in the world.
According to kraneshares.com, China’s health care sector has a five-year compound annual growth rate of 11%, compared to just 4% in the United States. Similarly, health care spending in China was $558 billion in 2016, compared to a projected $1.1 trillion in 2020. The facts are that the country’s population is aging, its middle class is growing and its expanded urbanization will only increase the importance of this sector in China.
An exchange-traded fund (ETF) called the KraneShares MSCI All China Health Care Index ETF (NYSEARCA: KURE) provides access to the world of Chinese health care companies, regardless of whether they are based in the People’s Republic or the United States. KURE tracks an index of all types of publicly issued shares of Chinese companies that are engaged in the health care sector. A large part of its portfolio is dominated by pharmaceuticals.
Some of this fund’s top holdings include Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co., Ltd. Class A (SHE:600276), Wuxi Biologics (Cayman) Inc. (OTCMKTS: WXXWY), Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics Co., Ltd. Class A (SHE: 300760), Sino Biopharmaceutical Limited (OTCMKTS:SBMFF), CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Limited (OTCMKTS:CHJTF), Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Co., Ltd. Class A (SHE: 300122), WuXi AppTec Co., Ltd. Class A (OTCMKTS:WUXIF) and Alibaba Health Information Technology Ltd. (OTCMKTS: ALBHF).
This fund’s performance has been strong, partially due to investor interest in pharmaceutical stocks. As of Aug. 18, KURE has been up 4.18% in the past month and 24.13% for the past three months. It is currently up 51.36% year to date.
Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com
The fund has amassed $105.91 million in assets under management and has an expense ratio of 0.65%.
While KURE does provide an investor with a chance to tap into Chinese health care companies, this kind of ETF may not be appropriate for all portfolios. Thus, interested investors always should conduct their due diligence and decide whether the fund is suitable for their investing goals.
Remember, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.
Protect Yourself in Style
Okay, so we all have to wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
That’s just good science, and I am a big fan of good science. But I also like to look good while promoting good science. That’s why I’ve decided to make my own masks, and to make those available to you with my new Way of the Renaissance Man masks.
Protect yourself and those you care about in style with these handmade, 100% polyester masks that come with a sleeve to insert a greater level of protection with an N95 filter insert (not included).
Combat coronavirus in style, and always have a clean one handy by getting two or more now! The masks retail for $19.99 each, but today I’ve discounted the price to $14.99.
And as a special bonus offer for The Deep Woods readers, take another 20% off your order when you buy two or more.
Simply use the promo code: DEEPWOODS20 to get your special subscriber pricing.
Hey, protect yourself and look good doing it. Now, what could be cooler than that?
In case you missed it…
Kamala Means Lotus
In Greek mythology, a lotus is a legendary plant whose fruit induces a dreamy forgetfulness and a sort of indolent stupor reminiscent of paralytic intoxication.
That sense of intoxication is what many Democrats are feeling today, as they know that another “lotus” has become the party’s presumptive vice-presidential nominee. You see, “Kamala” means “lotus” in Sanskrit.
Perhaps she was the obvious choice in this most-unusual election year’s “veep stakes.” I mean, the junior senator from my home state of California checks off nearly all the boxes required to garner widespread support among Democrat loyalists.
Kamala Devi Harris is…
Oh, did I mention that Sen. Harris is a woman and a woman of color?
Indeed, in the identity-politics matrix of the Democratic Party, this lotus is an intoxicating mix of all things “good.”
Of course, she isn’t immune to criticism from her own, and particularly from progressives. In fact, some in the far extremes of the progressive movement have called her a “phony progressive” and have criticized Joe Biden for selecting a “top cop” like Harris in the midst of the current protests against what they call “excessive policing.”
Perhaps the greatest take-down of this sort involving Harris was delivered by the most-interesting Democrat to seek the nomination last year, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. During a debate in July 2019, Gabbard criticized Harris’ aggressive record as a “drug warrior” and essentially called her a hypocrite.
Of Harris, Gabbard said she “put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.”
Gabbard went on to express her deep concerns about Harris’ prosecutorial record, saying, “There are too many examples to cite, but…she blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California. And she fought to keep the cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.”
Yet despite the critics on her own team, there is no doubt in my mind that progressives, mainstream Democrats and conservative Democrats (if there’s still such a thing) will coalesce in support of “the Lotus.”
Why? Because the Lotus offers up the promise of the one thing all Democrats, as well as nearly 60% of the American public (if the polls are correct), want to see happen in November — and that is the ousting of the current occupant of the White House.
Oh, and one more interesting thing of note here about the Lotus, she does seem to have been aptly named.
You see, the lotus flower has an interesting life cycle. Its roots are based in mud. And in the marsh lands of its native India and Vietnam, the lotus is submerged each night into the murky rivers it calls home. In the morning, the lotus blooms again without a hint of muddy residue on its petals.
It seems like a fitting metaphor for a life cycle spent in the Washington swamp.
Becoming The Bull
Back and forth, the struggle consumes us all
Trying to keep a level head
In the most unsettling of times
Today, I’ll become the bull
–Atreyu, “Becoming The Bull”
In the 2020 year of COVID-19, there is perhaps no more appropriate lyric than, “In the most unsettling of times.” Yet heavy rockers Atreyu released this song in 2007, long before any hint of a global pandemic. So, were these gentlemen somehow in touch with the future? Of course not. What they were in touch with was the reality that humans constantly face unsettling times. In fact, life is a series of unsettling times, and the struggle leaves no one unscathed. Given this reality, why not choose to take on the world with the ferocity it demands? Why not snort and scowl and get ready to stampede in defense of your values? Indeed, why not become the bull?
Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.