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Getting rich tips from the rich, floating toward nirvana and Kim Jong-un’s no-smoking campaign

There’s no magical guidebook on how to get rich. If there were, that’d be the end of this newsletter. But one of the reasons why the rich get richer has less to do with rolling the dice on the stock market, Gordon Gekko–style, and more to do with one’s understanding of financial planning. MEL staff writer John McDermott spoke to Jean Brunel, proprietor of Brunel Associates — a personal finance consultancy that caters exclusively to the ultra-rich — about what the average American can learn about managing their finances from people with at least $100 million in assets.

Read Brunel’s trade secrets here.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The new Republican platform, set to be unveiled at next week’s convention, includes support for so-called conversion therapy to treat homosexuality. Peterson Toscano talks to writer Steven Blum about his experiences in conversion therapy at Life Ministries.

Read Steven’s piece “Checking in With the Ex-Gay Movement” here.

THREE QUESTIONS

After word got out that the North Korean government had put out an anti-smoking PSA featuring angry women scolding male smokers, MEL editor-in-chief Josh Schollmeyer caught up with North Korea expert Benjamin R. Young to ask how a government led by a chain smoker really expects to do anything about the country’s soaring smoking rates among dudes.

Why all the smoking in North Korea? Is it from the stress of living under such a repressive regime, or just something that’s considered Don Draper cool?

Smoking isn’t just an issue in North Korea. It’s a problem in both Koreas. A big reason why is because tobacco on the Korean peninsula is extremely cheap. And, of course, fun isn’t all that plentiful in North Korea, so it’s one of the few leisure activities they can participate in. The North Korean government is like, This is bad for your health, but at least you’re not rebelling against us.

Why does the government believe that the one thing that will get men to quit is by having women shame them?

In North Korean mythology, revolutionary mothers hold an influential role. For example, Kim Jong-il’s mother, Kim Jong-suk, has a big role in North Korean propaganda. She’s a revolutionary, anti-imperialist mother who helped fight off the Japanese. These PSAs are kind of along the same lines — these North Korean women are being motherly and scolding men in that way.

How much of an influence is the Kim family’s affinity for smoking — especially Kim Jong-un’s need for a smoke at all times — on the rest of the North Korean people?

It’s huge. On the one hand, you have these PSA things about smoking. On the other, you have your obese man-child leader who is basically a chain-smoker. You always see him with a cigarette in his hand. North Koreans must think to themselves, Why should I listen to the anti-smoking campaign when the Great Leader is smoking?

Check out the full interview here.

THE MEL MOVIE

Meet Fred Arbona, the owner and operator of Bird Island, a private island off the coast of Belize that you can rent on Airbnb and VRBO. It’s the perfect place to live out your desert-island fantasies, since there are miles of Caribbean Sea between you and anyone passing judgment.

Watch the video of Fred and your next tropical getaway here.

MEL RADIO

Two years ago, New Zealand pop culture reporter David Farrier — a man who’d made a career out of writing about the lighthearted, quirky sides of life — was perusing the internet when he stumbled upon a video of “fit, young men” tickling one another. Little did he know he had happened upon a story of a lifetime: a multimillion-dollar fetish video and cyberbullying ring called Jane O’Brien Media that spanned continents and ruined the lives of dozens of young men.

Read our full interview with Farrier, or listen to the podcast here.

UNSOLICITED ADVICE

Office rage is never a good look, but sometimes you have to make your feelings heard. We asked our HR-consultant-slash-columnist how to express anger at work without coming off like a maniac.

Check out the second edition of “Go See HR” here.

COMIC RELIEF

Laugh at us some more here.

THREE MORE PIECES TO KEEP YOU RELEVANT

Pokémon Go Can Help You Love Where You Live

How augmented reality can strengthen your emotional bonds with the world around you

Do U Even Hotwife?

The fetish for the liberated dude

Meet the Guy Behind Those Brutal LA Metro Ads

This isn’t his first weird internet rodeo

FROM THE MEL ARCHIVE

Rashard Mendenhall, a writer on the HBO series Ballers (whose second season begins tomorrow), spoke to MEL staff writer John McDermott about his decision to leave the NFL and the derision he received from fans and scouts for having interests outside of football.

Check out the full interview here.

CLOSING SHOT

Can a warm, salty bath in the dark change your life? MEL sent photographer Jared Ryder to hang out with Crash Hoefler–Venice Beach float pioneer and founder of Float Lab.

Read the story and take a look at the rest of the photos here.