Briefings: Skullware, Cold Patrol, Cashing Out, Cosmopolis: Cronenberg Makes DeLillo, and Trojans

Briefings By Photo by GP

One way to look at this week’s serving of culture is by taking a second to enumerate the things we chose not to write about: a swimsuit video with Candice Swanepoel, Justice Antonin Scalia on broccoli, The Hunger Games, and Geraldo Rivera’s mustache. Make of it what you will.

We’re at tips [at] if you think there’s something we should know about.

1. What to Drink From | Skullware

Look, we’re all for bringing out proper glassware when occasion demands: Champagne flutes, pint glasses, brandy snifters, assorted stemware for wine, even the odd beer boot. And yet something about drinking from a human skull doesn’t sit right with us. Fortunately, the skull isn’t a commonly used drinking vessel today: A new archaeological study dates skull cups found in a cave in Somerset, England, back 16,600 years to the upper Paleolithic era. We do admire thrift.

2. What to Read | The Cold Patrol

We posted recently about the Iditarod. It turns out there’s something even more intense happening on a dog sled, even farther north, in Greenland: Sirius, the world’s only military dogsled patrol. National Geographic has a story about a young patroller named Jesper who falls on his knife 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle. This is just par for the course, though: “Injuries are virtually inevitable, as are hunger and exhaustion and frostbite. Team members are stalked by polar bears. There’s no chance to visit family or friends, no opportunity to go on a date. They never even get to see a tree.”

3. What to Consider | Cashing Out

A Slate writer who goes two months without using cash predicts that we’re just 5-10 years away from being free of the old bill and change. The upside? Nickels and pennies cost twice as much to make as they’re worth. The downside? All of your purchases are on the record, which means no underground economy (or a new currency for it). The real issue, though, is that a cash-free America would antiquate every great heist and mobster film where vaults are looted or suitcases exchanged.

4. What to Preview | Cosmopolis Trailer: Cronenberg Makes DeLillo

One of our favorite directors is adapting a novel by one of our favorite authors. The preview is short and cryptic; but as far as we can tell, Robert Pattinson plays the role of protagonist Eric Packer, a wealthy finance guy who sets out to get a haircut in Midtown Manhattan and ends up having a very bad day indeed. Also, he shoots a gun through his hand.

5. What to Use | Skull cups… no wait, condoms.

This promotional video from Trojan is a treasure trove of weird, taking you along the manufacturing line (a.k.a., “dipping process”) in an American factory that produces 1 million condoms per day. Among the surprises: how many (gloved) hands touch the condom before you do; the quality control process, which includes inflating the condoms with air, kneading and rolling water-filled condoms, and chemical testing; and the factoid that while most condoms are used within a year, they’re tested for a 5-year shelf life. So to answer your question—yes, those are still good.