Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Popsicles made from polluted water, 200-year-old wine, a Super Nintendo World theme park and more

1. Early Reviews of Apple’s Just-Announced HomePod

At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, the tech giant confirmed a long-rumored and highly anticipated product: HomePod, the speaker that promises to marry high-quality audio with an intelligent assistant Siri. The in-house speaker has seven tweeters (each with its own amp), six mics, a high-excursion woofer and measures seven inches in height. Apple gave just a handful of publications the opportunity to compare the HomePod with Amazon’s Echo and the Sonos Play 3, and from Business Insider to The Verge and beyond, 9TO5MAC took a look at the early reviews. Read them all there.

2. California’s Coffee Crop Growth

Between San Diego and Santa Barbara, two dozen California farms have begun to grow coffee bushes under the shade of their aging avocado trees. This is the first commercial effort stateside, aside from Hawaii’s 800 coffee farm deep Kona bean production. It’s proven to be a viable crop, and the output continues to grow in prestige as California growers target the premium coffee consumer. The real value, however, may lie in its future. As climate change threatens and actively damages coffee crops in tropical destinations, a more temperate destination like Southern California could provide longterm stability.

3. California Modernism Pioneer William Krisel Dies

During his life, architect William Krisel contributed 1,200 affordable, modernist middle-class homes to California between 1957 to 1963, with the builder-developers George and Robert Alexander. He explained to NPR back in the ’50s that his mission was to build a system where buyers could purchase “a 100 x 100 lot, all fenced in, landscaped, modern design, air condition, swimming pool—all for $29,900.” And that’s exactly what he delivered, among many other accomplishments. Pioneering the tract housing, Krisel built variations by way of paint schemes, rooflines (including the butterfly roof, which he popularized) and positioning back from the road so that no two looked the same. In February 2016, Palm Springs renamed a street after the architect who passed away this week.

4. Château Coutet’s Bordeaux From the 1700s

For almost 400 years, 14 generations of one family has owned Bordeaux’s Château Coutet. Here, four years ago, a worker discovered a bottle in a pile of dirt behind a broken wine rack. Everything about the bottle was unusual, including its sealing method (a glass heart). Wine heir Adrien David Beaulieu called upon a world-renowned glass expert and after four years of testing—from the chemical make-up to wear and tear—he determined the bottle was stoppered roughly around 1750, give or take 20 years. At that time, it was far more common for wine to be sold by the barrel, so this bottle was clearly produced for a special occasion. There are no plans to open it, but at over 200 years old, it is most likely (and unfortunate) that the wine has spoiled.

5. Students Make Polluted Water Popsicles for Good Reason

Hailing from the National Taiwan University of the Arts, students Hung I-chen, Guo Yi-hui and Cheng Yu-ti created a fake selection of “Polluted Water Popsicles” made with real contaminated water—and they did so for a reason that goes beyond their art studies. In an attempt to spread awareness about pollution, the students collected water from Taiwan’s beaches, lakes and rivers. The results are worrying. While some resin-covered popsicles are murky, others have chunks of garbage, and even sewage in them. The trio made 100 “flavors” (including waste, heavy metals, arsenic, mercury and more) and each gets its own packaging. Read more at This is Colossal.

6. Look Inside the Super Nintendo World Theme Park

Thanks to what appears to have been a ceremony hosted inside of a faux Super Mario level at the forthcoming Super Nintendo World Theme Park, we finally have teaser images. The theme park, affiliated with Osaka, Japan’s Universal Studios, isn’t scheduled to open until 2020—but the teasers hint at what’s to be expected—nostalgic stylings loyal to our memory. Other Universal locations are also planning Nintendo theme parks, but Japan’s one is expected first.

7. Artists Create Pieces Encouraging the UK to Vote

The UK’s general election occurred and many artists of all disciplines spoke out to encourage people to vote. Much attention has been given to the election, perhaps because many still feel the shock of last year’s Brexit vote. While the primary message of visual artists has been urging those of all ages to go out and vote, some went further and suggested a vote for the Labour party—and Jeremy Corbyn. See lots of colorful, hopeful pieces at Dezeen.

8. Kibwe Tavares’ “Robot and Scarecrow” Short Film

Layering CGI characters atop live-action music festival sequences, London-based filmmaker Kibwe Tavares has crafted a sweet, sad and unlikely love story within the short film “Robot and Scarecrow.” The story sees a robot performer and scarecrow attendee (played by Holliday Grainger and Jack O’Connell respectively) meeting and exploring their feelings for one another. Between beers, fireworks, and dancing, it’s a somewhat traditional story, yet eccentric and surreal at the same time. Watch it on Nowness.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.