A 'welfare mother' schools Mitt Romney. Plus, the best of the web this week.

A moving response to Mitt Romney from a mother who worked her way out of welfare. The biggest problem with the conservative movement. A powerful love story, told without a single word. A contest to determine the best word ever. And more! Enjoy.





Politics and World Affairs

I Was A Welfare Mother / Larkin Warren / The New York Times

Warren's personal story is a powerful and beautiful response to Romney's 47% comments.




Until Republicans Fix This Problem, They Can't Fix Any Problems / Conor Friedersdorf / The Atlantic

Highlights several honest and intelligent intellectual leaders within the GOP — and the broken discourse that prevents the party from absorbing their critiques and insights.




What Mitt Romney Doesn't Get About Responsibility / Ezra Klein / Bloomberg

"The problem is that he doesn’t seem to realize how difficult it is to focus on college when you’re also working full time, how much planning it takes to reliably commute to work without a car ... The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it."




The Incredibly Dumb Political Spending of 2012 / Ben Smith and Ruby Cramer / BuzzFeed

The effect of Citizens United and free-flowing PAC money may be the most important question of the 2012 campaign. So far, at least, the answer appears to be: less than anticipated.




Arts and Culture

A Love Story In 22 Pictures / TxBlackLabel / BuzzFeed

A powerful, powerful photo essay. Worth your time.




Best Word Ever: The Elite Eight / Ted McCagg / Questionable Skills

A brilliant idea: using a tournament bracket to decide the best word ever. From the comments section: "Phlegm over akimbo, what an upset!" I agree, Jacky. I agree.




The Spark File / Steven Johnson / Medium

One of my favorite writers shares a simple yet ingenious technique for capturing the fragments of ideas you have every day and turning them into truly meaningful ideas.




Architects Are The Last People Who Should Shape Our Cities / Jonathan Meades / The Guardian

An entertaining and often perceptive screed: "Architecture, the most public of endeavours, is practiced by people who inhabit a smugly hermetic milieu which is cultish."




Business and Economics

What Business Is Wall Street In? / Mark Cuban / Blog Maverick

Cuban isn't the first to argue that high-frequency trading and short-term ownership are damaging to capitalism. But he does so engagingly and offers both interesting perspective and policy proposals.




Startup = Growth / Paul Graham

A lucid explanation of why not all new companies are startups, and some very interesting practical advice on how to effectively grow a startup in its early days.




If I Ruled The World / Michael Sandel / Prospect

"If I ruled the world, I would rewrite the economics textbooks. This may seem a small ambition, unworthy of my sovereign office. But it would actually be a big step toward a better civic life."




An Empire Built On Short-Armed Shirts / Mel and Patricia Ziegler / Bloomberg

Fun story of how Banana Republic was founded, told by the founders.




Science and Technology

How Much Tech Can One City Take? / David Talbot / San Francisco

Excellent piece on the unintended consequences of the tech industry's success in San Francisco, and on the uneasy relationship between new wealth and old ways of life.




50 Years Of The Jetsons: Why The Show Still Matters / Matt Novak / Smithsonian

Fascinating post on how the cartoon, launched in a time of "techno-utopianism and Cold War fears," "has had a profound impact on the way that Americans think and talk about the future."




Friends You Can Count On / Stephen Strogatz / The New York Times

Ever seem like your friends on Facebook have more friends than you do? They do. Here's the simple arithmetic that explains why. (via Sarah)




Inside Paul Allen's Quest To Reverse Engineer The Brain / Matthew Herper / Forbes

A "mouse laser," a $100 million map of how the human brain works, and other elements of Allen's quest to understand the brain and unlock new advances and cures.




Power, Pollution, And The Internet / James Glanz / The New York Times

An investigation finds that data centers are using billions of watts of electricity — and wasting up to 90 percent of it, leading to major environmental costs for an industry with a reputation for being environmentally friendly. (via Lauren)




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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.