History of Public Controversy Contract

Topic: The controversy surrounding capital punishment and the use of the death penalty in the United States.


An examination of the moral, social, and economic implications of the death penalty in the United States. Analyzes the extensive history of capital punishment and torture as well as their psychological effects on civilizations and mentalities. As a society, should we keep the death penalty? How much is a life worth?


Research, Roles, and Responsibilities:

Nebraska: The ancient history of torture and capital punishment as a means of interrogation. Nebraska will research whether the original intentions of the death penalty have changed. He will also examine public outcry to these methods prior to the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Nebraska is responsible for helping to create the storyboard of the video.


Roan: Modern, recent tactics of torture and capital punishment as used by police authorities and the government. Roan will also research whether the original intentions of the death penalty have changed. He is responsible for analyzing the current, present-day controversy and debate over the U.S. death penalty. Roan is also responsible for helping to create the storyboard of the video.


Mark: Potential rationales and justifications for the use of torture, capital punishment, and the death penalty. Mark will act as the mediator between both sides of the controversy, researching the reasons for each side feels the way it does. Mark is also responsible for researching individual stories and case studies of the death penalty, diving into the lives of prisoners and their families who may be directly affected by the death penalty. Mark is responsible for editing the video and adding appropriate graphics and visual aids.


Andrew: The economic effects of the death penalty. Andrew will analyze the fiscal impact of using capital punishment throughout history, and most important, in the last decade. Andrew will research the financial costs of death row and the prison system as a whole. He will then compare the costs of the death penalty with alternatives researched and analyzed by Ninad. Andrew is responsible for providing narration and related audio services for the video.


Ninad: Potential alternatives to the death penalty. Ninad is responsible for researching probable solutions and proposed alternatives to capital punishment, spanning hundreds of years of history. Ninad’s research is important because it will add or diminish credibility to the arguments for using the death penalty. Ninad is also responsible for editing the video and adding finishing touches.


Billy: The moral and ethical ramifications of using the death penalty, as well as how the use of torture and capital punishment may violate intrinsic human rights. Billy will explore the philosophy behind the death penalty as well as examine the underlying mentalities surrounding its purpose. He is responsible for explaining the psychological and philosophical effects of the death penalty spanning decades of its use. Billy will argue whether or not the rationales and justifications researched by Mark are supported by the death penalty’s moral implications. Billy is responsible for providing narration with Andrew and editing the video using Adobe Premiere Pro.



Nebraska Hernandez

Roan Lynch

Mark Ma

Ninad Mahajan

Andrew Pei

Billy Young

Ted Talk Outline


Scientific thought and discovery has a distinct process that hasn’t changed much throughout human history. All thought and discovery stems from some sort of problem in society. Problems provide the motivation to think about and find a solution. Scientists use the modern “scientific process,” really just a refined and lengthy method of “guess and check,” to confirm or reject hypotheses, educated guesses to possible solutions to a problem. Despite this lengthy process, it can potentially all go to waste at the final step: implementation. No matter how scientifically sound a discovery is, its implementation into society is ultimately dependant on people’s trust.


Weave into each piece: Charles Darwin and Evolution:


  • Revolutionary theory that marked the transition from the nonsensical theory of creationism to a logical and supportable theory of natural selection.
  • Not received well by much of the public and took a long time to be fully accepted and implemented


Long Standing Mistrust in Science:

  • Elitism
    • Belief that scientists are a group of intellectual elites that look down upon the lower classes
    • Technical language characteristic of scientists is generally over people’s heads
    • People don’t like being told what to do
    • They naturally revolt when they feel that an authority figure is becoming too powerful
    • Darwin’s savage attacks on non believers of his theory
  • Going hand in hand with elitism, people feel detached from science and its applicability to real life issues
    • Most research has no immediate benefits, and it seems that billions of dollars may be funneled into research that bears no fruits for decades, or may never bear fruit at all
    • People are often irrational and can’t see the long run benefits of scientific thought
    • The result is they end up supporting short term satisfactions rather than solutions to long term problems
  • Status Quo
    • People are unwilling to deviate from the existing status quo, because that is what they are comfortable with
    • Conservative attitudes of “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”
    • Religion and Evolution: demonstrates that people aren’t comfortable with a change in fundamental beliefs such as those surrounding religion

Paradigm Shift Draft

Shift: Creation to Evolution

Various issues in science are often debated for long periods of time that often extends over generations and historical eras. In general, very little progress is made on the issue until a single scientist proposes or discovers something that breaks through the wall and leads to a epiphany across the scientific and surrounding community. One major example of such a paradigm shift in scientific understanding in history was the shift in belief from Creationism to Evolution as the main explanation for the existence of biodiversity following Charles Darwin’s release of On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s theory and the shift that resulted was not localized to the world of science and evolution. It was a direct attack on the religious community, stirring up controversy and sending shockwaves throughout the world, but the establishment of Darwinian Evolution as the universal and correct theory allowed for a flurry of scientific discovery and the development of more theories. All in all, the paradigm shift stemming from Darwin’s theory of evolution encompassed social and cultural changes along with its inherent scientific ones.

Tracing the shift:


  • Origins in the Bible
  • Religious belief that the universe and life originated from “specific acts of divine creation”
  • Term “creationist” was not used until Darwin described those who objected evolution as such
  • Genesis creation narrative (Genesis 1-2) – God creates the Universe over six days, Adam and Eve etc.
  • Genesis flood narrative – Noah’s Ark story, basis of Creationist geology.
  • Prior to evolution: Young Earth Creationism
  • After Evolution: Gap Creationism, Progressive creationism, intelligent design, theistic evolution (evolutionary creationism).


  • Initial proposal – pre-Socratic Greek philosophers Anaximander and Empedocles
  • Medieval – All things have an intended role to play in a divine cosmic order
  • Pre-Darwinian – rejected Aristotelian approach, and instead sought explanations in terms of physical laws, but still contained aspects of divine plan
  • Darwin – variation within species leads to natural selection and survival of the fittest, resulting in evolution.
  • All life on Earth shares a common ancestor which lived approximately 3.5-3.8 billion years ago.


  • Principle of survival of the fittest explains and justifies differences in wealth and success among social classes
  • Francis Galton (Darwin’s cousin) and eugenics (Social Darwinism)
    • Holocaust
  • Thomas Huxley: Evolution and Ethics debunks Social Darwinism
  • Led to justification of imperialism and colonialism. Concepts of evolution justified exploitation of “lesser breeds” and existence of “superior races”


  • Various responses: some condemned any claims that biodiversity is the result of evolution, but some groups such as Unitarian church and liberal Anglican theologians accepted it.
  • Religions adopted theistic evolution viewpoint: essentially God provided a divine spark that ignited process of evolution.

Conclude: Science follows a cycle of trust and mistrust.


Life and Death

Lynsey Addario’s memoir revolves around her photography, so naturally she shares some of her photos with the reader. One photo that stood out was the photo of a boy diving into an artificial lake surrounding former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s palace in Mosul. The picture is particularly noteworthy because it provides a stark contrast to the other, more serious photographs that Addario focuses on. Instead of depicting vicious protests, soldiers in action, or war-stricken families, this photo just shows a a young boy doing what young boys do: enjoying themselves in the outdoors. It humanizes the characters of Addario’s work, and reminds us that these people are not unlike ourselves. Furthermore, the photos also dispels misconceptions about the location Addario is documenting. Instead of a barren, lifeless environment that everyone expects Iraq to be, this photograph shows that Iraq is instead a pristine, happy, and beautiful place. All of these elements are important pieces in Addario’s rhetorical mission. The humanizing nature of the photo evokes plays well with the otherwise serious content of her other photos. It further evokes feelings of sympathy and compassion for the subjects. Addario hopes that the innocence of her subjects can be preserved and protected from the threat of war, poverty, or corruption.

Photos will be critical to my passion blog, as sight really captures the essence of food. You eat as much with your eyes as you do with your mouth. Things that look delicious are flat-out more likely to taste better and, more importantly in the context of my blog, appealing. Including brilliant photos of food puts the reader in the right mood to read the blog. These photos should make the reader feel hungry. If the reader decides to actually try out some of my techniques or recipes, they will know what to look for.

A Kind of Balance

Though Lynsey Addario is very determined and devoted towards her hard life as a war photographer, her profession is still accompanied with a conflicted feeling every so often. In one instance Addario considers the morality of her profession. She worries that the process of photographing war torn citizens and making money off of these photographs is in a way taking advantage of these already disadvantaged people. In certain interpretations, the end result of her profession boils down to displaying the people she photographs in a magazine to strangers who peruse the articles each morning. She wonders if these people are anything more than zoo animals for the viewing pleasure of the New York Times’ readers.

Addario solves this conflict by justifying her profession. She states that any money she makes would eventually be channeled back into her photographs, never into her personal pleasures. Furthermore, she believes that her work is benefiting her subjects by exposing their hardships and consequently motivating the world’s leaders to act on the world’s injustices that are shamelessly displayed via her photos. Addario is able to take such a foreign subject that is relatively not relatable but introduces it in an internal conflict of regret that resonates with everyone. She explains the conflict clearly and logically by tracing her train of thought when thinking about it. Therefore, the reader is able to clearly follow and empathize with Addario.

I certainly have many moments of regrets throughout my life that have resulted in internal conflicts, whether they be family arguments, strife between friends, high school drama, or anything else. However, none come to mind that I can include in my passion blog about food.

Rhetorical Analysis Rough Draft


Food has evolved from a basic survival need to an integrated part of a country’s culture. Globalization, travel, trade, and other forms of intercountry contact has resulted in the exchange of food elements. General Tso’s Chicken, a modern American take on Chinese food is hugely popular today. A second artifact that mirrors General Tso’s Chicken is KFC, specifically the Chinese brand of KFC, which is the most popular American fast food restaurant in China. Both foods were fine-tuned to appeal to the palates of the audience they were presented to, zeroing in on the attitudes and commonplaces of their respective countries.


General Tso’s Chicken


  • General Tso is a real person, a general who fought in a civil war during the Qing dynasty. (Last dynasty of China)
  • Account #1
    • Early origin is probably from traditional chicken dishes in Hunan province (General Tso’s province)
    • Chef C.K. Peng “created” the dish in Taiwan then brought it to America in the 1960s
    • Original dish not very close to today’s dish
  • Account #2
    • Originally called General Ching’s chicken and introduced in NYC by T.T. Wang
    • More close to the current version of the dish
    • Name somehow merged with General Tso in the 1980s


  • Recipe for General Tso’s Chicken contains quintessentially American elements
    • Fried chicken/classic batter
    • Sweet and sour sauce a lot like barbecue sauce
  • Name: Americans glorify war, so it was given the name “general”
    • Possessive tense
    • Pathos
  • Exploited American leaders
    • Henry Kissinger was a HUGE fan of General Tso’s Chicken and Chinese-American cuisine




  • First KFC in China opened in 1987, a similar time period that General Tso’s Chicken gained popularity in America
  • Instead of using American managers, KFC hired management from rising Asian economies in order to gain insight into the Chinese market
  • At that time, China was very closed off and American classics like hamburgers were foreign and relatively unknown


  • Menu is not only contains Chinese elements, but flat out exclusively Chinese foods.
    • Shaobing (savory pastry)
    • Youtiao (fried dough)
    • Rice Congee
    • Egg custard tarts
    • Tree fungus salad
  • However also contained many inventive fusion dishes
    • Dragon Twister – wrap that includes fried chicken, cucumbers, scallions, and duck sauce, similar to preparation of Peking Duck.
    • Curry Pork Chops
    • Teriyaki fried chicken



Though humans take food for granted, there are deep and logical reasons for why we eat what we eat. Inventors of General Tso’s Chicken slowly developed to perfect the dish that Americans love while chain restaurants such as KFC have done intensive research, utilizing extensive and expensive resources to create the best menu to bring their franchise to China. In the end, both share the common theme of adaptation and creativity in the face of appealing to a brand new, foreign group of people.

Civic Artifact Speech Outline


A human’s most basic survival needs include water, shelter, and everybody’s favorite, food. Food has evolved from an essential element for human survival to an integrated part of a society’s culture and economy, take for example, Chinese cuisine. With diverse, regional flavors, the rich history of the Chinese civilization is reflected in its food. The relatively recent widespread globalization, in which global cuisines have been shared with other countries results in increased interest in foreign food. One example of this phenomenon is the ubiquitous American-Chinese dish, General Tso’s Chicken. The iconic lightly fried chunks of chicken with a sweet, sour, spicy, sticky sauce is hugely popular in the vast majority Chinese restaurants in America. However, rarely will one ever find this dish at a restaurant or dinner table in China. This begs the question: is a dish like General Tso’s Chicken a complete adulteration of true, authentic Chinese cuisine, or does it take the best of both American and Chinese flavors to create an equally delicious style of dining?



  • General Tso is a real person, a general who fought in a civil war during the Qing dynasty. (Last dynasty of China)
  • Account #1
    • Early origin is probably from traditional chicken dishes in Hunan province (General Tso’s province)
    • Chef C.K. Peng “created” the dish in Taiwan then brought it to America in the 1960s
    • Original dish not very close to today’s dish
  • Account #2
    • Originally called General Ching’s chicken and introduced in NYC by T.T. Wang
    • More close to the current version of the dish
    • Name somehow merged with General Tso in the 1980s



  • What is iconic American Cuisine?
    • PIZZA
    • FRIES
  • What is Chinese Cuisine?
    • Highly highly dependent on regional dishes
    • Therefore extremely diverse
    • Answer: there really is no singular Chinese cuisine
  • The only conclusion: General Tso’s Chicken is NOT Chinese, and Chinese people would never eat it. It is more American (fried chicken, sweet sauce) than Chinese.



  • Initial assumption: globalization leads to interest in other cuisines
    • This conclusion is only partly true. Interest in Chinese cuisine indeeds leads people to eat General Tso’s Chicken, but the dish itself, logically deduced, is American.
    • People’s eating habits are ultimately more motivated by personal tastes rather than some innate curiosity to try exotic cuisines.
    • We like to convince ourselves that we’re eating foreign cuisine when we’re not
  • Notion: General Tso’s Chicken is an adulteration of Chinese cuisine
    • Accurate in the context of General Tso’s Chicken being called “Chinese”
    • However inaccurate when considering that the dish is not actually Chinese
  • Notion: Dish as a fusion of American and Chinese cuisine
    • Already proved false



The previous was an in depth, logical assessment of General Tso’s Chicken using culinary and cultural evidence. It concluded that General Tso’s chicken is neither a complete bastardization of Chinese food nor fusion of American and Chinese food, but rather more directly related to American cuisine by itself. As a scientist I enjoy looking at issues from a purely analytical perspective. Admittedly, this defeats much of the fun of food. The fact of the matter is, to many palates, evidently, General Tso’s Chicken is such a guilty pleasure that it is hard to resist, and we don’t really think about the authenticity or cultural composition of what we’re eating. At the end of the day, General Tso’s Chicken, when done right, is a delicious comfort food item, so enjoy it.

We Are at War

A particularly compelling and vivid part of Part II of It’s What I Do is Addario’s summary of her relationship with Uxval. She juxtaposes her feelings towards her new boyfriend with those towards her passion of photography, a deliberate move to foreshadow the conflict between the two. The first indication of this conflict is the use of “painfully” to describe how she loved Uxval. Addario purposely leaves the interpretation of “painfully” to be ambiguous. The reader wonders if she means that she loved Uxval intensely or if it hurt her to be in a relationship with him because it overlaps with her photography. Most likely, Addario is trying to elicit some combination of both of these interpretations. This juxtaposition of opposite passions, one of love and the other of photography, forms the basis for this particular portion of the chapter.

In my passion blog, I hope to also include some sort of juxtaposition in describing cooking. Flavors are all about working together, and the best dishes contain some sort of balance between two or more overarching, major flavors. When describing a dish, some sort of comparison will work well as a rhetorical method to convey the necessary descriptors for the reader to interpret my message as I expect them to. This use of comparison could be extended to a broader use when I talk about combining different styles of cooking into one cohesive dish.

While the use of this juxtaposition can be used in my passion blog for cooking, it will be difficult to replicate the emotions and deep themes that Addario elicits through her comparison. Therefore, the use of this rhetorical device should be used sparingly, unless I can actually recreate the this type of emotional connection to the language.

Discovering the World

In Part I of her memoir, Lynsey Addario discusses the origins of her passion for photography. She describes her family life and how she got her first camera as a gift from her father. Then, she tells the story of her grandmother, and how she allowed love to fall through her fingertips. This story is meant to present an important theme that will recur throughout the rest of her life story: how to balance a love life with a passion. Time is limited, and almost always there is not enough time to have a healthy love life while pursuing a passion. So, one must choose between the two, and Addario, evidently chooses her passion of photography.

Looking back at my passion for food, I can’t really pinpoint a singular moment in time. It was really just a combination of my mother’s regular home cooked meals and watching Gordon Ramsay’s Youtube channel. The passion for cooking, however, emerged from me being forced to cook after my mom moved to China, leaving me behind to take care of the cooking. It was hard seeing my mom leave, but I was never the kind to back away from a challenge, so I took it upon myself to replace my mom’s home cooked meals with some of my own.

Cooking is a passion, but it isn’t a career aspiration, as it was with Addario. I definitely won’t be encountering the scenario of choosing between love and cooking. Cooking provides a well deserved break from my studies in differential equations or organic chemistry. Cooking also bridges gaps between cultures, as food is universal, and we can all appreciate a good meal, no matter who it’s cooked by.

Brainstorming: Translating Addario to Myself


Author of It’s What I Do, photographer Lyndsey Addario depicts how she applies her passion of photography with her real life job photographing war and poverty torn countries while exposing important issues of social justice around the world. Addario’s passion is remarkably deep: it is heartwarming and heartbreaking, tragic and shocking, all at the same time. As a college freshman, my passions are, to understate heavily, quite different:

  1. Waking up at 2 AM to catch the Australian Open tennis final between two legends of the sport, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal: Believe me, I was not disappointed. My, and I suppose almost everyone’s two favorite players, played a grueling 5 set, 4 hour match, with the greatest of all time Federer emerging as the victor after just returning from 4 months off from the sport after knee surgery. Federer fought through the tough draw as the 17 seed, reaching the final and beating his toughest rival in Nadal, the ONLY player who has a winning record against the great. In this tournament, Federer adapted his game to deal with his aging body in order to remain on top. His intellect and drive to continue being great is something that I look up to and hope to apply to my life.
  2. Rooting for my beloved Philadelphia Eagles even after they consistently disappoint me and every other Philly sports fan: In my 10 years as an Eagles fan, sometimes they seem unbeatable, like in 2010 when Michael Vick put the team on his back, leading them to the second greatest comeback of all time (sorry, you just can’t beat Super Bowl 51) in a pivotal NFC East matchup at the Giants. Or how about in 2013 when Chip Kelly’s offense appeared to make the verified “who’s that” quarterback Nick Foles into some sort of ultra efficient touchdown machine. However, they consistently find a way to disappoint me, following up every blowout with a blown game, every winning season with a losing one, every solid trade with a head scratching one. There really is little to look up to with the Eagles, in contrast to someone like Roger Federer. However irrational it is, I still root for them with all my passion.
  3. Engrossing myself in the 30 minute NBC Nightly News broadcast with Lester Holt: This has become especially entertaining since the news became all centered around the storm that is the Trump Administration. Current events have always been one of my interests, but more recently it has been amazing, for better or worse, to see Trump polarize news outlets and watch stations struggle to confront the issue of the new president. After reading about current events, I love to pick them apart through debate in group chats with my friends back in high school, who all feel a similar passion.
  4. Joining bleary-eyed morning passengers and exhausted evening commuters to go to shadow researchers in a lab: At the University of Pennsylvania, I was able to discover the passion of research. I realized that boring classroom topics could actually be applied in a very systematic way to solve real life issues such as the detection and treatment of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. This was very eye-opening, and has inspired me to pursue a career in research in the hopes of maybe I could too, someday, discover a biological process, design a chemical reaction, or engineer a new gadget that could change the world.

All of these passions are important to me, but I suppose another one stands out: cooking. Food holds a more personal meaning to me, beyond the bare bones purpose of survival and nourishment. So, this is what my passion blog will be about.