News + Views

Critical Thinking


ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich



In all areas of endeavor it is easy to form expectations of the benefits to target groups. We expect students to learn, customers to appreciate the value in our products, societies to live by moral standards, and so on, but we seldom teach them “how” to do it. We are a society given to information transfer, but have little patience for the “process” that is necessary to learning. We are so invested in telling others “what to think” that we fail to teach them “how to think.”

This is a failing of advertising in general. It is, perhaps, with purpose that we avoid this critical element of the “sell” for fear that it will get in the way. For instance, why would an advertiser want to compare your desire for something with your need for it? The logic in such analysis would alter the sensitive math between seller and buyer. It might also better inform the rhetoric of politics.

Typically, we do two things when educating others: (1) we transmit content, and (2) we equip the object group with ways to understand and use it. Here, we are addressing “what to think” and “how to think,” the twin pedals of the learning process. The second of these is called critical thinking, and it is what singularly makes the difference in learning. Yet, it is a skill that is lacking not only in education but also in marketplace organizations.

In its landmark report A Nation at Risk, the National Commission on Excellence in Education concluded: Many 17-year-olds do not possess the ‘higher-order’ intellectual skills we should expect of them. Nearly 40 percent cannot draw inferences from written material; only one-fifth can write a persuasive essay; and only one-third can solve a mathematics problem requiring several steps.

Exposing the Method of Critical Thinking

What does critical thinking look like and how might we tie it inextricably to the information gathering and use model? The first to gain is the “mindset” that aids critical thinking. Let’s begin with “thinking” itself, which we are encouraged to in organizations, but allowed little time for.

Though a key problem-solving technique, critical thinking is hard to find among managers who are generally more comfortable with the traditional plan, organize, coordinate, and control. In truth, critical thinking is a simple method of self-questioning that reveals the logical path to productive ends and the winnowing of the subjective influence in most decision making. To use it requires that we adopt a mindset of critical thinking and then learn the simple tools that aid the practice of it. Simply, critical thinking may be described as “ … reasonable, reflective, responsible, and skillful thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do.” Through critical thinking we are better able to ask useful questions, gather good data, analyze them effectively and form conclusions that serve agreed-upon goals.

The following are a number of the skills we might apply in critical thinking, as outlined by Raymond S. Nickerson, an expert of critical thinking. In each is the method of critical analysis that delivers the critical thinking model.

  • Uses evidence skillfully and impartially
  • Organizes thoughts and articulates them concisely and coherently
  • Distinguishes between logically valid and invalid inferences
  • Suspends judgment in the absence of sufficient evidence to support a decision
  • Understands the difference between reasoning and rationalizing
  • Attempts to anticipate the probable consequences of alternative actions
  • Understands the idea of degrees of belief
  • Sees similarities and analogies that are not superficially apparent
  • Can learn independently and has an abiding interest in doing so
  • Applies problem-solving techniques in domains other than those in which learned
  • Can structure informally represented problems in such a way that formal techniques, such as mathematics, can be used to solve them
  • Can strip a verbal argument of irrelevancies and phrase it in its essential terms
  • Habitually questions one’s own views and attempts to understand both the assumptions that are critical to those views and the implications of the views
  • Is sensitive to the difference between the validity of a belief and the intensity with which it is held
  • Is aware of the fact that one’s understanding is always limited, often much more so than would be apparent to one with a non-inquiring attitude
  • Recognizes the fallibility of one’s own opinions, the probability of bias in those opinions, and the danger of weighting evidence according to personal preferences

If the skills above are recognizable and familiar practice, you have discovered the power within. Make them your daily bread and you’ll increase your contribution to any organization and society.


October 13, 2017 |

Wanted: A Worthy Candidate for the 2018 “Martha Washington Woman of History Award”






Each year, Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site selects a recipient for the Martha Washington Woman of History Award. This award is given to a woman who has distinguished herself in the field of Hudson Valley history. The award is presented at the Site’s annual program, “The General’s Lady,” held in March, during Women’s History Month. Is there a woman from the local Hudson Valley area you feel deserves to be the 2018 recipient of this honor? If so, then nominate her!

The Woman of History award acknowledges Martha Washington’s important place in history as a devoted patriot in support of the American Revolution and the ensuing new nation. This will be the sixteenth year the award is given, continuing the site’s desire to honor women who carry on Martha Washington’s legacy by sharing in their devotion to Hudson Valley history. Previous recipients of the award are:




There are many women who are dedicated to sharing and preserving our history. Perhaps you know of a woman who shares her love of history with children by telling them stories, or taking them to historic sites. Is there a woman who has done research about the Hudson Valley and has shared her findings to encourage others to do the same? Do you know a woman who has used her private time or resources to preserve a landmark of historic significance? These are just a few examples of what could qualify a woman to be a candidate for this award.

Nominations must be completed and received by January 12, 2018.

To access a nomination form, please go to the website at, , click on this Link or call (845) 562-1195. The award will be given during a ceremony in March.

Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site is a registered national historic landmark. It is located at the corner of Liberty and Washington Streets within the city of Newburgh’s East End Historic District. The site is one of 35 historic sites within the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information contact: (845) 562-1195. For more information about New York State Parks, please visit our website at www.nysparks. com. For more information call 845-562-1195 or visit us on Facebook at







Help us save the Tower of Victory! The Palisades Parks Conservancy has completed a capital campaign to raise funds for the restoration of the Tower of Victory at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh, NY. The Tower of Victory is truly one of the treasures of the Hudson Valley. For 125 years, it has stood as the nation’s only monument to the lasting peace that came after the end of the Revolutionary War. Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of the President and then Secretary of War, commissioned John Hemingway Duncan, one of the nation’s most renowned architects at that time, to design the massive stone arched structure that hosts bronzes sculpted by William Rudolf O’Donovan, the pre-eminent monumental sculptor of the day. It stands on the property where General Washington created the “Badge of Military Merit” now called the Purple Heart medal.

Mail your donation to: Palisades Parks Conservancy, P.O. Box 427, 3006 Seven Lakes Drive, Bear Mountain, NY 10911. Or donate online: Remember to put the Tower of Victory in the subject line so we know you want to be a part of the campaign!

October 12, 2017 |

Washington’s Headquarters’s Fall/Winter Hours Begin November 3rd


As the seasons change, Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site changes its hours of operation. The last day of our extended hours will be Sunday, October 29th. The site will reopen on Friday, November 3rd to begin its Fall/Winter hours, which are Fridays and Saturdays, 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM. Schools and other groups of one or more can visit Tuesday through Saturday by pre-arranged appointment, and the site will also open for Special Events. The site plans to expand its hours again in mid-April.

Come in from the brisk outdoors and take a guided tour of the historic farmhouse used by General and Mrs. Washington, several of his aides, guards, servants and slaves during the last 16 ½ months of the Revolutionary War. Walk In the same rooms as the General did in the house where he announced the cease fire, rejected a monarchy, and created and awarded the Badge of Military Merit, precursor to the Purple Heart.

Visit our multi award-winning exhibit, Unpacked & Rediscovered: Selections from Washington’s Headquarters’ Collection. From our grounds enjoy the scenery of the Hudson Highlands and the majestic Hudson River view during the Autumn/Winter season.

For further information contact 845-562-1195.

October 11, 2017 |

Makar Making Most of Football Farewell


Slater's Slant







By Chuck Slater



Brett Makar had a fantastic football season as a junior as Yorktown made it to the Class A final. He’s on pace to do even better his senior year as the Cornhuskers have gotten off to an undefeated start to the season. Yet he will probably never play major competitive football after this season.

Brett Makar is even better in lacrosse. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BRETT MAKAR)

Makar, who if anything is even better in lacrosse, has accepted a scholarship to Maryland University in that sport. And college coaches don’t want to see their scholarship athletes risking injury in another sport, particularly one as rugged as football. Plus, at 6 feet and 185 pounds, Makar is plenty big for high-school football but would find bigger foes at the college level.

Not playing further football — a game he started at age 8 in the Yorktown A.C. — is a reality sinking in slowly. “I haven’t really thought about it that much,” Makar said shortly after Yorktown went to 4-0 by rallying in the final minute to beat a tough Rye, 34-30, while trailing 14-0 early. “But definitely my heart is in lacrosse.”

A relevant example is former John Jay star Terersa Swertfager, on a college softball scholarship, and thus unable to play college volleyball after being the best high-school libero these eyes ever saw.

Yorktown lacrosse coach Sean Carney has a similar view of Makar, who plays defense for him and earned All-America designation. “He’s the best athlete I’ve ever coached here.” Carney said. “Any time we face a team with a player we have to stop, we put Brett on him.”

Meanwhile, Makar is making the most of his time on the gridiron, both on offense and defense. He is in his second season as a two-way starter/star. As a junior, Makar was the area’s Player of the Year and gained 1,584 yards from scrimmage while scoring 21 touchdowns. In the first three games this season, he had 45 carries for 516 yards and six touchdowns including a hard-to-believe effort in which he rallied his team from a 14-7 deficit to a 28-14 victory over Hen Hud while rushing for 215 yards and two touchdowns and catching a pass, plus on defense making eight tackles, an interception, a sack and a fumble recovery.

In game 4, Rye understandably keyed on him, limiting him to 60 yards on the ground. But his teammates stepped up, which pleased Makar no end. “We lost a lot of great players from last season,” said Makar, “but the guys certainly stepped up. I love these guys and I love playing with them — a lot since the third grade. It’s a special group.”

And one that could go far again. Don’t bet against the Huskers making the playoffs. And don’t bet against Makar leading them.


October 11, 2017 |

Once You Join, Showing Up is a Must!

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Our three children went through scores of activities during their years in both elementary and high school. Whether it was music lessons, sports, dance club, the school newspaper, civic activities or helping out in Sunday school, we have followed the same guidelines. Once they have made a promise, signed up to be part of an organization, there is no reason except for illness that they were not going to fulfill the commitment. It was not fair to others on the team or club that is depending on my child’s share of the work or participation for my child not to show up. As a parent, this was definitely not easy to do, especially when three children were going in different directions with their school and social activities.

Our parenting perseverance paid off eventually because I could hear in their own words the disappointment and annoyance when another classmate let the group down. A high school float that needed to be finished by a deadline was down to the wire when several students repeatedly failed to show up to help. A backstage dance show was more stressful when volunteers never arrived for costume or set changes. The same frustrations surfaced years later as my girls described co-workers at summer jobs who failed to show up and headed to the beach instead. This made the workload harder for those that did come to work and added extra hours to their shifts. Apparently, the word commitment did not enter into these absent students’ decisions.

To this day my grown children often tease me about my “stiff rules” when they took extracurricular activities. My standards were plain and simple. If they wanted to be enrolled in an activity of any kind, they were required to finish out the length of the course or sessions that I had signed them up to take. There were also obligations to the group or team that they wanted to join. Besides not wasting money, I wanted them to learn that there was scheduling involved when I needed to drive them to an activity, lesson, practice or game.

There is more to teaching your child academics to prepare him or her for adult life. Learning to be committed can start with pets, lessons, household chores and student involvement. Later on in life it will translate to success in advanced educational quests, job commitment and hopefully strong ties in personal relationships as well.

October 11, 2017 |

Stay Lean with Protein


In Good Taste








(Family Features) Shedding excess pounds doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of your favorite foods, including red meat. A study from the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center shows that healthy, higher-protein diets including lean beef can be beneficial to not only weight loss, but also maintaining muscle mass and heart health.

The study is in line with ongoing research on the importance of lean protein for weight loss. To kick your healthy eating plan into high gear, try these tips:

  • Enjoy protein at every meal. One of the benefits of having protein in your meal is feeling more satisfied, which helps reduce mindless eating or snacking in between meals. Additionally, meals with high-quality protein help build muscle and reduce body fat.
  • Choose lean protein options. Picking lean protein options can be easier than you think. You can still enjoy a beef burger and save calories by choosing lean or extra-lean ground beef. Other smart meat case picks include top sirloin steak or sirloin tip, bottom round steak or roast, eye of round steak or roast, or top round steak or roast. Also make sure to choose colorful vegetables and fruits to round out your meal, like in this recipe for Grilled Southwestern Steak and Colorful Vegetables.
  • Dine out smart. Many people struggle with getting a balanced, protein-filled meal when dining out or grabbing food on-the-go. Look for words like “grilled,” “broiled” or “baked” when browsing the menu for lean proteins. Or add a lean protein to your entree salad, whether it’s for lunch or dinner. For snack time, consider beef jerky to get protein on-the-go.

For meal ideas and tips to support your weight loss goals, visit

Grilled Southwestern Steak and Colorful Vegetables

Recipe courtesy of the Beef Checkoff

Total time: 25-35 minutes

Servings: 6

1        beef top round steak, cut 1-inch thick (about 1 1/2 pounds)

salt, to taste


1/4    cup fresh lime juice

1/4    cup prepared mild salsa

1        tablespoon chopped garlic

1        tablespoon olive oil

1        teaspoon ground cumin

1/2    teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Colorful Vegetables:

2         tablespoons olive oil

1         medium green or red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips

8         ounces button mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick

2          cups zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick

3/4      teaspoon ground cumin

1/2       teaspoon salt

1/4       teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1           cup finely chopped tomatoes

1/4       cup chopped green onions

In small bowl, combine marinade ingredients. Place beef steak and marinade in food-safe plastic bag; turn steak to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 6 hours, or as long as overnight, turning occasionally.

Remove steak from marinade; discard marinade. Place steak on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. For medium-rare (145 F) doneness, grill covered, turning once, 12-14 minutes (on gas grill over medium heat, 16-19 minutes).

To prepare Colorful Vegetables: In large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add bell pepper strips; cook and stir 1-2 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add mushrooms, zucchini, cumin, salt and black pepper; cook and stir 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add tomatoes and green onions; cook and stir 1 minute.

Carve steak into thin slices; season with salt, to taste. Serve with Colorful Vegetables.




October 11, 2017 |

Chronic Conditions More Common in African-Americans


To Your Health








(Family Features) Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke are among the most common causes of illness, disability and death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These chronic conditions and the factors that lead to them can be more common or severe in minorities, including African-Americans.

For example, African-Americans are 40 percent more likely than Caucasians to have high blood pressure, and the rate of diagnosed diabetes is 77 percent higher among African-Americans than Caucasians, according to the CDC. The average life expectancy among African-Americans is also lower, at 75.1 years, compared to 78.9 years for Caucasians.

Services like Chronic Care Management (CCM) can help people living with chronic conditions coordinate care services and lead to better outcomes and higher satisfaction.

If you are a Medicare beneficiary with two or more chronic conditions, ask your doctor about CCM and see if you’re eligible for connected care, including services such as:

  • At least 20 minutes a month of CCM services.
  • Personalized assistance from a dedicated health care professional who will work with you to create a care plan.
  • Coordination of care between your pharmacy, specialists, testing centers, hospitals and more.
  • Phone check-ins between visits to keep you on track.
  • Emergency access to a health care professional 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Expert assistance with setting and meeting your health goals.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Health Resources and Service Administration introduced the “Connected Care” campaign to help raise awareness about the benefits of CCM. The campaign has free resources, including an animated video that can help you learn more.

Talk to your doctor to see if CCM is available to you and visit to learn more about the benefits of the program.


Photo courtesy of Getty Images


October 11, 2017 |
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