Data fix

The article on La Paz, Mexico [“Serenity city,” Nov. 4], had grossly misleading information about crime rates and safety. The author cited the fact that La Paz had “only” 16 murders in 2011 and proceeded to compare that statistic to the number of murders in San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles, implying that La Paz is much safer than those cities. Even the most novice statistician knows that the total number of murders (or any crime) is a meaningless statistic. What counts is the murder rate per unit of population, normally calculated as murders per 1,000 residents. When you do that math, here is how the cities cited in the article rate:

San Diego, .028 murders per 1,000 people

San Francisco, .062

La Paz, .063

Los Angeles, .077

Now which city looks safest to visit? If the murder rates were for the counties of San Diego and L.A. rather than the cities, the distortion in the article is even worse.

John Williams

Falls Church

Up with African cities

I rarely write to newspapers but felt that I had to write to congratulate you on the article on urban Africa [“Going urban,” Nov. 11]. Africa is quickly urbanizing, so it’s appropriate to focus on the cities — the music scene, the visual arts scene, the markets and the people. This is an important way to help change Westerners’ conceptions of what Africa is and what it has to offer. I have lived and worked in Africa for several decades, and it is an amazing place on so many levels.

Susan Igras


Fit to be an icon

James Lee’s article on York Barbell caught my eye immediately [“In Pa., a museum with real weight,” Nov. 11]. I started working out with weights while serving in the U.S. Air Force (1962-1966) and have continued to do so at one level or another during these past 40-odd years. Bob Hoffman and York Barbell became icons for my workout programs.

I met Hoffman in 1970 during a contest in Harrisburg, Pa. He was a titan in the world of bodybuilding and physical fitness. A large portion of what is done in the fitness culture today is the evolutionary result of what Hoffman created more than a half-century ago.

Rev. M. Vincent Turner

Silver Spring

All calm now

Thank you so much for the article on turbulence [“Roughing it: A worrywart’s guide to turbulence,” Nov. 11]. It was great. Recently I was on a British Airways flight to London. There was some bounce, and being the nervous flier that I am, I told the flight attendant that I was a little nervous. After things settled down, she came back and told me that the captain wanted a word with me. She brought me to the galley and I met the captain, who was charming and explained about turbulence and what is involved.

About 15 minutes before we landed, the attendant came back and said that the captain wanted to know whether I’d like to see the flight deck after we landed. So I was treated to an explanation of the deck and the flight maps.

It was really terrific that he took the time to explain this to me. On my flight back, I was just fine. I hope that the article helped a lot of people like me.

Amy Ballard


Thank you for the incredibly informative article on air turbulence. I’ve always had an unnatural fear of flying solely because of turbulence. I will no longer be bound by that fear.

Bob Ward