A.C. Snow

North Carolina isn’t one of the country’s happiest states. But it should be.

Thousands of sunflowers attract crowds along Neuse River Greenway

Video: The annual sunflower display brings steady traffic to a remote area of Wake County southeast of Raleigh. Flowers are in full bloom and are expected to last three weeks.
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Video: The annual sunflower display brings steady traffic to a remote area of Wake County southeast of Raleigh. Flowers are in full bloom and are expected to last three weeks.

Tar Heelia isn’t the happiest state?

Oh posh! North Carolina didn’t even make the Top 20 in WalletHub Communications’ annual happiest state survey.

In fact, Virginia was the only Southern state that did, at No. 12. Instead, North Carolina ranks in the middle of the pack at No. 26.

Why aren’t we Tar Heels happier? Your guess is as good as mine.

Democrats will say it’s because the Republicans are in power. Republicans will insist it’s because Democrats are uncooperative and going around bad-mouthing everything they do or attempt to do.

The survey looked at 28 indicators of happiness, from emotional health to income level to income growth.

I think Tar Heels have much to be happy about. The economy is strong. The state escaped the full wrath of Irma and Harvey. Scenic wise, ours is among the most beautiful states in the Union. It is upscale in educational opportunities and rich in the arts. And nobody says “Y’all come” when addressing only one person.

Our state is not called Variety Vacationland for nothing. We offer crystal clean beaches, breathtaking views from the Blue Ridge Mountains that stretch across our horizon. Our climate is mostly mild year-round.

So, what’s Virginia got that we ain’t got?

The survey concluded that these are the 10 happiest states, according to the survey: Minnesota, Utah, Hawaii, California, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

New York has the fewest suicides per 100,000 residents – eight – which is 3.5 times fewer than in Wyoming, which has the most at 28. I would have guessed the opposite.

Heroic or foolish?

Undoubtedly, many of you TV viewers have watched those on-the-scene reporters covering hurricanes Irma and Harvey, being battered by devastating winds as they bring us live coverage.

They face into the storm, some being brought to their knees as they are buffeted about like rag dolls, clinging to their microphones, and straining to be heard above the howling wind. They dodge dangerous debris hurled through the air with the speed and force of bullets.

Reader Stephen Wilder of Knightdale raises questions about such life-threatening news coverage.

“Your first response is probably like mine when you see a reporter standing out in the middle of a hurricane being buffeted by the high winds with debris blowing all around him and drenched by heavy rain,” he writes. “You think what a brave person this is to do this so we can know what’s going on.

“And then you think: ‘Are you, nuts? Get your rear end out of that storm and find some place safe. We don’t need to see all of this right now.’ 

In war and peace, when necessary, reporters have traditionally stepped in harm’s way while pursuing breaking news events. It goes with the job.

For the most part, these reporters do a great job. But occasionally one will ask inane questions.

I recall one such query from a few years ago. The reporter was interviewing a man who was standing in the middle of the rubble of what was left of his home after a hurricane had passed through.

“How do you feel right now?” the reporter asked, shoving a microphone in the face of the stricken homeowner when the answer was written on the poor fellow’s face.

The question seemed to me as imprudent as one sometimes put to a football coach whose team is trailing 50 to 0 at halftime: “Coach, what do you plan to do to get back into the game?”

During Hurricane Irma, there were reports of price gouging in some areas bashed by the monster storm.

On a TV panel, a guy was defending the sale of drinking water at $30 per gallon.

“If the water sold at regular price, people would have hoarded it and the supply would have run out.”

“But what about the poor who can barely afford a gallon of water at the regular price?” I wondered. “Are they to die of thirst or drink polluted rain water?”

And I remembered the quote attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette who, when told that the peasants of France had no bread, reportedly said, “Let them eat cake.”

Why Wolfpack lost

Speaking of football, Wolfpack fan Grady Sykes explains that historical shellacking NCSU suffered at the hands of Georgia Tech back in November 1918.

“Many of the State players were stricken with the flu and did not make the trip,” he explained. “Perhaps State officials should have cancelled the game. Then, again, maybe the Tech players had had their flu shots! Anyway, this is a good time to remind your readers to put flu shots on their calendars.”