Mississippi: The Very Large Puddle of Mud Formerly Known as the Magnolia State
While most states in the South invited in heavy industry to diversify their economies after the Civil War, Mississippi is still largely rural. Cotton farming is best remembered as the main thing the South had going for it before getting bored and going off to try new things (popularizing food with the potential to induce heart attacks, building massively congested airports etc.). In Mississippi, however, cotton farming is still a mainstay. Mississippi is basically like that guy at your high school reunion who still lives at home and works at the local blockbuster (note to self: Move out of home, put in two weeks notice at Blockbuster).
Whiile Mississippi is primarily a state of farming, they really kick ass at it. In addition to farmings crops and other boring stuff, they have something down there called aquaculture in which they farm catfish and it looks pretty freaking awesome. Who knew that farming could involve monster aquariums? Is there some Jack-and-the-Beanstalk-sized pet store where they got the tank from?
Also Pictured: A jack-and-the-beanstalk sized pet store where these tanks came from?
The down side: this awesome hybrid of fishing on farm plots comes about because the state is frequently flooded and once the water gets past the levees, it tends to stick around for a while. Remember the US Army Corps of Engineers? The group that completely fucked New Orleans over with Katrina? Well, it turns out that the US Army Corps of Engineers has been fucking over Mississippi since 1927. According to this article from National Geographic:
"In the spring of 1927, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assured the public that the levees would hold. The Corps had built them, after all. But as had been the case at the mouth of the river, the Corps overestimated its own prowress"
This event was called The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 which resulted in something like 27,000 square miles of land (an area slightly larger than West Virginia) becoming inundated and hundreds of deaths occuring. This prompted Congress to pass a Law in 1928 calling for Flood Control but let's just say that hasn't worked out so well. Floods have continually overflowed the levee system and the state has also paid a heavy toll for being in Hurricane Alley. Two of its three biggest cities, Gulfsport and Biloxi, were decimated by Hurricane Katrina.
Unfortunately, New Orleans is a city that is much more fun and has celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Wynton Marsalis and Harry Conick Jr. bringing attention to it. The only major advocate for Mississippi was country music star Faith Hill who was probably overshadowed by husband and New Orleans native Tim McGraw anyway.
Pictured: Faith Hill preaches about Mississippi to a line of people watting for the Ellen Degeneres show
The best Mississippi can hope for in terms of publicity is to make Cracked's upcoming list of states that nature and God hate the most.
Mississippi has the worst poverty in the nation and there are several misconceptions that the people of Mississippi are not the sharpest tools in the shed or even the
shed box, workshop, shed assembly plant ?. We feel a need to defend the Mississippians on this count and trust us, when we feel an entire state, province or territory is dumb, we're not afraid to say it. The Brazilian province of Sergipe, for example, or even the Malaysian territory of Kota Kinabalu are just a bunch of dumb fucks.
A color-coded map of Brazil based on how much respect we have for their intellect
The problem with Mississippi isn't that they're dumb so much that the state is ridiculously behind the times. There's little evidence that Mississippi is even aware that it's no longer the 19th Century.
This is a state whose top tourist sites are antibellum plantations, whose primary crop is still cotton, and who has historically had the lowest rate in the country of households with access to electricity. This is also a state who waited until freaking 1995 to ratify the 13th Ammendment outlawing slavery. Please note, that the third item on the list actually happened. Maybe that's why they still have the confederate flag worked into their state flag. Any day now, expect them to send a letter to President Lincoln ceding the Civil War.
"I think the Civil War's over, but just in case, we'll keep the old flag up there in the corner."
It's also not just many towns and cities who have been slow to get electrified but many local governments don't have access to computers and internet connections. To add to that they often don't have the bureaucratic know-how to integrate their city governments with government at the state and federal level and regularly miss out on federal grants.
Mississippi's Governor Haley Barbour made headlines in 2009 for being one of the notable Republican governors to turn down stimulus money. There's little evidence that even if Barbour wasn't being a financial douche, however, that the money would make it through anyway.
A 2009 report in the Washington Post found that the water in Greenville coming out of the tap was brown and that to get it cleaned up, they'd need to apply for stimulus money to repair the groundwater system. Almost no one working in the region's local governments knew exactly how to access the needed forms and fill them out to apply for that money.
Pictured here: Barton County Clerk Enjoys Technology Upgrade
So what we have here is a state that, by and large, has:
1) Piles and piles of free money from the Federal government awaiting them
2) Some forms they have to fill out to get to that pile of money
3) Ample motivation to learn how to fill out those forms. The motivation, for those of you keeping track, is that their water is brown and money is generally required to fix your aquifier system so said shower water doesn't remind you of sewage whenever you're bathing.
If these people can't get past the obstacle of paperwork to access the showers, it is a little worrisome what happens if something like a hurricane or flood approaches----oh wait, those happen quite often, don't they? Well, if that gets you depressed, that's a good enough segway to our next section as any.....
On the cultural front, Mississippi is most famous for being the birthplace of the Blues which is essentially jazz before zoloft was invented. Mississippi native B.B. King, the most well-known pioneer of the musical style once described the Blues as "peering into a man's soul," although you've gotta admit that the particular sampling of men's souls that Blues explores are on the darker end of the spectrum.
"My Lord, my son ain't treat me better than an old rag of turpentine hung out in the rain and I hath the Blues"
B.B. King is but one of a number of famous figures in the arts that have hailed from Mississippi including Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Shelby Foote, Muddy Walters, Elvis Presley, and Oprah Winfrey. Of course many of these people got the hell out of Mississippi as soon as they could.
Mississippi is also big on church. They have the nation's largest bible-binding plant and rank #1 in churches per capita in the nation. Mississippi also has a budding gambling industry from river boats so they have plenty to repent about every week.