Inside America: The Rise and Fall of An Empire

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Terrorism began to hit America hard during the Nineties. Muslim terrorists made their first attack on the World Trade Center in New York in 1993 killing six people. In 1995, American terrorists destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma killing 168 people. Another American terrorist killed people through the mail by sending letter bombs. In America's schools, student shootings became more and more frequent. In 1999, two high school students in Colorado killed 12 students and a teacher during a shooting spree. Many schools began installing metal detectors and carrying out locker searches to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of students.

The issue of the environment could no longer be ignored either. Global warming was a continuing problem. At an Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro scientists and activists debated about how quickly weather patterns were changing on Earth due to industrial and automobile pollution. The melting of ice-caps in Antarctica became a hot topic of debate because of the potential of land coasts being flooded by the extra water being dumped into the oceans was now a real possibility. Back home, Americans continued to drive cars at an ever increasing rate. Not just small cars, but big cars called SUVs that were as big as trucks. Yet, scientists began urging the development of alternative fuels and a reduction in the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and gas. But was anyone listening?

American medical breakthroughs continued to emerge. There had been heart-transplants in the Sixties. CAT-SCANs in the Seventies and. Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Eigthies. The latter two allowed doctors to see inside a patient's body with ever more precision. By the Nineties, gene therapy and cloning were being pioneered. Bio-engineering and nano-technology promised to be new potential industries of future economic growth. Yet, the cost of developing these new industries was huge and how to finance them in a practical way so that many humans could benefit from them as cheaply as possible was a problem still far from solved.

In the Nineties, scientist learned that there were other solar systems far out in space with the potential for new forms of intelligent life. The Hubble telescope which had been launched in 1990 gave world scientists new and better photos of distant galaxies. Scientists knew that an average galaxy could hold at least 200 billion stars so scientists estimated that there could be billions of planets possibly with some of them in an advanced state of evolution like Earth. Whether extra-terrestrials were living on these planets was an unknown. Many Americans believed this was a real possibility. But there was so far no public evidence of this.


Towards the end of the Nineties, the use of cellular phones rose dramatically in America. Americans could be seen walking along on the street chatting into a cell phone more an more, while not paying attention to their outer surroundings. Sometimes automobile accidents occurred while Americans chatted on their cell phones while driving.

During the Nineties, many fashions were recycled from previous decades. The Grunge look that began in the Eighties was still popular with teenagers, while some rappers and hip-hoppers continued to wear over-size clothes, with pants hanging low around their hips. Tattoos on various parts of the body were as popular as ever along with body piercings and ragged jeans.

In the business world, more people were dressing casually. Many businesses allowed employees to come to work with informal clothes. Most new businesses were populated by Generation X Americans who were under the age of thirty. This made jeans and sports shirts the clothes of choice for many dot.comers. Work and play clothing became more and more the same style.

Grunge and Rap music continued to be popular. The rock group Nirvana led by singer Kurt Cobain created music that rejected all that was bland and slick in American culture, including the prevailing styles of pop music. Both generations X and Y responded to Nirvana's rebellious spirit. The music, characterized by loud guitar distortion, became known as alternative music. Yet, Grunge was just a mix of older forms of rock music like Punk and Heavy Metal which had been popular in the Seventies and Eighties. Nirvana became an overnight sensation. But the pressure of fame destroyed Kurt Cobain. He committed suicide in 1994.

Big block-buster movies like " Jurassic Park " and " Titanic " continued the trend towards bigger and bigger high-budget movies geared towards a global audience. But the big change was the use of more and more computer technology within the American movie industry. In 1996, the first completely digital animation movie premiered. " Toy Story " became a popular hit all over the world and signaled the acceleration of " converging media ". Television, movies, music, and computers were all becoming one huge mega-industry worth billions of dollars and an emerging global form of culture recognizable in any country.

Digital technology was everywhere even with the Ritchies:

Deborah: " Oh, hello, Nina how are you? "

Nina: " I'm fine aunt Deborah. "

Deborah: " How is high-school going? "

Nina: " Fine, just fine. We now have internet in our class and we even have a digital camera that hooks up to our computer. We can take instant photos of ourselves and then send them over the internet immediately. "

Mara: " Wow, that's pretty freaky, Nina. "

Nina: " Yeah, cousin. It's just so fab, really. "

Deborah: " Is your little brother still paying with his computer games ? "

Nina "Yeah, he really likes Gameboy. But you know play-stations are so ' old school. ' now. Personal computers are the hot thing right now. You know what you can hold in your hands. "

Mara: " Yeah, like ' Doom ' and ' Quake. ' you need sixty to eighty hours to play those games. "

Nina: " Yeah, but it's pretty creepy. I mean are these games an escape from reality or are they now a barrier to it? What is reality really. "

Deborah: " That's a good question, Nina. "

Mara: " Yeah, it's all just gadgets, now. "

Nina: " Yeah, palm pilots and pagers and…."

Mara: " ….cell phones and digital cameras. "

Deborah: " we had none of this when I was your age Nina, and that was just fourty-five years ago. "

Nina: " Yeah, I couldn't go anywhere without my lap-top computer. "

Mara: " Yeah, and all this costs money. Money we don't always have. "

Nina: " Yeah, but it feels sooo good to have all this stuff. "

Mara: " Yeah, just do it. "


Freaky: Strange.
Fab: Fabulous.
Old school: Old fashioned.

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