Best of Salon: 2003

The Iraq war begins: Phillip Robertson crosses the Tigris by raft, Jen Banbury reports on Abu Ghraib, and Michelle Goldberg covers the new antiwar movement.

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In honor of our 10th anniversary this month, Salon is scouring our archives for the best stories we’ve published. Every day for the next 10 days, we will be highlighting one year’s worth of memorable pieces. We hope you enjoy them. And use our automated-letters feature at the bottom of this story to tell us what you think we missed.

Johnny Cash, 1932-2003
He was the Man in Black and the man with the voice that sounded like black coffee. America’s greatest protest singer, a seminal figure in both rock and country, is dead at 71.
By Stephanie Zacharek

Guantanamo on steroids
Abu Ghraib was an infamous prison under Saddam. Now, for Iraqis seeking relatives detained by the U.S. military, it is still a place where men disappear.
By Jen Banbury

Eyes on the prize
Will the civil rights battle finally be won in bed?
By Joan Walsh

Hacking democracy
Computerized vote-counting machines are sweeping the country. But they can be hacked — and right now there’s no way to be sure they haven’t been.
By Farhad Manjoo

Film’s not dead, damn it!
Interviews with some of today’s leading cinematographers — the real magic-makers of the movies — suggest that George Lucas’ overhyped “digital revolution” is mostly marketing buzz.
By Stephanie Zacharek

Artificial stupidity, Part I of II
The saga of Hugh Loebner and his search for an intelligent bot has almost everything: Sex, lawsuits and feuding computer scientists. There’s only one thing missing: Smart machines.
By John Sundman

Artificial stupidity, Part II
Can chatterbots be as dumb as a box of hammers and still pass the Turing test? Go ask ALICE, she might know.
By John Sundman

How I invaded Iraq, alone
On a moonlit night in March, the author slips out of Syria on a rubber raft and crosses the Tigris, headed toward war.
By Phillip Robertson



Katharine Hepburn, 1907-2003
An appreciation of Hollywood’s smartest, tartest star, who began her career as “box office poison” and became one of the silver screen’s most beloved and memorable figures.
By Stephanie Zacharek

See no evil
Progressives have lots of arguments against the war on Iraq — some of them compelling. But why aren’t they burning to free Saddam’s oppressed masses?
By Edward W. Lempinen

Operation inflate the coalition
During the last Gulf War, 32 nations sent troops to support the U.S. This time around, 3 nations did. So how is Donald Rumsfeld claiming Operation Iraqi Freedom is larger than the ’91 coalition?
By Jake Tapper

A ham from God
On my 49th birthday, my back hurt and my soul hurt. But solace came in an unexpected form.
By Anne Lamott

Vigilante injustice
Arizona militia members, a Colorado Republican and a national group with white supremacist ties have made a remote stretch of the Mexico border a flash point for anti-immigrant hostility.
By Max Blumenthal

Bad blood in Egypt
In one of the great medical tragedies in modern history, well-meaning Egyptian authorities are believed to have infected millions of people with hepatitis C.
By Dawn MacKeen

Only the flat survive
The mighty Pacific halibut is thriving, even as dozens of other big fish species are being commercially harvested out of existence. How is this googly-eyed monster defying the odds?
By Katharine Mieszkowski

Will she be my daughter?
Social Services took 4-year-old Gina out of her abusive home and placed her with me and my wife. We want her to stay with us forever, but it’s up to the courts to decide.
By Jon Lowry

Sports Daily
On the theology of sports: How Pete Rose can prove the existence of God — or not, depending on what you already believe.
By King Kaufman

Xed out
You’re in a love puddle. You’re smiling. You’re high on Ecstasy. You touch your friend’s hair. Wow. You can’t stop touching it. Her hair is incredibly soft. You keep smiling. Now it’s a few years later. You take E again. You grind your teeth, the hangover lasts a week. It’s no fun. What happened?
By Larry Smith

My big fat mea culpa
I haven’t decided to vote for Howard Dean, but after 10 days watching his campaign, I promise never to say he’s unelectable again.
By Joan Walsh

George Bushs Terminator problem
Arnold Schwarzenegger may be the GOP’s best shot yet at a California comeback. But his playboy ways and pro-choice politics make him anathema to the president’s allies on the Christian right.
By Tim Grieve

Repo man
My husband left me and our children at least a dozen times. He was never around for the middle-of-the-night fevers or Christmas concerts. But when I needed him the most, he materialized — with a bolt cutter.
Ann M. Bauer

Planet autism
Last summer, a man in California shot his 27-year-old autistic son to death and then shot himself. I understand why.
By Scot Sea

Am I gay?
I met a great gal at the ballpark who turned out to be a transsexual. I pitched, she caught. Bases loaded!
By Cary Tennis

Same-sex family values
Toby and Jean Adams moved to Auburn, Calif., to raise their daughter in a close-knit community with good schools. The reaction of their neighbors and fellow churchgoers — from anger to acceptance to confusion — mirrors Middle America’s evolving attitudes toward gays and gay marriage.
By Laura McClure

How I decoded the human genome, Part I of II
We are becoming the masters of our own DNA. But does that give us the right to decide that my children should never have been born?
By John Sundman

One vote for the new eugenics, Part II
Yes, genetics research can alleviate suffering. But in our consumerist, narcissistic society, it’s ultimately about producing perfect people. br />By John Sundman

No sex, please  or well audit you
Why are some nonprofit organizations that don’t agree with the Bush administration’s “abstinence only” philosophy repeatedly investigated by the government, while faith-based groups get a free pass?
By Christopher Healy

Save the earth  dump Bush
In a slashing interview, environmental leader Bobby Kennedy Jr. denounces the administration’s “crimes against nature” and discusses the Democratic presidential pack, the dawn of Arnold’s California reign — and his own political future.
By David Talbot

The Year of the liar
From weapons of mass destruction to Jayson Blair, we trusted them — and they punk’d us. Why do we keep coming back for more?
By Heather Havrilesky

Nuns, whores and femmes fatales
The whole idea of “good” movie roles for women is crap — I’ll take a lace-and-leather sexpot over Nicole Kidman’s prosthetic-honker performance in “The Hours” any day of the week.
By Stephanie Zacharek

This is not America
In Miami, police unleashed unprecedented fury on demonstrators — most of them seniors and union members. Is this how Bush’s war on terror will be fought at home?
By Michelle Goldberg

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