June 5th, 2006

Chris Keeley

start a business based on it, and torque it, all without paying anyone or asking anyone's permission

GNU Radio: the universal, software-defined radio

Wired News has an excellent article on GNU Radio, a software-defined radio that can emulate practically any traditional radio just by changing the software. With the right GNU Radio hardware, the same machine can act as a digital TV receiver (try forcing the Broadcast Flag down a GNU Radio owner's throat!), a satellite radio receiver, an AM/FM tuner, an analog TV receiver, and a military radar installation. All at the same time.

GNU Radio can do cool and scary stuff that old special-purpose radios can't do, like tune in and record every FM radio show, or all the cellular traffic on a certain street corner. The GNU Radio software is free software, licensed under the GPL, so you can improve on it, tweak it, start a business based on it, and torque it, all without paying anyone or asking anyone's permission.

After few minutes of normal Linux messing around ("Takes forever to boot.... Haven't got the sound driver working yet....") he turns the laptop around to reveal a set of vibrating lines in humps and dips across the screen, like a wildly shaking wireframe mountain range. "Here," he explains, "I'm grabbing FM."

"All of it?" I ask.

"All of it," he says. I'm suddenly glad the soundcard isn't working.

Radio is that bit of the electromagnetic spectrum that sits between brain waves and daylight. It's made of the same stuff that composes light, color, electrical hums, gamma radiation from atom bombs, the microwaves that reheat your pizza.

From our perspective, radio devices behave very differently -- a global positioning system gadget doesn't look like a TV doesn't look like a CB set, even if they are all radios. They are single-purpose machines that use small bits of radio spectrum to do very specific tasks -- about as far from the general-purpose personal computer as you can get. But there's no reason they have to be.


Chris Keeley

General Sani Abacha, who routinely killed activists, who routinely shut down the media, who routinel

Issue of 2006-06-12
Posted 2006-06-05

It was a Saturday in 1984. I was playing with my little brother, Kenechukwu, near the water tank in our large, flower-filled compound in Nsukka—the dusty, serene university town in eastern Nigeria where I grew up. My mother stood by the back door and said, “Bianu kene mmadu.” Come and greet somebody. Our new houseboy had arrived. He was sitting on a sofa in the living room, his legs cradling a black plastic bag that held his belongings.

“Good afternoon,” Kenechukwu and I said. “Nno.” Welcome.

Later, after my mother showed Fide his room, in the detached boys’ quarters behind the house, she told us, “Fide has come from the village and he has never seen a telephone or a gas cooker. So we will all help teach him and get him settled.”

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Chris Keeley

Jesus Christ, I thought. All I want is a helicopter ride and I draw two lieutenant colonels behaving

Issue of 2006-06-12
Posted 2006-06-05

In early 1966, I was catching a ride on a helicopter out to a battle on the central coast of South Vietnam. Once there, I intended to hook up with an infantry battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division that was going into action. Both of the pilots were lieutenant colonels, helicopter battalion commanders in the same 1st Cav. I was sitting on the bench seat behind them, with two enlisted machine gunners on either side of me. The colonels were amusing themselves by slapping the tops of the palm trees that covered the area with the skids of the helicopter. It was dangerous play. The slightest miscalculation could send the helicopter spinning into the ground under full power and we would all die. Jesus Christ, I thought. All I want is a helicopter ride and I draw two lieutenant colonels behaving like a pair of fucking cowboys.

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Chris Keeley

I found an old shirt cardboard and wrote “STOP THE BOMBING!” on it with a red felt-tip pen, and stu

NEW YORK, 1967
Issue of 2006-06-12
Posted 2006-06-05

By October of 1965, I could watch the opposition to the war in Vietnam forming up outside my bedroom window. Nearly a thousand American troops had already died in the faraway fighting, which looked so close on our TV screens every night, and upward of a hundred and forty thousand—drafted inner-city blacks and down-home white country boys, by the look of them—were there, without notable result. A month later, my wife, Carol, and I joined friends and strangers aboard a bus that took us in a caravan to Washington, where we became part of twenty-five thousand antiwar demonstrators outside the White House and then over on the lawns sloping up toward the Capitol, where we cheered speeches by Bella Abzug and Benjamin Spock and others, and even slipped away for a furtive cultural visit to the Smithsonian. We hated this blood-soaked war—for weeks at a stretch it seemed as if nothing else were on our minds—but the tone aboard the bus trip and during that long day’s outing was upbeat, almost lighthearted. Our companions—my old college pal Spencer Klaw (he’d been the editor of the Harvard Crimson) and his wife, Bobbie, who was Carol’s associate at American Heritage, and the Klaws’ youngest daughter, Margy—were friends we sometimes joined in November for football games in New Haven and Cambridge, and this embarrassing sense of overlap and gala middle-class smugness about our protest was something we noticed and, in our ironic self-awareness, remarked on. War protesting was more fun than Ivy League football. When our bus stopped at one of the mall-like gas stations on the New Jersey Turnpike, it was a big laugh when the women aboard (who outnumbered us men by about three to one) liberated the men’s rest room. If we sound naïve now, it would be easy to assume that the most pathetic thing about us was our notion that we might make a difference, and change things. Only we did.

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Chris Keeley

We received reports of atrocities; we published photos of decapitated corpses, and an interview with

Issue of 2006-06-12
Posted 2006-06-05

In February, 1991, I got an editorial job with the magazine Naši Dani (Our Days), and instantly left my parents’ house, where I had, embarrassingly, lived until the age of twenty-seven. I rented a place in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Kovaċi with Davor and Pedja, two friends who also worked for Naši Dani. Our previous experience was in radio, so we had to learn quickly how to bring a jolt of immediacy to a biweekly magazine. Alas, we soon had a chance: one of our first issues was devoted largely to the demonstrations in Belgrade, which Slobodan Milosevic crushed with tanks. It was the first blood spilled by the Yugoslav People’s Army, and we knew that the flow would not stop there. By spring, the war in Croatia was well on its way. We received reports of atrocities; we published photos of decapitated corpses, and an interview with a Serbian militia leader, now awaiting trial in The Hague, who once promised to gouge out Croatian eyes with rusty spoons—as though regular spoons were not bad enough. At first, such horrors could be treated as exceptions to the rules by which we lived our lives, particularly since the Yugoslav-Serbian and Croatian authorities kept promising that everything would return to normal. But we soon began reporting on Army trucks transporting arms (their cargo officially registered as “bananas”) to the parts of Bosnia where Serbs were the majority. We covered parliament sessions and attended press conferences at which Radovan Karadzic and his henchmen made not so veiled threats. Everyone but us was preparing for an all-out war.

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Chris Keeley

Later, drunker, the conversation slipped into fucking jihadis and blood-preaching imams and those Go

IRAQ, 2004
Issue of 2006-06-12
Posted 2006-06-05

The hotel’s elevator shaft was next to my room, and when the elevator hit the ground floor it made a muffled echo boom that sounded exactly like a bomb. The elevator sounded like a bomb; thunder sounded like a bomb; construction clangs sounded like a bomb; a door slam sounded like a bomb; bombs sounded like bombs. Firecrackers thrown by kids sounded like sharp, close Kalashnikov fire; a car backfiring sounded like a single shot, unanswered, and nothing to turn your head about.

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Chris Keeley

Weasel's revenge

Da Weaz


Dubya Dippin' in the Pie?


June 3, 2006 -- WMR can report that a Mayflower Hotel staffer has confirmed that First Lady Laura Bush spent at least one night this past week at the hotel, which is four blocks north of the White House. Mrs. Bush reportedly moved out of the White House after a confrontation with President Bush over his on-going affair with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The Mayflower's official position on the story is that they can "neither confirm nor deny" the identities of their guests. Because it's penchant for security and secrecy is well known to the Secret Service, the Mayflower has become a reliable hotel for U.S. and international VIPs.

Some Washington observers believe that the recent flare up between Laura Bush and the president stems from the fact that her poll numbers are twice as favorable as her husband's (60 percent to 29 percent). Laura Bush's recent solo missions to New Orleans, Colorado, and an AIDS conference at the United Nations represent a virtual declaration of independence from the most unpopular president in U.S. history. "She's [Laura's] taking a page right out of Hillary's book," said one Washington pundit. Rice, on the other hand, has been very close and loyal to Bush since she signed on as his chief foreign policy adviser in 2000. WMR has been told of intimate encounters between Mr. Bush and Rice on trips to New York City (multiple occasions) and New Orleans following Katrina.


Chris Keeley

Noctilucent Cloud Gallery

Night-shining clouds 

Noctilucent Cloud Gallery

SpaceWeather.com has a growing photo gallery of noctilucent clouds (NLCs), mysterious clouds that occur at very high altitudes, near the edge of space. Some scientists suggest that they're caused by space dust, others pin them on rocket exhaust or global warming. Noctilucent, meaning "night-shining," clouds are wispy, tendrilous, and often glow acid blue. (Image seen here captured by Paul Evans on Saturday in Northern Ireleand.)
Link to 2006 Noctilucent Cloud Gallery, Link to 2003 NASA article with more background 

Chris Keeley

a selection of letters, journal entries, and personal essays by soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marin

This week, The New Yorker publishes a selection of letters, journal entries, and personal essays by soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines who served in the current war in Iraq. Here, five of the servicemen read from their work, accompanied by their photographs.


Click here to watch the slide show.


Watch the slide show. (30 minutes)

Chris Keeley

I think it's more than possible that these guys were totally tweaked out on speed or something when

Wife of Marine Says Troops At Haditha Were Likely On Speed
However the wife of one of the staff sergeants involved in the Haditha killings has told Newsweek that there was a total breakdown in discipline including drug and alcohol abuse within the Marine unit. She said "I think it's more than possible that these guys were totally tweaked out on speed or something when they shot those civilians in Haditha." 

Rumsfeld: “In Conflicts Things That Shouldn't Happen, Do Happen"
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has defended the training and conduct of U.S. troops and said incidents such as the massacre of Iraqi civilians at Haditha are anomalies.

  • Donald Rumsfeld: "We know that 99.9 percent of our forces conduct themselves in an exemplary manner and we also know that in conflicts things that shouldn't happen, do happen."

Pentagon Makes It Official Policy to Ignore Geneva Conventions
The Los Angeles Times is reporting the Pentagon has decided to make it official policy to ignore a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment” of detainees. According to the paper, the Pentagon’s new Army Field Manual on interrogation marks a further and potentially permanent shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards. For decades, it had been the official policy of the U.S. military to follow the minimum standards for treating all detainees as laid out in the Geneva Convention. But, in 2002, Bush suspended portions of the Geneva Convention for accused members of Al Qaeda and Taliban. Critics said the Pentagon’s latest decision would violate a broadly supported anti-torture measure advanced by Sen. John McCain to ban torture and cruel treatment. The Los Angeles Times reports the move to officially ignore parts of the Geneva Convention was supported by Vice President Dick Cheney's office and by the Pentagon's intelligence arm. Sources said Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington and Stephen Cambone, the Defense undersecretary for intelligence, claimed the Geneva Conventions restrict the United States' ability to question detainees. 

Activists Declare UN Conference on AIDS A Failure
A major United Nations conference on AIDS called on the international community to raise as much as $23 billion a year in order to be able to ensure universal access to prevention, treatment and care by 2010. The summit's final declaration called on countries to commit to a wide range of prevention strategies, including abstinence, fidelity, condom use, and clean needles. While the United Nations declared the summit a success, a group of AIDS groups criticized the international body for not doing enough. The group Actionaid International said in a statement, "We are furious. Vulnerable groups such as intravenous drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men have been made invisible in this document."

25 Years Ago Today: The Discovery of HIV
Meanwhile it was 25 years ago today, June 5th 1981, when a California doctor named Michael Gottlieb published a brief report about the first diagnosis of the HIV virus. Since then 25 million people have died of AIDS. An average of 8,000 continue to die each day.

  • Dr. Michael Gottlieb: "In the first few years after I reported my cases of AIDS I felt like the people on the rooftops during Katrina waving, shouting, screaming, begging for help and it did not come. When it came eventually it came with all these strings attached. You must have abstinence instead of condoms. You don't get enough medication to treat the people you need to treat who are indigent. Our government has had a colossal failure in responding to the AIDS epidemic."
Chris Keeley


Gabriella Cseh's photographs are traditional in the literal sense of the word, since they're black and white. However, in an abstract sense, they are anything but traditional.


Gabriella Cseh: Offshoot Gabriella Cseh: Offshoot

We might say, or rather, I might cautiously say that these pictures are mischievous, they are winking at us. There are moments when they are clearly laughing, but it's all the same. Joyous and somber. Modest and suggestive, capacious and narrow, but these too are all the same. In no way, or semmiképp, is there anything unusual about the locations where the pictures have been taken. Instead what's unique is the person who took these, who, even while capable of showing a thousand faces, remains the same. Wild and quiet, provocative, still, and restless, mature and child-like. Her pictures, however, are composed and coincidental, they are deft." 
Chris Keeley

His bootlegged museum, partly reassembled, has been traveling the United States.

A photograph from "The American War" showing three children who were affected by Agent Orange.

White Columns, New York


the artist Harrell Fletcher saw the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, a memorial to what the Vietnamese call the American War. He was so struck by it that he went back with a digital camera to photograph on the sly everything there.
Chris Keeley

possesses an extraordinary richness and individuality without peer in Surrealism."

vintage photographs by Hans Bellmer (1902–1975)

Hans Bellmer: Petites Anatomies, Petites Images,


Hans Bellmer: Petites Anatomies, Petites Images 

Hans Bellmer: Petites Anatomies, Petites Images, May 2 - July 28, 2006 at Ubu Gallery in New York, NY. "...Ubu Gallery announces an exhibition of approximately 70 small-format, vintage photographs by Hans Bellmer (1902–1975), whose overt influence on current art trends still far outweighs the recognition of his emotionally- and intellectually-charged oeuvre. The exhibition will present the earliest examples of Bellmer’s photographic output—specifically, miniatures created in 1934 in connection with the realization of the original German edition of Die Puppe and contact prints of images made between 1935 and 1938, which were considered for inclusion in Les Jeux de la poupée. Bellmer’s photographic activity was sporadic and his production was limited—no more than 150 different images (and within this group many just subtly varied)—yet it possesses an extraordinary richness and individuality without peer in Surrealism."