Part of this past weekend's wifi debugging process.
Selecting 'manual configuration' in ketwork manager will cause the
wireless card to be ONLY configured manually: a list of available
wireless networks will no longer appear in knetworkmanager.
The fix is to remove all entries for the wireless card in /etc/network/interfaces .
In better news, the 2.6.24 kernel has the Intel wireless drivers for the r500 built-in.