I totally agree with all that, and that's partly why I use Slackware almost exclusively. It's the only distro I know of that stays out of my way when it comes to application software (I'm listening to music playing in XMMS 1 and typing this in Opera 10 beta). It also rarely patches upstream, so issues like this and the openssh fiasco just don't happen. If upstream were responsible for something like that, well that would affect all distros anyway.
Also, I subscribed to lwn just for this article :)