I don't intend to spend the evening flame-warring with you. However, I will respond exactly once.
I've used it on many machines (too many to remember or count) since it first debuted in Fedora... whatever it was. 7? And I'm not kidding. There has always been *some* problem that prompted me to uninstall it. The first time through it immediately locked up all the remote X desktops at the client site where I had done the upgrade that introduced PA. And the problems continued, year after year.
Granted, over the last year or two I've taken to just uninstalling it immediately after installation. I did not do so on my new Scientific Linux 6.1 desktop... and sound in totem-plugin didn't work at all... until I uninstalled pulse.
"Firefox doesn't and I don't know how to use mplayer's"
Firefox should probably provide a volume control for its HTML5 video, if it doesn't already. Certainly Totem, VLC, and Mplayer plugins do. As well as the all-important Flashplayer. I can't say as I've noticed the Firefox issue since there is so little HTML5 streaming media available now. There's Youtube HTML5 beta. But it still doesn't work well enough to use on an every day basis.
"I haven't seen an audio chip with hardware mixing since my Asus A7V880 broke."
What color is the sky on your planet? I haven't seen a motherboard in years that didn't provide hardware mixing. Uninstall pulse, and I'll bet your current Mobo will mix just fine. Don't just buy the the PA propaganda uncritically. Try it for yourself.
"It's obvious that these problems are caused by the audio driver, not by PulseAudio. In fact, most PulseAudio-related problems could be traced back to driver bugs."
And yet I uninstall PulseAudio, and without exception, sound works perfectly fine. A very strange series of audio driver bugs, indeed. They only ever affect Pulse Audio.
"This is, again, totally useless. Where's your source?"
That information came from a talk given by Scott. It's available online. I spent a bit of time looking for it. But like I say, I'm not about to waste excessive time this evening arguing with an obvious Poettering fanboy over trivialities.
You want to suffer with his crapware? It's certainly no skin off my nose. Go right ahead.