I found this thread while searching for a way to at least configure this menu bar... unfortunately it looks like the whole thing is embedded in the ROM and the only way to hide it is to patch the ROM and/or completely replace it (thanks for the links in the thread).
I fully agree with the OP on a lot of his rant. This is an awesome peice of hardware that comes out of the box with some insanely bad software. I'm still deciding on what launcher to replace the stock version with, but so far both Go and Launcher Pro are tons faster, more configurable, and better looking than the laggy default version that doesn't even let you use the full display.
The status bar menu is kind of a nice idea, but the execution is terrible. If I could configure what apps and quick commands I wanted on the menu and easily hide it, it would be a great feature.
But as it is, the choices of what to put there seem really bizarre. I can't for the life of me figure out why "screen shot" was deemed important enough for most users to justify space on an "always on" menu. I have to routinely go delete unwanted screenshots taken by accidentally brushing that menu option.
The choices of what to put on the quick launch app menu are even worse. Holding the "home" button on the main menu for a couple seconds pops up the task manager so why do I need a whole other button dedicated to pulling up this app? The world clock is just plain terrible compared to other clock apps. The calander is alright, but there are better widgets out there that serve the purpose better than a quick launch menu. The memo and calculator are again terrible and need to be replaced by 3rd party apps so you should be able to replace them on this menu too. The music player is the only one of the apps that serves my purposes, but again there are better 3rd party apps and you should be able to configure what is on a system wide quick launch bar.
From the perspective of an average consumer the out-of-box experience is fairly poor due to the OEM software rather than the hardware or system software. It should be easy for a user to fix this with simple market based apps and configuration options rather than having to apply warantee voiding ROM patches and rooting the OS. Allowing OEM's to "lock" bad software is a really bad policy. If an OEM wants me to use their software, they should develop or license best in class versions of those apps rather than locking the software on the system and forcing me to root the system to get rid of poor quality software.