|go ahead... be a heretic
To answer your side note:
pair Networks (who happen to advertise on this site) in my experience have been excellent. If you're a coder, you've got the freedom to do basically whatever you want, access to MySQl all that. If you're a non-programmer, or would rather not mess with it, they have forms for creating your mail recipes, cronning scripts, etc.
They've always been quick to respond to questions, their rates are reasonable, and they offer decent discounts for bulk purchases.
They also e-mail you if you forget to pay your bill, which has turned out pretty handy ;)
I've hosted 2 sites I've developed with them thus far, and have only had pleasant experiences.