It's come up before, but it had been so long that I had nearly forgotten it. "It" is the serious permissions lockdown after installing Oracle RDBMS >= 9i. Someone brought it up on the MADLUG list earlier this year, and I vaguely remembered that it was fixed in Oracle 10g 10.2.0.2. What I had forgotten was that it was fixed in the form of a script that needed to be run post-install.
I should say "fixed" because it's only a problem if you want non-oracle/oinstall users to use utilities like sqlplus locally. Not totally unheard-of by any means, but some people really lock down their servers, and would prefer the tight perms.
Anyway, the script is $ORACLE_HOME/install/changePerm.sh, and it will loosen things up for normal OS users.