udiskieThe answer is udiskie. Udiskie is large, about xxx MB, but it's better than having gvfs IMHO.
undoing gvfsWhich still leaves a problem. Nearly anything in gnome (for example thunar-volman) will install gvfs as a dependency, even if the app doesn't technically rely on gvfs. I assume the reason for this is gvfs is considered benign by most developers, or they want to use some of its hooks. The problem is of course that gvfs is not benign (noted above). Secondly, when gvfs installs, it routinely installs additional feature apps. Many of these, eg PAM, also cause permission conflicts. PAM is particularly hard to get off of one's system once it's been harkened. The real question then becomes not the alternative to gvfs, but what to do about gvfs and its friends once some application has inevitably and unfortunately installed them.
- get rid of .bashrc. Put all its regular commands for the terminal cursors and paths into .xinitrc