Ah, one of life's minor nuisances finally solved:
;; Remove the annoying text that populates the ;; *scratch* buffer on start-up
(setq initial-scratch-message nil)
Yep. When all else fails, RTFM. Chapter 39, Section 1.1, to be precise: "Summary: Sequence of Actions at Startup".
This was one of those problems that bugged me every time, but since it didn't present that often, only took a few seconds to clear (albeit each time), and seemed like the sort of thing that begins a snipe hunt, I'd always postponed looking for a way to address it. You'd think I'd know better by now.
Welp, to the list of never-fail advice that can be summed up in four letters, add JFGI.
I realize the intersection of the set of people who use Emacs and the set of people who don't already know how to do this is near
nil null, but thanks for reading, anyway.
• Thanks also to Max Design for CSS styling tips on the <abbr>tag.