So there is this: http://flourishlib.com/discussion/1/439/1370 -- which although would be useful... I would actually prefer if the primary argument to populate() were a custom data array.
In short, rather than using standard request super globals via fRequest, if the parameter is provided it looks for those keys on the provided array making something like the following possible:
$user->populate(array( 'first_name' => 'Matt', 'last_name' => 'Sahagian', 'column...' => 'Value...' ));
This is extremely useful for populating records internally after various forms of processing. It also adds for a nice clean way to add nicely namespaced request parameters that do not fall into the normal populateRelatedRecord() relationship conventions.
Would allow for form inputs with name="user[first_name]" for example... This is a nice simple way to override convention easily.