Thanks for the suggestions. To address them (I think I got them all):
I did not know linked brakes existed, although last night as I wrote this I had thought that would be neat if it did but thought of the complexities of just hooking both to the same control. I discounted it because of how you may want to apply uneven pressure between the two and knew that it would not be something I could wire up easily, knowing that there are proper systems that do this helps a lot. Combined with ABS that would be a good combination and solve a lot of the issues I thought might arise from such a system if I did it myself, even for "normal" riders.
I was reading up on the 2009 CBR600RR which has a system like this, although it appears that if you use the rear break, it will only engage the front if there is lockup which may not be what I want. Certainly more reading on this topic is required, but now that I know what to look for I can do that. The option on the 2009 CBR600RR (and 1000) is $1000, so it is not something that will break the bank, I expect other models with similar technology will be roughly similar in price. Who knows, the insurance deduction for having this might even pay for the upgrade after a few years
I am just guessing ABS gives a similar deduction to a bike as it does to a car.
Thumb levers are something I really dislike. I ride my dad's quad (all my mom will let him have after his accident about 40 years ago) and it has a thumb lever which I have a bit of an issue with.
I never really considered automatic transmissions much, although I had been told of them. My personal preference is a dirt bike/dual-purpose or a street bike. I discounted an automatic mostly because last I looked (which was long ago) none of these had automatics. Something also feels wrong about it
I also seem to recall now hearing someone mention long ago about an automatic clutch, where you still shift but there is no need for a clutch as that is taken care of automatically. I dont know if they knew what they were talking about, but remembering this gives me something else to feed into google to see what options exist. I know that in cars this type of arrangement exists, so the technology is certainly there - I just dont know if it is small and light enough to exist in a bike. Google should tell me.
As for working the hand levers with the same hand, the idea was that I would be able to work them independently or in conjunction with each other. That is why I was so concerned with being able to mount them close enough that I could grip both.
What I am thinking I might do when I return from Russia is get a 200cc dirt bike. Because of California's mandatory emission sticker law this is a green sticker only bike. That is fine, because I can ride it on the road around my property (which is green sticker suitable, private set of roads). This gives me terrain to practice on as well, some parts are paved, some are gravel, some are rutted, the list goes on. Its only a $1000 bike (new) so it is not a big deal if I dump it (other than pavement can be a bit hard). Its a whole different thing when the bike is 10-20+ times that cost. This also lets me see what works and what doesn't in a place where there is virtually no traffic (just the neighbors and there are not many of them). And I will always be able to take it camping once I have figured out how I can deal with it.
I can then take that knowledge, along with the information I now know to research, and get a bike I can ride on the street. Research alone is fine, but without actually doing it I may find that in practice something does not work as I think it should.