Is the BYO issue out? I don't subscribe and never heard any feedback after sending the article in.
I don't like cold steeping spices in beer (adding them in the secondary like dry hops). I find it often has a raw or dusty flavor, and can pull out tannins. If steeping cold, I'd go the vodka route. If hot, make a tea.
If you cook, think about how spices taste differently if they've been heated or not. If you were making a curry, would you add your spices first and bloom them in the oil, or would you sprinkle them on at the end? How different do you think it would taste?
Personally, I don't like the raw taste of spices, so I try to bring them out with heat. Not too much; just enough that they give up their best aromatic and flavor qualities.