Some research at http://www.jguru.com/faq/view.jsp?EID=150 suggests that my first call is not thread-safe but the second one is. I'm looking for confirmation of this, since I can't find anything to suggest this in the relevant specifications.
Since it is the responsibility of the servlet container to call init, you are guaranteed that only one Thread will be calling it in a given servlet instance. However, it is your problem to understand the behavior of SomethingElse.getMyObject. Bill