|Do you know where your variables are?|
So, who are all these Monks who are using it? Last I checked there were >37K Monks; of these, a smaller number is active, but there are still lots of people out there using Perl.
You seem to be saying that Perl is little more than a Web language. While CGI was one reason why people used Perl, it wasn't the only one, nor was it the most important. Yes, Perl is being edged out by other Web-oriented languages, but these tend to be fairly limited in their uses. It's a niche, and perl is far too big to fit into it.
You say that a person who is new to Perl is confronted by a lot of ASCII. You run into this a lot - it's not unique to Perl. They're all a mystery when you're first starting out.
The objection to Perl being used mostly by amateurs is invalid. Again, this isn't unique to Perl, but applies to most languages I've ever seen. Of course, as an amateur, I may not see the *real* languages that the big boys use... Still, no language is immune from bad programming or amateurs.
If Perl really dies, it will be because something better has come to take its place. If that happens, then I'll reluctantly say goodbye to an old friend, and move on. But so far, I haven't seen anything come even close to what I value in Perl - ease of use, flexibility, freedom of choice, power, and - perhaps the single most valuable feature - CPAN. Most of the things I want to accomplish already have a module that does them, or that I can use as a start. I don't see this with other languages (they may exist - but I've never found anything like CPAN).
You made an interesting claim - that Perl needs to come up with something as easy to install as PHP or Ruby in Rails. I find that interesting, because I have never yet managed to get either of those installed. They are the *only* languages that I've had problems installing. PHP and RoR defeated me. Of course, I didn't really care about that, because I had Perl, and had little trouble getting it to work. I didn't bother to track down whatever I was doing wrong with PHP and RoR, and fix it. Not much incentive.
You referred us to "Code Complete" for advice on how to write better programs. This book is published by Microsoft Press. If their software is any indication of what the book will help me to accomplish, I'll pass. I'd be a whole lot more impressed if the publisher's parent company actually produced decent software, following their own guidelines.
I think Perl may be able to echo Mark Twain's response to finding his obituary published in the papers: "News of my demise has been greatly exaggerated".