in reply to Perl as a first language
Perl is an awesome language. Probably my favorite to work in right now. But I can't help feeling that that's because I "paid my dues" with C and C++.
Think of it this way. You're learning to drive a stick. Do you want to start on a Ford Escort (yes, with the asinine "Shift" lights), or on a Ferrari Testarossa? Clearly, the Ferrari is a better tool for getting the job done (going places quickly and in style), but is it worth the risk of destroying the clutch or wrapping yourself around a tree, just to start with the best tool available to an expert? Like anything else, you need to know the fundamentals before you can excel at your craft. That's why there are beginner's tools and expert's tools.
Unix: Where /sbin/init is still Job 1.