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I never really understood how anyone expected to have a sensible debate on "thing" vs "anything that isn't thing" (I realize "NoSQL" is somewhat better defined than that, but not by much).

Agreed. The more meaningful debate would be "relational" v. "not relational", albeit marginally (swapping "not relational" for something more specific like "document" or "key-value" would be even more meaningful). There are indeed relational databases that are technically "NoSQL", like Mnesia.

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