You've got to keep in mind what PHP (currently) stands for: "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor". Use it for that, and it's great, but try to make it do more and you run into trouble. IMO, PHP should be used in precisely those situations where nobody gives a shit if the code you write is any good or not, and by my reading, this was a valid point in the article.
The way I like to think of it, PHP is like Bash scripting for the web: an indispensable tool that's supported almost everywhere, useful for a quick and dirty (and sure, ugly) drop-in solution, but not a language you should "seriously develop" in. Once a project is complex enough that you need to think about how to organize your PHP files (esp. if it's real back-end PHP, not just HTML pages with functions) or manage dependencies and build processes, you've probably crossed a line and should be considering other solutions.
But on the other side of the coin, you shouldn't be thinking "Rails app" every time you need to add a hit counter and a "current time" display to a static web page, I don't care how much nicer code comes out in Ruby than PHP (and I love Ruby in comparison to PHP)...I'm getting the sense that many people here (nothing that you said, chc, indicates that, but many other comments on this thread seem to) would do exactly that, though, which is disturbing.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I truly believe that once in a while hastily flung together spaghetti code is exactly what's called for in certain situations, and PHP excels at making that very easy to whip together and push out the door.
And this, right here, is how you end up with some godawful clusterfuck of unmaintainable, throwaway spaghetti code that has become some poor fool's nightmare in a couple years. If it's worth writing, it's worth writing well. Otherwise, don't even fucking bother. Maybe this is what separates C from PHP. When Ritchie was creating C, do you think he had any idea it was going to be running the world's infrastructure in 20 years? Do you think he ever wanted to just hack it up real quick with some spaghetti code to get it working for his boss's current project? Sure he did, but instead he did the right thing. I can't imagine that Rasmus Lerdorf had more pressing concerns than the guys that were building the Unix operating system, and yet he decided it would be ok to take all kinds of shortcuts and hacky workarounds and poorly thought out design decisions when he was writing PHP. All of which have somehow permeated the language to such a point that you now have people actually defending bad code and critiquing the use of frameworks and admittedly "nicer" code!
> ...thinking "Rails app" every time you need to add a hit counter and a "current time" display ... I don't care how much nicer code comes out in Ruby than PHP ...I'm getting the sense that many people here ... would do exactly that... which is disturbing.
See, I don't find that disturbing at all. I find it reassuring. The two "simple" examples you give are a hit counter and current time. Sure, it's easy to write some PHP to increment a counter every time a page request is made. But what if it was hit from the same IP twice? And wouldn't you really like to know how long they stayed, and which links they clicked? Or maybe what country were they from and what page referred them? Hmm, maybe you shouldn't be writing a hit counter from scratch after all. At least displaying the time should be pretty simple. But wait, what if the user is in a different time zone? Did you account for daylight savings? What if the user wants a 12 hour clock instead of 24? Oh well, just hack something together real quick and I'm sure there will be plenty of time to fix it later on...