Hams were absolutely crucial because we could move in and quickly setup and operate additional equipment. I know times have changed....but every time I look at the state's disaster readiness plan hams would be needed again.
I think you are over estimating the ability of official channels to be ready to function on their own for weeks at a time.
OMG Look how crappy c++ is!
int x = 'a';
cout << x;
will print 97;
Seriously, just because a language doesn't function the way you are used to, does not mean that it is broken...
PHP is a shit language.
We have === for this...if you change your way of thinking a bit you can actually code more quickly with loose typing (and yes, still keep things secure). Most of the arguments around PHP are something like "it doesn't work like this other language I'm familiar with".
Most of the arguments in here relate to complaining about the issues with most large open source projects, e.g. function naming conventions...while PHP has major issues in this regard (most notably how parameter order always flops around myFunc(haystack, needle), myFunc2(needle, haystack)...etc.) From my experience these sorts of things crop up in libraries / projects all the time, it is not unique to PHP.
The language as a whole really does allow for rapid prototyping, and quick updates, and cross platform support. Read efficient and profitable.
Seriously, I am always baffled by everyone who starts ranting on how crappy PHP is. I have done mostly PHP development for 12+ years. I have yet to have a site hacked, or SQL injection exploited. It is a very solid language, it can be made VERY fast (JIT is also coming down the pipe out of the box in 6+). It lends itself to rapid prototyping and easy patching / testing. There is a module / plugin / snippet of code out there for pretty much everything. It will run on a windows server, a debian box, and CentOS pretty much the same.
Loose variable typing is not always bad thing, and you can always cast variables anyway:
$_GET['my_var'] = (int) $_GET['my_var'];
Ta-da! We definitely have an integer now!
I have written entire chat bots with raw socket connections in PHP...it can pretty much do everything...and do it quickly.