@Ken; I never used usenet so I'm afraid we haven't met online before (wich is according to this discussion not possible anyway ;-) )
I do understand the emotions and feelings that you get when holding a negative. I recently started shooting 8x10 film. Big negative looks totally awesome. However what I do miss in this discussion is the fact that with digital everybody says it is not real because you need stuff to produce an image. However the same is true for analogue photography as well. With stuff you don't get a print or a negative.
Nobody will get a usable archivable negative straight out of the camera. Nobody and never. No matter how much you want it to be true. A latent image is not an image or photo or whatever. You can only let it become an image by putting it in developer and fixer first. In that respect digital is no different then analogue. (only digital uses different techniques)
The comparison with painters and people who draw is not valid either. Those people do not use light in the first place to capture a scene. They use a pen or pencil or paint. Analogue and digital use the same ingredients to form an image: Light, lens (or pinhole) and technique to get that scene onto paper( most of the time).
Side step if used technolgy defines the end result. Is an electric car really a car?