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*LaTeX is a real bitch when you need to do
*out of the ordinary stuff,
I agree completly with that assertion...
LaTeX is a set of macro and templates coded in TeX to make the work easier for your average LatEX user (who doesn't want to get deep into things). That's why LaTeX is so popular. People are satisfied with the standard defaults...
But, programming macros in TeX is easier that reprogramming macros in LaTeX.
this is why, I believe that the people that want a real tight control on what they type (well, me anyway)use TeX instead of LaTeX.
Why spend time learning TeX AND the LaTeX api if you want to change the LaTeX api anyway ?