Some things to consider:
1) There's no BEST introductory language. You could say this is a fallacy. As for the opinions of you guys, and the article it's clear that everyone has his/her favourite option, which is quite logical.
2) Since I'm still in university, and learning as well, I could give my opinion on this. When I started we used pseudocode and diagrams to create and design the programs that later we implemented with Pascal. During the second four month period (that'll be a semester for you, I think) we learned Java (simple, almost without classes) and assembly (a virtual machine with only 4 instructions and then 8085 assembly). This is my third year, and since then we've learned C++ and a bit of C for an optional subject. Oh, yeah, I forgot, add Unix shell and VI control 'codes'
It's my opinion that Pascal is a good option for starters. You could also throw Delphi in the mix to help people understand classes and all the mess in a familiar language. Also, I feel that C++ should come before Java, but that's a personal opinion. I feel that classes and objects are easier to understand in C++ than in Java, and even then, I still have some problems (solved with some more time reading the theory and writing code)
3) Some simple languages (AutoHotkey, AutoIt, foobar's 'Tagz') are good options to immerse yourself into the programming world, but 'true' language are also needed.
4) The article is quite biased, and contradictory to boot. The guy uses Perl as its main language, and he also recommends it. Oh yeah, what an objective point of view. Then he says that universities like to use the hottest language available to teach people how to program, which is false (in my own experiences), and the he recommend Perl, Ruby and Python, which, incidentally, are the hottest languages around (Ubuntu is implemented in Python, even the kernel, the Internet runs on Rails, and Perl, well, it's Perl
I feel, that, just as it happens with real languages (English and such, ya know
), the more you know, the better. Oh, and I really don't recommend Visual Basic for learning anything. It's a really bad option