A parting shot: here's an 18 page technical paper from Adobe's website on non-destructive editing which may appeal to your software engineering side: http://www.adobe.com/digitalimag/pdfs/non_destructive_imaging.pdf
In addition, I understand your concern about corrupt catalogs (databases). With Lightroom there is an option to store the editing commands in the image file's xmp space (which is a separate sidecar file for raw image files), as well as in the catalog. LR also has a robust catalog checking and backup capability.
Thanks Mark, a very interesting read and I am now even more enlightened, however I think the paragraph at the bottom of page 13 sums me up quite succinctly "Catalog-based non-destructive editing, however, is counterintuitive at first for many photographers. Until one understands how it works, moving between software programs can be mysterious and frustrating, and work might seem to disappear in the handoff..."
I know I should persevere with Lightroom as I know I am probably missing something good and the parametric editing thing was tempting me back for yet another go at it, but I just couldn't see how it was a benefit for any output files over any other software - which I still can't by the way, yes I know it allows you to tweak a non destructive view of the file ad infinitum, but the pixel crunching that goes on during output is the same as the pixel crunching in any other output I still believe.
But I think the deeper issue for me I am now realising, is being of the old DOS command line mentality, where I suppose I have become just a bit too much of a control freak with all the files on my computer, whereby I like to see and have access control over all
the files, including all the hidden and system files. I also like to move my image files around and delete or duplicate them as and when I see fit and hate it when a program loads without me asking it to do so, or tells me something in my image filing system is no longer correct and needs updating and I will just have to wait until it has done its thing - didn't Vista used to do this kind of thing and didn't we all hate Vista? I also dislike having LR load the moment I put my CF card into the drive and wanting to suck my files into a folder of its choosing and naming, which again I am sure I could change in the settings if I cared to dig around. It just comes down to it that for me at least, LR is just too much of a nag and a nanny, yes it might be the best thing since sliced bread for every other photographer on the planet, but I am obviously too stuck in my ways to allow it to take the control it wants over my PC, unless
it gives me back something amazing over and above PS and as yet I am still to be convinced that it would.
So as I said - I think it is best to consider me a lost cause on this one