I thought the same until I drove Subaru's new CVT. It's not what you think it is. It also gets noticeably better gas mileage than the manual and the paddles are fun to play with.
I agree with Senor Gar, the CVT is not bad at all. Really wanted a manual, but for some reason, you can't get items like a sunroof with the manual transmission. So I too went with the CVT. Took some getting used to, but I'm quite happy with it now. But the paddle shifters? A gimmick one can pass on!
I too own a Miata, a 1993 like the original poster. Best shifting car I've ever owned.