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I haven't decided that we can or can't or should or shouldn't, but I felt like
flaming anyway, so I'll respond to a few of your points.

    Date: 27 November 1979 16:24-EST
    From: Alan Bawden <ALAN at MIT-MC>
    To:   KMP
    cc:   BUG-LISP
    Re:   Base-10

    3) I find that I am more often concerned with the bit pattern of a number
    than with the pure magnitude.

That depends on who you are, of course.

    4) Octal is a more rational base than decimal anyway.

So let's convert to Octric (base 8 units of measurement).  That's really the
right thing, you know.  The number of fingers we have is really a stupid way
to choose your default base.  And besides, if you ignore your thumbs, you've
got something to use to point to your base-8 digits!  What I'd really like to
see is the flushing of two of the 3 bases in common use.

    5) I have never seen any new users screwed by octal, or even seriously

You need to watch more beginning users.  Even I get screwed by it regularly.

    (more often they can't understand the difference between CONS and APPEND or

Definitely true!  But irrelevant.

    There is nothing really obscure about octal, we are all introduced to
    alternate bases fairly early in our education these days (or should be).  A
    fast poll of those in the room with me indicates that most people were so
    educated in grade school if not sooner.

True.  It's the "unexpected" aspect that gets people.  I haven't had to explain
what base 8 was to more than a couple people.

    6) This seems to be a fairly late date to change something so fundamental
    to the basic user.  I'm sorry, none of the recent changes really change the
    default environment (I'm against turning # and " on by default.)

Better late than never?

Certainly I agree that we should not change # and " at this time.  However,
with clear repeated warning that it will eventually change, and the print
syntax changing soon, the syntax could eventually be changed moderatly
painlessly.  No predictions on how long it would take.  I do think the world
would be better for it.

What do you think about LISP supporting ;-*- BASE:10 -*- ?