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The variables +, -, *, and /

    You would be surprised.  I know people working on embedded languages who
    have either never had to use packages or have only gotten screwed by them
    and would prefer never to touch them again.

    I suspect that you will find that the majority of graduate students in AI
    using Common Lisp for their thesis project will not learn about even a
    significant fraction of Common Lisp's pitfalls before they complete their
    degrees.  They will have neither the time nor the inclination.

I guess I would be surprised.  Most of the grad students I've known
around CMU and MIT either go in and completely master their tools or
else they find out what they need and master that part.  But maybe these
places are atypical.  I grant you that some undergrads try to slide by
with the minimum competence needed to pass, but are we really designing
a language for those guys?

Anyway, if packages are really proving to be that tough for people, we
either need better training materials or else there are things in the
package system we need to fix up to make it esier to use.  Probably
both.  I don't think that the solution is to try to mess up the rest of
the language so that people can do embedded languages without using
packages -- we would basically have to take all the good names away from
Common Lisp in order to leave them free for other use.  The +*/-
characters are just the tip of the iceberg.

-- Scott