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I agree with you completely.
We should be careful to define the error-checking behavior that this
function must meet. The one presently installed on the Lisp Machine
doesn't check if a list is too long NOR if a list is too short -- in the
latter case the variable is bound to NIL. However, it does signal an
error if it tries to CAR into an atom. I don't know whether this
behavior is intentional or a bug.
- From: "Scott E. Fahlman" <Fahlman@CMU-CS-C.ARPA>