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re: > FOO is a null function needed to prevent optimization.
    > (dotimes (i 10000000) (cons 1 2)) is optimized to:
    > (dotimes (i 10000000) nil) so:
    Why isn't it optimized to just NIL?

Conjecture:  it is an easy optimization to notice that a side-effect-free
function is being called in a place where no values are expected back (i.e.,
the call is only "for effects"); but it is much harder to have an analyzer
for tagbodies which usefully notices that they "don't do anything".

-- JonL --