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I agree with Jonathan. If I were designing a language from scratch,
and I wanted it to have something like assignments, then I would
probably use references instead and leave out assignments. I think
removing SET! from Scheme is too big a change, so I don't have that
option when designing an improvement to Scheme.
Faced therefore with a choice between assignments by themselves or
assignments together with a second mechanism for references, I prefer
assignments by themselves. I think it would be silly to have two
separate mechanisms whose capabilities are nearly identical.