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I just find all that engineering effort such a waste when it is optimizing Javascript of all things. I've seen a lot of arguments of why Javascript isn't "that bad" but few about why it is actually good when compared to comparable languages.

I see a lot of good coming out of building VMs for more dynamic languages than Java, but there seems to be movement in the direction of running away from writing pure Javascript (CoffeeScript/GWT/etc) that if you're going to build a JS VM you might as well define a strict subset of the language that will be optimized and let everyone target that when building VMs and languages.

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