Ach, far too many posts to respond to in detail! So a summary.
1) I think that the idiosyncracies of computer arithmetic are irrelevant to the
idea of "intuition". You can look at programming languages either in the
context of a particular implementation on a given machine or just as a language
on its own. I think that statements about intuitiveness are made wrt to the
latter case and people are not assuming particular implementations. However,
the first question I would ask about a program in a given language would be
about the environment in which it was to run as that would tell me about all
the baggage I needed to bring. But you can have the discussion baggage free.
2) I don't believe that I have fallen foul of overflows or other arithmetic
traps frequently - I simply don't write programs that use numbers that fall
into the ranges where overflows are possible, nor do most people in my
experience. I avoid using floating point when I can as there are far too many
issues with that, but equally the number ranges I deal with are not a problem
anyway. The last time I encountered a problem of this kind that I can recall
was many years ago (and in someone else's code) and was to do with the fact
that char was signed on a PDP-11 and they were using extended character sets.
The existence of a small number of high profile errors that are all very well
known indicates to me that the problem is much less severe in practice just
because these are high profile. Array bounds are a different matter.
3) I don't think I could design an intuitive programming language! A
programming language is a just another user interface and I don't think that
"intuition" makes sense in any user interface. Familiarity, as someone else has
said, yes, and the ability to generalise, both of which look like intuition but
are actually not. Nobody (sensible) claims that, say, French is more intuitive
than Chinese (and let's not get into Loglan v Esperanto.....).
4) My point about passion wrt languages is quite likely close to the idea of
intuition and I have never said that it is not worth investigating these things
- it's very important to investigate them as it tells us a lot about how we
should be designing things. But I am extrememly wary of the whole notion of
"intuition". Let's call it something else that is less contentious and then we
will all instantly agree. At least, that is my intuition.
(BTW if you haven't seen Objectified yet, do try and catch it somewhere or buy
the DVD which is out now)