> But I *can* get a handle to the entire activation record, and then eval 
> code which manipulates 'a' directly.

And I should add, this is a feature to be used highly sparingly - 
perhaps if you were writing a debugger, say. PLEASE don't ever write 
code like this:

  def swap(var1, var2, b)
    eval "#{var1}, #{var2} = #{var2}, #{var1}", b
  end

  x = 20
  y = 5
  swap("x","y",binding)
  puts x
  puts y
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