I thought that the idea was to allow users to write unicode
> strings directly in TeX (OK, this isn't much of an excuse
No, this is not the reason. Someone may want to do that one day so it
is good to keep the possibility in the back of your mind. The point
of this work is to decouple mathtext from the bakoma fonts. Right now
the mathtext data has a hard mapping from texnames->bakoma glyph info.
By setting up the encoding from texnames->unicode, then with a little
more work we can use any set of fonts that provide the unicode names.
Once we jettison bakoma, we can get nicer glyphs and kerning with a
decent set of fonts. Once we have that, we can work on the layout