on time, on budget, all functional ---- choose two.
Interesting observation. I will admit that I like Joel's articles. But, as to your comment, it really has to do with your own perceptions for the most part. I can't find the study, but I did some research on people's perceptions of e-mails that they receive, and one corresponding study showed that people misinterpret the voice of textual information (e-mails, blogs, texting) about 90% of the time. How they perceived the messages appeared to come from things such as their own mood, past experiences with the author of the message, and their own personal view on the world. (I apologize for not being able to find the study.)
So, while Joel may be talking down (he has to consider a relatively wide audience, too), your perceptions might be a reflection more of yourself.
To understand a program you must become both the machine and the program.