Some people need a broader perspective. Consider this quote from Joel:

The claim that SOAP is bad because the wire format is ugly and hard is like claiming nobody should use Pentiums because their instruction sets are so much more complicated than the instruction set for the 8086.

So you need something to contrast with a Pentium instruction set and you come up with…the 8086? Yeah. That’s like looking for a contrast to Budweiser and coming up with Bud Light. Far from making Joel’s point or inspiring confidence in the breadth of his knowledge, the example leads readers – this reader, anyway – to wonder just how long Joel would sit in front of a freshly-installed Linux box wondering where the “Start” button is. Those who make a habit of preaching to others about technology should IMO know more than one OS, one instruction set, one type of programming. I’m beginning to wonder whether that’s true for Joel.

BTW, the fact that the x86 instruction set is an ugly mess is a problem, even though we have compilers to do most of the nasty parts for us. As an instruction set gets messier, it becomes exponentially more difficult for compilers to produce code that both behaves correctly (even in the more obscure cases) and performs well. Perhaps even worse, compiler writers who have to deal with messy instruction sets don’t have much time left over to implement generic higher-level optimizations or add new features. There are actually good arguments to be made for getting away from the Pentium instruction set; even Intel no longer executes that instruction set internally in either their current processors or the upcoming Itanic.