I suspect that many of us love parts of our job(s) but there are lots of things that are frustrating or irksome. At first I was surprised by Joel's response(s), but, it's not like we really know him anyway.
Apparently he is becoming frustrated with the lack of talent he can recruit. My observation and advice to him is that either he has to relent on the co-location thing in order to get good people in the (virtual) door, or he has to sacrifice on the quality of the people he hires. I know which one I would do and I have seen that model work. (hint - it is not the one about lowering standards of people)
Joel is competing with (what has been) some of the bigger and highest paying employers around - the financial industry. Perhaps now he is not, but I suspect most of the people in that world (or who recently belonged to it) are not interested in writing a defect tracking system or a remote control help app or some other webby type application. The people want to work on harder and more interesting problems - and in an industry where millions of dollars flow in matters of minutes or seconds.
Personally, I'd like to work at fog creek, but I have no interest in either moving to NYC or commuting the 90 minutes each way from my little slice of suburbia.
I recently began to wonder why Joel is so interested in people who have learned C, C++, Scheme (all the stuff I cut my teeth on) but his company uses technologies like VB in daily activities. The people he wants to hire (at least from my experience) have an aversion to that sort of stuff. They WANT to work on hard problems and from what I see of Joel's stuff it is not that technically interesting.
So perhaps we can forgive Joel his seeming cruelty and advice to suck it up.
I sometimes love my job (not my day job tough - just the two side/freelance/startups I am working one) and many times I can't stand some of the work I do and the people I work with and the ridiculous policies and bosses. Again, I suspect I am not alone in that. How else can yo explain the near universal acceptance, appeal, rejoicing and identification with Dilbert, office space and the office?
Life would be great if we all were as smart, talented and productive as Linus or Edsgar or Anders, but we're not and that's ok. At times we aspire to do great things and sometimes we actually do them. Other times we just want to get through the day.
I'm just hoping I don't waste so much time on stack overflow tomorrow so I can get some work done on my business plan.