We make it one of our working principles to not make major purchases on the spot.  It helps us out, curbing the spending impact and reminding ourselves that we can’t always get what we want.

But we do still shop, albeit slowly.  We’re currently keeping our eyes open for a camera with a long optical zoom.  We have 10x right now, and the camera is making funny noises, so we’re being alert but not purchasing.  We know that we want it small (not tiny, but not a monster), and we want that optical zoom.  We take lots of far pictures, and that would come in handy.  We don’t care so much for resolution – for us, what we have now is sufficient.  The makers sometimes feel a need to bump up that number, but without supporting systems (a bigger CCD to catch more light) the resolution is not needed.

Other people feel similarly – sometimes they don’t even want resolution.  I’m not talking about pinhole cameras here.  I just made the switch to politics in a very subtle way.

Think about it: How hard could it be to cap the oil spill in the Gulf?  (very hard – I’m not saying otherwise.)  It’s two months and counting.  And the government ordered a ban on all drilling in the Gulf (and just why was that again?), and it was then overturned.  The Court of Appeals declined to hear the case.  The feds barred oil skimmers on the grounds that they might not have the proper life preservers.  Huh?  And I’m not even touching on the media’s problems of bi-polar reception (“Welcome aboard!” “Go away or we’ll arrest you!”) or the travails of commercial fishermen waiting to receive their promised reimbursement.

Then there’s the health care debacle, that will continue to unfold across decades.  The latest brouhaha revolves around the 10% tax on tanning bed usage, and the fact that it disproportionately hits white people.  It’s true that very few blacks use the services of tanning salons, but that does not automatically make it racist.  It does leave open the question of why the tax exists at all.  Are we not a free people?  Well, no – this isn’t free – it’s costing all of us.  And now Social Security is running at a deficit, five years earlier than they had projected just a year ago.  Maybe that’s why the annual report on Social Security is two to three months late.  Hmmmmmm . . .

Next up is the finance reform bill.  Remember “no one will know until this is actually in place how it works”?  That sounds like – a whole lot like – “We’re going to play a game, and I’m going to win.  I will win because I can change the rules any time I want.”  In a kid, that can be fun (think of Calvinball).  In an adult?  Merely childish.

There’s the recent spy exchange with Russia.  The US apparently came off fairly good, at 2.5 Russian spies repatriated for each spy released.  Israel tends to get about 100-to-1 ratios in their prisoner exchanges.  So we’re not world class there, by a factor of 40.  The thing I find most interesting is that the people released from Russia (see first link) are all Russians.  Gennady, Igor, Sergei, and Alexander (that’s Mister Zaporozhsky, please).  I’m surprised that we don’t have any Americans there that should be released.  Or do we need to save up a hundred Russians to trade in for an American?

And finally I see the dismantling of NASA.  NASA is good, but not great.  It was hide-bound, but it was still America’s only link to space.  Private companies are working on replacing the functionality, and will get there someday, but aren’t there yet.  We have two shuttle launches left.  And then what?  The Director of NASA says that President Obama wants him to focus on inspiring children to learn math and science, expanding international relationships and

“perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.”

Right.  Space flight might make the top four, but it doesn’t make the top three.  More troubling: the news was broken to Al Jazeera first.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Obama has a lot more grey hairs than he did at election time.  After all, he has a lot of this country left to take over, one unresolved crisis at a time, before the 2012 election.