I'll gladly agree with your "degrees of DRM" comparison. While I'd love to be able to both avoid DRM and play the titles I want to play (while supporting the developers financially), this works out to be impossible in practice. Personally, I've reached a compromise: Anything requiring online activation (especially with install limits) for physical media is right out. I'll accept online activation for downloaded games, as I necessarily had an active internet connection to acquire the game. Beyond that, I'll cut a game some slack if it seems especially compelling.
One such game was the new X3 game. I purchased it (boxed) in spite of the DRM for three reasons.
1) The developers promised to remove the DRM in a future patch.
2) The developers have made and kept identical promises on the prior titles.
3) The developers were providing assistance to those for whom the physical DRM failed (by providing an online activation version of the EXE, but that's better than nothing)
While I'd love to see DRM go away altogether, especially in single player games, I'll accept the gradual shift to less restrictive DRM for now.