Are you suggesting that "the" is syntactically singular? The other speakers of English will be quite surprised to hear this. In any case, while there has indeed been a shift from plural "United States" to singular, it was certainly not a rapid change caused by the Civil War: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1798
Good points. I took the comment about Leopard to be an implied comparison with Tiger, where running applications had a solid black triangle underneath the icon. I recall complaints when Leopard first came out that the light blue dot was harder to see.
You know, I hadn't thought about that. It's likely that presidential elections without an Electoral College would become more expensive by forcing the candidates to compete everywhere.
I still think we should get rid of the EC for the reasons GP suggested--why should the election be decided by a handful of voters who, by an accident of demography, live in swing states?--but the possible added cost of a direct election is a consideration.