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
Nope, "pain" is is not used as slang for "money" in French. The use of "bread" to mean "money" in English comes from Cockney Rhyming Slang, where "bread and honey" == "money".
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.
Only the music stations are commercial-free. The talk/news/sports stations have always had commercials.
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.