The 'wee green dot' is now huge. Is this meant as an enhanced anti-cheat mechanism?
I vote for the return of the spinning stars. I will never get there myself, but those who have deserve this badge of site devotion.
On the plus side, despite the loss of screen real-estate, I do like the slightly bulkier look of the icons and column headers. Much easier on my aging eyeballs. And it may be my imagination, but site response seems a bit snappier.
Russ, given the amount of time people have spent on things like Greasemonkey scripts and firefox plugins to enhance and change the site, have you ever considered simply making the whole thing skinnable? It'd be a bit of upfront work but would be a good way to let you focus on function and leave the appearance up to individual tastes.