I really don't mind the changes that Michael has implemented over my last 4+ years here. I don't see one being significantly more effective in reaching the reader more so than the other.
Having the homepage displayed as it is now may be a good thing for actual viewer ship. Maybe Michael is seeing a trend that people are starting to spend 1, 2, 3+ days before returning and want to have the site set up to where they can easily see the top posts of the day/week/month.
The ads don't bother me. My eyes are conditioned to not even look at the colorful blocks of ads down the middle of the page and just focus on the content. Reddit has a similar list style homepage and it's viewers have a super low bounce rate and almost always return.
"One man with courage is a majority." ~ Andrew Jackson