Ticket Scalping should be federally illegal

I am the last guy to call upon government to stick it's nose in private business, but something must be done about this.  As a long time fan of live music, i can tell you first hand that online ticketing services are extremely broken and that i wouldn't be surprised to find out that places like Ticketmaster allow scalpers to "cut in" on online sales(i hate to sound like that conspiracy theorist guy). Taken as an example from my favorite band, Phish, who just announced their fall tour.    Now Phish is by no means a Mainstream band, but they continually show up on "top grossing tour bands" lists year after year when they tour. They have a dedicated fan base that will travel hours upon hours to see them play, and i am one of them.  Just in 09-10 i drove a total of 16 hours to see them ( 6 hours to their reunion show in march, 6 hours to philly last fall, and 5 hours this past summer to see them in Hershey PA), and i was ready to drive 7 hours this october.... 
 
People who follow me on Giantbomb probably noticed my status messages about trying to get tickets for their Halloween weekend  Shows in Atlantic City. Allow me to weave you a tale of tragedy and despair. 
 

First i would like to relate something that has been dubbed the "over 15 minute wait shuffle".  What happens is this,  your tickets go on sale at 10, you click the button to confirm your order, fill out your  captcha, and you load  up the "waiting in line" page.  This is exactly what happened to me, i was "in line" by 10:00:30, i was told my wait would be 15 minutes, i started praying...it told me my wait was down to 10 minutes, down to 7, then magically, my wait is back up to 15. Now yes, the times are approximations,and there is no way to truly know how many people hit their order button at precisely the right time, but it still smells fishy to me. Also, its happened to so many people, its hard to imagine that its just being "too slow". I have heard at least 100 stories online of people that had the exact same problem, "its like ticketmaster just decided i wasnt cool enough to get tickets".   My friend had 3 computers going trying to get the same tickets, and i had 2 going, none of us got any tickets. I've heard stories of full rooms of 20 or more people trying to get tickets, and not a single one scoring. What are the chances?  You can say its extremely unlucky but  i personally think something foul is afoot.  Actually i kinda lied, my friend got through on his one computer twice, only to have the site tell him his order failed and to try again. 
 
 2ndly, 3 minutes after the tickets for the weekend  went on sale, they were already up on places like stubhub with price ranges from 300-2000 dollars for a 70 dollar ticket. By my quick tally, there are 478 tickets available on stubhub(not counting other ticket resale site, tickets on ebay, etc)  for the Halloween show, a small portion when you consider the venue holds about 14,000, but still enough that it makes you think "how the fuck do they pull this off?".  If you take that number and multiply it by the 3 day weekend,  thats 1,434 tickets that went to people who have no intent of going to any show the whole weekend, and never did.   Is it that hard to imagine a reality where TM turns a blind eye to scalper-bots and computer farms, and captcha-cheating code, because they dont care where the tickets go, as long as they get service fees? Hell, maybe they are even recieving a kickback from places like stub-hub who thrive on scalpers ability to score seats(since sites like stub hub  add a fee on top, making buyers pay more, and taking a cut from whatever profits each seller makes).
 
Now you might be saying,  "well, its supply and demand, isnt it? if people wouldn't pay those exorbitant prices for the tickets, the scalpers never would try", or maybe you are even thinking "ahh, capitalism at its finest, buy low, sell high",  Well sir, if you think either of those things, you are an asshole.  Allow me to explain my theory, a Ticket to an event is not a "Good" per-say, its a service.  
 
 A ticket is like a contract between the buyer and the event organizer/promoter, a contract that allows you to enter the venue, the purchase of a ticket is your and the organizers signatures. You cant resell a service or a contract, I cant erase my name off the dotted line of a job contract and give it to my friend. Or resell my job to someone else, well, i could, but i ensure you, my employer would never give me another contract.  In plain english, a scalper doesn't have the right to grant me access to a show he's not an organizer of. As an easier example, say i am at a nightclub, and the owner for some unbeknown reason invites me into the VIP room.   I can't turn to my friend and say,  
 
"hey bro, i dont feel like going into the VIP room, but if you pay me 100 dollars i'll let you in".  I simply don't have the right to grant my friend access into the VIP room.  
 
Also , people who say "its capitalism at its finest" are just plain jerks, scalpers make nothing of value, they simply use strong-arm mob tactics, and sneaky programming to create their own demand for tickets that otherwise all the demand would be taken care of by the original sale of the tickets.   If scalpers didnt eat up 400 tickets(probably more) to each show, there would be little to no 2nd market demand for tickets, because most everyone that wanted tickets could get them.  If i was a doctor, i couldn't  get away with walking around town breaking peoples kneecaps with a tire-iron then offering to cast up their leg for 1000 dollars.
 
"But what could you do, scalpers have always existed", this is where it gets tricky, but as a start, places like Ticketmaster could start actually giving a shit, and investigating. If someone is buying 5 orders of 3 tickets on the same credit or debit card, isn't that a little suspicious?  Think about this, the most you could order for one night of the halloween show was 2 tickets per order, but somehow, some people on Stubhub are offering 8 tickets, how does that work? Simply put, if someone is ordering 4 orders of 2 tickets on one card, those orders should be invalid. It's what phish does in their lottery pre-orders, you can't put more than one order in on one card if you do, your order priority is put low, or your orders are straight up canceled, why cant TM do the same? Oh, because no matter how much they talk about how "Scalping is bad" and "We try to stop it" they don't care at all, as long as they continue to rape whoever is buying the tickets with 7-13 dollar services charges, they are making their money.  If the federal government made scalping illegal, sites like stubhub could be shut down, and people couldn't charge a 300-500 percent increase on face value on ebay.  Im not saying you shouldn't be able to fairly resell your tickets to friends or other fans if you cant go for some reason, but there is no way that there should be commercial enterprises based around the principle of holding down music fans and fucking them in the ass.

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Comics Reader on PSP

The  Digital Comics reader for PSP is a pretty nice little application. The menus are slick and easy to navigate. It is easy to keep tabs on your collection, how many new comics you have, how many you have total. Each tab has numbers telling you right from the main "collection" menu. A Bookmark feature lets you mark pages if you need to pick up later, or if you simply like a piece of the art.  But there are 2 very nice features i would like to talk about the most. 
 
First of all, you can play any music on your psp while reading comics. Nice, finally sony gives us an app on the psp we can use while listening to music. Maybe this means in the future browsing websites while listening to music.  The only thing i dont like about the music player built in is that there is no fast forward or rewind, but everything else is smooth. Notification boxes pop up and give you song title, and artist. Oddly, my live Phish tracks do not pop up notification boxes. I dont know if this is because the songs are in a seperate folder or just a character limit but no big deal the songs play fine. 
 
The 2nd is the way it "reads" the comics, it zooms the screen in on each panel, and pans across.  So that if there is a character across a panel, you see them first, and it will pan across/up to words. In the comic i bought, Astonishing X-Men #1 it did a lot of neat things like showing a word as a full panel then after i hit the next zooming out to show art for that panel. After you are through a spread it shows you both pages, allowing you to look around or go to the next page. 
 
 Overall, a pretty neat little app, and as long as Marvel keeps updating, i will most likely keep buying(DEADPOOOLLL), every once and a while at least.  It seems like it could be a neat little program that will help me figure out what comics i should try and pick up for real.
 
Comic Prices so far are 1.99, with some 99 cent comics from publishers like archie comics. Disney has some kids comics up for free. Lets hope Marvel keeps updating along with all the other publishers. Also, lets start complaining to DC to sell their comics digitally so i can get some batman up on my psp.  
 
After looking through a bit more i realized there is one thing this app needs to make it perfect, making store purchases directly from the app, ala Rock Band, so i could download a comic and read it without needing to goto the store and come back.

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Interplay Countersues Bethesda

 I was Scouring Joystiq a few minutes ago and saw 2 interesting articles.  
 
Firstly,  Interplay may be counter-suing Bethesda  over a Fallout MMO. A user of the RagingBull(link to related forum post) forum claims he has a copy of the court documents. In summation, Interplay claims it sent an outline of a Fallout MMO to Bethesda before the April cutoff date. Also, Interplay is counter-suing, mainly accusing Bethesda of bullying Interplay, by withholding their approval of marketing materials related to the original games.  Also according to the post, Bethesda sent emails out to places like GameTap and Good Old Games, telling them that Interplay no longer had the rights to Fallout 12, or Tactics.  This is an interesting turn, Interplay is laying out a pretty interesting case if they can bring in the material to back it up.  The Forum post is actually a pretty interesting read.
 
 
Secondly,  I noticed right  below that article... CIVILIZATION COMING TO FACEBOOK!!!!   you heard me right, coming in 2010, a free-to-play, "Fully Persistent" , Civilization game coming to Facebook!,  the game's page on Facebook says they will be doing a closed beta soon...SIGN ME  UP!    

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Phish @ The Hampton Coliseum Fri, March 6th

As i listen to the show again(my ears are still ringing with bliss from being there), i realize I might have possibly seen the best Phish show to date, i know there are many to choose from, but the pure energy that was inside  "The Mothership" that night was amazing.  From wandering around the parking lot running into people selling goods, to standing in line talking with people about where me and my buddy were from, our jouney here,etc, etc, everything was positive. Actually, let me rewind a bit, as me and my friend first got into Virginia, we decided to stop at a rest stop to stretch, while eating some snacks and walking back to the car, a figure in the distance pulled off his sunglasses and approched us. We had  very nice disscussion, talked about where we were from, him pointing out my Steelers hat and figuring correctly we were from Pittsburgh, setting an omen for the day/night, "GO STEELERS",  "CHAMPS!",or simply "Nice Hat", with a coy grin was a sound i heard a lot. But, back to the show, everyone was extremely phriendly and it was by far the most positive concert experences i have had in my life. We stood in line at the gates for an hour and a half, waiting for the doors to open, talking to people, and buying beverages off of people walking by( 2 rum and cokes for 5 bucks, cant beat that!). I met a lot of entertaining people that i wish i could see more often, There were even people there from Japan...well..thats what the first show in 4 years will do, people flocked from across the country(and the globe) to take in this momentous occasion, and momentous it was.

The Setlist was amazing, i couldn't have asked for much more, Fluffhead, Divided Sky, Chalk Dust Torture, I Didn't Know, Oh-Kee-Pa Ceremony, Stash, Farmhouse, and thats just a few selections from the first set. By the 3rd song in i was dripping in sweat from dancing, but i couldn't help but keep going. By half-way through the first set, it felt like the collective energy of the band and crowd combined would blow the lid off of the Hampton Coliseum. Not one person was sitting in their seat, everyone was dancing and enjoying the great music. I was lucky was able to be so close to the stage, i was about "5 rows" of people back from the front for the first set, and for the 2nd i managed to weasel my way up 2 more "rows".  Seeing the expression on their faces while they were playing was amazing, they loved every second of it, as did the crowd. Trey was absorbed and Lip-Synching along with his guitar(as usual), Mike  bobbing his head, Page plinking away melodically on the keys, and Fish going crazy on the skins.  The First set clocked in around 2 hours and 10 miniutes(my math may be a bit off).

The Intermission was a godsend, i needed to use the restroom and i needed to sit  down, my legs and feet were killing me from all the dancing. I used this chance to grab some water for me and my buddy, and to buy a T-Shirt. We bought our water and sat down on the floor waiting for our chance to meld back into the crowd and prepare for the 2nd set. What a set it was, Tweezer, Theme From The Bottom, First Tube, Harry(HOOD!),Waste,and the Quintessential Phan Favorite, You Enjoy Myself. The Crowd goes crazy when Trey makes a minor flub and has to start over(gotta love fans who cheer your mistakes, lol).

Before i discuss the encore, let me talk about the the stage and arena set up.  The stage was set-up old school style, with the drum set on the right(from the crowd), Mike and Trey center stage, and Page set up to the left.  I was standing on the Page side, and was happy to cheer out every time the spotlight went on him. Lining the cieling of the Coliseum were many various-sized white balloons that had lights shone on them. 
 But now onto the Encore. for starters they came out with an acapella song, "Grind" off of Undermind, one of my sleeper favorite Phish tunes, I love the acapella stuff. Then They played "Bouncing Around The Room", and this is where the magic truly happened, at the 1 minute 20 second mark the bigger ballons drop from the cieling, and begin Bouncing Around the crowd. One slowly makes its way to the front, helped by the crowd(of course) wanting the guys to get in on the action, i'm sure. I watched this Balloon float slowly through the air to the stage, right at Page. The balloon floats gently to him, and (at the 2:08 mark on the recording,  you can hear the piano stop [Phish is letting people download these shows for free for a limited time at livephish.com, all you need to do is sign up]) Page and attempts to push the Balloon back to the crowd, but due to its large size all he can do is spin it perpetually above his head like a treadmill. Until it bursts, and the crowd goes nuts. 

 All in all, this was an amazing experence, the 6 hour drive both ways wasnt too bad, and the concert was well worth it. Now i just have to get tickets to the Pittsburgh show.
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World At War Map Pack DLC announced

Much to my supprise i found in my email a communication from Treyarch announcing a 4 map DLC pack for  WAW.

3 Regular Multi maps, and 1 new Zombie Nazi map


*From COD:WAW site*

Nightfire
In "Nightfire," players take to the streets of a war-ravaged Berlin with only the flames of the burning city to expose the enemy. 

Station
"Station" offers a bombed out underground train station littered with hidden passageways and destroyed subway cars. 

Knee Deep
"Knee Deep" takes place on the island of Peleliu in a once tranquil village turned chaotic Japanese command center. 

Verrückt (Zombie Asylum)
The fan favorite 4-player co-op Nazi Zombies Bonus Mode returns with "Verrückt," a terrifying Zombie asylum featuring more weapons, perks via the addition of Perks-a-Cola machines, electroshock defenses and the endless zombie horde. 

I AM EXCITED!  Anyone else???

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