Thanks for letting me vent and the empathy. I would think that Yosemite would look to it's neighbor, ( Inyo Nat'l Forest ), and handle Half-Dome with a lottery system or something similar to what they do for the Whitney trail. The thing that irritates me the most, is the scalping of the tickets and people picking up more than they need...just in case. It wouldn't be as bad if they at least let you hike to the base of the cables without a permit and not the base of the sub-dome. At least there is a view once you get on the sub-dome and beyond and the people that decide not to use the cables would actually be able to give their space to someone who would like to go up.
I have the same frustrations with how they operate the JMT thru-hike permits. They need to make them %100 reservable, and give us more options for destinations. If you are hiking the JMT, it takes planning ahead, and if you don't know 24 weeks in advance to allow that time, then you might be out of luck.