Hot on Fire Island

The financial crisis has left many watching their wallets more carefully, apparently including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.

The Massachusetts Democrat caused a scene when he was a denied a $1 senior citizen discount for a ferry fare to Fire Island Pines, according to the New York Post gossip column "Page Six."

The story said Frank was denied the discount because he did not have the required Suffolk County, N.Y., senior citizens ID. The Post quoted a witness saying, "Frank made such a drama over the senior rate that I contemplated offering him the dollar to cool down the situation." The story was picked up by the Boston Herald, which reported that Frank's office said the whole affair was overblown.

"It's hard to imagine Barney fighting anyone over a dollar," Harry Gural, a spokesman for Frank, said in the Herald account.

In My Day …

Ben Bernanke can now find sympathy, not with a fellow regulator, but with Stephen Strasburg, the rookie sensation who pitches for the Washington Nationals.

The Fed chairman isn't picking up a glove, and the 22-year-old Strasburg is too busy wowing major league crowds to control interest rates. Instead, the two could commiserate over being targets of rebuke from one Jim Bunning.

The Republican member of the Senate Banking Committee from Kentucky, well known for putting Bernanke through the fire at hearings, lit into Strasburg last week after he was scratched from his scheduled start moments before game time over a shoulder injury.

Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher before entering politics, had been one of the more than 40,000 fans to snap up tickets to see Strasburg Tuesday, only to be disappointed by his no-show. The home team won, but that didn't stop Bunning, who had seen Strasburg pitch four previous times, from mocking the young pitcher.

"Five hundred twenty starts, I never refused the ball," Bunning, 78, told Politico. "What a joke!"

The newspaper said Bunning grabbed his shoulder in a sarcastic gesture and said, "My arm!"

"He was in the top one percentile," Bunning said, according to the newspaper, adding that he is now closer to the 50th percentile.

Gosh Darn It!

Even if we can't prevent the next financial crisis, at least it may involve fewer F-bombs.

That was the hope, anyway, after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. instituted a ban on profanity in e-mails and other electronic messages.

The new policy came months after Goldman was accused of selling an intentionally defunct product to benefit a hedge fund trying to short the housing market. The allegations of malfeasance were exacerbated at an April Senate hearing with Goldman executives where lawmakers kept referring to an e-mail in which an employee of the firm had called the product a "shitty deal."

"You knew it was a 'shitty deal.' … Should Goldman Sachs be trying to sell a 'shitty deal'?" Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said to one witness.

The cleaner e-mail policy was reported in The Wall Street Journal, which said the plan is "being enforced by screening software." The newspaper said other Wall Street firms had already instituted policies to make employees less potty-mouthed, including Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

But the Goldman policy apparently may need some clarification over what exactly constitutes forbidden language. The article said: "The new edict — delivered verbally, of course — has left some employees wondering if the rule also applies to shorthand for expletives such as 'WTF' or legitimate terms that sound similar to curses."

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