Booooo! It is I, the ghost of Herman Ulysses Zweibel, founder of The Onion, or, as it was originally known, The Mercantile-Onion. Booooo!

Normally, my wraith is cursed to wander the Earth chained to a printing-press. But lately, I have found work in a series of educational "film-strips" for schoolchildren on pioneer America. I enjoy telling the little shavers tales of my rugged life on the frontier and am awed by the "film-strip" invention itself. I thought the apex of ingenuity was the breech-loading rifle, but I now must amend this opinion. However, I do find the piercing chime that cues the teacher to advance the "film-strip" to the next image quite disconcerting.

Although I am but a ghost, I still take an interest in the news-worthy events of the present day, and, just as in the days when I was a strapping young news-paper editor on the frontier, I am often inspired to alert others to threats against our democracy. For example, it shocks me to learn that the Republic of the United-States does not find it necessary to protect its sea-men against the ruthless maraudings of the pirates of the Barbary Coast.

Yes, President Jefferson sent some of our sturdiest man o'wars to Tripoli to wage battle against the scurvy dogs, and a peace treaty was signed in 1806. But it is at this juncture that we should be most vigilant, as the Barbary corsairs are unscrupulous and could lash out against us with nary a warning.

I tried to alert my son and heir, T. Herman Zweibel, of this threat to the Republic, but as I appeared above his bed, he merely screamed and fainted.

It is just like that wastrel to spend all his time lollygagging in bed when a fleet of Barbary frigates could drop anchor in New-York harbor at any time! T. Herman has always been a burden: He could not wait to drop out of my wife's womb, even though she was in the middle of spring ploughing, and he has been causing trouble ever since.

Perhaps it is just as well that he fainted when he did, for it meant he couldn't dictate his column for this week, and that I could take over the space to warn of the imminent pirate attack. Citizens! Lock away your valuables! Oil your muskets! The Barbary pirates are nigh!