Jim and Huck, who once rescued themselves, now rescue polar bears.
By Will Driscoll
If Huck Finn and Jim were alive today, one day Jim would say “Huck, we know how to help those polar bears that are drowning because their ice floes are disappearing.” And Huck would say “Sure, Jim, a raft! With GoPro so we can watch them hunt!” And they’d get to work.
Nowadays Jim and Huck, who always loved building things, would naturally be engineers. In a snap they’d calculate the size of a raft needed to support polar bears. They’d direct skeptical friends to a video of walruses sunning themselves on rafts anchored near San Francisco’s Pier 39. They’d choose softwood logs over hardwood, for superior flotation even when waterlogged.
Being creative types, Huck and Jim could imagine lots of different ways to tie softwood logs together into a raft. Rope—tried and true since their Mississippi River days—might still be the best choice. Or maybe hefty bolts, u-bolts, or rebar through holes drilled in the logs. They’d consider whether to anchor their polar bear raft, or keep it in place with a solar-powered electric motor and a GPS guidance system.
With a raft design in hand, Jim and Huck would make their pitch to angel investors to finance a “proof of concept” raft. Of course, as the world’s most famous raft-builders, they’d get lots of meetings in Silicon Valley.
In every pitch meeting, skeptics, as if on Shark Tank, would hammer away at the difficulty of monetizing a raft. “Did you ever consider that polar bears don’t have money?”—they heard that a lot. Their answer was to monetize the video.
Huck and Jim would tell the investors of their talks with potential marketing partners for the video: The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the Center for Biological Diversity, the World Wildlife Fund. So far, all of them had told Huck and Jim they were interested. “But,” said the investors, “that doesn’t get the job done.”
So Jim and Huck would bootstrap and kick-start their raft concept. They’d sell individual logs to people who bought into their concept, and buy the logs from a mill in Canada. GoPro would donate a camera, Google would donate a device to transmit video to the Internet, and Tesla would donate solar cells and scratch-proof armor glass to defend the equipment from curious polar bears. An Inuit village on the Arctic Ocean would give approval to launch the raft, sharing video rights for the launch with Ice Road Truckers, which would transport the logs. The villagers and truckers, along with Huck and Jim, would assemble and launch the raft.
And that, girls and boys in this time-traveling tale, is why you’re now able to watch video of a polar bear hunting from a raft. And in order to finance a lot more rafts, we just need a carbon tax on private jets.
Image: Project Gutenberg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=700846