Karl has been fantasizing about a “computer museum” as long as I’ve known him.
At first I thought that this was merely a particularly flimsy rationalization for compulsive hoarding. Now, I’m beginning to think his motivations are both more complex, and infinitely uglier:
The story and metaphor of The Dog in the Manger derives from an old Greek fable which has been transmitted in several different versions. Interpreted variously over the centuries, the metaphor is now used to speak of those who spitefully prevent others from having something that they themselves have no use for. Although the story was ascribed to Aesop’s Fables in the 15th century, there is no ancient source that does so.
The short form of the fable as cited by Laura Gibbs is: “There was a dog lying in a manger who did not eat the grain but who nevertheless prevented the horse from being able to eat anything either.”
Where does Karl fit into this?
Well, for starters, he knows that the “computer museum” will never happen (barring a string of outright miraculous events). His rickety shit-bucket of a jeep is barely drivable, so he cannot even get over to the storage units to sift through the “collection” – even if he wanted to do so.
Karl is stupid, but even he can’t help but recognize the fact that he will never be in a position to do anything with the “collection”.
A sane person would use the (few) good items from the “collection” to generate seed-funding to get him the hell out of that area. Purportedly, Karl can “just walk into” pretty much any tech-related job – if he could manage to escape Pennsylvania.
Therefore, a sane person would have come to regard the storage-units as a stone around his neck, in that he can neither organize or transport the contents.
At this point, Karl’s motivation amounts to “I can’t do anything with the stuff – but at least I *have* it!!!“.
IN other words, he continues to hoard the stuff NOT because he actually believes that the “computer museum” will ever happen – but merely to prevent anyone else from getting access to the hoard.
If he really gave a shit about “educating people about the history of microcomputers” or suchlike, he could donate the collection to one of several computer museums which actually exist. (Assuming, of course, that any of the stuff is actually good – which is exceedingly unlikely, given Karl’s tendency toward negligence and anti-effort. (e.g. the rusty tube-tester, the Yaesu Vx-7 which ended up damaged because he “accidentally” forgot to remove the batteries, the boxes of water-damaged textbooks, etc.)
Karl is a half-wit who has most likely managed to damage or destroy the contents of his “collection”. The worst part is: he would rather do so, than have LEGITIMATE collectors/museums gain access to the hoard.
In principle, Karl’s antics are no different from the following video:
The only real “difference” between Karl’s antics and the above video is: at least the guys in the video had FUN destroying the machine.
Karl’s destruction is by way of mere negligence.