At a recent round table meeting of business executives, & long after formally introducing Tim Cook of Apple, I quickly referred to Tim + Apple as Tim/Apple as an easy way to save time & words. The Fake News was disparagingly all over this, & it became yet another bad Trump story!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 11, 2019
It was a response to an article from Axios in which it’s reported that Trump told a room of Republican donors that the widely publicized video clip in which he appears to call Apple CEO Tim Cook “Tim Apple” was, in fact, fake-news reporting. He had, he claimed, said “Cook” very fast.
You may judge that claim for yourself.
Trump’s tweet, though, seems to make a different case: He was calling Tim Cook “Tim Apple” to save valuable time. The guy is the president of the United States, folks; he doesn’t have time for niceties like saying people’s last names or using conjunctions like “of” to more comprehensively explain who Cook actually is. (The White House’s official transcript mirrors this argument, transcribing Trump’s words as: “We appreciate it very much, Tim — Apple.”)
So how much time did Trump save? Thanks to technology, we can find out.
We imported Trump’s comments into the sound-editing program Audacity and isolated the part where Trump talks about Cook. He, like all English speakers, tends to blend words together, so what he really said was something like “Ti — mah — pull.”
But the important bit of data is there at the bottom: It took him about 0.6 seconds to say both “Tim” and “Apple” — time that could be much better spent elsewhere.
It was still a time savings over saying “Tim Cook, Apple” or “Tim Cook of Apple.” How much? Well, he said that latter phrase in June of last year at a lunch with governors where he praised Cook. He was talking about how he’d pressured Cook to build more Apple products in the United States.
“I said a long time ago,” Trump said, “that Tim Cook, I won’t — of Apple, I said, I will not be satisfied until you start building your plants and others start building again.”
Here’s how that breaks down.
“Tim” took 0.25 seconds and “vapple” — a blending of the F sound from “of” with “Apple” — an additional 0.49 seconds. That’s 0.74 for “Tim Apple” alone — a bit longer than when Trump said it last week.
Trump at that point included both Cook’s last name — 0.27 seconds — and the word “of” itself — another 0.157 seconds, according to Audacity.
In other words, if Trump had said “Tim Cook of Apple” during his more recent remarks, it would have tacked on an additional 0.407 seconds to the time he spent talking. That right there is the wasted time Trump was hoping to avoid. (He could have saved 0.06 seconds by saying “Tim Cook” instead of “Tim Apple,” but that’s neither here nor there.)
Where might those second-fractions have been better spent? His speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference this month could have been 2 hours, 0.407 seconds long instead of the more abbreviated version he offered. He could spend those 0.407 seconds negotiating with the Democrats and possibly convincing them to fund a wall on the border with Mexico.
There are literally thousands of ways in which that time could have been better spent than bothering to say “Cook” — a point that Trump made directly as he was spending his morning tweeting and apparently watching “Fox and Friends.”