This is what we've been reduced to: Guessing at how much Apple will underestimate its forecasted December-quarter earnings in today's earnings call. No one actually believes Apple's "guidance." For years, it's been shown to lowball the actual number so it can surprise Wall Street, a maneuver that no longer surprises anyone. This has reduced Apple's quarterly earnings call to an exercise in which its chief financial officer pretends he's not lying, and bank analysts pretend they believe him. No wonder Apple CEO Steve Jobs avoids the charade altogether.