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I’m not saying there’s an active conspiracy against Apple out there… but perhaps there’s a conspiracy of ignorance at the San Francisco Chronicle ?

For two days in a row, the Chronicle — the newspaper of record in Macworld’s hometown — has published stories with deeply confused and misleading headlines related to computer topics.

Tuesday it was a story about Microsoft’s preview of Longhorn, the laughably late new version of Windows that will be available late next year. Next year . The main headline, Opening new Windows , was okay, I guess, but the headline on the “jump” section of the story? Windows Longhorn nearing completion.

Nearing completion? If Longhorn is nearing completion, I’m nearing retirement. (That’s a joke, son — I was born in 1970.)

Today’s Chronicle headline faux pas was in the newspaper’s story about a spot of unfortunate business between Apple and Wiley Books. The headline? Apple yanks book on Jobs . The jump headline? Apple bans unauthorized biography of Jobs .

Okay, people. Let’s get this straight: the story is not that Apple has banned a book about Steve Jobs from the company’s retail stores. If you’ve ever been in one of those stores, you know that the book selections are very focused on publications of the how-to variety. Even if Steve Jobs had written his own autobiography, it’s doubtful that he’d stock copies at the checkstand like they do with Sam Walton's book at Wal-Mart.

The story is that Apple’s stores have dropped all of the technical books published by Wiley, the same publisher that’s publishing the unfortunately named iCon . The result? Apple Store visitors won’t get to read books like Andy Ihnatko’s Mac OS X Tiger Book, or Bob LeVitus’ Tiger for Dummies.

That’s the story here. Not that Apple’s not stocking a book that they would never, ever have stocked, even if Steve Jobs wrote it himself, with a cover blurb by Bill Clinton and an effusively praiseful foreword by Bill Gates.

San Francisco Chronicle readers, be warned. Read the articles, not the headlines.

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