This is one of several installments of our look back at the topics and trends that have been important and interesting to investors in the first half of 2006. Check out our first one on the economy, and our second one on "green" trends, and then stay tuned all this week for additional articles in this series.

So far this year, several notable developments have caught individual investors' interest and concern. From extreme shareholder dissidence at Home Depot's (NYSE:HD) annual meeting, to the backdating of options, to heightened awareness of hedge funds, there's been a lot to keep up with. We've provided excerpts from our Foolish coverage below, to help you decide which articles you'd like to read in full.

Home Depot Abdicates Responsibility

By Rich Duprey (TMF Cop)

Investors witnessed an awesome display of arrogance, contempt, scorn, and derision at the annual shareholders' meeting of Home Depot last week. The utter lack of respect for the feelings and views of the company's true owners was finally bared for all to see.

The entire meeting lasted only 30 minutes or so, and the board of directors failed to attend. There was virtually no question-and-answer period, and speakers were cut off if they went over their allotted time. . (For more, click here.)

Listen, Learn, Change

By Ryan Fuhrmann, CFA

The daily headline trail for Home Depot is beginning to rival that of any high-profile Hollywood breakup. Deceit! Betrayal! Will management and shareholders ever be able to face each other again? . (For more, click here.)

Backdating Battle

By Rich Duprey (TMF Cop)

The issue in question at Vitesse (NASDAQ:VTSS) and UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) -- as well as at Brocade Communications (NASDAQ:BRCD), Comverse Technology (NASDAQ:CMVT), Brooks Automation (NASDAQ:BRKS), and about a dozen or so other companies under investigation -- is whether these companies engaged in option grant "backdating" -- that is, changing the dates of awards to coincide with big moves in company stock.

While the companies in question deny that they were engaged in any such illegal activity, that the timing was just "blind luck," a Wall Street Journal report last month says the chances of these companies having such good fortune run into one in the hundreds of millions, if not billions. . (For more, click here.)

An Open Letter to UnitedHealth's Chairman

By Philip Durell (TMFAdmiral)

By my rough estimation, by the end of 2005 you had personally benefited to the tune of more than $110 million from this fortuitous timing. Even for senior executives, it seems highly unlikely to hit the low share price of the year for several years running without hindsight. In the event that backdating took place, the beneficiaries of backdating should resign effective immediately and the compensation committee should be overhauled. . (For more, click here.)

How Many More Monsters?

By Seth Jayson (TMF Bent)

Another day, another report of cherry-picked options grants in the ever-growing backdating scandal.

The possible perpetrator du jour is Monster Worldwide (NASDAQ:MNST), the famous Web job listings provider. . (For more, click here.)

Will the SEC Trim the Hedges?

By Rich Duprey (TMF Cop)

News that the Securities and Exchange Commission gave a Wells notice to a hedge fund because of its actions in the failed merger of generic drug manufacturers MylanLaboratories and King Pharmaceuticals is sending out tiny ripples in the hedge fund community. The regulators have sent notice that they don't want hedge funds influencing mergers if they don't risk losing any money in the deal. . (For more, click here.)

Hedge Funds for Everyone

By Rich Smith (TMFDitty)

Do you have a net worth of $1 million? Own a hedge fund? If the answer to one of those questions is "yes," then chances are that you know John Mauldin -- president of Millennium Wave Advisors, author of the weekly e-letter "Thoughts from the Frontline," and perhaps the leading proponent of the theory that America is in the midst of what he calls a secular bear market. When you need a big-picture view of what's going on in the economy, John Mauldin is the guy to ask. Fool contributor Rich Smith did just that. . (For more, click here.)

Hedge Fund Wizards

By John Finneran

There's no other business on Earth like the hedge business. In 2005, according to Institutional Investor, the average top-25 hedge fund manager made $363 million. James Simons, head of hyper-quant Renaissance Technologies, made $1.5 billion! Renaissance's black box speed-trades any public, liquid security, which it can put into its math models. The flagship fund produced remarkable returns (60% before fees) and even more remarkable fees -- 5% of assets and 44% of the gain. . (For more, click here.)

Hedge Funds Rule!

By S.J. Caplan

In a judgment announced on Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court decided that a Securities and Exchange Commission regulation tightening hedge fund oversight doesn't pass muster. That leaves us -- for the time being, anyway -- with the so-called "hedge fund rule" not ruling hedge funds. . (For more, click here.)

Home Depot and United Health are both Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. United Health has also been recommended in our Motley Fool Stock Advisor service. You can try any of our newsletter services for absolutely free by signing up for a free trial.

The Motley Fool's disclosure policy does not have a large enough net worth to invest in a hedge fund, but it aspires to one day.