Welcome to week 68 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:

Company

Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Akamai

$22.23

$23.92

7.6%

Harris & Harris

$6.22

$4.21

(32.3%)

IBM

$125.82**

$125.70

(0.1)%

Oracle

$22.58**

$22.09

(2.2%)

Taiwan Semiconductor

$9.81**

$10.31

5.1%

AVERAGE RETURN

--

--

(4.38%)

S&P 500 SPDR

$123.09**

$109.57

(10.98%)

DIFFERENCE

--

--

6.6

Source: Yahoo! Finance.
* Tracking began on Aug. 7, 2008.
** Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.

There goes my two-week winning streak. My stocks didn't move much even as Mr. Market continues to enjoy a smiling rally.

How long it'll last is anyone's guess. Risk-free banking still looms in the background, threatening to hand us suckers -- (ahem), I mean taxpayers -- another multibillion-dollar bailout of AIG (NYSE:AIG) and Bank of America, among others, torpedoing the markets in the process. Thanksgiving, meet Banksgiving. Only we're the ones playing the turkeys in this financial feast.

If I sound terrified, that's because I am. My path to retirement is built from stock certificates, stocks like the five you see above -- all of which I believe will be long-term winners. And yet, as the last year proves, a banker I don't know and will never meet has the power to litter my carefully-cropped causeway with derivatives trash.

Financial litterbugs annoy me. And that's putting it lightly.

What to do? Educate the next generation of investors. That's been the mission of our annual Foolanthropy drive for some years now, and the cause continues this holiday season with a comprehensive program to boost financial literacy at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in Washington, D.C.

You can join the effort by making a donation here. You can also sound off in the comments box at the bottom. Every comment, blog post, blog comment, and discussion board post between now and Jan. 8 will rack up $0.10 for Thurgood Marshall.

The week in tech
You're already off to a good start. Here, you're debating the implications of data that suggest Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile operating system now accounts for 20% of U.S. smartphone traffic, surpassing Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry operating system, Palm's (NASDAQ:PALM) webOS, and Windows Mobile.

You're less concerned about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), despite the whitewashing some developers are giving the Mac maker for its App Store submissions process. Will crabby coders turn to Android? Few of you think so.

Nor are you impressed by my pleas that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) back away from News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS) chief Rupert Murdoch. Mr. Softy is apparently weighing a deal that would make the Bing search engine the exclusive indexer of News Corp. content.

Were an accord reached, a standout of the Old Media Guard would instantly become a little less social at a time when social media is beginning to prove its worth. Take Twitter. The microblogger now says it will have an advertising model, and there's every reason to believe it will (a) be contextual and (b) threaten Google.

But beliefs aren't truths, and the market will have to vet Twitter's ad plan, whatever it ends up looking like. That's how it works in tech; overnight successes take years to develop and even longer to create value. Patience and diversification are the keys to tech investing gains.

Look at David Gardner. He produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breaker portfolio by betting on a broad portfolio of innovators, and holding for the long term. Tom Gardner's "simpleton portfolio" was also a 10-year winner. I believe that, with my tech portfolio, I will achieve similar success.

Checkup time!
Now let's move on to the rest of today's update:

  • Now the U.S. Senate is getting involved in Oracle's battle for Sun Microsystems. Fifty-nine members jointly issued a press statement asking the EU to make a decision in the case. Former MySQL investor Florian Mueller, who is opposed to the deal, wrote to me within minutes of the statement being issued. He calls it proof that Oracle "can't win on the substance" of its argument for acquiring the MySQL database in the Sun deal. Having witnessed the Senate's arm waving before, I seriously doubt the letter is an indicator of, well, anything.

There's your checkup. See you back here on Friday for more tech stock talk.

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Microsoft is an Inside Value pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the market-beating Rule Breakers stock picking team. He had stock and options positions in Apple and stock positions in Akamai, Google, Harris & Harris, IBM, Oracle, and Taiwan Semiconductor at the time of publication. Check out his portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.