Sunday Long Reads: The knock on effect of the Dublin Bus strikes, and why retro tech remains cool

Kick back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the best long reads from Newstalk

On a week in which Dublin was affected by a bus strike, we took to the streets to measure the knock on impact on businesses around the city.

Elsewhere, as the recovery from Electric Picnic begins, there's a look at why vinyl remains so popular despite all the technological advances in the music world, as well as an assessment of the current state of hip-hop. 

With the simple gesture of kneeling during the national anthem, one American sports star has caused the rest of the nation to ask itself about how much they value their right to free speech and finally, Fiona Kennedy writes on the importance of ensuring that the mental health system in Ireland doesn't have to deny someone treatment they need based on the cost. 

Dublin traders speak out about impact of bus strike on business

We’re not even a third of the way through the planned six days of strike action from Dublin Bus drivers and whilst most of the coverage has focused on the 400,000 commuters whose daily journey is being drastically knocked out of whack, there’s a real business impact too.

Quite simply, when it’s a pain in the neck getting into the city centre (and perhaps even more importantly, getting back out in the evenings), people won’t be hanging around and putting their hands in their pocket, if they make it in at all.

Our own Bobby Kerr, on Newstalk Breakfast hosting duties this morning, revealed that his Insomnia coffee chain took a 19% hit in sales on Thursday alone. With that in mind, Newstalk took to the streets to see if the suffering was widespread, and how affected retailers were coping with, and feeling about, the industrial action.

Colin Kaepernick's protest highlights America's fragile grip on their own freedoms

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's simple gesture of sitting during the national anthem, rather than standing along with the rest of his team-mates on the sideline, has propelled the player from the headlines of the sports pages to the op-ed columns of the politics section. 

Last Thursday in San Diego, on what was military appreciation night in a city that is home to a number of military bases, he continued his protest as he knelt down while a naval officer sang The Star Spangled Banner.

Speaking afterwards, Kaepernick stood before the media, as he had done after the game against Green Bay when he was first pictured performing that protest, and answered every question that was put to him.

"The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with," said Kaepernick, adding "we have a lot of people that aren't treated equally, aren't given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed."

As with any athlete who speaks out on an issue, there were the usual comments on his eloquence or what some perceived to be the lack thereof, but the issue drew huge criticism from some sectors of the media, both social and traditional. 

Living with mental illness: The system in its current form is failing us, badly

Over the last few months I’ve written quite a bit for this series on the subject of mental health and managing difficulties as they arise.

One thing keeps coming back to me again and again though – just how difficult it is for the vast majority to access the kind of help I’ve been receiving, and how incredibly frustrating that must be for those reading who need help, as well as for mental health professionals who want to help but are stymied by an out-dated, under-resourced and woefully inadequate system.

Actually, frustrating isn’t anywhere near a strong enough word. For those who need help, it’s soul-destroying and at its worst, life-threatening.

We are living in the golden age of hip-hop

Now, no offence intended, but a darkened field in Laois is the last place in the world I thought I’d have an epiphany about the state of global hip-hop.

But that’s where it happened. It was about midnight, the rain was stuffing it down on Stradbally and I blearily trudged under the shelter of the Electric Arena where grime legend Skepta had a crowd of thousands bouncing and shouting his lyrics back at him.

By now, it’s not an unfamiliar scene for the 33-year-old, who is finally basking in the global acclaim that’s followed his first album in five years, and shoutouts from rap legends across the world.

The nostalgia wave makes sure retro tech remains cool

The best present I ever got for Christmas came nearly two years ago, in 2014.

I woke up to find two big boxes in the sitting room. One was a Philips record player that was a Bluetooth speaker, CD player, and radio. It’s my all-round audio entertainment centre.

The other box was my mother’s collection of old vinyl records from when she was my age, back in the late '70s. This was the best gift I could ever receive.