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Editorial: December 2017

The future is now


November 29, 2017
By Patrick Flannery

As a bona fide science fiction nerd, of course I had to run out right away and see Blade Runner 2049 when it came out this fall.

I was taking my teenage daughter, who had never seen the original, so we had to watch the old 1982 Blade Runner first. The title at the start informs us that the movie is taking place in 2019. Well, here we are at the end of 2017. Things better get moving next year if director Ridley Scott is going to be accurate. We haven’t had much luck getting those flying cars off the ground. And Siri is a long way away from humanoid robots so convincing you need a test to tell them from the real thing. As for settling other planets…forget it.

The interesting thing to see is how no one in 1982 could have predicted the actual advancements that technology would make. No one in the movie uses a handheld computer device. When Harrison Ford wants to make a video call he has to go to a booth and pay a fee. If there’s an internet, we don’t see it. The movie Los Angeles of 2019 is choked by a perpetual smog so dense it’s dark all the time and it rains constantly. We’ve actually alleviated smog to a great extent with controls on nitrous oxide emissions and reductions in coal power, though Scott may still end up being partly right about the effects of climate change. He got one thing bang on, though. In one of my favourite scenes in the movie, Ford asks for the room to be darkened so he can do his android test, and with a touch of a button the huge window slowly darkens from top to bottom. Dynamic glass, right on cue.

It sounds like 2017 has been a good year for the industry, in general. Just about everyone I talk to is almost busier than they want to be. The numbers back this up. After a slow first two quarters, national investment in non-residential construction recovered in the third quarter to beat 2016’s third quarter. Most of that was driven by Quebec and Ontario, which were stronger every quarter than the year before. That was enough to offset weaker years in Atlantic Canada and the Prairies, though Manitoba had a great year with every quarter beating 2016. B.C. flattened out from a peak in first-quarter 2016 and never managed to beat its 2016 performance in any quarter, though the third-quarter numbers were almost the same.

Scanning the headlines, it was a fairly quiet year for news in the glass industry, with nothing earthshaking like Vitro’s 2016 purchase of PPG coming down the wire. The biggest acquisition was on the adhesives and sealants side with H.B. Fuller’s purchase of Royal Adhesives for over $1.5 billion. The Glass Association of North America and the National Glass Association merged to widespread approval. GlassBuild was almost blown away by Hurricane Irma, but managed to go ahead and be just fine. On this side of the border, test lab UL purchased CLEB and Fenestration B.C. came back to the fold as a member of the Canadian Glass Association.

Here’s to a prosperous and healthy 2018!


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