'The End of Humanity as We Know it.' The Beginnings of SkyNet
When the Portuguese land in Japan they bring along a number of western traditions: Christianity, clocks and gambling in the form of playing cards. The Japanese object to Christian missionaries so they eventually ban them along with clocks and gambling but it turns out that the Japanese like gambling. Even though Western cards will be banned, inventive Japanese entrepreneurs will create their own card deck... the Hanafuda (hah-nah-foo-dah) cards. Like the Western card deck they have four suits but these relate to the four seasons and not four kings. The rules for playing are different but what the Japanese find best in the new game is clear.... gambling. Eventually the Japanese government will catch on and ban these cards too. It will do no good. Gambling with Hanafuda cards will go underground and remain so until 1885. 
The Treason of Assembly and the First Act of Uniformity
King Edward the 6th of England, through his regent Edward Seymour, makes it high treason to remain assembled for more than 1 hour after being directed to disperse by authorities. The penalty for high treason is death but in a few years the penalty will be reduced to a felony. King Edward also brings uniformity to the Church of England, issuing: "The Book of the Common Prayer" which must be used for services. The penalties for non-compliance are progressive: A first offense means losing the respect of the King in all appointments and benefits. Penalties for subsequent violations build until one is treated as a dead man, distributing his property and spending the rest of his life in prison. Compared to previous legal penalties this is quite enlightened.     
'Lovesick Grass:' Tobacco Arrives in China *
The soldiers of the Ming Dynasty distribute tobacco as they march across the country, fighting off the Mongols and enforcing the trading ban at various Chinese ports. Apparently the ban on trade with the Portuguese does not include tobacco. The Chinese call it "Lovesick Grass" because it gives one a dizzy feeling of well-being similar to how one feels when one is lovesick. It soon becomes clear that the demand for tobacco from the New World rivals the demand for silver. The Chinese are writing books filled with advice on how to smoke. It is all the rage. Along with sugar cane, tobacco becomes the cash crop of the New World. 
This Year on Wikipedia
Year 1549, Wikipedia.
- * The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
- Francis Xavier - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “Francis Xavier reached Japan on 27 July 1549, with Anjiro and three other Jesuits, but he was not permitted to enter any port his ship arrived at until 15 August, when he went ashore at Kagoshima, the principal port of the province of Satsuma on the island of Kyūshū.”
- Hanafuda - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “In 1889, Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo Koppai for the purposes of producing and selling hand-crafted Hanafuda cards painted on mulberry tree bark. Though it took a while to catch on, soon the Yakuza began using Hanafuda cards in their gambling parlors, and card games became popular in Japan again.”
- Blake J. Harris. "Chapter 5", Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation. HarperCollins.
- Riot Act 1549 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “It made it high treason for 12 people or more to assemble and attempt to kill or imprison any member of the King's council or change the laws, and refuse to disperse when ordered to do so by a justice of the peace, mayor or sheriff.”
- English Constitutional History: First Act of Uniformity of Edward VI. Constitution.org (1901). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “... and that if any such person or persons, after he shall be twice convicted in form aforesaid, shall offend against any of the premises the third time, and shall be thereof in form aforesaid lawfully convicted, that then the person so offending and convicted the third time shall suffer imprisonment during his life.”
- Book of Common Prayer - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “The work of 1549 was the first prayer book to include the complete forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English.”
- Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector (c.1506-1552). luminarium.org (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “Somerset apparently thought that the religious question could be settled by public discussion, and throughout 1547 and 1548 England went as it pleased so far as church services were concerned; all sorts of experiments were tried, and the country was involved in a grand theological debate, in which Protestant refugees from abroad hastened to join. The result convinced the protector that the government must prescribe one uniform order which all should be persuaded or constrained to obey; but the first Book of Common Prayer, which was imposed by the first Act of Uniformity in 1549, was a studious compromise between the new and the old learning, very different from the aggressive Protestantism of the second book imposed after Somerset had been removed, in 1552.”
- Prayer Book Rebellion - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “The change was widely unpopular – particularly in areas of still firmly Catholic religious loyalty (even after the Act of Supremacy in 1534) such as Lancashire. Along with poor economic conditions, the attack on the Catholic Church led to an explosion of anger in Devon and Cornwall, initiating an uprising. In response, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, sent Lord John Russell with an army composed partly of German and Italian mercenaries to suppress the revolt.”
- King Edward VI Tudor Monarchs Facts, Information & Pictures. EnglishHistory.net (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “Edward became king at the age of 10, but he was a mere figurehead. His Seymour uncles battled with and ultimately lost the Protectorship to the ambitious John Dudley, duke of Northumberland.”
- "Chapter 5. Lovesick Grass, Foreign Tubers, and Jade Rice", 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (BOOK), Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “Trade brought more than silver across the Pacific. Tobacco may have led the parade. Somehow Portuguese ships brought the species across oceans and borders to Guangxi, in southern China, where archaeologists have unearthed locally made tobacco pipes dating back to 1549.”
- Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn's iPhone factories. CNET.com (September 25, 2012). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “Wages may be high compared with other jobs in China, but they are sometimes barely enough to cover rent in the huge dormitories in which employees typically live, and still leave workers with money to send to family members in villages who live on even less. Managers can subject employees to harsh public ridicule that would be unthinkable in Western workplaces. And employees are often reluctant to make waves simply because there are so many other people who would happily trade places with them.”