The 'Single Whip Law' of China *
Corruption has plagued the Chinese tax system so they have passed a law that centralizes and consolidates those functions so that there is a consistent tax method across the land. The name of this new law is "The Single Whip Law." Single Whip is a marshal arts term. It is a stance that is leaning forward with an arm forward for defense and an arm held back to hide the striking blow. (Golly! Nothing implied by that. Is there?) Aside from the desire for efficiency, this law allows for the importation of silver from the New World and a change in how taxes are figured on domestic mining operations. This causes a dramatic increase in the taxes collected from Chinese mining operations, or at least the REPORTING increases because wildcat miners figure it is cheaper to pay the tax than it is to dodge the authorities.   
A Fireball in Thuringia
A mighty fireball streaks through the sky and crashes into the countryside of Thuringia which is a province in central Germany. Scientists on the scene find the meteorite. (There is a college nearby.) This event appears in the Catalogue of Meteorites and Fireballs and according to the charts it was verified as a single stoney object weighing 39 pounds.   
Siberia is Conquered by Dummies and Clever Cossacks
Yermak Timofevitch is a Cossack. He is also a rabble-rouser, a thief, and general nuisance. He is only good for one thing... conquering Siberia. Gregory Strogonof has been granted some land west of the Ural mountains but he sees great potential in the east. He just needs help to conquer it. Gregory gets the Tzar to pardon Yermak on the condition that he conqueror Siberia. Yermak gathers 800 of the best highway robbers, prisoners and ne'er-do-wells, arms them with muskets and sets out in 1579. It goes well until Kuchum Khan sets a trap for them. The Khan draws a heavy chain across the river, hoping to catch the Cossack boats and ambush them. The boats come down the river, but they aren't filled with Cossacks. They are filled with dummies. Yermak has already come ashore, outflanks the Khan's superior forces and drives them out of their capital city of Tobolsk. This is just the first probe into Siberia. It will take several years to reach the Bearing Sea. Before then, Yermack will die of drowning trying to escape an ambush by swimming the river while wearing his armor.   
This Year on Wikipedia
Year 1581, Wikipedia.
- * The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
- Gernet, Jacques (1996). A History of Chinese Civilization, translated by Foster, J. R. and Hartman, Charles (in English), Cambridge University Press, 415-416. “It must therefore be accepted that the amount of silver in circulation increased considerably during the course of the fifteenth century. This is probably explained by the clandestine trade with Japan, the main exporter of silver, and by the progress in local production. But this transformation of the economy was to be accentuated at the end of the sixteenth century with the influx of silver from America [...]”
- Single whip - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “Typically at the end of the posture the left hand is in a palm outward push and the right hand held most commonly in the form of a hook or closed fist.”
- Single whip law - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “The unit of tax collection was changed from rice to silver, which led to an increase in the import of silver into China from Spain-controlled America and Japan. Because of the sheer amount of silver being imported into China, inflation occurred until the silver taxpaying system was no longer sustainable.”
- Oil-for-Food Programme - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “Contracts to sell Iraq humanitarian goods through the Oil-for-Food Programme were given to companies and individuals based on their willingness to kick back a certain percentage of the contract profits to the Iraqi regime. Companies that sold commodities via the Oil-for-Food Programme were overcharging by up to 10%, with part of the overcharged amount being diverted into private bank accounts for Saddam Hussein and other regime officials and the other part being kept by the supplier.”
- Investigate the United Nations Oil-for-Food Fraud. heritage.org (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “Saddam's dictatorship was able to siphon off an estimated $10 billion from the Oil-for-Food program through oil smuggling and systematic thievery, by demanding illegal payments from companies buying Iraqi oil, and through kickbacks from those selling goods to Iraq--all under the noses of U.N. bureaucrats. The members of the U.N. staff administering the program have been accused of gross incompetence, mismanagement, and possible complicity with the Iraqi regime in perpetrating the biggest scandal in U.N. history.”
- A Catalogue of Meteorites and Fireballs, from A.D. 2 to A.D. 1860 by R.P. Greg, Esq., F.G.S. MeteoriteHistory.info (2011). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “1581.* - July 26 - Thuringia - 39 lbs. - ... - 1 1/2 P.M. - ditto;[meaning "Stone-fall" -ed.] one stone.”
- A Catalogue of Meteorites and Fireballs, from A.D. 2 to A.D. 1860. MeteoriteHistory.info (2011). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “Note.--Wherever the words 'Stone-fall' or 'Iron-fall' occur, it may be understood, as a rule, that such phenomenon was also accompanied by a detonating fireball, or at least by a detonation.”
- meteorite - definition of meteorite. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “A stony or metallic mass of matter that has fallen to the earth's surface from outer space.”
- 1632. Baen. ISBN 0671578499.
- Russian conquest of Siberia. TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY (2013). Retrieved on 22 May 2015. “They realized too late that the boats were filled with dummies: Yermak's men were already ashore, attacking the Tatars in the rear. In the battle that followed the Tatars failed to make the most of their superiority in numbers and manoeuvrability, and they were overcome by Cossack fire power.”
- Alexis Krausse (October 25, 1900). "2. THE ABSORPTION OF SIBERIA", Russia in Asia; a record and a study, 1558-1899. Henry Holt and Company. “Strogonof, who knew these men, and appears to have obtained some influence over them, approached their leader, one Yermak Timofevitch, and obtained for him the pardon of the Tsar on condition that he agreed to take service under him in his forthcoming campaign.”
- Yermak Timofeyevich - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 May 2015. “After the takeover of Kazan, the tsar looked to the powerful and affluent Stroganov merchant family to spearhead the eastward expansion. In the late 1570s, the Stroganovs recruited Cossack fighters to invade Asia on behalf of the tsar.”