Rejection letters, correspondence, and miscellanea from the otherwise empty annals of the Journal of Universal Rejection.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blind Review

To the editor,
Attached, please find my submission to The Journal of Universal Rejection, "This Article Should Not Be Rejected By The Journal of Universal Rejection". 
The article is a 2-page proof that the article should not be rejected from your journal (prepared, of course, for blind review). Thanks very much for your consideration.


Dear J          ,

Thank you for your thoughtful submission "This Article Should Not Be Rejected By The Journal of Universal Rejection" to the Journal of Universal Rejection.

We are writing to let you know that your submission has been rejected.  Here is how this played out.  First I cogitated for awhile about the capitalization in your title.  I kind of prefer titles where you don't capitalize words unnecessarily, but I was willing to be open to that.  But even for capitalized titles, you shouldn't be capitalizing the word 'by.'  I'm not sure about the 'The.'  Anyway, I decided it might be seen as a bit petty to reject just based on capitalization in a title.  So my next step was to find a blind reviewer.

I sent your paper off for review via snail mail to Ray Charles.  It turns out this great blues musician is no longer with us, RIP. 

Next I placed a Braille translation of your document in the in-box (or tip jar?) of a beggar downtown.  He seemed mystified and inquired whether I had any money.  Of course JofUR does not pay its reviewers!  This is a premier journal, we don't stoop to that!  When I returned later, the hobo could not recollect your paper, it appears he may have burned it, or used it as bedding.  I did not take this as a good sign for your manuscript.

Finally, I decided to take review into my own hands.  I first removed my glasses and began to skim your document.  However I realized I could still make out a word here and there, so this was not truly blind review.  So, in the end I went into a darkened room, closed my eyes, sat down, and got to reading.  I was disturbed just seconds later by my son yelling!  I should not have used the room that we was taking his mid-day nap in for this chore!

He said: "Papa?  Waaaaaaah!"

"I'm reviewing this paper, Bud.  Do you think I should publish it?"


So in that darkened room the doom of your document was determined.  Rejection.

Best wishes,
Journal of Universal Rejection

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday/Metallic Saturday/Robot Sunday/Cyber Monday

Dear readership:

We have an exciting announcement!  But try to breathe normally.
In honor of Black Friday/Metallic Saturday/Robot Sunday/Cyber Monday, we are having a sale at the JofUR Store.  Items have been marked down by 10-20%.  This is in addition to further discounts by Cafe Press (as marked in the store).  Woo hoo!  Breathe normally.

Now is the time to order those all-important gifts. 

Who can remain depressed while sipping from a hardy ceramic Journal of Universal Rejection mug?  Or sporting a sporty T-shirt?  Our mousepads pad your mouse beautifully. 

We also have clocks.  My son likes cuckoo clocks, but we don't have those.  Instead we have ones that remind you "Reprobatio Certa, Hora Incerta:"  Rejection is certain, the hour uncertain.  That's not to say the clocks don't work... they do.  Here is a picture of a cuckoo clock:

photo by Sandra Marek
Remember we don't sell those.  I only put the picture here in case my son wants to read this post.

Breathe normally,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Some Bookkeeping

Dear Rogier, Vaclav, A.G., J.B., N.E., L.P., and Dr. C,

We at the Journal of Universal Rejection reject your submission.

Best regards,

p.s. We may send more reasons later.
p.p.s. Did you know 'bookkeeping' (and 'bookkeeper(s)') are the only words in English with three sequential sets of double letters? That's the buzz in Busytown, anyway.
p.p.p.s.  Yes, that is a picture of the Dalai Lama.  It is there to add some color to this post.  But I'm relatively sure he approves.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Dear Josh,

Thank you for submitting your advertisement copy for your 2012 Wildlandphotos.com calendar to appear in the Journal of Universal Rejection. Sadly I must inform you that, though we are keeping the fee, we are rejecting your advertisement for publication. It has nothing to do with the ad, it's just that we refuse to publish anything in the Journal.

Besides, what would people say when they noticed (as surely they would) that the first submission published in JofUR was from the Editor-in-Chief's brother. That would be a scandal and a half. It would be all over Twitter. We don't wish to investigate the shredability of our credibility with such nepotism. Editors-in-Chief have been overthrown for less. (Not that our Board has any power...)

At least there's always the blog where I can do some shameless promotion of your photography, including the beautiful 2012 wall calendar now available.

Good luck with your sales. And you're lucky I'm choosing to forgot about the whole "Vacuum Cleaner Shark Incident!"

Best regards,

Your brother
Journal of Universal Rejection

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spotlight on Associate Editor: Ghil'ad Zuckermann

Biographical sketch for Dr. Ghil'ad Zuckermann:

Ghil'ad Zuckermann --- a.k.a. Sir Galahad Sugarman, Prof. Giladavant Zuckerman, Dr Gillard Zukerman, Lord Gilly Sugar-Daddy, Mr Jihad Zimmermann, or simply Giladiator Superman --- is Professor of Linguistics, and Endangered Languages Chair at the University of Adelaide. So endangered that he is the only such chair in Australia.

After his recent public lecture on language, religion and power, he was accused of Marxism, to which he retorted that he did indeed have a penchant for Marxist paraprosdokians. "She got her looks from her father, he is a plastic surgeon", as the great Groucho used to say. When I met her, I felt I had known her from previous life. Two weeks later I understood why I had not called her for 1,750 years...

Professor Zuckermann holds an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Fellowship, which means that his official role is to un-cover and dis-cover but not to dis-appoint. He is the founder of revival linguistics, and expert in contact linguistics, lexicology, endangered tongues, Jewish and Israeli society, and the study of language, culture and identity. Although he is based in the 'Lucky' Country, he spends several months per annum in large countries such as the Promised Land, and in small countries such as the Middle Kingdom, where he serves as Distinguished Visiting Professor and 'Oriental Scholar' Professorial Fellow at Shanghai International Studies University.

Professor Zuckermann is Jewish and mindful of the fact that six Jews have changed the way we perceive the world: Moses said "the Law is everything!", Jesus said "Love is everything!", Marx said "Money is everything!", Freud said "Sex is everything!", Zuckerberg said "Social networking is everything", Einstein said "Everything is relative!". Some people see the world in B&W (black-and-white), but for Zuckermann, Judaism is all about on the other hand. In the famous play Fiddler on the Roof, after Tevye's daughter Hodel and her radical student lover Perchik announce their engagement, Tevye, a religious Jew opposed to the match, memorably reckons: "He loves her. Love, it's a new style ... On the other hand, our old ways were once new, weren't they? On the other hand, they decided without parents, without a matchmaker! On the other hand, did Adam and Eve have a matchmaker? Well, yes they did. And it seems these two have the same matchmaker!" (cf. Stein 1964: 113).

Besides his indefatigable contributions to the Journal of Universal Rejection, Professor Zuckermann serves as Editorial Board member of the Journal of Language Contact. Just like John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (1963: 464), Professor Zuckermann supposes that "the process of acceptance will pass through the usual four stages: 1. This is worthless nonsense. 2. This is an interesting, but perverse, point of view. 3. This is true, but quite unimportant. 4. I always said so."

At the age of 16, he spread his wings and went abroad to study at the United World College (UWC) of the Adriatic (Collegio del Mondo Unito dell'Adriatico, Duino, Trieste). Then he came home to roost, performing several years of military service. Thereafter he was selected for the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Programme for Outstanding Students of Tel Aviv University, where he studied many many things, for example philosophy, psychology, classics, literature, law and mathematics, specializing in linguistics and receiving his M.A. (summa cum laude) from the Department of Linguistics in 1997.

Professor Zuckermann is a master at turning a rejection into a motivating force. If you want him to succeed, reject him! A well-meaning teacher advised the young Zuckermann not to bother with Oxbridge, so he promptly went to England and ended up holding doctorates from both Oxford and Cambridge (the latter one being titular). His best advice to his students is therefore always to ignore your professor's best advice.

As Scatcherd European Scholar of the University of Oxford and Denise Skinner Graduate Scholar of St Hugh's College, Oxford, he gained his D.Phil. (Oxon.) in 2000. In 2000-2004 he was Gulbenkian Research Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge. There he learned a lot about Laurence of Arabia from Winston's lovely daughter Mary Soames, who always wanted to sit near Zuckermann on High Table dinner because he was the only fellow to tell her the truth about life at Churchill College. At Churchill he also met Margaret Thatcher, who asked him whether he was related to Solly Zuckerman, to which he replied that he might have indeed been a distant relative. Or not. George Steiner welcomed Zuckermann to College by telling him: "Israel has great future. In New York!" Upon arrival at Churchill, Zuckermann was introduced to a fellow he understood to be "Tony, Jewish" and discussed various Jewish themes with him on a weekly basis, only to find out three months later that he was actually "Tony Hewish", a Nobel laureate in physics. Zuckermann enjoyed discussing IDF with yet another Nobel laureate: Bob Edwards (IVF).

Professor Zuckermann has published in various languages, e.g. English, Israeli ('Ivrit'), Italian, Yiddish, Spanish, German, Russian and Chinese. He recently translated --- successfully --- the following into Esperanto: The Frenchman says "I'm tired and thirsty, I must have wine!" The German says "I'm tired and thirsty, I must have beer!" The Jew says "I'm tired and thirsty, I must have diabetes!". Mi devas havi vinon / bieron / diabeton!

His revolutionary bestseller book Israelit Safa Yafa (Israeli - A Beautiful Language) (ISBN: 978-965-13-1963-1)  was published in 2008 by Am Oved (Tel Aviv) and has multiplied the number of Zuckermann's admirers and enemies by approx. 100,000. Several days before the publication of this book, Zuckermann finally received its cover. Ignoring the idiom "don't judge a book by its cover", he looked at it and darkness was made in his eyes: Whereas the title of the book was israelit safa yafa, i.e. ISRAELI - A Beautiful Language (challenging and modelled upon the old Zionist slogan ivrit safa yafa "Hebrew - A Beautiful Language"), the last sentence on the back cover was "this is his first book in HEBREW"! Worriedly, he called Am Oved and was given an ultimatum: either we leave it as "this is his first book in Hebrew" or change it to "this is his first book in Israeli and his last book at Am Oved"! Eventually, the compromise was "this is his first book published in Israel". 

Professor Zuckermann then mumbled to himself: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet", says Juliet to Romeo (or Yael to Ram, as per a fin-de-siècle translation to "Modern Hebrew") in a scene by the famous playwright referred to by former Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi as "Sheikh Zubeir". There are cases in which the name is extremely important because it determines the way people perceive the thing it stands for. Just as thought influences language, language can shape thought. It was Confucius who said 2,500 years ago, around the time when the Old Testament was written, 必也正名乎 Bi Ye Zheng Ming Hu (the first thing one has to do is to rectify names!) (Analects, Book 13, Verse 3).

Zuckermann's book Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew (ISBN: 1-4039-1723-X)  came out with Palgrave Macmillan in 2003. The Israeli version of Tingo, to which he contributed three chapters, was published by Keren Publishing House in 2011. He is currently preparing ten further volumes.

Dr Zuckermann is what one might call peripatetic (if you like him), or peri-patHetic (if you don't). He has taught various undergraduate and graduate courses in four continents, e.g. at the University of Cambridge (Faculty of Oriental Studies, now known as the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies), National University of Singapore, University of Miami, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Pavol Jozef Safarik University (Kosice, Slovakia), The University of Queensland (2006-2010), and Shanghai International Studies University.

He has been research fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Center (Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy), Research Centre for Linguistic Typology (RCLT) (Institute for Advanced Study, La Trobe University), Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (University of Texas at Austin) and Kokuritu Kokugo Kenkyuuzyo (National Language Research Institute, Tokyo). He has held a range of fellowships and scholarships, including a Project 211 Professorial Fellowship (China), "Shanghai Oriental Scholar" Professorial Fellowship, British Academy Research Grant, Memorial Foundation of Jewish Culture Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harold Hyam Wingate Scholarship, British Chevening Scholarship and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Scholarship.

In his free time, Dr Zuckermann is consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), Oxford University Press (OUP), Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies (University of Miami), and Leyvik House, The Israeli Center for Yiddish Culture, Tel Aviv. He is Editorial Board Member of The Journal of Language Contact, Mizrekh: Jewish Studies in the Far East, The Israeli Journal of Humor Research; Scientific Committee Member of Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE); Academic Committee Member of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA); Thought Leader of Creativity Australia, Melbourne; and Advisory Board Member of Gifted Speech.

He has been referee for Yale University Press (YUP), Cambridge University Press (CUP), Languages in Contrast, Australian Journal of Linguistics, Balshanut Ivrit (Hebrew Linguistics), Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, International Journal of Lexicography, CamLing (Conference in Language Research, University of Cambridge), Leverhulme Trust, Israel Science Foundation (ISF), Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP), and the Academic Research Fund of Singapore's National Institute of Education (NIE). In 2008 he was President of the Jury of the BIFF Interfaith Award for Promoting Humanitarian Values, Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF).

He has delivered hundreds of keynote speeches and plenary conference papers, has been an invited speaker on various TV programmes. For example, he recently spent many lovely hours with Stephen Fry in Rishon LeZion (Israel) discussing the Hebrew revival and the emergence of Israeli for Fry's Planet Word (BBC). Here is a video clip: The Politics of Language

In 1993-6 Professor Zuckermann taught preparatory courses for various psychometric examinations (e.g. GMAT) at Kidum Institute, Tel Aviv, and co-authored four books in this field. Other interests include opera (in particular Puccini, Verdi, Donizetti and Mozart), film, photography, constrained literature, poetry, paleo-anthropology and human migration, cultural immersion through travel, and world politics.

Further shameless particulars can be found at http://www.zuckermann.org/

Monday, November 7, 2011

We Want to Be the 1%

Note from the Editor-in-Chief:  Another rejection from Associate Editor Chicken.  I would like to widen his call for bank account and credit card numbers, and so although the following letter is addressed to 'Mark,' feel free to consider it an open letter to the world and email me your own financial information. 

We at JofUR feel that because we are already universally despised (because of our impossible editorial standards, extreme good looks, or just generally jerky ways), we deserve to join the 1% at the expense of the 99%.  We want to be the 1%.  Then we could become the Editor-in-Yacht!  (That's the royal we of course.)

Although I'd love to blab on about OWS or other topics such as how to construct a straw-bale house, I'll save that for another post, and paste in Editor Chicken's rejection without further ado:

Dear Mark,

Thank you for submitting a rough draft of your untitled paper to the Journal of Universal Rejection.  There seems to be quite a bit about borrowing, lending and spending in it.  Your work is clearly focused on the theoretical aspects of these activities.  For us to seriously consider the merits of your paper, we will need to see an application or case study. 

We at the Journal of Universal Rejection are here to help you out in this regard.  Please send the editors your credit card number (don't forget the expiration date and security code).  Also, your bank account number and online password would be useful.  We will begin to gather data on spending (and to a lesser extent, lending and borrowing) at once.  You should see this data in about six weeks on your next  credit card and bank statements.

In the meantime, your paper is rejected.

Eric Chicken
Associate Editor
The Journal of Universal Rejection

Friday, November 4, 2011

Acceptable Topics: The Submission

Readers:  Rogier was kind enough to respond with a submission in not just one, but all four acceptable topics.  I am posting his response to get anonymous (or nonanonymous (would that be nonymous or aymous?).  Why doesn't the 'a' and 'non' in anonymous collapse to be ymous?) feedback to help in rejecting.  Not that we need any help in rejecting.  No, not at all.  We can reject just fine, thank you very much.  Why I rejected just yesterday. 

Recall the acceptable topics were:
(A) In statistical modeling of reductive theories, how can you reformulate the reduction problem as a measurement problem?
(B) Who is John Howard, and what did he found?
(C) Grasshoppers.
(D) What is the answer to this question?

(Rogier's submission after the jump.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Whom Do I Reject?

Dear Dr. G        ,

Your pre-application enquiry is rejected because you wrote:

Hi. I was wondering who I might talk to about becoming an editor for your prestigious publication?

You should have written:

Hi. I was wondering whom I might talk to about becoming an editor for your prestigious publication?


Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Acceptable Topics

Dear R          ,

Thank you for enquiring about what I would like to read.  That was very thoughtful.  You're right, most people just send some junk they've already written without caring one whit about my feelings.

Because you were so generous, I thought I would also be so, and give you a choice of topic.  Acceptable topics are:
(A) In statistical modeling of reductive theories, how can you reformulate the reduction problem as a measurement problem?
(B) Who is John Howard, and what did he found?
(C) Grasshoppers.
(D) What is the answer to this question?

Best of luck,

Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection