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

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crass Precedent

In September some bigshot wrote
I suggest that you allow the submission of previously published articles.
and giving some reasons, blah, blah.  Well, we finally got back at them:


We do allow the submission of previously published articles.   You have not read our webpage closely enough.  Put on your glasses.

I am not sorry it has taken me so long to respond.  Why is everyone always apologizing for that?  I had a lot of other important stuff to do (e.g., pick my nose and watch YouTube videos). 

Also, I'm not going to apologize for any crassness in this message.  Here at JofUR we usually hold our noses above the fray, sniffing only the highest flowers climbing up the sides of the Ivory Tower, then wiping our proboscides gingerly with silken handkerchiefs.  But today we are commemorating the December 18, 1982 takeover of the Zig Zag Club by the anarchistic punk band Crass.  We're a few days late, but who f*ing cares?

Barest regards,
Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Monday, December 19, 2011

To Rebooted Switches in a Wiring Closet

Dear Editorial Board and the Editor in Chief:

Please consider the following Haiku verse for rejection in the Journal of Universal Rejection. This is my first, and in its relatively unpracticed state is well themed for the Journal. Its otherwise incomprehensible, relatively context-free techny nature should expedite the process of rejection. Please note the level of emotional connotation swinging from a frustrated patience to an optimistic outlook. "There is no emotion, there is peace. ..." [1]

  To Rebooted Switches in A Wiring Closet
  Another 2nd Thursday
  Another Power Failure
  Lucky Us, as Today
  It's Only in the Basement

[1] Jedi Code

Feel free to blog it on.

Thank you,

Serguei A. Mokhov, Haiku Password Artist  

Dear Serguei,

Having never seen
7 7 6 7
Haiku, I reject.

I liked it though,

Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Touring Machines

Dear Drs. K. and R.:

Thank you for submitting your manuscript entitled "A Case for the Turing Machine" for publication in the JUR. I read it three times and still don't get it.

You have larded your paper with much mumbo-jumbo about lazily semantic archetypes (!), scatter/gather I/O, and Zipf-like distributions. Despite the cute Greek letters, graphs and so forth, I regret to inform you that you haven't adequately made your case. And you really should have proofread the manuscript more carefully. The correct spelling is "touring."

And I know touring machines. In my younger days I briefly owned a 1948 Vincent C-Series Black Shadow (won it off a guy in a poker game). That puppy could book, let me tell you, and when I tooled into Laconia every June, it was everything I could do to keep the HD wusses from drooling all over it. And the babes--well, that's a story for another time.

I fully endorse your desire to make your case. But your paper simply won't work for us. Thanks anyway for thinking of the JUR. You might see if Cycle World is interested.

Sincerely yours,
Karl M. Petruso, Associate Editor
Journal of Universal Rejection

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pigs, Apples, Death, Sex, and Gender

Dear Ms. or Mr. or Indeterminate or My-Gender-is-None-of-Your-Business M            :

(We are nothing if not sensitive to matters of gender, whether chosen, naturally apportioned or divinely imposed -- long and baroque have been our editorial board meetings wherein we have argued at length and breadth the merits and pitfalls of altering the English language to better serve our readership in this regard; do not for a moment believe we are anything but utterly respectful of your situation, whatever it may be, and that in no way do we even begin to suspect we can understand your feelings on the matter, or indeed lack of feelings; we make no assumptions whatsoever.)

Thank you for your insightful and passionate story, "                     ."  As the Journal's short story editor, I see (and reject) many stories and I have to admit that it is a rare (pleasure) to come across one that includes pigs, apples, death, sex, gender- and species- identity questions and also pink nail polish. Rare indeed.

Alas, rare is not enough.

No, indeed--many are the rare stories that lay across our desks, begging to be given a starring role (or indeed any role at all) and as you may suspect precious few are actually cast. Rare, odd and even frightening stories have no more advantage with us than the most predictable, dull, and tedious stories. (Indeed, a recent submission frightened our editorial staff so much that we ended up in a heated discussion about who was going to reject it under what pseudonym and what favors would be owed said person. Five triple-shot caramel lattes, as I recall.)

But back to your story.

A story such as yours is destined for many trips around the globe, collecting many diverse rejections. It is, in many ways, a sort of Rorschach test, allowing each reader to project onto it and see in it what is foremost in their consciousness.

And what do I see?  Bluntly put, I see a story that would disturb our delicate readership in their notions of identity and gender. Such disturbance might result in them hesitating, pens poised over their Journal subscription renewal forms. I'm sure you understand that in hard economic times like these a journal such as ours -- exclusive and award-winning though it may be -- can scarce afford such risks.

Perhaps you should view your story as an ambassador to the world, and re-title it "reject me if you're uncomfortable with your gender choices" to see if you get better results. Just a thought. Best wishes
on your story's upcoming travels.

Do think think of us next time you write a short story that includes pink nail polish.

Sonia Lyris, Associate Editor

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Dear Prof. W             ,

Thank you for submitting your paper about the error function, erf(x), and its inverse, to the Journal of Universal Rejection.  Our review has been very thorough.

We began by looking for errors in your paper.  By pressing ctrl-F and then typing 'error,' we were able to find 8 'error's in your paper.  The first 'error' was already there in your title, and the second was in your first sentence!

I am sorry, but we do not publish two-page papers with 8 errors!


Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Choice of Axioms

Dear D          ,

Thank you for submitting "An Empty Article About the Empty Set" to the Journal of Universal Rejection.

Rest assured your article does indeed fulfill the requirements for rejection at our prestigous Journal.

We have previously received 22 empty documents, but never before an empty (aside from title, author, affiliation, date, and the word 'Abstract') document that was explicitly about the empty set.

Before I delve fully into rejecting your document, allow me a brief aside about the empty set for the benefit of our readership at Reprobatio Certa where I will be posting this letter. 

The empty set is an object which exists in every set-theoretic mathematical model that I know of.  Let's see if we can deal with that.  We'll focus on the most common axioms used today in mathematics, the ZF (Zermelo-Fraenkel) axioms.  There are eight axioms in this model.  It is the third axiom--the Axiom of Restricted Comprehension--which can be used to guarantee the existence of an empty set, once the existence of a single set (call it w) is known.  This existence is guaranteed by another axiom--the Axiom of Infinity.  For example we can get the empty set by doing:

Here we see that the empty set is the set of all elements in w that both do and do not contain themselves.  Since (P and not P) is a contradiction, there are no such elements, and the empty set is, well, empty.

We can also denote the empty set as {}.  The braces are standard set-theory notation where the contents of the set are listed within them.  Here there is nothing in between them.  But typography alone does not guarantee the existence of this set.

So we've got the existence of the empty set squared away.  Or do we?  We've used the Axiom of Infinity and the Axiom of Restricted Comprehension.  Maybe you don't want to believe in an infinite set.  Well, we'd just need any set to exist.  So if we want to not believe in the empty set, we have to either
(A) postulate a model for set-theory in which there are no sets whatsoever, or
(B) postulate a model for set-theory in which we don't have the Axiom of Restricted Comprehension.

If we live in a universe of pure nothingness, and our existences, our love songs, addictions, brilliant colors, taste of pomegranates, our fashion sense, the electric touch of our electronic gadgets, cups of tea, soft evening breezes, all qualia, pure nonmoving vibrations of nothingness, then I will choose option A.

If we live in a universe of confusion, of dead ends, residues, tastes that we can't get out of our mouths no matter how much we brush our teeth, the electric touch of our electronic gadgets, addictions, songs of love stuck forever in our gullet, all things we will never understand, crackling and crunching into an everlasting cinder, then I will choose option B.

To me, the answer to this quandry is obvious.

Therefore your paper is rejected.

Best regards,

Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Issues with Issues

Our response upon receipt of the enquiry

What happened with the September 2011 (Vol 3, No 3) issue?

Thank you for the concern.  We're working on that issue, but it is not easy to keep these things up-to-date because we don't always keep track of what we publish, and then we have to call a really expensive company.  They come out and use very advanced laser-imaging on our (nonexistent) printing-presses to determine the last articles we published.    Particles move faster than light; the space-time-continuum develops rents; we are unable to pay these rents; the space-time-continuum is let to someone else; colours invert; meanwhile the staff at JofUR goes to the theatre.  It's all very involved, and British.  I won't bore you with the details of it. 

In the mean time, I can send you a complementary instance of our Journal.  But first you'll have to pay for it.  (NOTE: I did spell it 'complementary,' not 'complimentary'... in which case it would be free.  It's not free, it will just look nice next to that turtleneck you're wearing.)

Best regards,

Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kung Fu Master

Dear                  ,

Thank you for applying for an editorial board position.

Becoming an editor here is a lot like becoming a Kung Fu master.

First, one must learn patience.  Which is why we didn't respond to your email for four months.

Next, one must learn to wax-on-wax-off one's car with a sponge plucked from the depths of somewhere really deep, and wax gathered from a beehive in the Hundred Acre wood.  (Optional)

Finally, one must learn to reject everything, even oneself.  In that vein, perhaps you could write a rejection of this blog post:
[Editor's note: no, the applicant was not Ingrid Booz Morejohn, nor do I know who that is.  She does have a really awesome name I must admit.  She can say "Booz? Why that's my middle name!"  Then she can turn to her friend John and demand more booze by saying her last name.  Anyway... the reason for having the applicant reject the linked blog post cannot be revealed at this time.  Hey, I just noticed that the blog post is from π Day.  Cool!]


Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection