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

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Thursday, August 11, 2011


Velociraptors have taken over the Journal of Universal Rejection!  We have barricaded ourselves in Reprobatio Certa.  They are coming!  They are coming!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

As Easy as (Dutch) Apple Pie

Dear René,

The Journal of Universal Rejection is overjoyed to receive yet another submission in Dutch.  As you may remember from here, I don't speak Dutch.  We do have at least one editor on our board that does, but I wouldn't want to bother him with a submission.  So I will tackle this one myself. 

Here is my proposed method.  I will randomly grab a sentence from your document.  With my limited knowledge of German and (admittedly limited) knowledge of English I should be able to pry apart the sentence enough to read it, since Dutch seems to be what you get when you put three English-speaking inchworms and a German-speaking bumblebee in a tin can and shake it until they lose their ability to spell. 

The sentence I plan to dissect is:
"Bent u op zoek naar kwaliteit, waarheid en eerlijkheid, dan is dit boek een eye-opener van de eerste orde."

Ok, here goes.  My plan is to make several passes at it:

1st pass: 
"Bent you up, Zeke, nur Qualitaet, Wahrheit und Ehrlichkeit, dann is this book ein eye-opener von der erste order."
2nd pass:
"Bent you up, Zeke.  Only quality, truth, and honesty, since this book is an eye-opener of the first order."
3rd pass:
"Let's wrestle, Zeke.  I will throw you to the ground, pin your eyes open with toothpicks, and instill you with morals by forcing you to read this book."

It appears you are threatening me.

Therefore I reject your submission.

Best regards,

p.s. My name is not Zeke.

Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No Bird Suits Needed

Photo by debaird
Dear Chris,

Thank you for submitting "Spread your Wings, Poet!" to the Journal of Universal Rejection.

I have found that my birthday suit works very well as a bird-suit.  As my almost-two-year-old son and I run through the house flapping our wings, it is fast enough for us, and the little stairs we jump down are high enough.  I reject all the rigamarole about the bird-suit, farm, tractor, zipper, suitcase, Massey-Ferguson flying-machine, Klaxon horn-switch, Sears Tower, parachute ... you get the picture. 

My son liked the tractor bit; your submission is rejected.

Best regards,
Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Monday, August 8, 2011

Top 5 Papers I Wish Had Been Submitted to JofUR

Note from the Editor-in-Chief:  Normally I only bother to consider papers that people send our way.  But I was inspired to make a list of papers I wish had been submitted to the Journal of Universal Rejection.  So without further ado, here is the list:

#5 Burgoyne, Paul S., Thumbs down for zinc finger? Nature 342, 860 - 862 (28 December 1989)

I don't know who this Zinc Finger guy is.  I suspect he is trying to take over the world.  He definitely deserves rejection.  As to the paper, it probably deserves rejection too.  

Yet again: good enough for Nature, but not good enough for the Journal of Universal Rejection.

#4 Sowa, J. Ontology, Metadata, and Semiotics  Conceptual Structures: Logical, Linguistic, and Computational Issues. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2000, Volume 1867/2000, 55-81

This one makes the list in honor of my wife.  These are three of the things she hates most.  Well, I don't know what semiotics is, so I can't tell if she really hates that.  But I know she doesn't like ontology or metadata.

#3 Alexander, G. and Bradley, L.R.  Fostering in sheep. IV. Use of restraint, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 14, Issue 4, December 1985, Pages 355-364

You might think this is an odd one to make the list.  But from the abstract: 
"The prevention of any close olfactory contact resulted in an intermediate rate of acceptance, even though acceptance was apparently based on olfaction, as shown by universal rejection of strange alien lambs."
Here at JofUR we also practice universal rejection of strange alien lambs.

#2 Elaine Fuchs, Tudorita Tumbar and Geraldine Guasch, Socializing with the Neighbors: Stem Cells and Their Niche  Cell, Volume 116, Issue 6, 19 March 2004, Pages 769-778

Okay, there is nothing particularly funny about this paper.  I only included it so I could gratuitously link back to these posts about the neighbors (whom I reject) and this post about stem cells since people thought those were funny.

#1 Erdoğan Şen, An Inequality for Second Order Differential Equation with Retarded Argument  Advances in Pure Mathematics, 2011, 1, 243-244

This would have been the easiest paper to reject ever!  In its very title it points out its flaw. And then I discovered that there are tons of papers with "Retarded Argument" in the title.  Wow!  I have to change my specialization from Number Theory to Differential Equations!

Okay, that was the list.  Maybe it could have been better, but I had only so much time to look around.  Now I have to make a shopping list and go pick up my son from daycare.  Please add suggestions in the Comments section.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Philadelphia Lendry

Dear Editorial Board,

I'm writing on behalf of the Philadelphia Lendry, an experimental lending library which consists of a growing assortment of art, creative services, and cultural ephemera contributed by its members to form a public collection available for borrowing, exhibition, and research. We accept all donations, and it occurs to me that the Journal is both a natural foil and potential partner. (Our curatorial/editorial practices are actually quite similar, in that both the Lendry and the Journal refuse to exercise discernment in acquiring material.)

We at the Lendry are seeking to build our collection in various ways, and we are interested in discussing the possibility of acquiring the Journal's archive of rejected submissions. Would this be of interest to you? Our website is not online yet, but I'm happy to provide you with more information about the Lendry or arrange a discussion with our co-founders.

We hope you'll overcome your natural instinct to reject this offer. If not, we will be nearly as satisfied to gain membership in your rejection collection.

Best regards, and keep up the good work!
The Philadelphia Lendry
(Aislinn, Deborah, Laura, Michael, Nicole, and Olan)
Dear Deborah, Aislinn, Laura, Michael, Nicole, and Olan

Thank you for your generous offer of a partnership betwixt the Philadelphia Lendry and the Journal of Universal Rejection.

I'm afraid I am going to have to reject your offer.  This rejection is not due to our guiding principle (which requires only that we reject submissions for publication) but rather a fine point known as copyright law.  Sadly JofUR does not possess the copyright to the submitted material that we reject.

However, let me propose to you that you may carry a small collection of back-issues of the Journal.  We will grant you the right to display zero issues of JofUR in your collection.  Access to more issues may be acquired for modest prices ranging in the low thousands of euros.

Best regards,

Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Dear Caleb, 
Thank you for your reply. We would be delighted to acquire all back-issues of the Journal and have already begun discussing the best way to preserve, catalog, store and display zero issues. Our current fundraising efforts are dedicated to acquiring a door for the Lendry, but I assure you that we will set our sights on raising several thousand euros for additional issues of the JofUR just as soon as we've met our infrastructural needs. In support of our PR initiative, might you be willing to 'Like' the Lendry on Facebook?


Thursday, August 4, 2011


We received a submission from James Holdpants (BA,MA,BMF) which we'll decline to print but maybe you can guess what it was.

Dear Mr. Holdpants,

Thank you for submitting your untitled pearl-of-wisdom to the Journal of Universal Rejection.

Although your piece is short, I have a prime number of follow-up questions:
(1) My roof doesn't need fixing, though granted it will in a couple years.  When shall I start courting the daughter?
(2) What shall homeowners like myself do?
(3) Does it work if your landlord is a landlady?
(4) Will this technique work for doors, windows, or large appliances?
(5) Do you have quantitative data showing this technique is effective?
(6) Won't it be a bit crowded with the landlord's children out-of-wedlock running around everywhere?
and finally,
(7) I'm married, do you think that'll be a problem?

Thank you,

Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Dr. Emmons:
Thank you for your sage and provocative inquiry, identifying the yawning holes in my logic stream. However, I must point out that, just as lemons make lemonade and limes make michelada, faulty logic can make for interesting times:
1.       ASAP.  She’s not going to move in with just any yahoo wandering in off the street with a leaky roof.
2.       Homeowners are pretty much out of luck, unless you change “landlord” to “roofing company owner”.
3.       Works the same; everybody knows that mom doesn’t want her precious little muffin getting wet, even if she is living with a lowlife.
4.       Maybe.  Depends whether or not she was disowned when she moved in with you.  Worth a try, though.
5.       My cousin in Chicago does it all the time.  My son tried to do it, but so far all he’s gotten for his trouble are babies.  So results are somewhat mixed.
6.       Good point (see 5).
7.       Not if your wife is open-minded, imaginative, and bi-curious.  Before it’s all over, you may not care that the roof is leaking!

Hope this helps.

Yours in literariness,

 Dear James,

Thank you.  I suspect you are a mountebank.  A roofing company owner just trying to increase your business or marry off your daughters.  You've strummed your siren banjo music once too many times in mine ears. 

Therefore I reject your submission.  Any objection to our correspondence going on the blog? 


Or both!

Mountebank—sounds impressive!  Since the people I consort with won’t know what it means, I could easily convince them that I am a Canadian G-man who puts evil financial types in the slammer, undercover of course.

Objection?  Absolutely not!  Rejection is my middle name!

Yours in glorious mountebankery,

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No QQing

J. sent us a paper on the etymology of  QQ.  So far all is quiet on the western front.

Photo by bbaunach

Your paper is rejected.  And I don't want to hear any QQing about it. 

Now for your Chuck Norris question:  I need a link to the news story about Chuck Norris plagiarizing himself.  Otherwise I cannot understand the context of your supposition.  You can also write your own news story about it should none exist.

Best regards,
Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Application Anxiety

Someone on the job market sent part of her job application to JofUR. We did her the service of pre-rejecting her; it should soften the eventual blow.  Or better, a trophy to hang in her office should she get the job.  Fingers crossed for her.

I was going to dig up an old rejection letter that I received, but couldn't find one.  So I wung it:

Dear                    ,

Thank you for applying to the tenure-track assistant professorship in                            at            University.  We had over 250 well-qualified applicants for the job.  Although your unique combination of experience and skills made you a strong contender for the position, we must let you know that you did not make it to the final round of candidates to whom we will be offering interviews.  Best of luck in your future, and we hope you will think of              again in any future applications.

Best regards,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Referee Cleverbot's Report

Dear Submitter:

We have reached an editorial decision about your abstract generated by http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~rchaves/abstract/. We send it for review to referee http://cleverbot.com/, and instantly a report was received:

"Derivation by phase bars any government in the wrong position. The sequence therefore is rejected, precisely for that reason as assumed in above, to raise the question about the relevant categorial features. Still, potential questions that might remain about related issues such as YP-adjunction to XP, can now be clarified independently. Interestingly, this requires local feature checking and is (at least) partially interpreted at LF, as usually assumed. We have found considerable evidence for this, but due to space limitations we cannot address this. This extends to other phenomena too, of course. But how exactly is this information accessible to the computational system? Regarding the branching asymmetry, this requires local feature checking and converges, as would be observed in old Serbo-Finnish for instance (if such a language were to exist), whether 'weak features' are homogenous or not. The fact that agreement can be assigned in such cases is uncontroversial, but how exactly is this carried out? The parallelism in certain nested dependency cases will not be relevant for now, this bars any government in the wrong position. The sequence therefore yields the expected result, like in Holmberg's generalization and other effects. Also, the LF movement approach raises many issues concerning locality, of course. Obligatoriness is able to interact with other CHL modules, in non-trivial and unexpected ways, yet yields the expected result whether this involves adjunction of features or not. Similarly, in what concerns related data,comparable structures. For this purpose, we propose the following constraint: The Obligatory Coordinate-Alpha S-Criterion: If K` c-commands a-YP in a weak binding domain [a-YP X0[t`...KP]], all segments KX0* are excluded. The full implications of this move are beyond the scope of the present work and will be worked out in full in the future. Independently, this bars any government in the wrong position. The sequence therefore causes the computation to crash, some have speculated (wrongly, in our view)."

Thus, this paper "is rejected, precisely for that reason as assumed in above, to raise the question about the relevant categorial features."

Cesar A. Rodriguez-Rosario,
Editor JUR