alt131 - 10:24 pm on Aug 7, 2012 (gmt 0)
We need to avoid forking the thread into "how to" answers, but Paul, I so enjoy the way you explain the finer details of position (in the broadest meaning of that word). If you have time, feel free to indulge us briefly :)
woop01, we're not in css to argue either. We survived NN4 - there are bigger battles to fight than each other. So I'm not being argumentative when I say that I don't believe the use of a legitimate property/value pair such as display:table-cell can really be called a "hack".
Returning to the main thrust of this thread, have you looked at box alignment [w3.org]? The intro parallels your opening question:
However, except in table cells, vertical alignment was not possible. As CSS3 adds further capabilities, the ability to align boxes in various dimensions becomes more critical. This module attempts to create a cohesive and common box alignment model to share among all of CSS.
Combine that with the flex-box [dev.w3.org] concept and we are well on the way to having more tools that deal with this particular lay out issue.