>>>I don’t understand how anyone can be so determined to use CSS positioning when it requires tricks or messy hacks just to accomplish something that can be done trivially with a table.<<<
Because of the separation of content and presentation (SCAP), with all its benefits. Using “tricks or messy hacks” today, using perfectly sane CSS 3 tomorrow - the markup can stay the same. (Not that it always does, but that’s a different story.)
And - of course - for LEARNING. If CSS isn’t pushed to its limits, how are we supposed to see what needs improving?
>>>Didn’t anyone involved with the CSS2 spec think about these kind of design issues before they began pushing it out the door and telling everyone table layouts are now officially evil?<<<
What makes you think that the people who created CSS 2 are the same people who said table layouts are evil?
If the web design community had been as involved with CSS around 1996-98 as it is today, maybe these issues WOULD have been thought about and fixed. (Of course, that would have required the browsers of the time to actually implement CSS properly.)
>>>Isn’t it funny that people will go through these hoops for no other reason than to avoid using tables?<<<
If that was true, yes. But avoiding tables (for layout!) isn’t the purpose in itself. Avoiding table layouts is just a necessary step if you want to SCAP.