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RANTSMCPANTS31324dI really abhor automagic things like that. As far as I'm concerned everything should just be binary strings as standard. Barring a few obvious acceptable cases.
MySQL goes over board because as well as having it in necessary or obvious places, for example indexes needing to be build appropriate to the collation and a column with a charset should produce an error if char is out of range, it does all this auto conversion on the connection layer with loads of confusing layered vars as well.
It's the same crap as when people configure git to screw with line endings which git has no business going anywhere near and shouldn't be mutating a thing.
First thing I always do is turn all of the nonsense stuff off.
R2-D27024dWhat are the names of the books, please?